Last Week’s Gaming – June 29th, 2020

Animal Crossing 20200629

Time to turn my eyes away from huge workloads, and back onto my backlog

The last few weeks have been hard. When I haven’t been working, I have been hiding from the world in general. It hasn’t been the greatest of times.

But, that’s the job. It’s no different from retail work on the holidays, or hospitality staff on a Friday night. It’s a hard run, but it’s the job and it’s done.

So while I am looking at getting back into games I have been neglecting (and catching up with people I have missed), that doesn’t mean I haven’t played any games!

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

What can I say – it keeps pulling me back in. Blood Rage is a heap of fun to play, and being able to leave it open or end my day with a game has let me get in quite a few games.

Things are even being fixed at an amazing rate. I can even start a game in the morning, and come back to it later now.

I still say playing around a table with friends is better, but to kick back and enjoy a game solo on my own time is great. I have been increasing the difficulty and playing with the styles. This lead to my best score to date!

Check out my review for more thoughts, but expect to see Blood Rage for at least a couple more weeks in Last Week’s Gaming.

Blood Rage - Best Score so far
My best score so far is with eveyone at medium and playing adaptive playstyles. I have not done as well since :p

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

I picked this up to get through a few more levels, and it was a bit of fun.

While I am jumping between the relatively simple early levels to the pictured ‘Special’ levels, the difficulty jump is obvious.

Minesweeper Genius is a little bit of a sleeper hit on my Switch. Nice to play while I have YouTube running, and I can just turn it off when I feel overwhelmed.

Hopefully, I will be finished it all in a couple of weeks, and I will do a formal review then.

MineSweeper Genius - Whoops
I was reasonably confident I had figured where most of the mines were. I was mistaken.

The Outer Worlds – Switch

As I wanted to finish my review, I obviously gave The Outer Worlds a bit of a run last week.

Everything I said holds true, and on the weekend while I had a half hour to kill I loaded up my save and did a small quest line. This is where games like this come to life on Switch.

That said, it will probably be a while before I finish this run. Now that end of financial year is done, I intend to jump back into Final Fantasy VII Remake with a gusto!

The Outer Wolds - The Crew
I have done a couple of quests, but I am not hitting it hard. I have Final Fantasy VII to get back to...

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Another week down, and another week of jumping in and out of Animal Crossing. This week, I made a pretty good return on the Turnip exchange, and I have paid off my house!

I will probably go easy this week, as I hope to be playing some other games I have been neglecting. But it’s time to get my island renovations sorted 🙂

I am thinking a residential area, a rural area, and a fun area. Time to go shopping for stuff as well!

Animal Crossing - Home paid off
The last home loan paid off. Now to build funds for island renovations.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

The Outer Worlds Review

The Outer Worlds Cover Art
The Outer Worlds Cover Art
Released 2019 (Switch 2020)
Platform Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Windows
Publisher Obidian Entertainment (Website)
Developer Obidian Entertainment (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Open World (Hub World)
Adventure
RPG
Sci-Fi

Bethesda doesn’t like it when you call The Outer Worlds ‘Fallout in Space’. That will be because The Outer Worlds isn’t a Bethesda game.

Last year, I wrote about The Outer Worlds in a few Last Week’s Gaming articles. I inhaled this game. As a fan of the Fallout games, I was keen on seeing Obsidian’s take on a new world to explore.

This review was delayed partly because I played The Outer Worlds on Xbox with Game Pass, and my plan was always to buy it on Switch upon release and do a review. Launch delays, and the game coming to Switch just as I started getting busy work-wise, meant that this is a review long in the making.

Before I talk about the game, I am going to get the Switch comparison out of the way.

Like The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, there are visual sacrifices. The Switch is an impressive piece of hardware, but it’s not in the same class as the ‘proper’ consoles in terms of raw power.

There are texture popping issues, and frame rates dip when a lot of characters are in an area. A fight with about 8-10 enemies (which happens a couple of times in the first world), my guess is about 15-18 frames per second in handheld mode? I can only estimate from feel, but the dips are apparent, and if you are in melee combat, this will make things harder than ranged combat.

That said, I am now about 40% complete on Switch, and I have played almost exclusively in handheld mode. Yes, I have had to reload because of the fights I have lost. But I had to do that on the Xbox One S as well. General exploration and gameplay have been fun, and everything works well overall.

The Outer Worlds Sign Not Loaded In Properly
It looks worse when on a big screen, but the sign is only 'half loaded' - this is an example of texture popping

My biggest complaint is the ‘fuzziness’ of the screen when playing in handheld mode. The game is compensating for lower performance by dropping the resolution. When exploring the open world, it’s almost impossible to tell a tree from a human enemy at a distance. It’s not game-breaking, but I was using my gun scope to look at trees a lot!

I also have not seen any of the ‘loading circles’ mid-game other people complaining about at any time. I don’t know why. I have the eShop (downloaded) version, but I do have a slightly overkill for Switch SD card. The exact card from Amazon is: Samsung 512GB 100MB/s (U3) MicroSDXC Evo Select Memory Card with Adapter (MB-ME512GA/AM).

