Keep on Rockin’ Forever

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the ‘musical instrument’ quest and the shaman’s story in Horizon Zero Dawn DLC Frozen Wilds

Butch:

Hey, guess what? No, not “I got nothing!” I actually played!

Specifically, I did the bit at the dam, which I really should’ve guessed would be at the dam, as I noticed there was a dam on the map right away. Sigh.

Buuuuuuut I don’t have ALL that much because the game MEAed me.

I was cruising. Got through the whole thing, got into the room, saw the guy not find the looking glass, thought “I’m done! Bloggage!” But no. No, no, no. The REAL end of the quest wasn’t there. It was way back at the Din, and I went back, and there were snapmaws, and I was tired so I stopped.

The real end of the quest wasn’t there. I thought we were done with real ends of quests not being there.

But I do have some thoughts!

1) MAN the way they do acting and dialog scenes is good. Like, really, really good. It’s like participating in an actual, acted scene. When we play our next game and have to go back to talking about “facial” animations instead of just “acting” animations I’m gonna be sad. The bit where he’s talking about the mirror and he turns, the CAMERA ANGLE CHANGES so he’s in the foreground and Aloy is in the background, blurry, and it pulls focus so he’s blurry and she’s clear? During DIALOG? Not a cutscene? DAMN, game. That’s some next level shit.

2) Gildun was/is a fascinating character and I really, really want to see how he plays in the end of the quest. I kept expecting him to betray me (he still might). I kept expecting the real reason he wanted into that room to be some evil weapon or something. But no, it really was a looking glass (I think). He really did want to connect with his mother, or her memory, and the fact it wasn’t there truly hurt him, but he didn’t show it. DAMN, game. That’s some next level shit.

3) I really hope there’s one more audio entry from the rock band there, because I’m still not sure what they were doing with that. I know I didn’t miss one, because I have 1/24 through 5/24 without missing any numbers. I hope they put a cherry on that before the quest ends.

4) Holy shit I love this game. I LOVE this game. I want Horizon 2 NOW.

Feminina:

Yeah, that was a bit of a drawn out ending, but don’t worry, it wraps up quickly once you’re past the snapmaws. Which, remembering the wisdom we’ve both gained, I did not even try to kill. Just sneak by, man.

But also, yeah, that was a good quest. Gildun was a great character. I felt genuinely bad for him when it turned out that he really did just want that mirror, and it wasn’t there. He hid it, but you could tell he was really sad. Which was such amazing acting/animation for a game! And I was so sorry for him, I wanted to be all “I’ll find your mirror for you!” but that wasn’t an option, which is also an interesting small twist. I mean, usually in games if someone has a problem, we fix it, right? No matter how small and seemingly insigificant! Your great-grandfather’s missing handaxe? I’m on it!

But not here. Which in a quiet way is saying we CAN’T fix every problem in the world, especially if the problem is really that the guy misses his mom, which our finding a cool mirror for him wouldn’t actually cure. We can’t solve every person’s unhappiness. This game in general has been good at that subtlety…so many of the side quests in the main game (that is, the non-DLC) ended up with us finding a person too late to save them, or clearing some space for someone to mourn someone else who’s already dead and can’t be saved. We do what we can, but we don’t leave people all happy and full of glee.

“Yay, my familial handaxe is back and all’s right with the world!” No.

And there was just a lot of fun stuff to do there, with the climbing, that puzzle in the floor getting water to flow the right way, all the found text about the last Girls on Earth, a bit of combat but not the main focus. Good, good stuff. I love this game.

Butch:

Sneaking past snapmaws is the plan. But it’s hard to be sneaky when you’re tired. Hard to do anything, really. The fact I got this far in one night is a miracle.

Absolutely a great ending. Indeed, there were no dialog options in that cutscene. You just watched as he tried to hide his sadness. There wasn’t a biowaresque “It’s ok/get over it” choice. It just was. Nothing you could do to solve anything, even his grief.

And his desperation! You get the sense he’s been looking for a mirror a long time, and he’s going to keep looking, even if it’s futile. He’s not going to give up, and we can’t make him. Even if the next time, or the time after that, he gets killed. You almost expect him to someday die looking, and, well, that’s something you can’t change.

It was also a lesson other games should learn when it comes to narrative: Sometimes less is more. When he’s explaining why he wants the mirror, he just tells this story of long ago, seeing himself, his mother behind him, smiling, AND THAT’S IT. This wonderful image, that you KNOW is long ago, and had so much more meaning to him for…some reason. You get the sense that his mother is gone, but to where? Dead? Did she leave him? There’s a story there, but they DON’T TELL IT. Practically every other game would have given us five minutes of him talking, and explaining, and blabbering until our eyes glazed over because whatever. But the way they did it here, this one image and this unknown story that obviously affected him made me care MORE. And DAMN other games, learn that lesson. Please.

I still want to know what was with that rock band.

I really, really love this game.

Feminina:

The rock band just IS, man. Like rock itself! It needs no explanation. You can’t demand to know what’s with THE MUSE.

Though consider the excellent thematic resonance of the fact that we’re on a quest to save someone’s musical instrument, and here’s this long-ago story of music in these same spaces. That’s the power of rock ‘n roll: it echoes on past the very end of the world.

Butch:

Excellent thematic resonance in that the rock music is, well, bad and the music she’s making in the Din (I got close enough to hear it) is prettier. Here’s the old ones with their electric technology making a, well, din, and here’s the Banuk using this industrial, rusted garbage for something beautiful. More failed intentions of the old ones.

Speaking of loving this game, I reiterate that Mr O would LOVE this game, and yet, he hasn’t played it. You lying to him about it to keep the console?

Feminina:

…maybe a little? Just a few tiny lies about it being boring and awful with terrible combat mechanics, flat characters, and tired narrative tropes?

But no, not really. Plus, he sees it over my shoulder, so even if I did lie, he can observe its beauty at will. And he laughed at one bit of dialogue last night, so he’s seen that! Speaking of which: I know we don’t care about hunting grounds and don’t want to go to hunting grounds and hunting grounds are the main annoying thing in this game, but…go to the hunting ground anyway. You don’t have to actually do any of the trials, but just talk to the Keeper. It’s worth it for the dialogue.

Incidentally, I spent my time running around: went back to Song’s Edge and listened to the storyteller, talked to the painter, got the maps, and ran all over collecting things and enjoying the atmosphere and following up on the main story. So I got stuff done–discuss at will.

Butch:

I shall go for the dialogue. I do remember some amusing stuff about that in the main game. The fish guy? Another nice detail: explaining why these dudes are sent into nowhere.

If he thinks it’s good looking now, imagine when you treat yourself to a Pro and a big assed 4K TV this Xmas cuz new house! Just sayin’…..

It does look pretty fucking amazing.

I’ll catch you on the main story, as the only thing I have to do right now IS the main story (find the path of the whatever) and collecting pigments. I don’t even have the other two maps, cuz I need to kill another badger to get them. Or a goat. I forget. Though I did stumble on a figurine of a cat or something! Who needs maps?

Ok…the story…

So the Banuk creation myth is a woman who came out of a mountain, held the blue light that came out of the ground and used it to control the machines. Right? I’m summing, but right? And she, thusly, protected the first Banuk, and they are their ancestors.

We’ve met a woman who came out of a mountain, a mountain, you know, RIGHT FUCKING THERE at the Grave Hoard. She was kind of key to the story. Sobeck locked the vaulty thing from the outside and wandered somewhere. Right? So it fits. Kinda. But not.

Because the world ended. No one is descended from the Old Ones, not directly, cuz everyone died, and all life died, and all that.

Right? RIGHT?

Time for some WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!!!!!

That didn’t really happen. Sylens says, when learning about the whole rise of the machines at Faro Tower there, when being told of the imminent destruction of all life “But WE KNOW that didn’t happen, because here WE are” (emphasis added). This coming from a dude who has the blue shit woven into him and who KNOWS SHIT. Maybe “WE” is the Banuk. Or whoever is privy to the blue shit.

Now, you might be thinking “C’mon, man, we saw Sobeck all dead there by her house,” to which I say “You know any creation myth that’s that accurate?” And, by the way, we didn’t see all of Sobeck’s body because she was in that suit. She could have had all sorts of blue shit in her skin.

After all, remember, when we finished the game, we wondered how she was that well preserved? Maybe blue stuff does that. Ever seen a dead Banuk? Me, neither. Maybe they don’t “die” in the same sense of other humans.

So maybe some humans did survive, Sobeck found a way to make them survive, and the Banuk really are the descendants of whoever Sobeck saved. Somehow.

End of WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!!!!!!

Feminina:

The Banuk origin myth is certainly suggestive.

The woman leading a group, pursued by the ‘ravenous tribe’ that sucks the marrow from their bones–the Faro machines that were eating everything on earth? The woman holds/controls the blue light of the machines and the machines fight back the ravenous tribe–the blue light is the ‘good’ AI/machines, holding off the devouring ones?

Hm.

Certainly it’s not literally true, but to what extent does it reference the truth? We know that the Banuk shamans are able to achieve some kind of weird communion with the machines: we saw it with that guy who wanted to drink all that machine blood. He was able to tell us things about the machines that were filtered through his understanding and mythology, but basically true. So, yeah, maybe threading the blue stuff through their skin DOES give them a certain weird, fragmentary understanding of the shadowy outlines of this ancient history.

And really, do any of us have a clearer grasp on the distant past? Poking around in Neanderthal graves, speculating about why they did whatever we think they might have done?

Butch:

Yeah, but what do you make of the idea that this suggests someone, or some people or some living thing, actually survived?

If you know, don’t spoil.

Feminina:

Well, it’s true that we didn’t examine Sobeck’s body that closely, so who knows?

In the theory that she survived, it’s a bit odd that her body was where Aloy thought it would be based on the assumption that she died outside that bunker, rather than somewhere in the frozen north where she (according to the myth) would have led the proto-Banuk…but maybe she wanted her body returned there after she did die. For some reason. It seems a bit of a stretch, but who knows. Maybe it wasn’t even her body, it was some random other body, although that also seems a bit of a stretch.

