All Good Drinks Must Come to an End

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Still talking vacations, still not spoiling

Butch:

Well did an all you can eat seafood buffet last night, which you think you wouldn’t dig until I say it was also all you can eat dessert. Was pretty good.

Mrs McP woke up and took the boys to an all you can eat breakfast buffet. The thought of smelling food after last night pains me, so I sit alone drinking coffee looking at the ocean.

I think I win.

Well, once you discount the terrible sunburn I got yesterday. I put sunscreen on twenty seven times, still burned. Unfair.

Feminina:

Yes. I will have that. I will go straight to the dessert. A bucket of ice cream sundae on top of a whole pie should suffice.

Sorry about the sunburn, though. That sucks. We pallid, shade-dwelling things were never meant for Swimsuited Beach Vacation: the Reality.

This is why I vacation in Oregon. In the winter.

Butch:

I saw people eating that! I asked the waiter “what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen?” And he said “let’s just say nothing surprises me anymore “.

The sunburn is a badge of honor.

Gotta fight those gamer stereotypes, man.

Sigh. Just wrapped up the last beach morning.

I’ve decided last day rum drinks should be like end game boss fights: almost impossible to finish, but you just keep trying.

Feminina:

Ha! Nice. Nice game tie-in for a nearly gameless week.

“I’ve passed out 15 times already but I–will–FINISH THIS.”

Butch:

You just gotta find its weakness.

“Started with the cherry last time and it didn’t work. Maybe if I drink the floater first…..”

Feminina:

“What if I sneak up on it with a very thin straw? What if I try pouring it into a bucket first? There’s GOT to be a way!”

Butch:

There will be a way!

But I can’t overdo it cuz I’m going back to the place with the mousse and the frozen chocolate cup.

That’s sorta like the cool after credits scene.

Feminina:

Ooh, yeah, you can’t miss that!

Man, I want that so much right now…frozen…chocolate…mousse…it’s so hot out…sigh.

Buckets: Not Just for Booze Anymore

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

How about this:

A mug made out of frozen chocolate filled with chocolate mousse? Frozen to keep the mousse cold you see.

I’m gonna weigh 300 pounds when I see you next.

But swimming is exercise!

Don’t finish MEA.

Feminina:

I would like three of those, please.

Now I want chocolate. And mousse.

And pie, just because pie.

Dude, I haven’t played since you left. I’ll be lucky to finish a side quest.

Butch:

Dude why not? No spouse time is binge time.

Feminina:

Oh, he’s back now. And even in his absence, the kids are still around needing to be put to bed and have their lunches packed and stuff. And they’re all wakeful and antsy with the late daylight. By the time they got to sleep at almost 9:00, I was just honestly too tired.

Butch:

Riiiight. I forgot some people have kids that stay up later than seven. Poor folks.

Ok, I’m covered in salt and chlorine and full of bucket booze. Let’s analyze something!

Gameplay! Narrative! Nudity!

Feminina:

We are indeed much to be pitied.

Narratively relevant nudity!

And buckets of equally relevant booze.

Naked Beach Vacation: the Game!

Butch:

I would play that.

If it had buckets. And sorceresses.

Man we’re gonna be a mess by tomorrow.

Feminina:

I don’t know how it would NOT have buckets. You can’t serve booze in ordinary receptacles during Naked Beach Vacation!

Butch:

This is so.

That said, we must work to make the bucket an ordinary receptacle.

Feminina:

We must! I would totally drink other things out of buckets.

Chocolate malts, for example. Or hot chocolate, in the winter. And a nice bucket of coffee first thing in the morning is just the way to get the brain in gear!

Butch:

We’re pretty chatty for not playing and drinking a lot. We might be on to something!

Quest for the Booze Bucket

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers because no games.

Butch:

Vacations are tiring. There’s a certain irony to that.

If our T shirt venture fails, I think we should set up a series of resorts with nothing but games, booze, dessert and very, very quiet rooms.

And no kids.

I often find myself thinking “this would be fun with friends. Femmy and Mr O would dig this.” But then I realize kids.

Ah well.

Feminina:

Vacations ARE tiring. I blame children. I mean, in the old days you could go on vacation and just lie around drinking all day with nary a care. No longer.

Someday. When we take vacations from the home.

Also, now Google is reminding me through old photos that 6 years ago this week we were drinking in Paris. With no children.

Thanks, Google.

Butch:

Who’s we? We went to Belgium. More than six years ago.

Feminina:

Sorry, that was vague…meant ‘we’ as in Mr. O’ and me.

Belgium, indeed, was long ago in the mists of time. What…13 years ago, wasn’t it?

Wow. Where does the time go? We’ll do that again someday!

From the home.

Butch:

The home sounds nice.

Does it have booze buckets?

Feminina:

That’ll be one of the primary things we ask about when we’re shopping around.

On-site nursing care? Beautiful grounds for recreational strolling? Educational events? Meh.

Booze buckets?
Sign me up!

Butch:

Booze buckets? Sign me up!

The t shirt we retire on.

We bring it all full circle.

Though I didn’t get my bucket today! Went on a pirate cruise with Nugget and Meatball. Fun, save for lack of buckets.

Must. Find. Bucket.

Feminina:

There’s still time! All is not lost!

Find. The. Bucket.

Butch:

Failure.

But my dad brought over a whole bottle of Bacardi black.

My phone’s autocorrect knows Bacardi. Not surprised.

Feminina:

Your phone understands priorities.

Even if it is very disappointed in you for not finding the bucket.

Butch Goes on Vacation So You Don’t Have To

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for your ability to be content without a bucket of booze?

Butch:

Travel blog time!

Rum is good. So is fun. Korean barbecue flavor kettle chips are too.

Kidding aside, lovely here. Already gotten in a couple swims and a good beach day.

And rum.

And our huge assed place will let you borrow actual shopping carts you can drive right into the kitchen to unload your groceries!

It’s the little things.

Try not to finish MEA.

Feminina:

I don’t like kettle chips or barbecue, so gross, but the rum and fun sounds nice!

As for me, uh…well, I’ve discovered that chocolate brownie Clif bars (too often my sad excuse for lunch) are pretty good with peanut butter.

So I’ll contribute that to the food-related discussion.

Butch:

KOREAN barbecue. Please.

Now if only the kids weren’t so tired. This would be better with just Mrs McP.

Still. Rum.

Don’t finish MEA.

Feminina:

I’m not going to finish a damn thing. I’ll be lucky if I even play. I blame summer and it staying light so late (and the sun actually being out)…kids will not sleep lately.

Still. Rum.

Or, in my case, bourbon chocolates that Mr. O’ brought back from Kentucky. Tasty!

Butch:

That’s ok. Look at it this way: better bloggage.

Those chocolates sound awesome. You had me at bourbon.

Although….

image1

My booze is in buckets.

So, all even really.

Feminina:

Buckets of booze? Give me buckets of boozy chocolate and I’m there.

You know, I’m pretty sure I could still get plenty of work done if I had one of those for lunch.

Butch:

Better work at that.

Think of the bloggage!!!!

We Begin By Crashing Onto a Planet

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the beginning of Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Well, crashed on a planet! That’s something!

I’m into it! Feels very much like a Mass Effect game. And I already call that we’ll be able to bang Cora.

Why does she look so familiar? Was she in the last games?

So:

I like the whole “disgraced N7” dad thing. Nice touch.

Question: There were all sorts of things that I could inspect that did jack shit. “Inspect Cryo pod.” Ok…and…nothing. Not even a quip. Is that a bug? What gives?

Gameplay nuance: What do you think about being able to move the camera during dialog? I’m not sure I’m into it. I think I’ve already missed some stuff. This makes dialog more like gameplay and less like cutscene, and I’m not sure if I’m not into it or just not used to it.

Rant: AGAIN with the switching to first person! I get that that whole drop ship thing was supposed to have tension and all that, and it was well done, but DUDES I am getting steamed at this whole switching nonsense!

Ok, we’ll start there.

How was the kid ice cream?

