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.
Another month has gone by already. While I was pretty quick on sharing my February list of games, I’m just squeaking by trying to get you this month’s edition of “What’s Metzge Playing.” In case you’re wondering what I am, indeed, playing, I can sum it up thusly: not much lately. Indeed, I’ve been gearing up for a new job position I was offered last month so that’s been taking up a lot of my time (though don’t worry, I’ll still be writing here where I can). But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been gaming in my downtime when I can find it.
Hold onto your britches, friends, as we speed through this entry in my hopefully-consistent column detailing my adventures of various virtual worlds. Though admittedly, Blizzard has dominated my attention ever since I remembered I had StarCraft II installed on my computer. Speaking of which, that brings us to our first game…
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
I know, I know. This game is hardly new anymore (though what is new is that StarCraft remastered edition just announced a few days ago) but I’ve ashamedly not completed Wings of Liberty, let alone even touched Heart of the Swarm or Legacy of the Void. As I dusted off my Battle.net account and began a new campaign from scratch, Blizzard reminded me quickly as to why I love their games so much. Not only are they great at making RTS games, but their writing, by far, is one of my favorite styles and behind a lot of my favorite universes. Not unlike The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, and BioShock series among others where I pore over game wikis in the wee hours of the morning, I find myself doing the same with StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo lore. But unlike the aforementioned games, those in Blizzard’s wheelhouse have an aspect of nostalgia to them, reminding me of the distant days of my youth sitting in my dad’s office in the basement, playing and getting all feelsy about the fall of Kerrigan and the betrayal of Mensk (what a dick, amirite?).
There’s been a few changes since I last touched the game in 2010/2011, no doubt in response to the game’s growing esports popularity and the appending of its expansions and add-ons that incorporate the Zerg and Protoss storylines as well. While normally I’m not a fan of adding on extra factions for more money (I’m looking at you, Total War: WARHAMMER), what I appreciate most about Blizzard is that every release is another story on par with any great work of fiction you could pick up at a bookstore. I’m not just getting a faction that feels like an after-thought in order to drive DLC sales; you’re getting a standalone experience that enriches what’s already been released that’s equal to or greater than the “vanilla” or first iteration of the game. That technique is what keeps sucking so much time from my day and money from my wallet for all these years. I’m not even complaining about that either.
At present, I’m almost done with the Wings of Liberty campaign and I’m excited to move onto Heart of the Swarm next. Sometimes I derp around in the custom game modes in the Arcade, most notably WW2: Shattered Europe that turns StarCraft II into a WWII grand strategy game all its own. In case you were wondering why I’ve been so focused on just these few games, it’s the games-within-the-game of SC2 that have been keeping me busy.
But this is only one of the three of my top five played games this month.
So I haven’t played Diablo III since its release either, though in my defense, I already beat the game and played around on the auction house when that was still a thing. Personally, I kinda miss it, but I understand Blizzard’s decision to remove it. I guess. But anyway… with Reaper of Souls fresh in my library, I’ve been replaying the main campaign in preparation for getting into the new expansion. I need a refresher on the story thus far and I’d much rather play through it and experience it again rather than just hop into the new acts.
I think what entices me most with Diablo III is its storyline focused on good and evil in a more Brothers Grim/applicable-to-the-real-world way. Obviously, this isn’t the first or last game to talk about this duality (hell, StarCraft and Warcraft mirror this same conflict in their own ways), but the sheer darkness of Diablo‘s universe and the beacons of hope that ordinary people (i.e. players) represent can be empowering all its own. Moreover, there’s plenty of instances where you pave your own road to Hell with good intentions (don’t worry, I don’t intend on spoiling how), that grayness of moral ambiguity sucking me in as I ponder the effects of my own actions in the waking world. Maybe I get in deeper than most other players but… I mean… this segment’s called “What’s Metzge Playing,” not “Why the Reader Thinks Metzge’s a Dumb Nerd and Should Just Play the Damn Game.”
Still. I look forward to getting through Diablo III again and hope to report back on my feels once I get into the Reaper of Souls expansion. Hopefully sooner than later but who’s to say? With all that beautifully-voiced dialogue and lore sprinkled throughout the game and my obsessive-compulsive need for completion, that might be a while.
Heroes of the Storm
So I’m just going to preface this section with how much I generally hate MOBAs. I find their communities to widely be a bunch of toxic asshats who make it extremely difficult for new players to get acclimated to and enjoy the game themselves. And if it’s one thing that I can’t handle, it’s a bunch of whiny elitists with snide remarks (the PC master race excluded, naturally). But yet again, Blizzard wraps its glowing, blue tendrils around my heart — and Steve’s subsequent yelling from his room about milk toast teammates that’s prompted me to look at (and dare I say, enjoy thoroughly) Heroes of the Storm.
