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Battlefield V

All my… what?

I am facepalming over here a little bit, but not necessarily for the reasons you might expect.

First, that trailer is just bad. Not in the “they got a British female amputee in my authentic WW2 sim!!1!” way, but in the very standard “this is an incoherent mishmash of themes” way. There’s a part halfway through when you see a squad of soldiers running away, and I was trying to figure out if they were on my (the viewer’s) team or not. And what the hell was with that “fire twice, then immediately reload” crap? Some people have complained about the Michael Bay-ness of the whole thing, but Battlefield has always had that element. If you don’t believe me, here is 21 minutes worth of Battlefield trailers.

Second, though… ugh, WW2? Why? What’s the point?

To be clear, I have zero issues with DICE introducing female soldiers, amputee soldiers, or any combination thereof. I have no issues with Braveheart-esque dudes in kilts, or people running around with katanas. BFV won’t be selling map packs anymore, so having a wide variety of wacky cosmetics is the trade-off we can expect. I don’t even have any issues with this laundry list of GamerGate-style criticisms. It’s completely fine, for example, that the developers wanted a more “authentic” experience with BF1 and have since changed their mind with BFV.

The one criticism in that thread that rings true, though?

Why didnt they just said right away its WW2 Dieselpunk Alt History something. Alot of people wanna have this anyway but claiming it just as an WW2 game was a fail.

I want that dieselpunk game now. And it makes me question why that wasn’t the direction they wanted to take BFV. I don’t feel that Battlefield should be beholden to “historical authenticity” at the expense of gameplay, but… why WW2 then? Why these specific fronts, with these specific armies, and aiming to tell the “untold stories” of WW2? Like seriously, I’m pretty sure the History Channel has told every damn WW2 story possible, else they would not have had to resort to broadcasting Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars.

What also annoys me is how this trailer and the controversy it generates obscures all the cool shit they are implementing into the game. I have never been more excited to play a Medic/Support in a Battlefield game than I am right now. Towing around gun emplacements is whatever, digging foxholes in specified locations is kinda cool, and the hyper-focus on squad tactics fantastic. I can also see how all of it could be annoying nonsense, especially when the Medic starts dragging your body around and teabags you because you happened to have picked a female soldier.

Not looking forward to that.

In any case, my one hope for Battlefield V, regardless of anything else, is that it returns to the cool stories of BF2/3/4. The series is at it’s best when it generates videos like this one, with a dude ejecting out of a burning plane, sniping the enemy pilot, and then scrambling aboard the now-pilotless plane and continuing on. Battlefield 1 was a very pretty game, but it was also oppressive as shit in a very authentic WWI kind of way. I’m not looking for more of the that.

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Battlefield 4 Impressions

I have spent the past few days gorging myself on Battlefield 4, and feel it’s time to come up for some air and reflect on my self-abuse. As you might recall, I dabbled in the BF4 beta for a hot minute and was none too impressed. That opinion is… mostly still intact, although there are some definite surprises.

Progress!

Lens flare technology has definitely improved.

Right off the bat, the game does not feel materially different from BF3 in any way, shape, or form. The environments are detailed, geography diverse, the physics palpable, and actually seeing people to shoot without an over-reliance on Q-spam is a study in #firstworldproblem frustration. “The game is too beautiful to notice the bad guys.” All of this existed in BF3 to an indistinguishable degree. The “levolution” upgrade to the engine makes for some nicely-done scripted destruction, but that appears to be it. Well, the weather effects are pretty damn amazing too.

Indeed, about the only thing that became immediately apparent in terms of differences between BF3 and BF4 is how DICE continues to lurch further away from anything resembling intelligible UI design. The Battlelog fiasco is fine, whatever. What I’m talking about is how convoluted the menus and unlocks and the rest happen to be. Back in BF2, you earned ranks via XP and received an upgrade of your choice for any class (occasionally there were prerequisites). In BF3, all this was shook up with the introduction of assignments/etc, which had you to unlock weapons/items via the completion of what, in retrospect, closely resemble MMO quests: getting 20 kills with gun X and doing Y twice to unlock Z.

That's right. I took out an armored patrol boat with a blowtorch.

That’s right. I took out an armored patrol boat with a blowtorch. It only had 4hp but STILL!