Feminina:

Yeah, you can scan all kinds of stuff that doesn’t actually do anything. If you mean hitting X to examine a specific thing, but then nothing happens…I don’t know, that sounds weird. I think I vaguely remember that happening once or twice but I kind of assumed I must have already examined it? Or something?

Maybe it’s a glitch. Anyway, it’s not a prominent feature of the game later on, that I’ve noticed, so hopefully it won’t bother you going forward.

Perspective shift–yeah. I’m thinking maybe it’s that they want to get blurry and fade to black when Ryder’s woozy/unconscious because we’re only supposed to know what she knows, but it would feel awkward to blur the screen or cut the image if it stayed in third person.

Recall how you mentioned something like this with Geralt and the hags in TW3. We discussed how it seemed awkward to have the hag spitting gunk that got in OUR way by covering the ‘camera,’ but maybe that was the best way they could think to make Geralt’s limited vision transfer to the player without making it first person.

In game convention, when we just hang back and watch her fall to the ground, it means she’s dead, so maybe they want this to be more personal, and the best way they could think to do it was to pull in to her head.

Like a story that’s mostly going on in omniscient narrator style with “the hero marched blithely along, not noticing that a rock was about to drop on his head,” and then pulls close in to say “suddenly he felt a thud, a sharp pain, and the world went blurry before darkness closed in.”

I dunno, man. I confess, these short perspective shifts that center on a single character bother me less than the “mostly we stick with Lara, but then occasionally we’re a fly on the wall hearing a conversation in a room she’s nowhere near” shifts. To each their narrative peeve, I suppose.

Ice cream was fine, though there wasn’t enough of it (little sundae cups, you know), so I may be forced to procure more at some point in the near future.

Maybe at lunchtime…if it’s not raining….

Butch:

Nah, it was that “hold triangle” stuff. It was before I learned how to use focus…I mean scan.

I did catch myself pushing R3 every two seconds. Doesn’t work anymore.

And no, man (SHIT you played this a while ago) I’m talking about the WHOLE RIDE on the drop ship, the whole fall from the thing, etc. From the moment you get on the thing, it’s first person until you hit the ground. This keeps happening? Shit.

Fall to the ground? Spoilin’ here! Spoilin!

That bit bothered me A LOT. On that we agree.

Kid ice cream socials are always disappointing. We need kids with bigger appetites.

And, in other news, DAY-UM:

Last Of Us Cosplay Went To Chernobyl To Get The Apocalypse Just Right

Feminina:

Respect. Major respect for the cosplayers. That’s pretty cool. I’ve heard Chernobyl is weirdly beautiful to visit, and apparently full of wildlife.

OK, yeah, it’s been a while…I only have a vague memory of looking through a visor in first person. And it was in a part you apparently haven’t seen yet–sorry, didn’t mean to spoil.

I mean, I remember the part of the story you’re talking about, going to the planet, etc., but I don’t remember it in first person. Apparently I am WAY less sensitive to this particular issue than you are.

Which means that when I say I don’t think it keeps happening, you will obviously not trust me, because it could happen in every cutscene and I probably wouldn’t notice–but, nevertheless, I don’t THINK it keeps happening.

You can let me know if I’m terribly, terribly wrong.

We DO need kids with bigger appetites. We need the standard for kid ice cream parties to be “one pint per person.” Not this quarter-cup nonsense.

Butch:

I saw a thing about Chernobyl and thought “That does look like a video game.” I guess they saw the same one.

I AM SENSITIVE TO THINGS GOD DAMMIT!

I’m also punchy cuz Mrs. McP is home and the kids know that vacation starts tomorrow and everyone is batshit nuts.

Wish I was killing ROBOT DINOSAURS. Or banging a space hottie.

Did you see my character, there? Speaking of space hotties.

Feminina:

I saw the notice that you’d sent a screencap of your space hottie while O’Jr. was firing up the machine to watch Ninjago, but I haven’t managed to play at all in a week.

In theory, Mr. O’s gone so I get the console every night!

In practice, I’m too tired to turn it on.

He’s back tomorrow, so maybe I’ll get a chance to sign in and review your Leliana clone.

Spouses: they can’t win. If they’re home, you can’t play, if they’re gone, I can’t play.

As for kids, they’re always getting in the way of play, so that’s a constant.

Butch:

She’s pretty. I did well.

I CAN play with Mrs. McP around, except she doesn’t understand when not to ask questions about laundry or my day or anything. NO TALKING DURING CUTSCENES!

As for your week, you know when I say “I got nothing, too tired to play, kids were like that, my soul hurts?”

Welcome to my world, Femmy. Welcome to my world.

Feminina:

Your world is harsh and terrible.

Definitely no talking during cutscenes. I would say also no talking during dialogue, because I might miss something and not know what conversation option to choose.

Also no talking during combat, because I might get distracted and die.

You know what, just…no talking. Conversation is overrated.

Butch:

It’s as we say: Play FIRST, talk LATER.

Much later.

Feminina:

MUUUUUUUCH later. There is no talking during video games.

Ideally, anyway.

MAYbe if you must interrupt with “the house is on fire!” or “I just found a giant pile of money/barrel of booze/bucket of ice cream!”

Otherwise, I don’t want to hear about it.

Butch:

And only one of them. Cuz if someone is all “I found booze and the house is on fire,” well, just move the damn booze and I’ll get to it at the next save point.

24 hours from now, there’s gonna be a whole metric shitton of booze. Sigh. Happy thoughts. Vacation!

Feminina:

So true. “You know where the fire extinguisher is! Get the giant pile of money to safety and we’ll talk after this fight.”

Have a good time with the sun and the sea and the booze, my friend. I’ll be here, eating consolation ice cream.

Butch:

Oh I’ll travel blog it for sure.

Careful, Your Face Will Get Stuck Like That

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for character creation and the most basic plot setup in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Ok, dude, for real, what’s with the “You don’t have as many customization options on your face?” I mean, yes, sure, true, you cannot be a horned, scaled cat person. That I give you. But is it to the point where “you won’t spend forever building a character?” No.

I spent forever building a character.

Then found you can’t tell if your character is just so until pretty deep in the opening cinematic.

Which I have now seen twice.

And since I spent so much time getting my Leliana (variety!) clone just so, and Mrs. McP came home early, I just got to the whole “your brother’s case is broken!” which is pretty damn early.

But hey, nice opening cinematic! Little cheesy on the “The got their start on………….” (FADE) “ANDROMEDA!” Nice use of Clancey Brown.

But here’s something we must put into writing re bloggage: Now…here’s the thing. We’re big bioware fans, and, as such, have good, fond memories of bioware. We also are coming off a game that we both enjoyed very, very much, and respected very, very much. That said, we really should try, as much as we can, not to harsh on this game because it isn’t, say, ME2, DAO, or HZD. We can’t turn into the bloggers who are all “No Garrus? IT SUCKS! No ROBOT DINOSAURS? IT SUCKS!”

I reserve the right to say it sucks if it has no BHBEBBs.

Feminina:

A Leliana clone! You’re branching out. I’m impressed. What’s your name? Mine is Ellen, which is meant to be after Ellen Ripley (because why not). Of course everyone calls you Ryder, which will theoretically be rather confusing if/when Scott wakes up, but whatever. I guess I’m the oldest, so I get to use the family name. He can be Scott.

I also was slightly amused by the cheese factor of “….ANDROMEDA!!!!!” But hey, a little melodrama now and then never hurt anyone. And I thought in general the beginning sequence did a good job of getting you right into the action.

We know roughly where we are and why and what we’re doing and now…STUFF HAPPENS!

Good, solid intro.

Butch:

Ooo! Ellen Ripley! Nice tie in! Though I dare you to go three straight playing sessions without shouting “Get away from her you BITCH!” at the screen.

I kept Sara. Cuz of the tie in you see! Shepard was called Shepard not just for the Jesus imagery. He was named after Alan Shepard. Sara Ryder is an homage to Sally Ride, first American woman in space. (I guess in 2185 no one gives a shit that the Russians beat us both times).

