Captains: An Endangered Breed

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for minor plot points in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Hey! Got some in!

Talked to Hippocrates! Thought “Themes! Maybe!” Then he asked me to get him stuff.

That’s right. Hippocrates has a fetch quest for us.

Sigh.

I did some of it. There was fetching. A fort was involved.

Maybe there’ll be themes after it. Maybe. Who knows?

I’m getting annoyed. There should be more blog worthy stuff in this game.

Feminina:

Aw man! I did not talk to Hippocrates. I was heading in that direction, but I got sidetracked by Heitor’s Gonna Hate, and then stumbled into that lovely beachside town where the former Oracle’s cousin asked us to kill his neighbor. Which I did, although I’m not entirely sure he wasn’t making the whole thing up and just wanted to get rid of his neighbor for some reason. When the only option is to accept or refuse a quest, you always wonder if you’re being manipulated.

“Oh, hey, misthios, that guy over there totally stole from me and threatened to murder my sweet little children if I didn’t give him more money, can you take care of him?”

“Sure, I’ll take your word for it he deserves to die! Don’t even give me any payment up front! I’m on it!”

Especially when they say hyperbolic things like “his death will solve everything.”

Uh…no one death solves EVERYTHING, buddy. I’d have to wipe out the entire town for that.

Ha! Just a little hired-killer humor there.

Anyway, perhaps I was especially skeptical having just come from Heitor, who manipulated us in just that way.

“That captain stole your sword!? I will murder him to death for you!!!! Oh. You sold it to him and lied to me.”

“You want me to rescue your friend and murder a bunch of soldiers to death along the way? ON IT! Oh. You actually just wanted to kill him yourself.”

I talked them into not fighting, which was perhaps the happiest ending available, although if I’d been a bit more invested in holding a grudge I might have sided with the rescued guy and attacked Heitor for lying to me and taking advantage of my murderous good nature.

But anyway, that’s what I did. Don’t talk to me about Hippocrates.

Butch:

Oh, I won’t talk about Hippocrates. I can’t, really. I’ve said it all. So far.

Sigh.

Wait….that’s interesting. I met that cousin and killed the neighbor and had exactly the same misgivings you did (it’ll get to the point where everyone in Greece will be all “Hey, if you tell that chick with the bird you’re the Oracle’s cousin, she’ll kill anyone you want!”), but not there. I met him in downtown Argos, right the fuck next door to Hippocrates. Not in any seaside town anywhere close to Heitor. So, what, that means some of these “impact quests” show up where you are, at a certain time instead of a certain place? That’s weird. I can’t remember a game being like that.

But as for Heitor…..

Unlike the pirate betrayal I kinda didn’t see that twist coming, even though, in retrospect, I should have, and I think I know why.

Games pull the “MWHAHA tricked you!” shit with strangers giving you quests all the time. That said, it’s very rare that a friend betrays you. If you hit talk and your character is all “Hey! Dude! Been a while! Remember when we did all that cool shit? Good times, good times,” you can trust that dude. That dude is ALWAYS cool. I can’t remember a single time in any game when the dude you’re automatically chummy with was lying. It’s another game trope this game has turned on its head. That’s pretty good stuff.

Not to mention, it fits the narrative. Kassandra’s “old friends” are people she met being a mercenary, for crissakes. They aren’t going to be nice.

Good stuff.

Which is yet another reason I’m getting annoyed with this game. There’s good stuff here! And a whole lot of fluff. And fetch quests. And forts.

Feminina:

Yeah! He was an old friend! Why would I suspect my old friends? And yet, as you say, these are people I met while we were hanging out pulling scams with Morkos and murdering people. We’re all people who do pretty much whatever we think it takes to get what we want. Why wouldn’t that involve lying to each other about exactly how someone’s favorite sword wound up in the hands of some other guy?

But as you say, this is very rare in games. Friends are usually true. Possibly only because they’re terrified of the PC, who is after all the ass-kicking-est person around.

Sam deceived Nathan/us in Uncharted 4, but I can’t think of other examples offhand.

Interesting that you met the Oracle’s cousin somewhere else. This was definitely not in Argos, it was in…the Gateway to Hope, or something? Hope was definitely in the town name. He was just standing there when I came into town, with an exclamation point on him. And then his neighbor who he said was blackmailing him and threatening to turn in the Oracle, was he also in Argos for you?

Because in my case, he was about 50 feet away in the same town. Maybe the Oracle has many cousins who are passing her around between them trying to keep her out of the Cult’s eye. And they all have nosy blackmailing neighbors. (Plausible! I’m sure my neighbors would blackmail us in a heartbeat if they knew we were hiding someone from the Cult.)

Or maybe the game just wanted us to do that quest at roughly this point in the story? Which suggests that it actually has some kind of impact on something in the future.

I suppose we can only wait and see what happens.

Butch:

Well, “casual” NPC friends are always true. Really, really close, plot point NPC friends can sometimes turn on you, because that’s plot point. Blackwall being a liar, for example. The slight implication (that I think still can be true, but that would be a digression) that Morrigan is Flemeth in DAO. Sylens in HZD. But just random side quest givers? Pretty much, if your character likes them, they’re cool.

Oh yeah, the cousin’s target was, like 50 feet away, too. Like, behind that building close. And right in downtown Argos.

You know, I had another “impact quest” that was quick and easy. Did you meet a woman who was all “Thank you for not killing my husband or something in the fish market [during the whole guy trying to kill the other guy with snakes quest]? We’ve totally gone straight, could you take these shoes to that beggar over there?” Cuz I got that in downtown Athens. Did you get that somewhere else?

Feminina:

No…no-one has asked me to deliver shoes to anyone. So not a plot point that was critical to the story, apparently, or else it was critical in that something different will happen because I missed it.

Sounds like at least an attempt by the game to recognize that you did something good and people will notice that, suggesting that people will also notice when you do something wrong. (Accidentally killing civilians, maybe. Or failing to save them from boar attacks. Or accidentally killing them while trying to save them from boar attacks. Not that I’m speaking from experience.)

Also a good point that more deeply entrenched people can be deceptive because it’s a plot point, but casual friends you run into are generally true. Because you gotta be able to trust your friends! Even though in real life a lot of the friends you’re likely to have as a character in a lot of games are probably highly unreliable.

Butch:

Well, what did you do with those fishermen who got caught up in the plot to poison the dude with snakes? Did you make them see the error of their ways, or did you do something else? Cuz I made them see the error of their ways.

Like, this cousin came to us cuz we spared his “cousin.” Had we killed her, we likely wouldn’t have gotten the quest, right?

Feminina:

Yeah, I also convinced them to see the error of their ways, sparing their lives. I do try to spare people when I can! I even tried to avoid fighting with the pirate lady who tried to cheat me out of the artifact I found for her! I was ready to just bail (after lying and saying I couldn’t find the thing, because screw you I’m not going to just hand it over), but she said “I guess I’ll see if I can find it on your corpse then” or something.

But maybe I failed to save someone else and so they never asked me to deliver any shoes.

Probably they were wisely afraid I would spread the plague.

Butch:

Or maybe you just missed it. You did miss the “I had a vision of the fall of Athens so take this flower to that dude” quest. Maybe you just had a night where you weren’t at your icon noticing peak while in Athens.

Feminina:

Entirely possible. I get so focused on question marks that all other punctuation is invisible to me!

Butch:

Or maybe it was something like:

NPC: Could you please help?
You: What is it?
NPC: I need you to do something very important to Athens and the plot of the ga-
You: It involve killing a captain?
NPC: Uh….no…..
You: Looting three or four chests?
NPC: No. But it’s very import-
You: Fuck off, dude. Hey! What’s that?

Feminina:

That does sound like me.

“How much murder would be involved? None? Hm…I’ll be honest, I don’t usually shine in non-murder jobs. I mean, I’ll take your quest, but it’ll have to go in the queue, and I probably won’t get to it until after I’ve killed every captain and alpha animal in Greece.”

I’m probably carrying those shoes in my inventory right now.

Butch:

It’s the NPC’s fault, really. The dude was fifty feet away. I’m sure now it’s:

Quest giver: She’ll be here any minute, I’m sure.
***time passes***
Quest giver: Yup. Any minute now.
****more time****
Quest giver: Won’t be long now-
Shoeless man: You could’ve just brought them yourself, you know.
Quest giver: Dwayne, we’ve been over this-
Shoeless man: I was right here
Quest giver: Dwayne I-
Shoeless man: Seriously, you could see me.
Quest giver: Dude-
Shoeless man: I was waving at you, saying “Hey, could you bring me my shoes? What are you waiting for?”
Quest giver: But did you come over to me? No. NO!
Shoeless man: Always turning things back on me, aren’t you?
Quest giver: Go walk into a brazier!
Shoeless man: Oh look a wild boar!

Feminina:

Six months later I show up, proudly drop the shoes onto a charred, tusk-mauled corpse, and saunter off, secure in the confidence of a job well done.

Butch:

Chords play, you glow, you miss some banter, guy comes up to you says “Hey, you, yeah, the self satisfied little bitch….I mean, great and noble warrior who helped my cousin…got a job for you….”

Feminina:

The system works!

Butch:

And we thought this game had no bloggage!

Oh, wait. It kinda doesn’t. I’m having to distract myself from the lack of bloggage by making up conversations.

Feminina:

Well, there was a bit of a discussion there about how old friends usually don’t turn out to be messing with you, but Heitor kind of was. And something about how you might get recognized for doing good deeds, or might just get pegged as “that lady who will totally murder anyone for any reason, no questions asked.”

In which context, I guess, ‘good deeds’ just become “you didn’t murder me, thank you so much!”

I do appreciate when people recognize my not-murders. It’s not as if it’s EASY for me, you know. Murder is clearly my first response to everything, so failing to murder takes a real effort. It’s nice when someone acknowledges that.

Ha. Actually, I’m murdering less lately because it eats up so much time. I was seriously annoyed with Heitor’s friend last night because he wouldn’t just sprint off with me…he was slow and kept getting into fights with the guys chasing us, so finally I wound up having to kill them all just to get him out of there. If it had been up to me, I would have run in, freed him, and we’d both have booked it, no murder necessary. And those damn guards!–they could have just let us go!

But no…[put-upon sigh]…some people just aren’t satisfied unless you murder them.

Butch:

YES! That was infuriating! “I’m here to free you! You’re free! Let’s go! Like, GO! NOW! PLEASE!”

Murdering does take up way too much time. It’s why I’m level whatever and you’re more than that. I just don’t have the time to do each thing. Shit, wait until you see the fort I had to get into last night. I mean, I was in, I was out. I wasn’t going to kill anyone. Even when I got into fights it was “I’m just gonna whack you until I can dodge away and flee.” I pretty much took the perk where you don’t take damage from falls JUST so I can scale walls, jump to wherever the fuck and be all “So long, Kevins! Live long, happy lives!”

Feminina:

Oh man, I love that not getting hurt in falls thing. “So long suckers, I’m hurling myself off this 500-foot cliff now!”

I’m at the level where that feat automatically upgrades to “if you intentionally smack the ground when you land, it creates a shock wave that knocks people over,” and I kind of can’t wait to use it when I jump down into a crowd of people, although of course I have yet to remember I have it in time to do that.

Butch:

But watch: I’ll forget I have it, I’ll jump into town or something, do that, and everyone will try to kill me.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, no doubt. It’s only a matter of time.

“Hey, what’s the big idea, jerk?! You think you can just smash down into the middle of a busy agora and knock everyone down?! You’d better be ready to murder 50 guards to back up that claim, missy.”

Butch:

They do tend to overreact. As does the citizenry!

“I’m so mad that, despite your armor and weapons, I will chase you with this REALLY overpowered death broom!”

