What Are You Playing? (September 2023)

Waypoint began as a website for discussing games in a nuanced, thoughtful, and emotional way, bringing in and sharing perspectives about a hobby that had a meaningful impact in the lives of all who partook. In the spirit of those origins…

To some, a video game is a short burst of fun on a long commute. To others, its an exploration of a whole new world hundreds of hours in the making. Whether it’s the latest free game from Epic, a game from that itch.io bundle you’re finally trawling through, or something you picked up on a Steam sale. Whether it’s a new AAA release, an indie darling, or an older game you’re replaying to find that magic again…

Hey folks, what’re you playing?

This is a thread for sharing whatever video games you happen to be playing at the moment, regardless of the platform you might be playing them on. Whether it’s console, mobile, PC or VR, feel free to share your experience with the game here, how you’re feeling about it now, how others have felt about it in the past, and and the impact it’s left you with.

While posting, please keep in mind the following:

  • Please use the spoiler tags for any discussion that might spoil the story of a game for those interested.
  • Please include content warnings if the game has triggering content that would warrant a warning for particularly sensitive topics.
  • If you want to discuss a very popular release in depth, or if a discussion kicks up about a game that’s resonated deeply with you and several others, please feel free to make another thread about it! We would love for you to have a space for more discussion.
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Starfield might wind up getting its own thread before too long, but

I am pleased to report that Starfield is a real video game.

The character creator seems pretty robust (pronoun options etc.). I was mostly looking for a lime green facial hair option to go with the incredible mustache on one of the presets but never found one. And I think you can go remake your character at a genetic shop, but I’m only 90 minutes in and haven’t seen one yet.

The perk system is neat. You start off with three as a part of your “background” (you can pick your background like Mass Effect and that comes with three starting perks) and buy additional with more skill points. You then have little objectives to complete to level up that particular perk.

The shooting is a little stiff so far but it’s functional. There’s a new lockpicking minigame and a new persuasion minigame, both of which are pretty neat. Flying the ship is a little floaty but that’s…kinda how I would expect a shuttle to fly. Frankly, everything is so high-def that it’s a little difficult to determine the difference between Important Stuff and Junk (and or if you actually need to concern yourself with junk a la Prey - there’s definitely a crafting material system; they just haven’t tutorialized it yet).

Visually, it’s undoubtedly a Bethesda game. It’s not a bad-looking game (quite the contrary, frankly), but there’s something about the bones of the Creation Engine that make games look a certain way and that’s definitely true here. Facial animations are still pretty firmly parked in the Uncanny Valley (I don’t think they did pcap a la BG3) but, so far, everything runs really smoothly and there aren’t any mysterious goats on my ship or anything of that nature. No crashes. I think maybe one little hiccup in the framerate. It’s obviously very early yet, but the extra time and Microsoft’s development muscle seem to have smoothed out some of Bethesda’s usual wrinkles.

Story-wise (and this is like, the first 20 minutes of the game), if finding a mysterious artifact that fills your head with weird visions that kicks off an adventure to figure out what that artifact is all about sounds familiar…you’re not wrong. But it’s a Bethesda game. I imagine there are a bunch of stories out there to see.


I got Sea of Stars last night for surprisingly more money than I expected ($35), which is still half what a AAA game goes for now. I’m only an hour in but it’s as good as the demo, maybe slightly more so. I just love a top-down pixel RPG game and this is definitely one of those.

I’d say it’s probably a bit better looking than last year’s Chained Echoes but not enormously so, it’s possible we’ve hit a kind of upper limit for SNES-inspired 2D pixel art games. (Though Eastward from 2021 was really quite special.)

Definitely curious where the story will go, since it could easily just follow RPG cliches and I’m honestly feeling like you can do much more with this format and structure.

The game feels like it could get very challenging if you fail the Mario RPG timed hits and timed blocks. But death is largely a slap on the wrist, you just need to survive two turns and your character comes back with half health. Which also makes me feel like I’ll never use healing items because I’ll start demanding technical excellence from myself versus strategic concerns, ever the bugbear of adding action to RPGs…


Finished my initial run of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon. It’s my first AC game, and wow, I can’t believe I haven’t messed with this series before! Just the combination of speed, weightiness, and brevity of action is just so addicting. I do feel a little outside the discourse, however, as I never really struggled too much with any sortie or boss. Like, I had the usual struggles with Baltheus, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing. Perhaps NG+ will have more challenge, but I certainly haven’t had to gird myself to nearly the same degree as Elden Ring or Sekiro.