I am not trying to say this is the best card for Switch or anything like that, but if your using a slower card, maybe that is part of the problem? A lot of information needs to be loaded into the world, and a slower card may cause these pauses in play. But because I didn’t experience the issue, it’s a semi-educated guess.

Switch SD Card
This card is overkill normally for the Switch, but I got it on sale. Maybe my game isn't waiting for loads?

So should I play The Outer Worlds on Switch?

It’s a hard one. I am going to finish The Outer Worlds a couple more times at least, playing with different skill builds and faction responses. 

This week, I had an in-person meeting. The drive had the potential for a lot of traffic, but it was a good drive, and I got there pretty early. Being able to pull out my Switch and do a couple of quest steps and put it away was great.

Again, like The Witcher on Switch, being able to play wherever I am in short bursts like this is the primary benefit. The longest session I played continuously was about 3 hours, and I had to plug the charger in.

If you only have a Switch, you will enjoy playing The Outer Worlds. If you primarily want to play in docked mode and have a PS4/Xbox One (or a gaming PC), I would stick to those versions. The experience is better, but the gameplay is identical.

The Outer Worlds Ada is dissapointed
The humour is present throughout the game, often much more subtly than this

OK, so what is The Outer Worlds?

The Outer Worlds in a lot of ways is a typical RPG adventure. You play a character and become the hero to some and the enemy of others.

The story begins in a way I really enjoy. Short version, two colony ships were sent into the far reaches of space. Everyone was cryogenically frozen for the trip, and the idea was that a new solar system would be terraformed and inhabited.

Things didn’t quite go to plan, and one ship (The Hope) didn’t quite make it. All of the colonists are still in hibernation, and instead of being frozen for 10 years, you are woken up 70 years later.

The Outer Worlds Phineas Welles
You are 'rescued' by fugitive scientist Phneas Welles. Help him, or turn him in - it's up to you

From here, you set out to explore the new worlds. You can try and save everyone from the greedy corporations, or join them and make life very comfortable for yourself. The choice is yours.

Because your character is coming in effectively 60 years late, asking why the world works the way it does makes sense in the narrative. On my first playthrough, I asked everyone everything I could to learn about the world. The second time, I knew which questions to ask, and skipped asking about the corporations or who certain characters are.

The Outer Worlds Opening The Hatch - Switch
The first glimpse of a new world, as shown on the Switch. Now, it's up to you.

What The Outer Worlds isn’t.

It’s not Fallout. Obsidian developed Fallout: New Vegas, a game that on launch I couldn’t play. It was so full of game-breaking bugs I just had to stop. Over time, all of these issues were fixed, and New Vegas became so polished, too many it’s considered the best Fallout game to date.

There are very similar mechanics though, so the comparison for Fallout players is unfortunately natural. You can slow time instead of using the V.A.T.S. system, some conversations lead to side quests, and those quests can end in different ways with the choices you make.

While there is a lot of combat in the game, it’s also not a shooter or first-person combat game. You can solve a lot of problems with violence, but you can also talk your way through a lot of situations. If you have science skill, you can also use that to help/hurt people (and yourself).

The Outer Worlds Time Dilation
When you use Time Dilation, everything slows down and you get some extra tactical information

Fallout was built on 7 character statistics – the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. The Outer Worlds has expanded the character customisation, but also made it still streamlined for a baseline experience.

But what do you do in the game?

Here is where it gets tricky. On the first world of Edgewater, you need a power regulator to repair your ship and leave the planet. Everyone does this, and it’s why I concentrate on only showing this world.

But even with this seemingly linear opening act, you can choose very different ways of reaching your own goal. You can help the people there or make more money supporting some more selfish characters.

You can help the settlement overall, or you can help a single faction for short term goals and let the colony suffer in the long term. Things you set in motion at this early stage can open choices later in the game – or close them.

The Outer Worlds Edgewater Summary
This is how my shenanigans in Edgewater ended. How will yours look?

Oh no, I don’t want an early choice to ruin the game for me!

It won’t. Unlike some adventure games I have played, there is no ‘critical’ choice you can make very early on. You will see the options being laid out, but it will be at least 8 hours in before you can commit to a path.

Character creation follows this methodology as well. You are presented with a screen full of statistics, but until you hit a level of 50 in a branch, you upgrade all skills within. From there, you can choose to specialise in particular areas. For example, you can increase ranged weapons to 50, but then decide to specialise in handguns. You can still use the other weapons without handicaps – you just don’t get any bonuses either.

The Outer Worlds Character Creation
It looks like a lot to keep track of, but the charcter system is very simple and helps you experiment

OK. So why would I want to play The Outer Worlds? You haven’t talked much about that.

It’s tough to talk about The Outer Worlds in detail without either a) spoilers or b) talking about potential story areas you might not see.