Them’s some fucking brooms, man.

Feminina:

Oh man, I hate it when the civilians get involved.

“Hey, Walking Death Machine, I’m coming after you with a stick I just picked up so watch out!”

It’s mainly challenging because then I’m dodging around trying not to hit them, because civilians. So I guess in that sense they do make my life more difficult, which perhaps was all they really hoped for.

Butch:

As I once got killed by a broom (not proud), I’ve gotten to the point where they can’t really be ignored. But you kill one, and you get a bounty. So it’s always “Leave me alone! Please! Ah, fuck, take THAT!” ***open menu, pay bounty before dude shows up, repeat***

Feminina:

I can certainly see how one would be wary. I do tend to run away from them to avoid hitting them, I admit it.

“All right, all right, I’m leaving, terrifying broom-wielder! I’ll just sneak back around and loot this treasure later, when you’re not looking.”

I do an awful lot of running and coming back again from the other side. It’s not a brilliant tactic, being fairly obvious, but it works a fair amount of the time.

Butch:

I’ve started running. Just to avoid the indignity of being killed by a broom.

Feminina:

Makes sense to me.

Discretion, valor, etc.

Plus think of all the money you save not paying off bounties!

Butch:

Oh, dude, you have no idea. It’s like 43 coins a kill. Hardly worth it.

I’m not sure who I’m paying it to. Just killing and tossing money in the air every time.

Feminina:

Ha! That’s kind of awesome. Like the Tooth Fairy, only you have to pay her. And she’s the Murder Fairy.

So not actually that much like the Tooth Fairy.

Still: Accidental murder. Toss a handful of money in the air. Continue on way.

Could be worse.

I’ve only paid off a bounty once, though. Usually I just lay low and wait for them to go away, or else fight the bounty hunters when they show up, depending on what I’m in the mood for. I find having a couple of bounty hunters wandering around while I’m trying to kill a captain and loot the treasure in a fort adds an extra spice of danger.

Butch:

Nah, man. Hate those guys. No bounties.

No time for killin’, remember?

Feminina:

Ah, but I need that money to beef up my ship! I refuse to pay the Murder Fairy’s exorbitant rates.

Butch:

Oh the ship’s in trouble. I made the terrible mistake of a) turning on “autocraft” in the arrow section and b) shooting about 209543085495 arrows trying to kill sharks.

I actually ran out of wood. Seriously.

Feminina:

Wow! That’s a lot of arrows. Shooting at sharks is the best, though!

Although often, lately, I just ignore them and try to swim fast to get past them, and a lot of times they don’t even attack, or if they do they bite me once before I loot and return to the boat.

Saving precious time I can then spend killing captains later!

This game seriously hates captains. DO NOT ACCEPT A MILITARY PROMOTION IN ANCIENT GREECE is the message I’m getting.

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Saw It Coming

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for plot points in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Did a lot….and yet little bloggage.

Was trucking towards Argos and Hippocrates and saw a cultist. So, you know. He’s got two guys trailing him, so I do the long distance chain thing. This takes out his guards, hurts him….

And he runs. Like, RUNS. And I’m chasing him and he’s climbing and he’s climbing down and he’s running…. I chase this asshole all over the damn place. Took forever. He finally died when I BUMPED INTO HIM and he fell off a cliff. Then, took me forever to find him as he kept rolling down, down, down.

Silly, really.

But then, I noticed he was the last dude I had to kill before I unmasked a sage! A SAGE! So I found the sage and, what do you know, my level! And she was in Athens!

Well, I HAD to do that.

This also took forever cuz those sages are TOUGH, man. Didn’t die, but there was a lot of “Oh shit! Run! Hide! Heal!” going on. But I did it! One sage down! One clue to the identity of the big dude at the center!

And….well….we’ll talk. Later. When you kill her.

And then back to Argos….but got distracted. Did a stele thing. Killed a guy for a guy I just met (as one does), who said he was related to the Oracle we helped out way back when.

That’s about it.

Again, lots of stuff….not much to say. Unless you’ve killed the sage there.

Feminina:

I finished up with Keos (turns out I did get those quests you mentioned, including the one with the entirely predictable twist–I just didn’t care about them until now).

Was right next to the location of a conquest battle so decided what the hell, I’d give it a shot, and it turned out to be a naval battle and you have to defeat four ships, which fine whatever, except I did a couple and then died and then when I came back the island had refortified to the point that the conquest battle was no longer available. FINE, Athenians, I’ll just go somewhere else!

Was going to head to Argos, but sidetracked by some dudes stranded on an island. Did you encounter those dudes? Mildly interesting.

I haven’t killed the sage, but I think I know which one you mean, because I have also unmasked one of them. Nyx? The spymaster, or whatever she is? I need to go kill her, but…you know…so many people to murder, so little time.

Butch:

Nyx! Yes. Nyx. That’s the one. Which means you’ve been to Argos, as the running dude who fell off the mountain was in downtown Argos. No way you unmask Nyx but for that guy. That means you likely have a fast travel point, like, ten feet from Hippocrates, as no way you were there and ran by a veiwpoint.

Nyx is tough, man. Be ready.

I did not see island dudes, and, man, if I said “fuck that” to conquest battles on land, then that times ten to naval ones.

As for the one with the totally predictable twist…..

I didn’t like it. Not the twist per se, but that it was there. Here I am, working for Xenia, queen of the honorable pirates, someone who befriended my noble mother, and the first person I meet is sneering, lying “What do you expect, I’m a pirate?” baddie? It jarred. I have no problem with twists (you finish up with Heitor yet?) but the twists have to make some sort of sense in the larger context. That’s aside from the fact that twists shouldn’t be so damn predictable.

I will try my very hardest to get to Hippocrates soon, but pretty soon it’s TRAVEL BLOGGIN’ WITH BUTCH so there’s that. I really must get to him before that.

Feminina:

Yeah, I must have killed that dude, although I don’t remember chasing anyone down a mountain. Was he the one in that big palace kind of place in Athens? I just backstabbed, ran off, then crept back to backstab again, I think…there was a lot of sneaking. And a lot of running. And a lot of fighting guards in public places and being chased around. But the cultist himself…oh yeah, I remember, I basically killed all the guards one by one and then crept back and he settled down to take a freaking nap in the courtyard, because obviously you want to be well-rested in an unguarded location if an assassin is steadily picking off all the people around you, and I just murdered him in his sleep.

Much less complicated than your mad chase through the streets.

The nice thing about naval battles is Spartan-kicking people overboard when you get on their ships.

Well, the thing about the dudes stranded on the island…enh, I’ll say no more, you might do it later. It has a gold exclamation point on it and everything.

I actually feel like the predictable twist was maybe intended as a deliberate counter to the whole notion you describe: honorable pirates, my noble mother, etc., that’s all well and good, but it’s sort of saying “on the other hand, don’t romanticize this too much, these ARE people who rob and murder for a living.” Because you’re right, the juxtaposition is jarring–but I think maybe it’s supposed to be.

On the other hand, I can’t really think of another instance where this game deliberately plays against one of its own statements like that (I mean, it SORT of toys with the idea of the PC as noble hero being maybe not that heroic, but not in great depth), so maybe it was an accident. Nevertheless, I actually kind of liked it.

Because…yeah, noble pirates, but they DO just rob and kill people for money. Just like hey, noble Kassandra, but I also rob and kill people for money.

Hm.

Butch:

Man, he took a NAP? My dude ran around like Forrest Fucking Gump for AGES.

I dunno, man. I think we’re overthinking the pirate thing. I think it was just lazy. After all, they did a crappy job of setting up the “twist.” I think we’re just grasping for themes. ANY themes.

Hey, speaking of quests, you interested in doing any of those “Tales of Greece” or any of that shit? That long list of side quests that are blue? Are those DLC? Do we have those? Cuz some of them look kinda interesting in terms of character development.

On the whole assassinating thing, I noticed last night that, all of a sudden, the cultists and captains track seems to be marked now. There’s like a little glowing path thingy, kinda like you’d get in Horizon if you tagged a ROBOT DINOSAUR. I didn’t get a new skill or anything, it just kinda showed up. You have that?

Feminina:

The tracks are marked? I did not notice that! Maybe a rolling update that didn’t get to us yet or something? Or maybe I just spent most of last night on a ship where there really aren’t any tracks to notice. I’ll watch for it tonight.

Maybe your guy was able to run so far because he’d had his nap. I was just fortunate enough to interrupt him before he could recharge.

I am kind of interested in the Tales of Ancient Greece, although I haven’t checked any of them out yet. They sound like potentially interesting story. Especially the one that loaded last night, where “an old flame who’s now a struggling single mother needs your help” or something.

I want to help my old flames! And maybe romance them again just for old times’ sake!

They definitely have a DLC feel, but since they keep popping up on our quest list, I assume we have them in our games. Thanks, automatic updates!

Butch:

Yeah, man! It’s this weird glowing line. Took me a while to figure out what it was, and then I noticed the cultist was dutifully following it.

Until he ran. Then all bets were off.

Maybe I got Ikaros’ perception high enough? Or something?

I guess always schedule your assassinations around naptime.

T SHIRT!!!!

Yeah, some of those Tales do sound pretty neat. And short. And they seem to be all over the place, so its only a matter of time before we just stumble onto one. Kinda surprised we haven’t, really.

Feminina:

That’s an excellent T shirt, and excellent advice for life! I mean, for assassinations.

We are bound to stumble on one of those add-ons eventually. I think I came close to one once, actually, but it was a recommended level much higher than mine so I didn’t attempt it.

I could definitely see Ikaros’ perception being involved in visible tracks. That eagle has all kinds of vision-related magic. Life seeing right through the sides of mountains to treasure lurking in hidden caverns far below!

Not that I’m complaining.

Butch:

That eagle can see through all kinds of shit, but ALWAYS seems to miss one Kevin that winds up behind me when I thought I’d been so careful. Bird’s all “Hey, whoops, my bad, but hey! There’s some level 14 gloves over there! That’s cool, right?”

Feminina:

Yeah, I’ll often be trying to scout out all the guards in a camp or something and the bird’s looking waaaaaaay over there at some random treasure on the other side of a hill or something.

“Thanks, bird! Glad your perception is so extremely perceptive! But maybe focus on the task at hand so I don’t have some random dude sneaking up on me?”

Butch:

He’s just showing off. Cuz now he’s all “Hey, man, not only do I see the dude, I know where he’s going next. I mean, that dude. There might be other dudes that’ll kill you before you get there, but fuck if I know. But THAT dude’s going there. And look! Gloves!”

Feminina:

Silly bird. Probably peeved that we don’t appreciate it more when he tries to “harass” people for us.

I appreciate it! I do! I just don’t usually remember to ask.

Butch:

I did that by accident once, and I was so confused. Like, why is that Kevin freaking out?

Poor Junior. We had a two second power outage when his AC4 game was saving and it got corrupted. And, like Mr. O, he does not know the value of backups.

Live and learn.

Feminina:

Live and learn! This is a valuable lesson that I trust he will take to heart. It will spare him much pain in the future.

 

She’s Not Here ‘Cuz She Went There

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the bit of the main quest uncovered in the Pirate Isles in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Well….that was anti-climactic.

I seem to be saying that a lot for an action game.

I said to myself “You know, been a while since I sold stuff. Maybe I’m closer to the fifteen grand than I thought.” So I went to the blacksmith, sold JUST MY TRADE GOODS and bam. Seventeen grand.

Paid Xenia, got cutscene, left Keos.

So you know when I got there, and I was all optimistic cuz black woman and slavery and “ooo, there’s gonna be THEMES man!” Yeah. Well. Yup.

Once again, the themes are a mirage.

But got the cutscene, which, I thought, was rather a stretch.