But as you say, how many origin myths are literally true? Maybe it’s not that she physically led the people to safety, but that she led them by being the designer of Gaia and organizing Operation Zero Dawn. Maybe she didn’t physically hold the blue light, but she was responsible for bringing it back to the world because Gaia created the machines. Maybe the woman in the myth is a mix of Sobeck and Gaia.

Or maybe Aloy isn’t Gaia’s first attempt at this: maybe there was a real woman who led the Banuk, but it wasn’t Sobeck, it was an earlier clone, leading people away from earlier machines (an earlier attempt by Hades to wipe everything out?), and helping to build/unleash the current, blue-light machines.

So much we don’t know! But can speculate wildly about.

Butch:

Well, that’s why it’s WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!!!!

But, again, the Banuk are right there, right by where she’d come out of the mountain. You have to go right by the Grave Hoard to get to this place. And that “out of the mountain” was so specific, not “from the mountains” or even “Out of the mountainS,” or something. Out of the mountain, singular. So she could have done all that right away, then gone to wherever. Or been taken by machines. We don’t even know where her house was. It didn’t look like anywhere the game took place, so maybe the friendly machines took her there.

WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!!!!

But I dunno, man. Knowing about Zero Dawn was some advanced shit.

Ooo! I never thought of an earlier Sobeck clone. Do we know if that happened? I forget.

Or maybe just you know. You’re ahead of me.

Feminina:

No, I don’t know anything more than you do about this. The shaman’s story is all I’ve heard about it so far.

I kind of doubt they’re going to answer those kinds of questions in DLC, though. From a planning standpoint, it seems like the kind of thing you’d keep for a major title release.

So I’m just speculating wildly, the same as you! It’s what the internet is for! Well, that and porn. And cats. And probably cat porn, although I’d rather not know for sure. Would cats even care about porn? Probably not, unless it involved pheromones instead of visuals.

…Moving on.

I don’t think we ever saw any indication in the main game that this cycle of life developing and being wiped out by Hades had happened before, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t. We could be Aloy number 53 for all we know!

Butch:

Thank you for moving on there. (Please don’t tag this post “porn.”)

No, it doesn’t mean it didn’t. Which would be a cool twist. In a game full of cool twists. And, if the theory of the Banuk somehow surviving HADES’ wipeouts, then they’d know that, right? So the best way that Sylens/Banuk would deal with the bad machines, and the Carja, and everyone else would be to trigger HADES again. And given the after credits scene….

I love WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!

Feminina:

“Oh yeah, whenever things get a bit rough for us, we just trigger an event that wipes out all life on earth, and then we come out of our bunker to try again.”

Hm. Seems a bit extreme when we put it that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Butch:

It doesn’t. And it would be ANOTHER interesting twist. Usually, in fantasy games, the mystical weirdos are either harmless purveyors of information (which we assumed Brin was), or helpful! Shit, in D&D, most mystical weirdos can’t carry blades and they heal you! They’re not bad guys! Even if they were, they’re so weird that they’ll never bring about whatever it is they want to bring about because it’s so outlandish you don’t have to worry about them!

Here, we have the Carja, who are badass dudes, we have the Oseram who make badass cannons. These are dudes who can fuck shit up. But the Banuk? I haven’t killed a single one. None of them have tried to kill me. Sure, they have warriors, but they seem to be on my team. Seem to be.

But what if they aren’t? What if, for all the bloodthirstyness of the Carja and all the weapons of the Oseram, the most dangerous guys out there are the Banuk? THEY’RE the guys who can end the world, and are willing to? The guys who are all mystical and make us roll our eyes and say “Yeah, yeah, nice weird story?” When does THAT ever happen in a story?

Feminina:

I was thinking about that too! After I sent that message I thought “what a twist that is, if these fairly inoffensive seeming, mystic, snowy barbarian types keep wiping out everyone on earth whenever other people start pushing them.”

That would really make me rethink the general sense of sympathy I have at the moment. I mean, I kind of like the Banuk. They seem like harmless weirdos, and, as you say, are much less likely than anyone else to try to kill me (although…I don’t know, we can’t really say any of the tribes per se try to kill us, it’s BANDITS who always try to kill us, and they could be from anywhere, originally).

What if they turned out to actually be dead serious and very harmful weirdos? Interesting twist.

Though play on (I know you will) and there’s an interesting bit that reminds us how little respect Aloy has for anyone’s Ancient Sacred Mystical Traditions. We can discuss cultural relativism!

Butch:

Oh, cool!

I want to point out that a) we’re getting a lot of content and b) a lot of bloggage from a DLC. An add on. This game is so good the damn add ons are this good.

But also, no way, dude. LOTS of Carja tried to kill us, including a damn boss. They threw us in an arena, for heaven’s sake! And the waves of dudes we killed with that awesome cannon when we first got it were other, rebel Oseram! Lots of other tribe dudes tried to kill us! Banuk? Not yet.

Feminina:

Well, OK, the SHADOW Carja did try to kill us. And the other Oseram did attack that settlement, although they were arguably trying to kill each other more than us. But fair point: the hostile factions that have required our violent opposition at various points have represented multiple tribes, but none have so far been Banuk.

This game is damn good.

Butch:

If there isn’t a sequel, I will plunge into a deep depression.

Feminina:

Agreed. I can barely stand to think about it.

Butch:

I figure they’re gonna make a sequel. My fear is that they’re going to wait until the PS5 comes out, and make it a big debut title for that system. And I figure that system is a ways away.

Feminina:

While the internet is the place for wild speculation, let’s just agree not to think about that horrifying possibility.

In my lovely, joyous dream world, it’s going to come out as soon as we’re done with everything else we’ve been meaning to play.

So…possibly around the time the PS5 is released. Works out great.

 

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Falling! Falling!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for early points in the Frozen Wilds DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

Yes, yes, I know you’re busy cuz you went and had kids and they have random days off school, but bloggage never rests.

Turned on the tallneck and got a cutscene that reminded me for the umteenth time that I love this game. “Of course…it’s never easy….” Man I love tallnecks.

Then found the assistant shaman, who was looking at a…tower? Was that what you mentioned yesterday? So I overrode that and…I dunno. Did something happen? He seemed happy. It would be nice if that actually HELPED me.

That thing overriding my armor was just plain mean.

Then I got distracted and tried to find a merchant who didn’t have anything good, then I wandered around looking for pigment for a while.

All in a night’s work.

You know, every time we have to find someone in a game, they’ve gone and run off to the other end of some path of trials, or gone to a planet that no one returns from, or have disappeared into the deep dark woods or something. It’s never easy. Someday, I want the assistant to be all “Oh yeah, she’s spending the week in Lauderdale” or, more realistically, “Oh, she took the day off cuz her kids didn’t have school. She’ll be back tomorrow.”

Feminina:

That would be nice. “Come back in 20 minutes, he just went out for coffee.”

Yeah, the towers overriding the armor. Not nice. I was a little confused by those as well. I destroyed the glowing component on one, overrode another, and…I guess that’s it. They stop working, which is nice. I was kind of expecting to have to do a 10-part quest to make them STAY off, but apparently not. Not complaining! Just a bit surprised.

I went back to try to get some tallneck parts, got into a fight with some glinthawks, ran off meaning to double back, overshot the quest marker… Somehow wound up a lot closer to the flooded musical instrument quest, so did that instead. It was pretty good.

Butch:

Exactly! “Hey, I can text her if you want something…you want a latte or something? You look tired.”

They stop working, that they do. But it also said something about it stunning hostile enemies if you override it (codex, Femmy) and I saw exactly no evidence that it did that. But still. Whatever.

Ah, yes, the glinthawks up there on the ledge? You know, that I fell off of after killing them all? That one?

You can now appreciate my frustration at the falling/dying thing, as it was after that bullshit.

Did you activate the Tallneck? I love tallnecks.

Feminina:

It did stun them when I did the override, but only briefly. I had waited until they were all clustered on the other side of the pond, looking for me over there, which gave me a nice chance to override without getting killed, but also meant that by the time I got close enough to hit any stunned machines, they were already getting up.

And no, I didn’t successfully get a single tallneck part. I’m going back next thing! Unless I get distracted. I do love tallnecks, though.

Butch:

Well, that’s silly. Not much of a demon, now, is it? It just pokes up here and there, annoying people in a 50 foot radius. But I guess “There is a slight nuisance in the Cut” lacks drama.

“I must talk to the Shaman about this slight nuisance.”
“I told you, she’s on a latte run. Just wait over there for 15 minutes. I think we have some back issues of People you can read.”

I so love tallnecks. And they’re so photogenic! I was going through old screenshots, and MAN they just make the whole thing pop.

Feminina:

There will probably be one really big one at the end or something.

“All right, it’s a moderate nuisance, that one annoys in an EIGHTY foot radius. You were right to send for me.”

Well, except no one actually sent for me, I just showed up because I like poking around in weird stuff while the world’s about to end.

Seriously, though, machines are acting weird: what if that’s related to the Hades thing? It could be a hitherto unsuspected sideline of that whole plot! For all we know, Hades WANTS us distracted by the imminent end of the world so it can slip this other thing past us! Sylens can scoff all he wants, but I think it bears checking out.

Butch:

Well, as any parent will tell you, anything called “Thunder’s Drum” is a nuisance. That sounds like some evil thing a grandparent would buy your kid for Christmas just because they want to drive you insane. “Oooo! A Thunder Drum! Just want I always wanted! I shall play with it to the exclusion of all quiet toys!”

Poking around while the world’s about to end is how Aloy do.

It did occur to me that Sylens being all “Pfft, don’t go there” had a definite ring of “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” He certainly has some Banuk connection, what with the blue shit he has, and the fact they talk about him in hushed tones, like he’s “some sort of bogeyman” suggests this might be more than scoffing. This might not just be “save the world,” it may be “don’t see that.”

Cuz remember, in the end, he really wasn’t all about saving the world. He had HADES in a little lantern there, post credits. He wants ALOY to think it’s all about saving the world, and, at some level, I guess it is, but that’s not his endgame. Not one bit.

Feminina:

True. Sylens has always had his own agenda. And it is interesting how people have heard of him out here. Perhaps we will learn more about the story progresses!

Or perhaps not until the sequel they’d damn well better be making right now.

