Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Given our love/hate relationship with writing reviews, we decided to supplement the goings-on of the industry with a little segment called “What’s Metzge Playing.” As you can deduce, this’ll be a monthly list of games I find myself consumed with, revisiting old classics while introducing games you might not have heard of yet. Just as we try to keep our reviews updated depending on the current version and any post-release patches that have been added, these listicles can help give some insight on how those changes have made a difference (if any) to the overall enjoyment of a given title.
While I tend to dabble in a wide variety of games throughout a month, the ten listed here are the latest and most significantly played over the past few weeks. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Though it’s certainly been a while since Tom Clancy was extracted off to Heaven’s LZ, his legacy lives on in the books and games that bear his name. A love of Clancy runs in my family; my grandfather prefers the books whereas I, naturally, prefer the video game interpretations. The one I find myself playing most frequently lately, however, would be Rainbow Six Siege.
Personally, I’ve tried to get into competitive shooters such as CounterStrike: Global Offensive but I’m not the type that likes firing from the hip. Where meta knowledge does play a role in your success for both CS:GO and Siege, the latter entices me with its destructible environments, individual operators each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and being able to aim down the sight. Because… you know… they’re not just meant for decoration as Valve might believe them to be.
Siege has a bit more variety too: you can play against humans in either casual or ranked matches, or against AI in “Terrorist Hunt” mode which is great for warm-ups or trying out new gear and operatives. Instead of just bomb defusal, Siege offers a few extra game types such as hostage rescue or securing an objective. Moreover (at least in my experience), there seems to be a lot less pubescent rage from your teammates if things don’t go your way for a round or two, a main reason I’m turned off to trying CS:GO again. All those expensive skins though tempt me to go back in an attempt to find and resell one on my own. But Siege just keeps sucking me back in.
In case you’re wondering, I’m all about either Glaz or Twitch on offense or Castle or Rook on defense. Before you get to judging me in case you are, I’m still only level 22 at the time of writing, so there’s still plenty left to learn and operators left for me to unlock. All I know is leaning/peeking is your best friends, impact grenades are really only good at blowing holes in walls, and faking people out with breaching charges (find a flanking position from where the enemy expects you to come through after you spooked them with the blast) or fortifying a position away from the defensive point (again, flanking them once they try to capture the decoy) is surprisingly efficient.
Pun somewhat intended.
Napoleon: Total War
Not gonna lie: I completely forgot I even had Napoleon: Total War in my library. In my defense, however, I have more Total War games than one can shake a stick at. Of the series, SHOGUN 2, ATTILA, and even WARHAMMER are my go-tos, but I think Empire (along with SHOGUN 2‘s Fall of the Samurai expansion) is my favorite era. That being said, despite its obvious polish compared to Empire, Napoleon kinda felt like a hollow mulligan. Going from three theaters of war down to just Europe and really only five nations to play a campaign through, it just didn’t have much appeal to me.
I will say now that I’ve given the proper campaign a try, following the footsteps of young Bonaparte, Napoleon has grown on me. The mini campaigns of the French army have you thinking beyond just conquering the map, instead trying to focus on both diplomatic and military prowess; I learned this quickly during my tenure as the General of the Armée d’Italie. It’s much better to subjugate Piedmont-Sardinia than try to annex it outright, especially if you’re to get to the other side of the map in about two years’ (or 48 turns’) time.
Provided Creative Assembly and their overlords SEGA don’t cripple it with overpriced DLC while simultaneously stripping the base game of its complexity, I still think it’d be neat to see them revisit Empire or Napoleon next. Their successors boasted nuances like scorched earth and levying troops directly onto your armies (rather than training them in towns and marching them to said armies), minor commander inventories, and political and factional intrigue. And to have proper co-op campaigns in the 17th to 19th centuries world that are a little more dynamic than a game of Europa Universalis or Victoria (at least where thousands of little men run around and die on the battlefield in your name) would just be pretty swell. At least in my humble opinion.
Still, time will tell as to what CA’s up to next. Then again, if not redoing one of their older games in the franchise or milking WARHAMMER as much as possible, I don’t know where else they’d go.
Europa Universalis IV
Speaking of Europa Universalis, I’m still playing this bad boy regularly four years later. Despite having over 330 hours clocked with this title, it’s still second to — though closing in on — Crusader Kings II. Still, where managing your dynasty and plotting convenient accidents against rival families is all well and good, it’s the draw of national politics throughout the 15th to 19th centuries that really make me happy.