And I’m guessing: we got here without using the Mass Relays, right? Cuz that wouldn’t have taken so long. We just did it the old fashioned way: with physically impossible engines and cryo chambers.

Seriously, this took forever. I thought when you guys were all “Not many options” that you pick one out of ten and that’s that. Shit, I took ten minutes getting the eyes right. Did you guys miss an option, there?

It was the eye depth that did me in. Couldn’t really tell on the creation screen, so when it got to the game my poor Leliana looked like she hadn’t slept in forever and had a hangover and allergies.

Feminina:

Well, the context will have to be right. It’s not all the time that someone is close enough to someone else that Ripley’s classic line will make sense.

It also turns out (minor spoiler) that Ryder’s mother’s name was Ellen, so I guess I was also named after her.

Physically impossible engines and cryochambers is the way to go! If it was good enough for previous generations of science fiction, it’s good enough for us.

I think I said Mr. O’ had complained that there weren’t AS many options for customization. Meaning that in previous games you just had one boring face and you tinkered with every. single. detail. Where now there are a bunch of templates and you only tinker with ALMOST every single detail.

In fact, I didn’t complain at all, because I was all “hey, this one looks fine, let’s go.” Yeah, I noticed that there were still plenty of options for tinkering with jaw angle and eye depth and so forth, but I intentionally ignored most of them and was happy to do it.

They really should give you the opportunity to see your character in different lighting before you sign off on it, though. Like you, half the time I get into the game and think, “man, this isn’t quite the face I was going for.”

Unlike you, I invariably say “hell with it–who among us is born with exactly the face they would have chosen?” and go forward, because I get really tired of fiddling with eye depth.

My Ryder really is pretty much exactly one of the templates, with a little different makeup, and honestly I am perfectly happy with her.

Butch:

I dunno, man. I plan on traveling with hotties as much as possible.

I mean, experimenting with squad mates that compliment me.

Heh.

It sure is good enough! We can’t all be as creative as HZD.

I just got sad.

I should have known it was Mr. O complaining. He is a perfectionist, he is.

I ignored most of the options in DA2, but only cuz one of the templates was a BEBHBB. I tinkered here like holy hell. One does what one must. I’m gonna be looking at her for 70 hours or so. Gotta get it right.

Being able to see your character in different lighting: YES! SO MUCH YES!

Again, 70 hours. That’s a long time. And if I miss a detail, I’ll know for 70 hours. No.

You’re very accepting. I’m a perfectionist. Not as crazy as Mr O, but still.

Feminina:

You gotta do what you gotta do. For your art.

OK, it’s my turn to be a good parent, so I’m leaving work early to take O’Jr. to the library ice cream social and sign him up for the summer reading (i.e. being read to) program.

I’m mostly about the ice cream, but I suppose developing a lifelong appreciation for reading is OK.

Although I’m not sure how much summer reading programs actually do that, given the argument that rewarding them for doing something will just make them less interested in doing it if they don’t get a reward…but whatever, I want ice cream.

Butch:

Of course you do.

Enjoy!

A Pause for Reflection

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No spoilers for anything

Butch:

I got nothing. Had an actual friend come over. I’m starting to see why so many gamers have no life. It seems to be a prerequisite for having the time to play.

I’m barely going to have time to make my BHBEBB* before I go on vacation.

Hey….is there a BHBEBB in this? IS THERE? We’ve established there’s hot Krogan. You sent a screencap of your potential love interest. Help me out, here!

I mean, I’m cool knowing that Chloe (Frazier) is waiting for me next month, but still. Why wait?

Oh, and not playing much today because I’m being a good dad and taking the brood to see sailboats. I expect, nay, require them to belt out Lowlands Away.

Feminina:

That is going to be SO. AWESOME.

I should demand that you get video for the blog. I can see it now: white sails against the sky, the calling of gulls, and three fresh-faced youngsters serenading the sea with “Lowlands Away.”

Bring a hat to pass around.

I’m afraid I have yet to meet a BHBEBB in MEA, but it’s early days yet.

Butch:

Well, then I’ll just have to make my own.

Life’s hard.

As for the hat-passing, we’d make a mint.

And anyone who pitches in five bucks gets a free T SHIRT!!!!!!!

 

*Black-haired, blue-eyed BioWare Babe

On to…ANDROMEDA [Dramatic Music]

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No spoilers

Butch:

Well, I installed MEA. That took the better part of forever. Then I patched MEA. That took the rest of forever.

It has a very nice desktop icon. I’ll give it that.

And it’s ready to go! But that’s as far as I got.

I did, however, start The Last Guardian with Junior, which I got him for Xmas, but he’s been wanting to watch me play HZD. It’s intriguing. I have a feeling that it’ll be free at some point, and I’ll let you know then if you should grab it. So far…hmm. It’s very Japanese. It’s very stylized in that way. We really don’t know enough about the Japanese school of game making, but what can you do? Can’t play ’em all.

Might be one you would want to play with Blasto. I’ll keep you posted.

But I’ll get on MEA right quick! If it’s done patching. Heh.

Feminina:

It does have a nice icon. Its main load screen is also attractive, and the music is nice–a bit somber, as befits a vast and serious undertaking, but not too heavy.

Good luck with the labor-intensive process of creating your perfect Morrigan lookalike!

Butch:

You know? For variety’s sake, I might go with Leliana….

But probably not.

Two lookalikes. I’ll get one, then it’ll look lousy in the game lighting and back to the drawing board. It’s how I do.

Feminina:

You have to go with what works for you. Why mess with failure that is eventually followed by success?

Butch:

To quote Cookie Monster, me am what me am.

Ugh. Why is the week before vacation so hard? I don’t even have a job!

So tired…..

It’s All Over But the Endless Discussing

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Fairly massive spoilers for the end of Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

Ok done. We’ll talk. Later.

Oh and another thing to warn your blog mate about? Timed fights.

Dude.

[Later]

A TIMED fight? Dude. DUDE. The whole point of that armor is “chip, chip, hide, recharge.” You can’t DO that if it’s timed. I didn’t die once. But I ran out of time twice.

But more, that fight, like SO many boss fights are, was a fight that missed what made all the other fights in the game so great. This game was so good at making you think fights through, planning fights, picking your tactics. This fight, with its “over the wall” start, cover that was really for getting out of the way more than hiding to plan, and it’s time limit led it to be a run and shoot and shoot and shoot and hope you get enough shot in fight. By the end, I was just pumping fire arrows in as fast as I could, with no other thought to it at all.

Which was SO disappointing. But it’s a disappointment that seems to present in every damn game. It’s either a bullet sponge fight or a QTE or something stupid that undermines all the cool fights from earlier.

Oh well.

So there’s that. Let’s do that. Then we can do the last scene BEFORE The credits, and then (if you saw the after credit scene what am I talking about of course you did) we can do the after credit scene.

Feminina:

Sorry, man. I didn’t realize timed fights were on the ‘warning’ list. I mean, I know they’re annoying, but just remember to shoot at its knees and pump those fire arrows and it wasn’t THAT bad. Plus I thought there was a little bit of tension/planning in the fact that you had to avoid the OTHER machines when they showed up, because as Erend would keep yelling at you “you focus on the deathbringer! let us handle these!”

But it’s so habitual to fight monsters that show up, that dodging them and running off was a bit of a switch. I mean, yeah, it wasn’t an enormous thoughtful strategic challenge, but I didn’t think it was that bad. By the end I’m just as happy to have something I can plow through and get done with.

Butch:

One of the reasons I lost time (and the game) on one attempt was my misguided attempt to pry a cannon off a ravager. ‘Twas for naught.

I dunno. Maybe I’m annoyed cuz I was looking through my list of games I’ve played (you don’t have one?) and, by my count, the last SIX (this, RotTR and all the Uncharteds) AAA games I’ve played have all ended either with a bullet sponge or a QTE fest or both.

You know how I feel about annoyed end game boss fights. Shit, games, at least make them interesting.

I’ll stop ranting.

