Welcome to What We’re Playing, this hot new thing we’re doing about… what we’re playing. It’s not just a clever name, obviously. Every month, we’ll publish one of these What We’re Playing features about (omg, you guessed it!) what we’re playing, and maybe you’ll tell us about what you’re playing too. It’s collaborative like that.
I have a bizarre phobia of underwater sections in video games. It’s been that way since I was a kid. Any time a game drops me into a hostile underwater environment, my nerves start to burn white-hot, and it’s not long before they’ve melted into a messy puddle on the floor and I have to force myself to stop playing for a while. It makes zero sense, because I love scuba diving in The Real Life. This means I have a love/hate relationship with Subnautica, because the entire game is one massive, hostile underwater section.
In spite of my constant terror, I can’t stop playing it. I must go ever-deeper, must see what secrets Subnautica’s hiding in its murky depths. Every time I pluck up the courage to hop in the Sea Tickler and venture out a little further from my home base, to traverse a little deeper before scurrying back with whatever fresh knowledge I’ve acquired, it’s exhilarating.
It’s such a lovely game, full of strange things to see and discover while figuring out how to survive and flourish in this beautiful underwater wonderland/horrorshow. I recently hit a depth of 650 metres, before running away screaming from a tentacled floating brain thing. GO ME!
Sea of Thieves
There’s not much I can say about Sea of Thieves that I haven’t already said here, and my feelings about the game haven’t changed much. Sailing the seas with friends is as thrilling now as it was when I first played the game prior to launch day, and it still feels like a one-of-a-kind experience that’s destined to become something truly special as it evolves. Sea of Thieves excels at dishing out satisfying doses of excitement, laughter and crushing disappointment, so much so that every time I play it I walk away with another tale of mischief and/or misery. I love it.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
It’s a lot like the first one, but BIGGER, BETTER and SEXIER. It’s also a lot like Left 4 Dead, but with swords and maces and angry rat-people. Like its predecessor, Vermintide 2 is best played with friends, because that’s where its pacing and randomised encounters are able to create the most tension and vicious surprises. It’s excellent cooperative fun, and the many systems and mechanics it’s built around are impressively rewarding – as is the chunky, gratuitous melee combat.
Tesla vs Lovecraft
If you’re at all interested in twin-stick shooters, you really need to check out Tesla vs Lovecraft. It’s the perfect blend of mayhem, upgrades, boss fights and quick, painful, unexpected deaths. It’s more addictive than cocaine, and more fun than playing with uncle Lester in a dark basement.
Wait… Apparently uncle Lester wasn’t real, but that’s okay because neither are any of Lovecraft’s monsters – but you’ll have a blast turning them inside-out anyway. Play with up to three of your mates at the same time (on console or PC) for maximum chaos.
Far Cry 5
The latest addition to the Far Cry franchise is one of the best so far. It’s essentially a game about a cult, and you, a law wo/man, who’s trying to un-cult them in the most brutal, bloody way possible. But let’s be honest, who gives a shit about that cult anyway? I’m just here for the fishing and the hunting, and I am all about those slow, scenic walks through the forest, taking in the view, and running for my life whenever I see turkeys. Speaking of turkeys, what the f*ck is up with those guys anyway? Far Cry 5’s turkeys are WAY too angry. It’s almost like I ate their families or something.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
We’d been saving this game for when we finally got our Xbox One Xes, because apparently it looks amazing and stuff. I don’t have my One X yet, but Tarryn has hers, so playing the game together, side-by-side, allowed me for the first time to actually see how good it looks on a more powerful console… and now I don’t want to play anymore until mine arrives. The game itself is magnificent, and more open-world games should be using it as a benchmark for the genre. It’s sublime, the story’s great, and there’s always something interesting to do.
Far Cry 5
I mean, obviously, because I wrote the review and you can find out more about my mission to save the world from ideological fascism and killer turkeys over here. Also, Peaches, who is the real hero of Hope County, a true patriot, and a very good girl. YES SHE IS.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Or “the game that the original Assassin’s Creed was supposed to be, more than 10 years ago, but we’ve got it now and that’s what matters, and it’s got cats in it so that’s about time too”. If, like me, you thought you were over the series’ predictable this, that, and everything else – this one isn’t actually that much different, but the substantially reworked mechanics make it a tremendous improvement over previous games, and the Egyptian setting is absolutely amazing.
Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse
It’s a couch co-op twin-stick shooter that has you dropped in a mech and going up against waves of murderous llamas. What it lacks in sophistication compared with something like Tesla vs Lovecraft, it makes up for with lots and lots and lots of gratuitous gore. And it’s locally made, so that’s mos lekker.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
I waited until my glorious Xbox One X was nestled in its spot in my entertainment cabinet before I cracked this one open, and I’m so glad I did. It’s just bloody beautiful. I’ll admit I haven’t enjoyed playing it as much as I enjoyed AC: Syndicate, but that’s largely due to the setting and my love affair with London. Still, Origins is impossibly beautiful in 4K with HDR, so I’ll push on and see the story through.
I fired this one up again purely to see what it looks like with the Xbox One X enhancements. Ubisoft knows how to make very pretty macro maps, but seeing the sprawling Alps stretching out in 4K on a big TV, the sun blooming through the clouds over the highest crest, it feels almost as if they’ve overhauled the whole thing. I’m in love all over again.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
Going back to Burnout Paradise after all these years, I can honestly say there’s still nothing else quite like it. The remastered version is as ridiculously fast and responsive as ever, but it’s also hard not to notice the signs of old age if you start looking for the cracks in the veneer. I’m not going to delve too deep into this right now, though, because I’ll be laying it all out in my review a little later this week.
Final Fantasy XV
I’ve hardly started this but it already seems like something I can sink my teeth into. I’m loving RPGs right now, so this’ll likely become my new obsession. It looks alright, I’m told it’s set in a massive world, and perhaps it’ll be the first Final Fantasy game I actually play from start to finish since FF XIII – mostly because it has a real-time combat system. Taking turns slapping each other isn’t for me.
Much like soccer in real life, I’m not very good at FIFA 18. Still, I insist on learning the FIFA ropes, and it’s manageable enough at the amateur level against the AI. I especially like that I can play a quick game from start to finish in between everyday admin.
While I wait for Civilization 6: Rise and Fall to go on sale because of all the changes it brings to the main game (many of them sorely needed), I’m back to playing Civilization 5. It regularly goes on sale for around R120 for the Complete Edition, and there are tons of mods and maps that provide fresh experiences. There are many things I didn’t like about vanilla Civ 6, and sometimes familiarity is best when you’re casting around your library looking for something easy to play.
Dungeons & Dragons
I have a group of friends I play D&D with weekly. We’ve had several short campaigns as well as one overarching one, and we’ve already set up a shared world for three of them that’s allowed me to create an elite family of high elves and drow that are centuries old and well versed in the arcane arts. I prefer playing magical characters with a proficiency in light weapons and armour, and all of my characters are elitist and racist, in keeping with the nature of high elves and drow who see themselves as separate from their more common brethren and the races of men and orcs, though they all slowly begin to question their racism through their interactions with others.
This one time, our band came across some goblins in their lair in a nearby abandoned mine, and through the use of Prestidigitation I cast the signs of their god on my character to pretend that I was a holy being, and utterly convinced them that I was an emissary of their lord. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to my story. I spun a little too much bullshit for their liking and in the midst of all my blabbering, they succeeded on a wisdom throw and attacked us. We murdered them.
Lethal Weapon 3 (the pinball machine)
This pinball machine (yes, the ACTUAL pinball machine) was created by Data East and launched in 1992, with just over 2,000 units produced worldwide. Truth be told, I initially felt a tad guilty for not playing any actual video games this month, so I’ve been dreading writing this and sending it to Emperor Dane. I had sleepless nights and frequent cold sweats – but I’m enjoying every minute playing on my pinball machine, so that made things easier. It’ll take a lot to pry me away from this beauty for a while.
Magic: The Gathering
We don’t really bother following the banned or restricted cards list, which means that some of the decks we’ve built over the years can be rather tough to play against. We do, however, have some rather tame decks that we use when we teach people (like my 10-year old daughter), how to play. The most fun comes in when playing with multiple players, keeping an “ally” alive simply for self-preservation, until the time to strike presents itself.