At present, I’ve been Ironmanning a campaign as Sicily, a releasable nation under the vassalage of Aragon back on the Iberian peninsula. After a successful struggle for independence, enlisting my fellow Aragonese vassals of Sardinia and Catalonia as well as leveraging Castile and Portugal against their eastern neighbor, I’ve been making slow and steady gains in Northern Africa in my attempt to restore Carthage to its former glory. At least until I feel comfortable trying to take on Naples on the Italian mainland, given their alliances with Venice, Savoy, and good ol’ Austria-Hungary.
While I wait for the opportunity to help dissolve those Neapolitan alliances, I’ve been keeping North Africa destabilized, playing the local nations off each other (I helped Tripoli gain independence from Tunisia as a buffer against the Mamluks in Egypt) and slowly taking over coastline within the Tunisian trade zone. And finally, after 100 or so years of playing this campaign, Genoa is being preyed upon by its Italian neighbors, leaving a trade vacuum that I’ll soon monopolize back home on the island.
With the addition of estates as well as monarch traits, managing the internal affairs of my burgeoning empire has become a little more exciting. I’ve been capitalizing on the current duchess’ religious fervor to convert the native North Africans from Sunni Islam to Catholicism and, with three generations of leaders with military skills of at least 6, my armies are the most advanced in the world, making it difficult for Naples to try to pick at me while I consolidate control overseas in Maghreb.
When, oh when, will I come knocking on Naples’ door? Though I don’t have interest in forming a proper Italy (I really only want the southern portion while leaving the Papal States and the countries north of them alone), it’d still be nice to get that pesky rival out of the way to solidify my legitimacy in Europe.
Maybe I’ll turn around and take over Aragon and make them rue the day they thought they’d keep Sicily under control. I’m just happy I lasted this long in an Ironman campaign starting as a tiny vassalized island with four provinces.
AKA Dong Simulator 2017, the time I’ve spent in Conan Exiles has been an enjoyable one — and no, not because of aforementioned dongs. While the comparisons of a merger between Rust and ARK: Survival Evolved are warranted, that doesn’t mean Conan Exiles, as yet another Early Access survival game, can’t stand on its own naked feet.
I’ve only played an hour or two of it on my own, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s got a lot of polish out of the gate in comparison to the other two titles most liken it to. The mechanics are pretty simple (make character, forage for raw materials, craft, make better things to harvest better materials, rinse/repeat), but the additions of a beautiful landscape and graphics, intuitive crafting skill tree (each level, you can unlock a new group of craftables rather than unlocking each object on its own), and storytelling elements steeped in the Conan universe make this an Early Access title worth picking up.
Granted, I sincerely hope that it doesn’t just become another game lost in beta purgatory like Rust and ARK seem to be, but as a long-standing fan of Funcom, what with them stealing a lot of my life between the ages of 11 and 14 playing Anarchy Online and later on with The Secret World, I remain optimistic that Conan Exiles will one day get out of Early Access Valley and onto the Great Plains of Full Release.
With all the penises flapping about though, that might not have been the best choice of words.
Compared to the titles listed so far, Stardew Valley has been my go-to relaxation game. Not that gaming isn’t relaxing, but managing your own digital farm with quiet music, watching cherry blossoms drift slowly across the screen is a bit more calming than listening to my angry German friend yelling as he tries not to blow up the hostage in a game of Siege (attacker, defender, doesn’t matter; he’s got no trigger discipline either way).
Since the game first came out, it’s only gotten better with the 1.1 update: new farms, new spouses (not that I could successfully woo Alex anyway, let alone Shane and Emily who’re now eligible), new items… new everything really. I’m still within my first year, halfway through the winter. While there isn’t much farming to do right now, I’ve been spending most of my time just fishing and collecting from my crab pots and spelunking in the mines. I can’t wait for spring so I can start planting again and laying out new areas of my farm for crops now that I have two nickels to rub together. And with some of the minerals I’ve dredged up from the depths of the mines, I can start using some automated sprinklers to help manage the farm.
I’m still waiting on a co-op patch or a more stable mod to come out though. Whenever I play games like this or survival games, I always get so lonely without having friends to play with. The nice thing about Stardew Valley, however, is that the loneliness subsides pretty quickly when you’re distracted with crops, crafting, and canoodling with the locals.
One day, I’ll husband the shit out of Alex. One day. *shakes fist*