Interim 2020: Sorting my Pile of Shame.

Besides the recent longer posts, there are also other games I played in between; some of these I did complete, but more I did not. So for this Interim Report on the first half of 2020, I would like to briefly mention and reflect on my experiences in:

  • Tower of Time (completed)
  • Assassin’s Creed (stalled)
  • Warhammer 40k – Mechanicus (incompleted)
  • Elex (incompleted)
  • Quantum Break (completed)

Tower of Time (completed)

Tower of Time – Graphics and levels are really beautiful

This games is a mixture of a bit of Baldur’s Gate, Divinity Original Sin, and… well anything Infinity Engine’ish.

Story-wise the game is set in a dying world with a plague ravaging inhabitants and several races quarreling and struggling. A tower is discovered, but upside down stuck in the ground, and while you as the main character sit on its’ crystal throne, you send and follow your characters down to the bottom (which is the top) of the tower. And as the throne empoweres you tremendously, you are also capable to sway the mood of decisions in the party.

The game itself is beautiful and has some stunning scenery, characters are believable but behave sometimes erratic / unpredictable according to the choice mechanics in the game. Fights are on a good / challenging difficulty level with an interrupt / slow-down function to adjust your actions and movements during battle.

What really dragged me though was the more classic “tower level” design, which felt a bit like in Eye of the Beholder: You know there are twelve levels, so you slowly move forward to the end, level by level. So of course, every level has its own biome and specialities – some cooler, some colder. Strangely the tower levels become tremendously huge, the more you proceed downwards (which is upwards). It’s a magic tower – I get it! – but sometime it felt more like dragging everything out for more playtime.

The game overall is actually too long and becomes rather repetitive, but leaves a good taste after the final credits rolled. I sometimes really had to motivate myself to proceed further though …

Time played: 43h | Achievements: 56%

Assassin’s Creed

Looking for the fun part in just another Assassin’s Creed game

Well, after my first tilt with Assassin’s Creed Origins I thought a smaller AC game would do the trick and started at the beginning of everything.

I was so wrong.

As soon as the game hinted me to collect 100(!) rags (or flags?) per region, my motivation dwindled and quickly stopped. Why would you ask something like that from anybody? And yes, I get it – I don’t have to do it – but they are glowing everywhere and they need to be picked up and … …

I quickly uninstalled the game and my hopes for ever completing an AC game … ever! Nevertheless my return to AC:Origins was tremendously enjoyful and so I will probably also return to this one and do a very quick run through, just for the story.

No flags for this Assassin.

Time played: 5h

Warhammer 40k – Mechanicus

My screenshots are so unremarkable – please take a look at this wallpaper instead

This one came from my random selection process and I was actually really hyped to play it – something turn-based, something strategic, something… different!

But oh! … was that different.

There are some realms of lore I simply find no footing in. One is the Elder Scrolls and the other is Warhammer. This is not because both are boring or uninteresting, no – the opposite! They are just so lore-heavy, that I have the feeling I would never ever understand what the heck is going on and be able to follow the flow of history and relevance of events and characters.

So I tried to watch some videos (thanks Vitali!) but it just became more and more complicated. I could not even grasp the necessary vocabulary to understand what these people are talking about.

So I started and played some hours; the combat was quite ok, the progression too, but the overall feel, relevance or impact of what was happening here was completely lost to me. So I remained very disconnected to whatever I did there and never found an angle for moving forward. Also this constant bubbling tech-mumbo-jumbo became really annoying, so I quit.

Sorry Inquisitors, you will have to win this one without me.

Time played: 8h | Achievements: 17%


Being bossed around and being an asshole in Elex

My first step into one of Pirania Bytes’ games and I thought I was prepared through reading and listening to reviews and impressions, but I was not.