So the last scene (Before the credits, you saw the after credit one of course you did):

I finished this Friday night and I’m still digesting.

Lot to unpack here. (Though, as a quick aside before we get to the deep stuff, seeing Avad hug some random guard who was obviously all awkward about it was so wonderfully wonderful.) First, ending on Sobeck’s voiceover. Hmm. I don’t know how I feel about that. This was Aloy’s game….or was it? WAS IT? Second, making it, explicitly, from GAIA’s log. Not Sobeck’s; GAIA’s. Third, having Sobeck’s body there found in a triangle like the metal flowers, which we know were “spreading life.”

The game was trying to say a lot, and there are metaphors all over the damn place (too many?) such that I’m still in ponder mode all this time after.

You’ve been done longer. You give me your take.

Feminina:

I did actually get a gun off a ravager once!–but it lost me more time than it gained me in damage.

My list of games I’ve played is this blog. Anything before the blog is lost to the sands of time.

So, yeah…the triangle of flowers we’ve seen around the metal flowers. Spreading life. Coded life. Did that all come from Dr. Sobeck somehow? I do not freakin’ know, man. It was definitely a “whoa…what the hell?” moment.

Obviously it Means Something, but I don’t know what.

As for ending on Sobeck’s/Gaia’s journal, I assumed that was the last of the materials Aloy picked up that her focus had been working on unscrambling, so not so much a literal Sobeck/Gaia voiceover, as a “here’s a final piece of the puzzle that explains the past.”

Sort of. What did it explain, exactly? The relationship between Sobeck and Gaia, Gaia’s developing ‘humanity,’ Sobeck’s potential relationship with Aloy herself, had she ever had the chance to meet her.

Her work (Gaia, the green robots, the whole new world) was her child. Her child (Gaia, Aloy, sort of) was her work, and continued her work when she was gone. A sort of circle-of-life message. Sobeck was human and created all these machines. Aloy is human even though she was created by these machines. Human created god to save humans, god created human to save god. Interdependency.

And for Aloy I think it was meant to be something concrete about where she came from and a connection with her ‘mother’ (older genetic twin), as well as HER mother (in Sobeck’s story)–who is in a sense actually Aloy’s mother as well (she finally found her!), and who in another sense is her grandmother (connecting Aloy to a human history of multiple generations).

From the beginning Aloy wanted to know who she was and where she came from and why her mother wasn’t there. This felt like a kind of capstone on the explanation she found in bits and pieces throughout the game. THIS is who her mother was, this is where she came from, and this is why her mother wasn’t there…and, crucially, it’s not because she didn’t care.

I dunno. It wasn’t super explicit, but I thought it held together in terms of mood. I was a LITTLE skeptical that Sobeck’s body would still have been there out in the open after 1,000 years, especially given that rampaging robots were eating everything in sight when she died, but…suit…fending off the elements…hiding her from the robots…whatever, I won’t question too much.

Butch:

I did not get the ravager gun. Indeed, I was trying like hell when she said something about time and I said “Hey, what now? Oh…oh my….”

Fair point about games. I keep a list. By year. Cuz I have no life.

As for the ending, there was certainly a whole mess of trinity imagery all over it. GAIA kept saying to Sobeck “In you, all things are possible,” we certainly get that GAIA, at least, would consider Aloy both Sobeck’s clone and child, and if that isn’t all Christian, what is?

For a game that we’ve talked on being so unreligious, that was a very religious ending, I must say.

Or maybe not. You’re the mother, here. Did you read it all motherly? There was a lot of motherhood going on there, too.

True, I read it that way as well, with the voiceover being a journal/data fragment. But it was an interesting narrative choice to have the final words we hear after 70 hours be between Sobeck and GAIA. They didn’t have to end it that way, but they did. Sobeck saying “see you tomorrow.” Not Aloy, not Sylens, or Rost, or Avad, or anyone. Sobeck, to GAIA, with Aloy just looking on.

True about it not being that Aloy’s mother didn’t care. WAAAAY back in the lantern scene before the proving (remember that?) I picked “For my mother,” and Aloy was all “If I had known you BEFORE YOU ABANDONED ME (emphasis added).” I guess Sobeck didn’t abandon anyone, and maybe Aloy is cool with that?

Certainly for a reason.

As for the well-preserved body, I don’t know, unless there was something special about Sobeck even then. We’re sorta taking on faith that in a game where all this was possible that Sobeck was just a really smart person. Remember the first time we hear GAIA says “In you all things are possible” Sobeck shuts it off midsentence.

GAIA is surrounded by all sorts of super smart people. But she has a special thing for Sobeck. Maybe Sobeck isn’t as normal as we think.

It did hold together in terms of mood. Though, if we’re questioning, how did Aloy know where to go?

And I STILL don’t know why Rost said “I’m sorry” in that post death montage.

But for all the questions, I think this game did a much better job than other games in tying up a lot of loose ends. No game is perfect at that (some very good games are fucking terrible at it), so I’m satisfied.

But still…how’d she know where home is? Why’d Rost apologize? Besides being all “Yippie, we’re not dead” what’s the state of humanity?

And, most importantly, what’s with the ROBOT DINOSAURS? Aloy fixing shit obviously turned a lot of bad things off. Did it turn all the sawteeth and ravagers off? It didn’t turn EVERYTHING off, cuz she’s riding a strider at the end. We saw the deathbringer that was going to kill that kid get turned off, but the strider is a-ok.

Questions.

I suppose we’ll have story DLC and a sequel that will answer so very many questions raise AFTER the credits, won’t we? You watched that?

Blog segue…….

Feminina:

Hm. It is true…maybe Sobeck (and hence Aloy, if it’s genetic) is super special in some way that we haven’t yet seen. Extremely high midichlorian count or something. Ha.

And yeah, there was a lot of religious-like imagery, which is interesting considering our recent discussion of how little patience Aloy has with unsubstantiated religious beliefs. The difference here being, of course, that this isn’t unsubstantiated.

As for the world and all the machines, my reading was that defeating Hades (FOR NOW…ominous music–of course I watched after the credits) reversed the ‘derangement’ s that, presumably, the machines would stop getting more hostile and building scarier robots, but that other than the deathbringer, it wouldn’t stop them.

The deathbringer, remember, was part of the original killer robot horde that wiped out life on the planet, while the other machines we see around were designed by Gaia, presumably to fill ecological niches that she didn’t have the animal DNA for (though a lot of this remains unclear, so I could be wrong). Hades didn’t need to corrupt the deathbringer to make it…you know, bring death…where the other machines had to be corrupted to make them really go out of their way to go after humans. Even the nasty ones, if not corrupted, seemed to mostly leave people alone if people didn’t go into their territory.

And they had a hell of a lot of territory, so this is not a “hey, no problem!” kind of situation, but there’s still a difference between “I hang out here, enter at your own risk” and “I hang out here being all roiling and poisonous and cultists can command me to do their bidding.”

So as I saw it, we’re basically back to the world the tribes are used to, with the machines there but not as likely to attack villages and such. Because, I mean, you can’t have a sequel with no ROBOT DINOSAURS.

I have no insight on Rost. I mean, maybe he just felt bad that he basically told her he was going to disappear and never be seen again, right before he died. Maybe he had some secret that will turn up in the sequel. I dunno…he certainly had a story, and we certainly never found out what it was, so I could see it coming up again.

This game was all about mothers, maybe the next will be about fathers, and Rost was her father, effectively, so maybe she’ll go investigating his story next.

Butch:

The thought crossed my mind, and please don’t go there, game. Don’t. Not with the midichlorians.

And, well, wait. Unsubstantiated how? We know STUFF happened, but is it divine sort of stuff or just sciencey stuff? You started all this by saying Sobeck’s body was spreading code or something. There could be all sorts of perfectly reasonable explanations for all of this (and, indeed, this game gave more reasonable explanations for its nonsense than most other games). Aloy and GAIA and Sobeck could be reading my analysis and being all “C’mon, MAN! Stop it!”

About the machines: Yup. Tramplers, say. Tramplers were bad news. But they didn’t try to go nuts.