In comparison to the mechanics of other MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm is a bit more simplistic though still requires strategy and finesse. Instead of bothering with an inventory and items that you acquire during a match, HotS focuses on accumulating team-shared experience points and buying new active and passive abilities for your characters, all of which derived from the various other Blizzard games. If it’s another thing Blizzard is good at, it’s shameless (yet tasteful) cross-promotion. Plus if ever you were wondering how Kael’thas would square off against Nova or Arthas against Raynor, now you can play such fantasies out with gusto.
I’m still learning the ropes (I’m only level 8) but I find the community to be much more palatable than others. Granted, I mostly play with my friends but this is the only MOBA that both intrigues me and has a sizable pool of pals for me to play it with. Speaking of Kael’thas though, if anyone has any cool strategies for him (or suggestions for characters like him), please share. I’m willing to learn from the best — or even the moderately average. Given everyone else seems to be level 40, I can use any advice I can get.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Holy shit, a game that wasn’t made by Blizzard (though with the rocky release and massively critical response, I kinda wish it was). Still, Mass Effect: Andromeda doesn’t seem to be as terrible as a lot of people make it out to be. Granted, I haven’t dealt with too many bugs and glitches on my PC, but that isn’t discounting the mainly soulless animations (my guy didn’t seem bothered after [REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILERS] died, or give really any human emotion in response) and, at times, lazy dialogue. In fairness, BioWare since its founding has set the bar very high for its standards, but as years go on, it seems to keep missing the bar, hitting it lower and lower each time they release something new.
What keeps me engaged, however, is the prospect of colonizing a brand new galaxy, an aspect that’s always piqued my interest since the first Mass Effect game. Moreover, it trips me out that given the sheer distance between the Milky Way and Andromeda (over 2 million light years), it took the colonists 600+ years to get there, having been tucked away in cryostasis aboard massive arks en route to an even more massive space station used as a waypoint. That means regardless of the outcome of Mass Effect 3, those in Andromeda have no way of knowing what transpired. Even if those back home had the technology to reach across galaxies, the colonists are still running on 22nd century tech. Isn’t space crazy?
I’ve already put in over 20 or so hours into gameplay, having colonized my first planet and now making friends with some aliens, as is tradition. Ignoring some cringy writing choices and a thoroughly unorganized UI, I remain hopeful that BioWare’s statement on Andromeda‘s criticism sees a lot of these issues fixed. Mind you, I know they can’t just go back and rewrite the game, but there’s plenty of housekeeping that they can do, not unlike CD Projekt Red with The Witcher 3 after gathering feedback and — you guessed it — Blizzard as they continue to improve their existing products. That’s one of the joys of the digital game marketplace nowadays: games are always in flux and easier to patch en masse instead of relying on individuals downloading patches on their own volition.
The goal, then, is to make sure that this tool is used to make the game progressively better, not continue to break it or ignore glaring issues that upset large amounts of people. EA, while doing progressively better in the past few years, would do well to learn from their mistakes, especially those noticed by their customers.
The Walking Dead: Michonne
Last, but certainly not least, Steve (that hoser who got me into Heroes of the Storm) picked up a couple The Walking Dead games on Steam’s sale earlier this week. After watching him play through the first season, I was tempted enough to pick up the Michonne mini series and the latest still-in-progress entry The Walking Dead: A New Frontier.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Lee and Clementine’s adventures in the first two seasons, I think Michonne is one of my favorite characters to play as. From coping with the depression and anxiety of this new undead world and trying to remain positive (at least, that’s how I’m playing her), seeing her progress through her own story is a sterling example of the testament of human fortitude and resilience. Also, she has a sweet katana and is an all-around badass on top of being a great female protagonist alongside the greats like Lara Croft and Elizabeth Comstock.
Granted, I’ve only gotten through the first three chapters of the first episode, so I don’t have much to say aside from being super impressed (though my game didn’t crash once or twice in the middle of conflicts, a hallmark of Telltale‘s game releases lately as I’ve experienced already in their Batman series). Still, comparing between now and seasons one and two, the game has only gotten more beautiful in time. I just hope that Telltale doesn’t get too caught up in its glory as a premier storytelling/adventure game developer, lest they get lazy and start making irreconcilable mistakes with all the bugs and glitches — as well as sometimes unfulfilling stories — their fans have been mentioning for a while. But when it comes to The Walking Dead: Michonne, so far so good. Well, as good as surviving in a zombie apocalypse can be.
What have you been playing? Tell us in the comments below!