So, what are you playing?

by: Randy -
More On: What we're playing

Even under "Restricted Mode," a show called Super Mario Logan on YouTube can show your kids some questionable content. On Awesome Games Done Quick, speed runners are getting through video games faster than you can and sending viewer donations to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. And getting the "right ending" to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix will lead you to a playable post-credits 8-bit video game.

So, what are you playing?

Russell Archey
About a week or two ago I bit the bullet...technically, by firing up Destiny 2 again. After barely touching it after launch, I've been leveling my Warlock up slowly but surely. It also helps that I have several co-workers who play, though mostly on Xbox while I'm on PC. Still, it's nice being able to actually understand conversations about it at work. I now have several people I can ask questions about should I ever need info on anything.

I've also been working through Double Cross on the Switch for my review, which should be about wrapped up by the time this is posted. Any other personal gaming has been put on hold as most of my non-work time has been spent watching Awesome Games Done Quick which runs through this Saturday.

Sean Colleli
I held off on playing through DUSK until all three episodes were out, and now that it's finally complete, I'm doing an all secrets, all kills run. The first episode was a gleeful hop-and-pop shooter that captured the frenzy of a mid-'90s Id FPS, but also injected the charm of Blood, Redneck Rampage and Duke Nukem. Naturally I loved it, but DUSK Episode 2 puts much more emphasis on horror, and it's legitimately freaking scary. The level design has taken a turn for the abstract and macabre; one stage is a literal meat grinder you have to crawl through. The new enemies are also pretty disturbing and the sound design is impeccable. Developer David Szymanski has proved that you don't need high polycounts and fancy shaders to elicit a sense of dread, hopelessness and twitchy-trigger paranoia. I'm about halfway through Episode 2 and I'm really looking forward to DUSK's final chapter now. I'm glad I waited to play through the whole game in one go.

Kinsey Danzis
I’m right there with Randy’s daughter; she’s absolutely right in that her father needs to get crackin’ on his own playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn. Hey, the begging worked on my fiancee, so it can work on him, too! I’m still living and breathing that game, never mind the fact that I’ve already finished the campaign with 100% completion. Right now, I’m tackling ultra hard mode with a personal challenge of, “Hey, Kinsey, maybe don’t die at all, because that’s a super good idea,” and so far, so good. I could spend hours wandering the landscape of Horizon, listening to the gentle swells and thrums of the music, and climbing around the harsh orange peaks of Carja territory. The satisfaction of combat and strategy  (especially since I stubbornly refuse to change my loadout) is amazing. The diversity in cast and culture—native appropriation notwithstanding, because not cool, dude—is refreshing, especially with a non-sexualized woman lead. I even think it’s unseated Skyrim for my go-to “happy place” game. What’s that? I’ve talked about HZD in multiple What Are You Playing articles? I’m saying the same things over again? It’s old news, and you’ve heard me say it before? Well, consider this: tamable robo-lightning-dinosaurs.

Dave Gamble
We’re roughing it in the camper, by which I mean we have an electrical load budget of only 50 amps and I have to dump the black water tank once a week—most of the rest of it is nicer than our house. That means gaming is severely curtailed. I have a used PS4 now, which is a step up from iOS for away gaming, but I have only two games for it. Oddly enough, though, they’re the same two that I place at home.

I’ve found that I play Red Dead Redemption 2 very differently when I’m not tethered to mother Rockstar. Without an Internet connection (IOW, without an unlimited plan on my hotspot) to allow for auto updates, I feel like I’m playing without my safety net—I have gotten to the point with Dutch that I can’t stand the very sight of his yellow circle on my map. I’m not enjoying the missions at all anymore, and I want to append something to my “Biggest Disappointment 2018” entry: Guarma.

Bottom line is that I do the missions to get them out of the way—I don’t want to have to do them again when I get home if I forget to manually save. Or if, as actually happened yesterday, the wife unplugs the PS4 because she "didn’t know what the plug belonged to."

I’m rethinking that medical power of attorney....

The most salient side effect of the no-save situation is that there are absolutely no consequences for my actions. I’m fully aware that I could play it that way at home, but doing so would require me to explicitly choose to do so; here, I have no fiscally sound argument in favor of burning limited data with something as facile as game saves. In other words, no matter what heinous activities I get up to, it’s all ATT’s fault.

I pity the next fool that gives me lip just because I ran over his dog with NudderNoName.

I’ve also begun the lengthy and frustrating process of learning to drive (and like) Project CARS 2 on a console. I’m going from a Fanatec wheel and pedals in a VR environment to a small, flat TV perched up in the corner of the room—kind of like those insufferable news channel TVs in airports and Vegas wedding chapels. That’s a very stark difference, but it still doesn’t come close to going from a force feedback wheel that sings complex operas describing what the tire/track relationship is at any given instant to a controller with roughly an inch of full travel and vibrates now and then in an utterly incoherent babble.

The first attempts were very nearly the last attempts. Tweak as I may, I couldn’t get the steering any slower than being very nearly binary—center or full deflection. Just before giving up, I found the controller configuration that toned it down to something more manageable, although still far too twitchy for my aging reflexes. My plan moving forward is to go back to school: the Formula Ford open-wheeler at Lime Rock Park. If I can’t get that to work, it’s just going to be me and my horse NudderNoName doing our worst in Valentine.

Randy Kalista
Short days and long nights get me into an Elite Dangerous mood. I'm not a consistent player, but I'm looking hard at the Distant Worlds 2 Expedition—that's where a bunch of players make a 200,000-light year round trip through the Milky Way together in their internet spaceships. And when I say "a bunch of players," I mean that the sign-up on Google Sheets has over 8,000 names on it. It will be the largest fleet ever assembled in-game. If I can get my Diamondback Explorer ship up to spec (I don't know, maybe I can? I'm a casual), then sure, I'll sign my X on the dotted line. There are a dozen roles I could assume within the developer-assisted fleet. I might write a blog or two, putting me in the Media group; and I doubt I'll get very far without snapping lots of screenshots, which throws me in the Astrophotographer group. Departure is this Sunday.

If that expedition falls through the cracks for me, I'll be found in XCOM 2, still trying to pull the trigger on that War of the Chosen expansion. Or stomping through the jungle with 100-ton assault mechs in BATTLETECH: Flashpoint. Or having my eight-year-old daughter biting her nails as I restart a playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn, a game she's been begging me to play for more than two years now.