As for the DNA, I thought that made game sense. We know Apollo got deleted (I think, more on that in a bit), but the DNA was in one of the other protocols, I thought. So GAIA knew enough to make animals, just not to give them the knowledge of the old ones (maybe. More on that in a bit).

You could have a sequel without ROBOT DINOSAURS. But there’d have to be a whole TON of romance to get me to play it. Ha. Sorta ha.

She did keep going back to Rost. We’re not done with Rost.

And we’ll certainly have more story cuz AFTER CREDIT SCENE!

Now, first, I’m gonna put an asterisk next to your (For NOW…dum bum DUM) characterization of HADES. I think HADES isn’t really the bad guy. Sure, his role to end all life is very inconvenient if you happen to BE a living thing, sure. But I read him more as a tool than as a bad guy. We see him getting pulled around by a robot, unable to move. He ends up in a lantern, being carried around. Bossed around, even. He was really just doing his job and it wasn’t necessarily an evil job (inconvenient, yes, but not evil). After all, HADES was just as much a part of Zero Dawn as GAIA or Apollo or Minerva or anything. He, too, was part of Sobeck’s grand master plan. He wasn’t something someone made to say “That Sobeck, being all goody goody, I’ll show her…..” He was part of the plan! Her plan! The good guy’s plan!

So I think we gotta cut him some slack. Even if he was trying to kill everything.

Sylens, however…..

Now, the big thing that bugs me is the whole “How is HADES teaching anyone anything if Apollo got deleted?” Wasn’t Apollo all human knowledge? How is Sylens learning anything?

So we know Calculus and physics and whatever else survived. But HOW, dammit, HOW? DLC/sequel city.

So it’s time for….you guessed it…WILD SPECULATION!!!!!!

You know who didn’t entirely like Sobeck? Faro. You know who was always a bit jealous of Sobeck? Faro. You know who SAID he deleted Apollo? Faro. You know who we know made his OWN shelter for himself for the end of the world? Faro.

I’m gonna bet that, at some point in this franchise, we’re gonna visit that shelter, and there’ll be answers there.

Feminina:

Totally with you on Faro! That dude had issues, and also lots of resources, and we can be damn sure he hid some good info somewhere. And we’re going to find it, eventually.

Not totally with you on Apollo being all knowledge and therefore without Apollo no one can know anything. I read Apollo as a teaching program designed to store and pass on all knowledge, not necessarily the only repository of any knowledge. So, info that’s in the focuses (foci?) or wherever would have been duplicated in Apollo, but deleting Apollo doesn’t wipe it off every other device where it was ever saved.

I think it’s quite likely there’s a version of Apollo out there somewhere, but I also think that even if there isn’t, it’s not logically inconsistent to have some devices out there that are capable of teaching people some things.

Hades knows some things, and can teach Sylens some things, maybe just because it needs to be able to compare existing conditions with its list of “kill” conditions. You probably need to understand a lot of basic math and physics and biology, human history maybe, and who knows what all to be able to assess a bustling, life-having world and determine whether or not it meets whatever parameters have been established for “Success: Do Not Delete.”

What I’m still wondering about is what ARE those parameters? What is it about Aloy’s world that makes Hades want to hit the reset button?

Could it be the robot dinosaurs themselves? We know Gaia liked ancient forms of life that didn’t exist anymore when she was built, there was that bit where she was musing about how sad it was that dinosaurs weren’t alive anymore, or whatever. Maybe the machines are not actually part of the program at all, but Gaia made them because she likes them (because they remind her of Sobeck, with her green robot technology?), and Hades sees them and sees that they aren’t supposed to be there and decides it’s time to start over?

It would be interesting if the defining feature of this world is what makes Hades implacably determined to destroy it.

And I do agree that Hades is not, in itself, the bad guy. It’s more a force of nature (or of the technology that plays the role of nature now) than an purposefully malevolent villain. And I don’t think Sylens was intentionally trying to wipe out life on earth, although we have to be very, very suspicious of him now that he’s…trapped Hades in a lantern…somehow…because a Hades-trapping-flashdrive in lantern form would totally have been lying around somewhere….

Perhaps we shouldn’t dig too deeply on that one either.

Butch:

When, in a game, a dude mentions a gold plated shelter for himself, you are GOING to that place eventually.

I dunno, though. In that last “everyone dies” hologram, when he mentions he wiped Apollo, their reaction was “Centuries…millennia…countless cultures…all gone. Gone!”

They were pretty emphatic about “gone.” They were not “Hey, whatever, man, we have other copies.”

Hmm, good point about pieces of knowledge, though. Travis does say that part of it is chemical balance of the atmosphere, etc. Basic “can this support life” stuff, but that doesn’t seem to be the whole thing. So it must know something. But how much? Sylens certainly seems to think “a whole fucking lot.”

That would be awesome if HADES hated the ROBOT DINOSAURS.

“MUST DESTROY. ROBOT DINOSAURS!”
“But then no one will buy the sequels!”
“Ummm…..MUST DESTROY ANYWAY!”

But I still hold that the problem is humanity. We are the problem! After all, Sylens DID say that the slaughter in the sun ring, all of that, predated HADES showing up. What did in humanity in the first place was war and hate and all that. Maybe HADES just chills when it’s all rabbits and foxes and boars, or even ROBOT DINOSAURS! but when humans show up and start killing each other, HADES goes all “Whoopsie, that’s what sucked the last time.”

Morals, man. Morals.

The end of the game there: “If I had a child, I’d hope she’d be good, kind, she’d make the world better.” The good guys save the world through kindness, unity, charity, etc. Too much of the other? Bad news, man. And, if you teach GAIA to feel that being good is fundamentally good, then, by extension, being evil is bad. And since the same person ran both programs….

Oh, I don’t think Sylens was trying to destroy the world, either. I think he wanted Aloy to save the world. I don’t think Sylens has any sort of death wish. I think he wants to be what Faro wasn’t: a genius, richer than hell, but able to deal with all of that in a way that doesn’t lead to him alone underground. He wants to be the Sun King and Elon Musk all rolled into one, and saving humanity is necessary for that.

Feminina:

Oh, I agree that Apollo is an enormous loss and people were hugely freaked out by it, but I think the loss was more cultural. People mentioned the great cultures, human history, art, literature. I think that’s probably all gone with Apollo. But I think a lot of basic scientific knowledge, stripped of this cultural context, could easily have survived in various devices that were designed to measure things, project patterns, etc. That’s why I’m saying Hades could still have plenty to teach Sylens (and Aloy’s focus could still have plenty to teach her). You don’t need to be programmed with the entirety of human cultural history to teach reading, or how to scan for the weak parts of a machine, or whatever.

And when your baseline of scientific education is “nothing,” then anything Hades could provide would count as a huge increase, even without Plato and Shakespeare and what-not.

I’m intrigued by your theory that humans themselves are the problem, though that seems like a pretty big flaw in a plan to protect the existence of humans on earth. Though this could be more of that religious aspect…

“We shall create this incomprehensibly vast technological marvel to preserve the remnants of humanity! Oh, and if these humans do any of the bad things humans are known for doing, they shall be destroyed.”

Very garden of Eden, sin and you shall be cast out (where ‘cast out’ = ‘utterly obliterated’).

And it’s possible this is at work, since Faro did erase Apollo with the logic that future humans, without the contamination of knowledge, would be innocent.

Maybe he was all “they’ll totally never do anything bad without this wicked, wicked knowledge, so it’s fine to set Hades to wipe them out as soon as they do.”

If this is true, then here’s yet another interfering god-figure, trying to shape the future. I could buy it.

Man, I want to be playing the sequel right now.

Oh, and what percent did you finish at? How many hours? We must compare!

Butch:

Ah but see, they had to rush on Zero Dawn. It IS a big flaw, but if they were rushing and cut corners and punched in “trigger hades if there’s a threat to humanity ” they might not have thought “oh wait…that could be humans.”

Faro will certainly be a contrary God figure.