For the most part, BF4 does away with that unlock scheme. Instead, weapons are unlocked linearly based on XP earned using any particular weapon in that class, e.g. using any LMG eventually unlocks more LMGs. The “problem” is that there is (still) really no incentive to use the newer weapons because you’ll likely be stuck with iron sights and no other accessories (bipod, laser sight, etc). The workaround appears to be via “Battlechests,” which are basically briefcases you earn via leveling up (and sometimes randomly in a match) that contain XP boosts, attachments, cosmetic items, and so on. Unfortunately, the accessories you earn can be for any weapon, including ones you haven’t even unlocked yet, so it’s too random to be useful for assuaging the new weapon issue.

One of the worst parts of BF3 was that feeling of utter uselessness that came with being a brand new player with zero unlocks; not only were you likely bumbling around getting no kills, even if you were in a position to be useful, you couldn’t really pull any of it off with the tools available to you. Even the DICE developers came out and said they “should be slapped” for it.

Well, the devs must have been talking about their BSDM preferences because BF4 proudly continues in that hazing tradition. The default Engineer anti-vehicle tool, for example, is a dumbfire rocket launcher that sometimes-maybe veers towards the roof of vehicles if it passes nearby. Which sounds neat, except this rocket hits like a dry pool noodle. You get stocked with five of them, and all five rockets are required to kill a single tank, assuming the driver is dumb enough to just let you launch five rockets at him. Or smart enough, I guess, because he’ll likely live past the barrage via passive vehicle repair and meanwhile you’ve just spent a full minute accomplishing nothing. Thankfully, the later weapons are significantly better in every possible fashion, but it’s still a ridiculous way to handle the new player experience, IMO.

Shooting lock-on rockets at vehicles while parachuting from 10,000 ft is my favorite thing.

Shooting lock-on rockets at vehicles while parachuting from 5,000 ft is my favorite thing.

It would not be a DICE game review without mentioning the bugs. I would say in the ~25 hours of play time I’ve racked up this far, I have to Ctrl-Alt-Del my way to the Task Manager and End Process about once every 2-3 hours; the Ctrl-Shift-Esc shortcut is apparently not powerful enough to break through whatever memory hole BF4 generates. Rubberbanding is occasionally an issue, although it mainly appears to be a server-specific problem. I have not encountered any obvious hackers, but I’m sure that’s inevitable. I still get in a full round of Candy Crush before the level will load when starting a session for the first time, but that’s been the case since BF3. DICE is saying they’re putting future expansions on hold until they sober up enough to fix the problems, which has to start sounding embarrassing to someone over at EA since that seems to be the case with every game they release.

Overall though? I’m having a lot of fun for my $26 thus far. I’m extremely burnt-out on PlanetSide 2, and BF4 scratches an itch in the way only someone slightly resembling your long-gone ex can. “Remember when you played Battlefield 2 for four years in college?” Yes, yes I do, BF4. You’re not BF2, but you’ll do. For now.

Beta Impression: Battlefield 4

I have been playing the Battlefield 4 beta these last few days, and I’m not quite sure what to think.

40 fps on High without current video drivers.

40 fps on High without latest video drivers.

It certainly isn’t the jump in quality from Battlefield 2 to 3, that’s for sure, although there are some interesting moves. For example, the default rocket launcher has a tracking mode that activates when the Recon class designates a target with their binoculars; this sort of solves the incredible power discrepancy between Engineers that had unlocked the, er, lock-on launcher versus newbie players.

Another interesting change was how they gave the Recon class (aka snipers) C4 charges. While this makes roof-top campers extremely annoying – they can drop C4 at the elevators and wait for the door opening sound for an auto-kill – it also creates an amazing tension in the class. Do you run out and C4 that tank while risking being caught in close-quarters with a sniper rifle, or do you hang back and try and snipe with a tank blowing you and your team up? Giving snipers claymore mines and assault classes C4 makes more thematic sense, but reversing those roles makes for more interesting gameplay decisions. Even better, the thermal Binoculars you get not only lets you lock on to vehicles for your teammates to kill (you get bonus XP when they do so), but it lets you more easily spot enemies running around that are too far to hit. Or, honestly, that you aren’t skilled enough to hit. Just spotting them is basically 1/4th a kill though, and it’s a useful service to do so.

Win-win.

