What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for December 2017.

Another year gone by. Reminds me of a quote from American Gods “Every hour wounds. The last one kills.”

Anyways, lots of stuff this month and some updates.

Audiobooks first, I just finished Area X – The Southern Reach Trilogy – Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance by Jeff VaderMeer narrated by Carolyn McCormick, Bronson Pinchot, and Xe Sands. I enjoyed the story, narration, characters, and the writing of this trilogy. The story and writing were very good and I enjoyed that some things were left unresolved or unexplained, the only real comparison (and a poor one at that) is the Reapers from Mass Effect that once their purpose and origin were explained and detailed they became way less interesting and compelling. Area X and it’s purpose are way more compelling as a story element being mysterious and having some parts of it unexplained. I admire the decision to not reveal everything as it made for a much more compelling story. The characters are also well done and I enjoyed that they were only referred to as titles, code names, or nick names such as The Director, The Biologist, Control, and Ghost Bird. The narration was also good, with 3 narrators it some times is kinda jumbled and jarring but it served the story and tone of the characters to have separate narration. I can’t wait to see the adaptation, it looks promising.

I have a pretty big backlog of audiobooks to get through, roughly equal to last year, 11 or so: The Metro Trilogy by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Strange Weather by Joe Hill, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Alien: Out of the Shadows, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.

Two more books will be added to that list around christmas, it will most likely be Mass Effect: Initiation, and either Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan, or it could be something on a whim suggested/recommended from r/fantasy or my audible wishlist.

I will probably start the ball rolling with Strange Weather followed by the Metro Trilogy then Sandman Slim or I am Legend.

I picked up a pretty nice DAC/AMP combo, SMSL SD793-II, to drive my DT990 premium 250 ohm headphones , which the DAC/AMP is now connected to my PS4 and PC. I mainly use it for gaming, movies, and music (in that order), for that purpose it is an extremely good set up but I am going to add a few things to it. I decided against a sound bar set up and went with a 2.1 set up instead. I will be connecting the line outs from my SMSL SD793-II to a Micca Origain (simple, not the one with built-in DAC) and a set of speakers that I have handy. I will also add a subwoofer in the next few months to make a 2.1 set up, which I will probably use for music, movies, and the PS4 (in that order.)

I did not go with a USB DAC/AMP because I wanted something that did not need drivers installed and a TOSLink and a coaxial digital would allow me to connect my PC using a toslink to coaxial digital converter and the PS4 using the TOSlink. It is working extremely well for me and was well worth the money.

I picked up some blu rays this week, Atomic Blonde, Valerian, The Dark Tower and Wind River. I have not yet watched every one so far but I did rip and convert them so I can watch them any time on my PC. I’m using MakeMKV and Handbrake, which is very easy to set up. I’m using MakeMKV enough to consider just buying it even though it is currently free while in Beta. It’s easy to use and extremely useful, well worth the money if I do end up buying it.

Gaming this month is basically WoW, the last half of Uncharted 3, and probably (finally really) Rise of the Tomb Raider, as well as Total War: Warhammer. I have about 15 days left in my sub to WoW and I’m at that point where I am thinking of taking a break from it soon, within this month or the next.

WoW is still fun and accessible, especially with the Mythic Plus dungeons. You can be extremely competitive once you get your 4 piece tier set (which can be as low as raid finder gear, or normal) and everything else from Mythic plus.

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Blizzcon Cinematics.

Blizzard on point with their cinematics.

The Reinhardt Honor and Glory short is amazing, everything about him in one short and very compelling cinematic. Blizzard is being very effective with these animated shorts to tell the “story” for Overwatch and being quite versatile with the tones for each video. The Junkrat and Junkertown one was over the top and funny, with this one about Reinhardt being somber and reflective that effectively tugs at your emotions.

And 2 more for World of Warcraft’s Expansion called Battle for Azeroth.

Dat Cinematic Trailer doe. Makes you wonder why Blizzard didn’t do a Completely CGI movie.

I find it interesting that this new expansion is trying to recapture the “Drums of War” feeling from vanilla WoW.

Which seems to be the intention because Blizzard also announced WoW Classic.

I’m not really thrilled about because I played a lot of Vanilla WoW and there is a lot of people who seem to remember and view it through some major rose-colored glasses because of nostalgia. People already complain how grindy and repetitive WoW is now while completely ignoring how tedious and tiresome Vanilla WoW was. Does anyone even remember how hard it was to get gold for an epic mount or 50 gold respecs? Or the difficulty in getting 40 people together for a raid? Or that Warriors were the only real tanks and that some specs were completely not viable at all in a raid setting? Vanilla was not Alt friendly either. There will be no groupfinder for quests or raids or dungeons either, which was also a problem in Vanilla unless you were in a helpful guild.

Anyways, some pretty good cinematics outta Blizzcon today with some interesting direction and changes to WoW with new expansion. I am looking forward to see how it plays out.

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for November 2017.

Only 2 more months left in the year, it’s gone by pretty fast and I already know what the best series I listened to this year is Glen Cook’s Black Company series. The narration, which changes a few times, is very good. The overall story is great. The characters are excellent, and for it me it was my favorite part of the series. Croaker, One-eye, Goblin, Murgen, Raven, Lady, Sleepy and really most of the company are all enjoyable and well written characters. So far, it’s the Black Company best thing I’ve listened to this year, easily surpassing N.K. Jemisin’s well written and very good Broken Earth Trilogy and more enjoyable than Bernard Cornwell’s extremely entertaining and compelling Saxon Stories/Last Kingdom series.

This month I’ll be listening to Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X: Southern Reach Trilogy, The Metro Trilogy by Dmitry Glukhovsky, and Mass Effect: Initiation by N. K. Jemisin and Mac Walters. I am also looking forward to reading the recently announced Mass Effect Book called the Last Ark as it is supposed  to resolve the very loose ends of the Quarian ark and I am hoping to at least address, and possibly resolve the Benefactor and the Jien Garson murder story line.

I am also looking forward to picking up and listening to Strange Weather by Joe Hill, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, and I also have Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey to listen to as well which I will probably listen to after the Metro Trilogy by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

I picked up a cool game called Castle Story on Steam for about 20$ CAD, it’s like a lite RTS with minecraft like elements. I like games like this because I can just put on an audiobook or a podcast and play it while it scratches my lite rts/crafting itch.

I am also currently playing Total War: Warhammer and learning to play it, instead of playing it like Civ or SC2. I will probably pick up the sequel when it’s on sale.

On the topic of gaming, I was extremely tempted to pick up Castlevania Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition, Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 , and Castlevania Mirror of Fate as they were all on sale during the halloween steam sale for near historic lows. However, I did not pick any of them up as I already have an enormous backlog of games that I am still slowly making my way through. I will possibly pick them up during the new years/christmas sales. At the moment though, I am extremely tempted to pick up Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, you should also add Prey and Dishonored 2 to that as well.

I started playing Doom and I was extremely impressed with how well it runs while looking extremely good because of that I was why I was tempted to pick up the new Wolfenstien game. The game runs extremely well, looks great, the gameplay is very fun, and the soundtrack actually fits the game and environment perfectly. It’s well worth the money and definitely worth picking up when on sale.

I have also, finally, started working my way though the Crysis Trilogy. I’m looking forward to playing Crysis 2 as it is written by Richard K Morgan, author of one of my favorite all time series, The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy.

I think I’ll pick up a couple of PS4 games this christmas, probably Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4.

For blurays I am looking to pick up this month are: Atomic Blonde (November 14, 2017), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ( November 21, 2017), The Dark Tower, and Wind River (November 14, 2017.) Dunkirk which is scheduled for release on December 19, 2017 is something I am also looking forward to picking up. It and Bladerunner 2049 do not have release dates but I am definitely looking forward to watching those on Bluray.

I am looking forward to a couple of things in 2018: Altered Carbon on netflix, Red Dead Redemption 2, and The Last of Us 2.

 

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for October 2017.

The Black Company books are probably the best series I’ve listened to this year. I was gonna just stick to my 2 audible credits platinum plan this month but I just couldn’t wait to finish the series, so I bought 3 extra credits and got the last 3 books in the series. I am currently on book 8, She is the Darkness, and it has extremely good narration and an excellent story. I have Water Sleeps (book 9) and Soldiers Live (book 10) to listen to this month, and that finish off the excellent Black Company Series.

There was an audible sale on the first books in a series and I was able to pick up Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey for about 6$ CAD, this was a series I have been planning on listening to for quite a while now so I decided to take advantage of the deal. I also used one of my 5 credits I had to pick up Mass Effect: Initiation by N. K. Jemisin, Mac Walters. I picked up Initiation based solely on 2 things, the first Mass Effect: Andromeda book by Jason M Hough and K.C. Alexander was very good and the Broken Earth Trilogy by Jemisin was superb.

Audible Canada is a thing now and I was extremely tempted to switch over but a couple of things made me stay with Audible.com instead.

  1. You cannot get a 2 credit per month plan.
  2. There is no way to buy extra credits.
  3. You only have access to Audible Canada Daily Deals, so there is no 2 for 1 credit sales, whispersync, or first book in the series sales.

However, Audible Canada only costs 14.95$ CAD per month and has excellent customer service, making it hard to pass on. Currently I pay 22.95$ USD (29$ CAD at the current exchange rate) for a platinum 2 credits per month plan and buying 3 extra credits for 34.41$ USD (43.40$ CAD, can get as high as 50+$ CAD depending on the exchange rate), so even at 1 credit per month the savings is pretty huge but I am not willing to give up 2 credits per month yet, or not having access to sales or 3 extra credits per month.

I am not sure which books or series to get next month after the Black Company. If Sandman Slim is decent, that will probably be the series I jump into next. However, I like to switch things up after reading a long fantasy series like the Black Company with something like Sci-fi or horror. That may mean I might pick the The Metro series or something else with supernatural elements.

I still have a backlog of audiobooks to finish off as well: Watership Down, Invisible Man, The Hobbit, The Last of the Mohicans.

I’ll get around to those when I’m able, usually when I’ve blown through a series and have nothing else to listen to in-between credits.

I’m still playing a fair amount of WoW but cut my time down to play other games in my backlog. I mentioned last month I picked up Superhot on a sale and it was extremely fun to play and well worth the 20$ I payed for it. I also have the Crysis trilogy to playthrough and I moved those games to my SSD to ensure I will play them. I only really got into the Crysis series because Richard K Morgan wrote the story for Crysis 2. I have the first season of The Long Dark to playthrough, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Farcry Primal, Farcry Blood Dragon, Splintercell Blacklist, and the Metro Redux games.

I also picked up Total War: Warhammer for 20$ and getting the hang of playing it. it is fun to play and I am getting the hang of playing it the way it’s supposed to be played. I was falling into the trap of playing it like other RTS games like Civilization and Starcraft, and I was just getting destroyed.

Last month I mentioned I picked up John Wick 2, Guardians of Galaxy vol 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Wonder Woman. My favorite out of the bunch is easily John Wick 2, it was a well put together movie with a great world and characters, the special features were also extremely good. I thought GotG and Wonder Woman to be overrated but still enjoyable decent movies. Ghost in the Shell is something that grew on me over time, I was too hung up on it not being an adaptation of the seminal anime but after watching the special features it grew on me because a lot of thought went into creating a new tale with borrowed elements from the manga, anime, and tv series.

I have been looking to pick up a general use soundbar for my PC and PS4 and currently deciding on the Sony HT-CT790 or the Sony HT-CT800. I will mainly be using to listen to movies, game on with the PS4, and streaming audio when I am not using Headphones. The difference between the to 2 is that the 800 has HDR. Both have 4k and hdmi passthru, 2 hdmi inputs, 1 toslink input, bluetooth streaming. The 790 is about 150$ cheaper and the one I’ll probably choose because there is not a lot of HDR content out there right now.

I am extremely looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2 next year. I got a PS4 Pro for that because I know Rockstar will fuck over the PC market by either not bring the game to PC EVER or not do it for years.

Check out the great trailer.