The Outer Worlds has a lot of humour to it, but it also has a story that can be as deep as you want it to be. The overall story is about corporate greed, but how you explore this storyline is up to you. You can play the game ignoring the lore, or you can explore deeper and form bonds with your crew and NPCs.

Bottom line, if you enjoy sci-fi and open-world RPGs, The Outer Worlds is a game that should be on your radar.

The Outer Worlds - Loading Screen
I love the style and humour in these loading screens

If you have a PC/Xbox and Game Pass and are on the fence, grab it on Game Pass. You don’t need a ‘great’ video card to play The Outer Worlds on PC, so even if you try it out before buying it for PS4/Switch you will have a great idea of what you are getting into.

Overall Thoughts

Take all the best elements of playing Fallout: New Vegas, and move it into a new environment. Multiple quests, character stats that allow you to play differently, faction relationships – it’s all here.

The Outer Worlds still isn’t perfect. For example, defeated enemies can disappear, making quests impossible to complete. Some of the choices you get are very black and white – not every storyline has nuance.

But if you enjoy a semi-open ended adventure, The Outer Worlds is a fantastic start to hopefully a new franchise.

Best play experience order – PC (mid-high tier graphics card) > PS4/Xbox One > Switch. That said, The Outer Worlds is enjoyable on every platform. The Switch version has the most visual sacrifices, but you can play it anywhere – it’s a pretty good trade-off.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  • Solid (if cliched) story
  • Plenty of player choice in story and upgrade system
  • Great atmosphere overall
  • Combat isn’t deep, so don’t need to be great at shooters to do well
  • Replayable for different endings/character types
  • On Game Pass if you want to try/play that way

Cons

  • Not a lot of enemy types
  • Hub style open world – lots of loading screens
  • You can get quest breaking bugs, especially when enemies you need to loot vanish.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 22nd, 2020

Animal Crossing - What's up Twinkles

So I knuckled down as much as I could, and I did get some gaming in last week.

Two more weeks is my mantra at the moment. When this goes live, I will be finishing up last week’s work. Tomorrow is going to be putting out IT spot fires.

But that is what is coming. Today is about concentrating on what I played last week. And I had more fun than I expected, hard draining week and all!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

It has been a few weeks since I played One Deck Dungeon. This fantastic dice chucker is as fun as ever, and everything I talked about in my review still stands.

I jumped back on because I could cheat a little while I was working. I had a few tasks that were periods of focused work, followed by waiting times. What better way to fill in these times than playing a turn-based game?

One Deck Dungeon - I might be in trouble
I lost SO many dice because of this enemy

My Rogue has been completely upgraded, and that little Steam achievement popped. So of course, my brain went into “Oooh. Completion run?” mode.

I am not going to make a concentrated effort to get all of the Steam achievements, but I think I will give it a try. At the very least, it will be fun to build up the rest of my characters!

One Deck Dungeon - Building Up Warrior
Started the road to building up my Warrior

Blood Rage Digital – Steam

Another recent review that has been revisited. And since I have written that review, a lot of updates have come out. I still can’t play in ultrawide, but the issue has been acknowledged, and hopefully, a fix isn’t too far away.

But that was mostly in the ‘niggle’ category for me. The most significant update I appreciate – save game states for solo play. You can now close down a solo game and come back!

I have increased from 3 to 5 players for my games now am familiar with it again. I have also bumped up the difficulty. This has led to my first defeat (by 1 point!), but a couple more games have seen me winning again. Time to bump that difficulty level back up!

Blood Rage - Gathering Forces
Forces congregating around Yggdrasil

I have had a couple of comments that my Blood Rage review was pretty negative. There were things I addressed that were an issue, and at the time I stand by them. They are being fixed quickly though, so that is something I appreciate from developers.

The biggest recommendation I can still give Blood Rage is that I am still playing it (and enjoying it!) regularly. Would I still rather be playing Blood Rage around a table with friends? Of course. But Blood Rage Digital does a great job at scratching that itch when I can’t!

Blood Rage - Never count yourself out until the scores are final
It looks like I have truly lost. But I have 60 more points coming... This tension makes Blood Rage for me

Minesweeper Genius – Switch

So last week, I reviewed a little game called The Card. I obviously played it last week, as I did the review. As all of my thoughts are already in the review, I am not talking about it this week.

What I am talking about this week is another sub $2 purchase called Minesweeper Genius. I quite enjoyed minesweeper back in the earlier Windows days when it came included with the operating system, and this looked like a cute take on it. Plus, it was really, really cheap.

The goal of Minesweeper Genius isn’t just to find where all the mines are through deductive reasoning. You also have to guide your sweeper through the level to a goal.

Minesweeper Genius - Level Select
The level select screen is functional. Not every element needs to be groundbreaking.

This took some adjustment on my part. The game is very minimal in terms of hand-holding through a tutorial. Still, the difficulty spike and adding new mechanics has been pretty good so far. I have cleared about 30 levels and unlocked the first ‘advanced’ stages area. Or I could choose to continue going forward.

