It took a little more effort to calculate my most-played games in 2016, because I changed PCs in the middle of the year. But the results are now in, and the number one positions were just what I guessed they would be.
(This data was gathered on December 24, 2016. I’ve pretty much only played Morrowind since then, although I played a couple hours of Elder Scrolls Online as well.)
Most Played MMORPGs of 2016
Black Desert Online – 221 hours
World of Warcraft – 163 hours
Rift – 67 hours
Final Fantasy XIV – 42 hours
Lord of the Rings Online – 22 hours
Guild Wars 2 – 12 hours
Blade and Soul – 2 hours
Mortal Online – 2 hours
Star Wars: The Old Republic – 2 hours
WildStar – 2 hours
The Secret World – 1 hour
Elder Scrolls Online – 1 hour
I was initially very surprised that I played so much World of Warcraft. But then I remembered the time before Legion, when I ran around participating in all those Legion Invasions leveling up my alts, and it made more sense.
Riders of Icarus and The Division should also be in there, at about an hour or less each.
Top 10 Most Played Other Games of 2016
Dark Souls III – 339 hours
ARK: Survival Evolved – 209 hours
Morrowind – 40 hours
Dark Souls – 39 hours
Civilization VI – 30 hours
Far Cry Primal – 26 hours
Fallout: New Vegas – 24 hours
Dark Souls II – 23 hours
DOOM – 20 hours
7 Days To Die – 13 hours
Not too surprising. I played a lot of ARK at the beginning of the year, and a lot of Dark Souls in the Spring and Summer.
I’m not going to do another chart of which games I played in which month, because frankly I can’t remember how I did it last year. :)
I sort of lost interest in Rift when I got to level 68. Xarth Mire is not very pleasant to run around in, what with the lack of safe roads, the rather high mob density, and the frog tongues that constantly pull you to them no matter how much you want to run away from them.
But mainly I drifted away from Rift because I started playing Fallout: New Vegas. I played it for about 8 hours last year, then put it away when Fallout 4 came out. Recently I installed New Vegas again and my old saved games magically appeared, so I was able to pick it up right where I left off. It’s quite good. I dare say it’s as good or better than Fallout 4, at least in terms of story.
I also started playing, believe it or not, Morrowind. I’ve never played it before but I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m having some difficulty getting the Steam version to run consistently at a decent resolution though.
It seems like there isn’t very much news happening in the gaming world right now, or at least nothing that’s interesting to me. Free-to-play EVE is mildly interesting, but even free I don’t see very many newbies sticking around in that game. New ArcheAge servers aren’t appealing for the same reason that the old servers aren’t appealing: You can’t maintain land without Patron status. (At least I assume that’s still a condition.) One of the few games I was looking forward to was Conan Exiles but the recent trailer made that game look a bit like garbage.
I can’t find anything else to comment on. Scanning through the last week of Massively OP news items gives me a profoundly crotchety feeling of “who cares about any of this.”
I broke down and bought 15 days of Patron status in Rift. The amount of extra XP gain is very large and noticeable and I would say almost mandatory, at least if you want to keep your sanity while leveling.
Before continuing with my Mage, in a fit of rage over being so under-powered in the new zones, I got out my Primalist and started leveling him. I made a Primalist back when they first came out but only got to level 9. This time, I discovered the Hammerknell Instant Adventures, which I’d never done before.
Man, that place is amazing. I’m really glad they made it accessible for more people to see it. I proceeded to level from 9 all the way to level 50 in two days, taking screenshots all over the place. Then I used my level 65 boost and skipped from 50 to 65 (that’s the really slow part in Rift). I know it was a bit of a waste to go from 9 to 50 but it was a good learning experience. The point is now I have a level 65 Primalist.
Primalists are kind of fun, by the way. The Berserker soul has some crazy AoE damage potential. It’s a bit like the Champion soul.