However, some design changes have gone in the wrong direction. Technically, it was Battlefield 3 that “introduced” the concept of the medic class having to actually unlock their core ability, i.e. to revive people, but Battlefield 4 is taking that to ridiculous extremes. It takes 11,000 Assault-class XP to unlock the Defibrillator, which I hope to god is a placeholder value. Perhaps if smaller maps were available it might not be so bad, but actually getting that amount of XP on a class that otherwise brings nothing interesting to the table is a massive chore; not only do the other classes have easier ways of racking up easy XP, but remember that BF4 (and BF3) made the change to a regenerating HP model too. Between that and the near-zero Time To Kill numbers, the ability to throw a Med-Pack is only ever useful when you find yourself dueling someone from behind cover.

That tower is just bad news anyway.

That tower is just bad news anyway.

The unlocking situation gets even more ridiculous when you look at the Support class, aka the ammo guy. While I suppose it was annoying/immersion-breaking when a single Support dude could drop an ammo box and spam infinite grenades over the wall, putting the ammo box behind a 52,000 (!) XP grind-wall is an extreme overreaction. The most obvious trickle-down effect is that it makes every class weaker by extension: what good is an Engineer without rockets? Given how you respawn with full ammo, the smart move is then to play both aggressively and carelessly by spamming everything you have and then effectively suicide yourself for Round N+1.

While there has also been some grumblings over the idea of “Battlepacks” – random lockboxes filled with camos, dog tags, XP bonuses, etc – as someone who played Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer for a while, I don’t see it as such a big deal. Yes, it is a cynical cash grab given how you can pay money to buy those things. However, as far as I can tell, you do not actually unlock more powerful weaponry from these boxes. Which automatically makes them less of an issue than ME3’s lockboxes where opening a rare Widow or Carnifex/Paladin was basically the start of your game.

Beta is beta though, and this one is more restrictive than most. Overall, I can’t say that I’m too impressed. It’s honestly been so long ago that I uninstalled BF3 that I forget if being able to spawn inside a vehicle from the Deploy screen is something new to BF4 or not. And, really, that’s kinda what it comes down to: why do we need Battlefield 4 again? Once all the maps are unlocked, then perhaps we’ll see where the differences lay. Plus, supposedly Commander Mode is back.

But right now I do not see any reason why I would be compelled to purchase Battlefield 4 on Day 1 as opposed to when they bundle the game + first Map Pack together. Or, really, when they bundle the game + Season Pass.

October Surprise(s)

October is shaping up to be a busy month.

Hearthstone is going to have its first (and only) beta wipe coinciding with a large rebalancing patch. And apparently more opt-in beta waves. Which is an important distinction from open beta, which this will not be. The good news is that there isn’t going to be any further beta wipes, so progression for those that are in the beta is going to be permanent thereafter.

The “rebalancing” is of most interest to me (of course), as Blizzard is going to have a thread a needle made out of graphene. I have talked about some of the imbalanced cards before, but the most salient point is that the devs do not have the same access to the balance “knobs” as they do in, say, WoW or Diablo 3. Hypothetically, making the Pint-Sized Summoner go from costing 2 mana to 3, for example, is an enormous balancing change that has wide-ranging repercussions on how (and if) the card is played at all. I would personally change the Pint-Sized Summoner to be a 1/1 or maybe a 1/2; the former makes it a dead draw against Mage and Rogue decks, but honestly, I don’t feel like an Arena game should revolve around whether you have a turn-2 removal spell in your opening hand. Maybe they could change it to be only 1 mana off the cost of creatures and leave the rest alone?

Speaking of digital card games, Hex will be beginning its Alpha testing on October 8th. To be honest, even with the weekly Kickstarter updates, I sorta forgot about the fact that I pledged $85 (!) to this game nearly 5 months ago. And even more honestly, Hearthstone kinda sucked all the oxygen out of the CCG room. For however lame its been to go 0-3 or my most recent 3-3 record in the Hearthstone Arena, at least I could choose to pay $0 for those games; going back to $6 drafts will be rough. The Alpha test will give everyone 4 copies of all PvP cards, so at least I won’t have to decide whether to “waste” all my Kickstarter packs before the game comes out (which hopefully dilute the skill pool a bit).