I’m not going to rave about Minesweeper Genius, but I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would. The next game should stop me from doing a formal review on it this week.

Minesweeper Genius - Advanced Stages
The same Minesweeper deduction is required, but you apply it differently

The Outer Worlds – Switch

Yes, I made progress! Even though I have already finished this game on Xbox, I am still enjoying discovering new things I either missed or have been added. I suspect more of the former.

Over the weekend I completed Edgewater, the first planet you are let loose upon. I had fun. It was enjoyable. I did a couple of quests I don’t remember/missed in my first run, and slightly muddled another because I did it out of order.

I have only been playing in handheld mode. Have I seen frame rate dips? Yes. Does the texture popping look weird? Sometimes, usually worst when loading a save.

The Outer Worlds - Primal Behemoth
Making the shot that started a lot of enemies running towards me

What I haven’t experienced are mid-game ‘loading circles’ I have seen in other headlines. Nothing has happened more than a typical ‘fallout bug’ to me so far. Portability does mean sacrifices, but as for The Outer Worlds being unplayable on the Switch – so far, I haven’t seen it.

During the week I intend to finish the Groundbreaker. This is going to take some time as it’s from memory the largest quest area. It is also the area with the most random people and such that could stress the hardware.

The Outer Worlds - Loading Screen
I love the style and humour in these loading screens

So all going well, The Outer Worlds review is coming this week.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Oh Tom Nook, you addictive racoon. My plan last week was to potter away, and I have been. Sitting down on the couch with Animal Crossing for 15-20 minutes a day has been a good way to wind down.

However, last week, I made two major mistakes. Firstly, I forgot to sell turnips during the week. Luckily on Friday, the rate jumped a little. So I made a small profit – about 20 bells per turnip.

Then on Sunday, I got a note about stuff littered around my house. I forgot I was storing turnips downstairs and upstairs! So that has set me back financially a little bit. Luckily, I have only picked an area to plant my money trees in terms of modelling Sleep Cove, and even that isn’t final. So I have time to get back to where I was 🙂

Animal Crossing - Poor Snowfolk
Oh Snowboy... We all know weeks like that...

One thing that did make me smile was K.K. Slider this week. I was watching some youTube videos saying that K.K. is based on Kazumi Totaka, a famous Nintendo sound designer. He has a tune that is hidden in many Nintendo offerings, and it is known as Totaka’s Song. So as I could make requests, I tried to see if K.K. would play Totaka’s Song.

And he does! You have to rename it slightly, but it’s there. Not only did I get to see K.K. Slider perform the famous easter egg, but I now have a copy registered to my music collection.

Animal Crossing - Totaka's Song
I don't know if this is still an easter egg or I hit on a song I hadn't bought yet, but it made me happy

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 15th, 2020

Animal Crossing Snowfolk

It wasn’t a huge games week this time around. But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to say about what I did play!

The crunch. I hate this time of year work-wise. It’s like the Christmas sales in retail. Bleah. Coupled with an incredibly annoying Telstra issue with work, this has just been such a pain.

But, as usual, gaming has been a pleasant refuge. I just haven’t had the mental capacity to play as much as I wanted. I did get to spend a nice night on the couch watching Food Wars with Rabbit though. Wouldn’t have switched that for anything 🙂

But that’s enough of my week – let’s talk about the gaming I did get in!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

Not too much in terms of my island progress, but it has still been fun to potter around. Now that winter has officially come to my island, I have also been having fun building Snowfolk.

I have some turnips ready to sell this week, and the plan is to pay off my last house upgrade this week. Once that is done, I will have a look at how quickly I can build some extra bells. The extra money can get dumped into building bridges and inclines, as well as moving buildings around.

But all that is ‘when I have time to sit and plan’. Work-wise at the moment, I can’t really put the time in I want to for this. But the end of the financial year is only 2 weeks away, and that is a lot of time to keep buying a lot of turnips to build that cash flow.

Animal Crossing Cherry Island
I also finally have a new fruit! Cherries have arrived on Sleep Cove

The Outer Worlds – Switch

Again, I haven’t played this as much as I wanted to, but I have been making progress. Currently, my character is up to level 5, and I have recruited my first two teammates.

Graphically, it looks better on Xbox. This was always going to be the case – portability does mean sacrifice. But even at the end of a long day, picking up the Switch and playing a quest then putting it down has been pretty much perfect. It’s the experience I hoped it would be.

The Outer Worlds Exploration
Running around the world and discovering new areas feels great

There have been some framerate dips, and texture popping (things appearing out of nowhere/images loading while looking at them) is a thing. But playing purely handheld, it has been running well. I have even found a quest I missed on my first playthrough.