In any case, once the current new game deluge slows down, I’ll be looking for ways to play past games in the series. I’ve been mecha-pilled!


Fighting Game Update!

Guilty Gear Strive

Season 3 hasn’t changed too much for me other than I’m starting to play Testament on ranked now. Holy shit, having such an egregious anti-air like Testament 6P makes everything so much more controllable. I’ve been the annoying one carrying the opponent to the corner, then standing at the timer and patiently waiting, I fucking love this shit :smile_cat:

Street Fighter 6

This game still confuses me, but I’ve made some progress with Marisa. More importantly, I starting playing a bit of Ryu in hopes having a zoning tool and more anti-air options would help ease the mental stack a bit. I am trash at Ryu but I feel gains already. Big thing about Street Fighter is I feel I need to do so much more homework than I do with Guilty Gear. So many situations pop up that you just need to have an answer or you’re leaving so much advantage on the table and I’ve needed to put considerable time in the lab. Still enjoyable.

And for another game:

Harmony: Fall of Reverie

This is the visual novel Dontnod release a month or so ago. I’ve played through the game once so far, and I really like it. The writing’s sharp, I love a lot of the character work. I think most of it’s themes land well. Also, the art is really quite sharp. Looking forward to a second playthrough and would love for some more VN’s from Dontnod in the future!


I think the difference I’ve felt with AC6 is that the delay between meeting too much resistance from a given mission or boss, and me being able to swap out my build to respond, is a matter of minutes.

No boss in AC6 that I’ve encountered so far has been immune to mixing things up. Also, the checkpoints and short mission length really add to the focus and tightness that this game has in spades, and what I missed from modern From games that aren’t Sekiro.


After completing FFX-2 early last month, I took a brief break from games for a couple of reasons. First, because I started at a new job, a transition that is always a big energy drain, and second, to give myself some space before starting one of my most anticipated games of the year, Armored Core 6. Well, unfortunately fate had a different plan. A couple of days before AC6 came out I injured one of my index fingers pretty severely while cooking. I won’t get into the grisly details, but it will be at least a month before I can comfortably grip a controller. I guess I can wait another month to play AC6!

Anyways, last week I was getting the gaming itch and started looking through my Steam library for a game I could easily play with one hand. I landed on Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and I’m glad I did. What a game! RGG Studio are just unmatched when it comes to writing their protagonists. This is like the 7th time they’ve just knocked it out of the park for no reason! They make it look easy! Ichiban has a similar origin story to Kiryu, but has a completely different outlook on life. Kiryu is stoic and reserved, while Ichiban is goofy and outgoing. Kiryu is a lone wolf who will do anything for those he loves, while Ichiban is a team player who graciously accepts help. The story is working with the same tropes as previous games, but Ichiban’s perspective has been a breath of fresh air. I’m excited to see them bounce off each other in Infinite Wealth whenever that comes out.

The game play side of things is also really great! I’m not an expert in this style of turn based RPG, but it clearly was made with a lot of care. (Which makes it even stranger that people still seem to take their April fool’s gag at face value…) The fights are not too punishing so far, and it hasn’t been too grindy either. I’m enjoying the job system mechanically, though I could do without the icky gender essentialism!

Anyways, the game is good so far! Hopefully it keeps up this level of quality for its duration.


Been playing Final Fantasy XVI. Liked it up to a certain point then the main story takes a crap and replaces all the great villains with shitty ones that have no personality, connection to the main character and drone on and one about the same nonsense. I don’t care. I’ve been enjoying the side missions more than the main ones and I think I’m going to skip cutscenes whenever the villains come on because they aren’t saying anything of value.

Game should have ended like 15 hour ago. Can this new update remove the back 3rd of the game?


So, after a very busy week, I got around to installing Baldur’s Gate (yes, the original - although this is the Enhanced Edition by Beamdog, which has extra affordances and apparently additional quests which are of variable quality).

I have to say, so far it’s not exactly grabbing me: the voice acting for everyone is… passable (the brief time I had with BG2 before I decided to just go back to the original first had David Warner easily out-act everyone else in the first two hours), mostly you just wander around maps and kill things that attack you.
The writing is also in that phase of D&D where everyone speaks in cod-Medieval English with awkward syntax and too many overly-familiar "thy"s and "thine"s.
Oh, and the “we have to show you the char sheets for everyone” feature spoils what would otherwise be surprises (that the first strangers you meet you want to join your party are clearly untrustworthy characters - a Neutral-Evil fighter/thief and a Chaotic Evil (!) Necromancer)… leading me to just move all their items to my own character and Imoen’s inventory, and then use them as cannon fodder against the more dangerous foes. Problem solved - no more untrustworthy characters, and some extra loot!

