Romancing the Bear and Deer Organs

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some quest spoilers for AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Ok! Got to Delphi! By way of three viewpoints, a hottie who wants me to kill a boar, and a horny old lady that wants me to kill a bear and a deer, neither of which I did cuz I wanted to get to the oracle and time was limited cuz Will Smith wouldn’t shut up.

Talked to the Oracle (not what I expected) but did not get to her house. That’s next. So don’t spoil.

So really, just met Herodotus (he’s an assassin or templar for sure, probably assassin), told Barnabus to be more secretive, then immediately told Herodotus everything cuz I can’t shut up. Heard the Oracle talk about the Cult of Kosmos, which I’m guessing is Templars but I could be wrong. Asked where my mother was. Wondered how she knew me.

Here’s a difference: She was really mad about the whole killing innocents to stop the plague thing. She was all “It is you! From the sickness at [that place with the sickness]! INNOCENTS DIED!” And I wanted to say “Dude, hey, chill. In Femmy’s game the whole island died! Cut me some slack, here!” But no.

I did like the idea that the oracle could be controlled, and control of the Oracle (religion, really) shaped the political landscape. That was neat. Themey. We’ll have more to say later, I reckon.

Not bad.

Feminina:

Nice!

Yeah, Delphi was interesting. As was that sexed up old lady. I mean, rock on, lady. I’ll get your bear’s tongue for you, sure.

Ooh, I wondered what the Oracle said to you! She told me, “a girl and her family are alive thanks to you!” And I thought “what about all the other people dying of the plague though?” but if she doesn’t care, I guess I’ll take her praise as a means of assuaging my guilt for spreading malaria across Greece. Can’t please everyone, right? Might as well please the lady who (reportedly) speaks for Apollo! Who apparently doesn’t care that I killed some priests. Some other god’s priests, probably.

I did also love how you’re all “maybe be more discreet, Barnabas,” and then “hey, stranger I just met, let me tell you my life story!”

As for the lady who wants you to kill the boar…FYI that boar is only level 16, but it’s enormous and deadly. I watched Mr. O’ battle it unsuccessfully (like, not even close–though he is playing on Hard), and decided not to go after it right away. So if you’re looking for something to quickly toss off some evening, maybe follow up on the deer and bear quest instead (although I haven’t done that one either, so maybe those beasts are also enormous and deadly).

As for me, dude, I TRIED to get back to talk to Elpenor, but apparently I waited too long, because he sent someone to kill me in the marketplace. Now I’m trying to find him so I can assassinate him, because obviously.

What did he do when you talked to him? Did he try to have you killed?

Butch:

Yeah….I usually want everyone to LOOOOVVVVVEEE MEEEE, or, at the very least, have sex with me, but her? I think I might leave that to her husband……

The Oracle was mad, man. Can’t please everyone. Though it was interesting that she did seem to be into the rights of the individual and not the overall good/societal good. Hmm.

Maybe Kassandra was all “Hey, dude. You’re a supporting character. It’s the PC that gets to babble on and on. It’s how PCs do. Don’t steal my lines again, old man.”

Good to know about the boar. What do you mean ONLY level 16? I’m ONLY level 12!

Really? Elpenor tried to kill you? Hmm. Maybe it changes if you do the Oracle first?

Well, I stormed in with the helmet all “The wolf is dead” (which she just said…I didn’t choose to lie. She was gonna say that either way.) He just chucks the money. She’s surprised and he’s all “You expected me to haggle? More than worth it. Especially because you [tells her all about herself].” “You knew?” “Of course I knew!” And she’s all “You played with me?” and, and this is interesting statement number one: “You thought my life is ENTERTAINMENT?” (See?) and he says “No…I think your life is art. A tragedy. Blah blah Greek drama blah.”

Anyhoo, no matter what you do, she gets mad and he’s all “Too bad, I could have used you in my further errands” and tells his guards to kill you and off he goes. You kill the guards and get to root around in his house.

So yesterday we were all talking on the differences between thoughtful, progressive, assassin Athens and obedient, militaristic, Templar Sparta, right? Well, turns out ol’ Elpinor is selling weapons to and destabilizing both sides. He wants the war to continue endlessly. Given our thoughts on the Assassin/Templar Athens/Sparta deal, I found that curious. Which is what I wanted to discuss.

Anyway, I, too, now have a quest called “Snake in the grass” in which I have to chase him down and he’s still in Phokis and I haven’t done it yet.

That’s what happened.

Feminina:

Ah yes, that’s the quest I have right now. I should have talked to him…at least he paid you and you got to root around in his house! I’m out some good money, man!

Sigh. Just a reminder to follow up on quests in a timely fashion. I mean, I kind of respect that they bothered to make that timing mean something, because so often nothing ever happens until you go to a place and make it happen, and it makes the world feel more alive to have things happening without you.

All these timed quests, too…I ignore most of them because I can’t be bothered to spend a playing session hunting down Spartan deserters or whatever, but it does add an interesting element to the game to have there BE things out there that you could do right now, but if you don’t the situation will resolve itself without you somehow (as situations do) and this job isn’t just going to sit there waiting for you forever.

Those are some very interesting statements by Elpenor, about entertainment, art, etc. Hm. He’s speaking for the blog, almost…”oh no, this isn’t purely about frivolous entertainment, games are ART!” Heh. But also an interesting example of how he sees other people, apparently, as elements to be moved around in a game or narrative, rather than as people whose personal preferences deserve consideration. That’s a very Templar approach, I think. These Kosmos people must be, if not Templars proper (since that order won’t be founded for centuries), at least proto-Templars.

Also interesting that Kassandra just says “the Wolf is dead!” no matter what. I mean…I guess…that specific man is no longer serving as the Wolf of Sparta, so…the ROLE of the Wolf is now empty…so, “the Wolf is dead” is not TOTALLY a lie?

But man, that’s splitting some fine hairs when you were hired to kill a particular person. “I killed the IDEA of the Wolf, all right?”

And it’s interesting that player choice doesn’t enter into this, and that Kassandra doesn’t apparently even put any thought into it. She doesn’t say anything about WHY she’s going to lie, I assume, or you would have mentioned it? Interesting.

I remember, also, right after I didn’t assassinate him and he walked off to find his honor again or whatever, she says something like “the Spartans won’t be happy with me after what I did, I’d better get out of here.”

Which–I mean, yeah, the Spartans won’t be happy that she just convinced their best general to abandon the army, but that line could just as easily work for them not being happy that she assassinated their general, so it really kind of seems like the story is just going to go the way it goes whether or not you kill the guy, and that’s an interesting decision to be able to make without any consequences. “Kill him, don’t kill him, it’s all the same.”

But maybe he’ll turn up later alive and do something he couldn’t have done if we’d killed him. I guess we’ll see!

Butch:

Well, maybe it was because you did the Oracle first. Maybe my Oracle thing will be different. We shall see.

I like the idea of the timed quests, too. I haven’t done any of them, but it is kinda cool.

Oh they won’t be templars? I didn’t know they were real medieval templars. I thought they were vaguely alien “we can call ourselves what we want cuz this game has aliens dammit” Templars.

But yes, you are art. And didn’t you say that Abstergo is trying to get memories for entertainment/art?

Yup. No player choice on the statement about the Wolf. No “How could you? I let him live” choice. All part of a cutscene. Interestingly, Elpinor, who seems to know all, bought it. He said, later, “You killed your own stepfather.” And, yes, she never says (or hasn’t yet said) why she lied.

I imagine we’ll see some difference. Game’s doing ok noticing choices so far, and that was quite the choice.

Feminina:

No, the first game was set during the Crusades, and the antagonists in it were clearly defined as being the actual historical order of the Templars. So the Kosmos people cannot literally be them, but they could certainly be a group that later on in history rebranded itself as a different religious order and became the Templars. I won’t be at all surprised.

In fact, I’ll be surprised if that’s not how it goes–but who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised.

Butch:

Or Kosmos will become the assassins!

You know, I never asked: I get Templars. They were real, and kinda into law and order. But why assassins, other than “Assassin’s Creed” sounds really cool?

Feminina:

Or the Assassins! Also possible! We don’t know who turns into what yet. But Kosmos is definitely going to be something, and there’s probably another group that’s opposed to Kosmos, and they’re probably going to be the other one.

I mean, just tossing fantastical ideas around here.

And dude, the assassins are based on the historical Order of Assassins (see Wikipedia’s rather interesting write-up that includes a mention of the game).

It’s history!

Weird, parallel reality, alien-inflected history!

Butch:

Well looky there. I did not know that.

It’s Friday, and here we are dispensing knowledge. What’s with us?

