This year has been an amazing ride in the world of video games, especially for me. I joined The Quest Gaming Network late in the summer and was quickly thrown into an adventure of uncovering The Elder Scrolls Online game, due out sometime in 2013. So in short, my year in video games for 2012 can be summed up in three little words.
I love you!
That’s not what you expected, is it? But hey, it’s the truth. Whether you’ve enjoyed my writing or loathed it, you’ve read it, and that means the world to me. The fellas at QGN have kindly extended a welcoming hand and given me “the keys to the city”, at least in terms of being able to write whatever I want – as long as I represented QGN in a positive light (hopefully I have!). It’s a responsibility I have taken seriously. Since I started this summer I’ve brought you articles on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo III, Torchlight 2, and more. Today, I thought I’d look back at not only what I’ve covered for you as a member of QGN, but everything I spent time playing this year, whether it was released in 2012 or not. The following are the games that occupied my time – and likely some of yours, too. I would consider these my top-10 most influential games of the year, not necessarily the BEST ten games. As we all know, sometimes the game with all the great reviews doesn’t end up being your favorite, but the one that, for whatever reason, sucks you in and never lets you put down the controller.
So thanks again for reading. I really do love not only the guys (and gal) at QGN, but all the fans as well. You have helped to power this network forward in ways I’m not sure I fully comprehend yet. You are helping this network explode, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.
1: The Elder Scrolls Online
A game that hasn’t even been released is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about gaming in 2012. From the moment Joe and Evarwyn got to spend some time playing the game, I couldn’t spend any time in Skyrim without wishing I was playing ESO. From all accounts, this game is setting up to be everything I could possibly want in an Elder Scrolls MMO. Story, lore, action, cooperative play, minimal user interface buttons… I want to play now!
To be honest, when I first heard about this game, I was one of those that wasn’t so sure it would work. But after hours of reading and research and talking with Joe and Evarwyn, there’s no reason to think this game isn’t going to be everything an Elder Scrolls fan could possibly want in a game. And the good news is that Elder Scrolls VI is still coming in the future, so not only will we have this monster next year, but likely a new Bethesda epic the following year as well.
In case you missed our coverage of ZeniMax Online Studios upcoming game of the year, check out the following links to see why we’re going so crazy about this game.
Elder Scrolls Off the Record Special Episode: ESO Hands-On / The Elder Scrolls Online Unveiled / ESO Character Development / How ESO Gameplay Will Work / PvP in ESO / Making an MMO Feel Like Elder Scrolls
2: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Number 2 on my list is another game that wasn’t released in 2012, but I think it’s kind of silly to consider this game purely a 2011 release. It may have come out in 2011, but there’s still a massive fan base playing this game today, and still experiencing new content every time they log in! I haven’t put in nearly the hours that some people have (there are accounts of people with over 500 hours in-game), but I have spent far more time in Nord country than any other videogame this year. Setting console issues aside, with two major game updates (Dawnguard and Dragonborn), and one minor addition in Hearthfire, Skyrim is as fresh as ever, and is better today than it was a year ago.
I’m just going to assume that anyone reading this has played Skyrim, so I won’t go into much detail about what the game is, but if you HAVEN’T played it, or even if you haven’t played it in 2012, check it out. With several major patches and the new DLC, there’s a lot more fun to be had. For me, I haven’t put the game down since it’s release. Whether it’s the story, the music, the thrill of sneaking behind an unsuspecting target and taking them down, or bringing down the granddaddy of all dragons, this game has provided endless fun for me. I don’t plan on putting the game away anytime soon.
3: Diablo III
Finally, a game released in 2012! This game could arguably be at the top of my list for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s a great game. Granted, it’s still a work-in-progress, but it’s a heck of a fun way to get your gaming fix. Releasing only a few short months after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (131 months to be exact), D3 is a fast, fluid, action-packed dungeon crawler with all the fixings. Sure there are some end-game issues, we’re still waiting for PvP, and Blizzard’ s forums are crawling with more haters than a presidential candidate at the wrong convention, but the game is fun, looks pretty, and – if you can find it – has some really great loot.
The second reason this game could be at the top of the list is that it’s how I came to know The Quest Gaming Network. I guess you could call me a late arrival, since I never actually sought a Skyrim podast, but when Diablo III was looming, I wanted to know more. Enter Evarwyn, Dave, and Liz. Little did I know that only a few short months later I would be a co-host on a future iteration of that very show with some of those same people, and writing for the network in general!
So if I had to pick a defining moment of 2012, it would that click I made to download the very first Diablo Off the Record podcast. It changed my life. And Dave still probably regrets it to this day… sorry buddy!
4: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Back to another game not actually released in 2012, but like Skyrim, it’s a game that has seen more of 2012 than any other year, and it’s another game that sucked away my evenings and weekends for almost the entire year. When Evarwyn asked me to start writing news coverage for SWTOR Reforged, I was ecstatic. I love Star Wars, I love SWTOR, and if I could just sit my wife down long enough for me to tell her why these two things are so great, I probably wouldn’t need to write about it, but she just won’t sit still! SWTOR is truly the first MMO I ever embraced. I played World of Warcraft, but it never struck me as a game I wanted to pay a monthly fee to play. I just didn’t get the fascination.
But with SWTOR, I latched onto it right away. Granted, I’m a slow player, probably the slowest leveler you’ve ever met, but I love the game, and did from the very beginning. With each Game Update, SWTOR keeps getting better and better, and now that it’s gone free-to-play, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. It’s not the best F2P model out there, but it will at least give you a taste of the game, and hopefully entice you to keep playing and maybe even subscribe.