I am still waiting to at least finish the first ‘world’ before doing my final review, but so far everything is promising. It might be another week before I feel comfortable giving The Outer Worlds a final review though

The Outer Worlds Sign Not Loaded In Properly
It looks worse when on a big screen, but the sign is only 'half loaded' - this is an example of texture popping

Iron Man VR Demo – PSVR

I have been eagerly waiting for this game since it was announced. Mixing VR with Iron Man is such a perfect fit. Seeing the view from the suit, the Iron Man display is basically Augmented Reality – all the readouts etc. placed over Tony Stark’s view of the world. Emulating this in VR is simple, and wearing the VR headset helps with the immersion of ‘wearing’ the suit.

The demo itself is short. It contains the tutorial, a ‘cut scene’ and the first chapter of the game. I quickly got used to the controls, and I can mostly zip around the sky without hitting everything inside of about 5 minutes.

Iron Man VR Tutorial
This is internal capture. It looks better on the shared screen. But holding up your hands and shooting feels awesome!

One thing became instantly apparent, though. You play Iron Man VR in a true 360-degree environment. This is great for immersion, but the PSVR cable is terrible for this experience. My first playthrough, I managed to not only unplug my headset but the VR control box from the PlayStation.

I doubt Iron Man VR will be released on anything but PlayStation. Still, this game would be perfect on the Oculus Quest or any other fully wireless VR headset. Here is hoping that PSVR2 is wireless with inside out tracking!

Iron Man VR Scanning Plane
The feeling of being in the Iron Man suit is impossible to describe

I don’t know if I will be grabbing Iron Man VR on July 3rd (the actual release date). Not because I am not looking forward to it, I just don’t know if I will be up to playing it day one. I will be grabbing it and playing it pretty heavily though, so expect to hear more about Iron Man VR in about a month.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 8th, 2020

The digital board games continue, but not as much as I would have liked. Also, The Outer Worlds on Switch – is it as bad as people say?

Before we get started, I am not reviewing The Outer Worlds on Switch today. I have barely touched it. But I have seen a bunch of ‘Stay Away’ headlines on my YouTube feed, and I am wondering how much of it is warranted.

During the week, I will try and play at least to the point where I get my first companions. That should be pretty indicative of how everything runs for the rest of the game.

But other than that, I played a lot of Dragon Castle this week. I got to visit Alpal for the first time in ages, and playing Dragon Castle with the tiles is as satisfying as I remember!

But I will get into that soon. For now, let’s look at what I did play Last Week!

Blood Rage – Steam

So on Friday, I released my review of the digital implementation of Blood Rage. You can check out my thoughts here.

For sitting back and getting in a game solo against the AI, it has been satisfying. I have been winning the last couple of rounds against two easy AI opponents, so I think I have the basics back down.

Time to increase things to 5 player games, then mixing up the difficulty levels.

As I say in my review, if you want to play Blod Rage solo, the Digital Edition is a great alternative. Multiplayer wise, I am waiting for some more patches before revisiting my review score.

Blood Rage Digital
I had some issues with widescreen layout, but the game itself looks great and will run on almost any Windows 10 machine

Dragon Castle – Steam and Physical

Another game recently reviewed that made it back to the table this week! Dragon Castle is a relaxing yet challenging little abstract puzzle, that was great to kick back and unwind with.

Saturday I got to visit Alpal, and as she hadn’t played it for a while, we broke out the physical copy. The ‘click’ of all those Mahjong tiles was as satisfactory as I remember and really does add to your enjoyment while playing.

Being at the end of the week, I could only get in a couple of games before my brain started rebelling. Being able to sit and chat during the game with Alpal was great, and it made for an enjoyable afternoon overall.

Dragon Castle Alpals Castle
I was mean and took the last black tiles. No pattern for her! Sorry Alpal 🙁

Tetris 99 – Switch

Picking up the Switch during the week, I decided to look at games I haven’t touched in a while (or ever). And there was good old trusty Tetris 99.

Firing up a normal Tetris 99 game, I did OK. I haven’t played in a while, and so coming around the 20ish spot was satisfying. I was still pretty drained though, so I decided to switch styles.

Firing up Marathon mode, I thought I would see how far I could go in 999 Line mode. Then came a chill half hour before my brain basically pulled a ‘nope’ on me.

Tetris 99 999 Line Mode
Just kick back and see how far ou can go. Marathon mode is a nice diversion for 'real' Tetris 99.

It was nice to lie back on the couch and just let the zen-like state of Tetris flow over me. I didn’t get into ‘nope’ mode until I tried to pay attention to the furkids and YouTube while playing at the same time.

As usual, my advice is if you have Nintendo Online, grab Tetris 99 for yourself. Even if it is just for a diversion to come back to at times.

The Outer Worlds – Switch

The Outer Worlds, for me, is a great RPG adventure title. Does it have bugs? Sure. Probably fewer now, I finished it pretty quickly when it was released.

But you can build or break alliances with people or factions as you see fit. You can choose to explore the worlds, or just follow the quest markers. There are many ways you can build your character to let you play the game as you want to play it.

All this, coupled with the chance to play portability of the Switch, made me look forward to the port. Playing the opening title, I was impressed at how the Switch handled things in handheld mode.