Feminina:

I am a little surprised we didn’t spend more energy discussing sexy grandma, since it’s Friday and all, but I guess we were distracted by actual plot developments. And divergences! We always get distracted comparing if we do something different.

I did pick “I always wanted an older lover” in the dialogue options, and I would totally have flirted with her if it had been an option, but I guess she’s faithful to her one true love, sexy grandpa.

Butch:

Yeah, see, I know it’s slightly ageist of me, but I just couldn’t get into that.

I apologize to all the oversexed old ladies out there.

Feminina:

“Oversexed” is a value judgment. Maybe they’re just sexed enough!

They can take it up with you. I’m sure we’ll get hundreds of angry comments.

Butch:

Probably. Most of our readers are probably oversexed octogenarians.

Or not.

Feminina:

I think we can state with confidence that this statement regarding our readership either is or is not true.

I’ll go on the record with it!

Butch:

Phew. We got to Friday late in the day, but we got there.

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Diversions for Hot Days

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers because one of us (mentioning no names) can’t keep on track

Butch:

It’s too hot and humid. This week got to all of us last night. Well, to me. I sat down to play and fell asleep holding the controller. Seriously.

So I got nothing.

But if you saw Elpinor then I have a lot to say! Or some to say! So….did you?

Feminina:

I did not! I was going to, but…there was a viewpoint over there…and a cave full of bears…and a bounty hunter pursuing me (conveniently, he stumbled into my fight with the bears, and I was able to hide in the bushes and heal while the bear dealt with him for me)…and I was right next to where I had to go to talk to the Pythia…you know how it is.

Ooh, and I ran into the very top-ranked mercenary of all! Since he’s level 800 or something, I elected not to attack him right that minute, but at least I know he’s waiting for me, somewhere, sometime, when I get tough enough.

But going to talk to and possibly murder Elpenor is definitely next on my to-do list. Absolutely, pinkie swear, definitely gonna happen, no doubt about it.

Unless I run into some more bears.

Butch:

Sigh. I’ve blogged with you long enough that I know when I type “So…I’ll have something to say if you did X” that I’m gonna get three paragraphs saying “Why no, I did not do X.”

Especially in a game like this. I totally forgot the power of your magpie. Are you seeing question marks when you close your eyes at night?

I’ll try to fight my way up to the oracle tonight. I should be more awake. Going to take the kids to the movies, so there should be fewer fights to break up.

I hate bears.

Feminina:

Elpenor was FAR AWAY. The question marks were RIGHT THERE. I defy you to find any rational person who would not find the question marks infinitely more important.

I can make that challenge with confidence, because I know you don’t have anyone to talk to except kids.

Movie is a good call, though. What are you going to see?

Butch:

Yeah, man. When you say “Find someone else who….” you know I’m drawing from a very small pool of possible someone elses. Shit, this week “grocery store cashier” isn’t even in that pool.

Seeing Aladdin. Junior saw it last week and said it was good and wants to see it again. Whatever. Dark, comfy chairs, hopefully no fighting.

I may take a nap. I know the songs already.

Feminina:

Oh right, the latest in Disney’s drive to live-action all their classics. Supposed to be fun, I heard.

And I mean…it’s money. More power to ’em, I guess. And yeah, comfy chairs, dark, no fighting…totally worth it. TAKE MY MONEY DISNEY! Too bad it’s only a couple of hours long.

I’ll write to Disney and tell them they need to remake Imitation of Christ. For all the desperate parents out there.

Butch:

I would see that twice. Maybe three times. As long as it was dark and the chairs were comfy.

Feminina:

You and Mr. O’ both, man.

I’d say “you and me both,” but in fact I’ll be at work.

Butch:

Yes. Quiet, blissful work.

So I bit the bullet and got groceries delivered from Whole Foods. There’s a painful irony to ordering organic frozen fudge bars and having them come in about 27 pounds of plastic insulating packaging.

Feminina:

I have observed that painful irony! Not specifically with fudge bars, but yeah, with that “wholesome, sound environmental choice defeated by massive amounts of single-use petroleum-based packaging.” And obviously you don’t want your temperature-sensitive items to arrive all melted, but…yeah.

Butch:

I mean, shit. This stuff came from the same whole foods I go to when I don’t have kids around. I somehow manage to get my fudge bars home without them melting, just in ordinary bags.

Ah, well. Next week I go back to buying my own damn food. And playing video games.

Feminina:

Yeah, but if they DID melt while in your car, it would be your fault and you couldn’t (reasonably) complain to Whole Foods about it, so they don’t care. “Get them home unmelted, don’t get them home unmelted, what’s it to us?” they’d say.

Whereas if they’re delivering them, they’re responsible right up until the item is at your door, and they will take any means necessary to stave off the possibility of meltage-related customer dissatisfaction, including 27 pounds of insulating plastic.

It’s just good business, man.

Butch:

True, but they should also know that a large part of their customer base is green hippies like us. We go there cuz they HAVE the organic fudgie bars, man! Now I’m not going to do this again cuz waste!

Until I am, once again, unable to do anything cuz kids.

Kids. They’ll end the damn world.

T SHIRT!!!!

Feminina:

Hm…it’s true that hippies would probably cheerfully embrace a slightly melted but plastic-free box of frozen treats, but their customer base is really more the comfortable, middle class green-hippie-adjacent types, than it is the true hippies, right? Does your sister-in-law shop there? That’s the test.

But in terms of “let’s sacrifice a little visual appeal for sustainability,” Whole Foods is not out there with dented can racks of “this was damaged in shipping but is still good” items. Nor are they famous for their minimalist “let’s save money and the planet with simple generic packages on our store-brand stuff!”

I guess I just think they’re more about the image of wholesomeness and responsible ecological stewardship, than they are about the reality, and a lot of their customers (me included), are responding more to that image than we are to a rational evaluation of its positive impact on the environment or whatever. And I think most of them (you excluded) would be more likely to refuse to re-order based on getting a soggy box of melted fudge bars, than on getting a lot of extra packaging.

After all, if we were REAL hippies, we’d be making our own damn fudge bars out of carob powder and homemade soy milk. That’s what my mom would have done! Except we didn’t have a freezer. Your sister-in-law is probably doing it right now, though.

My grandmother did use to make frozen juice pops in those Tupperware molds, remember those? Those were awesome. She had no truck with carob, though. A wise woman. Carob is a travesty.

Butch:

I know quite a bit about food, and I have no idea what carob is, except my mother used to buy carob covered raisins and I’m still traumatized.

My sister in law doesn’t shop anywhere. I think she eats yard clippings and drinks morning dew.

Dude, we still make juice pops. Still. Even yogurt pops. The fudge bars are just for when I don’t have time.

You don’t make your own pops? And you call yourself a hippie.

Wait….no freezer?

Feminina:

We didn’t have electricity, so how were we going to have a freezer? We’d keep stuff cold sometimes by submerging it in the ditch. Just hope it doesn’t float away.

And we don’t consume pops, man! If we did, I’d make them, but…they’re…uh…a tool of the Man. The Man loooooooooves some juice pops.

Also, I never think about them so it just doesn’t come up.

I don’t know what carob is either, other than a truly pathetic substitute for chocolate. It’s…it might not even be that terrible if you don’t try to pretend it’s chocolate, but they always pretend it’s chocolate. And it never, ever, remotely is.

Butch:

“Submerging it in the ditch…..”

Too many jokes came to mind at once for me to make any of them.

The Man does love himself some juice pops. That he do.

Feminina:

THE MAN: Mm…with these cool, refreshing juice pops, I shall enforce my rule across the land to keep the little guy (and gal) down for my own benefit!!!!

[evil laughter spraying juice everywhere]

Butch:

I bet The Man splurges on pineapple juice, too.

Feminina:

Undoubtedly. The Man spares no expense!

For himself.

Butch:

This got weird. But I’m ok with that. It’ll make bigassed blue Will Smith seem pretty normal.

Feminina:

We’re all about helping each other out.

Butch:

That we are.

And, gotta give Will Smith credit….man knows how to draw out a movie. That was LOOOONG.

But hey! Kept the kids busy!

Well done, Fresh Prince. Well done.

Feminina:

Nice work, Mr. Smith! Keep ’em cool and quiet!

Pithy Slogans to Live By

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for AC: Odyssey and the beginning of AC3

Butch:

Ok, so talked to Elpinor (you do that?) and told a foul mouthed lesbian pirate that her crew was dead and she joined my crew.

I have things to say about both, like, actual bloggy things, but if you haven’t done them I won’t spoil.

You do them?

Feminina:

I did not talk to Elpenor! I went to see the Oracle instead. Ran into…some people. Seems like there’s some story there. I’m going to talk to Elpenor next.