Butch:

Oh, if they’re not making a sequel I’m going to go bananas.

But, they did say that they see this as a franchise before it even came out, it sold well, got good reviews, there’s been Aloy skins and stuff added to other games since, and Play First, Talk Later, the best damn blog on the internet spoke highly of it. We’re fine.

It would be really, really good if you fast traveled back to the first campfire there, sat your butt down, and listened to the story there. Just sayin’.

Feminina:

All right, all right, I’ll go back to the campfire before I go looking for tallneck parts. Less likely to result in my horrible death anyway.

Butch:

It’s near a cliff. You never know.

Thank God my kids have school today. I can’t even imagine….

Feminina:

Yeah, I could manage to fall off that cliff, I bet.

Nothing but kids all day. Too cold to spend much time outside, so they’re just crashing around in here injuring themselves and each other. As kids do.

Counting the minutes to bedtime.

Butch:

You likely will.

Dude, my kids HAD school and I’m counting the minutes.

I’d Forgotten About That

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for quest set-up early in Horizon Zero Dawn, Frozen Wilds DLC

Butch:

Another thing about comparing this to MEA: It reinforces how easy MEA was. Cuz this is HARD.

Went wandering towards the main quest (I’m gonna refer to this as the main quest, even though it’s a side quest, cuz it’s the main quest of Frozen Wilds, ok? ok), found a pigment for this artist dude that will get me….something….and came upon the tallneck.

Have you found the tallneck?

So I did the three things the tallneck needed. This involved fighting. This involved fighting very difficult things. This meant it involved dying.

Not only was MEA easy, MEA reinforced the “find obvious cover, go there cuz obvious, shoot things” version of game combat. I got used to that. This? Less so. I tried that a couple times. Then, when I got tired of dying, I actually started thinking. This game makes you think, thus reinforcing MEA did not.

Poor MEA.

Anyway, I found the three things for the tallneck, and next I’m back to the tallneck.

This game is hard. Scorchers are hard. And, as I check the codex, there’s two more things we haven’t yet discovered.

We’re gonna love it.

Feminina:

I found the tallneck! I was so excited to see one on the map, I headed right over there, after talking to the chief and the guy who said he could improve my spear if I found a part from a metal bird.

Then I was GOING to get the pieces the tallneck needs, but I got distracted and wandered off in the opposite direction looking for a kind of tower-looking thing on the map. Have you seen those? Because I found those. That’s what I did last night.

Then I finally wandered back to the tallneck’s area and got thoroughly murdered by the scorcher, and then it was bedtime.

We’re gonna love it.

I love how much map there is! So much to discover! Campfires! Settlements!

Speaking of campfires, my bad habit from MEA? NOT SAVING. I forgot how important it is to GET THE HELL TO A CAMPFIRE after doing something important but not cut-scene-y, like have a LARGE FIGHT WITH SEVERAL MACHINES, so I may have had a couple of fights twice.

But hey, it’s good practice. I love it! I love this game so much!

Tip: you can silent strike demonic watchers just as well as regular watchers, so definitely sneak the hell out of that when you see watchers. Man, I love lurking in the grass and whistling to watchers to come check it out, and then stealth assassinating them. How I’ve missed this!

I want to play this game nonstop, but also I want to take forever playing this game because I don’t want to be done with it.

Butch:

Yeah, I got that spear quest. Did you get the one with the woman who’s “musical pipes” from the time of the old ones has flooded? Cuz that one sounds cool. She was right there by the campfire in the settlement.

I have not seen the tower things, though I have found them on the map. I’m close to one. It’s next. Unless it’s not.

Yes, yes, that’s the scorcher that got me. Repeatedly. I would say that I finally killed it, but I didn’t. I sneaked, grabbed and ran. Dude, I learned the first time: If you don’t NEED to fight them, don’t fight them. And you don’t need to fight it to get the thing you need to get.

I AM loving it! So good for 15 bucks.

Can’t tell if sarcasm on a few of your “I love its”…..

But yes, I got into the swing of saving again rather quickly. It’s another thing on the “this game is harder than MEA” list. Though, to defend both approaches, there were a lot of times you were locked into a place you couldn’t leave in MEA, and not letting you save would have been….wait, they did that. Bastards.

But hey, if I had forgotten to save and then had to go back and forth and back and forth even more? Suvi would still be alone.

Demonic scrappers, too, on the stealth assassinating front. I killed the fuck out a bunch of demonic scrappers like that. But then I forgot that they have the whole scan thing, so a couple found me. Still, one stealth sneak, one kill.

Don’t forget critical hits on downed machines, too. Key thing.

The thing I missed? Overriding glinthawks. Love me some overridden glinthawk. Besides the scorcher, anticipate some glinthawks in the tallneck bit. And by some I mean a whole hell of a lot. Remember the override.

I am loving it already.

Feminina:

That’s the downside of being all snarky and sarcastic like we are half the time. I like us that way because it’s funny and it takes the edge off the horrors of everyday life in these trying times, but it makes it hard to trust ourselves when we’re actually being sincere.

I am! I’m sincerely loving this! Mostly. I mean, it was a bit frustrating to have forgotten to save and to have to go back to that one big fight again when I’d poured so much energy into it already and succeeded through heroic sneaking and fighting scorchers!–but I loved it enough that I went right back with a good will, instead of going off somewhere else in disgust. Which would certainly be an option because there are many places to go, and we can always come back to things.

Love. It.

And yes, I talked to the lady about the flooded giant musical instrument of the ancients, which sounded like an interesting quest both in the sense of “aw, I’d lilke to help this poor artistic lady,” and in sense of “I wonder what the answer to the mystery flood will turn out to be?” and in the sense of “I wonder what the giant musical instrument will turn out to be?” because likely we’ll look at it as players and figure that the ancients did not actually build it to spread music throughout the land.

So yeah, looks like a good quest. Which is great, because more interesting stuff to do! I want to do so many things!

Although not the hunting grounds. Not going back to those. The Lodge can pound sand, I want nothing further to do with it.

And yeah, I also reminded myself of the key lesson that YOU DON’T HAVE TO KILL EVERYTHING. Do what you gotta do and go. There’s no need to leave every single machine a smoking heap behind you. You don’t have to have some personal vendetta here.

Butch:

I never trust myself. I keep getting myself into trouble.

T SHIRT!!!!!

And your having to re-do things, that was hardly the game’s fault, was it? Can’t blame the game for your forgetfulness.

Indeed, the musician quest is cool. Plus, it’s the first quest I can remember that explicitly had a tinge of “What is this thing from the old times?” in it. Sure, there were the vantage points, but aside from the fictional “old” stuff, there hasn’t been anything that vaguely resembles the “old times” that we’re currently living in.

Though it might not end up being that. I think this game very intentionally didn’t include anything particularly recognizable, like, say, fallout did. There hasn’t been any “Hey, I know that place!” moments, and I don’t think there would have been if we were more familiar with Denver.

But the Lodge, oh yeah. Fuck those places. I got the cute chick to be Sun Hawk or whatever. Something hawk. What more do you want from me, game?

Took me three or four catastrophic deaths to learn that I can just sneak on by, but I learned.

You know what else I had to be reminded of? Unlike other games, like, oh, I don’t know, MEA, falling has quite the penalty. Like, you know, dying. One cannot just drop down there with impunity any more. I learned this the hard way. I had a large fight to get a tallneck component. I won, but the thing that had said component fell off a ledge. “No problem,” thought I, “I’ll just jump down and….what just happened? No, really, WHAT JUST HAPPENED???? Shit….”

And…reload.

Watch out for that.

Feminina:

I also hopped down over a smallish-looking cliff and died instantly! We have much to relearn. I was a great deal more careful with the next precipice.

And no, I’m not really expecting the ancient musical instrument to be a specific recognizable thing from today (“oh, hey, its the Morman Tabernacle organ!”)…more I’m thinking maybe it’ll turn out to be a sewer system or some non-musical architectural feature, the way the goddess in the mountain turned out to be a locked bunker door. We shall see!

Sunhawk is right! Pretty sure. Ha…I still fondly remember that jerk dude who was Sunhawk when we got there, dying still true to his jerkiness. “My only regret…is that you’re not dying instead of me…” [dies]

Butch:

Yeah, but I bet you didn’t die falling when you were about to recover a vital thingy you just fought for.

And I was hanging from a ledge! Drop to ledge my ass. Drop to reload screen.

I’m just hoping the instrument isn’t a thing that’s so obviously fictional, like, say, the bunker door. I’d love it if it was totally mundane, and so sacred to the banuk, even though that’s such a post apocalypse cliche. Like me some cliche.

Those last words were awesome. So much of this game was awesome.

And so awesome that we can have that be the last thing we do with the lodge.

Hey, speaking of things that other things turn out to be….

Did you sit down and listen to the priest dude in the settlement talk of the start of the banuk?

Feminina:

Priest dude…I did not. But I will next time I’m there!

Ooh, did you check out the new skills? I immediately went for the one that increases my loot-carrying capacity. Because obviously I must carry ALL THE LOOT.

Butch:

Oh yes. And, luckily, I had 10 skill points just lying around. BOOM!

It’s one of those sit down and listen for a while. It’s….something that makes you wonder if you know some things about the end of the main game. Which we do.

Feminina:

I will sit and listen. And wonder. Definitely the next time I’m there, after I finish getting the tallneck parts and possibly (OK, probably) being sidetracked by 5 other things.

Butch:

It’s…interesting. It involves a woman journeying out from a mountain, into the wilds….and stuff…..Long ago, when the Old Ones were still fresh in their graves…..

Hmm….

Go listen. There’s a lot more.

Feminina:

I’ll be sure to do that. As soon as I get around to it. Which I’m totally excited about doing!–but recognize may take a while, because stuff.

Butch:

Oh, I recognize that. I know you very well.

There were about three of these sit downs you missed in the main game. And I think there were three of these sit downs in the main game.

Feminina:

It’s not my fault there are so many interesting things to run off and do right this minute!

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!!

I mean, a T SHIRT that is a damn lie, as, basically, I have dishes to do, but still…..

Feminina:

The truth doesn’t always make a good T shirt.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!!

True T SHIRT!!!!

So ironic T SHIRT!!!!!

