204 Posts

GregoPeck gives this an astounding "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.
GregoPeck gives this a "Must Play" on the Ghost Scale
This achieves something special, and it would be a shame to miss it.

  • Recommended +1

  • New mechanics like power and climate change

  • New victory

  • New civs and leaders
Civ 6 is such an amazing game and a new expansion, Gathering Storm, was released a while ago. I’ve been too busy playing it, which is why I am now just getting to write about it. Civ 6 was the cure I needed, but didn’t think I wanted. I had gotten bored of video games and wasn’t sure what to do. I was hesitating to buy GS, because I didn’t really feel like playing a strategy game like Civ 6 and I was intimidated by the game. However, I am absolutely glad that I bought GS. Since then, I can’t stop playing Civ 6.

The theme of GS is climate change and global warming. Cities can now be powered by coal, oil, and uranium, each having it’s own impact on the environment. You can make power plants in industrial zones, which you will need eventually as some district improvements need power to operate fully such as the stock exchange. Unfortunately, like in the real world, these power plants add CO2 into the atmosphere and cause irreparable damage. Some tiles are below sea level and will flood once CO2 levels reach a certain point. There is a new icon or place in the game where you can check to see how the environment is doing. There are also rivers that flood and volcanoes that are quite destructive.

Luckily there are ways to combat climate change (again just like in real life). You can build dams to stop the rivers from flooding (but you can do nothing to stop the volcanoes). You can build hydroelectric dams, solar farms, wind farms, and offshore wind farms. Also each energy source has it’s own level of impact on the environment. Coal has a heavy impact, oil is moderate, and uranium is mild. However, uranium power plants have a chance to melt down. Because of this, I’ve never built one. You can also use the Carbon Recapture project later in the game that can actually negate all of the CO2 in the atmosphere that everyone puts in.

GS also adds the World Congress in which civs get to vote on different things. For instance, which luxury resources will be doubled, receiving more points for a certain great person, and quite a few more choices. Civs can vote for or against different things. They can spend diplomatic favor in order to sway the vote. These can be obtained in a variety of ways. There is also a new victory condition, Diplomatic Victory. Players vote for or against which civ receives 2 diplomatic points. When a civ reaches a certain amount of points, they win a Diplomatic Victory. There are numerous ways to gain diplomatic favor and diplomatic points. One way to get 2 diplomatic points is to build the Statue of Liberty.

Another addition to the game are new civs such as the Maori, Sweden, Canada and more. The Maori are quite unique, because they start the game in the ocean and able to traverse deep ocean tiles. Their music is also quite unique. Canada is unique, too, as they can get bonus production in tundra tiles. Also, you cannot declare a surprise war on Canada and they can’t declare a surprise war on other civs.

I’ve only kind of briefly covered this expansion. I strongly suggest checking it out if you’re interested. Civ 6 is (in my opinion) one of the best games in recent years and this expansion adds more to it, making it more playable. Previously, I had looked at some of the achievements and I got some of them, but others looked too difficult to get or bother with. However, I found a great guide online that offers strategy tips for obtaining each achievement. It also made me realize that you can actually play the game in multiplayer by yourself. There is a “hot seat” mode where players can play on the same computer and just take turns using the same keyboard and mouse. It’s really cool, still fun (to play by myself), and makes some of those achievements much easier to get. For instance, one requires that you capture a settler with a Viking Longship. Instead of waiting for the AI to have a settler at a coast, you can (as one player) send a settler to the coast and (as another player) capture it. This made a lot of achievements possible for me. I also learned how to use the command console. You need to edit a config file to enable it, but then you can hit a key to activate it. One of the commands you can use is “reveal all” which will show you everything on the map. This is incredibly handy, especially in cases where you’re trying to make sure a certain natural wonder or city-state is on the map. This can be done only in single player, but you can save your game, open it in multiplayer and copy some of the game configurations to recreate it. If you want to know more about this, just do some Googling. :)

Edit: If you're interested in the achievement guide I found it's here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=914286854

That guide will also kind of explain how to play multiplayer "hot seat" games by yourself, so that you don't have to wait for the AI to do something you want it to. However, from what I've read on the web it seems this mode is not available in the Switch version (PC Master Race!!!!!).

For those achievements that require certain natural wonders or city-states on the map check out this link for how to access the command console and use the "reveal all" command, extremely helpful! https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=804400692

Bonus: Here's a couple of good YouTube channels that have some great Civ videos. The first one has a playlist for a beginner's tutorial for the game (very helpful).
See Quill18: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbx1TZgxfIauUZyPuBzEwZg
See Drew Durnil: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPcABVoFfCK5gDfX0PY1KGg

I just wanted to give you a quick heads up about this great site I found recently, IsThereAnyDeal.com. It can import your wish lists from Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle and alert you when games go on sale. There are a lot of sites that sell games, but it's difficult to know what's legit and what's not. There are sites out there that sell stolen keys, which places like Steam may find and deactivate. So, it's important to know where you're getting your game keys from. All the sites connected to IsThereAnyDeal are totally legit. I did some researching after finding a few different sites. There's a reddit group for games that explains all of this and which sites are legit. You can check out deals at https://www.reddit.com/r/GameDeals. You can use Google to find out if something's legit, just say (for example) "Is IsThereAnyDeal" legit and you'll find out it is.

