I Don’t Have Time to Explain...

2016 has been a hell of a year.

Travel can be wonderful. It can also be as heavy as a bowling ball in your pocket. This year, it was more-so the latter than the former – and whenever I wasn’t busy with my nose in a book I was busy with my hands on a controller or clicking away with my mouse.

Gaming – which, for lack of a better term, is an art as well as recreation – came to my aid when my mind was too tired to follow a sentence. It’s been a year of triumphs and tragedies in the gaming world, and what comes next excites me.

This is going to be a two part article, the first part to drop today and the second to drop sometime next week. The first bit will be me considering a few big games I’ve played this year, and the next will address what games I’m most looking forward to. With that in mind, tallyho.

Destiny

When Destiny came out in 2014, I almost wrote an article on it. I didn’t, but if I had, I would have titled it “Will It Fly?” These are the first words your nameless guardian utter as they come across their very first starship, rusting away in the snowy catacombs of Old Russia. It was a special moment. I knew it was, but I wasn’t sure why. As the months went by, I kept telling myself – I’m going to write an article on Destiny – and I never did. Not sure why. Probably because each article would have been a bit different, and would have needed a new

subtitle every time I had something new to say. 1st Edition: Will It Fly? 2nd Edition: Empty Pockets 3rd Edition: Still Salty.

So on, and so on, and so forth.

I still haven’t written the article. Yet I still play Destiny, now and again, most recently with the decent-but-not-great Rise of Iron expansion, and I still have a lot of FEELINGS about it. It’s a good game, folks, perhaps most admirable for the fact that it came back from the brink of death and put on a clinic on what a comeback story looks like. (Those heroic pyrotechnics would be repeated by World of Warcraft in her Legion expansion, but more on that in a minute.) I love under dogs. I love it when people right their wrongs and prove that yes, you trusted them for a reason. Bungie really earned their reputation – both for good and for ill – with the progression of the Destiny franchise. They’re going out on a high note with Rise of Iron, despite the campaign being far too short.

Verdict: Triumph

No Man’s Sky

Okay. So here’s the deal with No Man’s Sky. I first became aware of the game while I was deployed to Afghanistan back in 2013-2014. I’ll never forget it, in fact, because I couldn’t actually see the game trailer that the internet was ecstatic about – I could only see the Atlas, a black diamond against a pastel blue sky background. The Atlas piqued my curiosity, and the more I read about the trailer and what it promised us, the more I desperately wanted to see it. Hokey as it sounds, I swore to myself that I’d get home from Afghanistan because – by God – I would play this game. I would see this trailer. You get the picture.

I made it back from Afghanistan. I saw the trailer. I played the game. It wasn’t very good. It was borderline terrible, if we’re being quite honest, and I was one of those folks who held out the longest in its defense. The lack of multiplayer didn’t bother me. The relatively repetitious nature of the planet generation didn’t bother me. The lack of a clear story didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the lack of what was promised; that at the center of the universe we found nothing at all. It wasn’t mind bending. It wasn’t interesting. It wasn’t good, and the utter silence following the backlash against No Man’s Sky has eradicated what last bastions of support Hello Games had left following the release. Regardless of the game, or what explanations there are for why it shipped the way it did, the absolute lack of comment from the developers has been inexcusable.

Verdict: Tragedy

World of Warcraft: Legion

I can feel it. I can feel it before I even finish writing the damn article.

Anybody who reads this has a reaction to this name drop. If you’re a player, it’s gratifying. If you’re not, it was probably an eyeroll. A chuckle at best. A “Did he seriously just drop WoW in an article about his favorite games from 2016?” sort of disbelief. In short, yes, yes I did. Proudly.

Legion is the best WoW has been since Wrath of the Lich King. Legion makes me feel about WoW a way I haven’t felt about it since 2008. I daydream during my work hours about exploring the Broken Isles, about getting new armor, about what happens next in the story to characters I care about. With a re-invigorated combat system and overhauled approach to player interaction, Legion brings a beloved franchise back from the brink of obliteration.

The fact that this game is over 10 years old and is still kicking blows me away. The rumors that upwards of 10 million people have re-subscribed for this most recent expansion wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. With Legion, Blizzard proves that they are the king of the MMO (and the pioneer of the MMO) for a reason. Quests with cut scenes? Storyline that’s compelling? Music that soars and descends like something by Howard Shore? An opening battle that – literally – left me shaken? Come on. This is great gaming.

Recent years have not been kind to WoW. There’s been a growing sense that WoW is on its last legs, and that a staple in so many gamers’ lives is coming loose from the plywood. With Legion, WoW erupts back onto screens like something fresh cut from brand new paper. If you’ve got an itch for a good time and a game you can lose yourself in, here it is, folks. Better than ever.

Verdict: Triumph

That’s all for this week. I’ll get another article in here soon, wherein I discuss what games I’m looking forward to most that have yet to release. I’ll go ahead and give you one hint that should surprise absolutely nobody – Red Dead Motherf*cking Redemption 2.

Until next time, friends.

-R

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-A & R, Intercoastals