Do You Finish What You Don’t Like?

Recently I played all the way through a game that lost my interest after about the first three hours. Nothing was inherently wrong with the game, it just wasn’t fun anymore to me. I’ll talk about that title here, but in the end, I did enjoy the final levels of the game. Something I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t push through the middle of the game. So today we are going to look at life and gaming under the microscope of finishing what you started. Even when you don’t like it.

This is a concept that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It could have been that your parents had you do sports or learn an instrument growing up and you hated it. Perhaps it is that you did the laundry, but you still need to fold it and put it away, or that you signed up for an eight-week exercise class and want to quit after two sessions. I get it, things are hard.

Jumping back and forth here, but when you slow down in gaming there are basically two reasons. The first is a spike in difficulty that throws you off from the normal and halts your progress. The second is the progress just isn’t rewarding or fun to you, through loot or a narrative it can simply die. A game, movie or book all need to keep you going and feel that you are making progress in something. Video games hit a special place for people when we feel rewarded for beating a level, boss or finishing a quest. That special place is good old dopamine. So again when progress slows you miss out on that and your body and mind just wants you to move along.

Already some of you are saying, “I play games for fun, why do it if I’m not having fun?”

Just give me some time to hear me out.

mika-baumeister-1171067-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

Some games put this paradigm to the test and make them far more difficult than average. This allows you to feel even more rewarded when you do get past to the next point. Again any souls game or even Cuphead can fit into this category. It openly tells you that there is an option to beat it however, in a sense dangling a carrot in front of you to strive onwards. Games that just suddenly require you to be twenty levels higher and the reward stays the same fail at this and lose people fast.

Which brings us to the second problem, when progress is just too slow and unrewarding. The game I finished over the last week was Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. A shock to my system since I had loved every other Borderlands game to date and had only missed this installment from bad timing and not sitting down to go through it. Seeing the trailer for the third game pushed me to knock this game out so I didn’t miss any of the lore that may be needed for that title.

The game had so much good going for it and yet fell flat. Maybe it was from a different studio working on the title, or that the characters didn’t grab you as much as the other games did, sure you have Jack and Athena to really drive it home, the others were just kind of there. Moxxi for instance just happened to have a moon bar, and Lilith and Roland were there on a date? I don’t know, something just felt odd. With this the guns progressed for damage a lot slower, meaning that mundane fights with bandits or “Scavs” in this title took far longer. Also if you wanted to explore the moon, you moved so much slower in the low gravity than you did in other titles normal speed. You would find yourself boosting with your oxygen reserves just so you didn’t move at a snail’s pace.

The first twenty levels of your character dragged hard. I can say that the ending was sweet and as you found out the big secrets in the title it was rewarding to see why things were happening. Even if the Raid boss is just the final boss over again, with more health. Bright side, Tiny Tina narrates the battle and the quest to it.

So why did I even play the game if I didn’t like it?

I learned a lesson in life that I have to finish what I start. I still am glad that I beat the game to check it off my list and to know how it all ended, actually enhancing my Borderlands 2 experience with new lore and insight into the characters. It comes down to something simple than that. In conversation time and time again I mention a title and I get the response, “I didn’t finish that.” It shakes me every time at how many unfinished things people leave going in their day today. I suppose I am weird that if I have something I need to finish it stays on my to-do list until it is done.

Now the goal of this blog is to promote playing games and having fun doing it. So if you don’t want to finish a game, don’t. There is a small chance if you take the time to go finish what you started, you will be that much happier with yourself. Take that into your life and follow it too. Don’t let an opportunity you started pass by you and just complete what you say you will. Find someone to hold you accountable, and put a little time in each day if you can.

In the end, you live life however it makes you happy but damn to I love filling in checklists as complete.