I bought Monster Hunter World for about $20 off when I got from one of these sites. I'm still waiting on the Divinity series to go on sale.

*Note* My account was not hacked. I did write this bit because I wanted to share my discovery with my favorite gaming community. :) I'm sorry if it sounds too much like an ad.


  • The pirate life MMO with RPG elements along with taming, crafting, and surviving similar to Ark: Survival Evolved and Minecraft

  • Horrible delayed start, “mostly negative” reviews on Steam

  • Huge map spanning server clusters
Atlas is an interesting Early Access MMO pirate game made by some of the devs who created Ark: Survival Evolved. This is readily apparent, you can tell just by playing it how similar to two are.

Atlas has “mostly negative” reviews already and the game hasn’t been out for a week. Part of that, perhaps most of that, is because of the rough start it got. In the beginning it was extremely difficult to play, due to lag and serious rubber banding. Rubber banding, in case you don’t know, is when you walk in a direction and you get pulled back to where you started. This is an issue seen in online games that people play on a server. This also seems to be relative to the server’s ping. Higher pings mean you’re going to see more lag or rubber banding. Atlas servers usually have a high ping, especially in the starter zones. Luckily, the game got patched and it’s not as bad as it started out to be.

Many players were already disappointed, because the game release was delayed. This happened more than once, I think. This is nothing new to those of us who are used to Ark updates, hence one of the similarities between Studio Wild Card (the Ark devs) and Graphshot Games (the Atlas devs). Players could not pre-order the game, we had to wait until the devs released it on Steam. Once that finally happened Atlas arrived. It was extremely difficult to purchase. Apparently so many people were trying to buy it that Steam got overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure the holiday sale had something to do with that, too.

An interesting thing about the game is that it uses server clusters. The map is so huge that it covers more than a few servers. When starting out, players can choose one of the four main server sections (NA PVE & PVP or EU PVE & PVP). Once that’s selected, you’ll be shown the map and the many servers in which you can start in (these are called free ports). The servers will show you the server’s ping and how many people are playing on that server at the time. In the beginning, I found the ping to be inaccurate, because I’d get on one with a lower ping (not usually lower than 100) and end up playing with 255 (max ping). Once you make your way out of the starting area, you’ll find the number of players on each server drops as does the ping, which means a more stable game.

One of the issues with these starting areas is that players who were logged out still showed in the world, except they were sleeping. There were tons of sleeping bodies lying around. The devs quickly realized this was a problem and corrected it. Another interesting thing about the game is that it boasts the ability to handle 40,000+ players.

Once spawned in to the world players will need to gather wood, thatch, and stone to make their first tool, a pickaxe. Like Ark and Minecraft, wood can be harvested from trees by punching them. However, like Ark and unlike Minecraft, punching trees hurts, you can definitely kill yourself by punching a tree too many times. Unfortunately punching trees mostly yields thatch and it takes a bit too long for it to yield wood. Once you get a pick axe, you’ll be able to more easily gather thatch, wood, and then you’ll need to gather flint, which you can harvest from stones. Without any tools, you can gather stone by punching stones, similar to how you obtain your first wood and thatch. This also hurts, but once you get your first tool, it’s no longer necessary to punch anything for resources.

The point to getting your tools is so that you can get other materials more easily. The axe (or hatchet) will yield more wood and stone. Once you have enough of these materials (including flint), you can start by making spears. This is how you’re going to kill animals, which you’ll need to do for meat and pelt. Pelt and fiber are used to make all of your clothes, except the hat, which only requires fiber. Gathering fiber may also yield berries, which are a starting source of food. However, in Atlas, one cannot survive on meat and berries alone. You have to keep an eye on your vitamin levels. There are four of them one for meat, berries, veggies, and fish. Before you set out off of the beginning island, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of these and water skins full of fresh water. You cannot drink salt water. Luckily, there’s a fresh water area in town and you can also get water in the wild by going prone and searching lush areas.

You can go fishing, but if you want to do it in the nice, relaxing way, you’re going to have to craft a chair and gather bait, which is sap from trees. This can be a difficult resource to get, so this may not be the ideal way of fishing. Probably the most efficient way of fishing is to swim in the water, look for a fish, and hit it with a spear a couple of times. Once it’s dead, you’ll automatically start dragging it, which you’ll want to walk to shore so that you can harvest it with your pick axe (best used for getting meat).

Before setting off, you’ll want to gather more materials, especially for a camp fire, which is used to cook meat, and a bed, which is used to respawn. You’ll also need to gather enough materials in order to craft a raft, which can be done via an NPC on the dock. Once you’re prepared, it’s time to set sail and explore the large world of Atlas. Of course, you’ll run into more players on the starting island, but once you get off of it, you’ll find there are few around. However, you’ll notice as you’re exploring that it’s difficult to claim land as most land (outside of free port and lawless areas) is already claimed. You could sail for hours and still not find any land that isn’t already claimed. You can, however, contest a claim, but this takes time.

You’ll want to start out small in the beginning by building a small dock. This will allow you to start building your first “ships,” the raft and dinghy. I tried building one of these, but I didn’t have enough weight to carry all the required resources, so I’m not sure how people have already built them. After that you’ll want to build a ship yard. You can build bigger ships, but this will take many hours. Once you have a bigger ship you can buy AI crew members and set sail. You’ll be able to fight other ships (assuming you built cannons on your ship) including ghost ships, which can be seen patrolling the sea every now and then. Such tasks probably also pretty much require joining a company, which is a group of people. Many things in this game are very friendly for the solo player.