You are some dude on a planet, which obviously seems to be a very harsh world, because round about everybody I ever met behaved like an asshole. And I mean everybody, including me, the main character. Strong words everywhere, strong choices as a reply, a quite unfamiliar progression of finding out what the heck you should actually do right now, a quirky UI that keeps you unnecessarily busy and a very strange overall storytelling, including side-quests. I understand, that this game focuses on a more open-worldish-emergent-story-telling approach, but it is just not my take of fun to get beaten up by everybody and everything in this game and by try & error find the right direction to move forward. I recognize the effort for exploration though, but I was more running away from everything than actually exploring.

I later read, that they tried to write the dialogues like they are delivered in a classic table-RPG session. Meaning amateurs trying to be tough, or play a character-type you are not familiar with or gamemasters trying to impose various social actors. And yes, everything made so much sense afterwards, and the voice actors (especially in German) really tried to pull this of like amateurs. Well, I hope they were. With many smiles I remembered from my own table-RPGs, how we played it out and voiced our characters.

All the above is then combined with very clunky movement and combat mechanics, which I never became really used to or comfortable with. Positioning towards the opponent was so difficult (or random?) that I often missed my target by some meters and was then attacked into my back and died – again.

I am definately too soft for a game by Pirania Byte. Elex just chewed me up and spit me out, nothing to gain for me here. Let’s move on.

Time played: 11h | Achievements: 12%

Quantum Break

Quantum Breaks’ cinematics and cutscenes are great.

After finishing Assassin’s Creed: Origins I wanted to play something with a tight story and not another 80+ hour game. So I found Quantum Break in my library and went straight in without much preparation.

The game has very nice graphics and is structured into episodes with real live acting in between (around 15-20 minutes). So you meet quite some known actors in a real and digital version and this was a very refreshing and needed change of pace after 100 hours running through Egypts’ dunes.

The story itself was quite good, not great, not average. Sometimes engaging, and more often running around picking up trash other people left around. At least the ‘trash’ was contributing a lot for delivering the story and it makes a lot of sense to read all this and watch all the videos and diary entries. Acting is really good and you can see that they are all professionals.

Gameplay mechanics are quite average though. The movement is clunky, jumping feels like 2008 and levels are very linear; at least this I did not mind much. What I did not like were the combat mechanics as these were very difiicult to control and target, so I turned off some auto-aiming in the settings to not become too annoyed. The skills are quite cool and when you manage to connect a flow, it feels really impactful and powerful.

Final bossfight was a catastrophe and I was terribly annoyed by the mechanics. I mean … how? why? I felt like a chicken running around all the time.

Overall quite nice game and a good recovery from AC:Origins’ rather sandy story progression.

Time played: 14h | Achievements: 78%

My Destiny with Destiny 2

There are games, that you just find interesting and follow along because of their art style, their world or story premise, weapon or armor design, the game play loop or simply because you have a friend who is a huge fan of this game. My story with Destiny is long and intertwined with passive and active times of play, so please bear with me on this one.

When Destiny was released for consoles in 2014, there were several aspects that teased and interested me. The world looked fantastic, the avatars looked fantastic, and the story’s told surrounding this game were fantastic to follow (e.g. loot cave). Nevertheless, playing a first-person shooter with a controller was not my cup of tea at all back then, but still I tried to play on my Playstation 4, but very quickly became hopelessly frustrated, stalled, and just forget about it. Still, I followed the later released expansions and stories told on Kotaku and by talking with my friend.

When Destiny 2 was released in October 2017, I played the demo on PC and got instantly sold on the game. I started on day one, but rather quickly stalled (again!), as I felt quite lonely within the game and had no clue what to do and what to work for. Around eight months later, some friends picked up the game in a Humble Bundle and we started to play together, and then suddendly all of Destiny’s magic came together and I played a lot(!) of Destiny 2, especially when the expansion Forsaken dropped; the game and the expansion were just awesome. The gunplay was awesome, the pacing of events and exploration was awesome, the loot, jumping puzzles, and exotic quests were also awesome. A really awesome state for a game.

Everything is awesome!