Anyway, after all the adventures in Hammerknell I went back to my Mage. I thought Starfall Prophecy was going to get easier the more gear I got from quest rewards, but not so much. At the end of the Scatherran Forest, the first zone, I had the full, stylish green-and-yellow-with-antlered-helmet cloth set.
By then it was relatively straightforward to kill level 65 and 66 mobs. But not level 67 mobs, which is what you fight at the start of the Gedlo Badlands, the second zone. When my Mage finally reached level 67, I started getting comfortable with the level 67 mobs. Of course now I’m starting to see level 68 mobs, so I’m back to struggling.
The point is, maybe it’s just me but this expansion seems harder than any previous one. Storm Legion was hard for the first one or two levels, then it got easy. Nightmare Tide was hard for the first level, then it got easy. This expansion seems determined to remain hard for the entire time.
Even my go-to survive-anything-anywhere build, the Elementalist, has issues. These Starfall mobs mow down a tank pet in no time if you’re not careful. I usually have to heal my pet about halfway through every mob encounter, and if I end up against two mobs I spend more time healing than doing damage. With three mobs, forget about it. So yeah I’ve died a lot. Don’t even get me started about that bleepity bleeping “Smash Time” quest in the Gedlo Badlands.
I actually prefer soloing without a pet in Rift (it’s faster, and the pets always ruin screenshots and stand exactly on top of gathering nodes so you can’t click on them), but these Starfall mobs do so much damage that if you go with a faster damage build, you end up having to heal up after every single fight, which is a pain. I like to go from mob to mob to mob one after the other without any down time. I tried my Harbinger/Chloromancer (melee damage + healer) soloing build but it doesn’t have enough self-heals. I tried a Pyromancer/Elementalist build (tank pet plus ranged damage), but it was too squishy. I tried an Arbiter (tank soul) but it takes too long to kill things and you still have to heal afterwards. I tried a pure Chloromancer build but it takes all day to kill anything. I tried a pure Warlock build but it doesn’t have enough self-heals.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with another Harbinger/Chloromancer build with a lot more points in healing. It’s working “okay” but it could be better. I wish the damage output was a little higher.
I’m not sure what I think of the Legendary abilities yet. Some of them seem good, some of them seem like duds.
I’m not too crazy about the Fragment system. It’s just more busy work. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really don’t need another gear layer with every expansion. I would have been fine with plain old higher level gear. Now you need Base Gear plus a Rune/Dream Orb/whatever plus a Fragment for every slot. In addition to the Essences that have always been there.
Anyway, the best part about the expansion so far is the banter between the companions that come with you on the story quests. Unfortunately it breaks up the flow of the game a bit because you have to stand there and watch them play out the scenes. (It’s hard to watch the dialog while you’re traveling because they’re behind you, unless you watch the chat window, but that isn’t as fun.) I think they go too far into jokey territory, but I figure that’s a sign of the game’s age. They’ve run out of new fantasy material so they’ve gone into self-parody. (My recollection of Vanilla Rift is that all the quests and NPCs were dead serious. Humor only crept into the game later, I want to say after Storm Legion.)
By the way, whatever happened to Nightmare Rifts? Those things were fun, but I guess they don’t exist in Starfall Prophecy, or nobody summons them anymore.
Fridays are the worst days of the week for me, in terms of being bored. Usually half of the workforce is gone on Fridays, so it’s abnormally quiet and I have to spend eight solid hours trying to entertain myself in library-like silence. Using only my phone, mind you, because god forbid we have access to anything “fun” or “entertaining” on our work computers. The most interesting thing I can manage on my work computer is reading Wikipedia articles. My personal favorite is the On This Day page.
And no, I refuse to think about doing work on a Friday. Come on. That’s just crazy talk.
Anyway, one other thing I can do on the work computer is write, so here I am.
I ordered Battlefield 1 a while back and pre-loaded it a couple days ago. I noticed right before I left the house this morning that it has unlocked, so I’ll be playing that tonight and this weekend. (Right after I publish this post, most likely.) I’m planning to record the single-player campaign and put it up on YouTube because why the hell not.