Things looked a little fuzzy, and the dense foliage seems to have been pulled out, but it was playing a lot better than I thought it would.

Even the load times, which on my Xbox One S drove me mad every time entered a town or loaded my game, seemed better.

Then I started seeing the negative headlines on my YouTube feed. I have stayed away from as many reviews as I can, but the negative press is prominent.

So this week, I am going to get a fair way into The Outer Worlds and see if I can see what everyone is talking about. Expect to see all this as a review in the next week or two.

The Outer Worlds Switch Load Screens
Do thigns take a while to load on Switch? Yes. But these screens didn't ge to me like I thought they would.
The Outer Worlds Switch Edgewater
In handheld, it didn't look quite as bad. But it did look soft, and the world not as full of life.
The Outer Worlds Xbox One S
On the Xbox One S, more details and no 'fuzzy' buildings, but a lot more powerful hardware than the Switch.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So after last week’s lack of Turnip purchases, this week I paid off my 4th extension and bought up a bunch of turnips to start trying to build up some cash.

During the week, I didn’t ignore Animal Crossing, but I didn’t go out of my way with my island either. At least 5 nights was login for Nook Miles, bury bells and grab the money tree – that was it.

No, I am not helping with the anniversary photos either. I think the new activity is kind of cute, but I am not much of a wedding person at the best of times, sorry Harv.

I do now have the clothing store, so that’s progress. I completely forgot the game told me about the sisters wanting to set up shop permanently.

This means I might have to sit down and actually look hard at what other possible buildings or structures could be in store. Time to get ‘serious’ about finishing my island and getting 5 stars – then I think I can ‘finish’ my game of Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing Erik is an adorable weirdo
He is cute, and his heart is in the right place, but really Erik?
Animal Crossing Able Sisters Opens
Is this my last building? Looks like I will need to go look it up!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Video Games 2019 (That I Actually Played)

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What a great year to be a gamer

I had a better year for Video Games than I initially thought. I didn’t realise I spent a lot more time on one platform more than the others, and by a fair margin.

Spoiler, but for the first time in a VERY long time, I haven’t really played a game on PC. It makes sense. Usually when I sit in front of the computer I am getting ready to work, and if I am playing on the PC I always have work in the back of my mind. That will change in 2020 as well 🙂

Similar to my Board Game list, I have added a couple of cheat entries. Well, I call them cheats, becuase I haven’t finished them yet! They are weighted down thr lidy becuase of this, but the small amount of play I had still put them over other entries.

Enough explaining – on to the list!

Number 10 – Astral Chain (Switch)

PlatinumGames are evil. Here I am, a mid-40’s grumpy old man that can’t play twitch reflex games like he used to. Somehow though they manage to pull me back in to play another one.

I am enjoying the world-building of Astral Chain, and the story exploration is enough without being too grindy. Well, up to Chapter 5, where I am. And that is where I got up to.

I think it was PAX Aus prep after the site redesign that derailed me on this one? I am not sure. But if you like action games at all, you need to check out Astral Chain. It’s only number 10 because I haven’t finished it.

Oh, and if you want to play on the move, the Hori Split Pad Pro controller will do nicely 😀

Astral Chain

Number 9 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

A classic game remade. I skipped a lot of the Nintendo consoles, with the original Gameboy being my only console until the DS a couple of years ago. Because of this, I missed a lot of classic NES gaming, including the Legend of Zelda series.

Now before a lot of people go berserk that Link’s Awakening is at the bottom of my list, I have two reasons. Firstly, I haven’t finished it. So it’s in my top 10 unfinished. Secondly, even though it’s my first time through the game, at its core, the game is 25 years old!

I am genuinely enjoying Link’s Awakening, and now that I have finished Pokemon Shield I intend to go back and finish it. But the older gameplay mechanics that drive the game, even though they hold up, keep it lower down on my list, most likely even if I had finished it.

Links Awakening

Number 8 – Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)

Fire Emblem on the DS was terrific. Huge story to explore, character interactions, permadeath – it was a turn-based RPG geeks dream. Fire Emblem on the DS was like Valkyria Chronicles for me on PlayStation – I can’t get enough!

And on a work trip, I got just far enough into it to know I didn’t have the time to invest in it just yet. I knew that the world was involved and you had to keep on top of what was happening. But in the DS version, you only had to worry about that at particular times. Quests were manually triggered, so you soon knew when to close it.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will let you play this way, but only to an extent by what I have tasted. The between battle interactions are on track to take up 40-60 hours on their own!

If you enjoy turn-based strategy, pick up Fire Emblem: Three Houses for yourself. The casual mode will let you pick up and play no problem, and is still quite a challenge.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Number 7 – The Jackbox Party Pack 6 (Switch)

Yes, it’s a collection of silly mini-games. It also let me run and join in for a games night with zero prep time.

For those that don’t know, the Jackbox Party games are just general games where the audience votes on winners. You can be designing T-Shirts, redefining the English language, or finding evil alien stowaways!

