So, 2017. Thinking back on the official year of the dumpster fire and reminiscing.
Are we really doing this?
Okay, give me a minute.
Like everything in 2017, this was the year of colossal let downs for me. (I’m talking exclusively gaming, the rest of the world was a continuous volcano diarrhea spray from the bowels of hell and I never expected anything else).
The Elder Scrolls Online
I began the year by finishing off my run through of The Elder Scrolls Online, which I touched upon in my last year in review. There isn’t a lot to say during the last few weeks, as I ran out my subscription to get the most out of my money.
But nothing quite sums up the experience of playing an MMO like my very final day. I was out of quests to do, things I cared about. I was wandering aimlessly, trying to see if I could be turned into a vampire on my last day, when I found a player fighting a big boss all by his lonesome.
Being of the annoyingly helpful variety, I stopped and assisted. We took it down and I wandered around, curious to see what was in the bad guy’s pockets. Not wanting anything, I didn’t care when the other guy ran in and “swiped” the loot from under my nose. I’d think nothing of it if he didn’t then have to stop and make his character give a little “Ha ha, fuck you, I got the loot!” dance.
2017 already off to a bangup start.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Oh boy. Hang on a sec.
Bioware, just…what were you thinking? We decided to expand our beloved franchise by throwing a ton of money at the D-squad and seeing what came out.
Well, the D-squad delivered what you’d expect from people who worked exclusively on DLC prior.
This has nothing to do with facial animations, or any of the other shit whiny fanboys who hate women picked up on to drag GG back up. Honestly, I thought the facial animations were fine. The gameplay was okay to annoying, but it’s a Bioware game. Let’s be honest, none of their gameplay is ever amazing. I don’t play a Bioware game to have my heart leap into the throat with a perfect shot right before I escape, I play it for the story and characters.
Which is where Andromeda drove up a mountain, missed its footing, and fell a thousand feet to the rocky bottom. To say it’s a retread of the original Mass Effect is to say alien milk is
blue green. For being set in an entirely new galaxy, there was very little new or interesting to it. The companions and characters littered about this entirely new franchise were also maybe two dimensional at best. If it’d been any other company, the likes of Manic Pixie Dream Asari or gruff old Krogan warrior would have been welcomed.
But this is Bioware! While I played the game, I could almost get into the mythos and the characters, but the second I turned off the PS4, it vanished from my brain.
That was ME: A‘s biggest problem. It was ephemeral and only lasted as long as it was on the screen. There was no meat to its bare bones that’d linger and sprout into something better.
Sigh. Where’d I leave that bottle?
From the Bioware disappointment, which should have memorable story and characters but offered up none, to the Bethesda one. It took me a while to figure out why I cared so little about Dishonored 2 that I wandered away in the middle of the game, and gave no shits about coming back.
I really enjoyed the first despite the incredibly obvious, mile high letter twist. Despite the characters all being generic evil bad guy. It wasn’t Corvo, or the setting (not that the sequel does anything to expound upon either of those), or the mythos (I want to punch the Outsider in his smug face so bad), it was the gameplay.
Sadly, Dishonored 2 commits the mortal sin of sequels — being so much like the original I keep thinking, “Why don’t I just play that instead?” The supposed “new mysteries” didn’t capture me, and in a bid to make the game more approachable for people who don’t like sneaking, it became easier.
Far too easy. I lost all the thrill of pulling off a stealth takedown, and there was no reason for me to continue playing. I didn’t care if Emily got the throne back or not. I didn’t care where this mysterious Aunt came from. I certainly didn’t care about visiting Dunlaw part 2.
Like ME: A, I easily walked away from Dishonored 2 and didn’t feel a pang of regret.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
While everyone was laughing about how women were so hard to animate and AC: Unity stripped their flesh off their bodies, another AC title faded into the background.
I too kept forgetting that Rogue, left behind on the old generation systems, existed. Finally, with its existence firmly planted into my brain, I sat down and played as Shay — the assassin turned templar.
And it was decent. As far as AC titles go, it falls firmly in the middle. Shay is not super annoying, but not really landmark either. He’s not charming the way Ezio is, brash like Edward, or smart and smarmy like the Frye twins. Nor is he as head throbbingly annoying like Conner and Altair. He exists.
AC: Rogue exists, and that’s about all I can say about this game. It’s not bad, it’s not great. It’s okay. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it either. A lot of Black Flag is brought back to the colonies, with ship battles returning as you become a Revolutionary Pirate, I guess. It’s a bit like playing through III, but with mechanics that actually work.
In truth, I fully forgot I played the game until I saw news that it was being ported over to the new generations it skipped out on. When I was playing AC: Rogue I liked it okay (though some of the people Shay had to assassinate really angered me. Okay, one in particular), but when I was finished I, again, forgot it existed.
Sorry Shay, you’re the Silence of the Assassin’s Creed titles.
The Sims 4
EA sure is doing all it can to kill this franchise off. In their quest to shuffle off anything that makes the game fun to their content packs, their base game is as exciting as throwing pudding at the wall. Sure, it’s fun for the first few throws, but by the twentieth time you’ve had a Sim clog a drain, the joy is gone.
The base game got rid of nearly all of the fun jobs, hiding those away in other expansions. Your Sims barely interact anymore. About the only way they can do things together is talking. Talking about talking. There is one way to play a game together which amounts to sitting down and playing bridge. How relevant. The children come off even worse (ignoring the infamously stupid decision to get rid of toddlers). No longer do kids play together.
They can’t play hide and seek, or cops and robbers, or even pattycake. Instead, get some kids together and they’ll sit quietly doing homework. This world is so boring, the children would rather do homework!
The Sims was always about having a little sandbox and seeing what mess you could get up to with it. But in a bid for all the money, EA’s taken away the shovels, diggers, and buckets, leaving us with only a box of dirt and a lone cat turd in the corner.
2017 did not disappoint in its never-ending need to scrape to the bottom of the barrel. But there was one bright light among the trash.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
This is how to end a character’s story! Oh Nate, everything on paper should make you annoying as hell — a tomb raider modern Indiana Jones type who’s wise cracking and gets the lady at the end. But Nate and the Uncharted series somehow manages to elevate beyond the genre.
Adding in a secret, never-before-mentioned brother should be eye-rolling, but damn it, I really loved having Sam around. Not to mention, whoever came up with the idea to have Nolan North and Troy Baker voicing brothers is a genius. They played great off each other without seeming super strained or odd. I believed them, and really came to like Sam. Shit, I like all the characters in Uncharted. They have a magic touch with them.
The addition of sneaking had me turn Nate into a missing assassin (better than Shay at least). I even really enjoyed the final boss battle — which was always the most hair pulling part of this series (aside from the jet skis).
This entry is what Uncharted 3 should have been. We get to see Nate and Sam’s origins, that their love of swiping treasures comes from their mother. We delve into a believable relationship stumbling block between Nate and Elena instead of “Oh, they broke up off screen for the fifth time.” And most of all, we really get to see the characters grow, but not too much. There’s still adventure out there to be had, after all.
Also, I will forever love any game that lets me pet animals.
I’m a little sad to see Nate go, but he and Elena and Sully got the best send off imaginable. Now for Sony Pictures to completely screw it all up in their movie version. Ugh.
As for what I’m looking forward to most in 2018?