As of now, the game finally runs pretty decent. I’m so glad that most rubber banding is gone and I can now get more than 10 frames per second. I am currently sailing the seas with my 5th raft after my 4th (which I named “May the 4th Be W/ U”) suffered a devastating destruction by trying to get turned around and getting too close to shore. I haven’t talked to very many players. One guy said “ahoy” to me as we crossed paths on rafts out in the sea. He was obviously using a microphone as I am. I ran into a woman who asked me to leave the island she was trying to claim land on. I said, “sure,” but she got a bit nasty that I messed up her claiming process. This encounter left me feeling sour.

I don’t know what the future holds for this game, hopefully more servers so that more people can enjoy it and pings won’t be as bad. There’s also hope for more servers to provide more land to claim as I mentioned the difficulty in finding land to claim. But, right now the game is cool, interesting, beautiful, and running quite well on my PC. It is currently about $30. After they take it out of Early Access the price will raise again (I think they said to $60) as was the way with Ark. If you like pirates, sailing, and MMOs, I give this game a recommendation. It’s not as bad as it started out to be. The devs have been very good at resolving issues and updating the game frequently.

*Update 6/4/19*
My thoughts on this game have kind of changed and I think it's important to update this post. I really did enjoy playing Atlas when it came out. I enjoyed the beginning, which was quite similar to the beginning of Ark where you have to punch trees and gather resources to make tools and clothes. After that, you start to work on building your first raft and making sure you have enough supplies for a trip to sea. Once you're ready, it's time to set sail and hit the open seas, and there's a lot of sea to explore, assuming you're playing on a server (like an official one) with multiple servers in a cluster. Next is pretty much where my enjoyment of the game ends. I played on an official server and searched for unclaimed land to claim as my own and make my home. Unfortunately, there was little to no land to claim, in fact I ended up landing ashore at one point to get cussed out by a female pirate, because I interrupted her claim on some territory and was abruptly asked to leave. I never did find any land to claim. I also quickly learned at this point that this game is most definitely focused on multiplayer. In the beginning it's quite forgiving and welcoming for the single player, but once you set sail on your first raft, the single player parts of the game fail to become relevant or anywhere near easy. It takes a company (the game's name for groups of players) to build boats, and it takes a lot of resources to do, hence the need for multiple players constantly gathering resources for ship production. Once a company has a ship (because a single person could definitely not easily or any where near quickly build one), it's time to set sail once again. However, there are undead pirate ships out there to battle along with big monsters on various islands to fight (in a group). You can also go treasure hunting, but that also requires a group effort as it triggers the spawning of undead pirates, too many to deal with alone. You can also find a variety of animals to tame. You can find AI pirates to hire to help with ship operations, but to get these, you have to defeat undead pirate ships and rescue them. While I was originally interested in the game and enjoyed the very beginning, it quickly dawned on me that this was not a game for me. I'm used to solo, single player gaming. So sadly, my enthusiasm for this game has died. However, if you're interested in a multiplayer pirate, ship building/crafting, exploring kind of game, this might be the one for you.

*Update 8/7/19*
There's a new single player mode, which has got me playing again. It's interesting and, I think, in ways better than the multiplayer mode. There's also a free DLC.

*Update 1/29/20*
Yet again, I’m feeling disappointed with the game. Even though there is a single player mode now, much of it is still too difficult to do alone. The best way I found to build, especially ships, quickly and efficiently is to use a mod that modifies the weights and stack sizes of resources. I find such a mod essential to the single player game. Even with such a mod, much of the game is still very difficult to do alone. Out in the open season, undead ships spawn in groups and you’re the only one available to defeat them. You can hire an NPC crew, but you also have to manage them, keep them paid and fed or they’ll mutiny. Areas where there are much stronger creatures are pretty much impossible for the single player.

The other major issue I had when I last played in October was dealing with the game crashing. At the time, it wasn’t completely stable. Even though this is still an Early Access game, game crashes are a major disappointment, especially after getting used to games (like Monster Hunter: World) that never crash.

I’m still keeping my eye on the game’s development and I really hope much of my own complaints get resolved. I’ve clocked 171 hours again, so paying nearly $30 wasn’t really a big waste of money. I don’t think this is a bad game. It has ambition, but still has room to improve.

Extinction DLC:

  • Last DLC in Ark Season Pass

  • Includes new Tek creatures, explorer notes, titans, orbital supply drops, corrupted creatures, cryopods, taxidermy, deadly meteor showers, and more

  • Variety of biomes
Ark’s third DLC, Extinction, is finally here! It was announced a few months ago, during the summer, for November 6th. Studio Wildcard kept to that date, however it was supposed to be released in the morning and got delayed until late evening/early night time. It feels really good that the wait is finally over. Now I only wonder what’s next for Studio Wildcard. Does Ark have a future after Extinction? Who knows, but this is supposed to be the last DLC for the game included in the season pass. What a long journey it has been since Ark was released in Early Access. I’ve been there since near the beginning and I’ve been able to watch and experience the game grow so much! It has become my favorite game, which I’ve clocked over 2800 hours!

