I’ll be writing again soon!

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Hey, I just wanted to check in and explain why I haven’t written very much of anything over the last few weeks. I was taking a class for work that demanded a lot of my time, which meant I had very little time left over to play video games and even less time to write about them. I mostly only played a few hours of Overwatch on the Xbox One over the last few weeks, and while I prefer the PC version, the fact that I have friends who play on the Xbox that I can group up with makes it much more fun to play on the Xbox.

I tried out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided from Redbox, but didn’t really like it at all. I found the opening cinematic very corny / video gamey, and couldn’t take it serious. Besides that I found it to be overly difficult, even on the easiest setting. I had never played a Deus Ex game before and I died over and over again early on until I just decided to give up all together and go back to Overwatch.

I’ll be writing soon! Thank you for your patience!

Trying out Overwatch on the Xbox

This weekend I ended up buying a second copy of Overwatch for the Xbox One (I’ve only played on PC previously) because I wanted to be able to play with some friends who only play on Xbox. I’ve played a handful of matches on the Xbox so far, and it’s an entirely different world compared to PC. During the very first match I played I ended up with three kids on my team, who sounded maybe 11 or 12, who had no idea what they were doing, but they’d just scream in excitement anytime anything happened. Heck, one of the kid’s gamertag had the word Minecraft in it. It was a cringeworthy experience. I played several more matches, and I was having flashbacks to my early Halo 3 experiences on the Xbox 360 via the voice chat. I’ve often complained that it seems like no one uses voice chat on the Xbox One, but that’s certainly not true so far with Overwatch.

I’m hoping the negative experiences are just because I’m playing at a low level so far (around level 5), but the community isn’t the only thing that makes it different than playing on PC. I’ve noticed the load times are excruciatingly slow. On PC I can launch into a match in a matter of seconds, however on the Xbox One it seems like every time I end up waiting a minute, get thrown into a skirmish for several minutes and then end up loading into an actual match. I’ve hardly ever experienced the skirmish “waiting room” on PC, and it wouldn’t really bug me, but the load time into and out of the skirmish is painfully slow.

The graphics, of course, look a lot less sharp, but they’re not terrible. The real bummer comes with using the controller to aim. It’s an incredibly different experience, and it’s incredibly painful to line up shots. Despite this, I’ve found it incredibly easy to dominate as Bastion. Maybe it’s because I have a lot of experience with Bastion on the PC and I’m playing against presumably newer players so far, but I’ve gotten higher kill streaks than I ever have on PC and it’s been fun!

Overwatch Origins Edition

The PC version of Overwatch will continue to be my go to game, however it’s nice to be able to hop in and play with an entirely different pool of players every now and then. I don’t feel bad about buying Overwatch twice at all. Blizzard has made such a beautiful game that they deserve every penny they’ve earned from me.

The Galaxy Note 7 and the new Gear VR (first impression)

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This week I decided to upgrade my Galaxy S6 to the newly released Note 7, and it arrived in the mail last night. So far I’m more in love with it than any phone I’ve had to date. I love the sleek design and the solid weight that it has in the hand. It just feels great! I also love the screen, it seems like a huge improvement over the S6 which I’m really happy with. Beyond that, the curved edges are a nice touch, and I especially love the way that the time and date will display on the curved edge at night, making for the perfect bedside clock.

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I haven’t done too much with the phone yet, but one of the first things I did was pick up the new Gear VR which is compatible with the Note 7. I enjoyed using the old Gear VR with the S6, however right out of the box I immediately realized that the new model is greatly improved over the old one. It’s much more comfortable to wear, and at times feels as if it’s not even there (at least compared to the awkward feeling of the old one). Also with the Note 7 I have yet to have the nagging overheating issues I’ve had with the S6, however I also haven’t done anything more taxing than watching a few 360 videos so far.

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I’m looking forward to getting to know the Note 7 more intimately, but I can already tell I’m going to love it for a long time.

The International 6: My reintroduction to Dota 2

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A few weeks ago I watched the documentary “Free to Play” and it immediately piqued my interest in Dota 2. The stories that were told about the featured players got me more interested in eSports than anything ever had previously. I found myself caring about these players, and I was excited to watch Fear and Dendi’s progress throughout the film. Once I finished watching it I wanted to know when the next International tournament was, and to my surprise it was only a week away.

On Saturday morning I tuned into The International and was hooked from the start. They did a great job telling the story of the tournament so far, and made it easy to cheer for Digital Chaos and their underdog story even if you had never heard of them before the tournament.

I got so into the experience of the tournament that I ordered the TI6 attendee grab bag that the Dota store was selling, and it arrived yesterday!

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I had a great time unpacking the bag, and was impressed with the quality of the pins included. It’s pretty cool that the pins have codes to unlock matching “genuine” pins that you can display on your Steam profile.

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Since TI6 I’ve tried to learn to play Dota, but have found it quite time consuming. I’ve played a few matches, and it’s been an uphill battle. During the first match I played after the conclusion of TI6 I had my entire team quit within the first 5 minutes of the match, and it was me taking on a team of 4. I guess I could have quit the match without penalty, but I saw it out and got pounded into the ground. Soon afterward I finally found another player willing to give me a hand and I started to learn the ropes.

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I won two matches in a row and started to have fun playing! That said, the time commitment required to play Dota 2 is still a little off-putting. It’s not fun to spend 45 minutes or longer facing an uphill battle just to lose in the end. It’s especially unpleasant when no one communicates on the team. It’d be nice to have a team of people I could play and chat with, instead of feeling like I’m playing with a team of AI.

