My Gaming in 2017

Like I did last year, I thought I’d write an overview of what I played and liked this past year.

Mass Effect

Most of last year was taken up with playing through the entire original Mass Effect trilogy. I had played ME1 when it originally released, but then lacked a system to play the next two on. This year I resolved that, and played through the whole trilogy with all significant DLC. For the curious, my main choices: FemShep, Infiltrator, mostly Renegade without being a total jerk, Liara.

I still enjoyed the first game as much as I did the first time, and it might be my favorite overall. ME2 simplified the combat/RPG mechanics too much for me, although the loyalty missions are some of the best things about the series as a whole. ME3 hit the right balance in mechanics terms between the inventory and skill point insanity that was ME1 and the complete simplicity of ME2, but I still prefer the story in the original. Maybe that’s partly nostalgia, but I also think they really nailed both the space opera feeling and the experience of discovering a new universe along with the characters. The less said about the ham-fisted reset and setup for ME2, the better.

X-COM 2

Continuing the sci-fi theme for the year, I also played through X-COM 2 (without the new DLC/expansion – that’s this year). Overall, this was more of the same but better, and highly enjoyable. The enforced timers in most missions help with the silly design tension around vision, as does starting in stealth (basically, one would expect seeing more of the battlefield to confer tactical advantages due to better decision making, but instead because of the way enemy packs are triggered, seeing more can be actively quite bad). I’m interested to see what the new systems in the expansion do; from the reviews it sounds like an even bigger and better game.

Firewatch

Really really good. Despite that, I wouldn’t want to replay it, for fear of seeing where the seams are in the experience. Great game to play with a controller on plane flights (which is where I played most of it). Gorgeous aesthetic, interesting characters, and a reasonable story.

Started but not finished & 2018 plans

Due to moving back from London to Ann Arbor partway through the year, that was all I managed to actually complete. I’ve started Life is Strange, and made it up to Episode 4 before holidays intervened. Papers Please is another one I’m about halfway through. I lost quite a bit of time to Warframe, which I stopped playing so it wouldn’t take over my life. Finally, over the holidays I started Stardew Valley, which is amazing.

Besides finishing the 3 games mentioned above that should get finished, this year there are some smaller games (Kentucky Route Zero, This War of Mine) and larger ones (Pyre, X-COM 2 DLC, Shadow of Mordor) that I’d like to play. We’ll see how much time I have!

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