The Diablo IV Closed Beta Was Too Tempting To Pass Up

I had such a great time playing the Diablo IV closed beta this past weekend (around chores and preparations for my impending trip), that I decided to break with my usual writing habits and post this the day after I wrote it. I didn’t want to wait two whole weeks (since I’ll be taking next week off for said trip) to tell everyone how much fun I had, especially when there’s still time for people to give the open beta a try if I post it this week.

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My Final Thoughts On Chained Echoes

I finished Chained Echoes last night (you can find my early thoughts here). I mean, I’ve still got a bit of post-game type stuff to do (unlocking the last two ultimate weapons, getting and upgrading some of the ultimate armors, etc), but I’m most of the way through that as well and only the final (extra) boss fight really appeals to me. Clearly, I didn’t need the fully upgraded ultimate everything to finish the game. I managed to figure out a system of abilitys and debilities in battle that has worked pretty well for me and I can now reliably put out enough damage while keeping my Damage Per Second anchors alive that I was able to get through the final plot boss fight fast enough that I think the game was struggling to do all the cool stages of the fight before I blew the boss away. I even tested it against a timed encounter that’s part of the “collect the macguffins to unlock the ultimate hidden boss fight” line of challenges that had been absolutely unbeatable only a few gaming hours earlier (I’d literally tried it before heading off to the final area where I got the ultimate armors and weapons and whatnot) and managed to end it faster than I thought was possible. I’m not sure I really need to do more of this kind of collection and gear imrpovement stuff before I take the hidden boss on, so I might try to bang that out tonight or this weekend.

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Becoming a World Traveler In Dragon’s Dogma

For what feels like a year now, I’ve been working my way through Dragon’s Dogma. I tend to play in bursts, usually doing nothing else for a weekend or for a few week nights in a row, and then moving on to somehting else for a while. Most of the time, I wind up getting distracted by a new game that feels more urgent than the relatively ancient Dragon’s Dogma which doesn’t even have a release year for its sequel. One time, I got frustrated with a bug and losing three quarters of an hour of inventory management, so I set it aside long enough that I forgot what had caused the bug in the first place and promptly ran into it again when I went back. I’d saved more recently, this time, so it was easier to fix the problem, but it did keep me from diving too deeply into the game that round. The past couple weeks, though, as I try to save some of my recently acquired Switch games for my impending trip, I’ve focused more of my time on Dragon’s Dogma and discovered that the real reason I stop playing most days is because it takes so damn long to get anywhere.

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Kirby’s Return To Kirby’s Dream Land

Yesterday, I wrote about my return to one of the first video games I ever played and the first game I ever owned as I played Kirby’s Dreamland via the Game Boy add-on to my Nintendo Online subscription. After playing that a couple times, and in the time I could spare from playing Chained Echoes (a wonderful game you absolutely should play), I’ve been playing through Kirby’s Return to Dream Land: Deluxe. It doesn’t quite hit the same, emotionally (probably due to the lack of nostalgia), but it has the warm, pleasant, and upbeat vibe that I’ve come to associate with pretty much every Kirby game. I have only played a couple hours, so far–just enough time to really get a feel for what the game brings to the table–but that’s enough for me to be excited to continue playing. Not because I expect this game to be some kind of masterpiece, but because it has a fun, relatively simple gameplay loop and embraces being exactly what it is in a way that few game franchises ever seem to.

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My Return To Kirby’s Dream Land

One of the latest Nintendo Online subscription perks added after the latest Nintendo Direct in February is a collection of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. As someone who first got their start on a good old Game Boy Pocket, I was looking forward to indulging in a bit of nostalgia, especially because the games are all fairly short and quick to play (by today’s standards, especially). Opening it up after it finished download was like finding my collection of Game Boy games that vanished when I was nine or ten. All of my earliest gaming memories, save Pokémon, were staring back at me from my TV. I had a difficult time picking what to play first but eventually settled on Kirby’s Dream Land. As I launched the game and started playing pretty much immediately, I felt a level of familiarity I hadn’t expected. After all, it has been over two decades since I last played the game.

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I’m Tired and Sad, So Let’s Talk About The Legend of Zelda: Episode 20

I cracked the Breath of the Wild open (metaphorically speaking) for the first time in a while. I was at the end of a very tiring day, I was excited about the recently released trailer, and I just wanted to provide myself with a little comfort. I figured at least thinking about Breath of the Wild would be relaxing, since I love to just wander around the world, doing whatever catches my attention. As I loaded my most recent save file, I was reminded that I hadn’t finish my most-recent play-through of Master Mode. I don’t remember why I stopped, though I suspect I just got distracted by another game (since that’s why I usually stop playing something), but I realized I still had a long way to go before I was finished with that run. I closed the game shortly after that. I felt more inclined to start the Master Mode file over than continue it, but I also knew I wasn’t really in the right place to make that decision, then. Playing the game all the way through is a big committment and I needed rest, not another item on my to-do list.

