The 7th Day of Xmas: Gaming Review

That marked the half way point of the Xmas hols.

Dating. There was a date in the earlier part of the day but it was another non-starter, unfortunately. He was another case of social anxiety, I don’t need that, I haven’t got time to deliver therapy.

Dinner. I couldn’t be bothered to cook. I ate cheese & biscuits and then sponge pudding and then I went for a nap.

Movie. Nope. Didn’t do that either.

Gaming. So, what did I do today, I hear you ask. I gamed. It’s like Xmas was invented for gaming. Let’s review where we are up to.

Having been a PC gamer since the early 90s, I’m using this Xmas holiday to teach myself to use consoles. I’ve been practising every day and at the same time sampling a variety of recent games to see what’s out there. My console skills are improving quite fast. Since we last spoke about gaming, probably yesterday, I introduced myself to Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain (2015), Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (2013) and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture (2015). Right now it’s 3.30am on Day 8 of Xmas and I’m playing Far Cry Primal (2016) again, which we started on Day 1. I’ve been waiting to find something that excites me enough to spend lots of time with it over a few weeks or months. Here’s what I’m learning, other than which button to press to change weapons.

Dark Souls (the original version, 2011, which I started the other day) is a very atmospheric and intelligently-designed game with considerable artistic merit and I want to play it some more. Despite this, it looks like a gloomy, dystopian world and what I really want is a pleasant, soothing environment to play in. I like slaying dragons and such but I’m not mad keen on spending a lot of time exploring caves, dungeons and rotting, elaborate castles. I like to be outdoors in the sun. I like to be out on grassy plains or a mountain or a beach, hunting or just riding my horse around and exploring the map. For this reason, even though I can see it’s a bit soulless and corporate, my heart lifted when I played the opening stages of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag because it is set in the Caribbean and concerns 18th-century pirates, so it is beaches and glittering blue seas all the way. And ships. I can really get along with that, that’s my idea of a pleasant in-game environment.

Apparently another factor that’s important to me is that the game shouldn’t make excessive amounts of noise. I don’t need constant explosions and helicopters blowing up and suchlike. What I really like is when the sounds are those of my arrows whistling through the air. Far Cry Primal is making me very happy in that respect. It is peaceful and quiet. I am occasionally attacked by bears and hostile cavemen from rival tribes but most of the time I’m quietly stalking deer, goats, boar and suchlike, and going around lighting bonfires. I can play it at 3 in the morning without worrying about disturbing my neighbours.

The final thing that matters to me, after the visually pleasing environment and low levels of aggressive noise, is that the learning curve of the game should be appropriate. I need games that give me an easy start because I don’t know where any of the buttons are on the console. It’s all very well telling me ‘L1’ or ‘R3’ but I don’t always know where that is. So that’s why Dark Souls is quite difficult right now. It requires you to have at least minimal knowledge of how the hardware works. In contrast, Far Cry Primal has been pretty easy to learn how to use. I still suck quite badly at melee combat but my ranged hunting skills are improving fast. Also, there’s already a sense of progress within the game, I’ve managed to level up a little bit. Right, I shall make some more coffee and get back on it. Hooray for Xmas. I’ve waited all year for this.

“Open-world sandbox gameplay, bringing together massive beasts [and] breathtaking environments”, says Ubisoft. Right up my street.

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