Before release, Studio Wildcard gave us some teasers including creature reveals and a trailer. They also created Tek versions of some creatures already in the game. These rare Tek versions are now a permanent part of the game. They also gave us some more explorer notes to find. One of the most significant pieces of the first trailer showed a huge creature known as a titan. There are apparently multiple of them in this DLC. They can be tamed or defeated, but after being tamed, they will despawn after some time. This mechanic is similar to the titanosaur, which is now dwarfed by titans.

More information was revealed during this year’s Extra Life charity stream in which Wildcard raised about $70,000 to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. They revealed more about the ice titan we saw in the trailer. They also showed off new orbital supply drops, which land on the map and start a process of waves of corrupted creatures coming to destroy it. There are a few difficulties for these with the harder ones giving better loot. Once all the waves are defeated, a player can open it up and receive lots of goodies.

Another interesting mechanic is something like a Pokeball in which you can store your creatures. This helps servers deal with a limited number of creatures, which is set to improve server stability. You can put a creature in a cryopod and release it by throwing it. You can store these cryopods in a refrigerator, especially one created just for this purpose.

Taxidermy has been introduced. You can kill a creature and use a special tool on it to collect it’s dermis. Then you can stick that on a taxidermy display table. There are a few sizes of these tables and creatures are scaled to fit on them. You can select one of many poses that the creature has. It’s an interesting concept.

Along with the Tek creatures released for the game, including a Tek raptor, stegosaurus, parasaur, and quetzal, two new Tek creatures are in the game. One is called an enforcer and can teleport. The other is pretty much an observer. You can acquire blueprints to build these two by killing them and then crafting them in a particular crafting station.

The DLC is also full of a variety of biomes, but the entire map is of Earth. This DLC is the “beginning and end” of the whole Ark story. There is an abandoned city on the map, which is the recommended spawn area for players. Other biomes can be found including an icy one encircled within a dome. This is what is called a proto-Ark.

It’s all very interesting and I’m excited to dive into Ark once again! Who knows what the future holds for the game and Studio Wildcard, but the game has been released for current gen consoles, the Xbox One and PS4. It has also been announced for the Switch. Console Ark players are going to have to wait for the release of Extinction while Studio Wildcard works on that version some more to get it better suited to console gaming.

*Update 6/4/19*
My thoughts and feelings on Extinction have been fully realized by now and I feel that it is time to update this post. At the beginning, I was very eagerly excited for Extinction. I played a lot of Ark and enjoyed the other DLC, so I was definitely looking forward to more. However, Extinction kind of just fell flat with me. It didn't capture my interest the same way that the base game and Scorched Earth did. I think I liked Aberration better, but even then I was beginning to lose interest in the game as a whole. I really enjoyed Ark and following along with its development over the years. I regularly participated in the official forums, played on an official server, and played much of it on my own in single player mode. I also found some really great YouTube channels to watch and follow. Oh and I also found my favorite mods to use. But, unfortunately, I began to feel that Extinction just wasn't for me. In a way it's kind of difficult to say why I'm not really into this DLC. It is kind of scary outside of Sanctuary (one of the main biomes), because of meteor showers which could wreck your base or kill you. Plus, there's the corrupted creatures which are extremely aggressive and dangerous. There are a few different interesting biomes like the forest, desert, and snowy areas. The desert was much like having a mini version of Scorched Earth, however it was inhabited by some new creatures and technologies. Since different creatures inhabited different biomes (which I think were larger than any biome in the base game), it was kind of difficult to transport creatures you've tamed. However, there were various stations around where you could upload your creature in one area and download them in another.

The main reason for my dislike of this DLC is much more easy to explain and understand. It's the required multiplayer aspect. In the base game some things were some what unforgiving to the single player, but you could easily enough change some settings to make things easier for example make taming go by more quickly). There were also some really good and helpful mods that made things even more fun, easy, and enjoyable. However, Extinction added some things that pretty much require a group effort and may even be extremely difficult for a group to do. One of these is the orbital supply drops. A cache would drop on the ground from outer space. Players can find one and activate it while in the area. A shield will encapsulate the cache and the beginning of waves of corrupted creatures would begin to attack the cache and any players nearby. Eventually, with enjoy damage taken, the shield will go down and be ineffective. Waves of corrupted creatures will continue to come until all waves are defeated, or a player dies. I think if you try this on your own it will be over if you die, but if you try it out in a group, it may still be active even if one player dies. If successful, the OSD will spew out all kinds of goodies, like a Tech Replicator. However, this is very difficult to achieve. I never tried it myself. I watched Sl1pg8r try it alone and fail. At one point I did join a friend's local server, but I was much too afraid to leave the Sanctuary area.

Boss fights aren't new to Ark. In the base game, some of them were doable for a single person. I believe I successfully defeated the spider queen alone and with a group of creatures, but these bosses got more difficult. Once the end-game was released I quickly realized that one could not really win the end boss battle alone, even with other tamed creatures. I only succeeded this by cheating. Extinction adds titans which are pretty much mini-bosses. They are giants you can actually tame temporarily if you successfully beat them. However, I've watched a few different groups tackle these titans with very little success (and a whole lot of death and respawning).

So, sadly, I realized again the huge aspects of a game that pretty much required multiple online players and not being very fun for the single solo gamer, which is what I am used to. If you love Ark and love playing in multiplayer, maybe this DLC is for you. But, if you like how easy it was to do things on your own in the base game (even with mods) and you like playing solo (like me), then this DLC may not be for you.

