No bad news. Finally I had a month go by where the only things that went poorly were the mundane. At least, for me the problems were mundane.
For those of you who’ve been following my work related saga on here, I’m happy to report it’s sorted now. For the majority of the month I’ve been doing work for my new team. The transition over has been a little rough, but that was to be expected. You don’t just get thrown into a bunch of gigantic software systems, and immediately understand all of the nuances of them. That’s something that takes time, so the only thing for it is to slowly grind out the knowledge as I complete various work assignments. At least that should keep things interesting over the coming months.
Speaking of interesting things, as mentioned in my last update I’ll be moving in with Mir this month. We’re slowly moving my stuff over to her place, but are planning to fully complete the move sometime this month. I think one of the things I’m looking forward to most is having Mir around for help with cooking. I handle our cooking, but having a second set of hands in the kitchen is nice when you’re making something a little more involved. Plus it makes cleaning a lot easier as you can immediately scrub something down while it’s still hot, which I can’t normally do when my attention is split between several items that are actively cooking.
Though, with the move happening I’m not sure what May will bring for the blog. I have three articles that I’m at various points with, but I don’t know when any of them will manifest. Hopefully the move won’t be so crazy that it gets in the way of things, but if I post less this month you’ll all know what happened. I did take some time off after the move to help with settling in, so keep your fingers crossed that I can stay on top of everything.
Looking back on April, it was a bit of a weird one for gaming. I replayed a few shorter games while mostly focusing on Guilty Gear Strive. That is actually the subject of one of the three posts I’m working on, and some of what transpired last month was part of what I wanted to cover in said article. However, I posted the following on twitter, so there’s no reason to keep it secret. After months of practice, I finally hit the top floor in the ranked tower. This was so difficult because it pits you against the rest of the playerbase. In order to stay in the top floor, you need to win 5 of your next 6 matches. With the average skill of the playerbase always increasing this means getting into the top floor is an ever moving target, thus it’s pretty challenging to break in. However, I finally managed it.
Given that there is a rank reset on the first day of each month, I decided upon hitting the top floor that I didn’t want to waste my time there. As a result, I spent much of the month playing Strive so as to continue honing my abilities. Consistency, and match-up knowledge were my focal points, and I think I did an alright job improving both. You may find it odd that I’d even think I need to work on either, but in both cases I’m lacking compared to many of the best players. While I learned a lot, I still have much to continue learning. That’s not really a bad thing though – having new things to learn keeps Strive interesting.
Oh, also worth mentioning that at the time of writing, I’ve already made it back into the top floor following the rank reset. It’s good to see that the effort I put forward in April amounted to something tangible. That’s a rarity, so it was a pleasant surprise to be sure.
The only other game I spent a lot of time with, that doesn’t have an article coming, was Hitman 3. I had a lot of fun with it, but I think that the second game in the World of Assassination trilogy was better.
Hitman 3 represents the end of IO Interactive working on Hitman, for now, and it had to live up to the excellent design of both games that came before it. Similar to Hitman 2, 3 introduces a handful of changes that help to streamline annoying aspects of the previous titles, while also offering a few quality of life upgrades. One of my favourite changes was finally being able to see when a drink is poisoned. Fumes that only the player can see come out of any poisoned glass, which makes keeping track of where you’ve left poison a lot easier.
My favourite level of the lot was Berlin. You’re dropped into a club, and given free reign to kill 5 of 10 potential targets. All of said targets will recognize you regardless of what disguise you’re wearing, and are located throughout the enormous map. You’re given so much freedom here that, more than any other level, Berlin feels like a test of everything you’ve learned thus far. What’s even better is that, with the 10 targets being scattered throughout, the level has incredible pacing. You can’t stray too far without finding a new target, so players will constantly be creating and executing plans on the fly resulting in one of the most compelling levels of the trilogy. There’s no waiting around – you go to your target, finish them off, and move onto the next until the job is done. Fantastic.
However, not everything is an improvement with Hitman 3. In a misguided attempt to make Hitman appear higher budget, IO added in a lot of substance lacking cinematic flair to every single mission. This mostly entailed forcing the player through some nonsense at the start, or end of a mission on their first run through it. For example, at the end of one of the second mission you’re forced to leave from a specific exit because of something happening in the story. These sorts of changes were extremely intrusive, and I think the game would have been better without them. Hitman is at its best when it’s focused on the things it does well.
Overall I thought Hitman 3 was a good send off, but it felt a little lacking compared to 2. I wish that more of the levels had hit the same heights as Berlin, but that might be asking for a lot considering how good it was. That said, most of the levels are well designed, so Hitman 3 still gets a thumbs up in my book.
As always, it is that time where I’d like to highlight five folks from around the community who wrote great articles last month. There was quite a few to pick from, but these were some of my favourites. It should go without saying, but you should check them out if you’re looking for something to read – you won’t be disappointed.
Kay | Jolly Cooperation
Meghan | Kirby and the ABC’s of Puzzle Design
drmabian | On Storytelling: Outer Wilds
If you made it to the end, thank you for reading. Wish me luck with my move, and best of luck in the coming days with the challenges you may approach. I’ll catch you next time.