Of course, looter shooters are fun and work as long as the next „big thing“ feels like just around the corner, but Destiny’s year 2 with the expansion and additional seasonal release rhythm transformed all of it into a bloody chore. Not, that it has not been like that before, but these seasons placed a sort of limitedness & pressure to everything, which consequently turned out to become rather nasty in effect, especially for me and my service-game-completionist-issues.

So, it became more and more difficult to complete the content within each consecutive season and I felt increasingly dismotivated to log in and do dailies and weeklies and grind the Armory or whatever needed doing. Until I ultimately stalled somewhere in May 2019 with a good amount of aversion and frustration.

But another expansion was coming up – Shadowkeep, returning to the moon with new seasons and new armor 2.0 stuff attached, new challenges and a refresh in how those seasons should play out. And I was hyped again to return and play together with my friends and grind the hell out of everything.

The beauty and greatness of Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers expansion, together with a lot of work on my job, did delay my start from October to November, but when I started in November with full speed, I quickly accumulated 94 hours until December and at least enjoyed the first weeks tremendously. But soon the new mechanics started to show and I quit the game after completing the season path around December 9th.

So what did turn me off so badly? (in no particular order)

  • A hell of a grind.
    The grind in Destiny 2 is real. And I mean really real. There is so much you would have to do every day, and every week. Fill this bar, and that bar. Increase your level to continue the season path, your triumphs to get the season title, your power level and artifact to play more difficult challenges, and so on and so forth.
    Don’t get me wrong! – I am a big fan of making grind worth it; meaning if I put in an exotic, a title, or whatever, people should go and grind for that. It should not be given away to easy! But flooding my questlog with quantity and not quality is maybe not good design. Abundance is not always a good decision to motivate people. I just enjoyed the balance of Forsaken way better than Shadowkeep set it up.
  • Too many drops – less satisfaction.
    Later in the season I more and more lost interest in all the items and stats and what not. I just dismantled everything. Every item I got. I did not care anymore. Of course I did upgrade my power level on items and checked for a good build, mods, and weapon perks, but all these item stats / points on each items: I did not feel that caring for them would change or impact anything. Actually, the longer I played I felt it did not matter at all anymore to tweak around. A bit like in Diablo 3 with their rain of legendaries – you just start destroying everything for mats sooner or later …
  • Too many progress bars.
    I want to touch on this again. Logging in required me to make decisions on where to continue to grind my bars. I would have to strategically plan ahead for every evening and go to NPCs and pick up these bounties, quests, upgrades, and missions. Go to the tower first – decide; then decide a planet…. etc. Overall, there was just too much stuff to do. And me having completionist tendecies I want to complete my bars, I really do! But looking at so many each and every day… I felt like I will achieve nothing any more. It became so depressing, especially after logging out: What did I achieve in these hours? What’s the value of all this? Was it worth to play this game? What is my goal in all these activities?
    This was one of the major reasons that made me stop playing.
  • Obfuscated mobile game mechanics at work.
    I paid for the season pass and paid for the additional loot and got a season time limit to complete everything. And yes, I know the game is in its basic version free-2-play, so such mechanics should be in order… well.. or not.
    But, the combination of all those progress bars, time limits and a season path feels like you have to log in every day and do at least something. If you do not, you got a crawling bad feeling about your absence, as your progress towards the deadline will be less. A strong sense of Fear-of-missing-out. At the beginning I felt fine, but the longer I played, the worse it started to nag that I should not not play Destiny 2.
  • The story is just a collection of epic bullshit bingo words.
    The story tells me it is epic, but I don’t experience any epicness. The story tells me that it’s cool, but I do not know how and where to find this coolness. Maybe in these Triumph story reports? But they make no sense. They are collected in a random non-sensical order and when you finally read them in their order, they still make no sense. I have never seen so much lost potential on a very interesting world premise. Then, when I go to an NPC and hand in a story quest, I have a short text to read for my quest and listen to the babbling of the NPC at the same time. I cannot focus on either. I tried so hard, but still cannot concentrate on reading anything of Destiny’s story. Because I do not understand – what the hell – they talk about! I watched video summaries for more than an hour, and they were really well done and narrate a very good storyline, but I cannot find anything of that in the game. Nothing is explained. No expansion story arc or even thread has been followed up later. Nothing is concluded. Why Bungie, why?
  • Little information from Bungie on everything.
    Interestingly, with all these time limits in place, it was until the end of the season not clear, which quests will end and which will still be achieveable. Anyway, Bungie’s information policy is a topic for itself, so i won’t touch too much on this.

