2021 has been a challenging year, for obvious reasons, but also in other personal aspects that are not part of this little essay. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I have probably never played so many games in just one year – some of them in Coop and others all on my lonesome. Many of them I finished, others I, or we, aborted. But not only that, I have also managed to transition from PC gaming to console gaming – a long-held goal of mine.
As always, I am pretty late to the party because I have trouble motivating myself to write stuff, despite having the ideas and mentally developing concepts for them. Much thinking, few doing. One of my 2021 issues.
(I am surprised I managed to get this huge Halo Infinite review out the door.)Here is how this will go. I am starting with a story about why I replaced my gaming PC with consoles and a laptop. Then I transition into my experience with said consoles, and I conclude this gaming year review with the list of games I have played in lonely-mode or Coop. Don’t worry. I didn’t go Halo Infinite on every game. I kept it short-ish because the list is astonishingly long.
Do you know the feeling that you occasionally get when watching a gameplay trailer, and you immediately want to get your hands on the game? Like, right now? This sensation does not come around too often for me, and two games managed to do just that last year. One was Outriders and the other one The Ascent, which I am discussing today. I am not sure what exactly did it for me, but probably because it reminded me of something I played in my youth. In 1999, a game named Expendable made the rounds, primarily due to its stunning visuals at the time. Back then, it demonstrated the power of a graphics feature called Environment Mapped Bump Mapping to enamor the game’s textures with depth information and more perceived detail. The core visuals will not excite anyone in 2021, but that game was full of effects and did not hold them back. Expandable still puts on quite a show.
Games like this are a rare breed and seem to catch my eye whenever one pops up. A more recent example of this type of game that I am aware of is Halo Spartan Assault and Halo Spartan Strike – of which I played the first one. Combine this with stunning visuals in a futuristic, gritty, cyberpunk-themed world, and you get The Ascent. Because it is 2021, no game can make do without some RPG elements. Thus, you get to create your character, level up, and collect loot along the way, making shooting stuff more enjoyable.
And enjoyable it is. Once you get to the point where your brain can cope with the twin-stick-shooting mechanics, and you start to both move and aim in the right direction, The Ascent begins to make a lot of fun – especially in Coop. I discovered how the game works with another player, which is always more motivating than figuring out weird concepts alone. After a while, it started to feel right, and I wanted to continue playing weekend after weekend until we had beaten the game – and that is a good sign.
Here is my report on The Ascent in Coop mode: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In a recent blog post (that I somehow accidentally deleted;
thank you to WordPress for having a Trashed section from which you can
restore), I already summarized my first impressions of the smaller
variant of the new Xbox consoles, the Series S. Now that I have had
the Xbox Series S for a couple of months, it is about time that I go
into more detail.
There are a few reasons why I bought the Series S:
Overall hardware shortage, especially GPUs because I wanted a PC
The Series X was available nowhere or only overpriced (even worse
It was the only console of the new generation available in Germany
Before I took the plunge, I was very conscious about what to expect. I
watch Digital Foundry videos regularly where their team
investigates the performance and target resolutions of many console
games, old and new, among other things. From my experience with
connecting my PC to my 4K TV, I was confident that a resolution of
1080p is actually good enough for me to enjoy a game. Sure, I can see
the difference to 4K. But my TV does an excellent job of upscaling,
and the picture does not wash out and become a blurry mess. Therefore,
the Series S should not disappoint. And it didn’t. There is a caveat,
though, and I will address it in a later section of this probably
pretty long wall of text that is going to come.