My son doesn’t believe in coddling new players, and toys with them like a mouse until he can do insane amounts of damage. He seems to take great pride in this.
This is a fairly simple board game wherein the personality card you draw determines the objectives you need to reach to win the game. It’s best to keep the other players guessing as to which personality card you’ve got, or they’ll try to block you at every turn. Maybe next month I can finally convince the family to try one of the boards we haven’t played yet.
Ark: Survival Evolved
We’ve (“we” being my family) all wanted this game for a while, so we finally took the plunge and bought it. After watching Michael and Dane’s live-streams, my son decided the most important thing for him to do was to tame two dodos and name them Michael and Dane. Ark devoured most of our Easter weekend. Our first attempt at relocating our base ended in total and utter annihilation, as we found ourselves near a swamp, and the snakes and crocs who’d gotten there before us seemed very unhappy (or happy, depending on your perspective) to see us.
Now this is a thing I’d not usually play, but watching other people play it and doing a little research of my own ended with me buying it. I’m going to go out on a limb and call this a blend of The Incredible Machine and StarCraft. In reality, it’s nothing like those two games. It’s something more like this:
Let’s say you need to build an airplane to fly to a safer area. You’ll need coal and stone to process raw materials into metal. But you need a lot of metal and coal, so you create an elaborate system of machines, conveyors and processing plants to speed things up. That’s only the start. Some of the materials you need require other pieces of equipment which in turn need to be manufactured using different stuff that also requires a long list of other things.
Before you know it your whole screen is filled with tiny little processes, conveyors and machines, all put together by running around piecing together crazy contraptions to save you from having to run around in the first place. Factorio is absolutely amazing and will hurt your brain.
We all know all about PUBG, a battle-royale-hide-in-a-bush-festival-of-pain-and-aggravation. That said, an interesting new game mode was recently added (but has since been taken away). This mode grouped players together in four-player squads on Miramar (the desert map), with the added possibility of finding flare guns. Shoot one of these flares, and a care package would drop out the sky. Of course, this also meant everyone would immediately know where you’re going to be for the extra-long few minutes the package would take to arrive.
I joined a random four-player squad, which was actually a three-player squad because some idiot couldn’t… never mind. The point is it was fun. I didn’t find myself a flare gun but we did get a few kills, and stole two care packages from people who’d found flare guns, because they decided to pop them off in a valley surrounded by hills. LOL.
Minecraft meets Ark. To me, this is the perfect combination of games – end of discussion. The game follows the same principles as Ark, but here you can mine blocks and change the landscape. There are “magic” and “industrial” tabs under the engrams tab, and a bunch of other stuff that isn’t present in the original Ark. I didn’t play for very long, just enough time to fail at taming a triceratops, and to build a tiny house. It’s got so much potential though, so I’ll definitely be playing this again. What it desperately needs is an easy way to host a local server – because not everyone wants to play on a server full of random people.
Heroes of the Storm
I’ve been playing Heroes of the Storm since its release in 2015, and it still easily holds its spot in my “must-play-at-least-one-game-every-day” list. Unlike some of the more complex MOBAs around, Heroes of the Storm has a much gentler learning curve, and is a little more varied in that it’s got multiple themed maps (14 to be exact), each with a different objective. It’s still every bit as competitive as a game of League of Legends or Dota 2 would be, but it has its own unique charm that (still) keeps me coming back for more.
Sea of Thieves
Here’s what I’ve learnt during my six hours playing Sea of Thieves:
It’s faster to get someone to shoot you out of a cannon onto dry land than it is to swim there.
Pigs make the cutest little piggy noises to let you know that they’re hungry.
Guns kill faster than cutlasses but guns run out of bullets so cutlasses win.
Being drunk while on a boat out at sea is every bit as nauseating in a game as it is in real life.
I love playing objective-based, team-centric multiplayer FPS games, and that’s probably why I’m still playing Overwatch. Part of its appeal to me is that it doesn’t lock me into playing one character for the entire match. When I’m not feeling in the zone with one of my favourite supports, I can instantly switch to Mei and run around freezing people, putting up ice walls right in my opponents’ faces. My favourite thing of all though is the glorious, Overwatch-themed RGB light dance that my Razer keyboard and mouse do whenever Overwatch launches. I never get tired of seeing that.