Ultimately I feel quite sad.
I played a lot with a friend of mine and he is an awesome player. One of those guys who knows the game inside out, because he played since the release of Destiny. He helped me so much and ran together with me through everything, that he had done hundreds of times already. So now, I feel like I left him behind and have a really bad conscience about it.

Again: the game is cool! Destiny is a great game at its core. But the way Bungie did re-imagine what players have to do, what is relevant and what optional, the mess of everything is so difficult to unravel and often just not rewarding. All you do feels like a trivial check on a very – very – long list of things to do.

Destiny 2 is a monster.

It will stun you with its awesome gunplay and loop systems. It will entangle you with its many tentacles and progress bars. It will slash its teeth into you and its dailies will suck you dry. And even when facing eye-to-maw with the monster, you will find your devouring experience … very enjoyable!

I had to incomplete for the sake of my mental stability and preserving my will to continue to play other games. With tears in my eyes.

A very … very difficult decision.

The Incompletionist

Incompleting Monster Hunter World

Oh wait… but can you actually – complete – Monster Hunter World? Of course not… but I reached a certain point of completeness, and this point was reached surprisingly sooner than expected. Funny enough, …

Oh wait… but can you actually – complete – Monster Hunter World? Of course not… but I did reach a certain point of completeness, and this point was reached surprisingly sooner than I had anticipated. Funny enough, some days before reaching this point, I was very enthusiastic about this game, even commented while playing “This is such an awesome game! Hunting is so much fun!” or “I hardly feel the grind, and I am still very motivated!”
Well… obviously, something happened. But what? And what did trigger this sudden realization?

My early story so far

I purchased the game on August 8th, 2018 via Steam closely to when it released, which was just one day later (snatched ‘dem pre-order goodies!). At the beginning, I played leisurely at my own pace, struggling with the controls and the massive overflow of not well explained information and learning to wield some big weapons. Mostly I played with my kids in the backseat, so they decided which Monster to hunt and how to proceed, which was a lot of fun! We really enjoyed the time of around 40h, stretched over several months, until I stalled around December 2018. I was never really “good” at the game and I did not care much, as my Hunter Rank (HR5) until then showed.

Oh… it could have been so much fun.

Still, I was not really satisfied with my gaming experience, as I knew that the game offers way more challenging encounters and way more mechanics I wanted to explore further. In addition, not being a big fan of anonymous multiplayer experiences, no one else in my immediate surrounding was interested in joining the game, so there was not much reason to play along anymore.

A second wind

This changed, when my working colleague proudly announced during a coffee break that he bought the game in the last sale (in May) and planned to play this game enthusiastically (compensating for and recovering from his World of Warcraft depression). So together, we started playing again and it was so(!) much fun together, that I also committed a lot of time into it, investing almost 100h in the last 5 weeks or so. Even another colleague joined us, setting a rather robust group of three. Now I am HR50, completed the strange story (wait… story?) of the game and unlocked the next equipment gamma tier with Kulve Taroth and the whole Tempered Monster experience.

Glorious times ahead!

What struck me most until this point was the amazing gameplay loop of Monster Hunter. This was my first MH game and I never really understood the fan culture surrounding the franchise, but then… then I finally got it.

