So, what are you playing?

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

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So, what are you playing?

Sean Colleli
I picked up L.A. Noire for Switch because a local specialty game retailer had it on sale for $10. I haven't played it in years but I thought it would be nice to revisit in a portable fashion. That is if I can get the Switch away from my wife. She is full-bore hooked on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. We're scarcely home from work before she's wrapped up in a cozy blanket, Switch in hand, and headed off to explore the desert wilderness of Mor Ardain.

Then again this lets me get my rooty-tooty-shooty-McBangbang on with Red Dead Redemption 2. The original was one of my favorite games bar none, but the sequel (prequel?) is slower paced and more than a touch obstinate. For starters I had to readjust to the trademark Rockstar clunk-o controls, which feel stiff, counter-intuitive and a lot looser than the original game. Then there are all the simulation systems that feel more like an obstacle to exploration than an incentive. I'm halfway through chapter 2 and the game is still tutorializing, sometimes on mechanics I figured out already on my own. Don't get me wrong, I like the game so far, especially its storytelling, but the whole thing feels slower than the average open world game. Maybe that's by design; the Old West was a much more sedate kind of world where everything was analog. That said Red Dead II feels more like a creaky steam locomotive that takes forever to get going, compared to Breath of the Wild's seamless galloping freedom. To put it another way, Breath of the Wild invited you to explore anywhere and everywhere, but promptly knocked you on your ass if you got too cheekily ambitious without developing the accompanying survival skills. Red Dead 2 feels big and complex, but also like it will collapse under its own weight if I stare at it too long.

Kinsey Danzis
I recently got my hands on Super Smash Bros Ultimate (which is, for me, Baby’s First Fighting Game) courtesy of my generous fiancee. My only experience with any fighting game was with Super Smash Bros Brawl, which I only got to play as a kid when I went up to visit my mom’s side of the family and my younger cousin would intentionally invite me to play, equally intentionally refuse to tell me the rules, and equally-equally intentionally lord it over me that he was better at all of it every time he won. Well, guess who’s coming up to bat? Ya girl Kinsey, playing as her girl Sheik, crushing it slightly less amazingly than we thought she could crush—but only slightly. My mortal enemy, oddly enough, is the Wii Fit Trainer.

Dave Gamble
It’s week 2 of PS4 captivity and I have been forced to expand my library. I learned long ago that an aging platform is the key to low(er) cost gaming—a quick drive to a local used game store netted Battlefield 1, Call of Duty WWII, and Madden 2018 for a little over $30. I immediately completed the aerial combat portion of Battlefield 1, of course, and decided to take a Madden break. That was three days ago. Longshot held me captive for hours on end, and now I’m enjoying the short-lived phase where I can win in a blowout at Rookie level and enjoy it. Eventually it will lose its appeal from being too easy (see also: last week’s consequence-free Red Dead 2) and I’ll move up to Pro, where I will soon become dispirited when I get shut out in every game. Which is fine; I’d like to get around to CoD WWII before we head home.

Randy Kalista
I'm not sure when it happened. All I know is, one minute I'm neck deep in BattleTech mercenary finance reports, and the next? I'm similarly neck deep in an extraterrestrial XCOM 2: War of the Chosen conflict. XCOM 2 may very well be the first time since Skyrim that I've bought the same game across multiple consoles—I'm coming from review code on PS4 to a Humble Sale on PC. I've stepped up my game in XCOM, though. No, you can't help it if the brutal RNG is going to make you miss several 85%-chance-to-hit shots in a row, but now I flank like there's no tomorrow and always gain the tactical higher ground whenever possible, all so I can increase my chances of pulling a critical when the bullets do land. And I'm stoked that my soldiers, all named after Gaming Nexus staffers, of course, are forming bonds and giving each other high fives in the after-action propaganda posters the game gins up.

Then there's Vane. Vane, Vane, Vane. I thought you were going to be my January 2019 opportunity to use one of those premature headlines that say: Vane Is the Best Indie Game of the Year So Far! But I can't. Because you're broken in a lot of places. It's not your fault. You just needed more time in the oven. I don't know, maybe the developers just ran out of time and money. It happens. I don't blame you. But I also can't write that headline I was hoping to write about you. So I'll just fly around as this bird that flies like a meteor burning up in the Earth atmosphere, and I'll run this kid around that is like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, and then I guess I'll just put my head in my hands when the next puzzle doesn't trigger, or the next door doesn't open, or the kids I collect just stand around like zombies, or any number of things go wrong, preventing me from soaring through your beautiful-looking four-act tale.