Paladins now on PS4

I’m writing this post in-between Paladin matches at 2:30 am. Not because I’m an insomniac, but because this game is just too much fun too put down! Let’s not kid ourselves, Paladins is an Overwatch clone through and through. Even some of the characters are remarkably similar. But if you’re willing to overlook this simple truth, what you have is a game on par with Overwatch for FREE! Paladins is the good kind of free-to-play, where not only are the majority of the in-game purchases cosmetic, many of them can be made with in-game currency if you can handle some grinding.

Basically, Paladins pits two teams of 5 against each other in a MOBA/FPS hybrid that amazes me with its balance (Overwatch is probably owed some credit here). Choose from about 20 distinct Champions and face off in capture, escort, and attrition matches against similarly colorful characters. There is also a PvE mode and more to be unlocked, but I’m just short of getting there (probably by tomorrow evening).

I will probably owe Paladins another post with more details later on, but for now, Paladins recently hit PS4 (it’s been available on PC for a little while), and I can’t get enough. From what I remember of the Overwatch betas (which I enjoyed), Paladins might be even more fun.

High praise, indeed.

The Division: Free Weekend

For those of you have yet to try Tom Clancy’s The Division, you can play for free starting now through the weekend. Just download the demo from PSN for full access to the game for a limited time! I spent a couple of hours already and enjoyed the tense setting and tactical, short firefights that take place throughout New York City. If you’re a fan of Tom Clancy’s other games, it will feel very familiar. If you’re a fan of third-person, cover-based shooters, then this game has plenty of it.

Demos and free trials such as this can be a great way to make sure a game is worth it’s entry-fee, or just a way to try something new for a weekend. Elder Scrolls Online did something similar a few weeks ago, and I decided it wasn’t for me. So far with The Division, I’m considering nabbing it for its discounted price during this promotion.

Enjoy your weekend! (and don’t forget Free Comic Book Day is Saturday!)

Free Comic Book Day and International Tabletop Day

While this blog is primarily focused toward video games, I will indubitably stray into other categories of free and cheap fun. Free Comic Book Day and International Tabletop Day are the perfect examples.

Free Comic Book Day started several years ago, and has been growing stronger with each year. The first Saturday in May marks Free Comic Book Day, and on FCBD, the majority of comic shops order a selection of comics from reputable and up-and-coming publishers to be given away for FREE! Most shops will ask you to take somewhere between 1 and 5 of these comics and usually have other sales and deals going on. Personally, I stock up on FCBD and only buy more comics if a situation presents itself. It’s not unusual for me to hit 3 or 4 different comic shops, load up on all the free issues I want, and I always buy something from participating stores as well. This might be one cool thing on sale, or another stack of comics. I’ll have anywhere from a dozen to 30 new comics after a good FCBD adventure, which is enough to scratch my itch for most of the year. You’ll find mainstay offerings from DC and Marvel as well as indie publishers looking for fans and cult favorites like The Tick. So if you’re free this Saturday, you can use the Free Comic Book Day Store Locator to find participating shops near you!

Usually a week or two before Free Comic Book Day is International Tabletop Day. While International Tabletop Day isn’t as exciting of an event as FCBD, it can still be a fun opportunity to visit local hobby shops and try some cool board games. Of course the shops should have some sort of sale going on, helping you save on some pricey board games, but many also have a bunch of games out for people to learn and play. My wife and I usually spend half the day playing new games, then pick the one we liked best and buy it on sale, then return home to play some more. International Tabletop Day can be a great way to get involved with your local hobby shop, meet fellow board gamer enthusiasts, and just have fun. Not to mention, saving money never hurts!

P.S. Sorry I didn’t give fair warning this year for ITD!

Marvel Heroes Omega PS4 Beta Key Giveaway via Gamespot

Marvel Heroes is a fun free-to-play game on PC, and they are working on a PS4 version to bring all the superhero fun to your TV. One of the most exciting additions to the Omega version is the inclusion of couch co-op! My wife and I hopped on the beta after receiving my code and beat up some bad guys as Rocket Raccoon, the Punisher, Wolverine, and Squirrel Girl!

I think the full PS4 release is going to have a price tag, but if you hurry you can grab a free Beta key code to try out Marvel Heroes Omega on your PS4 until the 15th of the month, couch co-op included!

Head over to Gamespot for more information:

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/marvel-heroes-omega-ps4-closed-beta-key-giveaway-n/1100-6449646/

The Game Value Bell Curve

Someone who studied economics could probably explain this concept a lot better than me, but here’s my layman’s way of explaining price changes for video games. As someone who has bought way too many video games in his life, I’ve noticed the pattern of prices and determined the best time to buy and save.