The new update for No Man's Sky has a launch trailer. The Abyss adds many underwater things including better visuals, more creatures, sunken treasure, the ability to build underwater, and the ability to use your jetpack underwater. I'm mostly glad that they made it so we can use our jetpack underwater. I've always felt that swimming in NMS wasn't so great. So, this update seems pretty cool, check out the embedded trailer for many more details.

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
If you’ve played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you may be familiar with its mini-game called Gwent. Gwent is a card game played by various NPCs in the game. However, you no longer need to play The Witcher 3 in order to play Gwent as it is now it’s own free-to-play game. Gwent is a simple card game where most cards have values and the one who has the highest strength value on the board at the end of a round wins. There are three rounds. You can pass if you decide your strength value is high enough, saving some of your cards for the next round. This is sometimes a good strategy to use. Some cards also have abilities which can be helpful and there are cards that only have abilities.

Thronebreaker is actually more like story mode Gwent. You walk around on a map as a queen. You run into various things on the map such as resources, which can be used to upgrade your camp. Your camp has a few different buildings and some of what you can build makes available new cards that you can create. All combat in the game is actually a Gwent match. There are also puzzles you can find where you may have a limited amount of rounds to play, limited deck, and must complete the puzzle a certain way in order to win. Puzzles seem to have their own level of difficulty. One beautiful thing about matches is that if you’re playing on the easiest difficulty and lose, you can choose to skip the battle. This completes the match as though you won. This applies to all matches, including puzzles.

I’m not sure how I found out about Thronebreaker, but I watched a video about it on IGN. The person said this was a game that reminded him why he got into gaming in the first place. IGN also gave the game a very high score, 90+ out of 100 I believe. I don’t know that I think of it as highly as that reviewer, but it’s still a good game. The story is interesting and the characters are cool.

If you’d like to play Thronebreaker, you’ll need to hop on over to GOG to buy it as this game is not available on Steam (*edit* this game is now on Steam). There you will also find Gwent, which you can get for free. One cool thing is that even owning Thronebreaker unlocks cards that can be used in Gwent. You can also unlock other cards while playing the game. I think it’s pretty neat, especially since it seems that getting an achievement in the game always unlocks cards for Gwent.

If you like customizable card games, check out Gwent, since it’s free. If you like what you see then I’d recommend getting Thronebreaker.

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.

  • Recommendation: Kind of around "meh" and "rad"

  • Final Fantasy meets Pokemon

  • Many familiar Final Fantasy monsters and characters

  • A couple PC quirks
We no longer have to imagine a world where Final Fantasy meets Disney, that of course is Kingdom Hearts. But there’s a new FF blend, it’s like FF meets Pokemon and it’s interesting. I’ve had this on my wish list and it recently became a $20 game (50% off), so I picked it up.

In World of Final Fantasy, you wake up (late as always) and find yourself as a twin of mirage keepers. Mirages are basically monsters and you can catch them, much like Pokemon. However this isn’t a game where you have monsters fighting monsters, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Instead you stack them on your head. There are also two sizes that the main characters can be, called Lilikins (for small) and Jiants (for large). Lilikins can have a mirage on top of their head, but they may be able to actually ride a large mirage. As a Jiant, you can have two mirages stacked on your head. Each mirage has a size, which can change as it….”evolves.” There are small, medium, and large mirages. Small ones get stacked on top of medium ones, while large ones are ones that you stack yourself on top of.

There are a number of unique mirages, many of them familiar monsters within the world of Final Fantasy as a whole, such as chocobos and cactuars. Each mirage has it’s own way of what you need to do to capture it, such as use physical attacks, magic, or give it a status ailment. You can find out how to get the mirage into capture mode by using Libra on it. Libra can also tell you the mirage's elemental resistances. Each element has it’s own weakness and strength and it goes something like this; fire is strong against ice, but weak against water. Ice is strong against wind, which is strong against earth, which is strong against thunder, which is strong against water. Dark and light seem to be strong against each other. So, it’s not quite set up like Pokemon, but it is kind of similar.

The reason capturing mirages is so important is because mirages have abilities (like Cure) and stats. You make yourself more powerful by stacking a mirage (or two). Areas in the game seem to have similar mirages with similar and expected strengths and weaknesses. For instance, in a fire place you can expect to find fire based mirages like the Bomb.

The game does a pretty decent job of telling you how to go about capturing mirages and how to stack them to receive their benefits. It also explains that, for instance, if you have two mirages stacked that have the ability of Fire, it will in turn give you the upgraded spell, Fira. You are limited to how many mirages you can keep with you. The rest go in a special storage area that easily accessible at save points.

One thing that makes this game a bit more enticing for fans of Final Fantasy is that it contains areas and characters in previous Final Fantasy games. For instance, I met up with Tifa who lead me to Nifelheim, but there are many others!

The PC version is kind of confusing in a way. When I first started the game, it was in windowed mode, which I didn’t like. I went into the options/settings menu, but didn’t see anything to change it. However, there’s a small configuration tool you can select after clicking on the “play” button on Steam. Here you can chose to configure it or jump in the game. This still doesn’t add very much configuration, but you can change to full screen and a different resolution. It’s actually simple, it’s just a bit buried.

