Living Without High Speed Internet – The Downfall of Digital Game Purchases, DLC and Patches

Before packing up our things and moving to rural  Ohio I was actually excited to be back where there are seasons and relatively nice weather for most of the year.  The one thing I didn’t count on was the complete lack of high speed internet and how it would impact not only my job search (not having bandwidth to post a 500kb PDF resume will make you wonder why you try at all) but also my gaming experience.

angry-y-u-no

I never purchased a digital game until I owned a PS4 and was living in Monterey, CA.  I had high speed internet through the same company a lot of you probably go through (you know, because monopoly is the new word for competition these days).  I bought Grand Theft Auto 5 and loved it as much as I did on PS3, actually, I loved it more.  It was rendered beautifully.  The problem I faced upon the initial purchase was that it was around a 50GB download and my internet, as fast as it was at the time was going to give me this game after taking about eight hours to download the software.

I would then go on to buy Black Ops 3, COD WW2 and many other titles digitally because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that maybe someday I wouldn’t have access to high speed internet.  It seemed ridiculous after having had it since 2005.  The thing that no one seems to think about is that while the games are a big part of your initial experience they also download patches that are sometimes over 8 GB in size on their own.  If you have played any game with online access you most likely have experience with having to wait for a patch to download and install… but wait, there’s more.

You might say, buy the game in hard copy form, dummy.  Yes, true enough – that’s a valid point to fix the first problem.  The patch issue when you have internet that is half a step better than dial-up is enough to make you buy an SNES Classic and find a happy place (Those still exist, right?… A happy place, I mean.  The SNES Classic isn’t even available in most places, I digress.).

You can’t play your old saves on games that don’t have the updated patch.  Your old game saves are tied to the latest patch that you downloaded.  So, if you have been playing Dark Souls, The Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout, Bloodborne, etc. and you own the hard copy disc but you deleted one of those games in order to play something new (Battlefield 1 (76 GB), Grand Theft Auto (76 GB), etc.) you will need to not only install the game again, but you will also have to download the patch to be able to load your old saves.

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I can’t complain in regards to almost any other aspect of life in terms of being fortunate in virtually every other facet of functionality.  I know I am lucky to be in the position I currently find myself.  However, when it comes to gaming and general accessibility to what is becoming a more internet-centralized world, I am at a loss with quite a few people in rural America.

There doesn’t seem to be a true fix for this situation other than demanding better infrastructure when it comes to running fiber optic cable all over the place.  You would think that it would be as simple as using your cell phone provider as a hot spot, but the way they throttle your data speed after a rather small amount is used basically puts you into the stone age in terms of internet access.

This is why I urge all of you to purchase your games in hard copy form. Sure, you will have to deal with downloading a patch over the course of a week, but imagine how long it would take you to download your next 50 GB game and then be greeted with a patch on top of that.

There is good reason to go out and buy your game at a store or however you prefer to acquire a hard copy.  It seems that the reason relates to time travel, because my PS4 is living in 1998.

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The Witcher 3 Will Still Grab Your Heart Strings – And That’s A Good Thing

As I play through The Witcher 3 – The Wild Hunt for the second time I am paying more attention to side quests and taking a new direction on the main quests as well. That is the best part about New Game + (the option some RPGs are giving to play the game again with some new quirks added to the successive playthroughs of the story).

For those of you that haven’t played The Witcher 3 please take this as a warning that…

SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD

SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD

Bloody Baron
When you play through The Witcher 3 and make the less sympathetic decisions this is the general response from most characters… especially The Bloody Baron.

As much as I wish I could play through a game the first time as a complete a-hole and do most of the things that we reserve for the sociopathic tendencies some people exhibit digitally or in gaming – I just can’t do it. Maybe that’s a sign I am a bit more sympathetic and empathetic than I sometimes think I am. Either way – I just started playing through the initial quests and came across the questline with the Bloody Baron… the botchling in-particular.

I decided to attack and kill the botchling this time around. Not only was it incredibly difficult (even on the easiest difficulty level) but it was the exact opposite in terms of rewards and overall effects on the relationship you have with the Bloody Baron. I had no idea that it would take such a reversal from what I had experienced on the first play-through when I saved the botchling.

That is part of the benefit of playing through a second time. The biggest downside to this is that I have been using one primary save file while doing this because I felt that it would keep me focused on one path of decisions throughout the second play-through. While that is true, I found instant regret in saving the game after this battle. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth and real questions about what this choice really does that provides any good outcome for Geralt immediately after. The loot from the botchling wasn’t anything special and the Baron’s reaction when I told him to ‘calm down’ wasn’t exactly surprising either – but it also left me thinking that he will not be much of an ally for me later on as I play through the other quests.

I think I have the heart to play through the game and continue making the opposite decisions from what I normally would, but I can’t help to already look forward to my third play-through just so I can finish playing this game with a clean conscience.

What’s the worst decision you made while playing an RPG in terms of feeling bad about the outcome or how you had to go about doing something?