Although I have not been playing it regularly, PlanetSide 2 is due for a huge optimization patch on October 23rd. I’m not actually all that excited about it, even though the devs are supposedly touting a ~30% gain in frame rates across all types of computer configurations. Why? First of all, this optimization work is at the expense of everything else. Changes to the Infiltrator class? Pushed back. New air weapons pushed back. New continent pushed back. And so on.

A fire was clearly lit under someone’s ass about poor performance, but with players leaving in droves, I’m not sure that chasing after the ones that left over computer issues is a winning proposition. And that leads me to reason number two: it’s all really a cynical ploy to get the game ready for the PlayStation 4. “Cynical” as in they only bothered caring about performance nearly a year after release, and only when the opportunity to cash in on a new market presented itself.

I’m a little bitter, if you can’t tell. Every time I get the bug to go play some more of PS2, I hit Instant Action and am sent to some deserted facility that changed hands an hour ago. And when I do happen to find some action, it inevitably dies down quickly and I’m left staring at the 5, 10, 15 minute capture timer. “Open world” and “emergent gameplay” is nice and all, but when I end up playing longer on my phone waiting for something to happen in the main game, something has gone horribly wrong. Ain’t nobody got time to wait around empty bases.

Luckily for me, and rather unfortunately for Sony, Battlefield 4 comes out October 29th.

I am not really all that certain I will be purchasing it on Day 1, although I had a blast playing Battlefield 3 for the six or so months that I was doing so. Looking back in my archives, I didn’t really talk about my experiences with it all that much. Basically, I see it as PlanetSide 2 without the waiting. While BF3 is technically more similar to Call of Duty than a sort of “open world” like PS2, the reality is that all PS2 brings to the table (or my table, anyway) is the ability to hop into a vehicle or airplane without having to wait/steal it from someone else. Every single other thing is better in BF3 – the shooting, the graphics, the action, the tactics, the depth. Again, technically, PS2 can have deeper strategy via Outfits and the like, but to the average player in the average game session, BF3 can’t be beat.

I haven’t really been following the Battlefield 4 news all that closely, but I find it interesting that the new game modes are being heavily skewed towards Call of Duty. Not that CoD invented any of them, of course, but I am more referring to that sort of play-style. Domination, Defuse, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch, and Rush are all CoDish to me. Conquest is still there in all its glory though, and Obliteration sounds somewhat interesting with its hot potato gameplay. But sometimes I just feel like shooting people in the face, you know? So that’s probably okay. Plus, technically every game mode will be available in all 10 maps, so it is not as though you’re stuck in the same handful of maps for every Conquest game.

Also coming in October: Terraria‘s 1.2 Patch, Don’t Starve‘s final two content patches (October 1st and presumably the final one 3 weeks later), and I guess GTA Online.

Regarding the latter, I am, of course, holding out for the PC release.

Crossing the Streams

I am not going to talk about gaming today.

The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing, but all I am doing is buying games I am not going to play until months later. I mean, seriously, when am I going to play five Prince of Persia games? For $12.24, the answer is: probably someday at that price. The current routine is one farming circuit in Diablo 3, followed by probably ~2 hours of Battlefield 3, and capped off with a game I am actually trying to finish (Greed Inc). When I finish the latter, I will slot a new one in. Or maybe I will finally tire of one of the first two, and suddenly have 20+ free hours a week to rip through my growing collection.

By the way, it occurred to me that I have inexplicably not reviewed Fallout: New Vegas or Skyrim yet. Although I have plenty of material for both, I hate reviewing things months after I stopped playing them. Ergo, those are back on the table too. Eventually.

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is manga.

Cue exit stage left, if that is not your thing. Although if this isn’t your thing:

OMGWTF GTO

…then we can’t be friends anymore.

When I went on the beach vacation earlier this summer, I wanted to some light reading material. Not having a tablet or e-reader, I wondered if my iPod Touch would be enough to read something. Books? Kind of a pain. Manga? Surprisingly well. Rather than go through the hassle of uploading them as pictures and dealing with weird resolutions, I looked around for an app that did that. I found one: Manga Storm.

Like many apps, you can try it for free with an ad bar down at the bottom of the menu screen, or “unlock” it for $3.99 (which I recommend). It basically can search through five separate manga depositories – MangaFox, MangaReader.net, MangaEden, Batoto, and MangaHere – and pull anything in those catalogs for free. You can even download all the chapters, so you can read them later sans WiFi.

