We all have our vices
I still firmly believe that one of the greatest upsides of being a PC gamer are the twice annual fire-sales hosted by Steam. Those sales, alongside the multitude of other deals and bargains that can be scooped up from Humble Bundle, GoG, and other online retailers at any time during the year are what makes PC gaming so attractive to me. Sure, the upfront cost of outfitting a PC with a beefy videocard and the ridiculously large quantities of RAM needed to hang in the overspec’ed world of PC games can be ghastly. But, the ultra-deep discounts provided by these sales will more than make up for it in the long term. If you’re willing to wait six months or so, you can pick up games for a fraction of the cost and enjoy the best possible versions of them (often with mods and expanded content).
Of course, that only counts if you actually play the damn things.
Like so many others, I have a crippling backlog of games desperately waiting for me to give them a smidgen of attention. Like some Victorian-era affection-withholding father, I deny them. Despite a backlog of titles I’ve never installed let alone completed, I still spend most of my time with a few well-worn favorite multiplayer games and RPGs, snubbing all of those choice titles I scooped up on sale and through the magic of neglect, turning a righteous savings into a waste of money.
So of course I made another rash of poor choices during this Steam Summer Sale and picked up a boatload more.
It’s embarrassing, but I just can’t bring myself to pass up a deal. So to try and realign my sense of priorities, I’m going to catalog exactly what I picked up, and try to place it on the embarrassment spectrum.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Embarrassment factor: A Neville Chamberlain ass-tattoo
From the moment I first laid eyes on Wolfenstein: The New Order I thought “that looks like a great game!” followed almost immediately with a second thought “I’ll wait for a Steam Sale.” And so it was.
Yes, I know, I’m the kind of scumbag that disincentivizes publishers from backing games like Wolfenstein, and I feel bad about that, really. But I know in my heart of hearts that between work and every other game tugging at my arm, I will probably never find the time to run through a single player shooter, no matter how much fun the nazi-murder spree looks. At least it’s there for me now if I ever re-watch Jin-Roh and feel compelled to dump a belt-fed machine gun into a human wall of Wehrmacht.
Long Live the Queen
Embarrassment factor: Mortified monocle dropping
Look, sometimes I buy games because I think they might be fun to play with my girlfriend. Stop judging me. Also, the trailer was cute, and it was $2.00, and sometimes I like nice things, and you’re going to stop judging me right now or I will cut off your head and parade it around court on the end of a pike.
Embarrassment factor: Serving with pride
I don’t think I need to make excuses for wanting to ride atop a glorious mobile trench/mecha, obliterate endless waves of lethal cathode ray enemies with ridiculously oversized cannons, and sport a splendid hat while doing so. If you don’t understand the self-evident joy of such things, we’re just never going to see eye-to-eye.
Embarrassment factor: Muttering about mutiny
Sunless Sea looks like Darkest Dungeon, but on the water, so it’s bound to be a delightful time. The embarrassment factor isn’t too high here because I’m sure I’ll get some play out of this one and I love to support indie devs like Failbetter Games. Besides, any game recommended by our very own Ben Davis has to be worth a look.
Borderlands 2: GOTY
Embarrassment factor: C:/My Documents/DankMemes
Ever hear of the sunk cost fallacy? Well this is it. I loved Borderlands 2, played through the main campaign with my brother, did a bunch of co-op and challenge stuff with Dtoid’s StriderHoang, and bought the big dumb fancy DLC pack. Problem was, I did most of that playing during the first three weeks of the game’s launch and never quite got back to all that expensive DLC. This is why you never buy the season pass folks.
It’s always loomed over me and I’d like to revisit those characters and see all that content I missed, but most of my 360 friends have moved on to other consoles and it’s not like I’m going to solo another character through the game, that’s not how I get down with Borderlands. But, the Steam sale gave me and my brother a chance to grab the game on the cheap on our PCs, so we can delude ourselves all over again that somehow we’ll find 30 hours of mutually schedule-friendly time to plunder, raid, and explode all over Pandora again. Look forward to next year when I tell you all about how I picked up the Pre-Sequel Definitive Edition on the cheap and will toootally play through it.. Sometime.
