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Any games caught folks' attention lately?


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Posted (edited)

I'm finally done with WoW TBC Classic and my Pathfinder games are on indefinite hold while we try to find replacement players... which means for the first time in ages I've had time to play some PC games.  I lucked out (or maybe not?) by having this coincide with the Steam summer sale.  Picked up some games for fairly cheap I was always looking at.  Thoughts on two I've already finished (and deleted).

 

- Halo Wars - Was always curious about this.  Regret getting it... even for the $5 I paid.  Just a terrible game and a step back in so many ways compared to StarCraft which came out 20 years ago (still bad for when it first came out which was a decade after StarCraft).  Sad to see such a lazy port from console to PC.  Finished it in just 8h.  Only reason it took this long was because of some really poor level design.  I've noticed with RTS titles from recent years that they're trying too hard to be original that they end up being annoying.  I actually don't mind building bases and an army to go kill my opponent.  Kind of the reason I'm playing an RTS in the first place.

- Halo: Reach - This one was... meh.  Squad AI is atrocious.  Missions are fairly linear and boring.  UI is terrible (in particular the vehicle missions).  I actually went back and started the original Halo (slowly... playing a mission a day) and I'm actually enjoying that far more (that at least has a decent rework to modern standards and the music is still top notch).  Finished Reach in just 6h (would have been faster but was up late and incredibly tired). 

Kind of sad that single-player experiences seem to be a second thought in so many games these days.  😞

 

So... going through my folder I'm seeing Radio Commander and Atlantic Fleet.  Anyone played these?  Thoughts?  The concept behind Radio Commander seems really interesting.

Anyone come across any other games that surprised them or they're really enjoying?  It's kind of sad... most of my friends are gamers... and most can't think of a good title out there right now.  Like... when you look at reviews for Halo Wars and Reach they're pretty good and I just can't help but wonder why in the hell so many gamers out there have such low standards to rate those games as high as they did.

Edited by Skywalkre
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Fights in Tight Places.

An exercise in turn-based martial arts minimalism. I'm not really a friend of deck-building card games, but this one is really well made. I'd say, if you can get it for $15 or less you probably won't be disappointed. I think I got it for $20.- and I got my hours of entertainment out of it.

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Atlantic Fleet is bit quirky but quite good fun. 

I am just bad when fighting against submarines (IMHO worst made aspect of the game), but surface combat is fun. 

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Decided to try CP2077 at last. On one hand it's definitely 'my thing' - yuge open world, RPG elements etc. On the other as I got older I'm not as much into gaming as I was, an hour a day or so and I'm satisfied. Taking things slow as usual, focusing on exploration rather than the main quest for now. 

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I continue to be amazed by the new 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It's just a stunningly beautiful /game/ (or whatever you like to call it).

20220531205315_1.jpg?width=1121&height=6

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Posted (edited)

Messed with Radio Commander briefly.  It looks like it has potential... but has zero in-game tutorial.  That's a turn-off for me as I prefer to learn as I play.  I may go back to it someday when I have a lot of time to figure it out.

Atlantic Fleet... ugh...

So I picked up this game because it looked like it had sim elements but coupled to a strategic game.  I thought I was getting something like just the Battle of the Atlantic, Hearts of Iron style, with the option to actually fight the battles when they happen.

So what is it really? 

First, I can't be certain how deep the sim element goes.  The tutorial and layout makes it seem like stuff matters and is modeled... but I didn't play enough to really get the feel for if it actually is and there were some odd experiences with gunnery that made me feel like my inputs were almost meaningless.  (This is always a concern for me after a major bug was discovered in Anthem a few years ago.  Anyone remember that flop?  The bug was despite the numbers showing up on the screen from damage supposedly done it actually meant nothing as the enemies died at the same speed if you had the starter weapon or the most powerful one in the game... and to make things worse players didn't notice this for a long time!)

Second, the strategy part.  This is not a simulation in any way, shape, or form of the Battle of the Atlantic.  There are two 'strategic' options.  One is called Campaign mode and the other is Battle for the Atlantic. 

