Of course I can only be talking about one thing — it’s time to continue exploring the Master Chief Collection and dive into Halo 2. Which is very much more of the same.
I’ve menitoned Age of Empires II obliquely many times throughout this blog but never actually written about it directly. Which is actually a massive oversight, because it has the dubious honour of being the first PC game I ever bought, so it’s a foundational influence in how I started to dream of making my own worlds — it did, after all, also include my very first level editor.
So twenty-odd years later, with lockdown madness causing a spiral ever deeper into nostalgia, isn’t it high time we took a proper look at a true classic?
Halo is a franchise that utterly passed me by. I’ve never owned a console and I guess I never knew that its first entry was also out on PC. I’ve always been curious, though; it’s had a lot pop-culture influence through the ages, and hell, I like sci-fi shooters anyway.
So when I heard they were finally (re)porting the full series to PC, I must admit I was a little bit excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. Fast-forward long enough that the porting is complete and has had plenty of time to stabilise and… here we are.
So let’s begin, in release order, with Halo: Combat Evolved.
It doesn’t take much more than proclaiming yourself to be like Baldur’s Gate to get me interested. It’s a type of RPG that’s been underserved in the last decade or so, with occasional delights like Drakensang and Dragon Age: Origins mostly edged out by 1st- and 3rd-person action RPGs, which are fine but scratch a different itch. Sometimes you just want to command a small party of fun people in real-time with occasional pauses.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker proclaimed that it would serve this niche, but also isn’t from the 90s, so I decided it was worth a look.
On the subject of my latest Exon video, I was told it “looks a lot like Warzone 2100“. I replied that I had never heard of this game, let alone played it, but if it’s an a late-90s/early-00s 3D game then I’m interested.
Turns out that not only is it a grotty old 3D RTS, but it was open-sourced in 2004 and is now patched-up and totally free. Jackpot!
On the Late to the Party scale, I have to concede that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has been a major blind spot for me. After all, I love Star Wars (before Disney got their claws into it, at least), and if you mention Star Wars and videogames in the same sentence then KoTOR inevitably comes up (probably just after I’ve thrown Jedi Knight II into the ring myself).
So here we are!
Okay, now I am taking liberties. NEHZ’s MountainStruggle AoS is, as the name suggests, an “Aeon of Strife” type map, where two teams of up to five heroes assist waves of spawned units as they battle down lanes to destroy the opposing base. Ever since I first played it with NEHZ and the rest of the Clan WCM crowd, this take on the AoS genre captured my heart more than any other with its tight, multi-layered landscape and Soulstone system.
Most importantly, however, it has bots — so while everyone else moved on with their lives, I could keep playing alone. And the AoS genre is about controlling a single hero against the world, as they gain experience and use abilities, so technically it’s still an RPG…
Today: the inimitable MountainStruggle AoS by NEHZ
This one is going to be controversial, because this map is not a dedicated singleplayer map: it’s co-op, for up to 7 players (odd number, but who am I to complain?). However, it can be played quite happily alone, and I do, with potentially shocking regularity. Why? Because it’s procedurally generated, that’s why! Every play-through is different!
So while this does not strictly qualify for the SPRPG Diaries by being a dedicated singleplayer map, it is a map that’s stayed with me and that occupies much more of my brain than it should. I think, therefore, it deserves some attention and discussion.
Today: the endlessly varied Warcraft Rogue by Polaris0082.