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Chained Echoes Is More Fun Than I’ve Had In Ages

Over the past week and a half, I’ve spent what limited evening video game time I’ve got playing Chained Echoes on my Switch. I only heard about the game because a podcaster I follow (Austin Walker of the wonderful Friends at the Table) tweeted about appearing on an episode of another podcast (specifically the Jan 16th, 2023 episode of Axe of the Blood God: An RPG Podcast). Since I’m really into RPGs and I trust Austin’s opinions on games, I decided to give it a listen. Wound up getting myself a new RPG to enjoy and a new podcast to check out at the same time. Unfortunately, for a while there, I was too stressed out to consider trying anything new, especially after the new thing I was most excited for wound up being incredibly underwhelming. Between that and just being generally busy, I didn’t start playing Chained Echoes until last week.

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DOOMed to Enjoy This Franchise

In the recent years of my life, I’ve grown to appreciate the run’n’gun style of games. I suppose you could say that it began with Halo back in the day, but I don’t think I really appreciate the genre/style until I started playing DOOM (2016). DOOM’s simple mechanics, fast-paced combat, and loose approach to storytelling made it a very fun game to sit back and play when I was too stressed or tired to invest in a game. Most of the story was told through codex updates and the occasional speech you couldn’t walk away from, which means it was mostly there for you to find if you wanted to look for it while it stayed out of the way the rest of the time. Doom Guy even leans into it, punching screens and breaking things rather than listening to exposition or operating instructions.

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The Dumbest Part of Breath of the Wild

I’ve been putting off doing the last piece of DLC for Breath of the Wild for a few months now. I wanted to do it in my Hard Mode play-through, since that’s the one I plan to eventually 100% complete and I wanted to have all of the shrines and inventory expansions done before then so I could just saunter my way through the DLC. Having finally done all of that, and having finally sauntered through the DLC aside from a rather long hiccup on a spike-focused shrine on the plateau, I kinda wish I hadn’t.

The extra memories the second major DLC added were wonderful. I loved learning more about each of the champions and seeing different sides of them. I enjoyed reading their journals and talking to people who revered them. Even the most annoying, asshole of a champion, Revali (an egotistical, grandiose Rito who wanted nothing to do with Link and who was convinced he could save the world on his own) was redeemed once I got to know him a little more. His behavior and bravado made sense and his frustration with Link became clear.

The shrines were a ton of fun, aside from the aforementioned spike shrine. I died more times in that shrine than I did during the rest of the game put together. Being reduced to a quarter of a heart and then forced to run through a maze full of spikes that kill you if you so much as miss-step even once. There were a few weird moments where Link did the Assassin’s Creed style of pathing: he refused to just go straight and instead followed a different game mechanic to do some weird jump off to the side and away from where you’re going in such a way that you cannot recover without basically starting over again. There was a thing I should have been able to just climb up that Link not only failed to climb up five times in a row, but ran along it in such a way that he immediately fell to his death. It was frustrating.

The final boss and the new dungeon were a ton of fun, even if the final boss was annoying on account of its weird mechanics. I managed anyway, because I had an inventory full of weapons and I just kept throwing them at it. My roommate, who had already completed the DLC on his file, gave me a bunch of shit for opting to take the simple, inelegant solution for beating the boss but I was ready to just be done and discover what my reward way.

It was a fucking motorcycle. And not even an amazing motorcycle. Sure, it’s pretty fast, but it turns super slowly, bounces all over the place, loses momentum randomly, and generally sucks as a way to get around a large area. If horses aren’t available, it is definitely faster than walking, but neither horses nor Link’s legs randomly glitch when encountering certain terrain features like mild bumps or stairs. Furthermore, you have to fuel the motorcycle by getting off of it, grabbing a bunch of junk from your inventory, and then placing it into the motorcycle’s tank. Sure, I’ve got enough junk to keep it full no matter how much I use it, but it is rather annoying to need to stop the motorcycle and refuel it seeing as I might be using it to run from a monster or chase down a star fragment.

Honestly, I’m rather frustrated that the reward for all of the shrines and extra content from the DLC was this motorcycle. I doubt I’ll ever use it and now the joy of further information about the champions has been permanently tainted. I would still recommend playing through the DLC to learn about the champions, but make sure to rein in your expectations and don’t expect much for finishing the DLC.