 

Game Awards News

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

Didn’t play. Between getting home at 5:30 because kids are in a play, fighting about homework, wishing I didn’t have a cold, and having to make dinner, no time. Sigh.

But the game awards happened! And while there was nothing hugely WHOA, we did get the announcement of Bayonetta 3, and, as she is basically Morrigan if Morrigan was a lesbian demon with guns in her high heels who wears her hair, that’s cool. I’m into that.

And a long trailer for Death Stranding, the weird, intriguing game from Hideo Kojima, which I’m gonna watch later. We might have to discuss this game at some point. This might be the point.

And a new game from the dudes who did Firewatch, a cool looking indie that we ought to play when it is inevitably free.

I’ll keep you posted.

Feminina:

Oh man, Bayonetta. All right. Living the dream.

But is there nudity? I have to ask. It’s Friday, after all.

Butch:

Dude, she never wears clothes. She only wears her daemonic hair. She’s always naked.

Anyhoo, off to report on some trailers.

Ooo here’s something! Yesterday, though… Square Enix officially confirmed the new TR game, and said it’ll be out “sooner than you think.”

Here’s hoping 2018.

I mean, not at all a surprise that there’s gonna be another TR, but official be official.

Feminina:

Ooh! I’ll play that! Obviously.

As you say, we do tend to be loyal to our franchises. Just what companies like in a customer.

NOW PAY ATTENTION TO OUR DEMANDS!

Such as…uh…more group hugs and heist scenes and fancy dress balls and flirting.

Oh, and MALE NUDITY NOW.

Butch:

With you until that last bit.

Though I would support you.

Ok, so….

There are a lot of cool things that came about last night at The Game Awards. Like, lots. But we really should dish on Death Stranding. We should. We’ll have to eventually.

Now, neither one of us has played a Kojima game. That said, I know enough about the man to know he’s one of the most important, most creative developers of all time (he did bridge the gap between Japan and the West, making the first Japanese games that were just as dark and realistic as western games). I’ve always been interested in him, and we’re interested in ground breaking games with narrative and all that. Welp:

A Long Look At Death Stranding, Which Is Still Weird As Hell
kotaku.com

I dunno. I’m not gonna say “This is a must play,” but isn’t this the sort of blog worth shit we adore?

Feminina:

Interesting. IN-ter-esting, I say.

I don’t know that we ADORE this. Exactly. I mean, do we adore The Last of Us? But for sure let’s keep an eye on it.

As for Bayonetta always being naked, I don’t know, does it count if you can’t ever see anything important? I mean, if a character doesn’t wear clothes but is always followed around by a cloud of mist that strategically conceals parts of his body, is he REALLY nude?

I would say no.

Butch:

Well, adore in that we adore originality and narrative, not so much adore in the sense of “ROBOT DINOSAURS!” or “MORRIGAN!” It’s a game we could blog about for months, or it looks that way. Because games we blog about for months are so rare. Ha.

I’d google “Bayonetta nude,” but I won’t for obvious reasons. This is a family blog. Kinda. Not really. Because, back to Death Stranding, as it is Friday and nudity and you were mentioning MALE nudity just yesterday, need I remind you of the reveal trailer back at E3 2016 for this? Allow me:

Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding Reveal Trailer – E3 …
http://www.youtube.com

And off she goes to preorder.

Feminina:

PREORDER NUDITY NOW.

Butch:

T SHIRT OF T SHIRTS!!!!!

You must admit, given that Horizon has no nudity, it was nice of Death Stranding to save Friday.

We can now turn our attention to the PlayStation thingy this weekend. Maybe they’ll show off the comedy sketches and musical numbers that I’m sure will be featured in TLOU2.

Feminina:

I can’t wait! TLOU is always good for a quick laugh and a pick-me-up.

Butch:

Especially the chorus numbers. 
Watch: we mock, but they’ll drop a preview for Horizon 2 and we’ll explode. 
We can dream. 
Feminina:

SEND THAT TO ME IMMEDIATELY if you see it.

Any hour of the day or night. I need to know.

How I’ve Missed This

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Many spoilers for the beginning of Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds

Butch:

All is, once again, right with the world. Or, at least, when it comes to me playing games. Other than that, the world remains rather fucked up.

But GAMES!

So played through the set up, heard chief guy’s thing, talked to chief guy again, picked up a quest involving a flood, and another by a colored pool about my spear, bought a map that probably relates to collectibles for the pool, called it a night. Took a couple pictures. Photo mode. Yay!

Would’ve done a bit more but decided that dammit I am a hunter and I was gonna FIGHT that first thing. Which took a while. Cuz I kept dying.

So I’ll wait to be more specific until you confirm you’re four hours ahead of me cuz who are we kidding I’m not ahead of you.

But in the meantime, some general thoughts:

Holy shit I forgot how much I love this game.

Holy shit I forgot how good this game looks.

Holy shit I forgot how much I like Aloy.

But….before we move on to all that, can we please spare one final thought for MEA? Poor MEA. I LIKED MEA. But now it has the bad luck not just to follow Horizon, but to be followed by Horizon as well. All of our memories and judgments on that will be colored by the fact we bookended it with Horizon. Poor game. It didn’t deserve that, as we, and many others, will judge it unfairly because we have Horizon on our minds.

Ok, that’s over. On to Horizon!

Feminina:

I think you’re about three minutes ahead of me! At least on some of the quests. But here’s what I’ve done to date.

I talked to the complaining kid, which was a funny bit: “do you always do what your father says?”
“Well, YES.” [unvoiced ‘duh’].

And “the servants moved a dead lancehorn around for me, it was very realistic.”

I was initially afraid that I was going to have to take that kid with me and babysit him for the entire journey, but no–“well, I guess I’d better check that out, bye!”

THANKS, GAME! You’re looking out for us already.

After that I figured I wouldn’t fast travel to the Grave Hoard right away, I’d walk for a while to get used to the movement buttons again. Skulking in the tall grass while the ominous “machines nearby” music plays! How I’ve missed it.

So I walked a few miles, rode a broadhead for a few miles, and what should we run into but a thunderjaw? I guess I’ll practice combat with a thunderjaw, why not…fought that for a good while, prevailing mainly because the armor is AWESOME (love that armor) and because I could run off and hide in between shooting at it. Knocking off disc launchers with tearblast arrows, shooting at robot dinosaurs with giant guns…how I’ve missed it.

Anyway, I spent a fair amount of time wandering around not immediately getting to the quest area. We DO hear from Sylens! Which makes sense because I’d forgotten that after the credits the game rewinds you to that point before the final battle, so we’re actually before all that stuff at the end.

Their interaction was also funny…”I think it’s a bad idea poking around out here while the fate of the world is at stake [dude has a point] but as usual, you’re going to do what you want.”
“Mm-hm.”
You’re damn right Aloy does what she wants.

So I got up there to The Cut, fought that Daemonic Scorcher (unappealing!), got to the village, saw the funeral send-off, talked to the trader, and called it a night.

So yeah, you have a few more quests than I do. But I’m on it! As soon as I can possibly get to the machine again.

Ah, games. Talking about games. A reason to make it through the day!

Also, a hearty “hear hear” on how much I like Aloy and how good this game looks. It was making me happy just walking along the road.

Poor MEA.

Butch:

See, no I’m not ahead of you at all, really, because I have no idea what you’re talking about with the kid. None. I fast traveled right to the Grave Hoard (or right by it, and practiced on some glinthawks) and then up I went. Where did you find all of this?

I missed shooting at the robots with giant guns, too. Though I kinda loved it when Aloy was looking at the Grave Hoard and was all “I’d do that again…if it wasn’t so hard” or something. There are some things I don’t miss, and I’m glad we’re on the same page there, Aloy. We usually are.

And yeah, Aloy does what she wants, which is why we love her.

See, I was glad that I “Started” right by Meridian there, with the end game quest active. That was a good reminder of “Hey man, we’ve hit rewind.”

But I’m glad we hear from Sylens, and I’m glad we had a chance to ask about Sylens…did you ask someone about Sylens?….because I was wondering all along what was up with the Banuk style cables. I’d like to know.

That funeral send off was pretty awesome. The Demonic Scorcher was not. I also forgot that this game can be fucking HARD. I got kinda used to easy assed MEA. That thing was humbling. I think that’s why they put it there.

It is good to be playing again. And talking later. About something that isn’t knitting.

Man, just walking around the road and talking to people is great. I did read in a review that they really tried to improve on the facial/character animations, and BOY I think they did. Not only do we have more motion/emotion in the faces, but the whole body acting of it all is really, really impressive (and it was not in MEA). That scene with the trader? There were so many wide shots where it looked like two actual actors doing a scene (I think it probably was, in motion capture). You NEVER get wide shots of dialog in games; you get faces. So cool.

And so much better than MEA. Poor, poor MEA.

 

Feminina:

OK, sorry, I didn’t mean a KID kid–that guy you first get the quest from near Meridian, the “why does a man get a sword in his 16th year if not to hunt?” guy.

When I said ‘kid’ I meant him. Because, being elderly myself, 16-year-olds are children to me. (As, I suppose, is Aloy herself since she’s only about 18.) You must have talked to that guy, or how did you even find out you had to go to the Grave Hoard?

And yeah, I agree about the wider angles on the dialogue scenes. Lots of movement and expression in the characters there.

Butch:

Uhhhh…..I opened the map and scrolled around until I saw a little blue icon that said “new quest” next to a new, unexplored part of the map. That wasn’t the preferred method?

Ok, fill me in on the set up that I totally didn’t do.

Feminina:

Huh. I also opened the map and scrolled around, only for me the blue icon that said New Quest was about 50 feet away from me in-game, so I strolled on down the hill to get to it. There was a man/kid standing there muttering about how it wasn’t fair he didn’t get to go hunting, so I asked him what was going on and he said his father wouldn’t let him hunt machines because it was too dangerous what with the demonic possession and new machine types in The Cut and all. [Insert additional amusing dialogue I recapped earlier.]

Then I said “I’ll have to check that out, bye” and THEN I looked at the map again and there was a blue marker way up past the Grave Hoard in an unexplored area, as you said. But the first marker I saw was for that guy. I guess I didn’t even scan around after that, just went right for the first marker I saw, so maybe they were both active at once?