I learned from my Doom recordings that it’s a terrible idea to record a blind playthrough on the hardest difficulty, so I think I’ll stick to the normal difficulty this time. It turns out that repetition, such as that which occurs when you die over and over again in the same area, is boring to watch. Also kind of frustrating to play. Not to mention the challenge of thinking of something uniquely entertaining to say after the 20th time you’ve died to the same mobs. The only good option is to edit the video into an amusing death montage, but I’m usually too lazy to do that.
Anyway, as I mentioned on Twitter, my only real interest in the game is to criticize the historical inaccuracies in their depiction of World War I, the war I know the most about. If I see a French Renault tank driven by a British soldier, you better believe I’m going to have something to say about that!
Since I’ll be playing Battlefield 1, I won’t be playing what it sounds like everyone else in my circle of the Internet will be playing: Civilization 6. (Or is it VI?)
I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I didn’t like Civ 4 or 5. I wanted to like them, because I loved Civ 2, but I don’t think I ever made it into the AD years. It just felt soooooo sloooooow in those initial stages when you explore with your Warriors and Scouts and Settlers. (And that exploration didn’t feel very satisfying.) It felt like it took hours and hours and hours (ie. days and days, for me) of drudgery to get to the fun parts of the game that I remembered enjoying the most. For whatever reason, I just don’t have the patience for it anymore. Still, I’ll probably get Civ 6 eventually. In a sale, probably.
This is one of those rambling posts about everything and nothing, because I don’t have much to say. Just writing for the sake of writing because I was bored at work.
I’ve been listening to audiobooks again, trying to use up my credits. I recently finished Stephen King’s 11.22.63, which was beautifully read by Craig Wasson. He’s the actor who played the lead in that weird 80s movie Body Double. Now I’m listening to Stephen King’s End of Watch, which is beautifully read by Will Patton. Later I might listen to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, the beauty of which I know nothing. [Editor’s note: I spent a lot of time wording and re-wording that last sentence, and I still don’t think it’s right.]
Unfortunately audiobooks (and regular books) eat into my gaming time. I can’t play any game that requires attention while listening to an audiobook, so the only productive gaming I’ve done is playing through Dark Souls 3 again so I’ll have a character ready for the upcoming Ashes of Ariandel DLC. (My five or six existing characters from my old PC apparently cannot be transferred to my new PC.)
I try to log into Rift every day to pick up my Starfall Prophecy pre-order token thingy. I spent 20 tokens already on a massive bag, and I have another 30 or so tokens now, but I discovered to my annoyance that you can only buy one bag per character. So now I guess I’ll try to collect 50 tokens so I can buy the silly squirrel mount that I’ll probably never use. That means I’m actually rooting for them to delay the expansion as much as possible. More delay means more tokens for me!
As Eri alluded to in her post, there isn’t much to write about in the news either. One Tamriel sounds cool, but unfortunately ESO is one of those MMORPGs that requires my full attention to play it (others in this category are The Secret World and SWTOR). At least I finally installed it on my new PC. The FFXIV Bloodstorm (or was it Stormblood?) expansion was announced by showing a Street Fighter video, but as yet there’s not many details to talk about. Mostly the announcement only reminded me of how far behind I am in that game.
I never played Red Dead Redemption, so the collective Internet freak-out over Red Dead Redemption 2 means nothing to me. Since they aren’t making a PC version, I probably won’t ever see it. (Although I still plan to buy a PS4 someday.)
So let’s talk about politics! Wait, no, let’s not. But I feel it’s my duty to remind everyone to stock up on batteries and water for the post-election riots.
How about that Westworld? After three episodes I’m prepared to say: I’m losing interest. I have a hard time getting invested in a story when it’s not clear what the objectives of the main characters are. It’s not even clear whether a story is taking place. Stories typically have a beginning, and I haven’t seen a beginning yet. All I’ve seen is backstory. Remember the good old days when every episode of a series had a beginning, a middle, and an end? Now every episode is a middle.