Another interesting thing is that I wanted to play with a controller. I have an Xbox 360 controller I use for PC gaming. At first it was kind of difficult because the game was telling me which keys to press instead of which buttons. Then, I noticed in the options menu that you can select which input device is shown in how to do things. I thought this was cool, even though it didn’t auto detect.

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.

  • Recommendation: Kind of around "meh" and "rad" after 57 hours of game play

  • Visual style by Akira Toriyama, creator of the Dragon Ball series

  • Similar to Final Fantasy

  • Many of the same elements that are in other Dragon Quest games, but also containing some new elements such as characters and story

  • Really good initial reviews
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age was recently released. I saw a commercial for it and read a review (that contained a few reviews) and decided to pre-order it. The pre-order bonuses looked nice, I got accessories that restore HP and MP each turn for the character that has them equipped. It seems different stores had different pre-order bonuses, but I’m happy with what I got on Steam. This is a $60 game, which can be a bit of a turn off, but after some time playing it, I feel like it’s pretty much worth it.

Dragon Quest is a series of RPGs by Square Enix. One of the unique parts of it is that the characters were designed by the creator of the Dragon Ball series, Akira Toriyama. If you’ve seen any of the Dragon Ball series, you’ll definitely notice how Dragon Quest looks similar.

My experience with the DQ series is very little. I have DQVIII for the PS2, which I enjoyed. So, getting back into a DQ game is pretty interesting, because I can see things that are still in the series, such as familiar monsters. Both games are turn-based RPGs and remind me a lot of Final Fantasy games. So, if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, you’ll probably be a fan of Dragon Quest.

Many of the reviews I read before the release of DQXI gave the game a high score, such as a 9 out of 10 or similar. This is something I can agree with even after only playing the game for 8 hours. Not all the reviews gave it such a great score, after all the game doesn’t quite bring a whole lot new to the series. Instead it sticks to what’s been done successfully with previous games in the series. After all, if something isn’t broken, why fix it, right? Perhaps the biggest changes include the cast of characters, story, and how it looks. This game looks beautiful!

While I agree with a high score for this game there are a few minor things that make me hesitate to give it that perfect score. Mostly, there are things I wish the game told me, things I some how figured out on my own. For instance, I can hit the X button on my Xbox 360 controller (that I use for PC gaming) and I get to see a map of where I’m at. This is very helpful, but the game never told me about that. Perhaps it did tell me, but I didn’t see it. There are things it tells you while it’s loading your saved game, but it loads so quickly that I hardly get to read any of it at all. I wish they would have inserted a pause so you could read those tips.

One other thing was that I had to use Google for was to figure out how to access the pre-order bonuses (DLC) that I got. Luckily, I found the answer, but I wish I had known that at the beginning. The game does have a bunch of information in it’s menu, under “Misc.” that can tell you a lot of what you need to know about the game. I didn’t look too deep into this, which may be why I missed out on some of these things. One thing that impressed me was that the game didn’t require any configuration at all. I can only assume that it detected my hardware and realized it could max out all it’s settings. It even turned Vsync on by default.

The game also has two camera modes for when you’re in a battle. One is called “free-form” and you can move around. There’s a circle for the battle and you can try to escape by stepping outside that circle. My problem with this (default) camera mode was that I was centered on the main character and other characters were off camera. I decided to change the camera mode to the next one and I think I like it better, it’s just taking some time to get used to. You get to see each character as they attack or get attacked, it’s definitely better. Where as before when another character got hit, I didn’t see how much damage was done, unless I noticed how much depleted from their HP gauge. I don’t know that you can escape battle as easily with this other camera mode, but I don’t find the need to do so. You can, after all, select “flee” from the menu.

One thing that sets this game series apart from most Final Fantasy games is that there aren’t random encounters. Meaning, you don’t have to walk around and worry about suddenly getting attacked by some random invisible enemy. Instead, you can clearly see monsters walking around. If you want to avoid them, you can do so easily enough, there’s plenty of walking space. If you want to attack a monster you can either walk into it or you can get close enough and attack it preemptively. At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed with how many monsters were roaming around, so I avoided most of them. I was after all just beginning and didn’t want to die too easily. However, I decided against doing so and since I’ve attacked almost every monster I’ve seen, I’ve become a lot stronger and richer (since you’re awarded gold and XP upon victory). Still, that option is there, which is nice.

There’s not much I can say about the story since I’ve only played for 8 hours, but it seems pretty good. I was surprised by an early twist I wasn’t expecting the story to take. One thing I like is that other party members act on their own. You can select the party’s tactics, which tells them what they should be doing, healing, attacking, conserving MP, etc. I now have 4 party members and they’re pretty useful.

So far the game seems really good, I like it. I’m hoping there are plenty of gaming hours left.

*Update 2/1/2020*
I played this game for 57 hours. I'm sure I made it to the end, but I didn't finish it. I found the end-game to be too difficult and I lost my desire to continue playing in order to get better and finish it. I did enjoy this game, especially in the beginning, but there were some things I didn't like about it. There was a wide range of feelings I had for many characters. Some I really liked or loved and some I really disliked. My dislike for some characters wasn't strictly for "bad guys." I know this game is on the Switch now (or coming to) and I believe it has a demo. I would recommend trying out the demo and seeing if it appeals to you before jumping in. That is unless you're a die hard DQ fan, in which case you'll probably love it no matter what.