The only one I can think of off the top of my head is when my decision led to Jack’s death in Mass Effect 2… that one still gets me.

No Internet, No Problem – Planning For Gaming When Online Isn’t An Option

In the coming weeks I will be experiencing something that I haven’t had to deal with in over a decade.  I will be without a broadband connection for gaming.  It isn’t necessarily something that I’m upset about, as it is providing me with the opportunity to live in the geographic region I prefer (that of which I also happen to call ‘home’).  While I will most certainly be alleviated of this lacking high-speed internet connection in the hopefully near future as well – I believe this is a great time to throw this situation into the wild.

Initially, I thought that the most negative aspect of this situation was going to be not having the opportunity to play games like Battlefield and Call of Duty online with multiplayer components.  Then it occurred to me that the primary downfall to this is the fact that I have purchased quite a few games digitally.  This essentially makes it next to impossible for me to download any of these games while I am without a connection.  So, Madden 18, MLB 17, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and WW2, the list goes on… will have to be downloaded and installed before going back home.

This situation is one that many gamers don’t have to think about often.  However, it is worth considering which games you’d like to have installed in an internet armageddon situation.

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As it stands for myself, I have to consider first and foremost deleting the digitial  games that I only play online – Call of Duty and Battlefield – I’ll see you when I have internet once again.  The next to go will be any game that I have played out for the foreseeable future – Madden 18, I wish I could say you were worth keeping (maybe when they fix CFM in 2053).

Which games are left at this point?

My digital purchases in terms of single player games is rather limited (fortunately).

So, welcome to the download family – Deus Ex – Mankind Divided, Just Cause 3, and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

These are all games I own digitally and have yet to beat the story mode within.  I wish I could say I was driven to finish the campaign for Battlefield 1 and COD WW2, but seriously – these are games I wish I could buy the Multiplayer separately for anyway.  Speaking of – I think $30 for these games with only the online multiplayer would be a great way of doing things someday.

Personally, one reminder and the main suggestion I will make is to download the biggest open world games you have with all of their DLC.  That should at least make it somewhat easier to decide some of the first games to take care of prior to moving.

Which games would you download if you were going to be without the internet for gaming?

I must say my first vote will be The Witcher 3 with all of the DLC, followed closely by Skyrim and Fallout 4.

Post your comments below.

Why Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 Are The Best Games of This Generation

The best part about having the base 500 GB Hard Drive on my PS4 is that it serves as a nice tool to let you know which games you actually play the most.

For myself, this is often a mix between a sports game I might be binge-playing (MLB 17 The Show), an adventure game (The Witcher 3), a shooter (Battlefield 1), a game to jack around in (Grand Theft Auto 5), and maybe a party game for when we have friends over (Tetris).
The one game you don’t see is Bloodborne.  It isn’t because I got rid of it or sold it.  It isn’t because I don’t like the game.  It’s simply because I beat the main story (finally) months ago and it took a lot out of me.  I had embraced dying – finally.  The worst part about it was that I couldn’t fully change my play style for a long time.  I grew up in the world of Atari, NES, Sega and other console/PC iterations of games that didn’t care if a game was fair or too difficult.  Once PlayStation and other consoles came out and eventually they tried to make games more ‘accessible’ (easy) and ‘less frustrating’ (stupidly easy).  Bloodborne was a violent shift from both of those things for me.  I had played more shooter and sports games than anything since 2005.  To say that I had been conditioned to play impatiently is an understatement.

This is one reason why Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 are among the better games out there.  It is simply because they force you to dive into the game you are playing and embrace what it is.  Bloodborne might have some of the deepest lore in any game I have ever played that doesn’t actually tell you openly about the lore.  You can go through and kill a bunch of nightmarish monsters and infected people if you want to look at it that way.  It doesn’t change the fact that their is something far darker and more terrifyingly deep in story than the world you wake up into in Yharnam.

The Witcher 3 is an interesting twist because it is the third game of a trilogy that many people have probably never played up until this point.  Not to mention, there are books and graphic novels, etc. that have been around for some time as well.  The story of Geralt and Ciri is a great one to play through, but this game is so much bigger than that story – quite literally.  If you really wanted to pour hundreds of hours into a game to read up on lore, make potions, battle monsters, and complete numerous side-quests – this is the game for you.  Did I mention that both DLC Story Add-Ons (Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine) are among the best DLCs ever created for any game?  Did I further mention that they add at least another 20-30 hours to the game on top of it?

Both of these games are distinctly beautiful in drastically different ways.  The Witcher 3 looks like a constantly updating, living world where even bad weather can make you feel like you’re at a national park.  I challenge anyone to find a more beautiful sunset in a video game than those in The Witcher 3.

Bloodborne’s dark and picturesque gothic/victorian/Lovecraftian world is a thing of its own creation.  It is awe inspiring and terrifyingly engrossing.  I can’t help myself from wanting to see what is coming next – even if there is a creature waiting to bite my head off.  That says a lot about what this game really brings to the table in so many ways.  If you start to realize that you will get killed at any inopportune moment you will finally be able to play this game patiently and enjoy the view as much as the challenge.

