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Spoilers for the end of the Witcher 2, mild spoilers for the end of Mass Effect 2 and The Last of Us, general discussion of DAI and Life is Strange, Episode 2

Butch:

Actually played actual game last night. Killed the last dudes for Cassandra, which was rather anticlimactic. No cutscene or anything. But hey, she approved. I was sort of expecting more, there, Cassandra. Went and yapped up Cullen about the Samson letters, and then sent a bunch of operations in motion to deal with same. Upgraded some potions. Still don’t have proximity healing.

So I’ll sell shit to the dalish next from that tomb, and then I think I’ve pretty much done everything one needs to do before one moves on with the story.

Yup, I’m not going to deal with all those rifts, or shards. Nope. But you know? For all those people bitching about filler: I’m at about 90 hours right now. 90. And I still haven’t gone done the Morrigan thing, so I’ll probably be pushing 100 when the credits roll. Certainly close. And if you can get 90+ hours out of a game WITHOUT all that “filler” stuff, that’s not a game with a “filler problem.”

Feminina:

Yeah, for how much she wanted those dudes dead, she didn’t have much to say. I suppose she’s too restrained to gloat over the fall of her enemies, plus they used to be among her trusted comrades and all, so that must be tough.

You’ve certainly gotten plenty out of it even with ignoring the obvious time sinks. I only got to…what did I say? 114? Under 120, anyway. And I did all the shards and all the rifts, although not all the mosaic pieces likes Buttons. I have my limits.

I played a bit more Life is Strange. It’s very slow, almost meditative. Several references to Twin Peaks, which is interesting–not sure where they’re going with that (or that I’ll recognize it when they get there, given I never saw the show). Mr. O’s comment is that that there’s nothing out-and-out WEIRD like in Twin Peaks (turning back time notwithstanding), but that there’s a faintly similar atmosphere. You walk around and look at things, check out the posters on walls, talk to people, etc., and there’s a definite sense that something is going on and any of these things might eventually turn out to be clues, but you really don’t have any idea what, yet.

I’m enjoying it.

Butch:

Oh, good I’m not missing anything with Cassandra. I was worried I did something out of order or something. I got nothing.

Indeed, I’ve gotten plenty out of it. I’m not at all disappointed. I mean, I think even if you did no shards, and closed a minimal number of rifts, this is STILL probably a 60 hour game or so. That’s a lot of game, dudes. Unlike Skyrim, where if you just did the quest bits it was, maybe, 10. Stop complaining, internet.

Cool about Life is Strange. I like that something so off beat is getting attention.

Watch, though. It’ll turn out all those things are pointing to the inevitable invasion of giant robots.*

Feminina:

Yeah, I bet the last episode is nothing but you battling a single giant robot for 6 hours, with the fate of the town in the balance.

Damn you, Dontnod!!!!!!!!!!!

Butch:

Hey, stick with what brought you where you are.

On that, is the final battle of DAI a real bitch? I don’t feel like dying 29 times.

Feminina:

Honestly, no…I found the final battle no more than modestly challenging. I don’t think I died at all, in fact. There were several battles during the game (dragons, giants, etc.) that were way harder.

I imagine some people felt cheated by this (the big battle should be HARD!!!!), but I don’t really mind. At that point, I’m in it for the conclusion of the story, not for the grinding combat. The final battle of DAO, for example…just an endless dragon-fight that I got pretty tired of. I’ll take the ‘easier’ final battle, thanks.

Butch:

Lordy, me, too. I mean, endings of things have some degree of narrative momentum, and nothing breaks that narrative momentum quite like dying 29 times.

My problem with the final battle of DAO was that I was having PC issues and was trying to play it on this laptop, which couldn’t really handle it, and it kept crashing under the strain. That was infuriating. Trying to tell the dwarves “No! Don’t come in! Too much strain on the CPU of you come in! Stay out….shit.”

But in general, I do not care for big bosses at the end. I’m sorta ok with tension building wave stuff, though. Take TLOU. There wasn’t one big baddie, but there was enough tension to rile you up so that you ***ahem*** killed those doctors and all. The end “fight” had some dramatic import. But I’ve never really had a big, singular boss fight that had that sort of narrative oomph, and, if you’re not going to have narrative oomph, it doesn’t really belong at the end, when oomph is called for.

Even bioware has been known to blow it at times. (This is not an ME3 rant, this is an ME2 rant) The end bit of ME2 was really great. Tension, choices to make, harrowing scenes…..until the terminator knock off at the end. Then it was 15 minutes of hide, wait, shoot, run, repeat. Which took you out of the momentum of the ending.

Feminina:

Yeah…I think this is another example of the different approach that different players might have. If you’re primarily in it for the battles, than yeah, the very last battle should be the ‘best’ (toughest, longest, etc.) battle or you feel cheated.

But if you’re primarily in it for the story, then working your way up to the climactic point of the narrative and having to reload multiple times and scream at the screen in frustration or whatever just breaks your concentration. I mean, I don’t want NOTHING in the final battle, it’s not as if I’m saying I’d prefer to just walk in and punch the villain and have him/her collapse on the floor at my feet wailing “I surrender” (although if that works with your story…it would be kind of interesting to see), but I don’t need it to be this long, grueling struggle in order to feel satisfied with the ending.

I’m happier to have the long, grueling battles earlier in the story, when they’re not breaking into the narrative flow as much.

Butch:

This gets back into the “Well, what do you expect? It’s bioware!” angle. Remember when we were rolling our eyes at the kotaku dude who finished in like 50 hours and was complaining about the padding and said he skipped through most of the conversations? Same thing. If you’re playing DAI, dude, you’re here for the story. If you’re playing…I don’t know…Mortal Kombat, say, then yes. Big fight. It’s gotta work with the game that is being done. Story game is one thing, fighty game is another.