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.

  • Recommended +1

  • Jurassic Park/World simulation, with dino breeding, expeditions for DNA, and even a bit of a strategy game
If you ever thought it’d be cool to create your own Jurassic Park (or World), then the time for you has come! Jurassic World Evolution is pretty much a Jurassic Park/Wold simulation game that was recently released and seems pretty popular (especially on YouTube). It’s an interesting game and I’ve played some of it, so I thought I’d share it with you.

You’ll start off on one of a few different islands (not Isla Nublar, which you unlock later). You’ll have a basic structure going on, such as a large pen already built. You’ll still need a few other buildings, but you can purchase them whenever you can afford them. The starting layout is pretty good, but there’s more room for you to grow your park. You’ll also start out with a few million dollars to buy new buildings or get started on dinosaur incubation.

You won’t have all (48 I think) dinos unlocked right away, but I think you’ll have at least one “viable” genome with which you can incubate into a dino. You won’t be able to incubate a dino until you have enough DNA, which you get by doing expeditions. This part of the game is pretty simple. You’ll see an expedition map, which contains real-life expedition sites. You’ll click on one to send your team to (for a price) and they will come back with fossils after a few minutes. You then have to analyze fossils in order to get more DNA for whatever dino you’re working on. You’re going to want to constantly send out expedition teams to gather more fossils, so that you can incubate more dinos.

Obtaining more of the dinos genome means you’ll have more success when incubating a dino. I believe 50% is “viable.” Also, with a full genome, you can modify each creature, giving them extra stats like disease resistance, better rating, or a new skin. Personally, I’m very fond of the rain forest skin, which gives dinos a bit of blue.

The park has a variety of needs. Each building requires power and a path. Each building also has it’s own utility. The Asset Containment Unit uses helicopters to tranquilize, move, or sell dinos. You’ll also have a Ranger station which uses jeeps to repair structures or resupply feeders. You can drive them yourself, but it’s not required. It also can heal dinos and allow you to take pictures.

Guests have other needs such as shopping, food, fun, and security. You can increase these with an appropriate building. Hotels will increase how many guests you can have. There are also shelters you can place to give your guests some where to go when an emergency happens such as a bad storm or a loose dino. Satisfying all of these needs will earn you ratings on that specific island. In order to unlock further islands you will need to get a three star rating for the island you’re on. Each island is a bit unique. Isla Nublar is pretty much the “creative mode” island, where you have unlimited funds and can pretty much do whatever you like. Another island has a problem with frequent storms, including tornadoes that can severely damage structures or even fences.

It’s worth noting that each island has it’s own amount of money. However, you can use one island to send an expedition team and retrieve fossils. Sometimes these expeditions recover materials that you can only sell. So, once you have those materials, you can switch over to another island and sell them, increasing the amount of money you have on that island. (Pro tip!)

Dinos also have their own needs such as food, water, grassland, forest, social, and population to name a few. If these needs are met, the dino will be comfortable, if they get uncomfortable then they start to break fences and escape their enclosure. This is definitely a problem as herbivores can stampede and trample guests, while carnivores will eat guests (and you can watch this happen). If they break out of an enclosure, you’ll have to use a ranger team to repair the fence and an ACU unit (helicopter) to tranquilize and move them back into their enclosure. So, it’s very important to keep your dinos comfortable, or else there’s going to be serious problems.

There are three “factions” within the game, science, entertainment, and security. You can do tasks for each of them that will increase your reputation with them. Doing so will unlock a variety of things such as dinos and buildings. They have missions on each island, but they also have contracts. Contracts are basically activities you can do that will not only increase your reputation with that faction, but also reward you with money (which you’ll need).

As you play more, you’ll unlock new buildings, technology, and dinos. You may wish to be careful of which dinos you put together as some of them will obviously not get along and start fighting (even to the death). Or, you could just decide to see for yourself which dino would win in a fight. You could even edit their genome and make one much better than another. It’s pretty interesting.

The game looks good and runs well. There are some issues you may run into. For one thing, sometimes building is difficult due to obstructions of the terrain. Also, it seems that some of the animations don’t quite work together. For instance you might see a Rex kill a Raptor, but you won’t actually see them touch, just almost touching. Hopefully this is something the developers will fix.

So far, the game does have one cheap DLC that adds (I believe) 5 new dinos to the game. There was also a free update when Jurassic World Extinction was released, which added more dinos, including the Indominous Raptor. It has been speculated that the game will get aquatic and aviary dinos in the future, but so far that doesn’t seem to be guaranteed.

If you like simulation games and Jurassic Park/Wold, then this game is probably for you.

*Update* 2/2/2020
There is a lot of DLC for this game now. There are multiple dino packs of new dinos and skins you can buy. There are also a few expansions. I have not yet played all of them.

A great source for all things Jurassic World Evolution, you should check out the YouTube channel of BestInSlot (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWB212HLA4MyZBpn0qlBpXA).

GregoPeck gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
GregoPeck gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.

  • Recommended +1

  • Human/household simulation, that’s a fun, calm, easy-going, and interesting game.

