A PC Gamer’s Console Adventure

In November of 2016 I lost my home (and also the brand new PC I had just finished) to a massive wildfire. Not bitter about that at all. Man, the PC was sweet. Anyways, I digress. While working and living in hotels (renter’s insurance pays off, guys!) I secured a console. Even though I vastly prefer the PC, I wanted to play games and didn’t have the ability to go forward with a PC until I had a home again. Thus, I was left in a position I had not been in for years: Playstation, or Xbox?

PC before and after fire
AyYoAugury’s PC before and after Wildfire

I stayed awake for days, frantically searching on my phone. Sweat dripped down as anxiety over-rode me. I felt my hands were two rocks, blindly smashing the LED-screen like a caveman first discovering lewd cave-paintings. Sweaty and short-of-breath,  I settled on the PS4. What swayed my decision the informed reader asked? Why, it was dumb luck. I walked into a local reputable pawn shop, it was $200, and had two controllers as well as a few games. Perfect. I was excited to try out the exclusives I had missed for Playstation. One of the few things that pushed me that way, in hindsight, was that there were only a few Xbox exclusives I could name, and none interested me.

First Impressions:

I knew the transition would be rough to go to a console, but I underestimated how rough. I am used to certain aspects of PC that I took for granted. Multi-tasking is something I do so frequently on PC that I generally forget it’s rather difficult or impossible on a console to the degree I was used to. Didn’t help the hotel’s wifi was a solid 80kb/s, and no I’m not exaggerating. The first game I properly purchased with my PS4 was Battlefield 1, and shortly after Final Fantasy XV. I fucked up. You see, I purchased the disc for Battlefield 1, and a digital copy of Final Fantasy XV. I firmly reiterate, I fucked up. I did not know how slow the internet would be but it took me three days to download it. Lesson learned, and not the console’s fault, but it was a part of my experience.

As a segue I fucking love controllers. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t use them frequently on a PC set-up unless the game is broken without one (looking at you Dark Souls 1.) I’ve become used to the precision of a mouse and keyboard, and I felt truly clumsy with a controller in my hands. But like anything else, a few hours and it felt natural again. I have small hands and that particularly impacted my enjoyment of the PS4’s controller. I do remember how awkward the original Xbox controllers were, and am glad that form factor has dissipated into the dark canyon of hell where it belongs.

Graphics:

Hands down PC wins across the board but that’s not to say I was disappointed. In some games I felt they were a little off, as I’ve been running high-end computers for half of the last decade. Things like load-times did seem unbearably long, particularly Skyrim (of course I re-bought it for the fourth time.) That said, certain titles blew me away. Particularly, The Order: 1886. Though I thought the game itself was somewhere between a work meeting about something that doesn’t involve you but somehow was labelled mandatory, and a root canal, the seamless transitions between cutscenes and gameplay were phenomenal. I’ve yet to see that even on PC. The character models were pretty, the environment was beautiful. It’s worth playing just because it’s so damn pretty, but generic white grizzled protagonist does generic shit a la Steampunk.

Aside from that title though, the score is on PC’s side across the board. I use my console a lot, particularly with friends. That said, I found load times to be bad, distance rendering was nothing more than a few pixels, and that made it hard for some long-term fighting in Battlefield 1. Is this the end of the world? Nah, not really. Inconvenient for someone used to pixel-perfect firing like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive demands? Yes, absolutely.

Closing:

A beautiful, wise, intelligent, and powerful man once said “Playing on the PC can be a god damned chore.” He’s not wrong. I love PC, I firmly support it as the superior system to play games (with a big asterisk next to that, one that’s on fire, and neon, that screams “IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY, TIME, AND DESIRE TO TRY IT.”) Otherwise, a console is more than sufficient for most people, and that’s fine. Just because I prefer the color red doesn’t mean anyone else who doesn’t like red the most is fucked in the head. Except for people who like yellow. I question them.. Shady happy fuckers.

A PC is love/hate relationship. Sometimes you just want to start up a game and it’s got to update the game, update drivers, or verify the integrity of the game’s cache. This is something that’s just learned over time to deal with. At this point I pay enough attention to the games I play to know when updates go live, and I queue them overnight while I sleep. If I am not sleeping I’ll hang out on Twitch, play an offline game, watch YouTube, watch Netflix, read articles, check reddit, etc etc. I’ve become accustomed to be able to multi-task even with a low-end internet connection, but that’s not for everyone.

The biggest downside is the general knowledge of building a PC, maintaining it, and upgrading it. How do you know what’s an adequate part? You can budget build a console killer for the same price as any console if you want to run a lean system, but for the enthusiasts that might not cut it. I got into PC because I’ve struggled with the middle-zones for years, I’ve always been into the cutting edge, and it’s scratched that itch.

What did I learn?

Consoles are decent for the entry and middle-level gamers that neither have the time, energy, and/or money to get into PC gaming. Some of the exclusives are just downright awesome in their respective ways, but ultimately my heart is in PC, and remains that way after my foray.

AyYoAugury is a pudgy fuckboy with bad taste in music and long hair. Fucking degenerate. Reach out to him on twitter @AyYoAugury.

A Week with the Nintendo Switch

A week ago I got a tip that a big chain store was going to carry the Switch. Woke up way too damned early, did some laundry, and was able to snag the console and a copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. As soon as I got home, I opened up the box and set everything up. Since then, the Switch has surprised me and provided much entertainment, yet it also has changed the way I think about videogames.

Originally, I thought of the Switch as a mobile console that can be played like a home console on the TV, this turned out to not be the case at all. The Switch can be played on the go, but it is not mobile in the way I have thought of mobile consoles for the last 20+ years. It does not fit in any pocket easily, being that it is about 9 inches long and over 5 inches wide. Though well built, the Switch probably would not survive a fall unscathed, like say an old Game Boy, or even a 3DS. I’ve asked folks on Twitter if they do play the Switch, say on the bus or train while commuting, and it seems people do play this on public transport. They also recommended and insisted people use carrying cases and screen protectors, and I would completely agree with them.

Docking the Switch and playing on the screen for the first time was a pleasant experience. I had been playing Mario Kart on the Switch in handheld mode and had not tried to dock it for a few hours, when I did during a race in Mario Kart, I was floored. The clarity and graphics of the game on a 50 inch television slapped me hard! The game is gorgeous and of course, exciting and fun to play. Two player mode on the Switch joycons was something that had me concerned coming into the Switch, being that they are small and not really shaped in a conventional way. When I handed my girlfriend a joycon to play, her comment was “this is really small, can I really play with that?” The small control feels a bit strange at first, it takes a bit for my hands to adjust and realize there is nothing missing and that all of it is there. Once playing, all of that goes away, the diminutive joycons just work.

The amount of enjoyment I have gotten with the Switch right out of the box has been amazing. Handheld consoles are now obsolete compared to it. Sure, it does not fit in pants’ pocket, but it is still playable as one friend said, while waiting for laundry, or on a car ride. Two controls, no matter the size, means playing with someone on the couch is immediately available, and I have to admit, I do not want to go back to one controller console boxes after this. The ease of use and immediacy of play on the Nintendo Switch, whether at home or at work or on the bus, is something I have gotten used to and now want to experience with all of my gaming platforms. Playing Persona 5 on the PS4 feels great, Overwatch on the PC feels great, Pokemon on the 3DS feels great, but now I’ll always be thinking “What if I can take this with me? What if I can play this on a big screen easily? What if I can play this with friends right away?” It has been a week, and already I need everyone else to catch up.