But I did recruit what’s-her-name after giving her the sad news about her ship, crew, and beloved Gyke. (I remember the dead lover’s name, but not the living one. She kept saying her lover’s name, while her lover was not alive to say hers.)

She took it rather well, I must say. I imagine as the sea is a harsh mistress, one grows accustomed to loss.

Butch:

Ah, damn! We went separate ways! Ah, well. I’m off the oracle next (after checking out a million things) and you’ll likely head to Elpinor next, too (after checking out two million things).

Ok, I’ll put the thing about Elpinor on the back burner. Don’t let me forget.

But as for the pirate….

The one theme that is presenting as a theme…a small glimmer of a theme….is not trusting the oracle/gods. I had Kassandra angry at the oracle cuz it led her (step) dad to kill her family, right? Then, this quest, we see that the oracle is using pirates to herd believers in like a casino herds tourists on buses. Also, we had two dialog options when we met her: she was all “gods this, gods that” and Kassandra could say something like “Don’t trust the gods” or, the one I picked, “I am a god” (an interesting choice). What Kassandra could NOT say was “Hey, trust in the Gods.”

I very much expect the Oracle to be very much a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” Oz deal, only shittier and sleazier and with more bushes to hide in. But no spoilers.

I suppose the “don’t trust the gods” deal goes back to the whole obey/think dynamic of the templars (who were, in real life, a religious order, yes?) and the assassins. It also got me pondering the use of Athens and Sparta, as they have reputations of being bastions of free, progressive, independent thought and blind, total, military obedience, respectively.

We’ll talk more on THAT when you chat up Elpenor.

And as an aside, kinda surprised you couldn’t bang the pirate.

Feminina:

Well, she DID just lose the love of her life. Give her some time to grieve before you go trying to be her rebound. Have a little sensitivity, man.

Ooh! Deep, meaty discussion! We’ve been waiting for this.

There is very little ‘trust in the gods’ messaging here, that’s definitely true. The only counterpoint I can think of is another thing we did differently: you trusted the gods (or their priestly representative) and supported that deadly quarantine on Kephallonia, where I was all “screw you, god-man, these plague victims are free to go!” And in that case, you made the right decision and prevented the spread of disease across the island. So the gods were right!

Except probably they don’t exist (unless they do but they’re actually godlike aliens!), so it’s more a matter of “sometimes people who claim to speak for gods have the right general idea, and sometimes they don’t.”

Which is not really soundbite material, but has the benefit of being very hard to argue with.

And as you say, this all does tie in nicely with the Assassin/Templar conflict of later ages, where the Templars promote religion because it’s a good way to get people to do what you tell them, and the Assassins promote questioning everything, including religion, because it’s a good way to justify hiding in the bushes and assassinating a lot of people.

I mean, also because they believe people should think for themselves, but let’s lead with the good stuff: stealth-murder!

Of course, people are also able to use religion to justify a lot of murder, so really, it’s kind of just about how you feel about higher powers.

And, perhaps, about personal responsibility. If I murder a bunch of people because god told me to, well, I’m just being a proper, obedient servant of god’s will. It’s not like I CHOSE to brutally end the lives of other human beings with hopes and dreams and families that will grieve their loss! God did it! I am only the instrument!

Whereas Kassandra, with her doubt of the existence of gods, or her option to just claim she is one, has no such means of ducking out from under the implications of her decisions. She’s a freelance mercenary. She doesn’t serve a god, or a tribe, or a country. She doesn’t HAVE to do anything. And so everything she does, every person she kills, she does it because she chose to. And while this doesn’t seem to weigh particularly heavily on her conscience, it’s kind of an interesting angle for a game to go with (though of course not a new one, since crime-centered games like, say, Mafia III get into it all the time, not to mention the entire previous AC series).

A lot of times, though, games are about doing the right thing according to some external standard. Save the world for humanity, fight the bad guys (whoever we aren’t) for the sake of the good guys (whoever we are). And that’s definitely here in Assassin’s Creed, even more than in some other games with fuzzy morality: we’re at least fighting Templars (bad!) for the Assassins/free humanity (good!). At one point we specifically worked to save the world! Very standard conflicts.

But at the same time, kind of buried under that, is the actual Assassin’s Creed as stated in some of the games (though apparently it’s doubtful the actual founder of the Order of Assassins actually said it): “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.”

Which I read as saying not necessarily that no statement can ever contain truth (“2+2 is not 4!”), and that it’s totally fine to do absolutely anything (“stabbing babies is A-OK!”), so much as that nothing should be accepted without the possibility of question, and that there is no divine law forbidding anything.

Nothing is divinely TRUE and beyond debate because a god said it (but that doesn’t mean there can’t be honest, factual statements, or that some lies aren’t more damaging than others), and everything is permitted because there’s no godly ruling against it (but that doesn’t mean everything is right, or good). You have to question for yourself and determine what you think is right.

And maybe (almost certainly) that’s stealth-murdering hundreds of dudes because they were in my way! But I have to own the fact that I decided to do that.

And even more than in some games, this series’ explicit statement of disbelief in divine, absolute moral rules means that even when I say “it’s OK because the game said it’s OK–I’m not a bad person for backstabbing this dude while he reads the newspaper, it’s just how the game is played” (which is basically the disclaimer for all violent games), the Assassin’s Creed itself reminds me that the game said this was OK, and I…chose to believe it.

Nothing is true. There are many ways to look at things, and I only have one set of eyes, so I will never understand them all.

Everything is permitted. And this is the thing I chose to do with that permission.

I’m going to go have some tea and reflect on my poor life decisions, like not romancing Danse before the Brotherhood turned on me.

Butch:

Hey, it’s just helping her heal.

As for the plaque, well, I did kinda metagame there. I sorta know what plagues are, and I know, what with being friends with a medical librarian, that they are not, in fact, god related (apologies to my mother in law. Well, not really, but whatever). So I wasn’t exactly trusting the gods so much as trusting my 21st century medical knowledge.

Choosing to act…Indeed. But then, there’s also the argument that, even though she is not obeying per se, she is a product of the actions of authority figures, such as her father who chucked her off a cliff (sorry, stepfather, but that still can influence a person) and Markos, who the load screen says “Raised her to be a Mithios.” So there was choice, yes, but the game still nods to the fact that authority shaped her.

Whoa, I didn’t know that slogan. That is rather extreme. But on the idea of video games usually being very clear as to right and wrong (at least in terms of the protagonist), has an AC game ever made you play as a templar? Cuz that would be interesting. If every game put the player (who we assume is the “good” guy), that really says who the franchise thinks is the good guy.

And as for choices… Well….yes. But the game is also doing a pretty good job in making it pretty clear who the bad guys are. Holding prisoners? Bad. Being pirates? Pretty bad. We haven’t been sent (yet) to go kill innocent (or clearly innocent) people. All the missions have been “kill these very bad dudes,” not “Hey, go kill the priestesses of peace and enslave their children, cuz hey! Everything is permitted.” So there is some morality here.

Feminina:

You played as a Templar for a few hours at the beginning of AC3. It was a big reveal–OMG I’m a TEMPLAR?! But the main character in the rest of the game was on the Assassin side. And if you recall, Edward seemed to flirt briefly with the Templars in Black Flag…he was never really a proper Assassin, OR a real Templar, but for a while he seemed equally interested in either one, depending on what would work out best for him.

I believe the multiplayer games also had you working as an Abstergo employee in some context? So technically you were kind of working for the Templars there.

So they’ve done a little bit to complicate the issue of which side is really the “good guys,” but overall, yeah, it’s always the Assassins.

And yes, we do kill a lot of pirates and bandits, who are pretty much fair targets for murder, preying on others as they do, but that always breaks down when you get to the guards.

So. Many. Guards. Just doing their jobs, guarding things, trying to keep wandering assassins from looting the treasure in the fort. Or killing the captain.

But they made their life choices, and I’ve made mine.

Butch:

Oh.  I forgot that about Black Flag.  I don’t really remember everything about that game, except every line to Lowlands Away.  It was a long time ago, and there’s been so many better games since. 

It is pretty much always assassins. The rest is just a break to make you say “WHOA!” for a minute.

But dude, it doesn’t change with guards. Kevin’s main job is guard. If we felt bad about killing guards, we might as well get another hobby, and we don’t want that. Yes, they’re doing their jobs, but really, one of them should’ve taken a different career path, like landscaping.

Feminina:

I feel bad about killing guards! Sometimes. In between murder sprees.

But you’re right: in general, the side we’re on is not the side that’s enslaving children. I mean, except in AC3 when we fought on the side of the Revolutionaries and their plantations. But those guys were mainly Templars! So the point was really that Connor didn’t have a lot of great options, since it’s not as if King George was a beacon of egalitarian thought. If the Assassins had been in charge of the American Revolution, things might have turned out differently.