See, for example, TW2. There’s a bit of a choice at the end of TW2. You finally find the guy who set you up for regicide and captured your girlfriend. You’ve been chasing him the whole game. He’s bald and mean and kills kings. But you have a drink with him, he explains shit, and then you have a choice as to whether to fight. He even says “So, are we going to fight?” And really, the only choice that makes any sense is to say no. You shake hands, and part ways, and that’s that. No fight. An explanation (albeit a rather pat one with WAAAAAAY too much villain exposition and sequel setting uppage), a handshake, a ladybug (still don’t get that), roll credits. And it WORKED.

But you COULD have fought him. It was up to you.

Indeed, keep the grueling battles earlier in the game. Even optional, like these poor, out of the way, bothering nobody dragons.

Feminina:

Hm. I like the optional giant battle at the end. Assuming it makes sense in context, obviously. There are some stories where that wouldn’t work because the villain had done too many horrible things for you to forgive, or whatever, but I could see it working in plenty of cases.

Like, if it means that much to you, go ahead and fight this guy, and it would probably be a hard battle to make you feel it was ‘worth it,’ but if you care more about the story making sense you can just stop here. It could ESPECIALLY be an interesting choice in RPGs like, say, anything BioWare, because whether or not you decide to fight at the end could be a big part of your character.

You could also see interesting consequence-based choices involved, like maybe YOU really really really hate this person by the end and want to fight them but some of your companions are urging mercy, or if you fight the person you’re going to destroy a small village in the process (all those destructive spells, you know) and the villagers are saying “come on, don’t wreck our houses and gardens!” or whatever.

I’m going to feel guilty about those dragons forever. They were probably on the Endangered Species List, and I singlehandedly drove them to extinction. Way to go, me.

Although I suppose there are an awful lot of dragonlings running around. I can’t have killed all of them. They seem to repopulate readily.

Butch:

That’s why it worked so damn well in TW2. It helped that that game did a better job of motivating you (or Geralt) than Bioware. Well, not better, but one beef I’ve always had with bioware is that they don’t really do over arching stories that aren’t “Bad guy, threatening all creation, kill it.” TW2 had you being framed for regicide, and, while it was no murder mystery (you see the bad guy do it, so you know who you’re chasing), the overarching goal is getting to the truth more than saving/killing/hurrah. Once you have that truth, the choice is yours as to what to do with it: Forgive? Avenge? Use to your own devices? Which, as you say, is a big part of your character.

Again, TW2 was great in that the “bad guy” is also a witcher (it’s not really THE witcher, it’s A witcher), so instant empathy/moral greyness. It’s kinda hard to empathize with a ten thousand year old anatomy prop, or a reaper. They’re just BAD GUYS.

Still, those of us who played TW2 and made these choices are interested to see what happens re said choices later on. I mean, ok, DA Keep, nice, interesting, but DAMN in that game fuck who’s king: the existence of whole kingdoms could come and go, deaths of major characters (like, say, the villain)….. and it’s going to be tough cuz DA didn’t have to deal with the story arc of one protagonist. Sure, Varric, Cassandra, Leliana, Morrigan, all been seen before, but not having the hero be constant meant they could deflect some of that stuff. Geralt be Geralt. Gonna be harder.

Feminina:

It will definitely be interesting to see how this is handled. Some sort of vastly more complex DA Keep-style program? The option to specify certain key choices during set-up and the blurring of all the rest into “let’s not talk about that”? An “oh hell, we’re just going to say XYZ happened and if that’s not the way your game ended too bad”?

We should be hearing more about it before too long.

Butch:

Gonna have to do something like that. I mean, TW2 was PC only (save for a bad 360 port that no one played), and this is being hyped all over the place on consoles, so I assume they’re assuming a) a whole lot of newbs will find it and b) a lot of people will do what I’m doing and play on a different platform. At least I hope so. I sure HOPE it’s not Aw hell, here’s what happened. What happened in my game happened.

In the meanwhile, I’ll take news of dynamic beard growth, which I read they’re going to have. I wonder if Triss and Yennifer have to shave. Doubt it.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, I forgot to enthuse about the dynamic beard growth when you mentioned it! That’s ADVANCED, man.

Also good question about the women and whether they also need to shave. I agree, probably not…but I suppose they can explain that by noting that women in general don’t do their hair removal in front of men, so that they probably DO, Geralt is just not going to see it.

Now if the PC were a woman and never had to shave, while the male characters all around did, then we might indeed think “hey, what’s up here?” but sensitive though I am to illogical gender-based assumptions, I’m inclined to pre-emptively give them a pass on not addressing this issue…should it turn out that, as we suspect, they do not address this issue.

While retaining the option to withdraw said pass at a later date once we have some evidence and actually know what we’re talking about, of course.

Butch:

It is advanced. Though it does add a rather minecraftian layer of chore to things. I don’t like to shave in real life. Maybe that’s the power trip: Even when you don’t shave, you can still get it on with sorceresses. Or something. What a world. That would be a good world.

There is that: women grooming in private. And we do know from TW2 that Triss doesn’t shave…um…everywhere, so that’s less of a chore. Maybe it’s just magic. She can make her clothes disappear after all.

Feminina:

Also true that unlike men, women don’t generally have to shave to keep their faces visible, so they could just not remove body hair and it could be not a big deal.  in a pseudo-medieval setting, this could have the REALISM and HISTORICAL ACCURACY arguments going for it, too.

*Reference to Feminina’s implacable seething hatred for the giant robot battle in Remember Me, the other Dontnod game we know.

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