Vampyr and Gravel

Vampyr was one of the games that I highlighted in the June Expansions and it is much better than I was expecting. Vampyr features one of the most interesting level-up systems I’ve seen in a game, challenging but manageable combat, and lightning fast auto-saving so if you screw something up…well, it’s screwed so just try to not screw up. In Vampyr you play as Dr. Jonathon Reid who has vowed to find a cure to save the city’s flu-ravaged citizens-oh, but you’re also a newly-turned vampire or more specifically an Ekon. This premise creates a slightly hypocritical plot depending on how you play, but let me warn you that no matter how good you try to be, you will still end up killing some of the citizens. Unless you just happen to be a perfect Jonathon Reid, which clearly I am not.

My original plan was to play Vampyr two times. The first time I would be the good doctor who doesn’t feed on the citizens and only heals them. The second time I was going to be the evil vampire who feeds on all the citizens and never heals them. Unfortunately the Docks area went awry because of my decisions and I’ve been forced to fight and kill a number of the NPCs so I decided to feed on the poor soul in the above picture to gain XP. It’s okay though, he was conning a little old lady…I think so that justifies that. Hey, on the bright side I’ve completed sanitized the Hospital district. White Chapel is almost as bad as the Docks and I just reached the West End. Hopefully, I don’t screw up the West End.

To level up in Vampyr you need XP, which can be earned very slowly by killing enemies or rapidly by feeding on the citizens. XP does not automatically level you up, though, instead your XP is put in a stash and needs to be spent at a bed. Leveling up will progress the game to the next night and if you haven’t healed the sick citizens they will get sicker and will die after their sickness gets too extreme so if you care about the citizens you have to make sure to give everybody medicine before leveling up. I really like the consequences to becoming more powerful, because the game feels more immersive and your choices seem more impactful to the game world. Some of your choices in missions will cause citizens to go ‘Missing,’ which means that they’ve likely turned into a vampire, werewolf, or joined the Priwen Guard, so you have to hunt them down and kill them. I have unfortunately had to kill four or five of the citizens because of this mechanic. And don’t think that you can just reload a previous save to fix these mistakes. Every time you make a decision the game automatically autosaves and there is only one save file. A lot of players probably hate this, but I actually admire the developers for designing Vampyr this way, because it makes the game feel even more immersive like I previously stated.

Vampyr‘s combat is challenging, but also satisfying. The combat is similar to Dark Souls or The Surge. Vampyr‘s combat feels a little bit easier than combat in The Surge making combat more manageable and satisfying. You can choose to use two melee weapons, a two-handed melee weapon, or a melee weapon and a firearm. Some of the off-hand weapons can stun enemies. If you whittle the enemy’s white bar empty you will be able to bite enemies which will refill your blood. You need blood to use many of the vampire abilities. The combat is somewhat deep and too much for me to explain here, but the gist is that Vampyr‘s combat is fun and challenging.

In my opinion, Vampyr is one of 2018’s must-play games. Vampyr is available on Steam for $49.99.

View Vampyr screenshots.

Vampires are cool, but maybe you are looking for a casual off-road arcade racer. If that’s the case you should check out Gravel. Gravel is available on Steam for $49.99Gravel is extremely fun and doesn’t require the skill that games like Project Cars and Dirt Rally require. It also doesn’t require an internet connection like The Crew although the driving does feel very similar to The Crew. I don’t have much to say about this game, because it’s essentially just another racing game, but this time everything is off-road. The Alaska races are the best. Just look at this jump:

View Gravel screenshots.

Steam Database

With the Steam Summer Sale underway, you are probably scouring the Steam store looking for great deals, but what if I told you that there was an easier way to do that. Instead of browsing Steam’s poor store design use the Steam Database. While Steam opts for a design that looks ‘cool,’ the Steam Database opts for a design that is actually useful. The Steam Database isn’t an entirely separate store. You are indeed still browsing the Steam store.

