The folks here at Power Up Gaming are very serious about video games. So serious are we that, if our standards were to ever slip, we promise to rename ourselves to Powder Up Gaming and post pictures of our very own Adam Lloyd dressed as a Georgian aristocrat. That’s how serious we are, and how you know that you can trust our opinions. So, while Adam prepares his powdered wig and shines his brass buttons, here’s what we’ve been playing this week.
It’s been a week of second chances in my gaming den. After a few months of on and off play, I’m reaching the end of my second run of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which means I’m up to all the DLC packs that so underwhelmed me the first time. I have to admit, they do play a little better now that I know exactly what I’m in for. Bringing different companions always reveals more of the game, even if only in-party banter. Varric has a few cutscene lines if you bring him in Descent, but it’s nowhere near as significant as Anders’s contribution to Dragon Age II’s Legacy DLC. Trying a different party helps freshen things up too; my ill-advised but totally badass all-rogue party is surprisingly well-rounded, and the dragon fights that I once found such a grind are actually a lot of fun now.
After all the disappointment I expressed over Cities: Skylines last week, I really didn’t expect to pick it up again for months. And yet, something made me want to give it one more go, and I think I’ve made a breakthrough. As I said last week, the city builders I grew up on were entirely immersive experiences, relying on a mix of music, atmosphere and humour to keep me hooked for hours at a time. Cities: Skylines disappointed me for failing to deliver that same experience, until I realised that we don’t really play games like that so much any more.
This is the age of distraction, where if you’re not doing three things at once and checking your social media at least every half hour, then you’re probably dead. Cities: Skylines struggles to stand on its own, but maybe it’s not meant to be enjoyed that way. The music may not be catchy, but that makes it perfect to play podcasts over (like ours!). It may lack immersion, but that means there’s no immersion to break when your friends send you a video of a snowboarding marmot. Rather than being an entirely self-contained experience, Cities: Skylines works better as one component of your own custom-built experience. Maybe that’s just me making excuses, but at least I know how to enjoy it now.
The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine’s new world, Toussaint, is stunning. I knew it was going to be untouched by the war in Velen, but I didn’t realise how different the atmosphere would feel. The streets seem peaceful, knights wander up and down pathways, and the tall, magnificent buildings paint what could be a utopian society. I know there is foul afoot in the lands, but, for the moment, I’ve been satisfyingly skipping along its surface.
I’ve enjoyed exploring random quests that pop up, and have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of humour in them. One involved finding the thief of a statues testicles, which gave the elderly man extra vigour in the bedroom, and had a satisfying amount of genital puns. Another saw Geralt being a frustrated negotiator between the bickering ghosts of a wife and husband who didn’t want to be in the same crypt; he lost all his money through Gwent, unskilled sod. Geralt’s reaction to all of this is hilarious, and I find the character is still continuing to grow on me.
Between my quests, I’ve also delved back into the card game of kings; Gwent. I’ve been collecting cards for the new Skellige deck that’s been introduced. Some of the AI managed to outwit me, but tricking them with weather cards, dummies, and spies is still so satisfying. I really should go and solve this vampire issue soon, though.
Nothing new this week, I’m afraid. My gaming time has been a little more sporadic, so I’ve only had fleeting moments with Rocket League, and finishing off Dead Island: Definitive Edition (on which you can find my full and final opinion here). However, with the announcement of Injustice 2, I’ve found myself on the slippery slope back into NetherRealm’s DC-comic brawler.
I absolutely love Injustice, especially as it was one of the first games I played on a PS4. However, it’s nearly 18 months since I last played it, so my better half and I fired into one of our favourite games to play together.
Needless to say, she kicked seven shades of comic book ink out of me several times, so I really need to get back into the swing of things. After spending some time with Mortal Kombat X late last year/early this year, I was shocked by how little those skills transferred back over to this game. If things don’t improve soon, I’ll be forced to commit seppuku to retain my family honour. It’s the only way.
This past week I’ve pressed on with The Witcher 3 and found myself just shy of level 25 – how quickly it’s gone by. I’m at the stage where Geralt has returned to Kaer Morhen for the first time since the start of the game, chuckling at myself for how frustratingly bad I was during those early training sessions with Vesemir.
Stacks of ‘undiscovered locations’/question marks remain on my world map despite the amount of side content I’ve actually been doing. Geralt is not only the Fight Club Champion of all realms in The Witcher but has also won all available horse races in the region, too. Now, I look forward to hitting level 26 where I have an almost-complete set of Superior Griffin armour (seriously, where the hell do you get powdered monster tissue from anyway?) waiting for me – that extra sign intensity will come in handy for my Aard, Igni and Quen abilities.
In more good news, I’ve actually managed to break up sessions of The Witcher and devote some time to other games. I’ve continued to chip away at World of Tanks, where I’m edging towards my first Tier IX; I’m now only 45,000 experience away from the T30 tank destroyer. Even though my T28 Prototype has extremely effective frontal armour, its lack of speed has been a real killer for the entire time I’ve had it. With almost double the speed, the T30 will no doubt prove to be a great substitute.
My Tier VI KV-85 is now fully upgraded and its 122mm derp gun is messing everyone’s world up. This tank now dishes out 450 average damage – without experimenting with high-explosive ammunition – and is a fair trade-off for the KV’s pathetic gun manoeuvrability. It pales in comparison to the damage output of the KV-2, but it’s still great to use to break up a losing streak.