The pacing of progression is phenomenal. Every upgrade is not too far away from your grasp at this rather early stage of the game. The Monsters always yield the exact right amount of materials to upgrade your weapons and armor in order to keep you going. There is just some amount of such’n’such bones missing? – let’s just go hunt an Anjanath! I am missing this’n’that tooth? – let’s hunt a Diabolos!

Monster fights are FIGHTS. The game communicates very openly, that you are prepared to take the challenge, or you are not. Monsters are unforgiving, that you can maybe escape one-shot mechanics, but are not efficient in a way, that you deal enough damage to finally overcome the Monster in the later fighting phases (especially Elder Dragons). Learning to read the Monsters and to foresee their pattern (without being able to always predict it) keeps you on your toes and makes you realize that your jaw feels sore after the fight, simply of being so tense and into it.

Repetition is not a big deal. Of course, you will grind and – of course – you will do the same bounties and missions over and over and over and over and over again. However, Monsters are not always acting in the same way and the environment has its tiny interplay and interaction in every hunt you engage. This will let you have challenging fights and individual experiences when hunting.

The detailled environment is just amazing. I am not talking about graphics quality, but the detailed environment that supports the immersion and contributes to fighting in a huge arena, with various tricks at your disposal. Not always did we remember all the traps and bolders around us, but when we did, it was always very rewarding to make use of them.

Multiplayer, but not multiplayer, and voice. The game got so much better, when playing together. I am used to play alone in online games, simply because of my limited play-time in the evening and my often abrupt end of play-sessions. In MH though, the game made so much more “sense” when playing together via voice. Arena fights were so much fun, unrelated to the type of Monster, but simply the shared experience of trapping, luring, and cursing over the Monster’s ass**** behavior, finalized by bold claims of victory.

Ultimately, I was transfixed on getting the next weapon or armor upgrade, on throwing more time on whichever Monster comes or whatever event happens, on completing the Witcher event and farming Ciri’s armor, because … Ciri!? Witcher?! Megaman?!


It did not come to pass and a sudden urge to stop playing manifested, which may be best described as some sort of inceptive hunch, that whispered in my ear: Shhht! Hey, you! You actually completed the game, didn’t you?

Followed by rather obvious questions of reason:

  • Why would you like to and need to grind more? And for what really? Isn’t that all a big waste of time? There is so much other stuff to do with your time! I mean: check your game library?
  • Look on how many materials you need for the next upgrade; besides: what is the next upgrade anyway? What is the best upgrade? Let’s look for a reddit guide or a video…
  • Kulve Taroth raid, really? With 16 other hunters? Oh, we know how this will end: You will faint cart your group out of the game and then you will have to rely on the rest of the hunters to somehow finish this… Good times! What an experience… oh, it only last until June 6th?

Sometimes I wonder, if too much content is a good thing. Sometimes I wonder, if you can spin games forever, and they are still enjoyably fun for me.

Monster Hunter World does an excellent job in progressing and leading you to the ultimate grind – and I did not even get this far! But still, the grind is not the issue. The story is so absurd in this game, that I do not even dare to think too much about the ‘What?‘, ‘Why?!‘ and ‘WTFs!!!?‘ in it, and I wonder if there lies some reason for my sudden loss of motivation. That not the grind is the problem, but the undirected-meaningless grind. Meaningless does not only mean story-induced, but also goal-bound meaninglessness.

  • What is the next goal and where can I find it?
  • Does a game with self set goals give me a rewarding experience?
  • Is the mechanic enough to keep me going?
Exhaustion, depression, … incompleted.

My friends still love the game and they will probably continue to progress further and have lots of fun (one reached HR70+ already); for me, well, it lost the appeal completely with this awkward combination of lack of story and lack of comprehensible / reasonable goals. I envy my friends for it, because somehow, I still want to go forward and progress further, but I do not see any reason why I should do that and even sink another hour into it…

Ultimately, the Monster, that is Monster Hunter World, became too big too hunt for me; and there is no way of a capture in the end.

Stalled, because of a noticable absence of story and no clear goals for continuing the grind after the core game experience.

The Incompletionist