Simply put, the video game industry is unique for the near-universal starting price. As of 2017, it remains $60. That is, shortly after release, 95% of new console games are sold for $60 no matter if it’s a triple AAA title or some upstart company’s crappy first game. This is an odd phenomenon if you think about it. Imagine is all cars were priced at $20,000 when the new model came out. Doesn’t make sense, does it? But for some reason, this trend has caught on in gaming. Digital downloads, remasters, and indie titles have shaken this up a bit, but it still feels like $60 is the standard for a new game.

After some time, new games generally start to drop in value. Used games also flood the market and lower the price point. Depending on the popularity, rarity, and other factors, these price changes can vary wildly in amount and how fast they take place.

Enter The Game Value Bell Curve:

The Game Value Bell Curve

As you can see by this very professional chart that definitely was not hand-drawn in MS Paint, there is a very obvious pattern that game values go through.

  1. Game releases for $60
  2. Game value drops over time and with the availability of used copies
  3. Game value bottoms out at its lowest price
  4. Game value begins rising as age makes the game more rare
  5. Game price either stagnates or continues to grow

While 99% of games follow these steps, the rate of change can vary wildly. The key at the bottom right of the graph explains what each color line represents. Red = Classic games and exceptionally good or rare games such as Pokemon, Zelda, Fire Emblem, etc. These titles tend to go down in value while still widely available in stores, but after a while the value begins to rise as they become more rare and sought after. Exceptionally good or rare games can even surpass their starting price and reach very high price points, especially if still factory-sealed. Super Mario Smash Bros. Melee for example will remain a valuable game forever because it is an exceptionally good, classic title.

Next you have above-average games which tend to decrease in value while in stores, and then slowly gain value as they become harder to find. Games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, and other popular but not overly rare games inhabit this category. You can probably pick up copies for a reasonable, if not cheap, price many years after their release. They will continue to have and probably gain value the older they become. Other game in this category include niche titles that are harder to find, but not overly sought after.

Lastly you have the forgotten titles. These games were either unexceptional, very abundant, or just plain bad, and therefore have little resale value. Like most games, they probably started at $60 right next to any other game, but quickly their value drops as gamers trade them in or resell them for something different. The market get saturated, most people aren’t interested or have already played it, so the price plummets to only a few dollars. After a while, these games are removed from store shelves to make room for better games. At this point the few people who may have missed this title may go online to buy it, spending a little more than they would have when the stores were trying to get rid of them. The value can go up slightly, but probably won’t ever surpass $5-10 until many years later when someone needs it to complete their collection and few people are looking for/selling copies. These are the forgotten games, all manner of bad titles like old racing and sports games, overly popular titles like the 10th game in a popular FPS series, etc.

So how can this information help you? It’s pretty simple. If you want to buy a game and save money, buy it at the lowest point in its value curve. When it winds up in the bargain bin or at single digit numbers, it’s usually a safe buy. If it’s a popular game that never goes that low, try to guess when it will bottom out. $20 is a pretty common low point for good games before they begin rising in value.

If you are really excited about a games or really like a series, it’s not a bad idea to pay full price for their game. This helps the company make money and know they have fans, and you get to play the game sooner! If you want to see a company keep making the games you like, it’s better to pay THEM for their game than wait and buy it used when you’re just filling the resellers pockets. But if you can live without a game, or need to save money on your gaming hobby, I hope this chart gives you some insight on when to buy (or even sell) your games.

Saints Row 2 free for a limited time!

Saints-Row-2-PC-Game-Free-1024x576.jpg

As the new Saints Row games come to GOG, Saints Row 2 is being given away for FREE for a LIMITED TIME! That’s right, head over to GOG.com in the next ~39 hours to grab your FREE download of Saints Row 2. This is obviously for the PC version, and it looks like GOG is also having sales on other Saints Row games and other games from Deep Silver. That’s hours of wild and zany Saints Row fun for nothing 🙂

Skyforge: Free-to-Play MMO on PS4 and PC

Skyforge-screenshot-1

I’m currently tearing myself away from Skyforge just long enough to write my first real entry on this blog. I’ve been wanting to start this blog for a few weeks now, and actually began a similar project some years ago but never followed through with it.

Enter Skyforge.

This game is exactly the kind of thing I needed to get started. While trying out the free week of ESO (Elder Scrolls Online), I unfortunately found myself getting bored with it after a few evenings. I actually went to PSN (the PlayStation Network) to download Final Fantasy XIV when I saw Skyforge in the “featured” section. As I usually do, I quickly scrolled away to find was I was looking for, ignoring the marketing ploy, but something about the image intrigued me. After starting the FFXIV download, I went back to check it out. The short video didn’t overly impress me, but it did intrigue me.