Feature Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

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Five Trailers That Sold The Game

Sometimes all it takes is a good video to hype you up. The music fits perfectly and the action scenes mesh to crescendo at the right moment. You finish the short two or three-minute trailer and you say to yourself, “I need this game.” The very day you pre-order that title or rush out to pick it up, the trailer selling you on the whole thing.

Now not every trailer does this, many falling short or selling you a game that really isn’t what the gameplay is. The last reason is the only reason why you won’t see the Dead Island trailer on this list, although great it just didn’t put up for what the game actually was. Cinematically it was brilliant and sad, but the game was more of a zombie Borderlands than an emotional rollercoaster like the family trailer led you to believe. Loved the game, but man did that trailer hurt.

These next five were titles that pumped me up and got me to put money down the same day. All have their own merits and pros and cons, but tell me what you think below.

 

Number One – Gears of War (Mad World)

The game was announced and no one really knew what to expect at the time. We were early into the 360 franchise and were nervous to see what could be made on this newer and stronger system. This game promised strong co-op and a gritty multiplayer, including guns with chainsaws. An action shooter with a slower and darker trailer leaving you without hope made me think it may be a game to check out. Thirteen thousand kills on multiplayer later and I would say I got my money’s worth.

Number Two – Cyberpunk 2077

Now, this trailer was a kick in the teeth! First time I saw this was on a screen at the game store and my jaw dropped. My opinion isn’t unbiased, Cyberpunk has always been my favorite dystopia and this had a very Ghost in the Shell feel from the trailer. When I saw who was working on the title I practically screamed with joy. CD Projekt Red is no lightweight when it comes to games and at the end of the trailer it even quotes, “Coming: When it’s ready.” The new trailers just continued the hype for this soon to be game, but my excitement grows for it each day.

Number Three – Assassin’s Creed 3

By the time you had completed the whole Ezio Trilogy and the first title with Altair, you were hoping they would be able to move the series on into a good direction. The in-game story was building up to a cataclysm and you didn’t really know where they would jump to next. Chills went down my spine when I first saw Connor walking up the field and I knew this was going to be great. With Assassin’s feeling like another Call of Duty franchise with the yearly titles we were all excited to see things shake up. A few years followed where it went down and recently with Odyssey we have seen the rise to greatness again. However, the American Revolution will always feel cooler with the idea of Connor being in it.

Number Four – Borderlands 2 (2808 trailer) 

Joy puke your face off. A line you don’t normally see and yet a line that Borderlands puts into your face with large pink letters. A game that a lot of people were nervous about and were on the fence for pre-ordering because the first title was fun but really didn’t have any story to go off of. This trailer promised everything you wanted, it was hectic, well timed and had a dubstep dancing Claptrap. When this dropped me and three others went and pre-ordered the deluxe edition the same day. Borderlands 3 has brought the hype back again, but something about the sheer surprise of how much they stepped it up from one to two excited everyone back in 2012. Also, Kreig had a pretty great trailer too, so check that out!

Number Five – The Last of Us 2 

Goosebumps. The kind that you get all across your arms and up your back. That goofy kind of feeling that you get when someone on AGT sings so well, you think, “Holy crap is that real?” The first Last of Us is my all time favorite game, that I can’t deny. A game that brought real genuine emotions from me and I was always hoping for a sequel. This trailer left me with so many questions. When is this? Being the largest one, trying to figure out what had taken place to this point? The trailer dropped back in 2017 which is almost surreal at this point, but with E3 fast approaching my one wish is we get a release date. In fact, I am not a person to do special edition systems, but if they make one for this title I’m jumping onto that immediately. No one in gaming tells a story like Naughty Dog, what Projekt Red does for in-depth gameplay, Naughty Dog does to your heartstrings.

So this Wednesday I tried this little article and if you like this top five mechanic leave me a comment and let me know. I can try this every week and really hunker down to give you all some good ones. This blogging thing is a new way for me to really get into something and learn a little bit more about myself along the way. So tell me what you think and I will see you tomorrow for a Table Top Thursday game.