Then noticed on my quest list that a) the other two things we had to do are still there and b) I had something for Barabas, and it was a place I had been, so I went and did that, and….it was weird. And suggests more weird to come. You do that?

And then went towards where Hippocrates is cuz I thought that would be interesting to do next.

Man, I really thought there were gonna be themes on Keos.

Feminina:

Hm. Yeah. Not that many themes. Lots of lions, though!

I haven’t moved on, I’m still cleaning up all the question marks on Keos. Fighting lions. And got through that fort there and everything. Prompted a conquest battle which I idly considered joining on the side of the Athenians, but then I couldn’t be bothered.

Nice work selling your trade goods to raise the cash, though. I always forget about those too. I rarely visit the blacksmith, really. Occasionally I’ll go in to have my gear upgraded, but even that isn’t that often, since I frequently pick up new gear that works as well or better. I do keep upgrading my shroud, though. I just like wearing that shroud. Makes me feel assassin-y.

And yeah, I did kind of expect a bit of something there in the way of themes. Strong woman of color opposed to slavery! Maybe we’ll hunt down some slavers or something! But nah.

It also thought it was a bit surprising that Kassandra’s mother was a pirate, but I’m not sure why, really. I mean, I’M a freaking mercenary. I earn my living by the sword: why wouldn’t she? She’s the one who gave me the magic spear in the first place, after all. What else would a strong Spartan woman do, but seize what she needed from the world by whatever means necessary?

Being still on Keos, I haven’t done anything for Barnabas. I’m sure I’ll get to it as soon as I’m done with all these lions and what-not.

Butch:

So many lions….and boars. I did pull a stunt where a lion was chasing me and I ran it right into a boar and made them fight each other. Boar won. It was pretty great.

Still haven’t done another one of those conquest battles. Don’t see the point.

I only sold the stuff cuz I didn’t want to do any more fetch quests at that time, and I thought it would be an easy way out (and it was). So there ya go.

Right! It started with that graphically violent treatment of the slaver! At the hands of the strong woman of color! And then nothing. Usually you get that, three quests pop, it’s bloggin’ time! But no. Not in an AC game, I guess.

I couldn’t really be surprised either way, as that scene really didn’t say a whole lot except “She’s not here cuz she went there.” I WANTED it to say more! How’d they meet? How’d these people who were very different on the outside become such close friends? Why did this pirate who didn’t seem to like anyone like her so much? Shit, let’s have some insight into this pirate who I thought was going to be a) a very cool character and b) a lieutenant I could recruit and get to know?

But no. It’s “She’s not here cuz she went there.”

By the way, been a while since I saw someone I could get as a lieutenant. Not since the pirate who lost her lover way the fuck back in the land of Apollo. Am I missing something?

It’s a thing, that Barnabas quest. And ties into the whole “are you silly for believing” deal. And Barnabas is, at least, a character.

Feminina:

I love leading hostile creatures into other hostile creatures! Always happy to have someone else do some of the hard work of killing someone for me.

I have accidentally knocked out a couple of guys instead of killing them, and then been able to recruit them as lieutenants , but they were just random soldiers. I haven’t met any actual quest-related person to recruit since that woman who was going to make a statue of me. (And I’ve yet to see her craft a beautiful new figurehead for the ship, so honestly, no huge loss if you didn’t meet her. Maybe she’s still working on it.)

Butch:

Oh really? You can just recruit any old Kevin? I did not know that. Wondered what “knock out” was for.

Another great disappointment of Keos was not being able to recruit Xenia. I thought for SURE she was going to end up on the boat. Great pirate, friends with the person we’re trying to find, would’ve made perfect sense for Kassandra to be all “Hey, why don’t we team up? Find her together?”

She could’ve been a much cooler character.

Feminina:

True, it would have been cool because she was, potentially, a cool character (I mean, damn, she’s a giant pirate lady with badass scars and clearly takes no nonsense from anyone! if only we knew more!), but given the narrative fate of all the other people we’ve recruited, who show up on the ship screen but have otherwise never been heard from again, I think it would also diminish her.

Why would she want to be reduced to being our lieutenant and be bossed around by some whippersnapper, when she rules a freaking city right now? Kind of a step down, really, to go from Queen of the Pirate Isles to some wandering mercenary’s third-or-fourth-in-command.

And yeah, if you manage to knock someone out without killing them (I think I’ve done it by kicking them, although I’ve never succeeded in doing it on purpose, it just happens sometimes), you can recruit them. Presumably we could be working hard to knock out tough, elite fighters, instead of the total randos I’ve picked up so far, but…I just haven’t gotten the knack of intentionally knocking out. And honestly, in the haze of battle, it’s not really my priority.

Butch:

True. But, let’s face it, we’ve played umpteen games where a core mechanic is “Hey, really cool career hero, I know I’m only level seven, but want to come permanently live at my base/castle/ship and help me out and maybe have sex a bunch?” We LOVE games like that! We’ve never complained about the narrative inconsistency surrounding that! We will NEVER complain!

Feminina:

No, we certainly will not complain, but in those games those characters at least travel around with us sometimes, and usually have character quests that we can go on with them to make them more loyal and cause them to loooooooove uuuuusss. Here, we recruit someone and then–with the exception of Barnabas–that’s the end of their story. (At least so far. Maybe later I’ll get to go on quests with the sculptor lady, but I’m not holding my breath.)

We wouldn’t want to do that to Xenia! I mean, I don’t WANT to do that to anyone, except maybe the random Kevins, but especially not someone who seems that cool to start with.

Butch:

Well, what about Odessa? We “recruited” her, and there she is, still hanging out, waiting for Kassandra to figure out how to go below decks.

(Yup. Said it.)

Feminina:

Nice. Nice one.

And yeah, I know! There she is! She is right there, apparently!

But we haven’t actually SPOKEN to her since we recruited her. Any romantic hanky panky taking place is purely in our own imaginations.

Are we going on quests with her? Helping her fulfill her dreams of adventure and discovery?

I mean…she gets to ride on our ship, right? That counts? But as far as her actual story actually developing…nothin’.

Butch:

This game gets so close so often. If they’re really gonna make rpgs, they gotta follow through.

Feminina:

Yeah. All these dialogue options and choices that can come back to haunt one, those are very RPG touches. Perhaps those are all the touches it technically needs. But the human relationships, those are not really developed, and so it remains RPG-esque in ways that matter to us, i.e., the drawn-out process of making people loooooooove meeeeeee.

Butch:

Hey, besides your obsessions, the personal touches do matter. And if you’re going through the effort of getting this close to cool characters, why not do it?

Feminina:

Baby steps. Maybe they’re just moving slowly and figuring it out.

We’ll have to see what the next several games do.

Butch:

I’m certainly hoping for more character development.

By which I mean nudity.

Feminina:

I honestly think the nudity is going to turn out to be just the statues. Like in RDR2, after all the anticipation, it was some random pictures and some dudes bathing in the lake.

I mean, keep hoping! Dream on, eternal optimist! But I’m doubtful it’ll ever come to more than we’ve seen already. At least there are plenty of statues.

Pausing to Reflect. But Not for Long.

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for some Hippokrates- and cult-related quests in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Phew, sorry. Today’s the day we’re celebrating my dad’s birthday, so I was baking a pie, and the recipe was….questionable, so I had to take some time saving it. Still not sure if I did. Of all the reasons to postpone the opening of the blog day, saving pie must be very close to the top if not at the top.

Anyway, I did play! And…well…did you get to Keos? Because I was all excited for THEMES when I got to Keos and now…less so.

Which seems to be a theme unto itself. Every time I think THEMES! I am disappointed very quickly.

I was thinking about how maybe Megara was all “Religion is a sham!” and Lokris was maybe “Or maybe it’s not!” and Attika was “You can’t trust philosophy, either!” but maybe I’m grasping at straws cuz I’m desperate. I’ve been trying to come up with good bloggage comparing and contrasting the way chapter three ended (That is, the cult “party”) and chapter four (the party of thinkers and artists) but every time I think I have something good to say it falls apart in my head after three or four sentences.

I do know those were the end of “chapters” because that’s when trophies for finishing said chapters popped: right after the cult thing, and right after Perikles’ thing. So there’s gotta be something there! But…I dunno. Maybe I’m just hoping, the same way I was hopeful when I got to Keos.

You get to Keos?

Feminina:

Of course I went to Keos! I’m deeply wounded by the implication that I might not have gotten to Keos, just because I never get around to going anywhere I say I’m going to go!

First I went back to Athens to help Alkibiades’ friend cheat his way to citizenship, and then I went to the Isle of Salamis to hunt a cultist I’d heard about, who I think turned out to be the guy at the quarry that you were looking for. So, yeah, I thought we were talking about the same thing at one point, but this was a completely different quarry than the one I was looking at before. I’d never set foot on the Isle of Salamis. I was pleased with how it turned out, though: there were a couple of sleeping guards and the cultist sitting right next to them near a canopy, and I just hopped onto him from the canopy and assassinated him without even waking the guards. Then I looted a couple of treasures and ran off. Now that’s successful sneaking!

THEN I went to Keos. Sneaked into the city to talk to Xenia the pirate, learned…stuff. Did you talk to the pirate?

Oh, and if you talked to the pirate, did you notice that the other two leads we had about Kassandra’s mother WENT AWAY? We were sure that wouldn’t happen, but apparently you just have to find the information one time!

I’m actually kind of disappointed because I kind of wanted to talk to the hetaerae–I was interested to see how the game presented that.

I’m also quite curious as to whether that means you learn different things about your mother based on where you go first (and if that’s based on different parts of the same story, or if she literally has a different history), or if you always have to come to the pirate island, but if you go to the other places first, they won’t have any information. In which case, you’d get more game out of it by going somewhere else first. (Not that we NEED more game. But still.)

I don’t know. If you haven’t talked to the pirate yet, maybe follow up on one of the other leads first, just for blogging’s sake and so we can see what happens. But if you did, we can talk about that.

Also, saving a pie is definitely at the top of the list of reasons to postpone blogging. Well done.

Butch:

Don’t jinx it. It’s not out of the oven yet.

I did talk to the pirate, and I was so very happy, as I thought THEMES! Here’s a black woman, who starts the whole thing expressing great anger at slavers. Like, SHIT, right? We’ve been talking about how slavery is everywhere in this game and whether we would someday tackle it. Upon meeting Xenia, I was thinking “OK, here we GO!”

And then I did something else. Meh. Did you do anything else? Or are you so rich you were just like “Oh, hey, here, take the money, whatevs?”

Cuz I gotta come up with some serious drachmae here.

Wait, WHAT? No, I didn’t notice that about the quests! Like the Hippocrates thing? I wanted to do that, too!

Maybe they’re just kinda paused? I did notice that Keos was, in fact, the lowest level of the potential choices, so maybe the game was urging us here, and now is keeping us here. I don’t know what happened to you, cuz you’re rich, but right now the game is pretty much saying to me “Butch? Nothing is going to happen of any consequence until you cough up fifteen grand, and every not boring way to get that fifteen grand is right here, so how about you stay right the fuck here for a spell, m’kay?” Maybe once we’re done with Keos it’ll be all “Ok….and now the next thing….”

Maybe.

Did you google it to see?

But yeah, talked to the pirate. We’ll talk about that.

Though a question before we do: I did that quest for Kleon, forts, etc., which, as you said, ended with me (heh, more on that in a minute) sinking their boat. So I did all that, and I took my sweet time getting to my boat thinking “I’ll let those other boats do most of the work.” So I got on my boat, which I hadn’t been on in some time, and Barabas started yapping (as he will). At that very moment, it turned out that my plan to let the other boats do most of the work turned into “do ALL of the work,” as the target boat sank. This led to the triumphant chords, JUST as Barabas is telling me about new quest and, I think, a cultist. I went to the cult screen, though, and no new clues or anything.