I clicked through, and seeing that it was a free-to-play MMO I figured it would be worth downloading and giving a shot. After going for a walk and returning home, I was pleased to see the download had already finished, which seemed awfully fast. Without further ado, I fired it up and got started.

It’s been a little over 3 hours and I’m still impressed by every new thing I learn about this game. The creators seem to have struck an excellent balance with just about every aspect. The graphics are appealing, the HUD (heads-up display) is simple and clean, the story is unique and interesting, there’s decent voice acting, the gameplay adds a good amount of action to an MMO, and most recently I was impressed with the background music on a mission that reminded me of 8-bit era techno.

That’s not to say this game is perfect. A little online research showed me a 6/10 rating from Steam. The animations and graphics aren’t super polished. Some parts look choppy, unfinished, or just plain silly. But overall the graphics (especially the environments) are stunning and easy to look at. I also had some trouble figuring out what I was supposed to be doing in some of the menus, though overall the menus are much less overwhelming than other MMOs. They seemed to have tried hard to streamline and trim the fat with this game, letting you focus more on the game itself. This sometimes goes too far, as I couldn’t find how to log out, and it looks like other people online have been confused about this too. Maybe you don’t log out? If so, that’s a streamlined way to do it, but also confusing. The only other complaint I have with this game so far is I’ve noticed a clear mistake where the PC version was not translated to the PS4 version, being asked to double-click something. This isn’t a big deal, but I’m sure there will be more instances like this. It should be noted, however, that the PS4 version at least is still in alpha/beta.

But with the negatives aside, I just played 3 hours of a F2P console MMO and want to go back for more. I couldn’t say this about ESO, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever had this much fun out of the gates with an MMO (it took me quite a bit of warming up to get into FFXI and WoW). I downloaded Skyforge out of the blue, fired it up, and got right into an intriguing story and was thrown into combat. No fetch quests, no lengthy tutorials, just a streamlined entry into a populated world.

Hero creation was quick and easy. Like many other things, it has clearly been streamlined but still leaves enough options to do what you want. Whereas other MMOs I seem to spend an hour just making my toon, or make a generic character with plenty of identical twins online, Skyforge let me create what I feel is a unique guy in about 10 minutes. He looks cool, kind of like me, and I was off to the races pleased with my avatar.

You’re thrown straight into a combat mission as I said, with a nice little cutscene intro. As I also mentioned previously, there is an impressive amount of voice acting where most MMOs would simply have you read, and plentiful cutscenes are a nice change of pace and make the game feel like a high-quality production (even if the animation and talking sometimes looks silly or incomplete). I did notice many of the voiceovers seemed to cut out before finishing the last word, which was odd and a tad annoying, but I assume they’ll iron that out before long.

While getting my feet wet with the intro, I was impressed with the blend of action and MMO gameplay. Clearly the game is an MMO, but the controls, animation, and timing feel much more like an action game than many other MMOs out there. Your character doesn’t auto-attack, it’s not just trading blows, you can move with precision and execute combos with almost a brawler/hack’n’slack/MMO hybrid that I thought, once again, was incredibly balanced.

After completing the intro, you are introduced to the “city” area which is the nexus/hub where you can prep for your next mission, learn more about the story, upgrade your character, socialize with other players, etc. I haven’t gotten far enough in to join a party or anything, but assume that’s all pretty standard.

One unique thing about Skyforge is it appears to be more level/mission based that other MMOs. You aren’t in a fluid world where you wander around finding things to do; instead, you are in the nexus area and going out on missions where you travel to an enclosed area and complete a mission. It looks like you can repeat missions and increase the difficulty for greater rewards, and each mission/level so far was a decent size and I found a few secrets off the beaten path. However, this is not an open world experience like World of Warcraft and other MMOs.

So I chose my class, can switch to others as I please, got a mount, knocked out a few missions, did some upgrading, and beat a few bosses. So far, I’m really impressed by the overall flow and feel of this game, with any drawbacks being little more than minor annoyances. I’m excited to delve back into Skyforge and enjoy more of this unique and just plain fun MMORPG. My character already looks and feels like a badass, and his well animated abilities, temporary weapon pickups a la the brawler genre, and quirky little robot buddy who follows me around with funny dialogue, makes Skyforge something enticing to pick up and play for a single mission, or a 3 hours grind.

I hope you enjoy the first entry in Cheap Gaming 2017, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy Skyforge, which is free on PS4 and PC. It looks like this game came out last year on PC, and only recently made it onto PS4, which made sense to me how it would be so well put together for an open beta.

Thanks for reading.