The really popular stuff like One Piece and Naruto cannot be accessed for some reason, but a ton of other quality manga can. My recent history includes:

  • Berserk (current to Ch. 330)
  • Gantz (current to Ch. 367)
  • Chobits (complete)
  • GTO (complete)
  • Nausicaa (complete)
  • Sekirei (current to Ch. 132)
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, e.g. YKK (complete)

By the way, if you never heard of YKK, I recommend it. It follows the deeply serene adventures of an android in the most relaxing post-apocalyptic setting I have ever seen. There is no violence or real drama, but it was pretty effective at evoking feelings of future-nostalgia. One of my favorite sections was this one:

Streetlight people.

I bring all this up for several reasons, but the biggest is as a means of soliciting manga recommendations. Do you guys have any? As my history list earlier hopefully demonstrates, I am fairly open-minded when it comes to the medium. All I am looking for is at least two of the following:

  1. Interesting plot.
  2. Good artwork.
  3. Angst.

Manga like Sekirei skews towards the ecchi side of things, but I have zero problems with that. The end-goal is filling in those empty minutes while waiting for a BF3 map to load or for me to get tired enough to actually sleep. Ordinary, or extraordinary; slice-of-life, or epic magnum opus; new, or old; juvenile high school comedy, or Grave of the Fireflies. I want them all, if they meet 2 of the 3 criteria. Or maybe even just one… I’m running out of Angry Birds: Rio levels and I’ll be damned if I go back to Tiny Tower.

P.S. Feel free to send an email (check the About page for the address) with your recommendations if you fear a comment will harm your gaming geek cred.

In Fairness

If it appears as though I am being unduly harsh towards Diablo 3, it is probably because I am juggling at least two other extremely fun games simultaneously: Tribes Ascend and Battlefield 3. My normal M.O. is to focus on one game to the exclusion of all others until completion, perhaps for this very reason, e.g. I start making unfair comparisons. Do I really want to gain 7 levels on the Witch Doctor to get a summon that won’t die instantly to mob packs, or do I want to charge through a photo-realistic shooter and knife that cocky sniper right in his camping throat?

Also, explosions.

This sort of thing just happens.

So what has been going on lately is a division my time between those three games. And since I have already covered my Diablo 3 experiences, it seems only fair to talk about the other two.

Tribes Ascend Impressions

I never played any of the prior Tribes titles, although I know of them by reputation. After many weeks of suggestion, a friend of mine finally convinced me to download this ostensively F2P title. I cannot speak of the fidelity of the experience as compared to the past games, but I do find it quite enjoyable.

The biggest thing I want to mention though, is how HiRez handles the F2P side of the game.

It is, in a word, insidious.

Right up front, they tell you that if you become a VIP member, i.e. spend any amount of money, you will get a permanent 50% boost to XP gains. While I am typically inoculated to the sort of XP boosters that are common in F2P-land, the knowledge that for every match that I waffled on the issue would be half a match’s worth of XP lost got under my skin right away. Indeed, considering that you can unlock classes/upgrades/weapons with either XP or gold (RMT), it felt like a decision between a double whammy or double rainbow. And the $10 minimum buy-in? Seemed reasonable anyway.

And that’s when the thumbscrews come out.

First, there is a “deal of the day” that discounts anything from a weapon to a class to anything inbetween by 25-50% gold. Then, you get a +1200 XP bonus from your first win of the day. So already it is giving me the same vibe I get from Steam, wherein I feel like I need to at least log on for a few minutes to see what’s what. Getting that first win is not always forthcoming, and while you are stewing on an embarrassing loss, you get to thinking about that 240 gold (~$3 at the worst exchange) or 100,000 XP (~29 VIP matches or 45 free ones) weapon that would wildly change the nature of whatever class you like. Or whether you should go ahead and splurge a few thousand XP and upgrade your current gear to get extra grenades or armor or whatever.

The game is still fun, and it is great that you can go check it out for yourself to see if it’s your own cup of tea, but I vastly prefer these F2P game companies to NOT have my number down to the second decimal place. For my own protection.

Battlefield 3 Impressions

Meanwhile, BF3 can have all my digits, if you know what I’m saying.