Please tell me I didn’t miss anything and my game isn’t glitched.

Feminina:

Oh, dude. I just handed her the cash on the spot. “Here you go, scary giant pirate lady!”

We won’t talk about what she told me after I paid her, then.

And no, I didn’t check the internet about the other quests, I just couldn’t find them highlighted when I looked at my quest list…but it looks as if this walkthrough here (spoilers, don’t read, just citing sources) that covers chapter five includes mention of hetaerae and Hippokrates, so maybe they just got reclassified since they’re no longer one of three equal possibilities for learning the information I need.

Or maybe I was just selectively blind last night when I was looking for them. Also possible.

OK, never mind that part of the discussion! You’re probably right, it’s more that we’re meant to do them all in a specific order, starting with this one.

As for Kleon’s quest (thank you Barnabas for always talking at inconvenient times), I’m pretty sure you didn’t miss anything. I was also in the middle of a battle (that same battle, in fact) while he was talking about that, so yeah, something something cultist? Whatever. If it was a quest we’re supposed to be doing, it’ll be on our quest list and we’ll get to it eventually. If it was a cultist clue, it would show up on our cultist screen. If it was random background noise, it doesn’t matter. There’s no way it could be a game-critical fact and yet leave no discernible trace on the actual game. I refuse to worry about it.

I’m telling you, it’s part of their clever plan to make us think the story is more complex and full of detail than it is! It’s probably in the code:

“IF ambient_noise > 10 decibels Barnabas share [key plot point]”

I was kind of stupid about that battle, though. I got to the beach, killed all the guys, and then it said “destroy ship” with a quest marker on the ship. So obviously I swam out to the ship and singlehandedly murdered everyone on it and then ran around like a ninny thinking “but how do I destroy it? is there some way to set it on fire? Some explosive device I can set off?” before I thought that since it was a SHIP, maybe I was supposed to attack it with another SHIP, like maybe my own SHIP that I totally have.

So I swam back to the dock to summon the Adrestia, and then when it got there, all we had to do was ram the completely abandoned other ship a few times. While of course also fighting off that mercenary’s ship, since he showed up to join the party.

Good times. Good times.

Butch:

Well, here’s what happened if you didn’t: She’s all “There’s ways to make money on the island, or just go raid that fort.” Seriously. Three side quests popped, though, on the “make money on the island” stuff, so I thought “THEMES! Let me at it!” So I picked one and….it was a fetch quest. Just a fetch quest. With a twist you could see coming from a mile away.

No themes. Not a trace.

I suppose one way of making you catch up after you magpie is just the game being all “FINE! Skip it!”

Ah, the quests are there. There ya go. Sorta figured this wasn’t the kind of game that was gonna pull a Witcher 2 and be all “Hey, you don’t get to see these 30 hours of content if you do XYZ.”

See, that’s what’s so great about the way you game. Totally, blissfully optimistic. Refusing to worry about details, bugs, glitches, whether you’re on the save or load screen…..

HA! That’s awesome, with the ship.

Kassandra: OK! Gonna go destroy that!
Barabas: You know we could help-
Kassandra: Take that! And that!
Odessa: Babe, we’re right here if you need-
Kassandra: Chain attack! BOOM!
Barabas: We’ve sharpened the javelins just this morning-
Kassandra: Wham! Bam! KABOOM!
Odessa: Just let her do her thing. She was like this in bed, too.

See, I sorta figured that my boat would be rather crucial as it was ALREADY THERE when I showed up at the beach despite the fact I had left it hundreds of miles away. You had to call yours? Mine was conveniently pre-delivered for quest purposes. I could sorta see:

Kassandra: How did you know I’d need you?
Barabas: A little bird told me.
Ikaros: Who you calling little, one eye?

You do Heitor’s thing?

Feminina:

Yeah, see, my ship wasn’t there! I had to go summon it, and then sit down and wait overnight (or whatever, you know that “time passing” thing they do) until it got there! Sure, if it had been right there maybe I would have thought to get on it.

I mean, unless it was right there and I missed it and then Barnabas sailed away in a huff and made me wait overnight once I finally thought to call it. Which…I mean, maybe. I’ll believe anything about my lack of attention to detail at this point. But I didn’t SEE my ship there, that’s for sure.

And sure, it could be “letting me catch up after all the magpie,” or it COULD be telling you “dude, shoulda magpied more and you’d have the money already.” It’s all in how you look at it. I didn’t get those fetch quests, so I just hopped merrily around the island checking out question marks. Which let’s be honest I would have done anyway.

Oh, but having killed three cultists over the weekend, I was able to upgrade my spear! Now I really want to kill a bunch more, because I need nine fragments to get to level five and several of my abilities need a spear at level five before I can increase them. I may just hunt cultists for a few sessions.

I did Heitor’s first thing, got his spear back from the fort. Then got sidetracked before following up on his second thing.

Did you do Sokrates’ thing with the stolen horse? Or the one out in the middle of nowhere, about a slave? That was interesting. Interesting the way they’re presenting these rather heavy philosophical questions in this setting.

Butch:

Dude, level four spear is SO two weeks ago. What took you so long?

Yes! The Socrates horse thing led to the Socrates slave thing which is the bit where the guy was all “AHA! I am the cultist you’ve been looking for! Your clue is….wait for it…..I’M THE GUY! Now….can you guess who the guy is?”

It was pretty good how they did it. Especially as, I think, the second talk with Socrates WAS the choice. The one in the slave quest. Baddie is all ‘Kill the woman!” and you know that you have to kill her to save the slave. Then, after talking with Socrates, that’s it. You can’t be all “Hmm. Now I shall ponder that and decide.” What you say in the moment decides, right? Cuz I had the chat, and said “All lives are equal” or something, and boom. Check mark over the soon to be summarily killed cultist. That was that. Can’t kill the woman. The slave is doomed.

And I didn’t expect that. Props to the game for holding you to your own ideals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Feminina:

Yeah, I kind of loved that. “Oh, and by the way I’m in the cult, hahahaha you won’t dare touch me though!”

Interesting…I think I said all lives were NOT equal. Meaning that some people are, indeed, worth saving more than other people are. Like, if you’re a murderous cultist, I think you’re worth less than a random innocent, basically.

And then when I was done talking to Sokrates, I turned around and went right back to the cult dude, because I decided that one person’s freedom was not worth more than another person’s life. Right? I hate slavery and people deserve to be free, and I want to help the guy I promised to help, but does he deserve freedom more than some woman deserves to live? I can’t make that call.

Especially not if her dying is what the cult wants. So I just strolled back over and went to talk to the guy and he said “fine, your friend will get an extra ration of hard labor because of this” or something, and then I immediately backstabbed him, hoping that maybe he wouldn’t get around to giving the order to give my friend (who’s probably not actually that fond of me at this point) extra labor. Or order someone else to go kill that woman. (Especially since he previously said he didn’t even remember any of his slaves’ names, so he might not even have known who I was talking about.)

It was nice of him to tell me straight out that he was in the cult, and then not to attempt to defend himself against my assassination. That was also pretty foolish of him, when you think about it. But the cult probably can’t afford to admit members based purely on intelligence.

Butch:

Oh, I got the quest over thing. That was that. Check mark. And yeah, he was all “Ha! Now you made it worse for your friend.” Whatever, dude. I was with you, though. I wasn’t going to do something the cult actually wanted.

Which’ll be a terrible mistake, I’m sure.

But he was quite the doofus, unbelievably so. Cuz it wasn’t that we were just some nameless mercenary: he was all “Ah, the Eagle Bearer” and she was all “You know me?”

So he was all “Ah, yes, I know you. Which is why I will tell you who I am, tell you to do something you totally won’t do, then stand real still, unarmored and unarmed, hoping you’ll just walk away cuz I sneered really well, despite the fact you’re trying to kill everyone in the cult I just told you I was a part of.”

Dude had a lot of faith in that sneer. Too much, it seems.

Just imagine the anti-climax for me, though. I spent SO much time trying to find what turned out to be a non-existent clue to find out who that guy was, and then he just tells me and stands there. I almost wanted him to fight.

Feminina:

Oh, the big red X for failing to help?! I’ve only gotten that a few times. We fear the big red X on a quest. Even though sometimes it may be the right thing to do! Or the terribly wrong one. We may hear more from/about that slave in the days to come.

That cultist must have accomplished a lot in life with sneer power, to have that much confidence in it. And yet somehow, just when he needed it most, it tragically failed to protect him from being totally unexpectedly killed by the outrageously skillful mercenary with the specific goal of killing all cultists, with whom he had just been speaking and against whose attacks he had taken no precautions whatsoever.

He was so helpless I would have felt kind of bad about killing him, if he hadn’t made such a strong case for why he needed a good backstab.

Butch:

Oh he made that case.

Though what ALMOST saved him was quest anxiety. I was sitting there thinking “Wait….can I just kill him? Will that bork a quest?”

Bad guys can always kinda hide behind that. “MWHAHAHA! I’m not a quest objective! If you kill me, you might miss a quest later and YOU’LL NEVER KNOW! But go ahead…take the chance you’ll miss out….”

Gotta admit, that almost saved the guy.

Almost.

Keos: It’s Pronounced ‘Chaos’

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So I was going to go off to Keos (why do I think we’re going to be starting a lot of days like that?) but there were side quests in Attika and, you know, side quests.

So I did the side quests. They all involved Socrates, who I wish would just shut up and have some hemlock already. I take it you haven’t done them. But you will someday, because you’ll have to cuz cultists.

So remember that guy with the mine I was trying to track down? The slave guy? Well, in the middle of the last damn quest, the guy is all “I want you to kill so and so” and I say “Why?” and he’s all “The Cult of Kosmos needs her dead,” and IT’S THE GUY! After all that, he just TELLS YOU! Then, after banter ensued, the quest ended, and he was JUST STANDING THERE with his back to me. So I killed him.

You’ll get there. We’ll talk. It’s something we shall have thoughts upon. But, after all the searching, talk about an anticlimax.

AND! AND! Guess where he was? Go ahead. Guess. C’mon guess HE WAS RIGHT BY THAT FUCKING SILVER MINE IT TOOK ME FOREVER TO GET INTO! So if I had NOT magpied, just followed the way the game was guiding me, I’d’ve found him, then BOOM cultist clue nearby, THEN done the mine.

This game, you see, does not want us to magpie. It wants us to follow the breadcrumbs.

We should just go to fucking Keos. Where I’ve already been cuz I magpied.

Also, regarding the magpie and the game’s desire that we knock it the fuck off, we really should get on with getting on with things because the more I see fall approaching, and the more I see gameplay from the Outer Worlds, and the more I hear it has great companions, and the more I think that Death Stranding is coming out in the fall as well, the more I think maybe I don’t want to be assassinating dudes too far into the fall. Not that I’m not liking this game, but DAMN when was the last time we had three AAA games that we’ve been into dropping in a six month span?

Cuz I also lose a week, you know. Soon it’s once again time to TRAVEL BLOG WITH BUTCH! The readers will thrill to Butch’s adventures as BUTCH TAKES SOUTH BEACH, BABY!

They’ll love it. It’s gonna be great.

Feminina:

I also did side quests in Attika! Went after that guy Kleon wanted me to find in the quarry. Remembered I’d already cleared out the quarry a week ago (although of course it had been restaffed in the meantime), so at least I didn’t have to bother with killing the captain and finding the treasure. (I actually quite enjoyed that quarry at the time. Lots of interesting levels and hiding places.)