Buying the pack on a console (or PC, Apple TV, Pretty much anything) lets you host the game, and everyone uses their own devices with a web browser to join in. Then you follow the prompts!

Setup is easy, fun is great, and there is plenty of variety, so replayability is there. If you have groups of people that appear, this is an excellent standby as a group activity.

Jackbox Party 6

Number 6 – Untitled Goose Game (Switch)

Proof that gameplay trumps graphics 😀 Untitled Goose Game came out last year on PC, but not they are on consoles the game’s popularity has soared, and the Switch is where I got to enjoy it 🙂

Like any great simple game, from the description, it doesn’t sound great. Be a goose and do tasks that appear on the screen. They can be anything from finding a flower, all the way to terrorise a child enough to hide in a phone booth.

And it’s hilarious.

I played it in small bouts while travelling and needed something I could turn off without consequence. I thought it would be perfect. Word to the wise – losing progress bites :p

If you haven’t seen it, play someone’s copy now. I am sure they will let you. Twenty minutes later, try to give them back their Switch/Controller without honking at them – I dare you :p

Untitled Goose Game

Number 5 – Pokemon Sword and Shield (Switch)

So missing a lot of the Nintendo early consoles, I only played a few Pokemon games. Yellow, Ruby, Moon, Let’s Go and now Shield.

A lot of fans are annoyed and vocal. Competitive play has already banned Dynamaxing, a new battle mechanic. Apparently, DS assets like sounds and models have been reused, which people feel ‘cheated’ by.

I had fun with it. The story isn’t really anything amazing (nothing new there). The battles are fun, and I enjoyed cooking a meal for my Pokemon. The inclusion of the Wild Area I thought was fun. Yes, online has issues, but I also didn’t need it to complete the game.

If you enjoy Pokemon, to me Sword and Shield are excellent additions to the series. If you are new to Pokemon but want more than the Let’s Go series ‘simple’ gameplay, it’s all here and more. And because Pokemon were cut, there is also the benefit of not having so many Pokemon to learn, so your learning curve is only steep instead of a vertical wall 🙂

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Number 4 – Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4)

How long have I waited for Kingdom Hearts 3? And was it worth it? Mostly 😀

I love the series, but the timelines and retcons are crazy. Basically, I tell anyone trying to play the game to go with it, it’s much more manageable. What kind of timeline shenanigans are we talking about? Well at the start of 2019, the first Kingdom Hearts game is about the sixth in chronological order. It also includes movies, games, browser games and even concerts as authoritative entries.

That is not including most entries have been released and re-released with changes and story updates at least once. Usually as a full-priced game.

Bottom line though, I loved Kingdom Hearts 3. I would come home from work and work some more before going to bed just so I could get a solid 8-10 hours on Saturdays.

Everyone can play it, very few can understand it all, but a lot of fun no matter how you look at it.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Number 3 – Tetris 99 (Switch)

Well, talk about left field. Nintendo introduced one of my all-time favourite games and added Battle Royale. I thought they were mad. I thought it wouldn’t work.

Yeah, I was wrong.

With new play modes and little Grand Prix events always adding a bit of a carrot to come back, Tetris 99 still manages to be in the first few tiles of my Switch menu.

If you don’t know about Tetris 99 by now, check out my review. Better yet, if you have Switch Online, just jump on and play it. Really.

Tetris 99

Number 2 – The Outer Worlds (Xbox One)

So my first ever platinum trophy was Fallout 3. This was after voicing concern to my gaming group at the time that I was worried about bringing back Fallout and in a new game style to boot. In my defence, the previous couple of spin-offs weren’t great. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrong, though.

Flash forward to the next game from Obsidian Entertainment called Fallout: New Vegas. I was playing on PC, but that is putting it kindly. New Vegas was a bug-riddled mess of frustration. A year later, and after a lot of coaxing from friends, I said hello to my favourite Fallout game of all time.

Yep, the same team that made Fallout: New Vegas made a Fallout like game in space, and it’s fantastic. The multi-branching story, unforeseen consequences, and a relevant overarching story arc make The Outer Worlds a game I basically hoovered down. And it’s on Game Pass (hint, hint).

Playing it through the first two weeks, it wasn’t perfect. But it was far from an unplayable mess. The most significant bugs I met were apparently I was supposed to be given some more quest options. Still, I didn’t notice they were missing – the story made sense, and I could continue on.

Seriously, if you have Game Pass, put this on your drive (PC or Xbox). If you don’t, play it anyway. And apparently, it’s coming to Switch this year!

The Outer Worlds

Number 1 – Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)

Usually, as you can see with Link’s Awakening earlier in this list, I put a big negative in terms of weight for remasters and sequels. But then you get a remake that changes almost everything about the game, and for the better. This year, that game was Resident Evil 2.

You have the same characters, with some tweaks. The A/B Scenario system remains in place. And of course, item management and puzzles are still a concern.

Oh, and you still have good old Racoon City, the most magnificent collection of disasters of a city that never was.

