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Ten Months of PC Gaming

I got my gaming PC ten months ago. It didn’t get off to a good start, as the PC only arrived in a working state on the third attempt. In the previous two attempts the big heat synch had come off and bashed around the insides of the case. The supplier was very good about it and delivered it on a pallet on the third attempt to ensure it got to me (as well giving me money off, etc).

The PC gaming experience over the last ten months has been very different to what I expected.

The Netflix of PC Games

The first experience I got the joy of was haunting Steam for interesting games to play. Steam is to PC Gaming as Netflix is to film and TV shows. You get to frequently look desperately for something to engage with (buy in this case) and constantly fail. I’ve stopped doing it now as it’s invariably a fruitless exercise. It usually ends up with me wasting money on games I don’t play. I frequent it much less now. I purchased a few cheap games off Steam in desperation in the early days but most of them didn’t draw me in. The only one that did was Infested Planet, which is really good and worth playing.

Once you get passed Steam and the cheap games you get to the genres I thought I’d be getting back into but I haven’t.

Party-Based Role-Playing

One of the genres of game I was expecting to get back into as they’d started to be released again on the PC was party-based role-playing games. Adventures. Dungeons. Party-based combat. This hasn’t happened. I’ve spent my hard earned British pounds on Divinity: Original Sin and, relatively recently, Pillars of Eternity once it dropped to under 20 GBP.

I think the issue here is they are just so big and involved. I’m coming to the conclusion I just don’t do big and involved games any more. Divinity: Original Sin has the whole massive game, lots of ‘rules mastery’ things going on. I probably should have known it wouldn’t work out for me. It didn’t. The setting also didn’t appeal, it’s a bit like the fantasy TV shows and films before the Lord of the Rings films, back when they all had to be done with a knowing wink. I just couldn’t get into it.

I was hoping Pillars of Eternity would be different, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case. I’m not engaging with it much. I thought it would be different because of the ways the game designers talked about it. They seemed to have minimised ‘rule mastery’, took steps to avoid classes being essential and really de-prioritised the whole crafting thing (which was a massive part of Divinity). In short, they’d de-prioritised everything I tend not to like. I also like how they’re telling the story, cutting back on highly costly, CGI cut scenes for cleverly done story told through panels. It’s all quite clever. The trouble is it’s just so big. I don’t do settings really. Setting should be a function purely of protagonist narrative, rather than like a ‘wall of stuff’ the player has to enjoy and ‘get on board with’. It doesn’t help that in the first couple of hours I’ve already started getting my ass kicked.

It all just gets a bit…irritating. Time consuming. Ponderous Slow.

Flight Simulators

I was also hoping to get back into military flight simulators, but this hasn’t really happened either. There is an option to do it as I have DCS World installed, but I’ve found it hard to connect with and play over a consistent period. I’ve probably put about a handful of hours into it at most.

In this case, I’m just not convinced the effort involved delivers a sufficient return and as a result I don’t play it. It feels a bit..dry. The set-up doesn’t draw me in either, this could be because it lacks a narrative purpose. There are just a combination of factors that don’t draw you into the experience, this is probably because it is one grand toolbox. It just doesn’t feel like the great simulators of old like F117A-Stealth Fighter and Total Air War. It’s the nature of the game or I’ve changed or a combination of both.

It’s probably the same issue I have with open world games. I expect experience to be delivered, not a set of tools to play with.

All About Elite: Dangerous

This means my PC gaming experience, like my initial year with the PS4, has been been one involving a singular game.

In this case Elite: Dangerous.I’ve talked before how I shouldn’t like Elite: Dangerous, yet I do. It comes in waves, just as I think my experience with it has run its course then the game changes and I find something else to do. I’ve played it mostly as a trading game, but I’ve started to experiment with other things.

Since my brother is playing now this opens up the idea of doing more combat stuff, as it’s not something I’d necessarily so on my own. I have a Python for that and I quite enjoying winging up and shooting up some ships. It’s not been particularly profitable, as I suspect I haven’t made enough from the endeavours to pay back the cost of losing my ship! It’s happened a couple of times and since it’s nearly 5M credits each time that happens that quite a lot more combat I have to do to recover (so I tend to quickly trade it back). It’s fun though, as it’s a new skill to learn and introduces me to a new area of discovery with respect to the game.

I’m planning a substantially longer exploration trip when Horizons comes out. It will certainly involve some more distance nebulas, the thing that’s hanging in the balance is whether I go for a really long trip and make way to the centre of the galaxy. I guess it’s just one of those things to say you’ve done.

Vessel wise I’m pretty much topped out. I have best of breed for each activity, depending on your point of view. I’m trading in an Anaconda. I’ve got the Asp Explorer for exploration. I have the Python for combat. I also have a Diamondback Scout because I just love it and the hull of a Imperial Clipper. In truth I have nothing urgent I need to buy.

There is still an aspirational ship though: the Imperial Cutter. It is a massive ship with a 792 cargo hold! That is an epic amount of cargo and credits per trip. So much I can’t even contemplate it at this point. The trouble is it demands a very high Imperial rank and I can’t see myself grinding that out. It’s a pity as I’d really like to own one of those credit generating machines.

It’s still a great game though, and I look forward to substantially more time with it.

The Future…

It’s going to be Elite: Dangerous pretty much. I don’t see anything in the near future that I’m looking forward to buying. There is some outliers, but these are narrative games like those from Telltale. I am going to have to resist some of the genres I’ve associated with my return to PC gaming because the practical truth on the ground is they don’t get played.

I’m just not sure what the great PC gaming experience is. I must be doing something wrong. I fail to find the legion of gaming experiences I want to play that I can’t get on the console. This is one thing that keeps bringing me back to Elite: Dangerous, as it is an experience I can’t have on the PS4 and involves uniquely PC things like joysticks and throttles, etc.

At the moment I’ll just enjoy it.

About Ian O'Rourke

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