So you missed some moderately entertaining but entirely throwaway setup conversation that said, in sum, “dangerous stuff in X location, GO.”

No worries.

Butch:

Weird. I must have missed it. I scrolled straight north on the map, what assuming the frozen wilds were up there. I assume you started right there by Meridian, ready to do the last fight again, right? Or did you wander first?

Ah, well. Find it I did. And I’m glad I didn’t miss much.

It’s a very large new, unexplored part of the map. I’m impressed.

Feminina:

No, I started right by Meridian, with “The Looming Shadow” active on my quest list, all ready to tackle the final battle again.

But certainly assuming the Frozen Wilds would be north and just scrolling up that way makes sense, so yeah, you must just have been able to get to the quest either way. Which would be useful for us, maybe, if we were in the middle of playing this game and had the new content added in, when maybe we’d be over there on that side of the map already or whatever.

Speaking of already in the middle of the game, what level did you turn out to be? At least the recommended 30, I assume?

Butch:

Killing the scorcher got me to 46.  Which means….

Level 30 my ass. That scorcher was nuts. And I wasn’t even on hard! Even on normal, I mean, shit. Level 30? Without the armor? No.

Which reminds me….we did beef that this game’s “levels” on quests were grotesquely inaccurate. Good to see some things never change.

Feminina:

That’s true, we did spend some time on that discussion. But even this, in the light of combined fond memory and excitement for new stuff, is almost charming.

Haha! A “level 25” Giant Killer Death Monster that flattens my level 50 character 15 times in a row! How I’ve missed this.

That thing was pretty nasty. Good thing it was already wounded when I got there. It might have helped if I had thought to actually drink the fire resistance potions that were helpfully provided for me in that supply chest right before I met it — that’s on me.

In my defense, I’m not used to this game’s strategies and tools anymore! It took me about two minutes to remember how to equip different weapons. It’ll all come back to me, though. It’s only a matter of time, which I am thoroughly prepared to invest in the project.

Butch:

Well, it’s charming because we’re way above level 30. This would be far less charming if I was level 31 and still had the midriff armor.

Though I did like that. Shit, if you’re building force field armor, that’s when it’s ok to show a little skin. But I digress.

HA! Yeah, took me dying three times before I remembered that supply chest.

The first few times I tried to change weapons, I opened the map. Took me forever to remember healing, as I spend all of MEA trying not to hit the cross pad in combat cuz it made people sit still. But as for tools? I very studiously tagged the thing, highlighted its track (remember that?) then systematically put down all sorts of trip wires that were totally in the wrong place.

Just like the good ol’ days.

Feminina:

Yes! The good old days of tripwires that things don’t walk over! Me, I tried hurling proximity bombs in its direction, and then of course it didn’t come into close enough proximity to set them off. It was probably mostly immune anyway because…fire.

But we’ll get it!

Butch:

Eventually.

Oh, who are we kidding? We never did the first time around.

Though my spear kicks some major ass. The dude by the pool there (you’ll meet him in a couple playing minutes) was all “Nice spear! You’ve upgraded it with [something],” and she was all “A tinkerer [sylens, which she didn’t say] did,” and I totally forgot WHY it was cool, but it’s cool. Ended up killing the scorcher with it.

But as for cool, I realized that my decision to say “fuck it” and not do all the cauldrons might come back to haunt me, as overriding things would be cool. But no way I’m going back to do that. I’ll have to cope. With my cool spear.

Feminina:

Well, these ‘daemonic’ machines aren’t going to be susceptible to overrides anyway, I suspect, so it’s probably no huge loss. You’ll be fine. With your fancy spear. Which…I don’t remember if I upgraded or not, I was too busy exploring cauldrons.

Butch:

Nah dude. I vaguely remember Sylens setting us up after that last bit. He was all “take this, bye, I’m totally not a bad guy”. But I have no idea what it does.

I do know I managed to stun the thing a couple times. Maybe that.

Feminina:

Nice. I’ll possibly eventually figure out how to use it, then.

Butch:

You whack shit with it. It’s a spear.

Boom!

Feminina:

But…but it has a pointy end. I thought you STABBED with it. CUDGELS are for whacking.

Dude. I’m so confused. My simple lady brain can’t handle it.

Butch:

I blame myself.

Feminina:

As do I.

Return of the ROBOT DINOSAURS

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

So there at last, over there, is a PS Pro with Frozen Wilds on it. Right there. It’s ready to go! And….the kids don’t have school cuz conferences. Irony.

Want more irony? Well, you’ll get some. Because you recall earlier, to get over not being able to start Frozen Wilds yet, I messed around with The Last Guardian with Junior. And it was ok. It was all “Ok, yeah, pretty world, Japanese kid, cool feathery dog thing, but why did this game get all those nines and tens?” You know how you wonder that about games? Like when you’re slogging through Pittsburgh? But then there’s a moment where you’re like “OH! NOW I see why everyone loved this! This is AWESOME!!!!!”

Guess when that moment happened? Yup. Last night. Now that I am finally getting time to start the thing I want to play without kids.

But the good news is that I’ll save the padded envelope that you will send Uncharted AS CHLOE to me in (right?) and return it with The Last Guardian when I’m done because now I think you’d really, really like it. For real, not like I thought you’d like the Witness. Or Day of the Tentacle. I’m totally right this time. Of course I am.

Feminina:

Really, Last Guardian got that awesome? Even with the mushy controls? Well, I’ll check it out once you send it back in the padded envelope, then. And yes, I will totally send you the Uncharted disc now that I’m done with it.

Frozen Wilds Frozen Wilds Frozen Wilds…eeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! Get ready to sneak in the tall grass! And override some machines! And murder a few hundred Kevins! You’re gonna love it.

Also, I don’t hate the Witness, I just haven’t had time for it lately. It’s Grim Fandango you recommended but I couldn’t get into, and that’s only because it was completely impossible to sprint.

Also Fez, come to think of it. I got Fez on the Vita and never really got into it. So, OK, your track record with predictions is spotty, but I’ll give it a shot.

Butch:

Yes, TLG got good.

I’ll start Frozen Wilds tonight. Mrs. McP has to go into work later. Couldn’t get out of a presentation, so she has to go all the way into Boston for one damn hour. But hey, games.

Feminina:

Oh man, that’s the worst. Having to do your entire commute for one tiny part of the day. I mean, I’ll take it–I’ll go in later, leave earlier, whatever. But honestly, half the effort of work is just getting there and back, so once you’ve done that it’s almost like, what the hell, might as well check some emails or whatever, I’m already here…

But hey, games.

Butch:

Emails? Dude, that’s what she does at home. Home is for emails. Work is for…..well….whatever she does.

Probably blogs. About knitting or something.

Wait….you knit…..****googles*** HEY! “Knit First, Talk Later by Feminina O’Knittybrain and Mary McPuncherson???????”

It’s all so clear to me now.

Feminina:

Shhh! Don’t give away the secret!

O’Knittybrain is pretty awesome, though. Although really, the great thing about knitting is that you can knit and talk at the same time. Less need to blog later.

Butch:

If I don’t get into the Frozen Wilds soon, we might have to switch to knitting.

Something about Pearling Two. Right? Or something?

Feminina:

Knit two, pearl two…sure, that works. You can get yourself some nice broad ribbing that way.

Although it’s actually spelled ‘purl’ in knitting.

Though it took me several minutes to catch that, and damn, OK, that’s it, I’ve lost all my credibility as a knitter. Scratch that blog idea!

Sorry, you’re going to have to play.

Butch:

Oh thank God. Some derailments I’m ok with. That was not one of them.

Junior’s trumpet lesson is early. Maybe that’ll free up some time.

Feminina:

I agree. Let us never speak of it again.

Trumpet lesson! Yes! Play! Give us something else to talk about.

Man…sitting here…counting the dreary hours until I too can play…

Butch:

Dude, no. Not how that works. Trumpet lessons entail sitting in this here parking lot emailing. It only helps game time as I can get kid dinner done normally instead of late.

So many dreary hours.

Feminina:

Oh. Right. Yeah, I guess he’s young to be going off to trumpet lessons on his own. (Although that must be the dream!)

Well, good luck with the early dinner part of it.

Dreary, dreary hours…

Butch:

I sure hope I’m at least level 30, though. They do say it’s not exactly easy. That, of course, compounded by the fact that I’ve totally forgotten how to play it.

Feminina:

I think you must be 30. I’m 50-something, and we both played it for a long time.

And yeah, there is always that akward period coming back to a game where you’re trying to remember how to do things, and you try to sneak attack and instead do a clever backflip right into the middle of a bunch of enemies, or whatever. Good times.

Still, you’re gonna love it.

Putting Education to Good Use

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

True, true, I got nothing, but that’s what happens after a neighborhood gathering when you have three nutsy kids and a neighbor who brews beer.

As an aside, most home brewed beer sucks. When a dude with a PhD in chemistry is making it, it does NOT suck. Dude should sell it. I wonder how good he is at crafting pear brandy….

Feminina:

Only one way to find out! Set that dude to work on the pear brandy, stat!

I had an uneventful evening, so I could finish PLAYING AS CHLOE.

I forgot what it’s like to play a shortish game that actually ends. I was kind of startled when the finale crept up on me. Though not in a bad way.

Good stuff. I enjoyed it a lot. You’re gonna love it.

No booze, though.

Butch:

We just have to make sure he doesn’t undermine us. He’s wily.

Oh man, I was afraid you’d finish. Sigh. Well, maybe I’ll whip through Horizon faster than you and catch up.

HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, where do I GET this stuff?

Games end? And then stay over? Surely you jest.

Man, I gotta start playing soon. All we’re doing this week is explaining how games can help us cope with our most insane impulses. Yesterday, we talked on murderous, psychopathic rage, today we’re back on irrational business plans.

Tomorrow it’ll be having kids!

Feminina:

You’re right!

Although I suppose this is a worthy area of research in a general sense: what do games, as a whole, do for us?

Whereas usually we’re all into the fine details of what a specific game, in particular, does for us at the time that we played it, when maybe we were annoyed because it got all talky on us at a point where we were really in the mood to just murder some dudes, or whatever.