Found the guy, who was a TOTALLY different H-name guy than the Heitor you were looking for, although while in that general area I did pick up the Heitor quest. Did pick up a clue about a cultist once I went back to my ship, which I did because of ship-related reasons that only Kleon’s dude can tell you about. Probably not in any way related to the cultist you were looking for clues about, who turned out to actually just be standing there.

Was randomly attacked by a shipfaring mercenary known, counterintuitively, as “The Terror of the Land.” (I suppose he swoops in on his ship to terrorize coastal cities? Still. Odd choice of name.)

Now I have to go back to Athens to talk to Kleon and Allie. And probably Sokrates because that dude does talk.

And man, it’s true, we do have a lot of stuff on the horizon that we potentially want to play. Including what’s-his-name-Cage’s latest, which we got for free last month and haven’t looked at!

At least nothing new in August. It’s just Wipeout Omega and Sniper Elite 4, neither of which interest me.

Butch:

Shit forgot about that! And we never did play Life is Strange two.

Better get going here.

Not that I can right now. Spending yet more money on junior. School is expensive.

Feminina:

And Divinity: Original Sin 2!

There’s a lot going on.

You know, with the time we spent on Red Dead Redemption 2’s epilogue, we probably could have played at least LiS2.

I will never really forgive that epilogue.

Butch:

Shit I had forgotten that one! Jeez. We better go to Keos.

I wasn’t going to forgive that epilogue anyway, but when you put it that way, I’m even less likely to forgive it.

Ok! Now that I’m out of money, back to blogging!

So which Attika quests? I did the ones where I had to forge name, that led to “get me a witness,” then “break into the playwright’s house” popped by the statue of Athena, did that, that made another Socrates quest pop in the port place (this one was about a horse thief), and then the quest where you help a slave popped by the silver mine.

Much more efficient to chase exclamation points than question marks.

Probably a T SHIRT!!!!! that.

I haven’t done fuck all for Kleon. I kinda forget what I’m supposed to do for Kleon. What am I supposed to do for Kleon? I thought it was “Hey, man, if you see a Spartan fort, kill the polemarch and tell me, m’kay?” So I was just waiting to magpie in Sparta.

Feminina:

That’s what I was thinking too, re: Kleon, but it turns out he’s specifically interested in the polemarch in one particular Spartan camp, which is right outside Athens. So you’re in the general area already.

It leads to a moderately involved bit with a ship, if you’re in the mood for that. Though I seem to recall that everyone involved was about level 29, so maybe come back to it later.

Chasing exclamation points is all very well, except then how are you going to hit all the question marks? WHAT IF YOU MISS SOMETHING?!

And I know many rational people would say “if I don’t get to it through exclamation points, I’ll just go back for it later on,” but what if you never do? What if you finish the game without getting back to that lion cave to kill that Alpha Animal?

The horror. THE HORROR.

And sure, rational people would point out that if you didn’t get around to doing it during the course of the entire game it probably isn’t that important, but THEY CAN’T BE SURE OF THAT.

What if we miss story? Romance? A statue of Naked Zeus being naked?

The soul quails in terror.

In short: I’ll never give up the magpie. You can’t make me.

Butch:

Oh THAT place. Yeah, I know the place. When I was running the fuck away from killing the cultist in downtown Athens (let’s just say I wasn’t really at my best stealth wise), I ran like holy hell and, when I stopped, it was all “You are by an untracked target,” to which I said “I am?” and boom. Fort.

You do know you’re going to end up playing the game twice, right? The first time you kill everything everywhere, and then the second time you kill everything everywhere.

Probably for the best I’m going to strut my stuff on South Beach. Let you catch up while I’m KILLING IT with the beautiful people.

Feminina:

Naw, because the second time I go back, I sometimes don’t even bother to kill anyone! I’ll sneak in, do whatever I need to do, and bolt out again.

Doesn’t always work. I’ll admit that. Sometimes you do wind up having to kill everyone all over again. But many times, you can say “OK, I don’t have any location objectives here, don’t have to kill any captains or burn any war supplies, so I’m out. Later losers!”

I’m not ashamed to run like hell away from a fight if it will save me the time and annoyance of having to fight a bunch of dudes for no reason.

Butch:

We’ve been differing in this game more than usual, and here’s another difference: “No reason” means different things to us at this juncture.

I mean, dude, why do you need boots that are obsolete the minute you loot them? What did that alpha animal do to you?

I guess I read the word “practical” between “no” and “reason.” Silly me.

Feminina:

Yeah, you did. Don’t do that.

My reason is: “it says so in the location objections, and I must get that checkmark on the map that says I completed this location.”

Also, I promptly dismantle those boots and use the soft leather to upgrade my ship, so don’t scorn loot you can’t wear. It’s still useful, man.

Butch:

It’s funny though, as you aren’t a completionist in any game that doesn’t have “Assassin’s” or “Creed” in its title. Before you go all “But I didn’t like RDR2 enough to collect all that shit,” I point out you didn’t do every hunting ground in HZD, you didn’t get every moldy flag in DAI (a lot of them, but not all), etc. You don’t have platinums in your trophy case. And yet, in these games, you are all “MUST. HAVE. CHECKMARK.”

It’s very unlike you.

Because, ok, fine. You like AC. But I have been blogging with you a very long time, and I can tell you have played games, we have played games together, that you like more than this one. This game is fun but neither of us are gonna put it on our “top games I’ve ever played ever ever” list. And yet….here you are, doing the complete thing you don’t even do in games that are on your “top games I’ve ever played ever ever” list.

It’s weird, dude. Weird.

Feminina:

I don’t know, man. Consider Fallout. Or the Elder Scrolls games I’ve played. Like this game, they are full of question marks, and as with this game, I compulsively sought out every single one. Did I actually get to every single question mark in FO4? Maybe not. Because they didn’t necessarily show up until you got kind of close to them, and some of them I may have missed. But not for lack of trying. And did I get to every single one I actually saw? I’m pretty sure I did.

I think it’s the question mark itself, to be honest. There’s something about its curling shape, its hint of wonder, its suggestion of mysteries to be solved, that I cannot resist.

Because there are non-question mark things in this game that I’m not going after. I’m not obsessing about killing every single mercenary. I’ll only kill every single cultist if, as we suspect, you have to do it to finish the game. I’m ignoring conquest battles on every side.

Apparently there’s an arena somewhere that at some point you can go to and fight other mercenaries in, and I’m not going anywhere near that unless it’s absolutely required.

And take Mafia III: I didn’t bother to drive in a single race at the racetrack, but did I seek out every point on the map in every single territory? You better believe I did.

So I don’t know, I don’t think I’m doing anything especially out of the ordinary for me.

Question marks. On the map. They cannot be allowed to stand.

If you have found a way to make peace with leaving question marks on a map unexplored, I salute you, but your path to contentment is not mine.

Butch:

Dude, I left playboys undiscovered. I left NUDITY undiscovered.

I suppose you are, at heart, a discoverer. A wonderer. An optimist. You always have hope that next question mark will be something great…something other than a bandit camp or a wolf den, despite the fact it always is one.

Wait until your kids are older. Then your soul will be crushed. You’ll run by all the question marks cuz you’ll know the truth: They just cost money.

Feminina:

It’s up to Future Us to look back upon this day in a few years and see how that turns out. You could be right.

You are the one with the crushed soul, after all.

Speaking of crushed souls, that’s another thing that’s coming out someday…more The Last of Us. There’s a lot to get to. Fortunately, much of it not released yet, but still a lot.

Butch:

I think that one’s a while off. I can’t imagine it’s coming out before the PS5, which is, what, MAYBE Xmas 2020? But Outer Worlds is October, Death Stranding is November, Cyberpunk is April. AND Divinity and Detroit? I mean….

Maybe it will all give us excuses to procrastinate when it comes to playing TLOU2, which I’m not necessarily sure I’m looking forward to…..

Feminina:

Yeah. We will have many opportunities to put off that bit of soul-crushing. Maybe we’ll get around to it when the actual world is less apocalyptic.

So never.

Damn, TLOU turns everything dark really fast.

Butch:

I know. It’s a game I feel I should play, but not a game I want to play. The other games we’ve mentioned today? Want to play.

You know….we don’t HAVE to play it…..

Feminina:

It’s true. We don’t, do we? We might just never get around to it. Even if it’s totally amazing and everyone says it’s the best game ever.

It could happen. Let’s leave our options open there. It’s a comforting thought.

Butch:

Indeed it is. We must remember that this is our hobby. Despite our lengthy complaints about the games we play, we do this for fun. Fun, I say! And, while blogging is as much fun, and TLOU2 is probably going to be bloggage from here to there, we can blog about pretty much anything. ANYTHING.

We have limited time, after all. It’s a precious resource. We wouldn’t waste precious drinking time on booze we didn’t like, now would we?

Well, we would. But only if there was no other booze to be had. But there is other game booze to imbibe, so imbibe we can. Shall. Will. Must!

Feminina:

Yes! We drink soul-crushing booze only when all the other booze is gone!

We don’t HAVE to play soul-crushing games until all the other games are played.

So, never.

Butch:

Indeed, never.

Especially as we’re never going to finish the game we are currently playing.

However, the booze I currently have in my house is doomed.

But dude I usually say this sarcastically but this time I’m serious.

You’re gonna love Keos.

Achievements in the Field of Excellence

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Vague spoilers for a location in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Dude, Keos! I’ve BEEN to Keos! I can fast travel to Keos! I mean, I won’t any time soon cuz there’s other stuff to do, but I’ve been there!

Remember way back when I was sailing to Attika from somewhere and I said “Hey Barnabas, if you say ‘don’t go near there! There are pirates and shit’ then I’m certainly going to go there?”

THERE was Keos! Who knew?

So that’ll be easy.

But yesterday, what, I did a timed quest where I took bad writing to a guy and got XP, took a pair of sandals for a beggar and got XP, forged a name and got a witness so Allie could make a dude a citizen, and broke into a playwright’s home to find out he was in the Cult and he STILL isn’t the guy I’ve been trying to unmask for days.

Oh, and I spent a good amount of time wishing I could kill Socrates just to shut him up.

Still not sure what’s up with that citizen thing.

But Keos! Nice place. Lots of question marks. You’re gonna love it.

Feminina:

Nice! Way to go Barnabas telling us stuff we’ll need to know someday. I’ll get there.

But I did not get there last night. Last night I just tidied up the last question marks in Athens, forged a signature for Alkibiades because it was on my way (but didn’t find a witness because it wasn’t on my way), and headed out towards the Scarred Mountains of whatever, looking for a quarry where that Heremos dude may be held. Got distracted by a lion’s den, as one does. Killed an Alpha Animal. Got some soft leather. Upgraded the ram on my ship (without actually going near it–I must have just sent the money and instructions to Barnabas).

Totally going to press onward.

Butch:

Dude I did that signature last night! The witness quest pops just as soon as you tell him you did it. You get the chords of completion, and boom. Another exclamation point appears over Allie’s head. You’re standing right there.

You thought it was still a check mark, didn’t you?

Ah, the quarry. I remember it well.

Stupid quarry.

And Barnabas totally didn’t! He was all “Don’t go there! Pirates!” and I was like “Don’t? By don’t you must mean jump off the boat and swim there! On it!”

Gotta say, I’m totally not into animal dens. Those fuckers are tough. And I kinda like the animals. They’re wildlife, man. And the sometimes help with the whole Kevin problem.

Feminina:

I do love when animals can help out with my pursuing-soldier issues. That’s the best. But on the other hand, I need a lot of soft leather for my boat upgrades. Also, if there’s a location objective about killing an Alpha Animal, that Alpha Animal must die. I have to obey the objectives. It’s a compulsion. Would I kindly? Yes I would.