I, too, eagerly await the sequel. Remember when we were all “should we play that? I dunno…looks odd…but there isn’t much else….”

Silly us.

70:45, 83.5%. Those cauldrons counted for a lot.

Feminina:

Wow, I did an entire day more than you? Yeah, those cauldrons…and tutorials…and corrupted zones…and hunting grounds…and…I dunno, you did all the major stuff. I just I must have just spent a lot of hours rambling around.

We exhibited a healthy skepticism, that’s all. We can’t automatically assume everything that has ROBOT DINOSAURS in it is going to be great. It could have been Dino-Trux: the Game! We weren’t wrong to be wary.

We were right to take the chance, however.

Butch:

You did all the cauldrons, got all the flowers, did the tutorials, the corrupted zones, etc. I did not. I missed some of each. And all the tutorials.

A whole day. That…puts things in perspective.

What’s wrong with Dino-Trux the game? You can poop cement everywhere!

Yes, readers, we’re parents.

Feminina:

Yeah, think of it–you could have completed as much as I did, if you wanted to spend 24 more hours playing! That’s only probably…another month…maybe…

You make a good point: the Dino-Trux game is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to get it! I’m sure it will be packed with themes and rich character development. And burping, and pooping cement.

Seriously, cannot wait.

Butch:

Another month.

You cut me deep. Cuz it’s true.

Feminina:

I was only trying to make you feel better by stressing how you made the right choice to forego all those things, and how nice it is to be done now instead of a month from now!

Sorry if if came across like gloating over the fact that I have sufficient additional free time that I can spend a month’s worth of extra game sessions on something and still be done first. I definitely would never express any unseemly glee about a thing like that. It would never even occur to me until right now.

But hey, you still have a Pro and a better TV.

Butch:

Even after lo these many, many years of friendship, I never really know….

Sylens got nothing on you, man.

Feminina:

I do have a copy of Hades in my nightlight.

Just in case.

We Find Religion (It Was Behind the TV)

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Serious spoilers for almost the end of Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

So the “all allies” thing pops when you sleep, so I can rest easy. Got ’em all. Too bad I missed talking to Nil.

Ok, so you know how sometimes I’m tired as hell and I suck at games?

Killed Helis. This took the better part of forever. But I liked the end, there. “Face. The. Sun.” Were you nice? I was nice. I’m such a softy.

But here’s how much I sucked: I killed Helis. Thank EVERY GOD IN THE PANTHEON OF EVER that there was a save point. Why? Because I forced the door open, jumped and MISSED THE ZIP LINE and fell to my death. For real. The zip line. I missed the zip line.

If I had started over before the Helis fight, I’d have run off and joined the circus.

But I didn’t. I SHOULD have figured that missing the zip line was proof I should have stopped. But no. No I did not.

Thank EVERY GOD IN THE PANTHEON OF EVER for that cannon. I refuse to accept that fight was possible without the cannon. There is no way that fight could be done without the cannon.

But, see, you still need a little skill, cuz I was playing so badly that I kept accidentally falling off the platforms WITH the cannons, to where the machines were, and having to scramble back up. You drop the cannon if this happens.

Thank EVERY GOD IN THE PANTHEON OF EVER for that armor.

I did have the sense to know I did NOT have a death bringer in me. Not without that cannon.

So I stopped at “follow the trail of destruction.” So much for momentum.

It makes me nervous that Teb said everyone was wounded but alive…”Mostly.” What do you mean MOSTLY? Mostly dead? Not all dead?

One thing I really liked: Hades is just being dragged along. Usually the baddie is, like, 400 feet tall and spews fire and spells and all sorts of shit. Here, HADES is basically a big rock that has to be dragged along. The big baddie can’t even move without help.

Another convention they flipped.

Feminina:

Oh, that’s a relief. So you know Nil is out there, being weird for the cause, even if you didn’t see him.

OH MY GOD I also missed the zip line and fell to my death there. Apparently that was just a really badly placed zip line. It’s not our fault, man! It’s the design! Also Aloy was exhausted from that fight, which was pretty long even with me not really tired. I picked off all Helis’ guys easily enough, but he was tough, so it was just a lot of running around shooting at him from behind things and then hurrying off so my armor could recharge.

Love. The. Armor.

And yeah, I really don’t know how one would have done that second fight without the cannon. I mean, it MUST be possible, because the cannon is an optional mission, but man, it would be BRUTAL. I have no interest in knowing more about it. The cannons were great. Sweet armor and giant guns, that’s what it’s all about when facing an army of demented killer robots.

I was also a little concerned about Teb’s remark. Almost everyone is OK, but some aren’t? Everyone is mostly OK but a little bit maimed and/or traumatized for life?

And yeah, the menacing, sparking, yet also rather vulnerable Hades being dragged along like a lump was an interesting visual. And also an interesting symbol of Hades’ priorities. They could perfectly reasonably have said “oh, Hades demanded that the machines install it as the brain in a super-thunderjaw!” or something, so that, as you say, we’d have the usual image of the main villain stomping over the horizon being the baddest ass of all the badasses. But that’s not what Hades cares about–it doesn’t care about making a dramatic entrance or looking like a badass or impressing anyone. Which is pretty great in terms of being true to the character. Hades literally thinks life on earth is a mistake and wants to wipe it out completely: why would it have the slightest interest in whether anyone is impressed by its appearance during one particular battle while it does that?

“I don’t NEED limbs to do what I have to do, so screw that. These things can drag me, what do I care?”

As we’ve discussed before, the Voice of Doom thing it’s got going on is not quite so true to this interpretation of the character, but I’m going to assume Travis programmed that just because he thought it was appropriate. (He wouldn’t have needed to program in a desire for a scary-looking body, because it was never intended to need to move around.) If you asked, Hades would be all “what? this is just the way I talk. Does it sound some particular way to you?”

Alternatively, it found that voice useful in intimidating its human minions, and kept using it for that reason. It would be interesting if in some future game some future iteration of Hades (a backup copy or something: we’ve already speculated there’s a backup of Apollo, so why not Hades?) intentionally adopted a calmer tone to win over some other group of human minions; working towards the same goal, but adapting the methods.

The soothing lilac hordes could totally be a real thing!

Butch:

And, more importantly, as far as allies, I know I didn’t miss any cool sidequests.

But, on that, I like that a bunch of those dudes weren’t necessarily folks you thought “I am making friends out of this obviously loyal person.” Sure, I would have expected Petra and the Sassy Lady and Varl anyway, but I was kind of surprised to see the warden and the Banuk hunter. I didn’t think in those quests “Ah ha! A permanent ally!”

But, since all this started with a trophy popping, interesting that, in order to platinum the game, you HAD to spare Nil. I mentioned that you don’t get XP if you spare him, and do if you kill him, which might imply the “right” thing to do is kill him, but, if you do that, no platinum for you.

Which makes one wonder what the devs WANTED you to do, really.

Oh, Helis’ guys didn’t last thirty seconds. Indeed, they were so wimpy that I feared they were only the first wave. Phew. Then, when she was all “That’s going to take out the bridge!” I was worried there was a time limit, and our snipe run hide thing wasn’t gonna work as it was taking forever. Phew.

It was very, very nice of him to walk very, very slowly.

Were you nice to him, too?

The armor is wonderous. Hope I keep it in the DLC.

Without the cannon, that fight would have been eight different reaper moments. It was long, it was hard, it was impossible. But yeah, no way they make a game breaking thing there, like, there’s just plain no way you can progress now, tough shit. No game ends that way. Or, if it did, the internet would have burned long ago.

But even the things I thought would make it easier without the cannon wouldn’t have worked. I thought, when I saw the battlefield before the fight “Ah. Ok. The cannon’s gonna be sweet, but they put a bridge there, so you could just choke off the bridge with a million traps, which would help.” No. They just charged through the river.

And FOUR deathbringers? Dude.

It would have been infuriating.

Thank you for sending me to Free Heap.

Teb’s remark was cryptic. But then, it would make sense if SOMEONE didn’t make it. Hell, when he said “Everyone is ok,” my first reaction was “Really? Damn, that’s convenient for the narrative.”