Still, I think our strength lies in those fine details.

We could get a lot out of how games help us cope with children, though.

Butch:

I’m sure this has been done. You’re the medical librarian. Look it up! Or make a minion look it up.

We could get a lot of discussion out of it….but do we want to? Kids and games, man. Kids and games.

Anyway, games don’t help you cope with children. Children prevent you from playing games.

Feminina:

Games vs. children: the eternal struggle.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!!

[later]

Well, I continued to putz around with The Last Guardian which would be SOOO good if the controls weren’t absolutely terrible. It’s gorgeous, the feathery dog thing is awesome, the story and world are cool, and the puzzles are good! If only it let you solve the puzzles when you got the solution in your head, and not after 20 frustrating minutes of missed jumps and falling off the dog thing.

Soon. I shall start Horizon soon.

In the meanwhile, a throwback to a bioware game that was closer to bioware games of old:

It’s been three years and I still hate Solas

Good read, but I also noticed the first comment: Did you play the Trespasser DLC, and she says “Don’t get me started on what happened in that.”

What was that? What did we miss??????

I miss Dragon Age.

Feminina:

I miss Dragon Age too. But I didn’t play that DLC, and don’t know anything about it. We missed something! But who knows what.

Frustrating controls are such a downer in a good game. “I want to love this, but…arrrrrghh!!!!”

Butch:

It’s a shame, really. I’m at a point where I need to just jump and shimmy some, a la UC, and it’s SO finicky. Damn. Remember when good games were good and bad games were bad?

‘We missed something but who knows what?’ is a pretty good

T SHIRT!!!!

Man, this day. This week, for that matter. One day, your kids will be older, and moodier, and they will get mad at shit that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with you, but they will take it out on you cuz kids. This will frustrate you as well. This will frustrate you all the more when it is because of something, say, your spouse did, like go to work too early, or your father might do, like miss a neighborhood gathering. This will make you want to throw things.

And it will suck even more if you don’t have a few thousand Kevins to shoot.

Man….shit.

Feminina:

Can’t wait, man.

Houses that will inevitably start falling apart 20 minutes after we move in…moody children with inappropriately directed anger…no Kevins…

Butch:

Dude, houses start falling apart as soon as you buy them, ergo yours is already a mess.

I am not in a good place today.

I did warn you about the house. And the kids.

Feminina:

You did. I can’t say you didn’t warn me. Everything was going great until I failed to heed your warnings!

At least I have a game.

Killing Time. And Kevin. (Sorry, Kevin.)

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for that trailer for The Last of Us 2 that came out a month or so ago

Butch:

For the kids, I did dig out The Last Guardian and started back in on that. It’s yet another example of a very cool game that messed it own self up, but did so in a way that we rarely discuss: controls.

We often talk, what do I mean often, we ALWAYS talk about character and story and stuff, as we should. The Last Guardian has that in spades. Story’s cool, world is awesome, the big winged cat dog thing actually feels like a real, interesting, likeable character despite the fact that all it says is “Graawalitlatawa.” The puzzles are diverse and interesting and just challenging enough to be cool without being frustrating. Sounds good, right?

But MAN the controls. For some of the puzzles, you have to be right…THERE and getting there is impossible cuz the controls are mush. Add to that the fact that camera angles often position in such a way that you’re looking at nothing but the creature’s ass or a wall or NOT WHAT YOU NEED TO SEE!

I can’t remember the last time that technical shit bothered me this much, but it’s awful. We’re usually not bothered by the technical aspects of games, like graphics, but DAMN.

And I wonder why. Maybe Buttons can chime in, but you’d think that little things like “Stick make guy go there” would be cooked into the code. Do they have to rewrite the code for things like walking and jumping for every game? Maybe they do.

Did you get Borderlands for free? We should play that sometime.

Feminina:

Sadly, I do not have Borderlands. The little free things I have are Trine 2 and Broken Age, neither of which I remember anything about. I’m trying to wrap up Uncharted AS CHLOE before I really get into the Horizon DLC, so I continue skulking in the tall grass and stealth-murdering dudes. They NEVER think to bring a lawnmower.

I had to turn it down from hard to medium, though…this one fight was just kicking my ass over and over until I got fed up with it. Like, two evenings worth, 30 or 40 attempts. I had a solid go at it! But it was too much for me.

And in these games, it’s not as if you can go away and come back in a couple of levels when you’re tougher. So insta-tougher I will become, through the magical mechanism of making everyone else weaker. Works for me.

Butch:

Damn. Well, I did play Broken Age, and loved it, and, while it isn’t episodic per se, it’s short and is broken up into manageable (and finite) sections. Give it a shot! Or start it! Bloggage abounds!

I gotta be better about keeping you on the PS+ freebs.

Feminina:

It’s not your fault. You tell me about these things, and then I promptly forget to actually grab them. Because every time I turn on the machine, I’m just SO PSYCHED to go murder some dudes, I can’t think about anything else!

There are digital dudes hidden in that console, and I must get a-murderin’ of ’em!

It’s not as if they’ll murder themselves. They’ll just pace back and forth through the tall grass forever. I can’t let that happen.

Butch:

What I should do is message you on PSN. Then, right there, is me all “GET IT NOW!” Which would increase the chances of you getting it from 0% to about 7%.

But get on Broken Age! After all the other stuff. Mad bloggage there! You’d really like it!

Feminina:

It’s true, the PSN message is a good reminder. Unless it’s not my night to play, in which case Mr. O’ sees it, says “Butch says to snag Borderlands,” and I say “oh, right, OK,” and promptly forget again by the time it’s my game night.

It’s a complicated life, having to share the console.

Butch:

Man….that is a complication.

Your memory, not Mr. O’s failure to relay messages.

Feminina:

Yeah, I won’t deny it’s tough being so overwhelmed by bloodlust all the time.

Must…kill…Kevin…

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!

Feminina:

Poor, poor Kevin.

But it’s not our fault! He’s the one who persists in trying to kill us first!

And his confidence/loyalty is so absurdly high (especially for someone who’s frequently a mercenary): he WILL NOT GIVE UP. Even when he really, really, obviously should. He’s free to run off at any time.

It’s like those childhood ‘plausible’ deniability arguments: “Look, I’m just going to be standing here punching at the air, and if you happen to get in the way of my fists, it’s not my fault.”

Look, Kevin: I’m just going to be wandering around murdering everyone in this general area. If you happen to get in the way of a bullet or grenade I release, or a choking headlock I absentmindedly employ, it’s not my fault.

Pretty sure that puts me completely in the clear, morally speaking.

Butch:

You’ve been hanging out with my kids too long.

But your moral gymnastics become weaker with the advent of open world games. YOU can run in open world games. Geralt ran though randits he didn’t have the time to fight. Ryder motored through countless Kett despite their pot shots. Aloy spent most of the game running from Robot Kevin.

Your input is kaput.

Feminina:

Well…OK…it is in THOSE games. And yes, in those games I do avoid a lot of fights purely out of deep moral concern (and hardly at all out of laziness or being in a hurry to get somewhere).

But I’m not playing those games, I’m playing a linear game where you have to kill Kevin to progress. You can’t fight (my) progress, Kevin! My rationalization is valid!

It’s not always easy, and sometimes Kevin must make sacrifices in the name of progress, but it’s all worth it (to me) in the end when justice is served or whatever and I get the satisfaction of a job well done.

Or done, anyway.

Butch:

There is no bigger sin than impeding progress towards finishing a game.

Ergo, my kids are sinners.

Feminina:

The course is clear: cast those sinners OUT!

Butch:

Hmm….probably bad timing on this, given the very upsetting TLOU2 trailer that I for some reason rewatched yesterday. Did you end up watching that?

It’s very upsetting. And has sin references.

This game is going to be so much fun.

I guess it’s the curse of liking art. Everyone thinks art is depressing.

Feminina:

“Enough with this frivolous ‘entertainment’ stuff. Games are a legitimate artistic medium. Let’s make some ART. Everyone list the most depressing things you can think of.”

And no, I have not seen the trailer…it’s totally, absolutely, definitely on my list, but somehow…other things keep coming up…can’t imagine why that is…

Butch:

It’s…. I don’t believe they put it up on a stage show. This was an E3 type stage show, and…I mean…it’s just…

Included: graphic depictions of a woman being held down while someone breaks her arm with a hammer, another woman hanging from a noose, propping herself up by strangling another woman with her legs before said woman who is being strangled winds up with a hatchet in her head, courtesy of the woman with the broken arm (all of which was very graphic), and that wasn’t even the most upsetting part.

Ironically, the only character in it who winds up ok is the woman who was hanging from the noose. Theories abound that she is Ellie’s mother.

There was a lot of themes, and a lot to speculate about, but DAMN. Just…DAMN.

And they did this in a stage show!

But a stage show in France. They must have a different standard.

Feminina:

Wow. I…am overcome by an urge to keep not watching it (although I will still play it, and obviously see it then).

Stage show must be a French thing. The French don’t hold with our delicate sensibilities.

Butch:

Well, to give you a sanitized version:

Bad guys (or so it seems) hang this woman, prop her up, and talk about sin being in her as they pull up her shirt to expose her belly and hold a knife to it (ergo the mother idea). Then, in comes two dudes with another woman. Initial bad guy (with the knife) asks the other woman “Where is the other apostate? New woman (not the hanged one) responds to this question by spitting in bad guy’s face. Then the whole “clip her wings” order and the broken arm and eww. And, as they go to break her other arm, arrows kill the dudes holding her down (graphically). Hanging woman shoots blindly into the darkness towards where the arrows came from (remember what shooting did? Of course you do). The hanging woman grabs bad guy. Woman with broken arm puts hatchet in bad guy’s head (while hanging woman strangles her).

Then, we see who shot the arrows: a shaven headed young Asian kid (why are they always shaven headed?) steps out of the shadows. He obviously knows broken armed woman. Broken armed woman says “Cut her down” to Asian kid as hanged woman is struggling for breath (graphically). Asian kid says “But she’s one of them,” (thus indicating broken arm and hanged woman are not on the same team, despite bad guy not being nice to either). Asian kid cuts down hanged woman.

