My Wife Plays: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Theme on Piano

Bri continues her quest of arranging all of the greatest songs from video games. This time she’s playing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind’s main theme song, which I believe is titled “Nerevar Rising.”

Full disclosure, I never actually played a ton of Morrowind. Graev has told me countless times I should play, and I know he’s right. I know it’s a phenomenal RPG. I think it’s time to actually add it to my list of must-plays in the backlog.

So which song is next? She has quite the following here at our local elementary school. When the kids come into the library they are greeted each time by her music. Apparently they’re all perfectly silent and listen when her music is on. She has received a few hundred requests for “Minecraft music!” I think she’ll have to oblige.

As always, she’s taking your requests as well. Anything you’d like to hear?

Kings and Heroes Announced

Kings and Heroes was officially announced yesterday by Industry Games. Before you start Googling a ton to find out “what is Kings and Heroes,” let me hopefully give you all of the information you need. K&H is a first-person dungeon crawler RPG of sorts launching on Steam early access.

I was invited out to the Industry Games’ headquarters a year ago to have a first-look sneak peak at what they were creating. Hard to believe that so much time has passed. I met with several members of the team — a talented bunch — to discuss their vision for Kings and Heroes. I can’t speak to any of those details due to a NDA, but I will say that K&H has potential.

Kings and Heroes

Kings and Heroes looks to play like a dungeon crawler where you create a work your way through procedurally generated dungeons finding loot and advancing your character. From what they’ve shown publicly, I’m reminded of a D&D dungeon adventure.

I’ll be bringing you more coverage of Kings and Heroes over the coming months! We have a good relationship with the devs and I hope that means you guys will benefit. Stay tuned.

Stardew Valley Update: Slow Spring But A Very Profitable Summer

I have been completely enthralled by Stardew Valley this past week. It has definitely become the game I come home wanting to play.  I have always loved the Harvest Moon formula. I like planting crops, tending to animals, expanding my farm infrastructure, forming relationships, and exploring. Stardew Valley perfectly executes on each of these.

I like making decisions and I’m realizing more and more how decision making is absent from gaming. Even big AAA titles are launching as RPGs but lack true decision making. I like how I can choose what crops to plant, what animals to raise, how to build up my farm. I like that I literally wake up each morning, crawl out of bed, and decide what I do that day — the entire game depends on what I do each day.

My farm is coming along nicely. I started the game off slow. I think Spring was about 3/4 over before I really found my rhythm with daily chores. Summer came and I was ready! I planted 40 grape plants and got myself to the point where every 3 days I was making 20,000 gold from grapes alone. This allowed me to rocket ahead and purchase a coop, 4 chickens, tons of fencing, an expansion to my house, and upgrade just about all my tools to Steel. Oh, and I also built a horse stall. Summer was REALLY good to me.

Throughout the summer there were multiple thunder storms which allowed me to explore my way down into the mine because I didn’t have to worry about watering crops. I wasn’t met with any challenge whatsoever until level 80. Now there are caster monsters who also curse, and I’m being hit for 20% of my health each time. Definitely a difficulty spike that I will have to prepare for before I go back.

I’m now on the 10th day of Fall in Year 1. I decided to once again go with a renewable crop option: Cranberries. These give quite a lot of money and once you get past the 7 day initial growth they’ll pop out a few cranberries every few days. I think the profit/month numbers ended up being the highest @ 1101 gold per plant. I planted about 45 of them, so I’m hoping to see about 50,000 this Fall in crops. Sadly that’s a little lower than I was hoping, but I think I’ll make up the rest in animal products.

Sprinklers have introduced an interesting change in my daily routine. With all of my crops being watered automatically each morning, I quickly thought I had made the game a less interesting by having so much left over energy and time each day. I then felt silly when I realized I was only using 10% of my farm space and that I could easily let my sprinklers water some and I could double my production by manually watering another set. Doubled my output!

By the end of Fall I hope to have my barn complete with cows and pigs. I hope to be ready for a long winter. That’s all for now. I’ll let you know how the rest of Fall goes!

Stardew Valley is an Amazing Spiritual Successor to Harvest Moon

stardew valley

Stardew Valley released just three days ago and its already spreading like wildfire to anyone and everyone looking to rekindle the experience of playing Harvest Moon. Stardew Valley is an “open-ended country-life RPG” which basically means you run a farm. You’ve just inherited a farm from your grandfather and are faced with reviving a dilapidated old mess of a place. Like Harvest Moon, your farm is a mess and you’ll have to clean it all up. With nothing more than a few old tools and some coin, the choice of how to run the place is left entirely up to you.

I am absolutely in love with this game. I’m not going to review it fully quite yet because I’m only about 5 hours in, but I can already tell you it’s tons of fun and totally worth the $15 I paid on Steam.

From planting crops to upgrading your house, fishing, crafting, learning new recipes, building more structures, raising animals, exploring mines, fighting monsters, convincing people to like you, to even discovering the mysteries of the community center (which involves a Wizard…) there’s so much to do.

Stardew Valley Farm

My biggest complain about all of these open-ended country-life RPGs has to be that I get overwhelmed. I want to do so much. I want to plant the right crops at the right time. I want to make sure I’m working on my relationships with the right girl. I want to get the upgrades to my house at the most opportune moment. I want to make sure I don’t miss out on a festival that comes once a year.