And come on, what’s better than Star Wars?
I know it’s weird, I’m putting a music game in my list of 2012′s top-10 most influential games. But stay with me on this one. If you’re not aware of what Rocksmith is, it’s like Guitar Hero with real guitars. When you buy the game (PC, Xbox 360, PS3), you get a cable that runs from your guitar’s jack via USB cable into your PC. The songs display on the screen much like they do in other music games, but you’re playing your actual guitar strings to make the music happen, teaching you how to play real songs in the process. So for me, a guy who has backseat dreams of becoming a heavy metal rock star, this game is amazing. In the last few months I’ve learned how to play songs by the Rolling Stones, Avenged Sevenfold, Lynard Skynard, Rush, and Queen. A year ago I couldn’t even play Mary Had A Little Lamb without making my fingers bleed. Seriously.
Rocksmith is unique because it doesn’t require me to think about strategy, character development, or even what controls I’m supposed to use. I just grab my guitar and rock out. And I love it. \m/
6: Planetside 2
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what this game was until about a month before its release. I’d heard Planetside Off the Record, but I never really thought it sounded like a game I’d enjoy. Boy was I wrong!
I haven’t spent a ton of time in the game yet, but the time I have spent in it has been intense. It’s everything I look for in a shooter, with a big chunk of RPG thrown in as well. It’s like the game Battlefield and Call of Duty want to be when they grow up. With a sci-fi setting, awesome guns, and intense, huge battles, not the mention that it’s free-to-play, you simply have to check out this game.
7: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
I know I just got done bashing Call of Duty above, but let’s face it, I love Call of Duty! People hate on these games a lot, and I understand why. Each iteration is pretty cookie cutter,but on the flip side, each iteration is incredibly fun and action packed! What’s great about Black Ops 2 is the revamped rewards system called Scorestreaks. As the name might suggest, it’s not just about getting kills, but you can earn rewards by also getting assists, capturing a flag, defusing a bomb, capturing an HQ, etc. A player like myself (who sucks), has an opportunity to get more rewards simply by stumbling into some points. It’s a great addition that should make newer players feel welcome, since they don’t have to be all-stars from the beginning just to see what the rewards are like.
I did some YouTube recording of myself playing this game, and was going to release it on QGN’s feed, but man did I get pwned! You don’t realize how much you suck until you’re recording it. After reviewing the footage, I realized I needed to get a lot better before doing any major Call of Duty video work, so stay tuned for that in 2013, you can look forward to me getting smashed plenty.
8: Lord of the Rings Online
This game didn’t come out in 2012. Or 2011. or 2010. Or 2009… you get the point. This game has been out for a while, but I only started playing it this year, and with its new expansion, “Riders of Rohan“, LOTRO has picked up a nice chunk of new players. LOTRO is not a perfect game. When comparing it to SWTOR, it feels slow, clunky, and a little dated (which of course it is). But there’s something to be said for the fact that it is the only MMO you can play that is set in the world of Middle Earth. And believe me, if the screenshot above doesn’t have you convinced already, this game is absolutely gorgeous!
There are a lot of fetch and gather quests, but combat is actually pretty fun. Playing as an elf, I’ve been using my bow from a distance (a great distance!) and some combo attacks with a dagger when the target gets closer to take them down. It feels natural, and it feels like my character could really exist in this world. It’s a fun game, and if you’re a Tolkien fan and haven’t tried it, it’s free-to-play. What are you waiting for?
9: Torchlight 2
Much like Diablo III, this game filled a need for frenetic, action-packed destruction. I play this game when I just want to dominate something. I play my engineer and just smash the crap out of anything in my way with a huge hammer. Firing electric and fire bolts out all over the place after each hit just causes more destruction, and it was an easy way to kill a few hours in the evening. One of the great things about this game is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of computer power, so I was able to play at home on my desktop and on the road with my laptop, without losing a whole lot in terms of performance or graphics. If you love dungeon crawlers, then you need to have this game. It’s quite possibly the best 20 bucks you’ll ever spend.
10: Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
A late 2012 arrival, but BGEE is amazing. It’s pretty much the same game you played way back in 1998, but with a ton of updates and tweaks to add even more enjoyment. I bought the game not only on my PC, but on my ipad, and it’s been a ton of fun. Since they didn’t change much, it brings back the nostalgia of playing these old school RPGs, but while playing it on my ipad, it feels like a really cool new ipad game. It’s amazing how something 14 years old can still feel so fresh and new. I’ll be spending plenty more time playing both versions of this game in 2013.
Well that’s it, my top-10 most influential games of 2012. I know I left out a lot of the year’s biggest games (Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2, X-Com, etc), but for whatever reason, these games either didn’t resonate with me enough to consider them influential (for me), or I didn’t get a chance to play them. What are your games of the year? Are there any oldies that you spent a majority of your year playing? If I’ve missed anything from this year that I simply MUST spend some time with net year, let me know! And I look forward to bringing you breaking news and developments for QGN for all of 2013 and into the future. You guys rock, and yes, indeed, I love you all!
Oh, and one more thing…
Elder Scrolls Online!!!!!
[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]Brian Armstrong is a writer for The Quest Gaming Network. You can view all of his articles by clicking here: @SilentFury007. You can follow him on Twitter using that same information. [/author_info] [/author]