Broken arm says “The demons are coming,” not infected, demons. Hanged woman, who is a complete jacked badass says “Watch your backs,” guns are drawn, bows are drawn, here come the clickers and scene.

So factions! Religious weirdos, “she’s one of them” (who’s them?), demons instead of infected…..so much going on!

And so upsettingly violent.

But WILD INTERNET SPECULATION!

Compare to trailer one where older Ellie tells older Joel that she’s “going to find them. And kill them all.” So is trailer 2 at the same time? Before Ellie was born? WHO KNOWS!!!!!

And so upsettingly violent.

Feminina:

Wow, that’s themes all right. Religion! That’s a big one right there. Religion as a response to catastrophe.

Should be incredibly interesting discussion, and I can hardly wait, except I can totally wait.

I mean, I was just saying how I’m filled with bloodlust when it comes to Kevin, but all this graphic depressing realism is another story.

We must remember the French. Fie on these delicate sensibilities! Bring on the blood!

Butch:

Indeed. We like our blood clean and guilt free.

And if the bodies just disappear, all the better.

I want to kill guilt free.

Feminina:

Ah, tidy guiltless murder, that’s the dream.

Essentially, we wish we were psychopaths, but since we aren’t, we play them in games.

Good talk. I think we’ve really built a solid case here for the value of video games as an art form.

Butch:

Hey man, nothing new. Art in all forms is littered with psychopaths. People saying “say hello to my little friend,” slasher movies, superhero stories (Batman is nuts), going all the way back to Greek mythology (Zeus was fucked up).

People have always used art to indulge their inner psycho. Indeed, “psycho” is regarded as a masterpiece of cinema!

It ain’t games. It’s people.

Feminina:

Yeah…it all comes back to people.

And Another Thing–

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Spoilers for the ‘movie night’ storyline in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Ok, so I got nothing, still haven’t had a chance to start HZD: Frozen Wilds, but it’s the nothing that has me thinking of something.

I’m truly bummed that I’m not playing something right now.

Like, not just “Oh, man, can’t wait for the next thing,” but irritated that there’s nothing to turn over in my head, to think about, or to have there at the end of the day if I want it.

I shouldn’t say to “think about,” as I have about 12 million things to think about. And it’s not like I play every night, but I like knowing it’s there.

I dunno, man. I guess games, or even just knowing there’s a game there in the disc drive, is kinda stress relief. If I don’t have that rather unimportant thing to think about, my brain starts going over all the other crap that’s going to give me an ulcer (if it hasn’t already).

But is that normal? Is that ok? Do people who watch TV get antsy when the season of their show is over?

I am troubled.

Feminina:

I don’t watch TV these days, but I feel like yeah, they do? I mean, back when I was watching TV shows in real time, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men, after a season ended I would definitely get that kind of “man, NOW what do I do with this mental energy until the next season starts?”

Because as you say, it’s not as if you don’t have plenty of other things to think about, and it’s not as if you DON’T think about those other things, but there’s been this part of your attention that’s been dedicated to following a particular story and waiting for updates, and pondering how new information fits into the previous understanding of the story/characters, so definitely once you no longer have a regular update to look forward to, there’s a kind of gap while you figure out what you’re going to be doing with that portion of your brain.

So I wouldn’t worry about it. I think it’s just a normal result of spending a fair amount of time thinking about something, and then not having that thing to think about.

I mean, it’s the same with anything that takes up a significant part of your attention for a period of time, isn’t it? Moving, wedding planning, writing a book…there’s this project you’re engaged in, and then when it’s done there’s a sense of completion, but also of being slightly at loose ends because you’re used to having that thing to think about, and now you don’t.

We moved! We’re married! The book is written! So…now what?

Now we start a new game.

Hey, at least that’s much less expensive and traumatic than having to plan another move or go marry someone else just to keep the energy going. Writing another book, that’s probably pretty normal for people who write books.

Butch:

And the thing that’s really key is the down time. This school year is kicking my ass. Always on the go. My parents are complex these days, and you’re my only friend who isn’t going through eight pounds of shit right now, so I can’t even hang out with dudes and just shoot the shit about gossip or hockey or anything like I could six months ago. I’m always ON, you know? Except when I’m fighting kett or PLAYING AS CHLOE.

Or Aloy, the minute I get the opportunity to load it. Gonna love me some ROBOT DINOSAURS.

Wait, you wrote a book? That you finished? Jeez. Who knew you were so verbose?

Feminina:

No, no, I was just using “writing a book” as an example of a big thing people might work on, not something I specifically am involved in. I did National Novel Writing Month a few times (write a 50,000 word story in the month of November), but that was long ago, before blogging and, critically, before children.

Although I suppose it’s still a good example of a project that takes up a lot of time and mental energy for a while, and then after it’s over you’re briefly at a loss because you don’t have to think about it anymore.

I may already be enjoying some ROBOT DINOSAURS. I waited as long as I could!

Butch:

You tried. I’ll get there soon.

50,000 words? Pfft. We do that in a day. Feels that way, anyway.

Feminina:

Feels that way!–but actually it’s usually more like 1,500-3,000. They’re just SO GOOD that most people would take 50,000 to cover that much awesomeness.

That’s my spin.

Butch:

True, true. Though if you tally all the words we’ve done over the course of this blog, we’ve probably out done Shakespeare five times over.

And really, we’re far superior. Did he talk about nudity? No. Did he talk about booze? Ok, some, I’ll give him that. He sure as shit never talked up his T SHIRT line.

Why do people read him anyway, when he’s lacking all that?

Feminina:

Probably for the themes. People do enjoy themes. Which we’re happy to provide, with add-ons!

Butch:

Themes. Pfft.

The only thing people enjoy more than booze is nudity.

T SHIRT!!!!

Look at that! Trifecta!

Also, thinking of what I’m not playing reminded me of something:

I was SO looking forward to the inevitable, wonderful, funny cutscene that was going to be the movie night. It was set up so beautifully! I was absolutely convinced that we’d have a scene where they’re all together, like the war council, or PB’s profession of friendship and….nothing. When the quest ended, I really felt “That’s it? Aren’t you…forgetting something? a cutscene perhaps? Another ‘start the movie’ part of the quest?”

Very disappointing.

Feminina:

Yes! I also keenly felt the lack of a movie night scene after all that buildup. I expected something like that drinking/card playing scene in DAI, but come on, even just a pan over the crew’s faces would have been SOMETHING if they ran out of steam and couldn’t come up with an actual scene.

Instead we spent all this time on the quest, did something related to it for pretty much every person in the crew, it was this big team-wide exercise that I enjoyed because it was kind of a fun idea, and then…nothing. I don’t even know if they HAD movie night.

Disappointing, indeed.

Butch:

It felt just like the card game scene (or that it wanted to be that). Shit, the reason I bothered doing it was for the payoff of a scene like that…which never came. Especially as it had all sorts of chances for hilarity: Liam’s taste in movies, Jaal’s weird…gadget…Suvi’s awful snacks..

Awesomeness that never happened.

Feminina:

Right! So many funny bits, highlighting so many weird little aspects of different peoples’ characters, all of them really getting into this activity in a way that was fun to see, and then…who knows what happened then. Nothing, something, it was a big success, it was a terrible failure, it was a boring ‘whatever,’ there’s no way to tell.

There was too much buildup for that nothing payoff!

Butch:

Yet another instance of Frankengame.

Man. I think I will forever remember MEA not for what it was, but what it could have and should have been.

Feminina:

Unfortunate, but perhaps fair.

Butch:

Indeed. And I don’t think that it’s because I’m holding it to a higher standard than I should because it’s a Mass Effect game. I’m not going to be all “Well, it’s not as good as ME2 so it sucks” like the rest of the internet. I think these criticisms can exist on their own.

Or am I being judgy?

Feminina:

No, I think it’s fair. While there’s plenty of comparison with other games we’ve played, because other games we’ve played are what lets us have an idea of things that work and don’t work (for us and in general), I don’t think there’s an underlying component of “this thing we’re complaining about wouldn’t really have bugged me, but it’s a Mass Effect game so they should know better.”

I mean, we did kind of just say “we know BioWare can do a good party scene because DAI, so they should know better here,” so there is a bit of a sense that BioWare is not entirely living up to its best stuff, but I think that the criticism would have been equally relevant if this were some other company. We could just as well have said, “we know good party scenes can be done because BioWare did it, so they should have learned from that,” and, crucially, I think we WOULD have said something like that, because I think we would have found all that buildup and no payoff as frustrating in any other game as it was here.

With this, and all the things we’ve been less enthusiastic about, I don’t think we’re saying “I expect better from Mass Effect,” as much as we’re saying “I would like this to be different in whatever game I’m playing.”

You’re off the hook. Although of course BioWare folks might feel differently, and as soon as they read our awesome blog I’m sure they’ll let us know because as Buttons would be happy to verify, game companies totally love it when their employees wander around talking about their games all over the internet. Chime right in, folks!

Butch:

True. It is all rather interconnected. The build up did not make much sense without the payout.

And we ARE tough critics. I’m still mad that I got no nudity.

Feminina:

Also, we talk a lot about wanting more group hugs, and movie night was a missed opportunity for that! Imagine if there’d been a moving scene of everyone coming together to share a group activity, and maybe there’d be some disagreements about the film and the snacks, some laughter, some tears, and then…group hug! Team bonding! Let’s do this again soon/never!

So much wasted potential.

Butch:

All this being said, I still liked the game. I did. I wish I had liked it more, but I did like it.

Feminina:

Oh yes, absolutely–we shouldn’t close on a down note. I did enjoy it. I spent many mostly happy hours on it, and I don’t regret them. There was fun banter and cool scenery and lively action and some thoughtful story.

I liked it. Didn’t LOVE it, but it was a solid like.

Mass Effect Andromeda Ending: Discussion Continued

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Well, I didn’t play anything. Want to start Horizon Zero Dawn DLC, but no chance. Sigh.

You around or did O’Jr have pneumonia?

Feminina:

The cough wasn’t as bad last night and he seemed pretty chipper this morning, so off he went to school! Of course, I could get a call at any minute saying he passed out or something, but we’ll hope for the best.

Butch:

Ah, man. Coughing sucks. Coughing kid sucks. Hope he’s doing better.

