Having a blast with Overwatch!

Overwatch PC

After work Thursday morning I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a copy of Overwatch for PC (I normally download games, but have gone over my 400gb bandwidth cap for two straight months and run the risk of getting forced into a higher tier plan). I didn’t follow Overwatch much before its release, and never played any of the beta’s, however I couldn’t escape the buzz around the launch of Overwatch. Everything I had heard about it was overwhelmingly positive, and after being disappointed by Battleborn I figured Overwatch would better live up to expectations.

I spent a few hours with the game this weekend and am already hooked! Overwatch’s matches are fast paced and brief, compared to the drawn out, boring matches of Battleborn. I know they’re two different games, but it’s hard to avoid comparing the two. What’s even better is that just about every match feels competitive, I’ve never encountered a match where it didn’t at least feel like my team could win. Most of the matches I’ve played end up in an overtime period and it’s been exhilarating to just barely squeak out a win at the last minute of a match.

Overwatch roster

The list of characters available at the start of Overwatch seems daunting, however it’s pretty easy to learn how to play a character. The ability to swap hero’s each time you spawn (if you wish) further encourages experimentation. If you start a match with a character you’ve never played and realize you’re not going to have fun during the match, you can switch to another hero before your next respawn with no penalty.

Overwatch Pharrah

Despite the variety of heros available, I haven’t been able to get away from playing as Pharah. I’ve just had too much fun to try anyone else. I love being able to shoot anywhere in the vicinity of enemies (or groups of enemies) and doing enough splash damage to take them down. I might not be playing well, but it feels like I’m contributing to the cause even if I’m not racking up kills (or eliminations).

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Overwatch looks and runs great on both my desktop and my laptop. I recently picked up an Acer Aspire V15 Nitro – Black Edition (GTX 960M 2GB, 2.60GHz i7, 8GB RAM) and it runs great on high settings while still being smooth and looking great, which is awesome! The UI and menus of Overwatch are also expertly crafted, and everything feels just right.

Everything about Overwatch just feels perfect. The gameplay is easy to pick up and fun for everyone, and the objective based matches are always enjoyable and never feel one sided. The loot box system is a great way to make players want to play ‘just one more match’ to level up and earn a new box, however even without a reward system I’d want to keep playing for hours because every moment of Overwatch is absolutely thrilling.

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I can’t wait to jump back into Overwatch. I can see myself playing a match or two a day for months and months to come.

 

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DOOM is a darn good game. Unfortunately I kept getting lost

demonic invasion in progress

I don’t think anyone expected much from the new DOOM game that released last week. For starters Bethesda didn’t send copies out to reviewers, which is usually a surefire sign that a game is either going to be outright bad or perform below expectations. Yet once DOOM went live almost everyone reacted with pure joy. “DOOM is back!” people were saying.

I’ve never been really into DOOM, but I recognize its importance and its impact on the modern FPS genre. I could never bring myself to play the game back in mid nineties, but I did enjoy watching others play and it was a stressful experience watching them try to survive through each level.

I was able to get a copy of DOOM for the Xbox One on release day from Redbox, and after it installed I jumped in, still not knowing quite what to expect. I was impressed by how quickly the game gets you going, and I’m glad there’s no tutorial or slow start that most games feature these days. The game basically throws you into the thick of it while offering helpful information via tips that pop up on screen in the early moments. Hopefully this is something more developers will replicate as I had more enjoyment during the first few minutes of the game than I have just about any shooter in the last ten years.

The shooting and non-stop action of DOOM are incredibly solid and it was a joy to mow down enemies while keeping in constant motion, grabbing health packs and armor as quickly as possible. You won’t get very far trying to take cover and play it safe in DOOM, you need to run in head first and be moving constantly if you want to succeed. DOOM plays differently from most modern shooters in this way and it’s actually quite refreshing (despite it being a throwback to how FPS’s played 20 years ago).

The music and environments in DOOM are exceptionally well done and help continue the throwback to classic shooters. You won’t find lengthy dialogue or cut scenes while you’re playing and the game is divided into actual levels with entrances and exits (and also plenty of secrets to find in between).

