Session #10
December, 2015
Fresh Start

Welcome to Level Grinding, RPGamer's former editorial platform for video game industry news and its newly minted QA platform for the RPGamer community. Same rules as before (kind of) apply; each month a handful of news stories will be examined and the community is posed with a related question. I'll still set up the context of the situation and throw some opinion in there, but the real grinding session will be the one our readers undertake in the community forums.

I hope you guys dig this refocus and look forward to seeing the question responses. Here are a few quick videos before we dig into the questions:

A few of you guys reached out and suggested that my better half and I play Final Fantasy VII for our LP YouTube channel, Date Night Gaming. We did it, but there's a little twist.

Jontron's latest video is spectacular for a number of reasons. The Star Wars Holiday Special is reviewed, the Empire returns, and two long-time friends reunite.

Like many of you, I did my civic duty as a dork and saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens before Christmas. I really liked it. That being said, I was trapped inside the film's force grip before I even bought popcorn. The only thing that mattered to me that day was Star Wars. Still, a short trailer for the new Warcraft movie caught my eye.

As you can see, there is a mix of CG characters and real actors. The production studio behind it is attempting to make a movie that is epic, faithful to the source content, and accessible. I honestly don't know what to make of the trailer. Does this movie look good? Does it look bad? I can't make heads or tails of it. The internet has a vast amount of differing opinions though.

My question to you: Does the Warcraft movie look good or bad?

Steam hasn't had a very good Christmas. PC gamers around the world have been unhappy with Valve's beloved service. What began with a caching issue that allowed users to see each others' personal data, has turned into an epidemic of unreliable and unresponsive pages, broken search bars, and system crashes. Oh, and no one was getting email verifications for trades or purchases. In short, users have been pissed — so much so that this situation has been dubbed the Steam Winter Fail. Yes, that's a thing.

After five days of people wondering why and how this had happened Valve finally issued an explanation and apology to its Steam user base, saying that the issues experienced were the result of a Christmas day DoS attack that affected up to 34,000 gamers. You have to wonder how prepared Valve was over Christmas; numerous hacking groups had indicated that they would be attacking video game online services so this shouldn't have been a surprise. Of the many platforms that could have gone down over the holidays, Valve's Steam store and service were certainly hit the hardest though. Their recent statement though doesn't do anything more than explain what happened and how it was dealt with — there were no real reparations towards the gamers affected.

My question to you: Does Valve owe anything to its Steam users after its Christmas nightmare?

Confession: I love timed in-game events. Love, love, love. When the Festival of Loot was going on this October in Destiny I was buying mystery bags, picking up candy satchels, and giggling while serious characters were saying serious dialogue while wearing silly paper masks. Similarly, Final Fantasy XIV's many timed in-game events add a sense of levity and community to an otherwise grindy experience (which isn't a criticism). Those are massive multiplayer games though, so it was pretty par for the course that they had seasonal events. Fallout 4 is a different story.

I had become pretty used to Fallout 4's gritty, post-apocalyptic world. The game's locations are certainly varied, but they all have that “this place is hundreds of years old and decrepit” vibe. It was to be expected though. That's why I bought the game, after all. Because I had become so accustomed to seeing the Commonwealth a certain way, Diamond City's Christmas event was a pretty lovely surprise. The stadium city was adorned with the very best decorations the wasteland survivors could rustle: adorable pine trees decked out in the holiday spirit and long strings of lights. I know that this is a little touch in the grand scheme of things, but it made the world I was exploring feel a little bit more real and human.

My question to you: How do seasonal in-game events impact your time with a game?

Not sure about you folks, but I want to love Xenoblade Chronicles X more than I have been. The game and its environments are luscious and beautiful, but I have my problems. For instance, a silent protagonist really bums me out. It feels as though what little story the game has to offer is happening around me and I'm not really a part of it. It's such a disconnect, and it has me longing for a more story-driven experience. There are dialogue prompts in stilted cutscenes for player input, but they amount to little text boxes with limited response options. Mass Effect did this in a much more engaging way and that game came out eight years ago.

I also feel as though the game has just told me to go out and do things without really showing me how. Yes, there are a ton of activities for players of any kind to enjoy. So many that it is almost too overwhelming. Still, I keep having to reference the electronic manual to figure out why things are the way they are. It's not an intuitive experience.

My question to you: Is Xenoblade Chronicles X all that you expected it to be? Do you have any problems with the game?

At this point, I'd like to thank my Editor-in-Chief, Michael Cunningham, for his continual support, our beloved readers for taking the time to indulge my abrasive opinions, and of course all of the commenters in RPGamer's forums for engaging in the conversation. I'll now ask that you do the same.

I'll see you next month. In the meantime, stay tuned to RPGamer for all of the latest RPG news, reviews, previews, and interviews.

Your dork from the Great North,

Trent Seely

Stalk me on Twitter: @InstaTrent

Show me some cool news stories!


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