But they were busy…I don’t remember, tracking down ancient alien artifacts or something. Anyway, they could only do so much. And Connor thought George Washington and the Revolutionaries would help his people (hahahahaha poor Connor), so he did what he could to advance their cause.

We all have to make the best choices we can based on the alternatives available.

Butch:

Hey, Kevin’s real sin is laziness. None of this would happen if he got off his ass and mowed the lawn.

Feminina:

As true in AC: Odyssey as in any game! These commanders have NOT gotten the memo that leaving patches of tall grass growing around the fort just gives assassins someplace to hide while they stalk you, as well as a hiding spot to dump your body later so as not to alarm your soldiers.

A little strategic thinking would go a long way.

Butch:

Well, I do admire their commitment to environmental landscape management. Lawns are hell on groundwater and pollinators.

Feminina:

Oh, no doubt! I salute their responsible ecological stewardship. They can probably get some hay to keep the horses over the winter, too, which makes the fort less of a drain on the surrounding community.

If I were them, I would maybe not put hay over the lives of my men, in terms of priorities, but again…our discussion today has been a lot about making choices and owning those choices, so I’ll give these guys credit for that.

Butch:

If you’re gonna get Kevin killed, do it in the greenest possible way.

T SHIRT AND NEW SENTENCE!!!!!

 

Summer Reading: Right Here

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for random points early in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

OK! Actual plot!

Did “The final push.” Did you? Cuz if you didn’t I won’t say any more. But plot!

Not entirely sure about themes, per se, but hey! I’ll take plot!

Feminina:

I have not done the final push. I went into that fort near the city, murdered some guards, looted some treasure, freed some prisoners, etc. Also, in between fits of murdering and running off to heal, went to talk to Odessa. Got her some herbs and medicine for her sick father, fought off some (much less effective than me) hired killers, and now that I’m finished at that fort, I have to go to the Leader House to get proof that the Leader wants her family farm, or whatever. Kassandra is clearly mostly in it for the flirting.

Whatever gets you lieutenants for your boat.

Butch:

Ah, right. You hadn’t done that bit. That fort you just did was the fort that got everything weak enough for me. I hope your prisoners turned out better than mine did. I freed them, got spotted, then there was a mass of people and I accidentally killed two or three of the prisoners. One said “I expected more from you!” Sorry, dude. But hey! They died free!

She’s so in it for the flirting. “Yeah, sure, I’ll risk my life and murder dudes….we gonna make out?”

Interesting, though, that it’s all the same so far. When I first met her, she was totally into me. She wasn’t all “can’t wait to see you again” with you, and yet, the same so far.

I thought I was so suave.

“Whatever gets you lieutenants for your boat.”

Preach, sister.

Feminina:

My prisoners turned out fine! I paused to unlock a couple of the cages while being chased by guards, but the prisoners wisely didn’t move until I’d run off, drawn the guards elsewhere, hidden, crept back to murder the guards, and went in to untie their hands. By then the whole place was basically abandoned and they went on their merry way. I like how they were all still wearing their Spartan helmets.

The Athenians probably said “we’re taking your armor because it’s easier to tie you up and beat you without it, but we’ll let you keep your helmets on so that we can continue to see you as enemy scum rather than individual humans with faces.” They’ve got a point!

I guess my Odessa appreciates my blunt, honest opinion. She said “you told me to live my own life, but my father is sick, so as you can see, I haven’t been able to.”

Sympathy, my friend. I’m here trying to live MY own life, but my father turned out to be the Wolf of Sparta and I’m trying to kill him but first I have to help him conquer this territory…family is complicated. We should probably make out.

Butch:

And the game was likely saying “Look, don’t kill these dudes and DUDE! They had their helmets on! What’s WRONG with you?” At least that’s what it was saying to me.

I also made this mistake during the final push. Spoiler: There’s fighting. Hint related to same: make super duper uper sure you whack the BLUE guys, NOT the red guys. I kinda went KNIVES FOR EVERYBODY the first couple times. Ended poorly.

Family is complicated. We should probably make out is a T SHIRT for the ages.

And they think it’s complicated now! We haven’t even met the damn aliens!

Feminina:

Ooh, good tip. It does kind of let you hack away at anyone around. Which is OK if everyone around is trying to kill you, but there was a dicey moment where I was TRYING to help some peasants who were being attacked by wolves, and I meant to hit the wolf but I think I hit the peasant too.

I mean…the wolf would have killed him anyway! It’s not my fault! But it does kind of take the shine off my heroic rescue attempt.

“Look, I killed all the wolves that…uh…well, I took revenge for you, OK?”

I’m going to run away now.

Butch:

Dude, I do that ALL the time.

“I shall save you oh no I didn’t.”

When you do the final push, you’ll see exactly how dumb I was. Twice.

And there will be PLOT!

Feminina:

“Think of it this way: you died at the hands of the protagonist, rather than a wandering animal or randit. That brings your death, and hence your previous life, a little closer towards having some kind of meaning. Just go with it. I’m going to run away now.”

Butch:

Yes. We’ll go with that. Meaning.

Though they don’t even give loot and XP, so hardly any meaning at all.

Feminina:

Even a tiny bit of meaning is more than some of us get in this cold, cruel game world.

Like the random person I saw stumble into a brazier and catch on fire in the marketplace on Kephallonia. I wasn’t even next to them!

Or the poor guy trampled and gored by a wild boar on Boeotia. That one was kind of my fault because the boar was chasing me at the time.

Even when we try to help, we’re trouble.

Speaking of nothing, really, did you notice the cheeky helpful advice in the load screen hints?

“The best way to succeed in combat is to reduce your opponent’s hit points to zero, while keeping your own hit points above zero” or something. Nice, Ubisoft. Very nicely advised.

Butch:

Dude, someone just died by fire just cuz? Greece was harsh, man.

I do kinda like the load screens. Interesting facts! And useless game advice!’

Feminina:

Yes! They just kind of staggered into the coals, burst into flames, and then crumbled to the ground in a smoking wreck. Apparently no one had time to even try throwing some water on them.

It was probably the wrath of the gods, and you don’t mess with that. That person did burn awfully quickly.

Butch:

Damn, man. That wasn’t on you.

The boar? Maybe.

“Excuse me, coming through.”
“Hmm. Wonder what she was running from AIEE!!!!”

Though, in an interesting parallel, I sorta avenged them. When I was fighting off Odessa’s attackers, I somehow found myself in the pig pen, and slaughtered all of her pigs. Didn’t mean it. They were between me and the baddies.

And then I looted them, cuz why waste?

Still recruited her. Snicker.

Feminina:

Odessa’s poor pigs! Her family’s livelihood!

But yeah, you gotta loot. Those pigs aren’t less dead if you don’t.

Butch:

I felt bad for those pigs.

I tell ya, Greece was rough. Fire everywhere, people fighting amongst pigs…

Feminina:

Those boars were ANGRY. I suspect long-running hostilities between the pig and human communities, of which the incidents we’ve witnessed are merely the latest evidence.

Watch closely, the real conflict is not going to be Athens/Sparta, it’s going to be human/porcine.

Butch:

Watch….the pigs are templars.

Or aliens.

Feminina:

Or both! Pig-alien-Templars!

Man…I’m not sure even Assassin’s Creed would get quite that weird. But if it did, I’d be there for it.

Butch:

Just as long as you didn’t recruit any. Even you have limits.

I hope.

Feminina:

Well…is it an angst-filled pig-alien-Templar in heavy armor?

I can’t promise anything until I have the details.

Butch:

Dear God, I certainly hope that’s a NEW SENTENCE. I really, really hope it is.

By Naked Zeus, it’s only Tuesday.

Feminina:

Romance and horror are both classics for summer reading. We’re just covering all the bases.

Our Hero the Public Health Menace

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Some plot spoilers for things pretty early in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Utter madness. I did play a teeny tiny bit.

I sailed in the direction of the hairy guy (which is the next thing you do after the final push) but got distracted by a mysterious thingy and magpied.

You?

Feminina:

I did many things!

Seduced and recruited Odessa, did the final push in Megaris, helped defeat the Athenians, met with but declined to actually murder my (turned out to be step-)father but apparently he still abandoned the Spartan army so he’s as good as dead? Sailed to Phokis to tell Elpenor what happened with the Wolf (“so, I didn’t actually kill him, but…uh…he wandered off into the wilderness and I’m sure he’ll never be a problem again, OK? Pay me anyway!”), landed in Phokis and instantly magpied in about 15 different directions, so I’ve now whittled the nation power down to the point that whenever I WANT to topple its leader I totally can, recruited a couple more people (sadly without seduction), and still haven’t gotten around to talking to Elpenor or the Oracle Barnabas wants me to see.

