No heavy commentary here, no “here’s what I think and why you should think it” opinions — well, OK, maybe a little bit of that. But mostly, here’s just what I played in 2013 and my mostly light opinions on it.
1. Guild Wars 2
That figure is actually off, owing to the fact that Raptr wasn’t tracking my GW2 gameplay for a couple of months. (Note, if that happens to you, launch the Raptr client and start the game through it. That should get it tracking again.) It would probably be closer to 1000 hours if it was.
Naturally, that means I rather like the game, to put it mildly. And yes, there are things I don’t like and that a lot of other people also don’t like and have been very vocal about. Here’s the thing, though: We complain all the time that MMOs are all the same and that no big-budget studio ever takes chances, that it’s the small indie devs, and the occasional mid-sized companies that take risks in MMO design, which the “big boys” then gobble up once the new innovation has proven successful.
Whether you like or dislike Guild Wars 2, either as a whole or with regards to individual elements, you have to acknowledge that at least ArenaNet is doing something different. Yes, they’re going to screw some of it up. Any company trying new ideas in MMOs is going to do that; it’s just that it’s usually a small company with a tiny budget, so we give them a pass. Being big helps with production values, sure, but nobody is ever truly prepared for everything that can happen when a game with thousands, or millions, of players goes live.
The alternative is that they make something “safe” that works just fine but is the same as everything else that’s ever been done. ArenaNet will make mistakes — which we, as players should definitely continue to point out so they can improve — but at least they’re not giving us the same thing as a hundred other MMOs.
2. Tropico 4Viva El Presidente! I’d estimate that I streamed about 100 of those 156 hours, and, of all the games on this list, it’s the one I had no real notion of going into 2013. When SimCity had its, ah, issues, Steam had a 75% sale on Tropico 4, marking it down from $40 to $10, so I said “what the hell?” Best purchase I made all year. Cheapskate that I am, though, it’ll be hard for me to pony up for a new copy of Tropico 5 when it comes out this year. I’m a little gunshy about buying brand-new games because of…
3. Total War: Rome II
Ugh. Bug-ridden and performance-inhibited and just too damn long. If Tropico 4 was the best purchase I made all year, this was the worst. But I let myself be drawn in by the pretty gameplay videos — which I knew I couldn’t replicate on my PC — and the usual promises of how the AI would be improved. (It wasn’t.) I haven’t played since November. I’ll probably give it another shot someday, but not for a while, and probably not until I upgrade my PC.
4. PlanetSide 2Speaking of games I need to upgrade my PC for before I can play them again…. I still love the concept, and I think the execution is good, but it’s just too much of a strain on my rig, even after the performance improvement patch, which seems to actually drag down my frames. Also, after having a nice battlegroup during beta and through early launch, they all evaporated and I didn’t make any more of an effort to find one than by looking at a few websites and asking around on Twitter, for which I got little reply. It’s not bad to run around in solo, but it’s hella fun when you can get some buddies to frag around with.
Ah, LOTRO. There was a time when I’d play more than 67 hours in a month. Now… I only hit the level cap of 85 about two weeks before the new expansion hit in November and raised the level cap. I’m still plodding along when I feel like it, up to 87. I’ll hit 95… someday.
One sign of my decreased play time: In 2009, I took 814 screenshots of LOTRO. In 2013, I took 16. Only one of those was before July.
The thing is, even for all its old-schooliness and staid tab-target gameplay and that god-awful legendary item system, I still like it. The Turbine team does a great job with the story — sure, they have good source material to work with, but I’ve still never played an MMO where I felt as interested in the minor characters as I do with this one. Granted, Volume III has rambled on for-ev-er, but the individual parts have been entertaining. If you’re a Tolkien nut (and who isn’t?), and you haven’t tried it yet, do so.
6. Civilization V
I just started another game last week. So yeah.
7. Shogun 2: Total War
“We’re trying to get the system requirements for Rome II as close as we can to Shogun 2‘s.” Not close enough! Realm Divide still sucks, but it was better in just about every other way than Rome II.
8. The Secret World
Reading the forums once, I came across someone who said he rushed through to endgame and then was “kicking himself” for skipping all the cool story stuff. You don’t say…?
TSW has the best cut scenes in MMOs, bar none. I remember Age of Conan being the same way. The guys who made SWTOR should be forced to play it to learn how to make them. Well framed, well acted, and well written. OK, maybe not that Dragon introduction…
I’ll play again sometime, Byrne, I swear!
9. War Thunder
For as much as I like the game, I just can’t seem to sit down and play it for long stretches of time. I just think flight sims aren’t really my thing. Still, it’s great fun to jump into for a spell every now and then. If you play World of Warplanes but haven’t tried this out yet, do so.
10. The Witcher
I know, I know, Witcher 2 is one of the greatest games since sliced bread, but I hate to come into a story in the middle. And… I just can’t handle this game. The combat was… interesting, but I could handle it, but the story seems… disjointed. This BioWare game came out a year before Dragon Age, and it shows. DA‘s another game I couldn’t get into, but at least the story was coherent. This one it just seems like the threads get tangled somewhere in the plot and conversation trees and trying to unravel them is like… trying to unravel something. Haven’t played since August, don’t know if I’ll get back to it.
11. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Got it in the 2012 Steam Holiday Sale. Didn’t finish it until March 10. It was quite good, and I kept saying I’d get back to it for all the extra content, but never did. I think that’s a thing for me, that once I finish the “main” game for something, I’m unlikely to go back and try to get all the achievements, side missions, and so on. Used to do it with Final Fantasy games, but there are just so many more games available today. I can keep on with something I’ve already “beaten” or move on to something new. I’d rather do something new.
12. World of WarcraftThis one is totally Megan‘s fault. SHE MADE ME DO IT. Nah, it was fun. I mean, the Refer-a-Friend triple XP which meant we’re around level 50 (haven’t played this year) helped. I was only 32 on my Druid over the 30-40 hours I played in 2010. I guess I should have waited and just bought myself to 90…
And everything else…
Really surprised to see Team Fortress 2, Rift, and World of Tanks down so low. I thought for sure I’d played them more. Those and Guild Wars and Neverwinter are the only ones on that list I see myself playing more. Like Batman, Fez is another game I thought I’d do more of, to get the achievements. Final Fantasy XIV is the anti-Guild Wars 2, it will take exactly zero chances. But hey, sometimes that works, though I still think it’s going to fall off this year once the shine wears off. That’s rather what happened with Rift.
Since there was really no point to this post rather than self-indulgent rambling, I won’t even bother trying to come up with a good conclusion.