Anyway, I assume it grows on you, but at the moment I don’t see why this was the huge success it was in 1996 or whatever.


About 4.5 hours into Starfield. It still feels early yet but it feels more Fallout than Elder Scrolls so far. I feel like it’s missing…something, but I can’t quite put my finger on what yet.

EDIT: I think Bethesda’s games since Oblivion have been of the form “our usual formula and something”
Fallout 3: usual formula + Fallout wallpaper
Skyrim: usual formula + dragons
Fallout 4: usual formula + settlement stuff
Fallout 76: usual formula + online play
Starfield seems to be Fallout 4 + No Man’s Sky.

The thing about Bethesda’s usual formula of “run dungeons, goof off in town, explore” is that Skyrim’s use of dragons meant the game’s big hook was constantly integrated into the game loop. You’d run dungeons to learn Words. Venturing through the countryside and killing dragons would let you use those Words. The game’s story pulls you through the tutorials with the promise of more power. I know people were into the settlement/outpost building stuff; I just found it to be orthogonal to how I like to play Bethesda games and didn’t bother with it (and the game almost never bothered me with it).

The main mystery of Starfield is neat but it’s not super compelling. It’s very MacGuffin-y. I know there’s going to be a point where the game basically says “okay look, main story’s over here if you want it but the game is yours at this point” - I thought I hit it but maybe it’s a little further down the road?

I’m just typing to hear myself think at this point but I think Starfield could use one more little curveball. Don’t know what that is.


I think Skyrim was the first Bethesda game where they grokked that they made, and we’re interested in making, light simulations of fantasy and sci-fi. Every game since - MMO or major release - has been intent on adding systems and features enabling player expression over everything else.

What I often forget, and why I think I’ll be playing Skyrim again pretty soon, is how much heavy lifting the established lore and Bethesda’s implementation of it did for that game. Hell, even the music felt unique and specific to Elder Scrolls. What has kept me from really enjoying Starfield has been that relative anonymity of vibe and placefulness compared to their best work.


The main Starfield theme is tremendous but…like…

I was wandering through the countryside in Skyrim one time and a Legendary Dragon showed up to fight. I called in a thunderstorm and the crash of thunder lined up with the percussion in the “fighting big dragon” theme and it was sick as hell. That’s just not in Starfield so far.

To some extent, I think Bethesda is playing in a well-populated sandbox and they just haven’t quite differentiated themselves yet. If you played Mass Effect and No Man’s Sky, Bethesda isn’t doing anything visually that you haven’t seen before. But the visual language of the Dwemer and the big ol’ statues and all that? That’s all Bethesda and only Bethesda.

And as you say, despite the lack of subtlety, it hits when the guard in Windhelm says that kid’s trying to summon the Dark Brotherhood. That means something. There are a lot of oblique references to the “Colony War” and it’s like…okay I guess there was a Colony War at some point. I chalk some of this up to being fairly early in the game - there’s more to tell when you actually move around a bit


To expand on my Final Fantasy post more. The story quality taking a nosedive notwithstanding, I’ve enjoyed the game quite a lot but it has some serious flaws, at least to me. This entire post is a me problem. I’m at the point where I’m finding stats to be more of a hindrance than a boon. A lot of games, this one included, have stats but they may as well be gibberish. Number goes up = better is all it does. How does it all work? No idea! You going to tell me game? “No!” it replies.

To me, stats in a RPG exist for you to understand the underlying math and mechanics that determine your performance. If you have a screen telling you that you have 10 strength then you better tell me what that number means. I have an attack of 400, what does that mean? Do I do 400 damage per hit? Is having 250 defense means if I get hit I mitigate 250 damage of that attack? No? Then show me why not.

I’m getting tired of games throwing a bunch of numbers at me that have no discernible value. It’s some skinner box nonsense and even then the dopamine hit I get from leveling up doesn’t even hit. I’ve played Baldur’s Gate EE, Siege of Dragonspear over the last few weeks and am now on Icewind Dale EE and I get more of a rush from leveling up in those games because it means something. The game tells me what all that crap means and that’s in service of 2E garbage! I get gauntlets that set my dexterity to 18 and that’s a massive deal and the game tells you why. Getting an amulet that gives me 20 attack in Final Fantasy XVI? Who cares. Yawn.