I didn’t actually have Allie’s quest activated when I forged the signature, I just happened across a quest-diamond in the agora while I was going somewhere else. I didn’t really stick around to look for the next phase. Figured I’ll come back here anyway at some point to report to Kleon, so I’ll look for it then.

Butch:

Poor animals, doomed by arbitrary location objectives.

You’re going to have to report back to Allie at some point. First off, good dialog, second off, leads to other quests that you kinda sorta have to do, cuz they reveal the identity of a cultist, and those guys really do have to die.

Feminina:

Oh, I concur. Those cultists must die.

I need to upgrade my spear, after all.

And protect my mother! That too.

Butch:

And, most likely, finish the game. I don’t think those dudes are optional.

The mercenaries get a pass.

Feminina:

Yeah, it’s the mercenaries’ call as to whether they want to attack me (and therefore die). Totally on them.

The cultists–as you say, not optional. They cannot escape their fate! Nor can I escape mine, which is to kill them all.

I mean, I guess I could stop playing, but THAT’s not going to happen.

Butch:

Not so deep into the game.

So I better find that dude in Attika…..soon…..

Feminina:

Maybe it really is tied in with Kleon’s quest. I’ll let you know if I learn anything about a cultist while pursuing this messenger.

I mean, he is a messenger, he carries messages. Maybe they’re about the cult. Maybe Kleon is a member!

Butch:

Yeah, we’re gonna have to compare notes on this shit. I was so bummed last night when I found something and Kassandra is all “He’s a member of the CULT!” and I thought “Phew! Finally. Found him,” and went to check and it was some other dude entirely. As disappointing as the time I figured out where a clue was, spent FOREVER trying to get it, finally DID get it, and the dude was, like, five levels above me.

Sigh.

At least I know a cultist is dead on Keos. Cuz I found him by accident. Heh.

Feminina:

Wait, you didn’t have any clues or anything, just found him? Sweet!

Assuming that’s where he hangs out, I look forward to killing him myself when I get to Keos.

As someday I surely will. But first, this Heremos guy must be found. In case he has clues about that cultist on Keos I haven’t killed yet.

Butch:

Wait…ANOTHER cultist on Keos?

I dunno, man. I was in Keos checking shit out, as one does, and I went into a place and a dude attacked me, so I killed him, and it said “Cultist clue found!” and a cultist popped up, like, ten feet away. So I killed him. I can only guess that the first guy’s last words were “Dude….HE’S the cultist….my name’s Kevin…..blugle….” So, you know, that’s a clue….

Feminina:

Naw, I was just joking that your clue would lead me to the guy you found by mistake. I’m sure there aren’t two cultists on one small island. That would be way too convenient for assassination purposes.

Butch:

Ya never know. The game has to throw you a bone sometimes.

Feminina:

I suppose it might, at some point.

I mean, all those animals attacking people I’m trying to kill is nice.

Or other people attacking animals I’m trying to kill! That’s good too. Last night some passing soldiers killed one of the lions I was fighting. Didn’t even take the soft leather. Thanks, guys!

Butch:

In other news, Nugget and Meatball are spending the weekend in NYC with my parents. My father has taken them to his favorite whiskey bar.

I’m simultaneously horrified, proud and jealous.

Getting the Party Started

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for story in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Now that was a motherfucking dress ball.

Hiding playwrights! Drunken singing contests! Bisexual orgies with goats!

I mean, no sorceresses in stunning, I mean STUNNING green dresses but hey, no dress ball is perfect.

I feel, though, that I may have missed something. I always get nervy when someone is all “are you SURE you don’t want to leave?”

I also feel that, while that was fun, that it didn’t serve much of a purpose except historic name dropping and saying “OK! Athens time over! Off you go to other places! Here’s a trophy for completing chapter four!” There wasn’t a whole lot of plot, per se unless….

………and here’s what makes me nervous…….

……..they’re setting us up to know all of these folks so that, when they come back later, we understand all their dynamics and interactions and all that shit.

Femmy, I cannot tell all these dudes with beards and hairy chests and names I can’t spell apart when I’m actually AT the party! I’m not going to remember who was arguing with who about what six weeks from now! I’m not going to remember who supported who or who was jealous of who! If this was the game all “OK! This will all be important later! Do you understand?” then my answer is an emphatic “NO! No, game! I do not! And, if I do, I won’t remember!” I’ll remember the orgy dude cuz he was named Allie and didn’t have a beard or a hairy chest so he stands out, but other than that, I’m doomed.

One always remembers the orgy dude.

T SHIRT!!!!!!

I’m so doomed.

Feminina:

Right? The Greeks KNOW how to do a fancy dress ball! (You accepted the fancy dress, I take it? I did. I mean, I considered insisting on keeping my armor and weapons, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to get dressed up, so I figured even if I did get attacked, I’d make do with a cheese knife I grabbed from the buffet table or something.)

I don’t really remember any of those guys either, except Alkibiades (who as you say was hard to miss) and Sokrates (whom I already knew). I think if they come up later, we’ll get some kind of refresher course. I felt like it was really more about the general confusing, drunken atmosphere for Kassandra, as well as uncovering clues about the next places we need to go, than it was about laying out specific important plot points we’ll need to know later.

So and so prefers dry wine! NEVER FORGET THIS.

It’s gonna be great. We’re gonna love it.

I went and killed some people for Kleon, and now he wants me to look for some guy whose name starts with H who was last seen in a quarry. Is that the guy you looked for already? I’m on it.

Butch:

Oh I SO got dressed up! And I accidentally lit myself on fire by walking into a brazier, but, luckily, this did not really affect the look. Hey, orgies AND someone on fire! That’s a Par-TAY!

Sweet wine! He wanted the sweet wine! I think. Whatever. That’s what he got. And the singing competition that followed was great. I take it you sang?

I take it you joined in the orgy?

Man….shit. I GUESS that was who I was looking for. There’s this masked cultist who has a quarry and slaves in Attika. I was looking for his clue. Maybe I had to do the Kleon shit first.

Shit.

Feminina:

Oh man! I gave him dry wine! He liked it, said it was the nectar of the gods, but there was no singing contest, so maybe he would have gotten even drunker if I’d picked the sweet. I thought the guy hiding in the kitchen said the other guy “couldn’t abide” sweet wine, but maybe he said he “couldn’t handle” it…meaning it would have hit him even harder.

Sigh. Can’t believe I missed a singing contest! At least I got the orgy. Going back to the kitchen for oil was a nice touch.

Oh! Oh! And what did Phoibe say when you left? She told me “I heard there was a plague on Kephallonia! You don’t suppose my friend…”

And Kassandra said something like “no, no, this isn’t anyone’s fault! But I’ll go check on Kephallonia.” Which is either lazy game writing, or Kassandra flat-out lying, because I’ve BEEN back to Kephallonia and I know there IS a plague and it’s actually totally my fault. Anyway, props to the game once again for having this choice continue to reverberate through the story.

As for the quarry, I don’t know, this wasn’t anything to do with a cultist, it’s just some messenger Kleon wants me to find me. Maybe a totally different guy.

Butch:

It was a nice touch, but DUDE the singing contest! How on EARTH did you miss the singing contest? They both got drunk, and they challenge each other and Kassandra to a singing verse contest where you have to make up verses on the spot, complete with timed dialog choices. Kassandra is belting it out, man. Girl can hit the back of the room with the best of them. She was totally into it, too, with dance moves and gestures and over emoting. It was great.

Dude! No, Phoibe just said that she can’t wait to see me again, and knows she will this time, because this is Athens and not Kephallonia, and no one ever goes back to Kephallonia!”

Games all “Hey, Femmy, go back and see what you did! But Butch? Yeah, you’re good. Keep on trucking.”

Probably a different H guy. I’ll never find this dude. Probably won’t be able to finish the game.

Feminina:

OH MAN! Sadness. Yeah, he must have preferred the sweet wine. I got none of that. The one guy just told me his tip about the mountain sanctuary or wherever and the other one said “well, this is dull” and staggered off. End of conversation.

Siiiiiigh.

This plague on Kephallonia is going to haunt me forever.

As is the dude you can’t find in the quarry. But nah, he’ll turn up. Bound to. Go kill a dude for Kleon and maybe when he sends you back, somehow the clue will magically be there. Maybe it’s on the messenger I need to look for!

It’ll work out.

I haven’t killed any cultists lately. Need to step up that game, man.

Butch:

Dude, you would have loved it. Cuz we love songs, too! Remember Leliana’s song? We loved that. And drunken song duels pretty much need to be added to our list of things games must have.

Feminina:

I am so grieved and disheartened right now. It hardly even seems worth it to murder more dudes in the face of this terrible setback.

This will surely stand as the single most important thing we did differently in this game. Or perhaps any game.

Butch:

It really will. It really, really will.

I’d urge you to go look at some videos of it online, but that might make the pain all the worse.

Feminina:

Yeah, I thought about that, and then thought “no, it would only rub salt in the wound.”

Knowing you missed a great party isn’t less painful if you can see video of other people having fun at that party.

My Kassandra has made many grave errors in her life, but this is perhaps the gravest. Plague? Enh. Causing a guy to gouge out his own eyes because he couldn’t handle the truth? Being mean to children? Whatever.

Failing to liven up a party? TRAGEDY.

Butch:

Yeah, man. I sang (very well, if I don’t say so myself) AND accidentally lit myself on fire.

I blame the goat.

Feminina:

I didn’t set myself on fire, but I did very warily keep on eye on a torch someone had dropped on the carpet. “That can’t be good,” I thought, and tried to pick it up, but was unable to move it. Probably because my fancy dress hampered my freedom of movement. Ha!

I kept watching other people wandering around almost on top of it, but it never set anything on fire, so everything turned out OK. After watching that random person burn to death in the marketplace that time, not to mention setting myself on fire a few times (not at parties), I have a healthy respect for flames.

Which when you think about it is probably the most practical thing this game could teach us.

Butch:

Second only to “Make sure you get the good wine, cuz otherwise you’ll miss the singing.”

Feminina:

Lesson bitterly learned, game.

Butch:

I do kinda like it as a game mechanic. Like, if you remember/forget the wine choice you get a reward/punishment, but it’s just kinda fun. Had it been “quest failed” or “now you don’t get the information this way so you have to spend two more hours getting it some other way,” that would’ve sucked. So it all stays in character, sure, but in such a way that doesn’t go overboard in punishing the player.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m into it. No real game impact, but fun stuff you could miss. Like Geralt staying up drinking with the other witchers and dressing up in Yen’s clothes and accidentally calling some other sorceress on the magic sorceress communication device!

Good times, but not a big deal from a game standpoint if you don’t do it.

Butch:

HA! Yeah, that was kinda the best. Yen being pissed about it was the icing on the cake.

Ah, good times. More parties, more drinking, more singing, games.

Feminina:

Yes! All of those things. Plus group hug endings.

Man, someday someone is finally going to make the Best Game Ever by incorporating all of those things.

We’re waiting, game industry. We’re waiting.

Butch:

And nudity. Need more of that.

Feminina:

Oh yes, that goes without saying. Always.

Butch:

Man, how did we get here before noon? I played! I did a big story mission!

But it’s hot. There’s kids. It seems so long until school……

Feminina:

You’re right. We need to get back on track. At least for a while.

So…uh…after Attika, which of the leads are you going to follow up on? I think I’m going to go to Keos, because I have an ainigmata ostraka clue that leads me there and I actually haven’t already been. Might as well multitask, right?

Also, do you think we’re actually going to get different information at each location, or do we just have to follow up on all three leads to learn the same thing, like with the Dagger and the identity of the Kingfisher?

Here’s hoping it’s the former.

Butch:

Man, I hope so, too. Maybe it’ll be we only have to do one….

…nah.

