I’ve become the curmudgeonly old gamer we all were afraid we’d end up being.
A lot of the gaming I do, in what time I have for it, is retro-games. I dabble in some of the old 16 bit classics, via emulator. I have a 3DS that amuses me from time to time. The sad thing? My shiny new PS4 is a thing I mostly use for Netflix these days. I have fallen asleep in front of an episode of Columbo more times than I’d care to admit.
A lot of the games that come out these days just make me sad, or bitter, or both. Diablo 3 was a piece of garbage. So was StarCraft 2 – I think, by now, Blizz has to have learned its lesson about the whole “releasing each expansion as its own game” racket. IIRC, it wasn’t as big a money train as they may have been hoping for, given the time and resources they’ve had to commit to seeing it through. I’ve left and come back to WoW a couple of times, but I never had… whatever it is it takes to be a “raider.” That game really wants to reward you for sitting on your ass for lots of days, doesn’t it?
And, M3… don’t get me started on the new FFs. Square completely lost me about a third of the way through FF 12. Now THAT game was a rancid piece of shit, let me tell you. I think it was damn pride that kept me playing it as long as I did. What I’ve heard about 13 sorta jives with M3’s report, but I never felt the motivation to check it out for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, though, there HAVE been games that I’ve played that haven’t made me want to scream complaints till my throat bled. City of Heroes was among the best online gaming experiences I ever had. It didn’t always have the graphical polish of WoW, but one thing it really did well was put control squarely in the player’s hands. Whereas in WoW, you’re very much a guest in the Metzenverse, witnessing story without actually playing a part in it in any meaningful way, in City of Heroes you could pretty much make the experience whatever you wanted it to be. The near infinite options of class, power and appearance customization combinations meant that it was really quite rare to find any two characters who were exactly alike – as opposed to WoW, where virtually every endgame Prot spec Paladin has gear pieces X, Y, Z and B.
Since City of Heroes folded, you can have a similar, though not identical, experience with Star Trek Online. STO uses the same basic engine as City of Heroes, and its character customization options share a similar DNA, although you are sort of limited by the genre and franchise. Still, it’s kinda fun because you get to fly around in a ship and blow the shit out of things. My personal favorite ship type are the Klingon Birds of Prey. Because dropping cloak behind your target and shoving three photon torpedos up their nacelles is how an honor-bound space Mongolian do. Mandatory disclaimer: STO is FTP, which means it is lousy with microtransactions. Which, I guess, are okay… I mean, if you can reconcile yourself to spending $45 in a single day on a bunch of tiny little cosmetic whatsises for your ship when a monthly sub for an MMO would normally run you only $15/month, I guess that’s between you and your god(s). Anyway, buyer beware.
Nearest and dearest to my heart, however, are a few classic RPGs that’ve gotten re-released within the last few years: Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2, IceWind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. BG and IWD got the full makeover treatment (with brand spanking new content) from a new house called BeamDog (composed of a bunch of BioWare expats), while PS:T has found new life through GOG.com. All four of these games are what I might call “mandatory reading” for anyone who claims to be an old school gamer.
One last plug: Shadowrun’s gotten new life as a turn-based tactical RPG on Steam called Shadowrun Returns. It also has an expansion, which they’ve released as a stand-alone game called Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Both are INCREDIBLY good; these days I rarely have the focus or time to play a game like this through to the end, but I’m proud to say I’ve beaten both games and am still hungry for more.
As a side note, perhaps of interest to this crowd: BG1&2 and IWD are multiplayer games. How bitchin’ would it be to play through a deep-story RPG with Kupopolis folk?..