The former is really just a resource management game.  You start with very easy missions (the first one is killing a merchant ship apparently) and progress to harder ones.  As you kill military ships you get renown to purchase more ships.  However, once you lose a ship it's lost for good.  If you get stuck on a mission you can repeat it but lost ships are still lost.  It's not a bad concept for a game in and of itself... but that's not what I thought I was getting when I purchased this game.

In the latter play just that... the Battle of the Atlantic.  However... both sides are limited to 30 ships.  Yeah... really.  Just like in the other mode as you sink military ships you get resources to purchase more of your own.  However any semblance to the actual Battle of the Atlantic stops with the fact you have German, British, and US vessels fighting on water with a big map that looks like the Atlantic Ocean.  The first time I tried this mode I went Germany as the default ship setup.  Most fights were convoy engagements.  Then I had a few surface engagements with my real ships and noticed I was never outnumbered.

I went back and restarted the German side, this time chose the fleet I started with, went all surface ships (as many BBs and BCs as I could get), went out into the Atlantic... and had a field day killing every convoy I came across.  Ended up sinking as much tonnage as I was back using U-boats...

Give me a break...

To add insult to injury there's a lot of quality of life issues in the game.  In those convoy fights once the screens were dead there was nothing the merchant ships could do to survive... yet you're forced to play it out.  It takes several 'turns' to zero in your guns so these battles all take forever even though they're a done deal.  You're also limited to firing just one type of weapon... so if you have a bigger ship with secondaries you either use the big guns or the little guns regardless of if you're in the middle of an enemy convoy.  When you're adjusting your aiming after every salvo it gives you the corrected angle for your guns... but you have to manually move this yourself.  It's tedious and wastes a lot of time... why?  As long as you're on the same target the guns should auto-correct while leaving the option for you to change it.  There were several features in this game that were like that... instead of being set/locked/automatic you constantly had to make the changes yourself.  This is such a massive step back in gaming UI that I'm just puzzled what the devs were thinking.  (My honest thought - they knew there wasn't much to the game so left all these elements in to inflate time played.)

With all of that being said the game does have one redeeming quality.  There's an 'editor' that lets you put together whatever engagement with whatever ships you want... so the last battle I fought was every German BB (including the hypothetical H-ships) against every British and US BB.  It was... entertaining... but a slog... and I quit halfway through.  The editor is also limited because all you can do is pick your ships but not how they're initially deployed.

Edited by Skywalkre
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Posted (edited)

I may have just lucked out and picked some bad examples... but between the games I've mentioned above that I've spent the last few days playing almost all of them had massive steps backwards in QoL/UI/basic game design decisions that I'm just baffled what the hell is going on.  Yes, some of those titles above are 'old'... but as I mentioned there are even older games that did things better.

It's weird... board games (and TTRPGs) have seen a fairly decent renaissance in the last decade with many improvements and new thinking/outside the box approaches.  Meanwhile, I talk to my friends who still try to play the latest PC titles and they're just frustrated or even ready to walk away from the genre.

What's going on?  Board game/RPG designers are scraping by so forced to improvise to survive?  Are PC devs just getting lazy due to how popular that market has become?  Something else? 

(My sample size for PC games is far bigger than the above ones... I have a slew of installs on Steam from over the last two years that I never got past an hour or so into each game because of some of these same glaring issues.  Another example of this is WoW TBC Classic, which I spent the last year playing.  WoW gets more money now from folks playing their Classic versions than playing the retail one.  The retail version of the game is just bad and has been for a while.)

Edited by Skywalkre
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Posted (edited)

Played some mods for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Screenshot, for those that don't know it, game and graphics (that are not even at the highest settings) are 15 years old:

S2axkue.jpg

There are loads of excellent mods for those... main "problem" being most have very spotty English translations.

Edited by bojan
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Newer Pathfinder PC game (Wrath of the something) isn't too bad actually, I give it a B+. Massive character generation options, it's very long, combat is good, you can play as a bad guy if you want, etc. I'm like 2/3 of the way through and it's turned into a bit of a slog so I gave up on it, but I certainly got my money's worth.

Warhammer Total War 2 (once you get the DLCs and play Mortal Empires) is still frickin' amazing for a 2017-era game; I've literally put thousands of hours into it over the past 4-5 years. I hated 3 but I think that's just because I didn't find the factions nearly as interesting.