NaNoWriMo? I’m preparing for it, in my usual disorganized fashion. I happened to see a tweet from Alternative Chat mentioning she had both a book cover and a tag line for her project already:
That boggles my mind. I have nothing whatsoever, except the vague idea that I want to set the book in Belgium in the first year of World War I, and I want one of the characters to be an American war correspondent, and I want a plot reminiscent of the adventures of E. Alexander Powell and photographer Donald Thompson in Fighting In Flanders. I don’t know if I’m going to write in first person or third person, past or present tense, or what the story might be, or who’s going to be in it, or who’s going to win in the end, or who’s going to live or die, or how I’m going to deal with the fact that I don’t know German, French, or Flemish, or anything about military operations or occupations or relief efforts, or much of anything about life in 1914. The only real goal I have is to avoid getting too bogged down in the general horror of World War I. Unless it works better to do so. At this point I’m trusting that a story will reveal itself as I’m writing.
I haven’t played very much lately. Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting time into reading up on World War I (research for what I hope will be a historical fiction story for NaNoWriMo), reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, listening to Stephen King’s 11.22.63 audiobook, and even playing with composing some music in Renoise. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say the frenzy over the 2016 election has turned into a really entertaining Jerry Springer episode.
Gaming-wise, over the long rainy weekend, I thought I would make a push to finish recording my Doom Ultra-Violence blind playthrough. I didn’t think it would take that long, but boy was I wrong. That game just goes on and on and on and on forever. I feel like I saw everything there was to see in the game by about the halfway point, and beyond that it’s just an exhausting slog through room-to-room fighting.
You know exactly what’s going to happen every time: You get to a certain fairly obvious trigger point, then the quasi-metal music plays, a bunch of demons spawn, and you have to kill them all before you can go to the next room. At first the formula is fun, then it gets a bit tiresome, especially when you’re trying to finish it quickly.
Other than that, I have two main problems with Doom. One is the amount of exposition and narrative, which are 100% pointless in this kind of game. I really don’t need a detailed explanation for why my character is running around shooting Hell minions on Mars. I don’t need to know where they came from, who released them, or why. Even if I did, this story is not the slightest bit surprising or entertaining. Every single chapter is like, “You need to go to X, but first you’ll need to get Y and Z.”
The second problem I have with the game is the excessive size and complexity of the levels. This is a shooter. I shouldn’t have to spend half an hour trying to puzzle out how to get to the next level. Sure, I don’t mind hiding the secrets behind mazes of jumping puzzles and whatnot, but not the exit! Also these levels are enormous compared to the old Doom and Quake levels. Instead of 13 massive levels, I would have preferred to see 50 small levels.
Otherwise it’s a fun game. I wouldn’t recommend playing it on Ultra-Violence though. It’s too much work for too little payoff. I can’t even imagine playing it on Nightmare or whatever the one above that is.
Most of my gaming over the weekend was preempted by other media consumption. First it was Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, which I could not put down between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, until I reached the third part of the book and had to have a break. (It’s a convenient stopping point, the reasons for which should be fairly obvious upon reading the table of contents.)
And then Sunday night I noticed that Deadpool was on HBO prior to Westworld, which I hadn’t yet seen. It wasn’t that funny, since surprise is essential for comedy and most of the gags were predictable, but I thought the serious parts were pretty good. (I have zero knowledge of the comic book on which it’s based.) I found it somewhat amusing to see Collosus in the movie, which was a character I played a bit in Marvel Heros, seemingly a million years ago.
Then of course I had to watch Westworld, HBO’s new thing, which was suitably creepy. I’m not sure how they’re going to make a whole series out of it though without going into cliche territory. (I haven’t seen any of the original Westworld incarnations, though for some reason I can’t even explain I instantly recognized the “Westworld” name as a famous science-fiction property.)
