The Al Unlocked Recap Episode

Being all cooped up inside our homes is pretty fun, yeah? In light of the COVID-19 pandemic I’ve been working from home for the past few months, and it’s definitely taken some getting used to. It’s been such a strange circumstance that I haven’t had much motivation to write anything until now. However, I want to get back into the swing of things with writing, and I even have three games all finished up and ready to review at this point, I just need to sit down and do it. This post is my attempt to get the ball rolling by catching you all up on what I’ve been playing during quarantine (that I don’t plan on reviewing), with little blurbs on each game. May I present: The Recap Episode.

 

Phantasy Star Online 2

It’s strange to be so excited about playing a game that’s nearly a decade old, but that’s where I’m at with PSO2. This sci-fi MMORPG has been out in Japan since 2012, and it’s just now releasing globally in May of 2020 in an official capacity. There’s been an English fan translation of the game for years, but I’m not about that life. So here I am now, just grinding away on what is a very fun grindfest of an action MMO. You grind for levels, you grind for gear, you grind for titles, and you grind for pets, but the combat is so quick and flashy that you’ll likely enjoy every minute of it. Combat is especially quick for my own character’s main class called the Bouncer (not pictured), which focuses on flying around the field in jet boots and kicking the tar out of anything and everything that moves. I doubt I’d ever get bored of Bouncer, but even if I did get bored the game allows you to change class at any time when you’re not out on a mission. I’ve just been levelling up and gearing out my Bouncer and Braver (actually pictured) and it’s been a perfect, mindless way to kill time while hanging out with friends or listening to a podcast.

 

Legends of Runeterra

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I’ve written about how much I like card games before, from the CCGs like Hearthstone to the deck-builders like One Step From Eden. I’ve also likely mentioned how much I was into Magic: The Gathering once upon a time. Enter Legends of Runeterra: a game that combines everything I like about Magic and Hearthstone into one nice package. Things like Magic’s spell stack make each turn a dynamic mind game, and Hearthstone’s resource management system ensures that you never get unlucky with your mana one way or another. LoR also provides a few unique spins on the formula, like the ability to stockpile a limited amount of mana over to the next turn to use specifically for casting spells, and turns occur almost simultaneously with players alternating who’s on offense and who’s on defense. The champion cards are all fun to use and each of them have different mechanics behind them as well. There’s also the small little detail of how LoR has the most consumer friendly business model I’ve ever seen in a CCG with weekly vaults and the ability to tailor your booster packs based on which region (think MTG colours or Hearthstone classes) you want to build a deck for. I really hope Legends of Runeterra takes off as a real competitor in the CCG space.

 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Let me tell you a story. The year is 2013, I’m the mayor of my own digital paradise on my 3DS with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and I was going through a pretty intense and difficult time in my life. My Animal Crossing town was my escape, and I was okay with that. Then, one day while I was on my way to a tropical island in the game to go fishing for sharks or something, Kapp’n the boat captain gave me advice that hit way too close to home. I immediately shut my 3DS and never even thought about playing Animal Crossing again, until New Horizons. My partner and I decided to go halfsies on New Horizons, and the whole experience of sharing an island with someone has certainly been unique, especially as the secondary player. There’s a lot I’m not able to do with regards to major construction projects in the town, and in the early days of us playing my own progression was tied to my partner’s to the point where the game would prevent me from progressing further than she had at any time. However, I’ve still spent many relaxing hours just focusing on making my house and yard while also filling out my collection log with fish and bugs. It’s the same Animal Crossing I used to love on the 3DS, just on better hardware, and without a nosy Kapp’n.

 

VALORANT

Not one, but TWO Riot produced games on this list. VALORANT is kind of the new hotness on Twitch right now as Riot Game’s next big multiplayer IP after the titan that is League of Legends. VALORANT looks to contest the tactical shooter space that’s more or less been dominated by Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Rainbow Six Siege for quite some time, but leans more toward the slow and methodical pace of CSGO while adding flavours of a hero shooter for some extra tactical depth. I managed to score a spot in the closed beta test for VALORANT and I’ve spent some time learning the game. The different heroes are fun and varied with each kit adding different tactical advantages to the team like walling off parts of the map. The games themselves are long with both teams trading off of attacking and defending after a set number of rounds, and thanks to the variety of guns, powers, and the equipment economy system taken straight from CS, each round and engagement feels slightly different. I love seeing more competition in any market, and I think VALORANT will do well, but after spending time with it I’ve decided that it’s not for me personally. I doubt I’ll make a habit of playing it in the future.

 

It feels good to be writing again, and I’m ready to try and regain some form of consistency. It may not be weekly posts like I had been striving for earlier in the year, but that’s the dream. I’m just gonna do my best with the time and energy I have, and hope everyone else does too. Be good to yourselves out there, we all need it.

 

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