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash – Feature Photo

Sit Down Sunday – Borderlands

A skag roars in the distance, I turn and take a shot with my incinerating sniper rifle. A small amount of EXP pops up and my level DINGS! I allocate my new skill point down a skill tree that makes my Bloodwing stronger and I wade thicker into the camp of the enemy, readying my shotgun with six shots and knowing more loot awaits. This is Pandora, this is a looter-shooter, this is Borderlands.

When thinking about doing a start for Sit Down Sunday a ton of games popped into my head. I know I want to hit up titles like Gauntlet, Army of Two, Diablo, and Gears of War. That’s before I get into titles like A way out and Portal 2! With so many games out there it was hard to pick a place to start, but with me mentioning this title multiple times over the last week with its remaster I figured it was only fair.

It is hard not to smile when you start up a new character on the crisp new graphics and hear “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” blaring. A song that forever brings this exact opening scene to mind. I ready up a character, in this case, Mordecai the Hunter, one of the easiest for solo play. I know that I want my Roland and Brick to be when my friends jump on soon. This is a title that is hard not to think co-op when you play, when the tougher the enemies the better the loot, and you always need a sweet legendary gun drop.

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With work running late and a nap taking hold I didn’t get on early like I planned and missed my game night time with the friends, but that didn’t stop booting this up. I know soon enough I’ll have a gunner in my vehicle and more active skills flying out. You have drop-in co-op or the same screen co-op which I appreciate more every time I rarely see it. Getting that physical experience of screaming at a screen together is irreplaceable and something that grew my love of gaming over the years.

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The updates are rich and look amazing in 4k. I quickly made my way off the bus and into Fyrestone, enjoying the updated Angel graphics as I went. The snap of the old Jakobs sniper as the bandits fell and if they got too close an explosion from the Gearbox shotgun they provided. Extremely powerful in the early game and devasting to these poor level one enemies. When they fell I settled in quickly to completing quests and soon finding my old friend Dr. Zed, no medical degree. I couldn’t help the grin I had seeing the old intro screens and getting giddy for the soon to be Borderlands 3.

There is now a nice golden key chest sitting across from Zed’s shop, but if you have played Borderlands 2 you save these bad boys until a bit later in the game. You start with seventy-five of the golden shift keys and they can go quick. After I turned in my fifth quest an achievement popped reminding me of the first time I rolled through all these little finds and returns quests. My good friend Hunter telling me to give the game a shot over Christmas break so many years ago. Nervous when Angel first asks, “Would you kindly help that Claptrap unit” as I rolled off of Bioshock.

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My man TK Baha looks great perched on his chair laughing at his own jokes and making sure I don’t smell like skag. I like seeing him pre-DLC and enjoying his special shotgun as it waves through enemies. With co-op play going through the original over ten times I played all kinds of special guns, checking out all their unique benefits. A play style I strongly suggest is firing the gun you get a few times regardless of if it “says” it is weaker than your current one. Many of these rifles, rockets, and pistols having unique benefits that make up for their slightly weaker damage.

TK set me back on the path and soon I was working my way through Skag Gully. Shanecus_BorderlandsGameoftheYearEdition_20190408_03-04-50.png

My goal this early section of the game is to cause some damage to the local bandit population. The first big stop is taking out a local leader Nine Toes, wading in through a horde of smaller skags until you finally see the big man himself.

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The battle was quick and sweet, but even now I remember the first time when I struggled. The humor of the game starting to hit you in the face as you realize you will have hours upon hours of sweet looting fun. You soon open the chest behind him, hoping to get something awesome and return to TK to continue on, but Zed to get paid. I mean come on, TK doesn’t have that kind of money.

Now when you want a good couch co-op there aren’t many more options you can ask for than this. You have each character feeling truly unique, the feel of each gun going down a different path and the fun of finding new awesome things with friends. Updates to the title like the graphics, the new head masks, and a mini-map are welcome and great for spicing up another play through. I remember having a driver play while I opened my map to navigate us in the original, great times, but the mini-map is still better.