Also, Bloodborne doesn’t give you a waypoint to follow.  The Witcher 3 can actually be customized to take away a lot of the hints and helper for getting around in the world as well.  I tend to leave these things on in The Witcher as the world is so huge it would be virtually impossible to navigate otherwise. This is still a decent change from a lot of games that send you on a linear path of ‘Go Here, Press X, Buy This Camo Pack for $0.99 to see next cinematic.)

Whether it’s simply because these games are breaths of fresh air or just great meshes of art and music coupled with the bonus that you get to participate in the respective worlds – it doesn’t really matter. These are two of the best games out right now and you can get both games with all DLC for relatively low prices.

The Witcher 3 – Making You Wish You’d Played 1 & 2

Stay Classy
Stay Classy

I remember when Newegg was handing out copies of The Witcher with GPUs back in 2007-2008 as a way of trying to convince you to go through with the sale.  Many gamers that tried to adopt The Witcher were often left annoyed with glitches and uneven gameplay as it seemed to be a game with potential – but only just.  Others just let this game fall by the wayside because it was a PC title relegated to the loud minority of hipster PC gamers that most others try to avoid (Hey, PC gamers!  Elitism doesn’t help your cause!).

When The Witcher 2 came out I took some notice as I actually had a PC that could play the title without worrying much about performance issues.  Then again, they were also trying to get whoever they could to play the game before the juggernaut that was (and remains) Skyrim came out 6-months later in 2011.

Now that we are finally entering into the first real batch of next-gen titles and there is no Skyrim, Fallout or anything else to worry about – The Witcher 3 might be in a position to convert many of us to share our playtime with whichever title Bethesda releases next.  Here is my initial reaction to the game after about 2 hours of gameplay on the hardest difficulty (Death March).

It is a combination of many games –

Dragon Age in terms of third person control schemes (which could use a bit of refining in certain aspects).

Skyrim/GTA5/Red Dead Redemption in terms of sheer immensity and scale.  The mini-map reminds me more of a GTA feel than anything (maybe Watch Dogs).  The size of the world is similar to both titles as it essentially wants to swallow your soul and make you a part of the Witcher universe. Couple that with a trusty horse named ‘Roach’ and similar controls to Red Dead and you have a fair comparison.

Bloodborne… Oh, we meet again.  Well, kind of anyway.  I lost my first battle against a group of ghouls over 15 times before learning the mechanics a bit more each time around.  If you give yourself the proper time to actually learn the controls (which become close to intuitive – minus the ironically clunky ‘quick selection’ menu (L1 on PS4) you will find that this game is as challenging as Bloodborne, but it is quite a bit more enjoyable for those of us that actually like to feel like we are playing through a story instead of jumping into some sort of world without stories or meaning.

This game has a lot of potential from the get-go simply because there is a story to be had.  There is no multiplayer functionality and that is a good thing.  In my experience as a casual gamer that actually has a full time job and other priorities in life (you know, family, exercise and living in-general) this game feels like it could last for at least 90-100 hours of gameplay without me even thinking I am bored with it.  There is too much to see, do and discover in this game for me to give it a true ‘here is everything review’.  I can say that selling Bloodborne and playing this is a breath of fresh air that makes me want to learn the lore of The Witcher in order to follow some unknown storylines.  Oh… and by the way – you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on the storyline of past games as they fill you in and even include a compendium in the initial games to bring you up to speed.

Did I forget to mention they include a full map of the world, a soundtrack and even an all-too-classy ‘Thank You’ note to we the gamers with the announcement that they will release free DLC throughout the life of the game.  This doesn’t mean that larger expansions are free, but for them to acknowledge any of this is above and beyond what other companies do.  So, props to CDProjektRed – good on you.

In short and to answer your questions about this game here are a few responses.

Is it buggy? – Well, yes.  There are some issues with glitchy video sequencing and some clunky controls on occasion, but those are all fixable in early patches and don’t hinder the game experience.

Is The Witcher 3 hard? – Oy!  Well, I would have screamed ‘yes’ during my first hour or so of getting my ass kicked by ghouls.  But then something started to click and it suddenly made sense in the same way that Bloodborne and Assassin’s Creed made sense as far as dodging and countering and trying to actually be tactical in your fighting.  Stay disciplined and you will love this game.  Get sloppy and it will punish you.

Should I get this game? – If you are looking for an open-world title and you aren’t obsessed with GTA, Bloodborne or Dragon Age… ABSOLUTELY! This isn’t going to cure you from a Skyrim addiction so much… and that is okay!  I am still playing the hell out of Skyrim and plan on it until the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.  The Witcher is the first game (in my opinion) that is friendly to open world fantasy realm people on next-gen consoles.  I have never felt that way about Dragon Age… it was always too waypoint oriented in my mind and if I am in an open world – I want to explore.  That is The Witcher 3 and that is why you should buy this game.