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Best Performer: Fighters and Finding the Joy in Learning

Unsurprisingly October was my slowest month thus far in the year. I say that because I took a week off from writing, so a not insignificant portion of October had to be carried without new content. Luckily some of the posts that tend to drive consistent traffic continued to do so and my Alatreon Guide has proven a useful addition as it also brought in some traffic. Despite the lower view count, I’m glad I took the brief break as my everything needed it. Constantly forcing yourself to be creative is rather suffocating, so a break to recharge a little was a nice change of pace.

I have a few ideas for posts going into November, but I’m not entirely sure if they’ll actually materialize. There’s also another post in the works from Jason, but I don’t exactly know when that’ll come out as that’s reliant on his schedule. Here’s hoping I can write some quality content over the next few weeks.

Video Games

The Riftbreaker

I didn’t actually realize it until I started writing, but I played a LOT throughout October. Part of that came from renewing my Gamepass subscription, so I took advantage of that to play a bunch of smaller indie games. While I don’t have much to say about most of them, I do have a lot to say about The Riftbreaker.

The Riftbreaker is a title I actually covered back on one of my indie variety hour preview posts last year. It was the longest demos I played, yet I was so engrossed by the experience that the almost two hours flew by. If that isn’t a grade A demo I don’t know what is.

The full release of Riftbreaker was similarly enjoyable. I’d loosely describe it as a logistics game. The core loop involves collecting resources which you then use to build up your defenses and expand your resource collection so you can increase the efficiency of your base and the power of your defenses. It’s very much a game that taps into the fun of exponential growth over time. As a result, it’s very easy to lose several consecutive hours as you work toward completing player driven objectives that seamlessly feed into one another.

It won’t be for everyone, but I found The Riftbreaker to be relatively compelling across the twenty odd hours campaign so if it seems like your sort of thing it’s probably worth checking out. That’s doubly true if you’re presently subscribed to Gamepass.

Guilty Gear Strive

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast I’m still playing Strive quite regularly. I’ve gotten myself up to the ninth floor (of eleven) and have enjoyed seeing my steady improvement over several weeks. What I find most interesting is that I actually see greater improvements if I play less because my brain has time to internalize whatever I’m learning instead of getting overloaded with too much information.

The biggest improvement made over October was using May’s 6K more often. I hadn’t been using this move at all because it doesn’t naturally combo into anything May does without using meter. This made it feel like a gimmick move that didn’t really have a defined purpose, but I later learned that I was very wrong in that assessment.

For starters, 6K is an overhead meaning it can be used for high/low mixups against your opponent. This means that it is particularly useful as a combo starter when you do have meter as you can get a lot of mileage out of a roman cancelling 6K into a proper follow-up combo.

Additionally, the properties of 6K mean that May is airborne for the majority of the attack’s duration. A lot of people try to throw on wake-up because a mistimed okizeme attack will lose to a throw. Thanks to 6K being throw immune I don’t actually have to worry about if I’m slightly off in my timing as it will always beat out a throw. I should clean up my oki timing, but for now this works as a strong stop-gap to fill a hole in my offense until I can reliably hit the proper meaty timing on May’s c.S and 214P.

It should go without saying, but I really enjoy Guilty Gear Strive. As we draw closer to the end of the year I’m thinking that it will likely make my short list of the best games I’ve played in 2021.

Back 4 Blood

Now time for something a bit less favourable.

A friend (Charlie, I think I’ve mentioned him before) asked if I wanted to play Back 4 Blood noting it was on Gamepass. This was the catalyst for my current subscription and after a couple of play sessions with the game, we both concluded it was kind of mediocre.

For those not aware, Back 4 Blood is a four player co-op shooter and is a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead. Generally I think the shooting is satisfying, but the levels themselves feature a lot of similar objectives and locations which makes the game feel very homogenous and repetitive. I strongly dislike the progression system, which exists solely to artificially elongate the time that players spend with the game. This resulted in a game that I couldn’t be bothered to play through the entirety of.

I also really didn’t care for how often the game threw special units at the player. Normally these units are reserved for adding tension or otherwise forcing players to adapt their strategy. In Back 4 Blood specials are so omnipresent that they feel like standard enemies, which removes their ability to do either of the things they’re designed for. If you always have to deal with specialized enemy types then all of your strategies will be targeted at removing them and they won’t make situations more tense by suddenly appearing.

I’m glad I played this one with Gamepass because I’d have been a little miffed if I blew almost a hundred Canadian on it.

Pokémon Unite

It probably won’t come as a surprise given my most recent article, but I also spent some time playing Pokémon Unite in October. Generally speaking I don’t know where I fall on the game. I like that it exists as a gateway game for MOBAs, but also found some aspects of its design frustrating. I suppose it’s better for it to exist as an approachable game than it is for that space to continue to be devoid of anything.

I also want to throw out that I didn’t have a completely one sided terrible time with Unite. I think my favourite character to play as was Slowbro, but that was a double edged sword. Slowbro has some fantastic option for hard lockdown, but you can’t really do any damage on your own so you’re very reliant on your team. Still, it was highly entertaining to grab someone from the enemy team and watch my teammates delete whoever I caught. I do wish there was an easier in-game way to coordinate that kind of thing so I could tell someone to stick with me the entire game while I feed them kills.

If you’ve always been too intimidated to play a MOBA or otherwise really like Pokémon then checking out Unite might be worth your time. Note that the pay to win stuff has been removed from the game so you’re no longer able to buy power, but the alternative free system for acquiring said power is still just as grindy as when a paid alternative existed.

Art

It was October so of course we had to do a spoopy version of my avatar for Twitter. This year I decided to turn her into a vampire. Generally I think it came out quite well.

I’ve also begun working on Quietschisto’s annual company Christmas card commission. Things have been slow going on that front as the request for this year’s theme is a little…creatively limiting. A nativity scene was a the chosen theme and you just know if I do anything too goofy that someone is going to get pissy since devout Christians are more easily tilted than people who can’t tech throws in fighting games. As such I’m relying quite heavily on Quietschisto for what I should and shouldn’t do, but that also means that I had to restart my rough draft before I finished it. Here’s hoping we figure out what’s good and I deliver the goods on time.

Also, Quietschisto if/when you read this – I mean no offense. If we weren’t friends though I’d want to slap you with a fish.

Community

As always, here are five posts from around the community that I think are neat that you should check out.

Ian Shepard | Adventure Rules – Ikenfell May Be the Best RPG I’ve Played This Year

Meghan | Meghan Plays Games – A Decade of Dark Souls

AK | Everything is bad for you – A review of Yakuza 0

WCRobinson | WCRobinson – Film in 500: No Time to Die Review

Jon Spencer | Jon Spencer Reviews – Found in Translation – A Discussion on Accessibility in Media


That’s it for October. See you at the tail end of November.