I guess I should explain my absence, as it came rather suddenly: I started this blog not as an outlet but a way to keep my writing skills sharp, to expose my tag as The Laymen’s Gamer in between writing gigs, and to write about what something I felt strongly about – the gaming industry – without restriction. However, this came with some bumps along the way: since this blog wasn’t recognized as a news source that made writing reviews, news articles, and features here would go without exposure as reddit and N4G didn’t respect that nearly as much as they should. Beyond that, there was the busy life that came with getting married, moving, having two birthdays, and Christmas, all in a two-to-three month period. That took up a lot of time, so much so that I stopped writing, for the most part, altogether. Now that the dust from that, for the most part, has settled, I’ve taken my job at Gaming Precision back up and I’ve decided to return to writing for this blog. I’m working pretty hard hours to get around but I still find time for gaming and I still try to find time for writing. It’ll get easier as I settle more and more into a routine.
Over this course of time I’ve been making plenty of time for gaming, when and where I can; I finally completed Diablo III, Grand Theft Auto V, Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Saints Row IV, and Metal Gear Rising; all games I’d put down either because it was too frustrating, too boring at the time, or required too much of my time to complete. A lot of them literally required just going through the final lap of the game but I was able to complete a lot of them right from the start, especially GTA V and Saints Row IV. There are two that have been eluding me, though: Tales of Graces f and Tales of Xillia.
I’ve put those games down off and on due to a couple of things: first, the battles are easy to manage if you’re any kind of experienced RPG fan but then there’s that one battle that comes out of nowhere, not so much challenging you but forcing you to reconsider how you’ve been doing things up to this point. I’m up for challenges; I love them. However, when a battle comes up and changes up, completely, how to approach a battle it serves more as a puzzling roadblock than a challenge. I find this is less a case in Graces f but Xillia is terrible for this; I’ve found myself stuck on a battle not because it’s too hard but because it will continue to be impossible until you find the key to beating the battle. No, there’s no hidden strategy you have to look for or certain move you have to use to exploit the battle’s weaknesses; you can’t even go back and get a whole lot from grinding out levels. The key to this game’s success lies, sadly, in the amount of money you make and spend at the shops. Now, buying the latest equipment at the shops seems like more of a given, right? Not with this game. Each shop you encounter has the same stock and you can only better the stock by donating junk items you get from battle, chests, or hidden places in dungeons, or currency. Sometimes, literally, the only way to proceed in the game is to make sure your characters have a certain level of equipment, even when the equipment you’ve had for the last two hours have made each battle almost ridiculously easy. So, now, because of this ridiculous boss fight that is scaled way too much for your current party, you have to grind out not for character levels, not for money, not for items or resources, but for shop levels. Best part about that? You have no idea what shop level would have the equipment you need to pass the boss battle so you continue at it and take repeated stabs at said boss battle until you squeak by.
I’ve created a formula that hasn’t failed me since I’ve figured it out and it’s tedious and it requires more patience than I have, most days: when you enter a new monster-laden location, clear that location out. I mean that. Dominate every monster and, if they reappear, kill those, too. Keep at it until you feel you’ve sufficiently cleared out the area, move onto the next, and repeat. Also, pick up everything that isn’t stapled to the ground, Fallout-style. Every shop also has a bonus towards certain types of junk items so make sure you watch for that. Once you get into the swing of it, it’s not quite that tedious but it certainly eats up a lot of time and it’s annoying as all hell that you must do it in order to progress in the game and in the story. Not doing it causes the game to slap you back down to reality, telling you “We don’t care about how good you are at role playing games; you’re going to play at the pace we set for you and that’s final!”
I was frustrated with this and I put the game down, figuring between that and the massive accommodation to weeaboos the world around – this game is literally honorifics away from being a complete weeaboo experience, a la Persona – I had been through enough. By the time I did, guess what came around, finally?
That’s right, folks: a game that’s been after my heart for so long but has been equally avoiding it for just as long and has just as much a torrid history with me as Xillia does. I’m not much of a MMORPG fan, really. I never have been. I’ve played Everquest, World of Warcraft, Ragnarok Online, Guild Wars, and numerous others in an effort to find one that stuck. I even tried playing Final Fantasy XI briefly and nothing really stuck. For a genre of games that were meant to be played in a social sense, these games seemed to fail to create a sense of proper community, only succeeding when forcing players into these situations. Back when Final Fantasy XIV was announced, I was hesitant; it was the second MMORPG bearing the Final Fantasy name in three entries – spin-offs not counted – and I felt that maybe they were ready to fix what I felt was wrong with FFXI. When I heard that they were going to release a version for PlayStation 3, that’s what cast aside all doubt in my mind – until the problems started. They pushed back the release of the PS3 version and there were murmurs among the masses that the PC version wasn’t all that great, to begin with. I was excited but I was worried. It was right around the time that the PS3 version was actually released that I was finally banhammered from ever using the PlayStation Network ever again on my PS3 and… well… truth be told, that was half the reason I was angry about the whole situation.
I had to wait longer just to play the game I had waited so long to play in the first place.
Then, like a bat out of hell, without warning, a version for the PS4 was announced; even better, they later announced they were going to do a public beta for the game. I was ecstatic. When the beta finally dropped, I dove in headfirst and I’ve literally only come out due to limitations from the beta. My willingness to stick by this beta in spite of the fact that there are still some things to iron out can actually hold DC Universe Online responsible because I’d come back to that and learned to enjoy it after having some serious problems with the PS3 version of the game. While trying to figure out how to come back to the beta for the second time – characters would not carry over to the final release of the game so it’s really just an opportunity to find out what class/race combination works out best for you – I picked up Tales of Xillia again, not expecting to get very far and being tedious and easy enough to allow me to think on that while I’m playing.
I don’t know what caused this but now I’m playing Xillia like a well-oiled machine and I’m plowing through it like crazy and I determined myself to beat it quite thoroughly. I want to make the game my bitch. I have a problem, now, though; I want to keep playing both games. I know I can’t. I actually would like to tackle Graces f again sometime but I’m determined. I will have whipped both games into submission and I know I can only do that one game at a time.
Right now, I’m playing more of Xillia because it had some surprising – though, in retrospect, they aren’t that surprising, as they’re tropes of both RPG and anime genres – plot twists and I didn’t have as much of the game completed as I previously thought; I can also play that in chunks more than I can Final Fantasy XIV, so, unfortunately, Xillia has gotten more of my time, but for good reason.
Hopefully, more comes down the pipeline for the PS4 because I really don’t want to go an tackle Lightning Returns. That’s a whole different story about a game that breaks up progression for a stupid, fucked up reason. However, I shall bid adieu for now! Take care and thanks for reading!