And as for HADES and badassness…could it have demanded that? We know that it doesn’t really talk except to Sylens, or to give kill orders. When it started saying “System threat detected,” people were stunned it was speaking. So it doesn’t fit the OTHER trope of game baddies: The baddie that does not shut up, ever. I don’t see HADES as a thing that talks a whole hell of a lot about what it wants, period. I get the sense it DID sit around rather blob like, saying just what it needed to say in order to get the job done. Sylens seems to have been the mastermind on how to con the Carja into thinking HADES was god like. HADES was just chilling being all “Define: Carja.” Sylens was the one that defined it.

And the voice, well, we gotta have some tropes, right?

I would follow the lilac hordes, though.

Don’t spoil! I still don’t know if I’m gonna kill HADES or just banish him to a place where he will sit and stew, planning what to do in the sequel.

Feminina:

It’s really true, you’re not intentionally ‘recruiting’ in those side quests, you’re just doing side quests, as one does, so it was cool that all those people showed up. It was sort of a nice blending of me with the character, because Aloy of course wasn’t expecting them all to show up, but neither was I, so I shared her pleased surprise that all these people she helped just to be helpful remembered that and thought well enough of her to come out now. The Blameless Marad even stressed that: “most of them aren’t here for Meridian, they’re here for you.” (Also, we’ve never really talked about him, but how great is the Blameless Marad? I kind of love his obscurity and refusal to be straightforward, and I DEFINITELY want to be known as Blameless Feminina when I advise kings.)

Pretty much all these kinds of games have you help people, and a lot of them have you specifically befriend people, but it’s not that usual to help people and then have that seem to mean much to them later. A lot of times it’s kind of “oh, you saved my husband from goblins, that was awesome, thanks, bye,” and if you run into them again later maybe it’s “we still can’t thank you enough for saving Bertrand” or whatever, but there’s still the sense that those people are Sidequest People and they have their own Sidequest Lives, and never again shall their path intersect with yours in any significant way.

Which is fine, that’s true to life (ish) in that if you spend a lot of time adventuring around you’re certainly going to run into a lot of people who you help one time and then they are quite happy never to have to cross your path again (“damn it, that adventure lady is back…every single time she comes to town, someone gets taken by goblins”).

But it was also pretty cool here that so many of these people came out of their Sidequest Lives on purpose to help Aloy, after she helped them. It made the people in the world feel more organic, as if things outside their own life can matter to them the way things outside Aloy’s life matter to her.

That’s true, Hades hasn’t been talking much to many people, and it wouldn’t necessarily have made perfect sense in the narrative if it had somehow convinced people to build it a thunderjaw body or something…but they could have fit it into the story somehow if they’d wanted, and I liked the fact that instead they went with Hades as a “don’t waste time being badass, just destroy the world” kind of entity.

Priorities.

It was super nice of Helis to walk so slowly, wasn’t it? Because man, his gun was nasty, and if he’d been hopping all over the place chasing me down before my armor could recharge, it would have been ugly. Fingers crossed we have that armor in the DLC.

And was I nice to him? Um…I kind of forget the conversation options there, but I don’t think so. If there was a “go to hell” one, I think I picked that. I was kind of mad about him chasing me all over, even though was considerate enough to do it very slowly.

Butch:

He was SO DAMN SLOW. Except when he got close, then he was a damn grasshopper.

The options were, basically, “Fuck you, (aggressive),” “I don’t have time for this, (medium),” and the heart one “This was because of you….” in which she basically says (paraphrasing) “You were duped, tricked. You fell for it, you moron,” which isn’t exactly NICE, per se, but nicer than just killing him. He looks up says “You….pity me?” And she tells him to face the sun and kills him.

I was going to say “I don’t have time for this,” as that’s how I’m really playing Aloy, but I figured a) she’s learning that there’s things bigger than her quest and b) she remembered the whole wife thing, and had some empathy.

Or I’m just a softy.

This way of making friends was a much better mechanic than being explicitly told “So and so is now loyal.” That was always a bit intrusive.

Having them all show up is a wonderful touch in a game full of wonderful touches. And it’s true: you don’t really expect the poor farmer who was starving who asked you to find his rake to come out for the final battle.

“Honey, I have to go now. Yes, I could die, leaving you and the eight children fatherless, alone and starving. But, you understand, I MUST risk it all, as that person found my rake.”

I forgive that guy for staying home.

Though there was one conspicuous absence, and the reason I thought I didn’t get the trophy: Olin. We REALLY helped Olin. A) we didn’t kill him and b) we saved his family. He even EXPLICITLY SAID that he would help us whenever we needed him and….not there. He was the one person I spent the whole game expecting to see again, and he was the one dude who wasn’t there. Unless he heroically shows up last, but I’m not holding my breath. With the exception of Petra, he was the one dude who really swore allegiance to us (Erand doesn’t count. Yes, he would have been there anyway, but it was his duty. Soma doesn’t count either: she didn’t want to be there at all), and yet he was the one dude who didn’t show.

Priorities, indeed. And it speaks to Sylens’ motivations. Sylens, we are led to believe, was the main actor in teaching HADES about the world. Once the Eclipse got a hold of HADES, they all just worshiped and stuff. Sylens COULD have said “Hey…there are these things we have now called thunderjaws, and MAN would you like to drive around in one of those,” but he, we can assume, didn’t say that.

The Blameless Marad was pretty damn awesome. Especially as you just KNOW that he’s done all sorts of shit that he ought to be blamed for. He’s just the kind of dude who, when he was a kid, would be found standing in a room full of broken stuff and still would have the balls to go “Who, me?”

Feminina:

Oh yeah…actually, I think I DID pick the ‘nice’ one, but mostly because I wanted him to feel bad and realize he’d been stupid, rather than being able to feel righteous about himself if I cursed him.

So I meant it in a passive aggressive way, not a forgiving one, which is why I didn’t remember being ‘nice.’

His “you pity me?” was met with me in my head saying “I guess so, because you’re such a moron, now die.”

The Blameless Marad has definitely done many blameworthy things. Presumably ‘Blameless’ is sort of like ‘007’–a license to do terrible things without penalty. Maybe some game will see us as Blameless Aloy, secret agent for the Sun King!

Man, there’s so much potential for this series.

I also forgive that poor farmer for not showing up waving his rake as he rages against the machines. And I pretty much forgive Olin for not showing up either even though, you’re absolutely right, we really expect him to. (Spoiler: he doesn’t show up later. Maybe he shows up in another game.)

I was wondering if maybe there was a way we could have played it where he WOULD have shown up, because weren’t there a few conversation options when he was reunited with his family? He swore his service to Aloy, but I THINK I remember telling him “just go and be with your family,” kind of telling him he didn’t need to serve me. You probably said the same thing, because we always say the same thing (even if it turns out we sometimes have different motivations for it). Maybe there was something we could have said, like “OK, great, be waiting for my call,” and he would have been there in the end after all (although the fact that we don’t need him to get the ‘all allies’ trophies casts some doubt on this theory).

OK, I checked the internet, and no, there’s no option where he shows up at the final fight. So maybe “just go be with your family” wasn’t a conversation CHOICE, it was just one of those things Aloy says, because she’s so nice, and he still takes it seriously and goes away?

Anyway, I agree, it’s odd that he wasn’t there, but like many of the things this game does that you wouldn’t expect, I kind of liked it because it means Olin DID go off with his family. He got out of the ‘obeying creepy cultists’ business and went to live a quiet life as a poor farmer looking for rakes, or something. And good on him, because this is also not necessarily something we see all the time.

Butch:

Yeah, it was the “heart” one, I should say.

It’s funny, we talk a lot on religion in games, and I can’t remember one where the hero basically told every religious person they were a complete idiot. She’s told everyone from Nora to Eclipse to basically shut the hell up. The ones that don’t are, at times, portrayed as nit wits. Did you keep talking to the Elder that wouldn’t give up on the fact that Aloy was chosen? If you keep doing it, Aloy eventually says “I want you to shut your mouth!” and if you click on her again, she just goes “Mmm! Mmm mm mmm!” She takes it literally, and is portrayed as a dunce for it.

