For those who’ve been waiting breathlessly for the latest installment of “Gaming Grandma,” feel free to breathe. Your next report is here.
I’ve slacked off quite a bit on Ingress this winter, partly because I capped out at level 8 last fall but mostly because there’s less incentive to get out and spend a lot of time driving around in adverse weather conditions, and even less to walk around a park somewhere. As if that weren’t enough, the expense of so much driving comes to mind every time I visit a gas pump. (When not playing, I buy gas every 6-8 weeks. When actively playing, that quickly becomes every 7-10 days.) The biggest disincentive is simply that I’ve capped out and other motivation seems to come sporadically — seeing another player struggling to maintain ownership of a portal, getting tired of seeing enemy fields blanketing my house or my neighborhood, neutralizing portals so lowbies have a chance to earn some XP, etc. But then I’ll spend an afternoon capping portals and building fields, only to see them blown up an hour later, and think “This is pointless.” Only to go out again a week later.
Ingress, of course, is for when I’m itching to get out of the house. Which isn’t much of an itch in the winter. So I kept the Xbox One warm with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It was a personal triumph to finish it, since I got stuck on one thing or another in both ACII and ACIII. Played the DLC (Freedom Cry) for quite a while too, but haven’t quite finished it. Why? I got distracted by the Titanfall open beta.
Titanfall is supposed to be the first big signature game for the Xbox One. I’ve had mixed feelings about it (the game I’m waiting for is Elder Scrolls Online) because I’ve never played a military-type first person shooter like Battlefield, Halo, or Call of Duty and have never played a multiplayer on a console. I loved them on PCs, but I’ve never felt competent enough with a controller to want to play with others.
Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying Titanfall, although it took me most of the beta to figure out what was going on. It was so frenetic! Really insane pace compared to what I usually play. Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 were more my speed, for example. But as I began to get a few things sorted out, I found little challenges for myself, like making it to the evac or not finishing last in my group. Gameplay for me was mostly run, run, shoot, shoot, die. Rinse, repeat. But by the time the beta ended, I’d managed to get to level 11 (of 14 possible). A day later I found I was missing it. I hadn’t gotten to try this; I didn’t know about that. So yesterday, with great trepidation, I broke down and ordered the game. I apologize in advance to any team I end up playing with; just think of me as an expendable who will draw enemy fire away from you. I expect that to be my number one skill.
To fill the time until the Titanfall release on March 11, I’ve revisited Skyrim, this time playing a mage instead of an archer (always my first choice). It’s been a different game, already knowing where things are, what to do and not do, how to get a horse and a follower right away, etc.
Oh, and I did try Grand Theft Auto V early last fall. It was getting such rave reviews. But I just couldn’t get into it. It’s hard enough getting into a game that doesn’t offer me a female character to play (which is most of them), but with GTA5 you have to start off playing a young inner city black man. Too much of a stretch for this 70-year-old white suburban grandma. Didn’t like the character or the setting.
Games aside, I’ve been enjoying the Xbox One’s Kinect function. At first it seemed really weird to be issuing verbal commands to an inanimate object, to be speaking aloud when there was no one else in the room. But I quickly got spoiled by the ability to change channels by saying “Xbox, watch NBC” instead of digging the remote out from under a sleeping cat. And being able to switch from watching TV to playing a game simply by saying, “Xbox, go home. Play disc.” My parents would have been proud of me, too. After the Xbox does what I ask, I sometimes have to stifle the impulse to say “Thank you.”