Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Some Games I Played in 2019

You know how sometimes you pretend you're in a conversation but actually you're looking at something on your phone? That was videogames this year.

Publishers released some games, sure, but most of them felt like the half-mumbled, "Yeah" and "You're right" kind of phrases that you barely get out in those conversations. The reason is obvious: a new console generation is now just months away. Everyone is back in their respective locker rooms, pumping themselves up for the real show: Holiday 2020, and the release of the PS5 and the Xbox Seriously We Named It "Series X" Because We Want To Confuse Your Mom Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

That being said, this year was much more of an exploratory year for me. After 7 straight years of chasing every big release I was even remotely interested in and gobbling up each one as quickly as possible, this year was more just dabbling with some new things, then digging around in some less-explored territory.

To put things in perspective: in 2018, six games were nominated for Game of the Year at the Game Awards. I had played four of them for at least 20 hours, and tried the other two. This year, six games were nominated again. I have played one of them--and it's the one that technically came out last year, Smash Bros.

It wasn't that I ignored videogames in 2019. I had all the same habits that I've had for years now--reading Kotaku and Polygon and IGN and GameSpot, watching E3, checking news from every major show, watching Nintendo Directs and PlayStation State of Plays. I evaluated all the major releases and wondered if I should buy and play them, but time and again, I just wasn't into the games that were coming out. A lot of the games that I did buy, I would end up only playing them for a couple hours. Other games I would get really into...and then wake up one day and just not care about them anymore. It was a weird year.

To be honest, I don't think this was entirely the games' fault--2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. My five-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy. My wife was pregnant most of the year and got severe blood clots in her legs, then in September we brought our third son into the world. My work continued to be very challenging and demanding. Our car died when we were trying to go on a road trip to take a break from all the other hard things. It's been a very distracted, intense year, so sometimes there just wasn't time or energy for games, I think.

There were a few games that I really loved this year, though. I don't really know exactly how to package everything this time, so let's just keep 2019 loose, shall we? I'm just going to post some random thoughts on some games I played. I don't know how many there will be and I'm not sure what the schedule will be yet. But if you want to come along, it'd be great to have you.

Now, this wouldn't be a pobbles blog post without some lists, so let's wrap up with a couple for good measure:

Games I played in 2019 that I'll probably write some thoughts about:
  • Wingspan
  • Teamfight Tactics
  • Chess
  • Pokemon Sword (with special guest, Dragon Quest XI)
  • AI Dungeon 2
  • Super Mario Odyssey (with special guest, birds)
Games I played in 2019 that I don't have much to say about, but want to say something about real quick:
  • Apex Legends made me actually like battle royale for a minute!
  • Islanders is just a perfect little puzzle/city-building game that came at a perfect time for me this year. It's a little oasis of peace when you need it and I would recommend it to anyone. Also, it's $5 and often goes on sale for $2.50, so do yourself a favor.
  • Rainbow Six Siege is great for a lot of reasons, but after finally trying it this year, the most impressive part to me is that this game is four years old and has had regular content releases and updates, but remains one of the most focused and tight game designs to ever come from a big-budget multiplayer game.
  • I still played a lot of Overwatch this year. I still love it, even if I haven't actually played it in a few months now...
  • Slay the Spire is still very good.
  • Bad North came out on mobile and it is now my first 100%, no-reservations-whatsoever mobile game recommendation. It's the perfect balance of a "real" game on your phone that will neither pester you with ads and microtransactions nor try to cram some old game you absolutely loved into a tiny screen with touch controls in such a way that you start to hate it.
  • I bought Assassin's Creed Odyssey on a super sale just a few days ago and so far, holy crap, I actually love this? It's got pieces of Shadow of Mordor, Metal Gear V, Assassin's Creed 4, Breath of the Wild, and Witcher 3, and I am into it. Origins was kind of a dud for me so I was scared to try Odyssey, but I can't wait to play more.
Games I bought in 2019 and then abandoned pretty quickly for various reasons:
  • Division 2 - I just wasn't excited to walk around a failed city and shoot sad people, and also it was surprisingly pretty difficult to play solo.
  • Fantasy Strike - I need to stop trying to recreate the experience I had with Pokken Tournament and Injustice. Those games made me think I like fighting games much more than I do.
  • The Sims 4 - I made the mistake of letting my kids talk me into recreating our own family, and then having 2 kids in the game was hard, so I exited and never played it again. Because I have 3 real kids now. I should go back and use more cheat codes.
  • Breach - Hey, this one isn't my fault. The game shut down after the studio fell apart just months after I bought my founder's pack.
  • GreedFall - This is the biggest tragedy on the list. By the time September rolled around, I was sick of spending money and not actually playing the games, so I was so careful and cautious about this purchase. I watched every trailer. I watched gameplay footage. I read reviews. Then I bought it and it just took WAY too long to get going. Maybe I'll try again eventually.
So, not that anyone is keeping score, but that is a whopping $165 that I did barely more than burn in the backyard this year. So my first resolution is easy this year: waste less money than that this year.

Anyway, happy 2020! Check back soon for some other ramblings about some games I played! If you read this far, very sincerely, thank you so much! I hope you have a great year.

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