I’m a busy woman. I’ll get to it, all right?

Butch:

Missed flirting, didn’t you?

Dude, I didn’t get back to hairy guy. Watch the spoilers.

So….did you find a mysterious site? It was on the way. Island. Cave. Small island. Interesting it was where it was. (It was on the island with the pirate carpenter you can recruit).

And now you’re way ahead of me and the universe is restored.

Anyway, I got some thoughts re the final push.

I still maintain that, up until now, this game is chock full of the annoying bits of Mafia 3 without the themes and good stuff. Add to “good stuff,” end of area battles. Sure, Mafia 3 had the annoying car chases (Pagani, Grecco, which I still think the game let me complete out of pity), but it also had a riverboat, the amusement park, the quarry….interesting stuff that made you feel like something was HAPPENING, and that broke up the gameplay.

This?

Running around going “Where’s the captain? Hey! Get away from me!” and then dodging until the Spartans won.

The fuck WAS that? That wasn’t a level at all. That was a hundred Kevins in an open space. That’s it. No tactics, no strategy, no themes, no shaking up the gameplay, NOTHING. That was pointless action and then a cutscene. Dude, give me a riverboat. Give me an amusement park. Give me SOMETHING more interesting than a hundred Kevins in an open space.

Though the “he’s not dad” was an interesting twist, and the talking about the oracle combined with the mysterious thingy I found at that particular time as I’m on the way to the oracle, hints at themes. Finally. Hints. I’ll take hints at this point.

I’ll be a tad busy today, as, instead of a nice quiet lonely Monday, Mrs. McP has taken the day off so we can all drive to Providence to go to the zoo and eat Italian food.

(This space intentionally left blank so you can project whatever emotion you think I am feeling or should be feeling here.)

Feminina:

Hm…I’ll go with “pain and sorrow, but since school is out and the kids would be around anyway, pain and sorrow slightly mitigated by the potential for good food and perhaps booze.”

I didn’t post any spoilers!–Elpenor is the hairy dude, and I haven’t talked to him yet. I was just making up things I might have said to him. If I had talked to him. Which I have not.

I agree that the “final push” was meh in terms of new and exciting gameplay. I mean, it was a bit different, being as much about outlasting the enemy as killing specific people, and there was the exciting possibility of accidentally attacking your own side. I found it moderately challenging, and didn’t hate it.

But you’re right, in terms of adding anything by way of theme or narrative, it had absolutely nothing on a riverboat or an abandoned racist amusement park. I mean…big fight with a bunch of nameless dudes. There’s really not a story there.

Have you formed an opinion about the ‘mercenaries’ aspect? How we can kill off other mercenaries to advance in the rankings, etc? I don’t really have a strong opinion about it yet. I feel kind of bad just attacking other mercenaries when they’re out minding their own business (we’re all in the same business, after all!), but of course I’m happy to murder the hell out of them if they’re coming after me to collect a bounty. And it’s kind of interesting that you can encounter people you have no conceivable chance of beating yet, so you know who’ll you’ll be running into down the line.

On the other hand, the little biographies don’t seem to have any real narrative significance, so it’s not as if they really add anything major.

But as I said, I haven’t gotten familiar enough with it yet to have strong feelings about it.

Oh, and lest I forget, when I talked to Barnabas about the Oracle he also said “terrible news! A plague has overrun Kephallonia! We can go back anytime you want.”

D’oh. Should have respected that priest’s quarantine.

Also, to myself I thought “why exactly do I want to go back to a plague-riddled island?” but probably I should stop in, just to see if there are any “these are the terrible consequences of your decision!” quests. Maybe I can look for quinine or something.

Butch:

DUDE I KNEW IT! Nicely done, game. Play on our game instincts.

You should go back! Just to see the terrible outcome of your soft hearted decisions.

I got no such plague. Practical, me.

You never told me….did you find….something mysterious?

Yeah, I didn’t hate that battle, per se. It wasn’t a controller throwing reaper moment. It wasn’t unfair. But it also wasn’t anything NEW. Or interesting. It was “Just whack dudes until the bar empties.” Button mashing.

I haven’t really formed an opinion about the mercenaries either. I’m not sure exactly what it’s for, really. Stats? Loot? I’m guessing one or the other, because it seems everything in this game is one or the other.

Feminina:

I did not find anything mysterious. I’ll have to go back. After I murder some dudes around here.

Lots of dudes around Phokis that need a-murderin’.

Tip: apparently if you get the nation power down really low, and then DON’T go after the final battle, the nation will re-fortify and you’ll have to whittle it down again. No biggie, I’m just wandering around murdering and I can wear them down again, but it’s an interesting point that you may want to be aware of.

Butch:

Ooo! Good to know!

Yeah….there’s an island with a quest on the way to Phokis from Megara. The quest is a dude on a boat, been ambushed, pirates, find my brother, I’ll join you, blah. Kinda handy (Did you do that? Cuz I have something to say about that. Dude’s a carpenter). But ON the island there is a cave…..

Go in the cave.

Feminina:

Oh, dude, I did that on the way to Megaris. I recruited that guy after failing to save his brother. He’s handy. Good skills for a boat.

And I went in the cave and looted the treasure, although I didn’t find anything I’d call mysterious other than that crack in the wall with a pounding noise on the other side. I couldn’t get through it, though. Could you break the wall? Is there an alien artifact or a big statue of naked Zeus?

Butch:

Ooooooofffffff course you found it before. I forgot the power of magpie.

No, I did not get through the crack, but the ambient dialog was interesting. Your fan must’ve been loud. She was all “This is not of this world!” (so much for show, don’t tell), the shit was glowing underwater, and she said (again, so much for show, don’t tell) “I’ll have to come back later.”

So there’s your weird alien shit!

And, as per our prior blog post, I feel like I found that when the game wanted me to find it, after we find the Wolf isn’t dad, and as we’re on the way to the oracle. After all, that’s when the quest that was right there popped, all “HEY! OVER HERE!” If that’s so, that’s an interesting narrative choice.

Because I feel like they’re setting up themes, or at least plot, with the oracle. The dialog between Kassandra and Barabas about faith in oracles, or the destructive nature of faith in oracles, and the nature of oracles, is as close as I’ve gotten to theme.

Gotta say, I’m 0-2 in terms of when I thought we were gonna get whooshed back to modern times. I was totally expecting a modern cutscene after we saw the Wolf, and again expected it when I found the cave. So far, nope. I feel like AC4 had more of those bits. Well, at least I feel it had those bits much sooner….

Feminina:

Hm. Yes, my fan must have been loud. I don’t remember that mysterious voiceover. Though the pounding noise was certainly suggestive of something. I guess we’ll have to go back later!

I do feel like maybe we could have been pulled back to the present by now to see what’s going on with our modern-day storyline…but maybe they’re just downplaying that whole aspect of the series these days.

Butch:

Yeah, when the PC says “I guess I’ll have to come back later,” you’re coming back later.

So odd, though, that they led with it. Well, I guess they led with SPARTA!!!!! but the whole character creation thing was in the present. If you’re going to play that card in the first twenty minutes, you’d think it would matter.

They must have to go back at some point. We talked about this with RDR: You can’t assume that people have played the other games (even when there’s SO MANY OF THEM). Well, you CAN assume that, but you shouldn’t. They can’t just chuck stuff that isn’t of this world, and have hipsters do character creation and just leave it there. Or, they could, but they shouldn’t.

I do wonder how, though, long series like this have their reviews affected by the fact they’re long series. Sure, I’ve only played one AC game, I didn’t play the first RDR, but how many people who review these things can say that? How many of the nines this got were from people coming at it with a deep knowledge (even fandom) of the games that came before? Shit, if you dare to scroll though comments in reviews on many sites, there’s often a lot of “Why did they get so and so to review this when so and so obviously doesn’t know anything about the series?” I have a feeling that, if you were playing this game in a vacuum, you might be rather pissed that this shit hasn’t been explained twelve hours in, or, at the very least, hinted at some. But if you’ve played the last thousand AC games, you don’t need it hinted at, and you’ll forgive it.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Hm. Yes…once again we ponder, how much prior knowledge is OK to expect? And how much is it OK to risk annoying people who DO have prior knowledge, by re-explaining the whole device every single time?

If I recall, way back in the original Assassin’s Creed, it was rather confusing for a while as they kind of bounced you around and you figured out what the hell was going on, so in that sense…maybe they’re just going with tradition. Figuring out what the hell is going on is time-honored custom.