Now that I think about it, things are oddly coincidental. Freshman year of college, I came to the dorms with my big bulky Gateway computer loaded with Diablo 2. Then I was introduced to Battlefield 2 my Junior year and played it with a depth of intensity that rivaled even my most solipsistic WoW days. And now the circle is complete.

In any case, there were some concessions made in BF3 to the CoD movement – the removal of the Commander role being the largest – but trying to sneak around the backside of a tank to plant some C4 while jets dog-fight in the air above you is exactly the same. Indeed, what has been the most difficult part of the acclimation process is training yourself to ignore the wildly amazing graphics and actually find the dudes you are supposed to shoot at.

Also, you die really fast. Bullets are OP. Until you are shooting them, then it sometimes feels like you’re shooting a Terminator.

That guy won’t be back.

Technically BF3 has the same sort of unlocking mechanism Tribes does – complete with “shortcut bundle packs” for a whopping $40 – although it feels in no way necessary. As much fun as I will have once I finally unlock Claymores, I am having plenty fun already with the “base” classes.

One of the things I have always loved in BF2 that is back in full force is the incentivising of teamwork. Killing a guy results in 100 XP, with headshots adding +10 XP. If you notify your team about a hostile soldier’s location (i.e. look at them and press Q) and someone else kills them, you get 10 XP. Shoot at a dude in cover, while your teammate circles around back and kills him? 50 XP. Help cap a flag? 200-250 XP for making the flag neutral, and another 200-250 XP for capturing it. Giving your teammates ammo or health packs is 10-20 XP per tick. If a member of your 4-person squad chooses to spawn at your location instead of a normal spawn point, you get 10 XP. Reviving a teammate as the medic ahem, “Assault” class is 100 XP. And so on.

In a very real sense, this is exactly the genius of the series. You do not have to be a pro-shooter with lightning reflexes to A) have the most points, or B) make a difference. You can lead the boards by going 0-10 and simply playing support to those with better shooting skills than yourself. More importantly, matches are not All or Nothing, zero-sum affairs. You can lose and still come out with more XP than most of the players on the winning side. This is the way I wish more MMOs were. Things would need to be tweaked, of course, but what exactly is the point of the winners walking away with three times the Honor of the losers? I join a lost-cause match in BF3 and you know what? I fight exactly the same as if we had a chance, because that is what’s fun and I won’t be punished for “wasting” my time.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if I feel the same a month down the line, as I acknowledge that my spiritual experiences with Battlefield 2 might be overwhelming the rational centers of my brain concerning the sequel.

So far, very good.

A Good Problem to Have, I Suppose

Basically this:

I have a problem.

The games on my plate at the moment:

  • Tribes: Ascend
  • Battlefield 3
  • Diablo 3 (just purchased)
  • Darksiders
  • Greed Corp
  • plus about 6-8 other Steam purchases

Since I had already spent D3’s launch date at the beach, I was toying with the idea of waiting for a Dealzon deal to pop up before throwing down. However, most of the old WoW crew are already into Nightmare and there gets to be a point beyond which we may as well be playing two different games. Sure, they could roll alts or bring their mains in to one-shot everything, but… yeah. It is just not the same.

As someone who prefers playing one game exclusively until completion and then washing my hands of it, my present situation is quite vexing. I keep thinking that this is a better problem than the opposite: ala my SNES childhood days in which I wrung Zelda: A Link to the Past dry with 30+ run-throughs because new games only existed on Christmas, Easter, and my birthday. Then again, given the trends I outlined in my last post, I have little doubt that enough gaming entertainment exists right now to last the rest of my lifetime.

And, oh hey, the Thief trilogy is on sale. Let me just compulsively buy that like the little digital hoarder I am. There, stacked up neatly next to the four untouched Splinter Cell games and seventeen copies of the morning edition of the 1971 New York Times newspaper.

One day at a time. One day at a time.

The 5 Stages of PC Shopping

Stage 1: Denial

I just got a new computer about two years ago. Everything runs completely fine!* What would I even do with the old computer? You know those people who buy a brand new car every other year, and how much you hate them? Don’t be that guy.

Besides, you have plenty of indie games and MMOs to keep you busy practically for years to come. Who cares that everyone is talking about Skyrim?

Stage 2: Anger

Why do developers do this shit?!