I dunno, man. See, you’re level, what, 97 or so, and I just hit level 20 (yet another way to liven up a party: start emitting flashes of golden light while strings play), so I was going to pick whatever was easiest. That said, as things level up with you, you have no way of knowing which that is. I have no objection to Keos so long as I don’t meet some, what, level 95 llamas on the beach who make the boars look wimpy.

Feminina:

I just hit level 30 last night! It was magnificent. The music, the golden light…and yeah, last time I leveled was at the party! That was where I swear these two guys talking in the background looked startled and threw up their hands to block the sudden radiance. Although they were having an animated conversation anyway, so it could have been a coincidence.

If you were just in Korinth and it was overpowered for you, maybe Keos is the place to go! Although maybe not, because I haven’t been there yet. What was the other place? Logically, one of them must be around level 20, because it would be kind of odd of the game to say “the main story leads here!–to these several places you can’t go yet.”

If the main story only led to one place, sure. We have many times had the experience of needing to go do sidequests and level up until we were tough enough to follow the main story. But when they give you not one but three options, thus guaranteeing you’re going to be busy for a while following up on them all (because like you, I find the idea that maybe we only have to do one of them and then we’ll be done to be implausible), you’d think at least one of them ought to be one you could follow up on right then.

Of course, that’s human logic, not game logic, so what do I know?

Butch:

Well, I think, but I’m not sure, that Korinth’s helpful level guide was like 18-23 or something. Maybe I just landed in the hardest part of Korinth. Maybe. Maybe there are parts of Korinth I can handle. If I can get past the llamas.

I’ll check tonight. But I’m sure as hell not ready for any of those 24-28 parts.

Feminina:

Come with me to Keos! Minimum recommended level 17, according to the internet.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Keos ahoy!

Now watch: for the next three weeks I’ll be all “uh, you in keos yet?” And you’ll be all “how should I know? Oooooo! Cave!!!!”

Feminina:

Too true. After all, I have to go find this guy in a quarry for Kleon, and who knows where I’ll end up from there.

Butch:

Plans femmy. You know how they go.

Feminina:

How well I know. Just watch, neither one of us is going to set foot on Keos for months.

Did I mention I went back to the volcano island? Killed some bandits or cult members or whoever was there. Got some loot. Good times.

Butch:

No! Did you magpie there or did you have a reason?

We probably won’t even find Keos on the map for months.

Feminina:

Pure magpie. I was thinking “you know where I haven’t finished a question mark? That volcano!” Went in, murdered and looted, got out. There wasn’t a lot of story there.

Although there probably will be later, and I’ll have to go back. Meh.

Leave No Question Mark Unquestioned

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for Attika-area plots in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So I saw that one of the cultists who is masked had a quarry and a slave business in Attika. “I’m in Attika,” thought I, “and hey, looky, a quarry!” So I cleared out the quarry. The WHOLE THING. It took a while. And what did I find? No cultist clue. Nope.

So I trucked up to explore more of Attika, looking for a slave market. Didn’t find it, but did find Heitor, who wanted a) his sword back and b) me to rescue his friend (who I thought/hoped was in a slave market, but no). Did all that. But that, too, took a while, so that’s all I did. Still didn’t find the cultist clue.

How on EARTH are you so far ahead if you’re clearing out everything? Clearing out things takes TIME, man!

Anyway, you do the Heitor stuff? I have thoughts.

Feminina:

Attika? Dude, I’m running around cleaning up Athens proper, I’ve had no time for Attika yet!

I was just about to leave the city walls and go kill those Spartan leaders Kleon wants us to kill, and that will take me out into Attika, but at the moment everything I’ve done in that territory has been in the city.

As a result, I have never met Heitor and don’t know anything about him. Sorry.

Clearing out things does take time, it’s true. I’ve gotten to the point that wherever possible I do the bare minimum of the location requirements. Like, if it says I have to kill 1 captain and loot 2 treasures, I try to loot the treasures without alerting anyone, kill the captain, and then run off. Sticking around to kill everyone else just eats into my day, man!

Of course, often this type of elegant, targeted strike is not possible and I have to kill a dozen other people too. I keep yelling at them “I just want to kill your captain, leave me alone and I’ll be on my way!” but somehow they don’t seem to be moved. Loyalty. Fah.

Butch:

So you went and did all these territories you weren’t supposed to do and ignored the place you were supposed to be?

Of course you did. You’re you.

Feminina:

The place I was supposed to be? You mean…Athens? The place I am no longer ignoring?

Old news, man. Me going to a bunch of places that aren’t Athens is so two days ago.

Butch:

Attika is that bit all around Athens…that’s right there….nowhere near korinth….

Right there. With quests.

You blew by shit that was right there to go do shit that wasn’t right there.

That’s so you.

Feminina:

Old. News.

Anyway, I blew by it because I specifically had to LEAVE Attika to take that dude to the fishing village on that random island, which I did because it was Perikles’ mission and I was trying to stay on task for once. But then once I wasn’t in Athens anymore, it was as easy to go back to Korinth as anywhere, especially when I had ainigmata ostraka clues to hunt there.

Butch:

Ah I see. You’re gonna blame Perikles. Sure sure.

Feminina:

Gotta blame someone. And to be fair, he IS the one who sent me on a quest that took me out of Athens and Attika before I had a chance to check out all the question marks. If I hadn’t been following his quest and ended up somewhere else, I would certainly have magpied all over Athens, because that’s how I do.

It’s not like I land in a place full of question marks and think “yawn…gonna go check out some other place full of question marks.” Surely you must agree that that is not how the magpie works.

No, if I hadn’t been trying to finish Perikles’ quest, I would have stuck around Attika chasing random question marks for a week. My real mistake was trying to actually follow up on a quest INSTEAD of magpieing. If I’d ignored that quest and stayed in Athens, I would have cleared the question marks from the entire region by now.

Perikles’ fault.

Butch:

True. The magpie may be irrational, but it is very methodical.

In other news, my laptop is totally fucked up.

Feminina:

Good thing you play games on the PS4!

I mean, it’s still rough on the blog if you don’t have access to a keyboard, but at least you can still play.

Butch:

Except if I have to get a new one I’ll be tempted to get one….you know….so fancy…so pretty….

Feminina:

No! Get a slow, ugly one. Fight it!

Remember how little time there is in the world. Think about how badly you need booze money.

Slow, ugly computers are fine for boring work stuff. Which is all you need to do on a computer.

Butch:

Right. Right. But I’ve never bought a pc for myself that wasn’t for…you know. This one I bought for Mrs mcp! I look at the specs and just blip over the slow ugly ones! I can’t help it!

But this one is finally updating. Maybe it isn’t dead.

New ones are so fancy….

Feminina:

Fancy ones are the devil! Look away!

Maybe this one is OK. Fingers crossed you can breathe a little more life into it.

Butch:

I think….there’s hope…..maybe.

Feminina:

Yay! Hang in there, good ol’ Slow and Ugly! Don’t make Butch have to replace you.

No good can come of that.

Butch:

PHEW! I write from the laptop.

That was upsetting.

But those things they had at Best Buy were nice…..and on sale…..

Fun Subtitle Tricks to Try at Home

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Extremely minor spoilers for plot points in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Don’t have much cuz my soul got crushed, as it does, but I did play some. Spent FOREVER trying to get into a silver mine to get a cultist clue (no cover, long mine, unfair), found out he was level 22 and I’m not (more on that in a second), did a timed quest (that, too), discovered a bunch of places, and killed a really tricky cultist and his friends.

Here’s what I wanna talk about: XP. I wanna talk about XP.

XP, I believe came about in D&D, right? They were supposed to represent your character gaining EXPERIENCE. Knowledge. Skills. You earned the points for doing things that meant your character was learning stuff about the world, getting better with swords and hammers and spells with practice, working towards the next level by learning, practicing and growing. Right? That was the point.

Games took that and ran, and fine. It’s a good system! It explains why a character has more skills now than before: Because that character learned by practicing and doing stuff over time.

Which brings us to this game, that obviously doesn’t understand what XP are and has no idea why it’s giving them out.

So see above what I did. The silver mine hard. It needed stealth, combat, and special abilities. You know, the stuff Kassandra has to practice to get better. Lots of question marks? She’s learning about the world. The Cultist? Both practice and learning about the cult. These are EXPERIENCE. But each thing? A hundred. Couple hundred. 900 for clearing the mine. 1200 for killing the cultist.

And then the timed quest, for which I got 3200 3200! Must’ve been hard, you say. Well, here’s what I had to do: give a lady 50 drachmae. That was it. And for that, 3200 XP.

Now, I’m happy to have the XP. I am. I need them, as I am way behind you. I feel I earned a fair amount of XP for the stuff I did in the playing session, when you total it all up. But I should’ve gotten far more for doing the stuff that got Kassandra relevant experience and far less for just giving someone some money. What experience did that give her? How did that teach her anything that she’d need to learn more stuff?

I sorta feel games have forgotten that XP are really EP. When they do that, they stop making any sense. Skill progression stops making any sense. And, while I accept the story of AC makes no sense, at least the skill progression should.

And how they’re handing out XP does not.

In other news, my hotmail side ad is for a hemodyalsis machine.  Seriously. 
I liked it better when Mrs. McP shopped at Victoria’s Secret.  FAR better ads. 

Feminina:

I’m with you–the XP on some of those little timed quests is completely disproportionate to any kind of effort required. Unless you learned that helping people is good, and that helps Kassandra grow as a person? Grow A LOT? But man, that’s a stretch. In reality, it’s obviously just a quick way to let people boost their progress towards the next level.

“Here’s 50 bucks, gimme more HP and damage please!”

I did play! I even went back to Athens and talked to Perikles! Only partly to prove you wrong because you bet I wouldn’t. I was probably about to get around to it anyway.

Major story event! Romance! Fancy dress ball! And guess where I need to go now?

That’s right: Korinthia. The very place I just spent 20 hours clearing of question marks while avoiding a return to Athens. (Incidentally, Perikles made some dry comment about how it was nice I’d finally made it back. I don’t know if he always says that, or if it’s actually based on the amount of time you spend doing random other stuff before you go see him again, but it was kind of great. I recommend you hurry back ASAP and see if he says it to you!)

Anyway, no worries, now Korinthia is all neat and tidy and I can focus on the mission!

My sidebar ad is for the NYT. At least it’s not hemodialysis!

Butch:

Still not as good as Victoria’s Secret.

I dunno. I think it undermines what XP are for. XP are for making progression make sense. And it isn’t necessarily the timed quests themselves. There was one where I had to kill a bigassed bear. That I don’t mind the XP. Killing bigassed bears is good practice for fighting things. THAT deserves XP.

But XP is really a way that RPGs try to use stats to replicate real life as well as RPGs can, and I say this going back to pen and paper D&D. Whether it’s that, or skill checks, or the wealth system in D20 Modern, the whole point of stats is to make the game make some sort of realistic sense, as much as that is possible. When you abandon that for…no real reason…then not only is the player confused as to what to do next, you get rid of the small bit of realism that the stat was there to provide. Games should be working towards some sort of immersive realism, not backing away from it.

Re: Korinthia I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU!

Dude, why magpie when you’re going there anyway?

Ok, fuck it. I have one more cultist clue to track down in Attika, I will do that, then off to Perikles. That’ll give me a level or two. If not, I’ll do a timed quest or two where I have to pet a dog or eat a sandwich and I’ll be fine.

Feminina:

Enh, it’s fine. I was going to get to all those question marks in Korinthia at some point anyway, right? What difference does it make it if I do it now or later?

I magpie BECAUSE I know I’ll be going there anyway, and I want to be prepared when I do.