And if some of us have a better sense of the background than others from having played previous games, well, maybe that’s as much a reason to give ourselves spoiler warnings, as it is to feel complacent and assume we know what’s up. Maybe we’re not really supposed to know, whether we’ve played previous AC games or not, because the story is going to develop in some unexpected way as we move forward!

Or maybe I’m just being super optimistic and giving them a ton of credit for thinking up complex multi-layered narrative that will never actually develop.

Butch:

Well, in general, if you’re going to have a multi layered narrative, you have start with a layer.

I’m sure hoping that when we meet the oracle and start getting answers/theme, it shows up. But damn, I’m 12 hours in. That’s four Edith Finches. And I’m nervous cuz I thought “Ok, when we meet the Wolf, that’s when it’ll kick into high gear” and, well, besides “I’m not your dad,” there wasn’t much.

Any time here, game. Any time.

Feminina:

One of these sessions! Bound to happen! Big modern-day story, kicking in! Aliens! Ancient artifacts! Resonating in the modern world!

Possibly. We’ll see. I’ve got about 14 hours in, though at least 12.5 of them were magpieing. Any minute now.

Butch:

Any….minute…now….

C’mon, game. We got a blog to write.

Stab First, Ask Questions Probably Never

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for recruitment in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Ok, so didn’t do all that much. Raided this, accidentally raided that (thanks for nothing on the warning there, bird), found another riddle tricky engraving thingy, upgraded my gear, as one does.

Oh and totally banged Odessa. And then asked her to join my crew.

****sideways glance****

If you’re gonna get laid, coin a new euphemism.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Can’t wait for DA4. Gotta get Morrigan to join my crew.

It’s Friday on Monday!

You play?

Feminina:

I did play! And I did have sound back. It was a relief to actually hear people talking. So I did, what…I raided a couple more bandit camps that I stumbled across, looted a few sites that I stumbled across, came to Megara, the city. Wandered around, upgraded some items at the blacksmith’s. Didn’t see Odessa. Wandered around, saw a quest icon on a guy standing in a crowd near a temple or something, sidled over to see what was what, pressed triangle to interact, and assassinated him. Which apparently was a quest, so good for me, but also, everyone standing around freaked out and I had to flee into some trees and hide, so note to self maybe don’t assassinate right in public next time?

Wandered around some more, saw another guy with a quest icon, sidled over, and it was Pelagon the Devious Snake! The leader we’re supposed to eliminate! Just sitting there all by himself reviewing some notes or something. So I assassinated him, since that was a quest, but I have to say it didn’t seem quite sporting. He was just chilling.

But then again, we’re Assassins, not Honorable Duelists, so I guess whatever gets the job done. So now I’ve killed the leader and am ready for the “final push” to take over the territory, but I had to go to bed. Also, I checked the map and saw an exclamation point with Odessa’s name on it, so I’ll talk to her next time.

So yeah, I got a bit of stuff done. Oh, and heard about the mercenary whose name starts with H. I’m supposed to kill him, but I’ll get around to it sometime.

Butch:

What? Who was that? I didn’t get that. Some guy near a temple? Got me.

The only side quest line I had in Megara was Odessa’s. By the way, you ought to do that before the final push. Though that’s where I am! You’re one ….. recruitment….(snicker) …. behind me.

She should be down by the beach there.

Ok, remember the other day when I was all “Game. The fuck?”

Here’s why.

So I did that fort thing and burned stag films and killed enforcers and got to the point where all I had to do was kill the leader. The “Kill the leader” quest said it was level ten, and here I am all still level nine. So I was all “I dunno, man. This sounds hard. Maybe…” and I magpied some, and got annoyed and thought “Ah, fuck it. It’s one level. I can do it.” Hit “track quest,” followed the icon, came across some dude sitting on a mat outside of the city. I thought he was a beggar or something. But there was the quest marker. I thought “Maybe this beggar knows something about how to get into the very large fortified ‘leader’s house’ where one assumes the leader will be, thus leading to the difficulty of the quest.'” So I went up, hit triangle…. and assassinated him. Got the “WHAA DA WHAA!!!” sound for finishing the quest and Kassandra’s all “Now that the leader’s dead….” and I’m all “Wait, what? THAT was the leader? THAT was a level ten quest?” He never even SAID anything!

Fuck, game, even the rather generic dudes who ran the stag film businesses in Mafia 3 had dialog.

Turns out, if you weaken the place enough, the leader’s bodyguards abandon him or something. Which makes the quest rather perfunctory, or, if I’m not being charitable, a silly waste of time.

And Ok, on that…. what do you mean you saw a guy with a quest icon? I only get quest icons if a) they’re new quests to pick up, b) I have completed a quest and just need to check in with a dude to get a reward or something (these are the check marks) or c) I am actively tracking said quest. I do not get markers for next steps of quests I am not tracking. Are you?

Go talk to Odessa. There’s stuff there.

Yay! Good job you! Good job us!

But here’s where I point something out…..

We did a lot. And the most we have to chew on is icons.

We had a day’s bloggage on load screens in the last game. Where’s the bloggage?

Feminina:

I saw this little diamond symbol on the two people I assassinated in Megara. I wasn’t sure what it was, actually, hence my sidling over to try to see what was going on, and then finding that I was supposed to be killing people. As usual…[put-upon sigh].

I dunno. I haven’t changed anything on purpose, but yeah, I certainly haven’t been accustomed to see that symbol on everything that was related to a quest.

The use of icons is certainly confusing here.

Butch:

That’s so odd. I totally don’t have that. You sure you’re not on some other setting?

But as this is icon day cuz no themes….

I’ve found the game is more fun when you have a “find me that shit” quest (you know the ones) when you don’t track it. If you track it, it puts a blob right on the thing, and where’s the fun in that? But if you don’t, you only get the clues (South of this, near that, etc.), which makes it far more interesting.

I kinda like that about the engraving riddles, too.

I figured out last night that engravings can really help. I’d been automatically just equipping whatever had more damage and more armor, thinking “meh, engravings aren’t that important,” and found that I was equipping “better” weapons that weren’t as good as the engraved ones.

Finally noticed the red and green arrows on the inventory screen. Heh. I mean on the bottom. Total damage? Those.

Feminina:

Dude, the red and green arrows are key! But I still haven’t gotten around to doing any engravings. Why bother when you can just kill random underlings and burn supplies until the Big Bad’s bodyguards abandon him?

Butch:

Uh…because?

The one thing I am saving up for is upgrading my ship’s hull. Then I can have more lieutenants.

Cuz I plan on recruiting a lot of them.

Snicker.

Feminina:

Hotmail suggests:

“That’s what I mean.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Let me know what you do.”

I like all those options! “That’s what I mean” has a nice “that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” feel, and of course I can only wish you good luck with that. And I’m confident that you’ll let me know what you do. And who.

I’m also saving up for ship improvements. If ME2 taught us anything it’s that you always, always improve your ship to the maximum extent possible.

Butch:

Well, we learned there that you have to upgrade it totally to protect everyone you recruited.

Snicker.

Feminina:

I’m strolling through town, “hey, hot stuff, I’d like to recruit YOU tonight! Or this afternoon! Not picky when it comes to likely recruits, if you know what I mean.”

Butch:

Gotta be careful, though. Watch: Odessa will get back to the boat, see that archer dweeb I had to get in the tutorial, and:

Odessa: Who is that?
Kassandra: Oh, just some guy I recruited.
Odessa: ****long stare****
Kassandra: Oh..no..not like that….it was….
Odessa: Sure. Sure. And here I thought you had standards….
Kassandra: No, you don’t understand! It was the tutorial!
Odessa: Oh, and that makes it ok? Wait, let me guess, you were both drunk, on the rebound…
Kassandra: IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!!!!
Odessa: Yeah. Sure. I’ll just stay below decks.
Kassandra: Shit.

Feminina:

Dude, don’t even make excuses. Just look her in the eye and say “everyone must loooooooove meeeeeee!!!!!!”

Heh.

Butch:

Well, then you better go find Odessa then!

Man, I forgot how nuts we get when we don’t have themes.

Feminina:

Nonsense. This is pure gold. Romance! Passion! Angst (potentially, if someone gets all sad because they have to share you).

People are going to love it.

Butch:

Fair point. We are touching on all the emotions that people just love to read about.

I guess we’ve entered our beach read season of the blog. Popularity, here we come!

Feminina:

That’s the spirit!

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

No one wants erudition when the weather’s nice!

So….now we need nice weather.

Feminina:

Today is lovely! Humidity down, clear.

Perfect weather for us to provide the frothy, delightful, passionate beach read game commentary everyone needs.

Soothing Battle Scenes

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the quest with the murdered soldiers and stolen supplies early in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Ok, I don’t know how far you’ve gotten, so I’m going to borrow one of your tricks and put a bookmark at this particular bit so I can remember to say “Game….the fuck?” when you get to this particular point.