If no filters are active, the Steam Database will display Today’s Highlighted Deals followed by More Highlighted Deals and then games that are currently Play For Free! You can easily see the discount percentage, the price, the rating, when the sale ends, how long ago the sale started, and how long ago the game released. Hovering over a game (see BattleBlock Theater in image below) will inform you of the game’s highest recorded discount. This can also be seen in the color around the discount percentage. The green boxes indicate that this sale is normal, the blue boxes indicate that this is the new highest discount, and no box indicates that this discount is lower than the highest recorded discount.

There are some really nice filters. You can choose which games are displayed based on price, discount, and/or rating. You can also choose to show new discounts only, show wishlisted games only, and to hide owned games. By default your owned games and wishlisted games will not be highlighted on Steam Database. You will need to download an extension and link your Steam account. The Steam Database will pop a message and inform you how to do this if you have not already connected. Connecting is entirely optional, but you should definitely do so for the functionality that is added.

When you connect your account you will be able to view your profile complete with statistics that will make you realize that you have probably wasted a lot of money on games that you will never play. Apparently, I have almost 100 games that I’ve never played. I really like the average price per hour statistic and feel pretty good about $3.98, but I am interested to see how much higher that number is after the sale ends on July 5.

I have saved the best part for last, though. How many times have you opened Steam only to say, “I have no games to play?” and then you either play Borderlands (or your go-to-game that you’ve played way too much) or you just turn off your computer don’t play anything? A lot of times I’m sure. Even though there’s allegedly 100 games that you’ve never played and probably a lot more that have only been played for a couple hours. The Steam Database thankfully will recommend games for you to play. Discover your hidden library gems!

Steam Database Homepage

Steam Database Sales

More Adventures of Vant-aj

I’ve just gotten back to the United States from travels to New Zealand and I’ve got a lot of gaming and eating buffalo wings to catch up on. Before I left on my trip, I spent another 10 hours playing The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), but did not have time to write this article.

  • Joined the Fighter’s Guild.
    • The Guildmaster is an an Argonian named Sees-All-Colors.
    • Argonians have stupid names.
    • Vant-aj is not racist.
  • Cleared Del’s Claim.
    • Vant-aj claimed Polinus.
  • Saved Silsailen from the Veiled Heritance attack.
    • Vant-aj wears Veiled Heritance gear not because he is a member of the Veiled Heritance, but because it is the best loot that he has.
  • Came across a town called Phaer.
    • Ceborn warned Vant-aj not to enter because of a plague.
    • Vant-aj ain’t afraid of no plague.
    • There was a vampire in Phaer.
      • No real plague.
    • Vant-aj killed the vampire with silver bolts from his Dawnguard Vampire Hunter crossbow.
      • The vampire’s name was Dr. Jonathan Reid.
        • Editor: Nope! That’s incorrect! The vampire’s name was Tancano.
  • Saved Dawnbreak from a Daedric attack.
  • Helped Baham rescue the College of Aldmeri Propriety from the Veiled Heritance.
    • Vant-aj is attracted to Baham.
    • Vant-aj will stay in touch with Ilara.
    • Baham is not attracted to Vant-aj.
  • Destroyed the Daedric Portals and defeated the Veiled Queen in Auridon.
    • Vant-aj discovered that staffs are quite epic. Why has Vant-aj only been using daggers up to this point?

Seriously, though–staffs are epic and really help mix up the gameplay. Vant-aj will continue to be a dual-wielding dagger tank, but he will also be using staffs from time to time, because ESO allows players to have two weapon loadouts, which can be quickly selected in combat by clicking left on the direction pad. Be sure to note that this changes your entire loadout so make sure to equip your second ability bar with abilities.

Vant-aj invites you to a concert on the hill


Don’t worry. You won’t catch Vant-aj sitting on a Lore Book any time soon, because I am taking a slight break from ESO to play Vampyr.