Thursday, October 26, 2023
Part of the reason why this year I am buying more games on release is certainly that I am now spending more time on Twitch. The more popular Twitch streamers make money by influencing me with sponsored streams, playing the latest games. Thus after watching some hours of The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria, I decided that this is exactly the game I needed, bought it on Epic (it's an "exclusive" there), and am currently installing it. The game is a crafting survival game, a bit like Valheim, but with LotR lore and dwarves in a procedurally generated Moria. And the setting interests me a lot more than that of many other crafting survival games, which is why I haven't played all that many of them. What can I say? I have a strong dislike of zombies, which are rather frequent in this genre.
While I am certainly getting "influenced" by those streamers, there is a sort of safety net in that: By watching the game played, it is my own impression on whether this is something I would like that influences me, not anything the influencer says. For example another very recent release is Beast, "a dynamic and brutal gridless tactical turn-based RPG where moral choices during battle influence the gameplay" (according to the Steam description). I watched streams of that, because that sounds like a game I would play. But by watching I found out that "brutal" means that one streamer I watched lost the tutorial and was visibly struggling with the user interface. Partly because the game is using one of those dark and red color palettes that is popular with some developers who misunderstand the term "dark fantasy". Okay, it's not just fantasy, I didn't like the grey planets in Starfield either. Who would have thought that a game that is about exploring Moria ends up being visually more interesting than exploring a planet?
I have a certain degree of trust in some Twitch game influencers. Often the streams are hours long, and it is really hard to fake enthusiasm for that long. And most of them very clearly say what they like and dislike about a game, even if they are sponsored by the game developers or publishers. I haven't started playing yet, but I already know that the combat in Return to Moria isn't great. But I could see with my own eyes that combat isn't the most prevalent part of the game, especially if you follow standard survival crafting game tropes and stay at a safe place at night. It is seeing in detail whether the game parts that are important to me are well done, and whether the inevitable flaws are something I can live with, which make me reasonably confident that choosing a game based on Twitch streams is a good method. I admit the disadvantage is that the streams are on release, which makes me want to play the game on release, and I am thus paying more than if I would wait for the inevitable discount later.