Killed a couple of dudes. Said “Game….the fuck?”

That’s about it.

You?

Feminina:

Well, I went and raided a bandit camp, which seemed very soothing and quiet and peaceful for sneaking around and murdering people, and then headed back to talk to some person with an exclamation point on him who turned out to be a soldier. At that point I realized that it had all been so peaceful and soothing because the sound was completely messed up: I could hear background noise (gentle music! chirping birds!) but the character voices were completely silent.

So I gathered from the quest summary that some supplies had been stolen, but damned if I know the details of what I learned poking around the crime scene.

But I didn’t want to reload the game because that takes about 15 minutes and I only had 20 minutes to play, so I just plunged ahead anyway hoping the sound would come back in the next scene.

Spoiler: it did not.

So I found some people who apparently had stolen the supplies? And I obviously did not kill them all, so they wandered off.

Then I turned off the game because damn, I can only do so much with no idea what anyone’s saying other than the dialogue prompts. Hopefully the sound will be normal next time.

You tell me the important details I missed because I couldn’t hear.

Butch:

Ah man! That was a good quest, too!

Soldier was all “Blah blah, bandits took supplies, bad bandits blah” so you go find the clues and then you find the cave. You did all that.

Well, turns out some mercenary was hired to kill the guards by someone (we don’t know who yet) and the people you found came in and stole the food cuz they were hungry. They were all “But they took our lands and our food!” and Kassandra was trying to make a moral point of it by saying “Well, is murder the solution to theft?” or something, which, considering all the people Kassandra kills, seemed a little hollow. Like, Kassandra, dude, these are hungry people trying to get their crops back. I get that you’re trying to add some moral ambiguity to a side quest, but, dude. Give them the food back and lets go back to burning stag films.

Which is what you did and what I did, and you might have missed the same guy telling you to go hunt down the mercenary that was paid by…someone…to kill his guards. So you may have a new quest. Hunting some Greek mercenary with a name that starts with H. I really can’t tell Greek people apart.

You just can’t get lucky tech wise, can you?

Make sure everything’s working before you get fifteen minutes in tonight. Or at least turn the subtitles on if you can’t be sure.

Feminina:

“Is murder the correct response to theft?”

“Well…based on your behavior, murder is the correct response to pretty much everything, so…yes?”

Can’t argue with that! Go forth and murder, hungry peasants, and may naked Zeus favor you in your assassinations.

Hm. Greek mercenary. I still need to go back to talk to the soldier, so maybe he’ll tell me about that. I did hear about a Greek mercenary when I went to retrieve the stolen plans for the other army dude, earlier. Maybe the same guy?

Fingers crossed the sound is on. At least I didn’t overwrite Mr. O’s save during this process!

Butch:

Oh. Maybe? All I know is that a mercenary killed those dudes with the supplies (cuz the folks were all “They were dead when we got there! The mercenary didn’t care about the food!”), I killed a mercenary last night, and, when I did, the little check mark that means “completed quest if you go talk to this dude” led me back to that dude with the supplies you talked silently to last night. It kinda surprised me, too, as I thought that was all part of Stentor….

Well, I did start today with a “Game….the fuck?” right?

We’ll talk. Later.

Feminina:

We will! We’ll fight mercenaries and murder bandits and Athenian captains and collect loot, and we’ll talk later. Nation power is down to about a third…only a matter of time before I can go after “the devious serpent” or whatever the guy’s nickname is.

Which I have to say kind of makes me want a descriptive nickname, ideally involving the word ‘devious’ or perhaps ‘sinister,’ although given our wordy blogging, it would probably be ‘garrulous’ instead.

Butch:

“Verbose.” “Slightly tipsy.” “Drowsy.”

If you’re there, you’re maybe twenty minutes behind me at this point. Unless you find Odessa. Then, maybe, forty minutes. You’ll be fine.

Feminina:

It’ll all be fine. Maybe I should go home and play right now, since I spilled tea on my computer and can’t actually do any work anyway. Sigh. Technology and I are not friends lately.

Butch:

Dude, you are not having luck of late. Only tech issue I have is that, for some reason, today, every time I hit reply it doesn’t include the whole message string the first time, which would make blogging a bitch.

The second time it does. I hate computers.

Well, at least you didn’t spill on the PS4. Priorities.

Feminina:

Indeed, priorities. It’s only my work computer with all my work stuff on it. Which, for a wonder, I have thoroughly backed up on an external drive quite recently, so other than a PowerPoint presentation I may need to redo, I won’t really lose anything even if the tea managed to get into the hard drive.

IT has it. I may never see it again. Naked Zeus speed you to your destiny, little computer.

Butch:

This was not an accident. This was your soul crying out for help.

Help your soul. HELP IT.

Wait….that wasn’t the computer with the blog log in on it, was it?

Feminina:

It’s cool, I have LastPass.

Also, they made me a terrifying Frankenputer by connecting an external keyboard to the laptop, and I’m going to use the several hours between now and them giving me a new computer to get all my saved passwords.

Actually, I could probably also dig them out of Chrome, now that I think of it.

But this will do.

Strong Work Ethics

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers we’ve already forgotten about in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Ok, so down by Odessa (who really needs a new hairdo) there was a warehouse so I killed some enforcers and destroyed some weed and completed two quests in the process.

I mean, there was a fort so I killed two elite enemies, destroyed some war supplies and completed two quests in the process.

Now all I have to do is kill the bounty hunter and get in a car chase with Frank Pagani. Or something.

Feminina:

Weed, army supplies, whatever.

Sadly, I did not play. You’re ahead of me, dude!

I’m getting confused and frightened. I need to play.

Butch:

The hell…….

Well, I’m not THAT much father ahead of you. If you killed all those dudes at the treasure fort, we’re likely in the same place. All I did was find Megaris, activate the viewpoint and leave.

And I flirted with Odessa, who really needs a new hairdo. But you might have already blown that, so there’s that.

Play, dammit!

Feminina:

I need to. I do. It’s just stuff. Kid not sleeping stuff. He was still awake at freaking 10pm last night when I went to bed. Which is all very well if he’ll just lie there quietly, but of course they so rarely do.

Maybe tonight he’ll be so exhausted he’ll sleep. Fingers crossed.

Butch:

You could always say…..

repeat after me…..

“Hey Mr. O…put your damn kid to bed! Playing games here!”

Or a variation thereof.

Feminina:

Yes…yes…he wouldn’t shriek forever. And we do have to get to that point eventually.

Remember how one time I said they don’t really cling to either one of us more than the other? That should have been “except Grigio at bedtime.”

Butch:

Dude….poor planning. Poor, poor planning.

But we’re not that desynchronized (See what I did there?). You MUST be about done with the “burn supplies” and “kill dudes” parts of the “story,” (which, yes, deserves to be in quotes at this time), if I managed to do both just on my little, treasure free fort.

Feminina:

Well, we already know we should never plan. Never ever ever.

Butch:

That we do. That we do.

Well, lord knows I’m tired. Maybe it will rub off on Grigio.

Feminina:

Fingers crossed. I certainly don’t have anything to talk about right now without games. Although honestly, I wouldn’t have much time even if I had played… It’s just been work, work, work all day. The nerve!

So many things to catalog and carry around.

Butch:

Work is too damn much work.

 

The Strength of a Nation is Measured by its Stag Films

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for early in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

So…let’s see…

Found the secret treasures that two of those riddles led me to purely by accident. The rewards kinda don’t suck. They aren’t loot, they’re new engravings, and, unlike the engravings you just get, they don’t suck. Like, 25% more crit damage! 25%! Longer burning of enemies! That would be so cool if I knew how to set people on fire!

So they don’t suck. Not sure I want to spend hours looking, but keep half an eye out for those notes/rewards.

Then went and stole the war chest. I did it all sneaky. Only killed two dudes. Pro tip: Do NOT keep your war chest right next to the entrance to the secret cave that leads in and out of the fort. Bad planning, Athens.

But here….

This is feeling WAY too much like the boring parts of Mafia 3. Right down to “Destroy supplies to weaken the district.” War supplies, you say? I see nothing but narcotics and stag films.

I did not like those bits of Mafia 3. I do not want another game that makes me do those bits.

Anyway….

Then went to Megaris and met up with Odessa the cutie from before who I flirted with. Did a quest for her. Did you?

Not bad.

Feminina:

Ah, see, I also played recently, but I went to the fort, stole the war chest without killing ANY dudes (as you say, putting it right there in the house next to the hole in the ground that had the secret backdoor was poor planning), but then, as long as I was already there, I decided to do all the other stuff for the location: kill the captain, burn the supplies, etc.