All this is in service of forced progression. It’s to show that you are leveling up and getting stronger without producing any discernible results. It’s the absence of a designed system.


My Final Fantasy journey continues this time many (and few) years into the future of Final Fantasy XIII with Final Fantasy XIII-2

This is the first FF game I’ve ever genuinely managed to do 100% in. All achievements unlocked, every fragment acquired, every boss defeated, every ending acquired and it took sub-40 hours. XVI took me I think over 55 hours just to roll credits on. We respect a game which doesn’t waste our time with nonsense. This is also the first FF game I’ve played where I didn’t have to grind anywhere specifically. Fragment skills and variety of end game tasks and fragment gathering meant I was fully maxed out about 20-30 fragments before the 160.

It’s a good game! And a great (and weird) sequel. It felt in many ways like they were running with a rough outline of where to go. The main characters of the original are either out, bit part players, or hanging around just out of shot the entire game. Lightning’s sister takes centre stage with a whole new companion and new villain to provide the foil. And what a foil indeed. Caius Ballad might be one of the low-key coolest FF villains with that purple hair and anime eye sword. And that Liam Bailey voice acting giving gravitas to all the fun time-travel anime nonsense. The story itself is fun albeit as convoluted as every time travel story. The central cast are great though balancing an often jovial and silly tone with typical FF melodrama (more in a bit).

It’s clear they took the criticisms of the linearity of the original to heart so this one gives you a MacGuffin called the “Historia Crux” and a Moogle to let the cast travel the “timeline” and this timeline is only marginally less cursed than X, Formerly Known as Twitter, folks. Only joking, it works for sure. It makes the game feel much snappier and takes far less time to explain all the mechanics and settle you in. They experimentation in the party feels smoother and unveils itself much quicker and you’re given a sorta fun monster catching mechanic to really tailor your party.

I also have to give full props to the soundtrack which is gorgeous. They take their cues from the vocal tracks in the original and go all out on that which I love. It’s a really unique FF soundtrack and one of the quickest I’ve went to stick on Spotify. My partner has been listening as well.

I can’t end this without acknowledging how genuinely great and ballsy the ending is. Full spoilers for the ending. They kill the big bad Caius who turns into FF staple Bahamut. You wipe him out twice and Bahamut four(?) times before you attempt to show him mercy and he forces his own death. You rejoice! The big bad is defeated. Some goddamn soft pop music starts playing. Hope has launched the new Cocoon into the sky and named it after a god (no hubris here no sir) and then just as you’re all laughing and joking with SAZH who decided to show up Serah dies in Noel’s arms due to Caius’s Trick. Noel decides at that moment to remember some CRITICAL detail Caius told him eons ago and now everyone realises his death actually allows Chaos to filter out into the world.
By the way the music keeps playing while Serah has died. I couldn’t stop laughing. I actually thought it was a glitch at first so I replayed the ending. No, it’s intentional. I love it. It might be my favourite Final Fantasy ending.

Anyway, what a great game. It doesn’t waste your time and I have to commend them for going in quite a brave direction for the sequel.

Onwards now to the end of the world and bah gawd, that’s Lightning’s music! Lightning Returns! In Final Fantasy XIII (-3)! And Hope has become a child again for some reason. And we’re fighting Snow while a teenager who looks a bit like Serah is cackling away. I wonder what this is all about. Let’s find out.


Picked up the new Armored Core, was really enjoying the feel of it, and then got stuck at the boss at the beginning of the first level. Its veey frustrating since I cant change my loadout or anything yet. Scares me because Im not even at what seems to be the gatekeeper yet. Idk if this is the game or I’m struggling because of my disability but either way a bummer. But gonna keep taking shots bc i did not pay that much money to give up immediately


If you want a tip, get up in its face and unload. The boss is meant to show you that aggression leads to success.

Don’t feel too bad about struggling, that boss is meant to be a bit of a wall.

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It is a HARD boss. The sword has a two-hit combo.

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Thank you both!!! Once I knew the sword has a two hit combo I got it. A total fucking game changer.


So, no spoilers, BUT

If you get the quest “Mantis” in Starfield, grab every bullet and medpack you can and go do it.

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100%. It’s tough, but extremely worth it.