Friday, April 10, 2015

XBox On!

When your blog rate is about one every six months or so, you're going to begin every blog with "So it's been awhile since I blogged last.."  and this one is no exception. Mostly I blame work - 2015 so far has had an epic work schedule over at Robot. And I'm still husband and father so I like to have at least a bit of family time, and of course, I'm still gaming. So between work, family, and gaming, there's precious free time for blogging. And in truth, I just haven't been feeling it. And when you don't feel it, you can't write it.

But more than a few of my twitter friends have been chastising me of late about putting something to paper, and even my son was all "Dad.. write something."  And that more than anything has motivated me to open up blogger again. Plus.. I'm feeling it. At least for now.

First - a bit of perspective. I have, all my gaming life, been a PC gamer. My first computer games were on the Apple II+, then on the PC. And while I have owned just about every home console at one time or another, I've never identified myself as a console gamer.  So imagine my surprise to realize that, for the last six weeks or so, pretty much all of my gaming has been on my Xbox One.  So what's up? Well there are a number of things, but the TLDR version is that they're actually putting really good PC games on my console.

The Xbox One was a Christmas present for myself (and my family) in 2013. And while I played around with its fitness programs, and we learned to turn on and off the tv by saying Xbox on! And made the "You're Drunk!" joke every time we said "Xbox go home!", I pretty much played zero games on it. There really just wasn't anything that I wanted to play. The one game that I bought, and did play through completion, was Tombraider - and it was fantastic. But for me it was jewel in a sea of crappy military shooters and sports sims that just had no appeal for me.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor launched for WoW, and pretty much my entire gaming life was consumed with Yrel, Thrall, and building my garrison.  Make that garrisons, becuase one level 100 simply wasn't going to be enough.

But suddenly in March a bevy of gaming goodness dropped on the Xbox One, and now I find myself with gaming food that could well take me through the rest of the year.

Dragon Age Inquisition
Now Dragon Age actually dropped in 2014 as well, and when it launched I bought it and tried it, but fresh on the heels of Tombraider, I found the art lacking, the animations clunky, and in truth my heart was still in Draenor, and it didn't take. But by February of this year, my interest in Draenor was rapidly dwindling, and having spent real money on it, and knowing it should be exactly the kind of game I should love, I decided to give it another go. And boy, am I glad I did.  In short, Dragon Age Inquisition is a fantastic role playing game, from a bygone era. It's worthy of it's own full post, and when I return, I'm sure I'll write at least one or two. I've put over 60 hours in it so far, but I feel I'm only about halfway through. It's on a brief hiatus, only in light of the other console distractions that have crossed my plate, but make no mistake, I will return to my Inquisitor!

Borderlands - The Handsome Jack Collection
I can't tell you how disappointed I was when Borderlands The Presequel dropped and I learned it wasn't on the XBox One. Borderlands is a fantastic franchise, and definitely one I would have loved to play on my couch with my new(ish) console. Well apparently I wasn't alone in my desires, and in March Gearbox released The Handsome Jack Collection, which is pretty much all of the current Borderlands content lumped into a single package for the XBox One, and they even thew in splitscreen co-op goodness to boot.  I'm about halfway through The PreSequel, and it too will be returned to during the summer. I may even make another attempt to finish Borderlands II!

Forza Horzon II - The Fast and the Furious
Along the way I picked up Forza Horizon II, which is just a jewel of a game, and one of the few that my daughter loves to play, and my wife even enjoys watching us play. And The Fast and the Furious is a movie franchise that my entire family loves. So when the guys at Universal teamed up with Microsoft to put the signature cars in Forza, I snatched it up as soon as it came out.  It's just a few hours of gaming, but you're driving Vin Diesel's car, with the Furious 7 soundtrack pounding in the background, and it's just fricken' delicious.

So yeah, I know, MMO's on the console aren't exactly breaking news, but I don't own a PS4, so I haven't really had a chance to try FFXIV, or DCUO (on the console). But if you know me, you know MMO's are my bread and butter, so when they announced they were porting this one to the XBox One, I was actually pretty darn excited. I played this game a bit when it came out on the PC, and while I didn't remember it being particularly stellar, neither was it particularly terrible, so I definitely wanted to check it out.

And in my humble opinion, it actually works really well on the console.  In fact, I'm inclined to agree with the reviewers that claim it's better as a console game that it was as a PC game. And at a price point of free, it's a fantastic value. I played probably 20 hours of it without spending a penny, and even now, at level 26 and still having fun, I've only spent a grand total $20.00. It may not be a great MMO, but it's fun, it satisfies my MMO leveling itch, and I enjoy it from my couch on the big screen. It's my current full time distraction, and I'm already thinking of more than one or two blogs I'd like to write on it now that I understand its mechanics and business model a bit better.

Gaming Goodness
So yeah, surprisingly enough, there's actually a ton of what I'm considering really good gaming right now to be had on my console. The only problem I have at the moment is finding time to gain control of the family tv, lol. When I can't, I've been dabbling in Defiance, and Diablo on the PC, but hardly enough to merit attention.  Hell I even downloaded and installed Rift at work - but that went nowhere fast, lol.  Final Fantasy XIV still beckons from afar, but so far my attention is fixed on the big screen in my living room.

Here's to hoping you're finding gaming goodness in whatever you're doing, on whatever platform you choose!

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