The Desolation update in No Man's Sky has lured me back into mowing the space rocks in my front yard. Desolation itself is perfectly fine—it's like having a little mini Nostromo or Ishimura to plunder every week—but I figured I'd better get around to playing through the game's story content that I've been neglecting for the past 100 hours or so. As expected it's a mixed bag. The Artemis missions are a fairly snappy intro to the game's bigger narrative and they do a good deal of helpful tutorializing as well. The Atlas Path is still the same staid, system-by-system crawl it's always been, betraying its origin as the barest skeleton of a plot the game had at launch in 2016. I'm working through the Living Ship quest right now, which tasks you with constructing a biological starship out of various organs. I'm not sure who designed this quest but they must have had experience as a mobile game developer because it's an absolute pain. To even start the quest you have to buy an egg from the multiplayer hub, which means you need to grind out some community missions to get a few thousand of No Man's Sky's multiplayer-specific currency. The you have to fly to a planet and skim the surface until you zero in on some very fiddly lat-long coordinates, then hunt around in the general area for a monolith, then get some obscure space rock the monolith wants, and then you get your living ship brain or heart or whatever. Then you have to wait 24 real hours for said organ to mature so that you can start the process over. You have to do this song and dance five bloody times and I'm only halfway through; it helps to have something else to do in No Man's Sky, which admittedly isn't hard as there's a lot of content to explore. A biological starship is a cool idea, but I have no clue how Hello Games got this tedious quest through playtesting.
I've also been playing Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral town to review. I played the Game Boy Advance version back in high school, before the IP rights mess, when it was still a Harvest Moon game. Playing it now on Switch in HD is the best kind of nostalgia. It's like visiting your childhood stomping grounds but everything is bigger, brighter and fresher than you remember instead of small, dilapidated and disappointing. Amusingly, playing Mineral Town has gotten my wife back into Stardew Valley. We're having fun comparing notes and picking out the subtle (and not so subtle) quality of life improvements that Mineral Town has borrowed from Stardew Valley. Keep an eye out for my full review.
I've been playing a couple of games for review this week, Maid of Sker
and Superhot: Mind Control Delete
. Maid of Sker is still under embargo, so keep an eye out on Tuesday for that review. The Superhot game is already out (and is free to anyone that owned the original game) so a lot of folks have already played it.
What's interesting about both of these game experiences is how I've been sharing them with my 17-year-old son, who is currently residing on my sofa for three weeks, waiting to go to college. Whether I want some quiet gaming time or not, he is there to advise and cajole me on my choices. He is generally a good cheerleader, but occasionally he locks in on his phone—only paying enough attention to pop his head up and make some wry remark when either game inevitably kills me.
Strangely, the other big gaming story in my house this week has been the Power Rangers fighting game. We fired it up on Sunday afternoon upon the arrival of our second Stadia controller, and were amazed at how fun and accessible the game is. Everyone, from my seven-year-old to my 20-year-old joined in for a long afternoon of pass-the-controller battles. If you haven't checked it out, it's free with Stadia Pro right now. I would strongly advise taking a look, as the character variety provides a lot of goofy nostalgic fun.
The stoic rewards of Golf on Mars—sequel to the weirdly philosophical Desert Golfing—has landed on my phone. It's 2D golfing with all the graphical prowess of a Commodore-64 launch title, with courses extending endlessly to the right, for millions of procedurally generated holes. Sure, I'm open to the "What is life?" conversations that some people get out of this. But it's mostly just something I pop open while I'm on the toilet. For me, it ain't that deep, bro.
By the time this posts, my review for Hunting Simulator 2 will be posted. It's been real. I've learned a thing or two. Like shooting a duck with .30-06 bullets will turn it into paste. Or that you'll never take down a bison if you're pumping it full of buckshot. And that you get slapped with a fine for an "unethical hunt" if you shoot something more than three times. Take that, bullet sponges.
This weekend I finally will have my basement back to normal so I'm busting out my Virtuix Omni to play some VR while physically walking around in the world. I saw that Arizona Sunshine
has native support for it so I'm going to try that out. It worked pretty good for Serious Sam
so we'll see how it does with Arizona Sunshine.
And along the lines of VR, there's been a few new Wabberjack updates for Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR. Wabberjack makes it easy to install a bunch of mods that are curated to provide a better experience, and someone's made some pretty well-received packs for the two games. So with that, I'm heading back into Skyrim and Fallout.