  • Lots of expansions
I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Sims fan, but I have played some of the games in the series, starting with the first one. I’ve also played The Sims 3, as it was given away for free on Origin. However, there was a recent sale and I was able to buy The Sims 4 for just $10. I thought that was a great deal, so I got it. Unfortunately, I was pretty blown away with how many expansions there are for the game and there doesn’t seem to be an all-in-one version, which I think would be cool, although probably a bit expensive. I figured if I liked the game enough, I could buy expansions whenever I wanted or catch them on sale. That said, I didn’t buy any special version of the game, there are some that come with an expansion, but I decided to just get the base game.

If you’re familiar with The Sims or have ever played one in the series, you pretty much know all there is to know about it, with some differences. However, if you don’t know, The Sims is a simulation game. You control people in a household. You move them into a furnished or unfurnished house pre-made or built by yourself. The Sims (the people in the game) have their own needs and desires. They can take care of many of these things alone without your direction, but you can still command them to do other things. Getting a job is not something they will do on their own, so you’ll have to pick one for them, if you want them to be employed. There are a good variety of jobs you can choose from, each suited to different kinds of sims. For instance, creative geared sims may find a job in the music industry. You could also have a writer, who can write and sell books on their own, a cook, a gardener, etc.

When you start the game, you can create your own sims. You can create a household of one or more, if you wish. There are a lot of customization options! You can customize how your sims look and most definitely create unique looking sims. They look good though, there’s a lot of detail in them. There are also a variety of wardrobes you can customize, such as their informal and formal wear. Along with looks, you will be able to customize their personalities. In The Sims 4, you can select their aspirations from a decent list that even breaks aspirations down into more specific aspirations. For instance, creative sims could be creative at art, music, or comedy.

Once you’ve created your sims, you can have them move into a house. There are a couple of neighborhoods to choose from, each unique in their own ways. The neighborhoods pretty much contain the same social buildings such as a library. Different families live in them, too. Once you’ve decided on the neighborhood, you can choose which house or lot to move them into. Here you can have them move into one that’s already built and furnished or unfurnished or you could build your own. You’ll start out with some simoleons, the game’s currency, however there is a cheat you can use to give yourself infinite simoleons and thus plenty of money to be as creative as you want. The game doesn’t punish you for using cheats.

Once you’ve moved in and furnished your house (if need be), you can then start managing your sims. They have a variety of needs such as hunger, energy, bladder, social, fun, and hygiene. In this version, you can actually click on these needs and set them so that the sim will take care of it own their own. One of the first things you’ll want to do is get the sims a job, but you can always switch jobs, change careers, or just be unemployed if you wish. There are other ways to make money without having a job. For instance, writers can write their own books and sell them to a publisher. This ends up generating a lot of income, especially with a high writing skill. You can practice skills by doing them or reading a skill book. So, a programmer could level up their programming skill by practicing programming on a computer.

Some differences of Sims 3 vs Sims 4: Since I’ve played The Sims before, I noticed a few differences, although it’s been a while, so I probably didn’t fully notice all of them. The camera was one of the first things I noticed was different. I had to Google how to control the camera, as it is different from The Sims 3, however you can enable an option to use the same camera settings from The Sims 3. Another thing I noticed was the lack of an alarm clock. Previously, you needed an alarm clock to wake up a sim in time for work, otherwise they’d miss it. This time, it seems, you can wake them up manually on time. A notification will tell you, for instance, that your sim starts work “in one hour.” So, you have plenty of time to tell them to get up and take care of whatever needs they have. They will automatically go to work on time, so long as you don’t have them focused on something else. There is, what I guess you’d call an activity bar, where you can cue up various activities for your sim to do. They mostly do them one by one, but there is actually some multi-tasking they can do, like eat and watch TV. It’s easy to cancel an activity, just by clicking on it in the bar.

I think emotions are new to this version of the game. Sims can be happy, sad, uncomfortable, focused, flirty, and a lot more. Certain activities or events will trigger different emotions. For instance, sleeping in a cheap bed will cause the sim to be uncomfortable. There are also a variety of items you can put in rooms that will change a sims mood, which is handy.

Another interesting, new addition is the smart phone. Sims no longer need telephones as they all have smartphones. They can use them to call another sim, travel, or just browse the web.

An employed sim will have a daily activity (such as “practice programming”) and other goals in order to gain a promotion. One of these goals could be to reach a certain skill level (such as reach level 7 programming skill). Some sims will also want to go to work with a certain mood, like “focused.” Promotions can change the job schedule and they definitely increase income.

You can change the speed in which things happen with your sim. For instance, you can make time go by faster while they’re sleeping, but this is something the game actually does automatically. This also happens when they’re at work. So, you don’t necessarily have to wait around forever for them to finish completing an activity. Some activities (like leveling up skills) will also show you a progress bar. Usually for skills, you’ll want to pay attention to the meter above their head. However, other activities, like hacking, will have an outline of the activity in the activity bar that shows the progress being made for that activity.

Other than needs, your sim will have up to three different desires, which depends on their mood or their aspirations. This could be something like “chat with” another sim or “buy an instrument.” If you have your sim complete these activities, they earn another kind of currency which can be used in the aspirations menu to buy traits or potions. For instance, you can purchase a potion to make your sim younger.

It’s a fun, calm, easy-going, and interesting game. I do believe that the latest version (The Sims 4) is definitely an evolution to the series, as the game has progressed during development. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you should check it out. Perhaps catch it on sale, buy it a full price, or catch The Sims 3 if it’s ever on the “on the house” part of Origin (the EA standalone game launcher).

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