Amid all that, I managed to play a little bit of FFXIV, and mainly worked on the main scenario. Lately Alphinaud and Tataru (probably spelled those wrong) have been concerned with finding certain people who went missing pre-Heavensward. However, when the scenario took me through Gridania, I got distracted when I stumbled onto a new-to-me quest that took me out to Quarrymill and opened up the Palace of the Dead, that new randomized … um, thing. I’m not really sure what to call it. It’s kind of like a rogue-like instanced mini-game.
It’s a fun diversion, but I’m pretty sure I don’t know what I’m doing because after three tries*, I’m still “failing” my duty (by dying). With the last two attempts I made it easily to the 10th floor where a big nasty boss awaits. Said boss pummeled me to death very quickly with his unavoidable room-wide AoEs and massive hits. (I did this solo, because if there’s a solo option, I’m usually going to take it.)
My current theory is that since the boss was level 20, I need to make sure I’m a lot higher than level 20 before I get to it. Clearing all the upper floors only put me at roughly level 20 when I got to the 10th floor, which I suppose means I need to spend more time farming levels on the upper floors by waiting for mobs to respawn and clearing them out multiple times. That doesn’t sound particularly fun, but it’s something I could do while watching Netflix.
At this point, though, I don’t really see the point of it other than to get achievements, because the only “real” reward (usable outside the instance) I got was a bunch of health potions. I can only assume the rewards get more meaningful when you get way down to the lower floors. (A recent post from Aywren confirms this.)
* Technically it was four attempts, but I’m not counting the first one since my UPS shut off for some reason almost immediately after I entered and I didn’t even get beyond the first room.
Update: Added the link to Aywren’s post which I forgot to do before publishing.
I’ve slowed down a bit, but I’m still making progress in Heavensward. I made it to level 57 and got through The Vault after putting it off for half a week. The last boss with all the chess pieces (or robot horse-men as I call them) was actually kind of fun. The post-dungeon cut scenes were less fun.
After The Vault I was sent back to another part of the Sea of Clouds, and shortly thereafter I was asked to fight a big whale in The Limitless Blue. Thankfully 8-man trials are less intimidating than 4-man dungeons. I was going to do it Monday but of course FFXIV was down for maintenance, so I ended up completing it tonight. The first time through everybody kept dying for some reason and people dropped from the group (I don’t think it my fault), but the second time we got through it on the first try.
In other news, I logged into Guild Wars 2 again to grab the Living Story Season 3, Episode 2. I thought about starting season 3 but I want to finish the Heart of Thorns personal story first, so I pushed ahead into Chapter 8, the point where I last left off. For my own future reference, Chapter 8 involved Glint’s Egg and three puzzles. As usual, I felt like I was playing a foreign game that bore no resemblance to the GW2 I bought back in 2012, but I finished it without too much trouble. In another six months, perhaps I’ll get to Chapter 9.
I then noticed that I had a Level 80 character boost sitting in my inventory. I have no idea when or why I got that, but it’s pretty cool. It’s the best implementation of a level boost I’ve ever seen. (Of the, um, two that I’ve actually seen in action.) You can try out every class at Level 80 before committing to the one you want.
I already have Necromancer, Ranger, Guardian, and Revenant at 80, so I tried out Engineer, Elementalist, Warrior, Mesmer, and Thief. They all play pretty much exactly the same at 80 as they do at 20-something, so I didn’t learn much about the classes. I figured I would decide which one I least liked to play, and boost that one. Unfortunately I couldn’t decide. It’s a tie between Engineer, Elementalist, and Thief for least fun class, so the boost remains unused.
In the meantime I started playing Mesmer again. In trying it at level 80, I remembered that I’ve always liked it. I used one of those Birthday XP Boosters which lasts for 24 hours, then roamed around low-level areas doing events and world bosses and unlocking hero points. It was fun. I thought about using a level 40 boost to speed things up, but leveling is the best part of GW2. It’s slower than I remember, though. I only made it up to 30, even with the XP boost.