In What Are You Playing This Weekend?, we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Matt Gerardi here, your Gameological editor-for-the-week. It’s been a weird couple of days, Gameologerinos, but we’ve reached Friday, and that means it’s time for What Are You Playing This Weekend? We don’t have an interview for you today, but I did the next best thing and turned to the Gameological staff.
I’m getting back into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s been almost two years since I sunk 130 hours into this game, and I’m playing it again mostly because I want to figure out what other 130 hours I missed out on by focusing on the first 130 hours. So far, the game feels surprising but familiar, like going back to your parents’ house and noticing they added a new wing off the dining room. It’s a nice place to be. Still reeling from The Last Of Us, this is a nice exercise in the familiar.
That’s weird, I may also be dipping back into Skyrim, although in my case it would be to finally finish the main quest. I’m 120 hours in, and I still haven’t gotten around to killing off the big bad dragon at the end. I always get distracted by my need to create ever better magic weapons, armor, and accessories. I’ll also continue working my way through State Of Decay’s zombie apocalypse simulation. I had to restart a while back after I accidentally killed off all my favorite characters, and those zombies sure aren’t going to kill themselves. Finally, I’d really like to find time to get a draft or two in on Magic The Gathering Online. I have yet to get a chance to draft the new core set, M14, which is a bummer since by most reports it’s one of the best core sets ever for drafting. Chances are good I won’t manage to do all of these things this weekend, but damn it, I’m going to try.
This weekend, I’m at GenCon, the massive annual gaming convention in Indianapolis, so I’ll be gaming whenever I’m not sleeping or buying games. What I’m most excited for is The Rising, a live action role-playing games where you fight zombies with Nerf guns and solve puzzles. I’ll also be playing a game of Pathfinder where all the characters are goblins, trying a new Lovecraftian horror game called Tremulus, and memorizing spells for True Dungeon, which is like Dungeons & Dragons with sets, actors, and animatronics.
Having just headshot my peers into oblivion on top of a parking garage in downtown Los Angeles at the Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer reveal on Wednesday, I’m ready to scale down from the fancy pants Xbox One to the slightly less explosive Xbox 360 to review Saints Row IV. I’m about four hours in, and I’m digging it. It’s like Saints Row 3 combined with Crackdown—one of my favorite games. I’m also intrigued by the way it’s made me dispose of my own empathy. Because part of the game takes place in a computer simulation, I’m much less concerned about the well-being of the random pedestrians I run over with a car or kill with the dubstep gun. I usually feel bad about the collateral damage in Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row games, but for some reason that extra layer of separation from reality in a game-within-a-game has transformed me into an unthinking killer.
Anthony John Agnello
I will be nose deep in The Bureau, the ‘60s-themed offshoot of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I’m actually pretty excited to get started too. I had never played an XCOM game until last fall, and I became hopelessly addicted to its blend of office management and strategic alien murder. Efficiency is a delight in games, and XCOM was about nothing if not deft economic maneuvers. That’s not why I’m pumped about playing The Bureau, though. It apparently has more in common with Valkyria Chronicles, where you’re ensconced in the gunfights rather than above them. Plus, I dig the 1960s. I get to wear a fedora and fend off extraterrestrials while telling other people what to do. Now that’s wish fulfillment.
I’ve been on a workout kick ever since I moved my recumbent exercise bike to within controller’s reach of my Xbox 360, and I found racing games are the best motivator to peddle through the pain. It feels like one of those exercise bike simulators they used to have at the old Wonders Of Life pavilion at Disney’s Epcot back when such technology was considered “futuristic.” Thanks to this health habit, I rediscovered Dirt 3. I had forgotten how much fun it is. It rides a fine line between a speedy arcade racing game and a realistic driving simulator. It doesn’t skimp out on the physics, which helps it feel authentic, but you also don’t have to be Tanner Foust to play it.
I’ve been bouncing up and down the East Coast lately, and a lot of the people I’ve been visiting don’t have the patience to leave me alone for a long stretch of time—let’s just say they were born yesterday, that’s close enough. That means I’ve been surrendering a lot of matches in the online card game Might & Magic: Duel Of Champions. But I’m losing because I get called away in the middle of a turn, not because I’m horrible at the game! I’m looking forward to this weekend, when I will finally have enough time to…lose because I’m horrible at the game. This is my first multiplayer digital card game surrogate. While I appreciate not having to sort all of my cards alphabetically by type and color and rarity when I’m done, I miss seeing my opponent’s face when I play a deck specifically designed to end the game in a six-hour stalemate. I think I just remembered why I shouldn’t be allowed to play card games.
I’ve been on a The Binding Of Isaac kick ever since Gerardi wrote about the competitive racing league that sprung up around it on Twitch.TV. I was moderately into the game before I tuned in, but now that I know the tricks of professional Binding players, I have been tearing through Isaac’s personal hell. If you think my months-long obsession with the game would cause my social life to suffer, then you’d be right! But I just moved into a new apartment with a friend from school, showed him Binding, and I can see it slowly taking root in his brain. He’s also trying to get me into something called Torchlight 2, which, frankly, I won’t ever play because it’s not on Mac. I also just started Saints Row IV, which has a hilarious tutorial. That is a good sign for what’s to come.
This weekend is shaping up to be eerily quiet for me, with most of my friends and family off on vacations and such. I’m looking forward to sitting down and digging into Gone Home without any distractions. With all the Saints Row and Dragons Crown going around, it’s nice knowing there’s a quiet adventure game about a girl in a suburban home with ’90s riot grrl mixtapes waiting to be explored. I’ll also dabble in Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, though I’m not really expecting to be too surprised there, and keep up appearances in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. More than anything, though, I expect to lay on the couch with rymdkapsel, a minimalist space-station simulator, drawing me away from Netflix. It’s really hard to stop thinking about that game. There must be some sort of subliminal messages in the music or something because a game that deconstructed has no right being so captivating.
I just got married Saturday, so I’m playing “Oh My God What Have I Done?” for the rest of my natural life…Just kidding. It’s magical. It’s iPhone Contra for me until I get back to civilian life.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.