Ultimately I’m going to keep trying to learn to play Dota. There are so many characters, and I’ve only played as two so far (Doombringer and Chaos Knight). I look forward to learning more about Dota, and I can’t wait to watch the next competition!

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My time with No Man’s Sky (PC) so far

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Against better judgement I ended up purchasing No Man’s Sky on Steam Friday. As much as I told myself to listen to all of the talk about the game not being all that great, I still wanted to see for myself.

Unfortunately, the PC release of No Man’s Sky has been somewhat of a trainwreck so far. Numerous people have reported that the game either constantly crashes, runs at a low or inconsistent framerate, or otherwise runs like complete garbage.

No Man's Sky screenshot

I’m running an AMD FX 8320 overclocked to 4GHz, a GTX 1060 and 16GB RAM and the game certainly doesn’t run smoothly. Fortunately it’s playable, but there are so many stutters in framerate and instances where the game just seems to crawl to a halt out of nowhere making it a nuisance to play for long periods of time.

Outside of the performance issues, I think I’m starting to reaffirm my belief that the game doesn’t have much substance. In my four hours or so of game time I haven’t found a lot of pleasure in discovering new creatures and plant life, because they all just look like variations on the same thing so far.┬áSome things look cool, but they all act the same so there’s no real reason to interact with anything other than to farm resources.

No Man's Sky screenshot

One of the reasons I bought No Man’s Sky, despite my reservations about the game, was that I heard people tell unique stories that made it seem like everyone’s time with the game could be entirely unique. Unfortunately, withing four hours of playing I’ve already had the exact same experience described in stories I’ve heard others tell. One of them involved an interaction at a monolith and another an interaction with an alien. These would have made for wonderful experiences, had I not already known exactly what to do with the same outcome as those who told the stories previously.

No Man's Sky monolith

When I stopped playing this morning I had just made it to my second system and landed on the first┬áplanet there. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I have a sinking feeling that I won’t be able to tell the difference between any planet on this system compared to my first system.

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Hopefully Hello Games hurries up and gets the PC version optimized so that it’s a more pleasurable experience. Until then I’ll probably hop in and explore for a few minutes a day and will continue to post about anything interesting I come across.

Rocket League Championship Series: Not a great eSport

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I was browsing Twitter yesterday morning when I came across a tweet about the Rocket League Championship Series, of which the first day of the finals was to air on Twitch. Between checking out EVO on ESPN and watching the documentary “Free to Play” I’d been interested in checking out eSports lately, so I decided I would watch.

Rocket League is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and this would be the first time I’d be watching an eSport competition in a game that I actually play. I figured it’d be interesting to see what high level play looked like, and I eagerly tuned in as the event began.

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Right off the bat I was a little put off by the commentating crew. They seemed to be struggling to provide interesting commentary, and one commentator used the phrase “like” so much that I could barely endure listening to it. This is one area that eSports events really need to work on if they want to attract a more mainstream audience.

Once the first match began, I started to realize that Rocket League isn’t very entertaining to watch. Despite the competition being between some of the best players in the world the play seemed as chaotic and random as just about any Rocket League match I’ve ever participated in. That’s not to say the players weren’t skilled, I could never pull off any of the aerial plays that they made look easy, but it all seemed random, and there didn’t seem to be much strategy involved. Maybe it was just the way they switched between cameras, but it all just seemed chaotic and none of the play looked smooth.

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I probably could have kept watching the event out of curiosity, however the quality of the stream was a deal breaker. The video outside of the gameplay was fine, but during matches the video was stuttering like crazy, it was like watching sub 30fps gameplay and my eyes couldn’t take it. Whatever they were doing to capture the gameplay just wasn’t allowing for a quality production. It certainly had nothing to do with my internet connection (which is 200mbps for the record) because when they were showing video inside the arena it was clear and perfectly smooth. I saw many other people complaining about a video lag in the chat, and once I realized it wasn’t going to get any better I had to stop watching.

The second leg of the Rocket League Championship Series final airs today at 10AM PDT, however I don’t think I’ll be giving it another chance. Even if the gameplay stream quality were to be fixed I don’t think I’d be able to find watching other people play Rocket League interesting.

Did you watch any of the Rocket League Championship Series? What did you think of it? Is Rocket League a game worthy of eSports?

Checking out GTA Online’s Cunning Stunts update

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Last night I jumped onto GTA Online for the first time in awhile to check out the recent Cunning Stunts update. Cunning Stunts adds an entirely new level of absurd to GTA Online, and the races I’ve done so far have been a blast.

I had never really enjoyed the racing events in GTA Online, but Cunning Stunts mixes things up and makes each race a rush, whether you’re leading the pack or are stuck in the back. Some of the obstacles can make it easier to catch up if you’re falling behind as players might fall off the track once or twice during a tricky sequence. Last night I was about to win the second race of my GTA Online career, only to take a turn too harshly inside a tunnel which caused my car to smack into the ground and explode. The race was still exciting and led to this incredibly close finish:

I was able to have fun even while losing, because the jumps are fun and the tracks are bright, energetic and you never know what’s going to greet you down the road.

If there’s one complaint I have about Cunning Stunts, it is that some of the events I did seemed to drag on forever. I think that’s more a fault of whoever was hosting the session, however, and I’m certain some events would probably be best experienced as a single lap race, rather than multiple laps through the same jumps and obstacles.

I definitely enjoyed what I’ve experienced of the Cunning Stunts update so far and look forward to jumping back in for some more action in the future!

Cunning Stunts track