So I wound up staying in the fort the entire evening, murdered every single person there (plus a wild lynx I accidentally let out of a cage), set some stuff on fire, looted some chests, etc.

Didn’t make it to Megaris at all, what with the time-consuming murdering and looting. I’ll get there. Eventually.

Butch:

It’s nice. You’ll like it.

So was killing all those dudes and breaking all their stuff enough to lower the resistance to a point where you could just move on? Cuz each killed dude mattered, and each war supply mattered….maybe we don’t have to do all of this? Maybe?

Did you tell Odessa to be with her family and be happy? I’m curious if she’s there for you….

Feminina:

I think I encouraged her to keep doing her thing, whatever that was. Live your life, etc. Then she called me a mercenary (which is fair), so I don’t know if we parted on the best of terms. I’ll let you know if I find her again.

Doing all the stuff in the fort has lowered the nation power to about half. Not quite enough to just move on to assassinating its leader, but getting there. I think probably we don’t have to do everything, just enough. It is a bit like burning stag films and shooting up slot machines, to be sure.

Butch:

It certainly is. Not in a good way.

Hm.

Feminina:

Well, I honestly was quite happy with it in Mafia 3 for the first several districts. It did start to pall after a bit, but I was into it for a while. Putter around, wreck some stuff, murder some people, provoke a confrontation, seize control…it worked for me! It could work here too!

Probably with less pointed commentary on race relations in the US, but you never know.

Butch:

Yeah, but, as you say, the first several districts. I, too, was happy with it at first, but a) there were a lot of districts and b) it got in the way of the narrative to a frustrating degree and c) you couldn’t just skip it.

Here, there are a) a lot of regions of Greece and b) it’s been a long time since I got any type of story cutscene and c) ALL of my Odyssey (hey, spelled it on the first go!) story quests are the things I have to do to weaken the region. All of them. Every one. Making them unskippable cuz what would I skip to?

I am not peeved yet, but I was not peeved this early in Mafia 3. Still, not a good trend.

Feminina:

We can only see where this goes, and how long it takes us to become peeved. Maybe there will be detailed story sections interspersed with the nation-breaking. We can hope.

Did Something. Accomplished Nothing.

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for early AC: Odyssey

Butch:

Well, this is a rarity. I played. Quite a bit actually. But I have no real idea of what to say.

It’s cuz, well, while I did a lot, I didn’t do much. If that makes sense.

Did a “kill the dude” quest. Did a quest with a Moral Choice which wasn’t that much of a choice at all (I’m SURE you have/will make the same choice), found a cave, found a grave, found Megaris, did a viewpoint…..

You know. Stuff.

But so far, I just can’t figure out what this game is about. And I mean that not just in terms of who’s who, what’s with the hipsters, etc. It’s more a “Ok…so…why am I doing this?” deal. So far, the ONLY motivation Kassandra has to do anything is “Cuz I’ll get paid.” So, eight levels, almost nine, in, her motivation is “loot.” MY motivation is “loot.”

I sit down to write the open and pretty much it’s:

“So, Femmy, dunno, did stuff, got loot. You?”

To which you will say:

“Hey, me, too. So….uh….wanna talk about booze?”

Where is this great storytelling I’ve heard about?

It’s frustrating, too, because the setting is great, the set up of family is great, and I REALLY like Kassandra, and I feel like the game is squandering all that thus far.

Feminina:

I definitely agree that so far pretty much all we’ve done is look for a payday. Does Kassandra actually care about any of this? Not that we can tell. I’m cutting it slack at the moment because we are only almost level 9 (I think we’re pretty much at exactly the same point in the game right now!), and we know it goes up to, what, 50? So there is a lot of character progression ahead, and potentially a lot of actual character development and story.

Potentially. We hope.

I mean, there are certainly decent elements for story here, with the war, and the family ties, and the getting hired to kill people by a powerful figure with unknown motives, and so on. I wonder if maybe they’re just trying to get us into the basics of this “nation power” politics/combat thing first, sort of setting the stage so that we have context for whatever Greece-shattering revelations may come later as we learn more about the plots that are undoubtedly being plotted? Possibly by aliens? I don’t know, that’s my best idea.

After all, right now Kassandra has barely been off her island since she was sacrificed as a child, and we (like her) have pretty much zero investment in the regional politics here. I think it’s possible that they actually want us to play the game in zero-investment mode for a while just to kind of explore, and then once we have more of a sense of what’s going on, as we advance, story will be introduced that makes us care more. I mean, seriously, from my point of view, what the hell do I care about the Spartans fighting the Athenians? The game can tell us one of them is the side we’re rooting for (THIS IS SPARTA!–thanks, game), and so we will, but do we actually CARE? No. But maybe in time we actually will.

Or maybe there’s just nothing here but loot-chasing and I’m being hopelessly optimistic. I guess we’ll find out somewhere in the next 42 levels.

Butch:

Considering all the reviews praised this game for storytelling (which is why we’re playing it, as we generally do not play games that say “Shitty story, but, hey, loot!”) I think (hope?) we get there.

I feel (hope?) that, at some point, maybe when she really does confront her father, there’s gonna be a Moment in which she realizes her Life Has More Meaning at which point she will get the story really going and we’ll have bloggage.

Looking at the narrative flow (for what we have), it sure seems like she’ll at least meet (if not fight) daddy dearest when this region falls or whatever. That’s why she’s doing all this, right? To meet him? That would be a sensible point for Great Revelations of Story, likely Revelations entailing that he/she/hairy guy are all part of these two ancient orders and maybe aliens.

At least that’s what I’m thinking/hoping.

It HAS to be soon. Or it very much should be. After all, the six or seven people who are playing this that haven’t played a single AC game are still sitting there at this point going “The FUCK was with those hipsters?” While the game will never answer this with any clarity (it hasn’t in the 234985749785 previous games), they should say SOMETHING.

But so far, yeah, I’m not caring much which faction full of bearded dudes with names I can’t pronounce is ahead or behind or whatever. Other than that, it’s Destiny with togas.

Feminina:

It really does seem like there has to be more to it than we’ve seen so far. Even if we consider ourselves harder to impress than average in terms of story, it’s hard to imagine ANYONE being wowed by what we know at the moment.

“There are two opposing sides fighting over territory, and you get to hire on as a mercenary on one of them, and collect lots of loot!”

And we are, really, very early in the game still.

Butch:

We are very early, that we are. I’ll give it time.

But DAMN. Eight hours in and we’re still early.

Get on with it, game.

But I’m sure it’ll go somewhere. Did you find Megaris?

Feminina:

True! But–and granted, this game is no TW3–remember we spent about 400 hours in the literal Hinterlands in TW3, puttering around killing monsters and stuff, with only the most general idea of the story to come.

“There’s a Wild Hunt that could destroy the world, I want to find Ciri, I may still love Yen. Now let’s fight some stuff and collect some loot!”

Again, this is not TW3. But we were willing to be patient with TW3, and perhaps we should be patient with this too.

Of course, we’re not going to be willing to be 400 hours worth of patient, because this game doesn’t have the vast variety of monsters and magical effects that TW3 had to keep things interesting. A few wild animals, bounty hunters, soldiers, that’s about it. We’ll weary of that, I don’t deny it.

But we should maybe give it 10 hours or so to get its feet under it.

Butch:

TW3? Nothing compared to DAI. Nothing. Especially when I knew Morrigan was in that game! DAMN I wanted to hurry that up!

I’ll be patient. It helps that there have been some decent side quests (did you do “Portion Control?”) and different stuff to do (sailing, etc.), and some main story parts. It hasn’t all been so samey. And, I figure that as Megaris looks more like a proper game city than the last two game cities, stuff’ll happen.

I’m not going to google, but I’m curious/nervous: I figure we have to do the whole “weaken, conquer, etc.” to move the story along, but I don’t know if doing that is going to close out opportunities to do all the other stuff in the region. You know we have the fear of missing out. So do I do all the stuff and be impatient? Or move it along and worry?

Feminina:

We do have the fear of missing out. And…I feel like mostly this series has been about “go ahead and go back and do stuff whenever,” so I would be inclined to say we can probably move forward with story without cutting off question marks. Even after we gain control of a territory for the Spartans. One can’t be sure, obviously, but I would guess we’ll be OK. It doesn’t really seem like the kind of game that would have a bunch of limited sidequests.

Well, other than the plainly time-limited ones you can take that give you 24 hours to kill 10 deserters or whatever. I took a couple of those out of curiosity, couldn’t be bothered to actually try to complete them because there were question marks to look at instead, and probably will not go out of my way to even accept them in future.

Butch:

I tried that! Mostly cuz I accept everything. Then I promptly forgot about them.

I, too, will ignore in the future.