And you’re right, huge XP awards for no effort do contradict the stated meaning of XP within the game. If we get rewarded more for handing someone 50 drachmae than for actually using all the skills we’ve been working on, what does that reward even mean? Should we be spending ALL our time on the tiny side quests, since that’s what the game values?

I was in a conversational setting last night when I happened to fulfill an objective that put me over the top to 29. It was funny to be standing in the middle of a group when suddenly the soaring triumphant chords sounded and the golden light suffused me… I swear some people nearby started back in astonishment and made as if to cover their eyes, and although it was probably just part of their conversation animation, I thought it was pretty amusing.

Butch:

HA! That is pretty great. Though it reminds me of another complaint with this game and, frankly, lots of others.

There’ll be times you finish a quest or level or both and the triumphant chords happen and all the other sound effect at the very time Kassandra is saying something about what just happened and/or what’s gonna happen next. Like, game, seriously. You KNOW there’s gonna be sound after a quest. Do not make her talk then. Have her wait five seconds.

This happens ALL THE TIME.

Feminina:

YES! That is true. Stop doing that, games! Level-up effects need to force an auto-pause on all other activity! Either that, or they can wait until you’re actually ready to deal with them. Some games just tell you “hey you leveled up!” with a discreet ping or something. Which is not nearly as exciting as the chords and the golden light, I grant you, but no one wants to miss out on dialogue for that!

I do appreciate the games that will let you level up mid-combat and heal you at the same time. I’ve had some happy instances of being almost dead until I happened to strike the blow that did it, and then I was full health AND stronger, and that saved the battle.

It is a very artificial measure, though. It’s pretty well baked into games now, and I understand why, and it obviously serves a very important purpose in game progression and character development. I don’t object to it. But it’s artificial and takes you out of the game to some extent, however they do it.

More so, though, when there’s not even any internal logic to what it is you’re getting rewarded for.

Butch:

See also: don’t yell “SLOW DOWN” when Barnabas or Herodotus is talking. Like, we know. Slow down.

I haven’t leveled during combat yet. Each time it’s at the end of a quest and, it seems, each time I miss something.

You probably miss her saying “Why the fuck am I here? I’m going to have to come here later.”

Feminina:

I actually think it’s kind of funny that they yell at me to slow down if I’m too busy hopping around looting in the area while they’re talking. Sure, I already know I should, but if I don’t, I don’t mind them pointing it out.

I think I miss her saying “excellent, another question mark I won’t have to come deal with later!”

Butch:

No, when Kassandra yells it. On the boat.

Herodotus: Have I told you about this place that will be crucially important to the story later?
Kassandra: You have not my friend. Please do.
Herodotus: It all began long ago, when the old ones-
Kassandra: SLOW DOWN! OARS!
Herodotus: ****silence****
Kassandra: You were saying?
Herodotus: Sorry. The developers only let me say it once, as a set piece.
Kassandra: Seriously? That was important!
Herodotus: You were the one that slowed down.
Kassandra: There were boats that could’ve been pirates! C’mon, one more chance.
Herodotus: Fine. Fine. I suppose. Long ago, there were crucially important-
Kassandra: FULL SAIL! SING SHANTIES!
Herodotus: Man, fuck this.

Feminina:

Oh, right! Yeah, she needs to keep out of her own conversations sometimes. I haven’t been on the ship in a while, to be honest, so I’d forgotten that little quirk.

RDR2, to its credit, handled dialogue during travel pretty well. I remember sometimes I’d outrun someone and start shooting at a deer or whatever and they’d just break off and then pick up the thread once we were riding close together again. “Anyway, as I was saying, this oaf wandered out to California…”

Butch:

Yeah, that made sense. But shit, in this game, it isn’t even they talk over each other. Even the subtitles just say “More oars!” or some shit. Herodotus is lost to time. And dialog.

Feminina:

Not helpful, subtitles! Be more informative!

I mean, unless it’s all a clever plan to make us think there’s more story than there actually is. Maybe it’s intentional!

“And so the one piece of information that makes this whole thing make sense is–”

“MORE OARS! And good point, Herodotus. That DOES make perfect sense!”

“All those people complaining about the bizarre twists just need to understand–”

“SAILS! SAILS UP! Very true, my friend. Once they know that one weird trick, it all becomes clear AND they can melt belly fat with no effort!”

Butch:

That would make sense….

Can’t tell which is worse, just cutting off subtitles, or what Shadow of the TR did, which threw every damn word ANYONE said into the subtitles. You’d be walking though Paititi, and EVERY NPC saying anything would pop up. Like, five, six lines at a time, most of them not in English, all in different colors. Somewhere in there was plot….I think.

Again, maybe that was a smokescreen, too.

Feminina:

We may be underestimating the sneakiness of the writers. Because you know what’s easier than crafting a consistent, compelling narrative over multiple installments composed of large, complex games?

NOT doing that. And then using subtle tricks to suggest the existence of such a narrative in ways that make players blame mechanics for not catching the details, rather than noting the absence of the details themselves.

Butch:

We’re so onto them.

“Hey, let’s just mumble and then put a bunch of gibberish over it! We can say the gibberish is Greek! Like anyone speaks Greek. No one will know!”

Makes perfect sense now….it’s all so clear to me.

Feminina:

We’ll be melting belly fat while we sleep in no time!

Butch:

Behold the power of gibberish!

T SHIRT!!!!!

Feminina:

Of course! It’s so obvious! It was [mumble mumble] all along!

 

Naked Zeus is a Harsh Master

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Crushed souls tell no spoilers

Butch:

I got nothing. Well, I have tired kids. Not home until 930 last night from the show. One thing I’ll say for this camp: The shows are damn good. I’ll give them that. But late. Very late.

And, when they’re tired, they’re evil.

But it’s cool. They’ll go to bed nice and early and oh wait there’s another, even longer show tonight, and Nugget has a part in the second act.

Tomorrow will be ok, though. Very mellow and oh wait they have their end of camp thing where they’re both in concerts.

Naked Zeus, I beseech you….either save me or strike me down. There’s a ram and maybe a cup of iced coffee in it for you.

Feminina:

Good lord, man.

Honestly, I’m not sure sacrifice will help you: based on this tale of tribulations, I can only assume that you have gravely offended Naked Zeus in the past, and this is your terrible punishment. Legends will be told about it in ages to come. Cautionary legends.

I played some. Bopped around Korinth and the surrounding area, did everything I had to do there except the giant fort on the hill. I’ll go back for that. There’s time. Not like a sinister cult is trying to find and probably murder my mother or anything.

Butch:

You know you’ll likely be back. You’ll do the fort, and the very next quest will be “Go get the thing from that fort…..”

Kevin all “Phew. Glad that’s over. She’s finally gone. I gotta remember to mow the lawn. Well, right after I put this beacon that exploded back together. Hey, Kevin, hand me that hammer. Kevin? Kevin? Kevin, I TOLD you, don’t go near the grass oh where has he gone…hey, what’s that whistling?”

As for my trials and tribulations, it’s cool. As of three tomorrow, camp will be done! So…you know….nothing really happening until school…in a couple of weeks…..

SAVE ME NAKED ZEUS!!!!!!

Feminina:

I still think you need to repent and beg forgiveness for some horrible crime you must have committed to anger Him. Maybe sacrifice a couple of the kids?

Hm. That might be a bit dark, even for us.

Butch:

Yet it would be particularly effective in terms of remedying the issues at hand.

Feminina:

Even if Naked Zeus doesn’t personally respond!

Hard to argue with that kind of efficacy when it comes to prayer.

Butch:

Sometimes, you just gotta make sure Naked Zeus gets the hint.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Oh, and there’s a gathering of the neighborhood friends TOMORROW after the camp thing because they all need to drink away their kid issues, too, and guess who they always nominate to cook shit?

Going to desperately try to find time to get to Korinth this afternoon.

Feminina:

Korinth has so many captains to kill and treasures to loot! You’re gonna love it.

Butch:

Dude, I could’ve had that in Athens. I DID have that in Athens. My sailors are gonna be all “You made us row all the way here, stopping every twelve feet, for this? We could’ve stayed put, man!”

Feminina:

“Quiet, you. You needed the exercise. Can’t have you getting all lazy and sloppy right before we get attacked by pirates again. Trust me, you have to keep up with FITNESS or it’ll haunt you.”

Butch:

It so will!

Though I really don’t have to taunt them with FITNESS. I often (and I assume you do the same) do the trick of “travel speed” then “Ooo! Question Mark! Slow down!”

So she’s always “Sails up oars out….sails no, oars! Uh…sails…maybe no oars!”

I’m sorta surprised they haven’t thrown me overboard. Maybe they’ve thought about it, then realized I’d just swim back.

Feminina:

Ha! Yes. I’ve done that. “Full speed ahead! On second thought slow down, I want to check out that thing over there…”

It’s all about teaching them to respond quickly and accurately. Because when the pirates come, an instant’s hesitation could be fatal!

Butch:

Ergo the irony of me, in the face of every pirate attack, taking forever to a) figure out where they are, b) remembering what buttons to push and c) line up a ram that never works anyway. Sailors all “What NOW we’re chilling? NOW?????”

OK! Played some!

I gotta ask: What did I ever do to you? You KNOW I’m having a rough week. So why? Why did you send me to Korinth?

I’m in Korinth. I went by way of Salamis (aren’t salamis Italian?) (Had to be said) where I did the tomb of Ajax, found a stele, got some cool loot. It was fun. Killed a cultist there, too.

And then went zoop across the bay to Korinth.

Where EVERYTHING is two or three levels above me. First place: Red 23s over them. I’m level 19. The fucking WOLVES outrank me.

Yes, there are question marks. Lots of them. LOTS of them. With baddies who are badder than I am.

Dude.

DUDE.

Feminina:

Oh. Sorry.

I’m level 28! I didn’t realize! You’re keeping up with me in terms of the main story, it didn’t occur to me that you might not also be at the same level. But then, I guess I’ve killed a lot more random captains I found at random question marks, and that adds up.

Apologies, though. Unintentional! Maybe try Megaris? I had a lot of question marks at the far edges of Megaris that I’d missed. Maybe you do too.

Butch:

28????????

There is no Kevin left in Greece.

Nah, dude, I’m going to give you a 50/50 chance of actually doing main quest shit this week at all. If I ever have time to play games again, I’m going back to Attika. At the very least, there’s two cultists there need killin’ and they’re my level. That and maybe a chat with Perikles (who is SO in the cult….we’ll talk….later….) should beef me up some. At least it’ll do it quicker than getting 192 XP per question mark.

You haven’t been back to Athens at all, have you?

Feminina:

Well…no. I have not. I will. At some point.

Mr. O’ is level 38, man. I thought I was lagging behind here! Of course he’s on summer vacation and doesn’t need sleep. It’s really only surprising he’s not finished yet.

Butch:

Oh he’s on summer vacation! Why didn’t you say so! Makes so much sense now, because there’s nothing like being at home with the kids all day to get wonderful, peaceful, game time!

Feminina:

I hold you as the shining ideal of how well that works, all right. Your soul is hardly crushed at all!

But they’re not home all day, they’ve got daycare and summer adventure camp at school. They’re home some of the time, for sure, but he manages to play some afternoons. Plus the not sleeping means he can also play at night.

Butch:

Yeah, the night playing is a plus. But, as my soul is crushed, I’m usually either a) tired, b) tipsy or, most likely c) both at night.

But again….my kids are/were at camp. But there were chores! Food to make! FITNESS to do! Laundry!

How does he DO it?

Feminina:

I don’t know, I’m not home. But probably not having to drive all over creation to drop people off and pick them up helps. We’re kind of close to everything right now, in the city, so that’s convenient.

If the kids ever want to go someplace COOL, or FUN, that could be a different story. But not my problem hahahahahaha because oh darn I have to work! I’m cruel.