Cyberpunk 2077 actually got good after all the recent massive patches, would recommend if you have powerful 'puter. 

Fallout 4 is still a blast too. 

 

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17 hours ago, urbanoid said:

Decided to try CP2077 at last. On one hand it's definitely 'my thing' - yuge open world, RPG elements etc. On the other as I got older I'm not as much into gaming as I was, an hour a day or so and I'm satisfied. Taking things slow as usual, focusing on exploration rather than the main quest for now. 

My brother in law got this for me for Christmas last year (along with Deathloop and Wolfenstein the New Colossus). CP2077 was the last of the three that I played, partly because I knew it'd be a time sink and partly for its reputation. I was pleasantly surprised though: I went in with low expectations and it ended up being my favorite of the three. I missed all the drama with broken promises and the broken game, but it runs well now, looks great, and I enjoyed the story.

Also played through all the classic Doom games recently. I had Doom for the SNES as a kid, and that was pretty much my Doom experience until Dooms 3, 2016, and Eternal (on which I've spent an embarrassing amount of time). Those also ended up being better than I expected, especially given their age and technological limitations. But now back to Eternal. :)

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Pillars of Eternity series

Pathfinder: Kingmaker and P: Wrath of the Righteous

Combat Mission: CMBN, CMRT, Shock Force 2, CM: Cold War

War in the Pacific: Admiral's Edition

Command: Modern Operations

Silent Hunter IV

Really waiting for Modern Naval Warfare:

https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=10148

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Suzerain, possibly the best political strategy games ive ever played.

 

Ooh! Just had to buy that one, it's on sale on Steam :)

Edited by Sardaukar
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To those who have suggested the Pathfinder games... when did you play Kingmaker?  I ask because Pathfinder is the system I use with my PnP groups and I was so excited for Kingmaker I grabbed it the day it came out (I never do this... only other time I remember doing that was for Skyrim).  Unfortunately the devs took some... liberties with the rules coupled to a host of day one bugs and the experience was so awful I haven't looked at the games since.  Some friends have told me they're a lot better now and the devs have learned from their mistakes... but still.

Combat Mission... didn't even think of that one.  Loved the first one twenty years ago.  I should check it out.

As for me... was messing around on Steam and noticed I had X-COM 2 tucked away in a weird place.  Never played it.  Loved the first one.  So... 16h and a lot of missed sleep later I'm still plugging along.  Damn... this game is hard... I vaguely remember not losing anyone in the original X-COM and in this one most of my squad is gravely wounded after every mission (don't think the first one had you miss time for being hurt... just alive or dead as only conditions after a mission?).

While looking through Steam I also noticed I still have Battlestar Galactica installed.  I've played through that like 3 times.  Excellent game especially when you consider it's a spinoff of a TV show.  Highly recommend it.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Angrybk said:

Newer Pathfinder PC game (Wrath of the something) isn't too bad actually, I give it a B+. Massive character generation options, it's very long, combat is good, you can play as a bad guy if you want, etc. I'm like 2/3 of the way through and it's turned into a bit of a slog so I gave up on it, but I certainly got my money's worth.

My understanding is the devs are rather faithful to the original source material as far as encounters and the Pathfinder system is based on D&D3.5.  Both those systems have massive dungeon crawls as par the course because you have to in order to wear down casters of all the spells they get every day (so players just don't walk up to the big baddie, blow all their high level spells, and end things in 1 turn... though even when worn down they usually end things in 3 turns... /grumble). 

Per PnP gameply It's actually become a detriment in my groups because it takes so long to run these dungeons.  As the DM lately I just hand-wave the lesser encounters, take a few hps and spell slots from players to simulate what would likely happen, and keep things moving.

Edited by Skywalkre
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7 hours ago, Sardaukar said:

Ooh! Just had to buy that one, it's on sale on Steam :)

Just managed to get the new constitution today, won the war, and got a second term. Otoh still haven't fixed the economy. My bid to be the next Tony Blair continues. :D

I might try it as a Stalinist Dictator, just for giggles.