This brings me to the one thing that kept me from truly enjoying DOOM, and that’s the puzzle nature of its maps. Quite a few times during the first three levels that I played I found myself lost and going in circles again and again trying to figure out where I needed to go next. True there’s an objective indicator, but I still couldn’t figure out how to progress in the direction I needed to more often than I should have. Even looking at the map didn’t seem to help, as the 3D overlapping maps made it hard to figure out how I could get to where I needed to be.

I got so lost on Foundry that I ultimately decided to give the game a rest for now. I had killed all the enemies I could find, and yet couldn’t figure out how to get to where I needed to be. I went in circles at least seven or eight times before I decided to end it all by jumping into the lava and taking the game back to Redbox.

DOOM is definitely a great game, I’m not trying to say it isn’t. If I didn’t have the issue of getting lost I probably would have finished it in one sitting and would be telling you that it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in years. Unfortunately, I can’t sit here and say that just yet. I get frustrated easily with games, and after having so much fun shooting and tearing apart enemies, the lull of trying to figure out the puzzle of the map just took the joy out of the game for me.

I’ll probably end up giving DOOM another shot in the near future (probably on PC this time), but for now I think I’ve had my fill.

Upgraded to an SSD (a painful process)

This weekend I bought a SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SSD hoping for a quick and easy way to significantly improve my PC’s performance. Well, I can’t say it was quick or particularly easy, but in the end it was definitely worth it.

I didn’t do a lot of research going into the weekend, but I didn’t think it would be a complicated process. I’ve never upgraded hard drives (or any hardware) before, but figured it should be a simple plug and play process. That didn’t quite turn out to be true. I picked up the 960GB SSD at Best Buy for $250 on Saturday and drove home hoping to slap it in and start the process of transferring all of my files. Well after I got home I realized that the SSD was a 2.5″ drive and I would need a bracket or enclosure in order to properly install the drive. I also found out that I didn’t have any extra SATA cables (I assumed there would be as there were several extra power cables inside my PC.

SanDisk Ultra II SSD

I then went back to Best Buy to look for a bracket or enclosure, but it turned out that they didn’t sell any. With no RadioShack’s, Circuit City’s or other electronic stores around I figured Best Buy would have more of a PC component selection, but in reality they have very little. They at least had a SATA cable, so I picked that up and a USB 3.0 enclosure just in case that became my last resort.

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When I got home I stared at my PC case and decided I would just rig something up for the SSD. I connected the drive and used some zip ties to secure the drive. It may not be pretty, but it did the job!

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Then came the process of cloning my hard drive to the SSD. This was the worst part of the entire day. I spent hours trying to figure out how to do it, trying to use several programs with little luck. I initially tried using Macrium Reflect, however it kept telling me that there wasn’t enough space on the SSD to complete the clone. My hard drive is 2TB, however I only had about 850GB of data on it, so I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working. I kept deleting games from my Steam library one at a time until I got down to about 600GB and it still wasn’t working. I came to the conclusion that it must be trying to clone 2TB onto the 960GB drive, and after searching the web it seemed like the easiest solution would be to use a program that could automatically downsize a drive while cloning.

I ended up shelling out $32 for Aomei Partition Assistant Pro which seemed like the most promising program to do the job. I had read that Clonezilla would work, but I didn’t feel like fooling around with running it from a USB drive or anything like that. Once I downloaded Partition Assistant Pro and told it to start the clone everything seemed like it would work out. The program said it needed to restart my computer to start the clone process in “preos mode”.

The computer restarted, however I was greeted with nothing but a black screen. I freaked out a bit and let it sit there thinking it might do something, but nothing ever happened. I eventually turned off my computer and turned it back on, and this time it launched into the clone process without any further hiccups.

After about an hour the process completed and I switched switched the boot priority in BIOS and was finally ready to see the SSD in action. I was impressed with how fast my PC booted using the SSD, and felt that the pain in the neck was finally worth it.