Westerado: Double Barreled
Embarrassment factor: I aim to misbehave
No embarrassment here. Everything I hear about Westerado makes it sound like a hell of a game. Rustlin’ cattle, solving mysteries, and laying down the law by whipping out a gun mid-dialog scene, these are all things I can stare at over the horizon and give a knowing nod.
Embarrassment factor: WHEEEEEE!
Mea culpa. I did not do the research before I bought this game and I just assumed that you played as the deer wearing socks that you always see in the screenshots. 100% of my purchasing thought process was based on loving the idea of a deer wearing socks. Sadly, you do not play as a deer wearing socks. On the plus side, it’s a beautiful, charming, and magical experience and all that… Sigh, I really wanted to play as a deer wearing socks.
Embarrassment factor: File not found
The only embarrassment here is that I didn’t pick up The Fall sooner. Seriously, this is a gorgeous indie game about a possibly malfunctioning robot-suit trying to save his unconscious pilot while stranded on a planet populated by insane drones and fascist super-computers. Just saying that last sentence out loud activates my saliva glands.
Payday 2 DLC: Clover Character pack, Alesso Heist, and the Butcher’s BBQ pack
Embarrassment factor: A poster of Waingro in the family room
I picked up Payday 2during last summer’s Steam Sale and it was a gift that kept on giving. Surprisingly fun co-op heisting with months of content patches and bug fixes behind it, and I picked it up for a song. I ended up playing it for months before my attention drifted and I don’t think I ever spent more than $15 or $20 on it all told. With that in mind, even though I’m living on the straight and narrow now, I thought it might be a good idea to pick up some of the cooler looking DLC bits I’ve missed just in case the bastards ever pull me back in.
See, smooth over the truth enough and you can justify something as dumb as buying DLC for a game you don’t even have installed any more. That’s the kind of moral flexibility the Payday crew can respect.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Embarrassment factor: Listening to “Love Deterrence” by Paz Oretga on loop
It’s Metal Gear for like $5.00, how could I not? I know, buying Ground Zeroes is essentially paying for the privilege to play a demo of The Phantom Pain (which is not too far away from coming out itself now), but you know what? The demo from Metal Gear Solid back on the PS1 was dope as hell and I ended up playing it over and over again FOR HOURS. That demo was basically a loading dock and the front yard of Shadow Moses, so imagine the kind of fun I can wring out of an entire military base.
Again, I miss demo discs.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Embarrassment factor: Mistaking a shadow for a ghost and making a little yelping noise
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks like a positively beautiful mystery/horror game that will sit in my Steam backlog with pride. I’ll be glad it’s there, and think of playing it often. “Maybe around Halloween” I’ll say. But then the month will come and some big name title will drop hoping to get a jump on the November rush, or Team Fortress 2 will do some adorable ghost themed event and I’ll end up plugging hours into an eight year old game again, and poor Ethan Carter will be forgotten. Left to haunt my backlog forever.
More like The Vanishing of my Free Time, am I right? Wait, no, that doesn’t make much sense. I’ll show myself out.
Embarrassment factor: Closing your eyes in the theater and hoping no one notices
Oh man, I hope I don’t lose this one to the backlog, because so far it’s pretty great. Alien: Isolation is one of those games I was really interested in at launch, but just couldn’t bring myself to cough up $60 for it. Now that I’ve had a chance to play it, I’d say it probably would have been worth the full sticker price (but I’m much happier paying the $10 or so it ended up costing me).
The best part of the game so far has just been noodling around the station, checking out all the little touches and messing with the retro-future computers and technology. It’s a lot like Gone Home, only instead of being “a little spooky” it’s a full-on assault on the nerves that ratchets up the tension until finally skewering you on the end of a Xenomorph’s spiked tail. I’m still holding out hope that Amanda will just find some nice girl to elope with and get out of the station.
Marine Sharpshooter 2
Embarrassment factor: Marine Sharpshooter 2
I didn’t buy this one. A friend “gifted” me a copy, and oh what a gift. Marine Sharpshooter 2 apparently came out in 2004, but after five minutes in it’s muddy, jagged jungles, you’ll swear it was 1999 all over again. With what I would describe as a “generous” Metacritic score of 52, it doesn’t have many upsides. So of course I immediately installed it instead of any of the other many fine games I spent actual money on. In the clinical world, this is what they call “self hate.”