I paid something stupid like $1400 on a computer two years ago and already I’m being priced out of videogames? I could have spent that money on a PS3 and XBox 360 on launch day and been good for the next seven years! This is why there will always be a market for consoles; what kind of insane person buys the equivalent of $700 videogames?

And when did the computer component world pass me by? “Sandy bridge” my ass.

You know, I had a real handle on graphics card models back in the day. I could explain that a NVidia  8700 was more powerful than a 9500 – the trick was that the first number was a model number, and only the last three digits meant anything important. Nowadays, the NVidia guys are telling me that their goddamn GTX 295 outperforms their GTX 560. Sounds sorta like the old system, right? But wait! The GTX 480 spanks them both. You can’t explain that!

Stage 3: Bargaining

Okay, you win. I spend probably close to 90% of my free time using the computer, and two years is like a decade in internet years anyway. If I just cave and buy a console, I’ll miss out on all those ridiculous Steam deals; the money I’ll save probably makes the price a wash. Nevermind that my computer monitor is larger than any TV in the house… and I really, really want to play Battlefield 3/Skyrim/etc.

I don’t need the bleeding edge stuff. Maybe something that, you know, is done bleeding but still warm. For about $1000.

Stage 4: Depression

I have no idea WTF I am doing. NVidia helpfully says I can buy everything off of Newegg for ~$700 and then build it myself. That’s great… until I start reading shit like this:

Static electricity is the biggest danger to the expensive parts you are about to assemble, even a tiny shock, much too small for you to feel, can damage or ruin the delicate electronic traces, many times smaller than a human hair, that make up your CPU, RAM and other chips. It’s important to use your anti-static wrist strap to prevent damage to these components. Once you have the power supply installed in the case, clip the end of the wrist strap to the outside of the power supply. (Never plug your computer in while you are connected to it by a wrist strap.)

[…]

Installing the CPU, and the CPU’s heat-sink and fan, are by far the most difficult steps you’ll have to complete during your build. Here, more than anywhere else, it will pay to read the instructions carefully, look at the parts, study the diagrams that came with your CPU and/or third party cooling solution, and make sure you thoroughly understand what you are going to do before you try to do it.

There is no getting over the sense of impending doom that is knowing it is possible to destroy a CPU with static I won’t even feel, and can probably launch just by looking at it funny. Christ, I cannot even look at a Micro SD chip without getting an insane urge to put it in my mouth.

There is no way this is going to work.

Surely though, with components at $700 I could find some place willing to build it for me for like $300, right? Everyone tells me its easy, so that should be an easy $300. Except… not so much. Oh wait, this computer looks pretty cool. Hmm, let me check out the comments.

Negative Newegg.com comments make me mistrust all technology, everywhere.

I don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t scrimp on a computer. My current computer was like $1400 at the time, so maybe I should look at the higher end machines and just go for it.

Wow… look at this $1600 machine. Liquid cooling is badass. Alright, having the liquid cooling leak all over the inside of the computer during shipping sounds less cool in the comments. I suppose I could at least look at the Youtube video they provided.

Holy mother of Christ, is that Asian chick just tiny or is that case really the size of a goddamn diesel generator?

You know what? I can’t do it. I just can’t. That thing costs about 1/4th of what I spent on my car, and is about 1/4th the size of the car to boot – at this point, I would be shopping for a new desk just to have somewhere to place a computer, a new chair to fit the desk, and renting a crane to lower the case through a recently installed skylight. All the while praying to any god that would listen so that some component I cannot begin to touch without frying it did not come loose in shipping.

I can troubleshoot software no problem. But I know just enough about hardware to know I will A) screw it up building it myself, B) get screwed buying pre-built machines on the cheap, or C) get screwed buying expensive pre-built machines only 1% better than the half-priced prior generation machines.

Stage 5: Repeat Stages 1-4.

Until I break down and buy something from Best Buy simply because it offers the safety of having a physical location to direct my ire. Not that any of them ever have an idea of what they’re talking about, aside from sending the computer off to Asscrack, Alaska for the next eight weeks.

But hey, the devil you know…

*For given amounts of fine. For example, my audio-out only delivers sound from the left speaker. Headphones work fine, but I have bought 3 different sets of external speakers over the years, and all of them had the same problem. Of course, none of the audio cables fit in all the way, but I’m tired of spending $20 a pop guessing.