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What I’m Playing — Legends: Heroes of Skyrim (iOS/PC)

This is a virtual trading card game, of which the most famous is Magic the Gathering. This one is considerably simpler, and thus easier to learn and cheaper to continue to play. This is a game with In-App Purchases done acceptably. Look, I sorta hate IAP too, but it’s here to stay. In many ways, it’s the only way to make sure that a company continues to support and innovate in a game. Otherwise, a year or so after launch, a company sees declining profits or no profits at all and pulls the plug on a game, or at least pulls all the most talented staff from it. They do have keep paying people to keep many of these games going. (Yeah, you can point out maybe a handful or a dozen counter-examples, but CD Project Red/Witcher 3 is an outlier, not a business model.) So, my judgment of any game with IAP comes down to “How Greedy Are These People?” Legends of Skyrim has good single player campaigns that you pay for. You get lots of cards, lots of scenarios. You get to try all sorts of things, which to me is more fun than trying just one thing where you can win all the time. It MOSTLY avoids Pay-to-Win in its online multiplayer component. I really enjoy it. If I only have 15 minutes to play a game in a day (a sadly common occurrence), I’ll play this one.

What I’m Playing: Skyrim SE

Skyrim SE—I played Skyrim on Xbox when it first came out, finished the campaign, did the Dark Brotherhood quests, became Archmage—the whole nine yards. Why buy a game I’d already bought? Mods.

Here is where our sneering PC Master Race brethren are somewhat justified in their sneering contempt for those of us with inferior consoles (which cost less than their graphics card). With mods, Skyrim can be pretty. And it still is what it always was: fun. This is what the Assassin’s Creed games have missed. Beautiful art and an intriguing premise can only carry you to a couple dozen million sales. If you want players to pick up your game (for full retail price) a second time, five years later, and put many hours into it again, the game has to be fun.

Somehow, though, I ended up as a mage/stealth-archer AGAIN.