Moments of Inertia by Rachel Crawford

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2017 in Gaming

The annual roundup of games I played this year, both physical and digital, and gaming-related things I did, most of which I didn’t get around to writing about. Let’s get started.

Tolva

A standout for the year for me was Big Robot’s lonely, exploration-driven first-person shooter The Signal from Tolva. Part Stalker, part Ian McQue painting, it struck such a chord with me that I took the time to write a review of it. I’ll let you go and read that instead of nattering on about it here.

Blood and Wine

I completed The Witcher 3’s second expansion, Blood and Wine. Its writing isn’t quite as impressive or thought-provoking as Hearts of Stone, but it provides an exciting adventure and fitting farewell to the franchise and its characters. It also contains a whole new region to explore, which I did at length simply to bask in how gorgeously colourful and sun-drenched it all was. Quite a change from the main game’s grim and stormy lands. I hope Geralt enjoys his retirement in Toussaint.

A Return to Tyria

The announcement of Guild Wars 2’s second expansion prompted me to revisit that game and finally level my character to 80. On paper, Guild Wars 2 is an iteration of the MMORPG formula ideally suited to me. It’s super easy to drop in and out of, welcomes solo players, has actually entertaining combat (a real rarity in MMOs), and above all has no subscription fee. But there’s something missing, something that I don’t think is the game’s fault. It’s me – I just don’t have a network of other people who play the game who can motivate me to play the high-level content and get the most out of the game, and I don’t have the time to build one. I dunno, maybe I’ll pick up the expansions at some point just to play through the content I can do on my own. I sure do like the look of those mounts.

Warcraft III

I reinstalled Warcraft III recently. It’s still awesome. Blizzard have released a patch that makes it play nicely with widescreen monitors and removed the requirement to insert the disc to play, as well as make it possible to switch between the base game and the expansion from the main menu, so now is a great time to revisit this classic. I’ve been stomping my way through the campaign, which is still probably the best example of linear storytelling in a strategy game.

The editor is also the best thing ever. I used it to make a map for Natalie as a birthday treat and rediscovered what an awesome tool it is. It’s super easy just to make something that looks cool, and the scripting system is very accessible and friendly. It’s no wonder that this is the editor that spawned Defense of the Ancients, a custom map that spawned the ultra-successful genre of games like League of Legends and Dota 2 (for which there still isn’t a good name). I was never into DotA, preferring to explore the vast sea of other amazing things people had created using the editor.

Total Warhammer

I’ve been a fan of Creative Assembly’s Total War series ever since its first outing, Shogun: Total War, set in feudal Japan. I’ve also always had a thing for Warhammer. So picking up Total War: Warhammer was a bit of a no-brainer. Steam says I’ve played it for 20 hours, so how come I feel like I’ve hardly touched it?

Well, it’s a bit of a slog. I enjoy it, but it’s incredible how long it takes to make progress in a modern Total War game. And not just because of the long loading times – these games are timesinks by design. That would be okay if I didn’t have a million other games to distract me away from it.

I hope I can get to a point where I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth out of Total Warhammer so I can buy myself the sequel, which by all accounts is a bit more rewarding.

Miniature Matters

In the latter half of the year I discovered (or maybe re-discovered) the joy of painting miniatures. And while I’ve certainly thought a lot about actually playing a miniatures wargame like Games Workshop’s Warhammer: Age of Sigmar or Joseph McCullough’s Frostgrave, I haven’t actually. Yet.

The closest I’ve come is Games Workshop’s fantastic new release Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire. It has miniatures in it, but it certainly isn’t a wargame. In fact it’s a board game, and a very elegant one at that. For a few weeks after it came out me and a friend from work were playing it multiple times per week, discovering and mastering its systems. No two of our games were alike. I’m not totally sure about the longevity of it, but I have high hopes that I’ll still be playing it years from now, and that it will have evolved into something even more engrossing.

So what did you play in 2017?

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