Since there aren't many games coming out in January and I've worked my way through most of my back-log from 2012, I decided to give a couple of games a second chance, namely Battlefield 3 and Dark Souls. Returning to one of these games caused a great deal of frustration and a subsequent uninstall, while the other has me at least partially change my mind about the game.
Despite the continuous stream of hate coming from me in the past, the game that has me changing my mind is Dark Souls. I previously bashed it for the lock-on system and camera in confined spaces, as well as the bosses being in small arenas and glitchyness of the movement and combat. While some of these complaints I still think are valid, I have started enjoying the game quite a bit. I stopped playing a few months ago after beating Queelag in the bottom of blight town because I had grown weary of constantly re-treating the same areas in order to progress. One evening for whatever reason I felt the urge to continue, and I figured that since I hadn't played in a while, I should try and be slow and cautious. Turns out being slow and cautious is the trick to success, and I have had a much easier time progressing through the game. I'm sure playing a bunch of Chivarly: Medieval Warfare has also helped with my combat skills. I tackled the moonlight butterfly after Queelag and killed it on my first go, then took out the Stray-daemon, a bit tougher but still got it on my third try, and have killed countless mini-bosses. I then fought my way through Sens Fortress, killed the Iron Golem in a few tries (mostly failed due to rolling off the platform, still hate the lock-on system) and have started exploring Anor Londo
Even though I died a lot in Sens Fortress, I haven't been getting frustrated. Each time I seem to make it a bit further and discover something that will make the next go a bit easier. The slow, careful approach is ultimately the faster one funnily enough, and I'm finding progressing through the game in this deliberate way quite rewarding. I'm still annoyed with the way the lock-on system, camera angles and movement mechanics interact with the narrow bridges and swinging axes in Sens Fortress, but it's not ruining the experience. I wouldn't say I'm in love with the game, but I think at least I am able now to appreciate it as something a bit different, and I can understand why some people love it so much. After so much time being angry at DS and having a grudge against it, looking forward to playing more is an odd but welcome sensation.
As for Battlefield 3, I picked up the Aftermath DLC after hearing a lot of praise for it, and didn't enjoy the relatively brief time I had with it. The map layouts seemed overly chaotic, with the ruined buildings conducive to campers. Trying to use tanks resulted in being destroyed by infantry hidden in the various nooks and crannies, and teamwork was as minimal as ever in the games I played. BF3 has some great mechanics, but I just can't come to terms with the anarchic nature of the matches. It strikes a remarkable balance between that of dullness and frustration. I hope to god EA add VOIP and commanders in BF4, otherwise I don't think I'll even get it at this point.
Unnecessary mini-BF3 rant over, I'd like to talk about another multiplayer game that seems custom made for me. Natural Selection 2 is the game in question, and it plays like a combination of Starcraft 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. That means it is a combination of asymmetrical first-person competitive multiplayer and real-time strategy. An unlikely combination, but one that Unknown Worlds absolutely nailed. The level of teamwork in this game is fantastic, some of the best I've seen with only Left 4 Dead 2 being comparable. The community is great, most people use mics and constantly communicate. A good strategy from the commander who plays the game like a RTS is as important as good reflexes, and it's incredibly rewarding to see a risky or unusual strategy pay off in the end. I'm really excited about indie developers making games like this and Chivalry Medieval Warfare that aren't concerned with fitting into a pre-existing market or genre, for genre-blending or unique games are often the most interesting.
For my full thoughts on Natural Selection 2, check out my Review at New Game Network, and while you are there, have a gander at our recently posted Game of the Year awards.
The number of releases coming in February and March is pretty incredible, so hopefully a few of those games turn out to be winners.