Pretty much everything else is different though. Camera styles, combat, AI direction, even the Tyrant/Mr X – if you think you can use the same old tricks, be ready to reload your save.

I still remember playing this during the year, sitting on the couch with Rabbit reading/playing with her phone next to me. Hearing Mr X’s footsteps, she looks up to see what is making the noise. Then she sees him come through a door and lock on to me. “What the f#!* is that!” she yelled out, and it was at that point I knew just how well Capcom had nailed the remake.

If you haven’t played Resident Evil 2, then grab the new demo from your digital store of choice. That’s right – the ‘new’ demo. Capcom has started baking in Resident Evil 3 easter eggs into RE2, which is impressive in itself. Can’t wait for that to come out this year!

Resident Evil 2

Honorable Mentions

Tie – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)/Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4)

So here are two very different games that share one thing in common – I played them enough that I can’t put them on the ‘I wish I played’ lists, but didn’t play enough to fairly put higher on the list.

Both games are graphically impressive (personally, Sekiro more than Fallen Order but it’s not a huge difference). Both have a control system that requires practice and gaining skill (again, Sekiro more than Fallen Order). And both games have been raved about since release.

I have played enough of both to know I want to play more. I have also played enough of both (about 3-4 hours each) to realise I need to be playing when I am fully alert. And when my joints don’t already betray me.

I honestly think at least one of these games would have pipped Link’s Awakening for number 10 except for one thing – I can’t just pick either of them after 6 months and know the timing. The controls are not brutal, but the nuances are.

So while I think I will love both of these games, when you don’t see them on my ‘I Wish I Played’ list don’t think it’s because I don’t like them. On the contrary, at least one will appear in another article soon.

If you have any interest in either pick it up. Yes, you will need to practice and ‘Git Gud’, but no one has said otherwise. All I can say is from what I have seen, I think it will be worth it.

What do you think? I couldn’t believe how much the Switch dominated my gaming this year. But with the portable nature of the console, it does make sense.

What about your favourite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – October 28th, 2019

Oh, it’s great to be back at work. No really :p

The downside to PAX Aus being sooner is in the middle of my post PAX blues, I am now getting Facebook reminders of what we got up to last year. Boo!

But PAX is over. Reality steps in. Or I can escape to The Outer Worlds…

Funkoverse – Harry Potter (4 Piece Starter and Expansion)

What can I say. Funkoverse has managed to capture my imagination a lot more than I thought it would!

I ended up going out and buying all of the DC and Harry Potter sets after playing with Alpal. Now I just need to track down Rick and Morty and The Golden Girls 🙂

This week we played a capture the flag scenario using 3 characters each. This increased the time of the game quite a lot, but not in a terrible way. If we were playing with two pieces, I would have been more inclined to play another game, but one took a fair bit of time.

Hopefully I can get a few more games in next weekend, and a full review will be coming soon!

My team of Hermoine, Bellatrix and Voldemort was definitely weird, but it was fun!

The Legend of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (Switch)

So I have cleared the second dungeon, but I still have a long way to go!

Wednesday night, I came home from work and just needed to chill. Link’s Awakening was the perfect game for this. It took about an hour to find where I was and clear the dungeon, without stretching my tired brain overly.

I did spend a bit more time fishing, but not as long as I thought I would in the claw game. Considering it’s based on a 26 year old GameBoy game, everything is holding up gameplay and story wise really well. It’s no Witcher, but it’s a great bit of fun 🙂

It was fun running around with Chomp Chomp. Need to time when to wait for him to attack better though!

Warriors of Waterdeep (Android)

So I have been having a lot of fun playing Warriors of Waterdeep, but the frustration level is steadily rising.

A new type of quest came with the last update – Battle Quests. Similar to the PvP battles where you can unlock chests and get a rating, Battle Quests unlock prizes when you win a certain number of battles.

You get 3 tries, then you can pay for another entry if you wish. 600 coins intially, now 30 gems. Sounds good, right?

Well, check out the match image. My team is at the bottom, the person I played against up top. Level 8, 9 and 10 characters against a team of Level 4s. It was a rollover. And it’s a match that should never be allowed to have happen.

And this is my biggest problem with Warriors – to compete, spend money. A lot of money. And while I am not saying devs shouldn’t be paid, Warriors of Waterdeep is asking way too much.

I have cancelled my subscription now, and I will stop playing near the end of November when my current bonuses stop.

So going against an opponent half my level, in a pay to compete match. Nope.

The Outer Worlds (XBox)

Fallout in space. I have been looking at The Outer Worlds for a while, but honestly I expected less on launch.

Fallout: New Vegas was far from bug free when it launched, to the point I didn’t play it for 2 years while patches and DLC came out. But when it all came out, New Vegas was an awesome game.

As The Outer Worlds is included in Game Pass, I thought I would give it a go. And what a go I gave it. Playing for 12 hours straight on Saturday, I am really, really enjoying it.

Everyone has been raving about The Outer Worlds, and I know why.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD