2016 year in review. Gaming/Movies/TV/streaming.

This year was more gaming focused for me this year rather than last year, a first since I started listening to audiobooks 2 years ago. I played an insane amount of the The Division, World of Warcraft: Legion, Overwatch, and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. I also played a decent amount of Civilization 6, Battlefield 1, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

The game that surprised me the most was The Division, the leveling experience, the game-play, and the coop experience were all very well done. It had a huge drop off in play for a couple of months because of the very lax response to cheaters and exploiters, the nerf to crafting, and the reliance on the Dark Zone as endgame. Since 1.5 patch, however, it has been changed for the better. It’s extremely easy to gear but still very satisfying to do because there are numerous path’s to get good gear, and the are interesting play-styles that are enjoyable to play. I’ve been playing a lot recently as it is a nice break from WoW mythic+’s.

My personal best experience of the year is easily The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine DLC. It provided a great story with very compelling characters and interesting conflicts while also giving a nice closing of the series. I personally thought Heart of Stone was better story-wise but this year no other game I played this year has really had such a well done story that can branch out in drastically different directions.

The only game I found disappointing was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, as I’ve said in a previous post. In contrast, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was a very interesting and well done game, it took what made Black Flag good and then added to it, and told an interesting as well as compelling story that also advanced the modern-day Assassins vs Templars story.

I’ve switched up how I buy games, unless it is a game or developer I have confidence in, I wait for a sale to pick it up. It’s a patient gamer approach and really manages expectation vs investment. Games that are bought at full price usually have some regret and disappointment involved, not to mention the current trend of Developers releasing buggy games at launch. Buying games later on sale really cuts through disappointment from buyers regret or from having high expectations from a game that does not deliver on the hype.

Here are my arbitrary and personal choices for best games I’ve played this year, some of these games are oldish but new to me, as explained above:

  1. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.
  2. World of Warcraft: Legion.
  3. Overwatch.
  4. The Division.
  5. Civilization 6.
  6. Battlefield 1.
  7. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.
  8. Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Here is a list in my to be played queue:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider.
  • Far Cry Primal.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
  • Fallout 4: Far Harbor and Nuka World.
  • Planet Coaster.
  • Doom.

I also have fewer games in my backlog that I hope to get into or back into to replay eventually:

  • Dishonored.
  • Splinter cell: Blacklist.
  • Bioshock remastered 1 and 2.
  • Bioshock Infinite and it’s DLC.
  • Crysis 2 and 3.
  • Final Fantasy 13 and 13 two.
  • Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance.

For Movies and Tv/Netflix or other streaming services this year, How fucking good was Westworld? My show of the year and very easy choice. I think its as good as, if not better than the HBO’s Flagship Game of Thrones. Can’t wait to see season 2. I also got to watch the Wire (seasons 1-5) this year and was very impressed. I was also very impressed with the various Netflix series, Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things. I still need to get around to finishing Luke Cage, which I enjoyed but The Division and Legion took my focus. Game of Thrones season 6 was also good, I was able to guess alot of what was going to happen but the show also threw some nice curveballs to my expectations.

My movie of the year is definitely Deadpool, it showed that a superhero movie could be successful with an R rating and it really did justice to my favorite X-man Colossus. I also enjoyed and liked Batman vs Superman, while many people didn’t like its darker tone and the change of character for Batman. X-men Apocalypse was also a favorite of mine. Captain America: Civil War was also decent. Hateful Eight and The Revenant were also stellar. Star Trek Beyond was also decent.

I have a trip to Vancouver next month, in which I will be watching the following movies:

  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Star Wars Rogue One
  • Arrival
  • Dr. Strange
  • Passengers
  • Live by Night
  • Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

Can’t wait to see all those movies.

What I’m looking forward to in 2017:

Gaming:

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Vampyr

Books/Audiobooks: Either coming out in 2017 or new to me.

  • Neil Gaiman’s North Mythology
  • The Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod
  • The Black Company series by Glen Cook
  • Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey
  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey
  • Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

Movies:

  • Logan
  • The Dark Tower
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • John Wick 2
  • Wonder Woman
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Guardian of the Galaxy 2

TV/Netflix/Streaming:

  • Daredevil season 3
  • Game of Thrones season 7
  • Jessica Jones season 2
  • The Expanse
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Luke Cage
  • Stranger Things season 2
  • Spectral
  • Westworld season 2

Again, if you read all of this, I hope you have a great 2017. Happy New years!

My 2016 year in review. Books/Audiobooks.

Like last year, I really did stick to my at least 2 books/audiobooks per month read or listened to resolution from 2o14. Although it felt like my focus was more on gaming this year as I read/listened to about 26 books this year compared to around 30 or so last year. I’m not counting rereads or I should say re-listens, if I did the number of books would be at least 50. The First Law series, the Dark Tower, and various Neil Gaiman books would be the bulk of the re-listens.

My favorites of the books that came out in 2016 or re-released in 2016 is as follows:

  • The Fireman by Joe Hill, narrated by Kate Mulgrew – The narrations was top-notch, Captain Janeway narrates extremely well and I thought Joe Hill’s writing was compelling and nicely done. The Story was inspired by Hill’s father’s The Stand and it really had interesting characters, it was not was I expected especially after the more supernatural/paranormal N0S4A2 and Horns, and I could not easily guess how the story would unfold. Although it was heavily inspired by the Stand, it really does “stand” on its own without being in the shadow of his father’s classic book.
  • End of Watch by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton. This is the final book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy and it has a cool X-files type vibe to the story. The Hard boiled type detective story and it’s characters who are extremely well done are the best part of the book, as well as the narration which was nicely done. King continues to be a prolific writer and continues to create interesting characters and tell compelling stories.
  • Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie, narrated by Steven Pacey. This short story compilation of various First Law related tales was great and the narration is also excellent. I extremely enjoyed the stories and characters of Shev and Javre. The stories that are “prequels” to characters like Glotka, Logen and Bethod, as well as Cosca  were also well done and provided some nice insight and details into some the best characters in the First Law trilogy.
  • The Audible re-release of the Steven Pacey versions of Best Served Cold and the Heroes, written by Joe Abercrombie. Best Served Cold is my favorite of the stand alone books followed extremely close by the Heroes, and Pacey doing the narration was excellent. The Michael Page versions I had previously were also well done but to me The First Law is all  Steven Pacey, like the Dresden Files are James Marsters.
  • The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowski, narrated by Peter Kenny. I am thoroughly hooked into this series as I am for the video game adaptations by CD Projekt Red. I enjoy the characters of Ciri, Triss, Geralt, Yennefer, Milva and Regis. I am extremely looking forward to getting Lady of the Lake when it’s available on Audible and completing the series.

My favorite books in the very wide “new to me” category or the late to the party are:

  • Zero World by Jason M Hough, narrated by Gideon Emery. This was a book I picked up based solely on the recommendation of Felicia Day, I read a tweet from her and then read her good reads review and went all in. The story and characters were great, the narration was also very well done. I hope this turns into a series and continues the story. A very well done story with compelling characters and an extremely interesting premise.
  • The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, narrated by Robin Sachs. Seriously, I am the type of dude who will go all in on anything involving Werewolves and Vampires in a modern setting, and this is an excellent story with the best narration I’ve heard this year. Robin Sach’s narration is what really blew me away and the story was compelling as fuck. Too bad the sequel was such a let down.
  • Mr Mercedes and Finder’s Keepers by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton. I love a good detective story and I enjoy good characters, and Stephen Kings hardboiled type story was very well done.
  • The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch, narrated by Michael Page. My favorite trilogy of the year, the first two books were great and the third was good.  There is some debate about it as the first book “the Lies of Locke Lamora” is extremely good and many people think the series goes down from it, I enjoyed the second and really liked the pirate setting. The third book is a change-up from the first two as it tells 2 stories and it isn’t as compelling as the other 2.
  • The BBC adaptations of Neverwhere and How the Marquis got his coat back – An extremely well done cast and abridged version of 2 Neil Gaiman books. Definitely worth checking out.
  • A Knight in the Seven Kingdoms by GRRM, narrated by Harry Lloyd. The stories of Dunk and Egg narrated extremely well by Mr. Don’t Wake the Dragon himself, Viserys Targaryen. Well worth checking out if you are even the slightest bit interested in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

If I had to pick one book this year as my absolute favorite, I’d totally fucking choose 2 because fuck you and your rules. It would easily be Zero World and The Last Werewolf.

As I said before, my focus this year was more into gaming and my overall count is lower than last year, so I wasn’t able to finish off The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, I was sidetracked by World of Warcraft Legion, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Overwatch and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. I am currently right in the middle of Death Kings, with the Pagan Lord, Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm and the Flame Bearer to read.

Also in my “To be read” pile, as in books I picked up this year but did not read yet, are:

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass: The Cinder Spires, Book 1 by Jim Butcher.
  • Bloodlist by P.N. Elrod
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.

This turned out to be bigger post than I thought it would be, so I will make this my 2016 year in review for books/audiobooks, with versions for gaming, movies/TV/streaming to follow.

If you read all the way to end, I hope you have a great 2017.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

So I just finished the game.

It was a mixed bag type deal, some things like the look of France and the environments were greatly done, the number of people on-screen at once was impressive, the customization of gear and progression was nicely done, and the DLC was interesting. However, the story is very underwhelming, Arno and Elise were interesting characters but the story was predictable and really short. The ending was a let down because you have no context or scope and felt like nothing was achieved because the modern-day assassin vs templar story isn’t even present and it doesn’t really advance the overall story at all. It literally is just a side story like AC: Rogue was and seemed like a money grab, with a half assed story that is littered with pointless side missions and collectibles. The Co-op is very forced, with missions that hold multiple rewards and unlocks so it has to be repeatedly done to get the gear you would want. At least AC Rogue had a very compelling story with great characters and a very interesting conflict, Unity really only had some good visuals and a some good customization. I can see why so many people didn’t like Unity.

The combat was pretty basic and the enemies really did pose a threat in large numbers but it wasn’t satisfying or that enjoyable to do. I did not like that you had to get “sync points” to unlock abilities like air assassinate or double assassinations or certain types of combat abilities, it being gated by story progression was also a real let down. The Story in the DLC was at least interesting and I thought it rewarded some very good gear.

The biggest problem for me is that the modern-day story of the Assassins vs the Templars was completely meaningless, in Rogue and Black Flag you had some context of how the story plays out even if the modern-day storyline was badly done. The “meta” story of ubisoft and abstergo was pretty cringe although some of the characters were interesting/compelling.

I play games mainly for story and I am willing to look past many flaws if a game has a decent story but Unity didn’t have that, and so I would call this just a below average game. Only worth playing if you got an insane deal (like I did buying it on a sale through steam) or if you are really committed to supporting ubisoft and the Assassin’s Creed brand.

I have Syndicate to play next and I hope it’s not just more of the same like Unity was.

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

So about 1 month into Legion now and I have a much better idea and opinion on the game. I spent nearly all of September playing Legion and there is a decent chance I will for october as well.

Firstly, I like the mythic and mythic plus as “endgame” gearing options. I sometimes like to use group finder to look for a group to do raids, right now the only raid is the Emerald Nightmare, and the group finder is pretty rough this early in the raid cycle. Groups vary hugely at the moment, sometimes you can find a very competent group that specifically needs dps to fill out a group, or 1 or 2 healers, or looking for a tank and this type of group can easily clear normal mode and other times you get groups that can barely clear 1 or 2 bosses (usually just Nyth and Ursoc, as they are the easiest) that are a nightmare to group with. The nightmare groups usually have one thing in common, they are entirely dependent on mods like deadly or bigwigs bossmods and are unable or unwilling to learn boss mechanics. This type of raider, a casual type player, will not do anything unless their mod tells them to do something. So it’s like a lottery of sorts of which type you will get into. Another nitpick, sometimes you will open up group finder and look for a group only to find that shitty raid leaders will want you to link ahead of the curve for Xavius before an invite or have a ilevel that exceeds the content you are clearing such as 850+ for normal mode which happens only to drop 850 ilevel gear. However, Mythic plus offers a more manageable risk for gear from 840 ilevel to 880 ilevel, right now most groups can competently clear up to level 4 mythics which awards 850 ilevel gear in the chest after completing the instance and 865 ilvl gear in your weekly chest in your order hall. That makes mythic plus a viable alternative to raiding at the moment, that may change when the tier gear is available in the new year.

Second, Class balance. This is more of a touch and go issue at the moment as people vary in class competence or performance. Blizzard has done slight adjustments for some classes/specs and major tuning for other underperforming ones. Before the changes, Frost Death Knights and Frost Mages were the most underperforming and least damaging specs, after the changes they have had their damage go up by a very decent amount. While other specs like Havoc Demon Hunters and Outlaw Rogues, have add their numbers adjusted downwards. This is a thin ice situation as the people who are playing these classes have heavily invested time and artifact power into their relics and have seen their numbers either adjusted upwards or downwards and because artifact weapons need huge amounts of artifact power (to unlock traits and golden talents) and decent relics to be effective you cannot just simply change specs to be effective. If you also happened to have gotten a legendary item that is specific to a particular spec, you are also doubly fucked if you desire to change your spec and artifact weapon. So far the changes have been drastic for Demon Hunters who have seen their single target damage nerfed significantly, and Frost specs for Death Knights/Mages who have had their numbers adjusted so they are middle of the pack DPS. Since I have an outlaw rogue, my dps has gone down by a fair bit, pre hotfix nerfs  I was able to do about 200k dps single target and 300+ in multi-target/cleave situations. I avoided going assassination early because outlaw was so well performing in single target and cleave situations and now assassination is top-tier single target DPS, I have kind of regretted investing so heavily into Outlaw now. Anymore of these type of “adjustments” by blizzard and I will reconsider how much time I spend playing WoW. My main is a Blood DK and I am completely satisfied with tanking and damage I can do, as well as the PVP viability (Tanks in PVP, another thin ice situation for blizzard, most tanks specs are the best 1v1 type classes and can really change the outcome in group pvp.)

Third, content. World Quests are probably the best idea they have stolen from Diablo, the second best being mythic plus, as they really add options to gear or add artifact power to your chosen artifact weapon. Mythic and Mythic plus dungeons really give you a reason to do something every day. Professions are decent, but the real game changer at the moment is herbalism because there is massive demand for herbs for flasks and combat pots (these are the differences between a 2 or 3 chest mythic plus at keystone 5+ or even clearing under the timer for one chest, not to mention the need for them in raiding heroic and mythic Emerald Nightmare.) Double professions are no longer required to be a top performing DPS/Tank/Healer and blizzard has made it easy to switch up professions this expansion.

Ok, so enough about WoW, on the audiobook front I am 2 books off of completing the Last Kingdom series which I will listen to after I’m done listening to Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes. I also picked up the Hobbit for about 7$ CAD from audible on sale. My audible credits roll over near the end of the month and I will use them to pick up the last 2 books in the Last Kingdom series. I should be well into Sword Song: Battle for London next week and will quickly be making way through the next 3 books in the series.

I have just finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix, and I am thoroughly impressed with it, I can’t wait for the second season. It’s like a Stephen King novel or several of them combined. The Firestarter influence is strong but I also get a vibe from the Mist, and Stand by me/The body. Definitely it is one of the best shows on Netflix.

I just started Luke Cage and like it so far. I will probably watch the rest of it this week.

I picked up Captain America: Civil War and Warcraft on Blu Ray. Civil War was pretty good and did a lot more with a loose thread of a story than I thought it would. I wish they had cooperation with Fox so they could really do Marvel’s Civil War but the Russo brothers did a fine job of making a compelling story with loose threads of other movies and featured a lot of good characters. I still would like to see a Black Widow movie and really don’t get why they won’t make one.

Warcraft was an enjoyable film and worth the money, however, I wish it didn’t have to be cut down to a sub 2 hour movie so the general audiences can stomach it. I felt it would have been better as an extended cut release as it would have made more sense to have more time to round out the rough edges of the story.

Both movies were definitely worth mone. I plan on picking up X-men Apocalypse tomorrow and will watch it ASAP.

What I’m looking forward too this month is the release of Civilization 6 and Skyrim Special Edition. They will provide a nice break from WoW/Legion.

Audible for September/October.

I’ve been re-listening to the First Law Series stuff this last month, the Trilogy and the World books, I’m on Best Served Cold at the moment and will get into The Heroes right after. The Heroes has become my favorite of the entire series, followed closely by Best Served Cold, and is a favorite of mine to re-listen too. When I finish The Heroes, I will be jumping back into the Last Kingdom series and finishing it off in October.

I used my 2 audible credits this month to pick up Death of Kings (book 6) and The Pagan Lord (book 7), I still have Sword Song: The Battle for London (Book 4) and The Burning Lands (Book 5) to listen too as well. I will end up finishing the series in late October as I will be using my 2 audible credits to pick up book 8 and 9 (the last 2 in the series so far.) I’ve enjoyed the series so far and the books have only intensified my interest in the show.

I also picked up the Hobbit on sale for 4.95$ (USD$, about 6.70$ CAD) which I thought was a pretty good deal and did not hesitate to get.

I’m enjoying my relisten to the First Law series and also can’t wait to finish off the Last Kingdom series next month.

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

Short answers: World of Warcraft Legion, The First Law series,  The Last Kingdom books (Sword Song and the Burning Lands), Stranger Things, Warcraft, Captain America Civil War and The Elder Scrolls Skyrim Remaster.

So, ya, I’m late on posting because of Legion. Probably the smoothest launch experience I’ve seen. I leveled my Death Knight first as Unholy but switched to Blood at 110. I plan to level my Rogue next, level as Assassination but may switch to either Outlaw or Subtlety which ever is better performing in mythics or raids. I’ll probably do all 3 artifacts as it is exceedingly easy to get artifact power to level an Artifact, especially when you unlock the artifact knowledge research. I’ll probably do a Paladin after, as having 2 tanking classes doesn’t seem so fun, so I’ll play as Retribution with a Holy offspec.

The levelling in legion is pretty decent but the massive horde population imbalance is pretty challenging because of all the bad gankers, it seems like 20 horde to 1 alliance. It’s annoying but easy to deal with.

On the audiobooks front, I’m currently doing a re-listen to the entire First Law series. I just finished the Blade Itself last night and am about 4 hours into Before They Are Hanged. After Red Country I will start on the Last Kingdom books, Sword Song and The Burning Lands. I’ll the next books in the Last Kingdom series later this month and finish up the series in late October.

As a break between playing WoW Legion and Audiobooks, I’ll check out the Netflix series Stranger Things. I’ve heard many good things and I really want to check it out.

I’ll be picking up Captain America Civil War and Warcraft this month. I wanna check out Warcraft for myself as I do not really pay much head to mainstream reviews.

A short post, and I blame the Legion expansion.

World of Warcraft: Legion.

So, it will be launching 12am Tuesday (meaning no reset or shutdown) and the EU launch went pretty smooth, so I’m hoping it will be the same for NA realms. I’ll be doing Unholy Death Knight, Assassination Rogue, Vengeance Demon Hunter, in that order with off specs Blood, Outlaw, and Havoc respectively. I’ve found the updated Icy Veins class guides very helpful for specs and artifact traits. Using it as a guide only and a starting point for each spec.

I may end up just leveling as blood for now then at around unlocking the 13 trait, then boosting the Unholy artifact Apocalypse to match the current level. I’ll probably end up PVP’ing as Unholy and doing PVE as Blood for mythics, mythic+, and raids using the group finder.

For my Rogue, it is much simpler as I plan to be mainly Assassination for PVE and PVP but I would like to have Outlaw as an offspec.

With my Demon Hunter, I may just end up staying mainly as Vengeance and then boosting the Havoc artifact for PVP and an offspec.

After these 3, I may do some other alts just to see the the other class’s order halls and artifacts. These will probably be Frost Mage, Feral Druid, Marksmanship Hunter. I may also have a Paladin for Retribution and Holy.

Definitely excited for legions and can’t wait to get started.