Where were we re MEA?

Ok, I’ll start.

Were you as bothered as I was with the massive amount of post credit shit? I don’t mind a little cutscene, but I thought all that dulled the ending to a large degree.

Feminina:

Yeah, all that was a little weird. It’s like “big dramatic ending, yay!” Credits, you’re feeling pretty good, and then “oh, hey, wait, don’t go away, we’ve also got this other stuff!”

I don’t know, I feel in a way it worked with Ryder as a slightly less badass typical hero…a bit awkward, not sure about how to do the job or whether she’s the right person to do it. Maybe it makes sense to have a slightly less typical ending, where yeah, there’s a big dramatic fight and everyone cheers you, but then…you still have to deal with this slightly awkward stuff, you still don’t quite know how to do the job, things just kind of carry on even when you’re ready for them to be finished. Because that’s life when you’re kind of a regular doofy person and not a superhuman badass (even when you are in fact a superhuman badass).

I don’t know if I’m going to argue that they did that on purpose for Theme, but that was the way it managed to totally not annoy the hell out of me.

I think also if you’re the type who plays the main story and then keeps playing the game to wrap up side quests, it would have made a lot more sense. “You want to stick around? Do! There’s all this stuff to do! Even some new stuff!” So maybe they’re just aiming more for that group than for us with our “we do everything we can stand to do before finishing the main quest, and then we never want to see the game again” approach. It wouldn’t be the first time somebody designed something for not-us.

Butch:

It was SO redundant, though. Why did I have to talk to everyone? I planted a garden, listened to PB talk about how this was her family, looked at Jaal’s stars….all of that was WAY better than the cursory endgame chats. Sure, bioware DOES the cursory endgame chat (DAO, DAI, etc.) but it’s PREcredits, and not after all the other good epilogues you got through the game.

And, if you really wanted to do the Helius 7 thing, that could’ve very easily have been a short, three minutes, post credit cutscene. Making me run around? Why? Just…why?

I clocked the whole endgame. I played an hour. AN HOUR! 1/15 of Uncharted! That’s just silly.

And true, it could be with other kinds of players in mind. But other games let you do all that without wasting an hour of your time. And I’m not sure it was that. Really, the last thing (even though my Suvi thing was after even this) was the cheering as Helius 7 is renamed. That FELT like an ending, and would have been fine had it not been an HOUR after the ending.

I don’t get it. They had lots of places to end the thing, and then picked a wrong one.

Typical of this game, really. And rather sad. There was a lot of good in this game, but it just couldn’t stick to it.

Feminina:

I feel like there was so much they wanted to do and include, and in the end they just did and included all of it.

“Put in everything.”
“What do you mean, everything?”
“EV. RY. THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And here’s another discussion point: we talked about how we did more things differently in this game than practically ever before. Did it make any difference? I mean, we ended up with different people, that’s a difference, but all of the in-game major decisions about supporting one person or another, shooting or not shooting someone…it seems like we wound up at pretty much the same place regardless.

Which is reasonable because they don’t want to make 50 radically different endings (although…maybe the slow post-credit stuff was where those differences show up, but we just didn’t do the RIGHT things differently to have noticed dramatic differences in how things turned out), and because the ending is not the whole story and making decisions in the course of play still matters to how you experience the game, but…do we end up feeling that none of our decisions actually made that big a difference?

I mean, my Macen is a drunken wreck and yours is a badass pathfinder, so that’s one clear distinction.

What about Sid’s final bit, did you wind up revealing the truth, or lying to maintain peoples’ faith in government? (I lied, perhaps oddly. I just figured…undermining the entire structure CAN’T be a good idea at this fragile stage. Though that’s always the argument, isn’t it?)

Anyway. Making different choices: what difference does it make?

Butch:

Well, the word was that this game had a difficult development. That sort of thing can lead to Frankengame. A whole lot of stuff gets chucked in, some gets cut (I still think all those remnant structures with kett that were easy to speed by and ignore had a point in some early draft of the game), some doesn’t. Sometimes too much gets cut and you have holes in a game, sometimes not enough and you get this.

There were many times this felt like Frankengame.

And I think certain choices made the last bit easier. I had a bunch of dudes fighting for me, and they were killin’ dudes. Luckily, I had the subtitles on, so I could actually hear when Sloane and Morda and everyone was all “We’re holding the left pathfinder!” or “We’ll hold them here! Go on!” But other than that, there didn’t seem to be much. Certainly not in terms of narrative.

Maybe we’d find out if we kept playing. I suppose I could run around talking to Vetra and Sid and everyone, but I don’t want to. And, even then, I find it hard to believe that it would make a difference past dialog. The real hardcore consequences (like characters dying at the end of ME2) have lost their window of appearing in the narrative.

And I was expecting a couple of those! Drack’s age and apparent death wishes made me absolutely convinced he’d die. Maybe some of them would had they not been loyal, but we’ll never know.

It’s especially striking that it didn’t seem to matter much considering a MAJOR knock on ME3 was that nothing really mattered. You had that end of game “red/green/blue” choice no matter what, and people didn’t like that. They had to patch in that end of game slideshow where you saw how everyone wound up because of your decisions (which I really liked). You’d think they would have learned from that.

Feminina:

Hmm…yeah, it doesn’t look as if any of the decisions make that much difference (see Polygon walkthrough). I mean, it changes who’s available to help you at the end, and maybe if you made all the ‘wrong’ choices the final fight would be harder because you have fewer people on your side, but there were a number of times where I picked the ‘wrong’ thing, and the final battle was still…well, the final battle. We talked about it. It was fine, not too tiny and boring, not too frustratingly difficult. You must have to work hard to get to a point where it has any real impact, if there is such a point.

Butch:

That’s….disappointing. Especially as I had two levels of difficulty under normal I could have switched to.

“Screwed it all up? Whatever. Click down, all set.”

Well, I GUESS you could have lost companions to the fact that you pissed them off, but that’s not really a penalty.

Maybe the thinking is that they don’t want people to think they’ve won or lost in an RPG, which I can see. You don’t want people metagaming and trying to make choices that are the “best” result. After all, consequences or not, there were times in the game where we made choices and talked about how those choices made us feel, and we wouldn’t have gotten that had we tried to “win.” So it still was good, from our own playing perspective, that we played how we did. But there ought to be a middle ground. After all, you can make choices that hurt people. The slideshow at the end of ME3 showed that. The original Fallouts had similar slideshows that showed that. So….balance.

Feminina:

It’s true, we don’t want it to be about “winning or losing,” and there is value in having to make a choice and think about what that choice means for the character you’re playing. Absolutely.

But yeah, I also agree that it’s nice to have some actual, tangible example of what turned out differently, if anything, based on one choice or another. And having the difference be purely about who turned up in the final battle feels flat.

OK, so if you save the angaran AI it gives you useful data for the final battle. Fine. But what ELSE does it do? What does it mean in peoples’ day-to-day lives? Apparently nothing. At least, nothing we know about in THIS game, so stay tuned for the sequel that will probably never happen!

Meh.

Butch:

Another thing that reeks of Frankengame.

I know you can’t be bothered with the codex, so I’ll fill you in: There was a whole tab called “The journey so far” that cataloged, like, EVERYTHING you did. There were things in there I’ve forgotten already because they were so minor. If the game bothered to keep track of it, that meant it either mattered, or it was GOING to matter at some point in the development of the game.

Buttons has pointed out that only 30% or so of people bother to finish games they start (who ARE these people), so, when cutting time and effort to develop a part of a game, often the ending gets short shrift because they figure 70% of everyone won’t see it. You said “They can’t make, like, 50 endings,” but maybe they meant to at one point in the fraught development of the game, and, when they got to the point where they were over budget and behind schedule (the game did get delayed), they threw in the towel with the endings they were going to make. “Ah, fuck it, just put something in the final fight.”

Which is disappointing, but “This got cut” does feel like a plausible explanation. If that is the case (and we’ll never know), it’s infuriating because there’s SO much they should’ve and could’ve cut that wasn’t the ending.

Feminina:

Ah, “the journey so far.” It’s true, I never looked at that tab. I knew it was there, but I figured “if I don’t remember it with my own brain, it doesn’t matter.” My pathfinder has a short attention span and doesn’t care who knows it. “Who’s doing what with the what now? Never mind, I’ve moved on.”

It’s a nice idea, since it was probably supposed to help keep track of all those sprawling side quests, where we’d be thinking “wait, who’s Spender and why does Drack hate him?” but if it’s not somehow directly linked to the quest line, I’m not going to bother going to another tab to look it up.

See, I finish games, usually (unless they have no possible way to sprint, or contain purple tentacles), but I’m lazy in other ways. Somebody who always reads all the information on every tab but doesn’t get around to finishing the game is thinking “Who ARE these people?”

Butch:

Except it wasn’t to keep track of what you were doing, it was to keep track of what you did. It would say shit like “You told Sid she was brave,” but it wouldn’t SAY that until you finished the quest. And it was that vague. So it would say stuff like “You told Sheggie to keep the tooka” without explaining what the fuck that was.

And it kept track of EVERYTHING, thus leading one to believe that these things mattered. There was no other reason, because these quests were over. Why care about the results of completed quests unless the outcome matters?

And yet, in the final version of the game, they didn’t matter.

Feminina:

Damn it, I KNEW I should have kept the tooka myself! It was obvious Sheggie couldn’t be trusted!

But now I’m kind of glad I never looked at it, because it sounds unhelpful, and, at the end, irrelevant. Thanks for easing my mind on that one.

Butch:

It really was. But man, it sure looked and felt like something that was going to be relevant, which is yet another thing that made me think that there was more going on in earlier iterations of the game. It was like the stuff that this would be relevant to wasn’t there, and, when they chopped that stuff, they couldn’t be bothered to chop the stuff in the codex.

Frankengame, I say.

Feminina:

It is odd. Unless it was also meant to be a quick way to record information that could be transferred from this game into a sequel, where some of those decisions might be meaningful? There’s no real point in us even being able to see it, if that’s true, but maybe they thought…people wanting to follow up on their MEA playthrough but play MEA2 (or whatever) on another system, or whatever, could look up and copy in their information? I dunno, that’s definitely a stretch.