There so is potential for this. I don’t remember not wanting a game to end like this. TW3 came close, but that was mostly because I loved Geralt so much. The world in TW is not the compelling part. I miss Bioware games because of the people, too. But this? Man, it’s just ALL so great. I love Aloy, I love the characters, I love the world.

But another reason I will play the sequel is that, so very often, franchises are defined, and judged, by their sequels. A great first game builds up all sorts of potential, a great FRANCHISE delivers on it. I think it’s why Mass Effect (in which 2 was better than 1) gets more love than DA (in which 2 wasn’t). I think a similar thing happened with TW (two was better than one, three was better than two, trust me). So did this game set itself up for a long line of awesome games? Boy, did it ever. But it will be Horizon: mid morning that will tell the world that this is either a franchise for the ages by delivering, or a huge disappointment if it doesn’t.

I sure hope it doesn’t get DA syndrome. H2 could be very, very, VERY good and still not be as good as this. And there’s a risk: So much of the sheer joy of this game was the novelty. ROBOT DINOSAURS! H2? We’ve seen thunderjaws and stormbirds and glinthawks. Can they keep up the novelty? MORE robot dinosaurs? Other stuff?

We’ll see when we play it.

I really was expecting Olin, though. More than some others.

And yup. That’s what I said to him. Because we are very similar, if not identical, in how we play.

We even miss the same fucking zip lines.

We especially don’t expect Olin to be the one who stays away, as he was the one who was all “I WILL DIE FOR YOU!” whereas the warden, say, was just “Hey, thanks, whatever, here’s a remarkable box,” and she showed up.

This game is good, it is.

Feminina:

It’s so true. Aloy has absolutely zero patience with any religious arguments. And it’s clear why she’s not a believer herself–she has plainly seen peoples’ gods turn out to be machines that basically say “made by humans” on them–but she’s also got no truck for this “well, I don’t believe, but if it gives you comfort that’s great” kind of making-nice philosophy. She thinks (knows, really) that everyone is wrong, and she doesn’t hesitate to say so. Even when she uses religious language because it’s the only way to get the Nora to understand (“yes, she spoke to me…she said there’s a…metal devil, trying to destroy the world”), she’s reluctant and not really happy about it: she’d RATHER tell the truth, but knows no one will get it.

And I like her reluctance, because obviously it would have been easy for her to just become a smooth-talking huckster about it for her own benefit: “Oh yeah, I’m definitely the Chosen One, and All-Mother told me to tell you to make me your prophet-queen and build me a fancy palace and provide me with servants…” But she’s not that, she’s a decent person, and so her discomfort with having to tell what in her mind are at least half-lies, even though it’s also basically the truth, is clear.

You get the sense that she’s way more comfortable talking to Sylens because he shares her understanding, so even though his ultimate intentions are murky and neither of us completely trusted him, it makes sense that she’d go along with him, because it’s so nice for her to have someone to talk to about these things, and someone who shares her desire to know more about the technological underpinnings of the world that most people are happy to write off as divinity.

Maybe her scorn for religious talk is another way to show that’s she’s fundamentally decent–that she’s NOT ever going to co-opt that language to try to control people, and that she respects the idea of the human intellect enough to NOT play along with what she sees as fantasies.

Butch:

It’s more than just reluctance, though, and not being a huckster. Compare DAI. In that game, you were reluctant. Remember the scene in the snow where everyone was singing? And you just looked uncomfortable? You didn’t have the choice to either bask in it or to run about saying “No! No! I’m not anointed!” And even if you didn’t believe any of it, you still sat on the throne and banged Sera in the big comfy bed because letting them believe you were something more than just some average person who got the mark for reasons unknown was key to closing the skyhole.

Aloy COULD have done that. She could have said “Sure, Bullshit, and I don’t really want a throne, but it sure would help getting people to help me find mom and save the world.” But she didn’t. Evelyn did, despite, I think, the fact that Evelyn was fundamentally decent.

So I don’t think it’s a question of stoking beliefs you don’t share being “bad,” per se. Depends on the situation.

Feminina:

It’s true, playing along is not necessarily a sign of bad moral character, but I think this also speaks to a fundamental difference in the design of these two worlds.

In Thedas, MAGIC IS REAL. People have mystical powers, and demons (or something like demons) come out of a hole in the sky for reasons we can’t explain, and even if we don’t THINK there’s a god, at least not the way the other religious people in the game do, we can’t be sure, because A LOT OF WEIRD STUFF IS TRUE. And maybe there’s a scientific explanation and the magic is all super high tech gadgets unknowingly operated by people who think they’re mages but who actually just have a weird nanobot-brain-infection that allows them to direct bot-energy or something, but we don’t know that. As far as we know, magic works. SOMETHING gave us that mark, and that mark works, somehow. I don’t think I’m a sacred anointed one, and I played it that way, but I don’t know that for sure. Maybe I was!

In Aloy’s earth, on the other hand, we KNOW what’s behind the apparent magic. Aloy has no reason to think there are actual demons out there, or that any form of magic actually works.

Our Inquisitor could kind of play along with an “I don’t think this is exactly true but whatever, some inexplicable magic something is definitely going on” attitude that Aloy can’t honestly share, because to Aloy, there’s no inexplicable magic something. There’s certainly stuff she doesn’t know, and stuff she doesn’t fully understand even when she knows about it, but she never seems to doubt that there IS a fully science-based, material explanation.

So I feel like playing along is a little different for her than it was for the Inquisitor, even though both of them are decent people. As you say, it’s situational, but I think that situation includes not only the people around you, but also the fundamental nature of the entire game world.

Butch:

Well, what is the quote, any suitably advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic? I mean, shit, Sobeck made a machine that could MAKE LIFE. It could remember EVERYTHING HUMANS DID and create it. And, if need be, it could send its child to stave off the evil that would infect creation.

I would say that in Aloy’s world, the existence of a god is absolutely tangible. Look at the description above. That’s God, man. Just because it makes sense in a language that tech savvy 21st century humans can understand, and is told in a way that doesn’t rely on nonsense like the nano-particles Luke Skywalker has or the Fade or some bullshit….

So true…true….there is a material explanation…

But then, to go back to Christian imagery, Jesus didn’t entirely GET the whole God thing, but he tried to explain it, and most people just didn’t get it at all. He went around to pretty much everyone saying “Look, man, it’s like this. It’s confusing, sure, but stick with me,” and still, only got, what, 12 dudes.

Jesus even DID try to say a few times that he was nothing special, and his followers would have none of it.

And, of course, there’s the narrative. Had Evelyn told the inquisition that it was on its own, that would be a very different story. And if you had the CHOICE, well, that’s not really doable.

There was a mythbusters where they got James Cameron on, and proved that, in the last scene of Titanic, they both could have survived (if you haven’t seen it, spoiler, Leo DiCaprio dies a heroic death to save Kate Winslet, which was, you know, the whole point of the whole movie. That and the sinking ship). They told James Cameron he was all wrong, and he said “I don’t care, I needed it for the story, he was gonna die.”

Sometimes that’s just how narrative gotta be.

Feminina:

It’s true. Gaia is a more present, verifiable god than any god we’ve ever invented, and people believe in the other ones! Why not Gaia? (Maybe BECAUSE there’s solid evidence for her, in the form of notes, etc. Maybe we believe more the less we understand. Jesus certainly got a lot more popular the more garbled by time and faulty repetition his story became.)

Aloy could have gotten religion, for sure. I suppose maybe it’s being Sobeck’s clone…? Sobeck was, obviously, a brilliant and skeptical scientist, and maybe that brain just doesn’t mesh with religious faith even when raised in a completely different context.

Situation, personality, the underlying explanations for the world. A lot goes into religious faith.

Plus, as you say, in DAI your character had the choice to go all in and totally buy the whole Chosen bit, whereas Aloy gives the player no such option. She is who she is.