Unfortunately, there was one more headache to deal with. For whatever reason Steam would not work properly on the SSD, even though the SSD was now my C: drive. I could launch games, however when I tried to download any game or update I would get an error saying “disk write error”. I tried changing the permissions of my Steam folder, but still had no luck. Ultimately I copied my Steam apps folder over to my newly formatted 2TB drive and uninstalled and reinstalled Steam. After the fresh install I copied the Steam apps folder back and everything was finally back to working normally!

 

I’m glad the process is over with, and am happy with the results for sure, I’m just annoyed that it took so long to complete a simple upgrade. Part of it was my fault for being uninformed, but overall I wish things could have been easier. I’ve used a MacBook for the past four years and have done all of my gaming on an Xbox One, iPad and 3DS so I’m not used to all of the inconveniences that come alongside PC gaming. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but it seems like this is only the first of many headaches that lie ahead as a new PC gamer.

My continuing adventure in Fallout 4

Fallout 4 molerat mount

I’m still slowly working my way through Fallout 4, and every venture out into the wasteland continues to surprise me. I’ve come across several things in my travels that made me stop and scratch my head, laugh or simply smile, and it’s crazy to think these are things that people could entirely miss if they’re not keeping their eyes peeled. These little things have no impact on the gameplay, but they certainly make me appreciate the world of Fallout 4 even more.

Fallout 4 dead man and teddy bear

I came across the scene above after accidentally strolling into a subway station. I didn’t intend to enter the station at all, I just got too close to the entrance and the game automatically transitioned me into the station. At first I was a little annoyed, knowing I’d have to face additional loading time to get back into the Commonwealth, however once inside I figured I’d at least see if there was anything worth grabbing. I didn’t find much, and the skeleton and teddy bear above didn’t even catch my eye at first. I just saw another dead body as I looked around for any interesting loot. As I was preparing to leave the area I just happened to glance down at the two and could not help but laugh out loud once I saw them sitting there. I could just imagine the man saying “screw it”, throwing shades and a hat on himself and the bear and lighting a cigar as the world collapsed around him. What a way to go. I couldn’t even bring myself to loot their sunglasses, I had to leave them be.

Fallout 4 forge

It wouldn’t be a day of Fallout if I didn’t die in some stupid way. Today’s silly death came via the forge. I had read the terminal inside that featured a list of names, most of which met their fate by being fed to the forge, but when I saw got outside and saw the forge the fact that I was looking at a stairway to death didn’t even cross my mind. I figured there had to be loot up there, and even though I looked right at it, I failed to notice that the gap in the floor that would lead to my agonizing death. As I fell into the forge I couldn’t even be mad.

Fallout 4 railroad

Just before I finished playing for the day I finally came across the railroad, and the characters that I’ve met so far are some of the most interesting I’ve come across recently. I’m excited to dive into the quest line and see what adventure awaits me next.

What platform will you get Battlefield 1 on?

So EA released the first trailer revealing their next Battlefield game yesterday, and the internet exploded with excitement. The video shot to the top of the list of YouTube trending videos, and already has over 9 million views and 600,000 likes. This positive reaction interestingly contrasts with the overwhelmingly negative reaction to Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer (the five day old trailer has 10 million views and over 700,000 dislikes which led to Activision’s CEO having to address the negativity with a statement ).

EA’s Battlefield 1 trailer is a home run by many accounts, and I’m one of the millions awe struck by the incredible trailer. I practically got chills while watching it over and over yesterday! So the decision is not whether I’m going to pre-order Battlefield 1 (I most certainly am), but for which platform.

I recently got my first gaming PC, and I’ve been enjoying the better graphics and performance that comes along with joining the infamous “PC master race” (a silly term I don’t necessarily enjoy seeing), however I’m not certain if I can get used to Battlefield on PC. I signed up for EA’s Origin Access yesterday (I’ve been an EA Access subscriber on the Xbox One since its start) so that I could get access to Battlefield 4 and all of its DLC on PC for just $5 a month (it also includes access to a ton of other games I’ll enjoy playing).

origin access

 

I’ve tried playing a few matches of Battlefield 4 on PC, and although it looks great running on high settings, I can’t quite get used to the gameplay. I find trying to play with a mouse and keyboard a bit overwhelming. There’s just too much going on, and I’m not figuring it out as easily as I did the first time I picked up a controller. The mouse certainly feels good for aiming, however I’m finding it difficult to perform multiple actions at once, such as trying to tag enemies while lining up my shots. I’m sure I could get used to it if I keep playing, but I’m finding it’s just driving me to want to switch over to my Xbox One and play Battlefield 4 on there.