The reason I can’t do it all is because time passes in-game and there’s only so much you can do in a day before you’re out of energy and before it’s time to go to bed. As time progresses, seasons change. As seasons change, certain crops change — the world changes. If I stop thinking about trying to be perfect and simply start working toward a farm then I’m able to quadruple my enjoyment.

While Stardew Valley is currently single-player, multiplayer in the form of coop is supposedly in the works. I don’t know how that will play out, but it’s worth noting. Let me know if you pick it up! I’d love to swap stories and share tips. Definitely expect me to post regular updates on how my farm is progressing!

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [3DS]

Final Fantasy Explorers

Take the classes and abilities from Final Fantasy with the basic gameplay from Monster Hunter, and you get Final Fantasy Explorers. The premise of the game should be very familiar to Monster Hunter fans. Your goal is to advance your character by running quests, crafting better gear with drops, and mutating abilities. While really not even close to MH’s depth, FFE strikes a chord with me that MH wasn’t able to — FFE’s pacing is way more my style.

Basic Questing / Gameplay

The game takes place on an island with diverse areas/tilesets to explore. The main hub of operations where the player upgrades gear, obtains quests, and advances the very thin plot is in the town of Libertas. From Libertas you can accept quests to go out and slay summoned monsters, bosses, etc., in an overall effort to gain more crystals. I guess you might say it’s Crystal Chronicles meets Monster Hunter.

FFE OdinThe questing system is straight forward. You get to accept one main quest and any number of sub quests. The main quest is something like “Go kill Ramuh” and a subquest can be to use a certain ability during the fight.

Combat is much more intuitive for me than MH. Although deep enough to incorporate positional attacks and skill shots, the interface and execution are easier. Hold LB and RB opens up submenus with X, Y, A, and B for each. So you can basically bookmark 8 abilities, a basic attack, sprint, and item menu. This is way easier than having to remember combos, and it works so much better too.

Battles play out much like a standard RPG or even MMORPG in real time. Combat mechanics include tanks, heals, boosters, and damagers with a variety of ways to execute each. Monsters fight back using the typical, though a tad unoriginal, mechanics too. You’ll see lots of AOE attacks, charging monsters, and ‘get out of the red circle or instantly die’ mechanics. Despite being a little contrived, they work.

FFE Classes

Classes & Abilities: FFE has lots of them

Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, Thief, Ninja, Red Mage, Time Mage, Bard, Hunter, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Geomancer, Machinist, Alchemist, Sage, Blue Mage, Samurai, and Freelancer. Those are your class choices in Final Fantasy Explorers. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of tanks, heals, dps, and boosters (buffers) to play, and a variety of ways to satisfy each play style. Want pure burst dps? Go Machinist. Want a traditional Tank? Go Knight.

I like how the abilities, in some cases, can be used cross-class. I can use Cure on my Knight to help heal myself in a pinch. Eventually you can master a class and obtain access to additional weapons and abilities.

Mutating and upgrading abilities adds a whole new level of customization. As you use crystal surges (special abilities on timers) you can then use other abilities that, when used in tandem, spark a mutation. Mutations can stack and build custom abilities. Let’s say you use Guard during a mutation opportunity and it adds Haste. This creates a NEW abilities that will give you both Guard and Haste at the same time. It’s like ability stacking, and you can ultimately walk around with all of your abilities no longer basic simple skills but mutated abilities. The customization here is overwhelming, but if you simply focus on making abilities you think are cool and useful then you’ll get by just fine.

Single-player & Multiplayer

Graev and I have been playing FFE together almost exclusively. Multiplayer works flawlessly without any lag at all. Final Fantasy Explorers works great solo, don’t get me wrong. You can create monster pets to act as a companion and do just fine in the game solo, but I think the true spirit of the game is best felt in multiplayer with up to 4 players.

FFE teamwork

Again, combat is designed for that typical ‘group’ gameplay. Graev is playing a Time Mage with lots of support abilities and heals, but a healthy dose of damage too. Remember, you can customize your character quite a bit, so he has made a character that fits his style. I’m playing a Knight (standard tank) until I unlock either Red Mage or Dark Knight. I think both of those sound most fun to me.

Teamwork and synergizing together, planning attacks, etc., are all beneficial in FFE. We did a boss fight against Ifrit and realized we hadn’t properly planned. Neither of us came in with the abilities we’d need to synergize a good combo or to output enough damage. Fixing that issue, we defeated Ifrit again in half the time.

More to Come…

There’s a little much to put here in a review. You know me, I like to keep these short and to the point with a bit of info to satisfy your questions and whether or not you should buy or skip. While FFE’s scope is easier to grasp than MH, the depth is there for at least 100 hours of gameplay. I’m going to try and rig up a way to stream FFE and/or record a video so that you guys can see it in action from my perspective.

I highly recommend Final Fantasy Explorers. Go into it expecting a game all about playing interesting classes and beating bosses. This is a game about grinding for loot drops to craft that perfect weapon, customizing your abilities to make your character feel just right, and simply enjoying to thrill of the hunt. Just don’t expect a plot — there really isn’t one — or anything close to a traditional Final Fantasy game. But trust me, you won’t miss it. Looks for whatever videos I can come up with soon as they’ll answer more questions and provide more insight into gameplay.

P.S. I highly recommend you purchase FFE on Amazon. Gamestops are sold out, and Best Buy laughed at me. Amazon had it to me in 2 days.