Had a week off. (No, not a holiday, no such thing when there's a three-year-old in the house). Bit of a break from writing about games. Though I'd rebuild and resupply a little, come back fighting fit, ready for anything GAMESWORLD might throw at me next.
Anything but this.
I borrowed a 3DS from a friend during my week off. Yes, I played some Pokemon - I needed simple things with simple values. Luigi's Mansion 2 was the best thing I played on it, though - an extremely focused and charming game which makes unbelievably efficient use of a relatively small location. The 3D is superb in it too. I've been quite sour about Nintendo for a few years, and all this was a much-needed reminder about why they are much-needed. The world of PC and 'grown-up' console games takes itself so seriously now (and so much drama gets whipped up around it), so an oasis of pure play is more vital than ever.
I caught up on Westworld, including the finale. I guessed most of the twists, but it was still broadly cracking, and concrete enough in its answers to avoid the Lost curse. Though I fear it can't see the woods for trees when it comes to its wooly discussions of sentience. Maeve is MVP IMHO.
I listened to a lot of Kate Bush. Granted, this isn't much of a rarity for me, but I was shaken by her recent support for Britain's current cruel and ignorant Prime Minister and thus determined to seperate art from artist before I became unable to enjoy music I have long loved. It's worked. I have made the music the music, and its creators' politics seems less important. Although her declaration is one more gut-punch from a peculiarly frightful year, Hounds of Love will remain a desert island disc. Unless, of course, she now goes Full Morrissey.
I setup a Steam Link I bought during Consumer Fest '16. I'll probably write about that seperately later, but man, did I underestimate these things. I have a lounge TV PC gaming 'solution' now.
I've been reading Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, which is a noir/cyberpunk mash-up. It's trash but it knows it, and wears it with pride. Bit OTT in its sex scenes but otherwise it's been a much needed no-brain riot.
I had the best vegetarian sausage'n'mash of my life, at the Shakespeare's Head in Brighton. The mustard gravy is to die for, darling.
I didn't think about Grand Theft Auto even once. Damn you all.
Now this I am happy to see doing well. Something pure and simple about building rollercoasters, isn't there? Something that PC gaming needs right about now. I've yet to play it, mind you, but hope to have the chance this week in case I need to make a last-minute play for it to lurk behind one of our advent calendar doors.
3. Watch Dogs 2
It's just not the same without the iconic baseball cap. People seem almost confused by this - it's apparently trying so hard to be loved that it's almost cloying, and on the other hand it's positively humming with detail but the nuts and bolts are workaday. I suspect it'll end up being looked at more fondly a little while after the fact, when it's not simply more noise in an exhaustingly noisy time of year.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition
Resurgent thanks to another sale, not because there's been any new Witching to speak of. Any other day I'd be happy to see Geralt back again, but after a week away I was hoping for a chart full of fresh faces. I'm sure they're on their way.
6. Fallout 4
Oh for God's sake. I yearn for a return to the days of Rimworld, Factorio and the like being chart mainstays.
The quiet success story of the last weeks of 2016. Given that a lot of big new releases have had a torrid old time, a year-old Ubishooter hanging around the charts for several weeks on the trot is a bloody big achievement. The snowball effect in action.
This reminds me - I haven't been back to rename all my cities after '80s Transformers since the patch that finally added the option to title your settlements as you please. Honestly, I'm surprised there wasn't more of a controversy than there was about this. It's like a Call of Duty being released without a targeting reticule.
9. Dishonored 2
I've been playing a little of this since resolving my performance woes. (I've even found the sweetspot for 45ish FPS 3440x1440 now). I love and admire the detail of it, and the crazy-wide range of ways to inflitrate. I suppose the base silent strangling stuff does feel quite familiar, though.
Dishonored 1 feels as though it happened only yesterday, and the absolute core similarities between the two games are conjuring some dissonance for me - like I've always been crouched behind a corner, waiting to strangle. Perhaps I played too much Hitman too recently, and need to go off and play something very different for a couple of months.
Nevertheless - I'm happy to see this hanging around, given the apparent apocalypse in AAAville.
Another sale-boosted re-entry. Let's just stop right there and go back and count. That's three Bethesda games in the top ten. And that isn't even a particularly unusual event. They've had their wobbles, particularly in terms of Dishonored 2's PC performance, review-suppressing and reportedly not matching its predecessors' sales, but it's very much been Bethesda's year, hasn't it? (There's also Skyrim SE to factor in, although it made only the briefest appearance in the Steam charts - no doubt because it was a free upgrade to owners of the original game and its expansions. I'll bet it's done great guns on console where that offer wasn't, er, on offer.)
Don't let it go to your heads, folks. That's what pushed EA and Activision into the hellpit of annual sequels and forever needing to top the last year's sales.