B4 battlelog

It’s also worth considering which platform my friends will be getting Battlefield 1 on. I have more friends that are console gamers, however a few of my friends have also built their first gaming PC’s as well. It would be nice if cross platform play would progress by the time the game releases, but I’m not confident that that will happen. It’s nice to play Rocket League cross platform, but without any sort of party system in which I can join my friends in matchmaking it’s not really useful.

It’ll probably be a few months before I ultimately decide on either the PC or Xbox version, but I’m curious, which platform will you be playing on? Which would you recommend to me, or others in my situation?

‘Captain America: Civil War’ did not impress

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Last night I saw “Captain America: Civil War” and it wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t quite live up to expectations. Civil War ends up being a pretty solid Marvel movie, but the problem is that I’m tired of Marvel movies. I said it after watching “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and it’s still true now. There doesn’t seem to be anything unique in most of the Marvel movies recently. Every one I end up watching feels like I could be watching any other movie in the series. You could practically rip the main character out, throw in a different Avenger and nothing would change.

I expected Civil War to fall more in line with the comic and was disappointed to see it go in a different direction. I wanted it to be darker, but the entire fissure in the Avengers team ends up feeling entirely insignificant. It’s less of a civil war and more of a minor disagreement with no real consequences.

civil war

There were some pretty cool fight scenes in Civil War, but everything still ended up feeling rather shallow. There was no significance to anything and a lot of it felt forced just to be able to create the fight between Team Captain America and Team Iron Man.

On its own “Captain America: Civil War” may be a pretty solid movie, but going into it expecting something with a little more weight seemed to tarnish the experience. I think it may be time to finally wise up and stop seeing the Marvel movies in theaters. They’re just not doing enough to keep me entertained anymore. They all feel the same to me, and the movies have lost any sort of significance they used to have.

Lesson of the day: Save often in Fallout 4

While playing Bethesda RPG’s most people know you should be saving often. You never know what will confront you around the next turn or anytime you enter a building or new area. Everyone knows this. Right?

Unfortunately, too many times I’ve found myself becoming complacent while playing Fallout 4. I’m currently working on my Xbox One playthrough (I’ve started on PC, but would prefer to finish it on Xbox first) and I learned a lesson the hard way today.

I was exploring the satellite array, as part of the ‘Lost Patrol’ questline and I struggled several times to clear the area. There are quite a few difficult enemies in the area, and I kept getting overwhelmed. I didn’t have any artillery in range, so I called in a vertibird hoping to use the minigun to my advantage. Unfortunately, I got myself killed again and again, usually by an exploding vertibird as I tried to take down some of the brutes.

Eventually I got the area clear and took down the legendary super mutant with the help of all three of my mini nukes and several missiles. I was working on checking out the area and gathering up all of the useful loot when I eyed a set of steep stairs that seemed to be hiding something good!

Fallout 4 satellite array stairs

As I approached the stairs I thought to myself maybe I should save, but figured I’d wait until I got to the top. Well it turns out I’m quite terrible at walking up narrow stairs, as I plunged to my agonizing death seconds later. What a terrible feeling! The worst part was that my most recent save was before I took on the legendary mutant, and I failed three more times before I finally downed him again. As I approached the deadly stairs again I made sure to save before I took the above screenshot, and then I carefully crawled up the stairs to see what awaited above. Would it be worth the horrific death?

As it turns out, what lied above wasn’t really worth it. There was some ammo and some power armor, but I never even use power armor. I find it too much of a hassle to track it down and equip it, even though wearing a suit probably would have made clearing out the satellite arrays much easier.

I learned a hard lesson today, and with that I sort of lost the desire to play more Fallout today. Dying over and over again got a little frustrating, so I’m putting Fallout aside in favor of some more Rocket League, a game that’s much easier on my blood pressure!