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I should also say, check out UBoat. It's bearing the end of early access, there are some neat new features coming (including a working toilet!), and with the TDC, it's already better than the Silent Hunter series.I

 

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1 hour ago, Skywalkre said:

I had X-COM 2 tucked away in a weird place.  Never played it.  Loved the first one.  So... 16h and a lot of missed sleep later I'm still plugging along.  Damn... this game is hard...

Welllll... Plain X-Com 2 actually not so much. Then there's that minor expansion with "Advent" troops that makes it a bit more interesting in that you now also have to deal with a human collaborator faction with their own tech tree (from which you can capture stuff). War of the Chosen (WotC) was then another complete game changer. Worth checking out, but maybe only after you played through the base X-Com 2 once or twice. By which time you probably won't find it so hard anymore.

But you can always escalate!

- The Long War mod is horrific. You have a lot more time to build your teams, but you constantly need to tag along at least one fresh recruit to build your roster of at least semi-competent agents. You can no longer rely on just one A- and one B-Team (oh, the happy days...). No, you probably want to have at least four to six of them. And WoTC creates special bonds between two agents, which is good and bad. They can do more, but only as long as they are together, and if one of them dies the other may crack mentally, too, and is unlikely to form a new bond. The Long War puts a lot more emphasis on risk management and force preservation (which you can't always afford, welcome to the rather realistic hell of military command where you must balance the caretaking for your troops with the bigger picture, which is usually grim.

- Want to keep it short, but still make it harder? Disable the display of hitpoints. The enormity of that change alone cannot be overstated. You can no longer calculate how much damage a certain agent is going to deal, and distribute fires accordingly. For high threats, you just have to concentrate fire, which gives the enemy a lot more room for maneuver while that bullet sponge just doesn't want to die - until he does, and the whole squad unloads a full round of fire on the corpse. Aaaaa!  Or take your chances, if you feel lucky. :o

 

X-Com2 may be one of the greatest turn-based games, ever. Everything's going just fine, and then within just one to three turns, everything can turn to shit.

Note to myself: Careful with rooftop evacuations. Don't start a fire that makes the roof collapse while one agent is carrying another up there, and then you have to reroute to an alternate location while the aliens fly in reinforcements. Never. Again.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

....X-Com2 may be one of the greatest turn-based games, ever. Everything's going just fine, and then within just one to three turns, everything can turn to shit....

2nd, after Jagged Alliance 2. '90s game that does suppression well.

Edited by bojan
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I dont know if anyone has tried the Lock and Load board games, but there has been some effort to digitize them and put them on steam. I bought one title, its ok, I think it would probably work a lot better playing against a real opponent than the AI. There are WW3 scenarios, Falkland Scenarios, Stalingrad and Vietnam, so it seems to be remarkably adaptable.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1149940/Lock_n_Load_Tactical_Digital_Core_Game/

Another one Ive not played enough of but seems intriguing enough is 'Grand Tactician, the Civil War 1861-1865'. It still seems to be in early access, but they have done a lot of work to make it look nicer recently. The AI seems to do a reasonably competent job on the Strategy map, seems to be a bit better on the tactical map. And lets face it, it was about 20 years ago someone released a strategic/tactical wargame of the US Civil war, and it might be another 20 before you get another one.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/654890/Grand_Tactician_The_Civil_War_18611865/

Its worth flagging up 'Ultimate Admiral, Age of sail'. This is really very good indeed, the AI is first rate, there is a sandbox so you can build any engagement you like. The land component seems to be based upon the Ultimate General Civil War system, which works very well even in an assault landing context. Campaigns for Britain, the US, and the US against the Barbary pirates give this a lot of playability. The only negative is when you get a second rate, you are damn near invincible, which I guess is reasonably accurate if you are the RN...

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1069650/Ultimate_Admiral_Age_of_Sail/

American truck simulator? Mainly with the older truck mods (particularly the Kentworth 100E  but it can be a lot of fun, and its an interesting way to see the CONUS.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/270880/American_Truck_Simulator/

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If you like things like Jagged Alliance and XCom, you might like Door Kickers and Door Kicker 2. Not turn-based but can pause for new orders. 

You do get bonus for making assault plan where you don't have to change orders.

I have great ability to get my SWAT team killed, though... DK1 is SWAT operations, DK2 is military SF stuff.

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