Playing through just the main game will net many people about thirty hours of gameplay at a normal pace. The beauty of this title is it has all the DLC with it to give you another thirty or more. New Game Plus gives you a nice reason to run through again and hearing the level up DING is great until max level. Get to that point and maybe you can try to take on the raid boss Crawmerax.

I feel I don’t have to do much more to convince you to try this game out. Some people complain the art isn’t to their liking, but if that is stopping you I strongly urge you to give it another shot. Rarely do I run into a franchise that brings me back over and over eagerly. Borderlands is one of the very few, so if you haven’t gotten onto the Pandora hype train friends. It’s time to “Catch a Ride!”

 

The Culture

Today has been a long one. One that quickly slipped through my fingers no matter how many loads of laundry I attempted to do. One thing led to the next and now sitting here it is nine at night, some days tend to go that way and you don’t find time for any of the hobbies you tell yourself you enjoy. The whole day one thing has kept bouncing back into my mind to write about, and instead of taking the easy, “I’ll do it tomorrow route.” I’m going to make my tired butt write.

Today the Borderlands Game of the Year Edition remaster came out on PS4 and Xbox One. Although I have not yet had a chance to sit down and play it, the conversation of doing so came up multiple times with different people this afternoon. Whoever I was talking to and I reminiscing over the first time playing the original game. Laughing at the jokes that a shooter hadn’t really done well before then and getting excited to travel back to Pandora. Along with all the hype for Borderlands 3 of course.

This instant connection with another person as you speak about a game isn’t just stuck to the Borderlands franchise. It is one of the few things that can span language barriers and distance when it comes to gaming. I have students come in from UNK that barely speak English but will talk circles around you about League of Legends, with the mention of Teemo sending them into loud moans of disgust. Then there are the friends’ states away that can jump into a firing squad on a game and the friendship is still there strong as ever. Even now I work on a story for a group getting ready to start a new DND campaign on roll 20.

Photo by McCall Alexander on Unsplashmccall-alexander-1405324-unsplash.jpg

The beauty of all this is that is a language to gamers themselves. One that while I grew up and went from house to house and school to school many times over I could always use. It didn’t matter how much money my family had or if we lived in the bad part of a town in California, we talked about Poke’mon. We talked about the new Smash Brothers or how there are secrets hidden in Ocarina of Time. When I moved to Kansas my Sophmore year and left behind all my friends from the first fifteen years of my life I found new ones talking over Halo 2. Who soon found ourselves binging the entire series over again and anticipating the launch of Halo 3 for all the new times to be had.

Really it doesn’t have to be a game that is even out yet to get the “bug” going and feel that contagious spark amongst others in the community. Recently a lot of that is going around in the Magic the Gathering culture as a new set spoils a few cards each day. Friends sending me messages over deck ideas and coming in to order boxes daily. Making people feel and talk about the story with a new gorgeous cinematic trailer, and trying to guess where the story goes.

The conversation is great when you can move up and down the age spectrum too. As many times as I can relate with someone twice my age over how cool it was the first time beating Adventure on the Atari, I can flip that and talk about Season eight on Fortnite with a little dude. Usually with them resulting in dancing away in some sassy dance featured in that season.

Photo by Ciaran O’Brien on Unsplashciaran-o-brien-769980-unsplash

It is something that excites me more and more as I get older and continue seeing the taboo that games are for nerds fall away. The fact that Esports leagues are popping up in high schools is great to me, and mainstream media making movies over titles I never thought I would see. That podcasts about DND are at an all-time high and Game of Thrones, a fantasy series, is the most anticipated show this year.

So even when the day is long, and I wish I could have skipped parts of it in its entirety, I’m always happy to sit back and talk an exciting new game with a friend. After all, it’s part of the culture.