You might have noticed (or not, everyone has their own stuff happening) that I haven’t posted in a few days after a bit of a streak. I set a goal for myself to write a post every day this month, and I still plan to end the month at 31 posts, but I had some ideas to write that kind of got away from me and are a bit larger than I had anticipated, so I’ll probably be pushing those to later in the month.
I’ve also had a streak of engaging with some new games, alongside a patch of tough progression in WoW raiding (Sire Denathrius heroic moved over the 50 pulls mark for my raid team this week) and then to top it all off, I’m back to streaming over at twitch.tv/kaylriene (35 more follows for affiliate so if you want to follow to help out, feel free!).
So rather than write about a single, in-depth topic, I wanted to sort of go through the games I have been playing lately (and one I haven’t) and explore that a little bit.
World of Warcraft
I’ve been playing far less WoW, but I am still overall a positive on Shadowlands. Part of it has been that our raid team is nearing the end of progression, part of it has been a slowing of the reward cycle of the Covenants (my main is getting less Renown for catchup post-change in the past few days), and a part of it has been a desire for the new stuff (where’s that patch 9.1 PTR, anyways?). Most of my play time has been devoted to Sire Denathrius heroic, which is the first boss in a while that has felt like a mountain for us. That being said, we had a 21% wipe on our most recent Thursday raid, which is 21% better than the best result of the other raid team in the guild, and while the competition is largely a construct designed for fun, as a co-raid leader, I have a certain amount of pride invested in my group getting that first kill in the guild. Covenant changing, while easy enough at first, has sort of sucked the joy out of playing, as the Renown catchup has slowed down drastically, with me stuck at 29 for two days now with neither today or yesterday’s callings offering me any Renown, and the random dungeon I’ve run both days alongside an LFR Sire Denathrius kill also not giving me any has really sapped some joy from the process, especially since I am 1 Renown off of my final Soulbind trait and 6 total away from the last Stamina boost, which would give me better play.
Still, tomorrow is a new WoW week, which means 3 Renown on offer straight away from the weekly quests and world boss, and my hope is that callings tomorrow and Wednesday are more generous with Renown to push me right near to 35, which would net me that Stamina and give me everything I need for this week’s raid, alongside the final Soul Ash I need for the new raiding Havoc top legendary (Burning Wound). Given the announced nerfs to Heroic Sire this reset, I’m feeling really good about killing it, although as with many nerfs to control-heavy bosses, there are some cons (a 9% health reduction means that Phase 1 is now trickier and requires much more finesse and management, although that also brings with it a much easier phase 2 and 3, which is a net improvement overall!).
I’ve been very, very slowly poking my way through Valheim, the Norse-themed survival game that half my blogroll absolutely loves, and I can see why. Unlike my WoW gameplay, my time with Valheim has been more exploratory, less methodical, and more given over to curiosity and joy, which is a nice break. I haven’t killed a single boss in it and have spent most of my time just building, harvesting, thwacking the enemies that approach me, and slowly expanding what I can build – a sharp departure from course for me, but enjoyable in its own way!
It’s a very limited game – two maps, a small selection of fireworks – but you can place them and blow them up in all sorts of fun ways, which makes it neat for a short bit of amusement. I streamed a massive show this weekend where I covered most of the neighborhood map in fireworks and set most of them off at the same time, which brought my PC to its knees but made for a fun show! Until I learn how to build working particle sims in Blender and have them behave how I want, it will do!
This game sort of caught me by surprise, in that it can be semi-noninteractive, but still massively engaging. Once in a while, a weird gaming trend will absolutely capture me (don’t let me get started on how deep I went on Cookie Clicker circa 2013) but this game has some hooks in. It has a pretty strong design that defies some of the expectations you might have – a passive timewaster that also has lots of hooks for intervention, a randomized map that lets you imprint on it as you please, a loot-based RPG component that never lets you sit on your gains for long, and a TCG-esque deckbuilding piece that gives you some control over your fate. Thematically, it is such an interesting title – there are scraps of lore all over, but it weaves a compelling tale and makes the gameplay fit with the universe, which is awesome and I am glad they put the work in. It seems tailor-made for streaming – you rarely need to be hyper engaged with it, so you could play it and talk to an audience quite easily while still managing through the gameplay at an ideal level.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I bought the PC version of Among Us but I never really got into the craze of it. This weekend, we had a guild group play and it makes way more sense in that context – the game is nearly worthless solo, but play it with people you have some degree of rapport with and it suddenly becomes a wholly different experience. I don’t really have new insight you haven’t read somewhere else a few dozen times since March 2020, but of the uniquely covidian stories we’ll tell in 10-15 years time, I think one of them is almost certainly reserved for how this game, launched in 2018, took a pandemic to find its footing.
Not Really Playing – Final Fantasy XIV
This one hurts my soul a little bit, because this time last year, I was absolutely in love with Final Fantasy XIV. It was on an undisputed hotstreak and I could not get enough of it. Over the Shadowbringers content cycle, I have just really fallen in hard with this game and so it merits discussion that when I log in now, I just don’t have the hooks in me to do much.
I can source it to a primary frustration – the intense grindiness of Bozja. When 5.35 allowed me to work on my resistance weapons anywhere, I spent time riding the FATE trains to get my White Mage weapon up to max at that time, confident I was fine when the next patch came out. However, because you need Bozjan Southern Front progress to move on to the next steps, when 5.45 came out, I was baffled and stuck until I read more. Bozja isn’t even, in its own right, bad content. I just can’t really get into it. It makes sense in the lore why it is…the way it is, but it is just a large, drab plain of brown and it feels oppressive and weird to be in compared to the colors and tones of the rest of the Shadowbringers content. It’s like going from a modern game to that early PS3/Xbox360 era “gritty realism” – it looks dark, kind of shitty, and it just feels bad to be in for a prolonged period of time. I really wanted to cap off my Resistance Weapons, and hell, I’ll probably make an effort to once the game randomly hooks me. Maybe the current Moogle event will do it! But until that point, I just feel like I can’t bring myself to log in and do it, and that sort of stretches to all the other content, which is a shame, because I liked the current Eden raid tier, I was really digging in on hunts for the last year, and Emerald Weapon seems like a fun fight to try progging on EX, but man – Bozja is just a steaming pile killing my interest in the game.
Of course, 5.5 is less than a month away at this point and then another month and change after that for the big Endwalker reveal event, so there is plenty to like on the horizon. But right now – I’m Mr. Revolving Door – log in, enter my house to reset the demolition timer, log out.