Samuel Roberts: Another chance
This weekend, I'll redownload Star Wars Battlefront 2 and find out if there's still time for the overhauled progression system to rejuvenate the game. I'm not terribly optimistic, mostly because the wait for this new system has taken so long, and I haven't played the game since January, when I enjoyed the Star Wars-y spectacle above all else (much as with the first game).
If nothing else, I'm excited at seeing what that new Bespin map looks like on my monitor. The loot crate system was ill-advised in Star Wars Battlefront 2, but I can't argue with the idea of giving away new maps for free.
Tyler Wilde: Failure to launch
It's a lot better now, but it was a huge pain in the ass getting into Sea of Thieves earlier this week, with the servers going down or barring new players multiple times. There were also issues with earned gold and reputation progress taking ages to show up, and bugs, such as when my brand new ship sank for no reason. I'm starting to wonder if it's even possible for big multiplayer games to launch in a working state, no matter how many stress tests are done.
Andy Kelly: Fetch quest
I had to give up on Final Fantasy XV. A few weeks ago I wrote that I was enjoying my road trip with Noctis and chums, but I’ve since uninstalled it completely. The moment that broke it for me was when, shortly after a devastating event that completely changed the life of the main character, I found myself delivering a tomato to someone. A single tomato, to some random guy in a diner I'd met once before. I think the disappointment of this truly banal sidequest was heightened by the fact that I had just finished The Witcher 3. In that game, even a random encounter with the most unimportant NPC can lead to something amazing.
But in XV, every sidequest I've gone on so far (there may be exceptions) has either involved killing X amount of monsters, or delivering X to X. Plenty of games are guilty of this, but if you're going to have the character be a prince, maybe make the tasks given to him at least a little relevant? I could just ignore the sidequests, but why should I have to? It's on the developers to make them interesting if they want to hold my attention. I'll probably return to XV again in a few months and give it another shot, but for now I'm playing the much more enjoyable Ni No Kuni 2, which is an absolute delight in comparison, if maddeningly twee.
Joe Donnelly: Dark soulless
"I'm going to use the slow-ish start to 2018 to catch up on all the games I've missed recently", is something I definitely said in December of last year. Fast forward three months and I've spent most of my time dicking around in GTA 5 and its Online counterpart. Two months from now marks the arrival of Dark Souls Remastered, and while I absolutely don't have time to revisit Lordran, I almost certainly will.
I was sort of pleased, then, when then latest images to surface for the PS4 version looked a bit pants. Granted, PC mods have raised the original game to the point where I'm unsure how, or even if, the remaster can better what we have already—but I did expect more from its console variation, even if it's but a glimpse at this point. And so it's a double-edged greatsword for me: if the remaster looks spectacular, I'll throw myself into it. If it's not, I'll grumble about its shortcomings from the Undead Asylum to the Kiln of the First Flame.
Steven Messner: Don't want to catch 'em all
Earlier this month, Path of Exile launched its latest league called Bestiary. It's all about capturing monsters and using them to craft powerful gear. To get you up to speed, these temporary leagues introduce wild new systems but require that everyone start from scratch. Normally, it's a lot of fun as it almost feels like a race against everyone else who is playing but with crazy new gameplay elements to contend with along the way (the last league had fissures that would randomly spill out demons and valuable treasure). It's also a great chance to try out new characters and playstyles.
But this league is just not that fun. When I previewed it before launch, I loved the idea but in execution it often feels more like a tiresome distraction that doesn't gel well with the core loop of killing and looting. It's tedious managing my monster inventory and the crafting recipes just aren't that lucrative. I've mostly given up even paying attention to it. I love that Grinding Gear Games loves to take risks, and the way they've built Path of Exile's temporary leagues means that the stakes are never so high that they can't weather a bad flop, but Bestiary has me wishing there was a fast-forward button on life so I could skip to whatever GGG has planned for the summer.
Chris Livingston: Open Valve
Some pretty disheartening information out of GDC, as Mike Rose, publisher of Descenders, got real about indie games on Steam. With the rise of Steam Direct, and the veritable flood of games pouring onto Steam every week, it's just harder and harder for any one game to get noticed before it's swept away with all the rest. It's not hopeless, of course—some games do make it and sell well or at least have a modest amount of success. But the vast majority of developers—93%, by Rose's reckoning—don't and won't make enough money to get by, even when their game is on Steam.