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Some spoilers for the Hjalmar/ice giant quest in Skellige, and some discussion of cutscenes earlier in the game. Also a late digression into whether witch hunters would have sex dungeons. Because duh, that’s a topic.

Butch:

Ok, didn’t play much. I did the bit with the Ice Giant, but I’ll hold off discussing as I think it’ll be better to compare/contrast it with the sister’s bit (Possession, which I’ve heard is a GREAT quest) which is what I’m gonna do next.

But something did occur to me: We’ve been talking on this game in Acts or Chapters or somesuch, yes? Well, after the death of the Baron (which we’ve pretty much agreed seemed to be the end of “Act 1,” such as it was), we got one of those weird cartoony cutscenes, and I’ve only seen one since: at the end of the less than relevant end of the Corrine/godling bit. I mean, we’ve seen the end of at least three other big themey story lines, all of which have more weight than Corrine/godling (The Dandelion/Pircilla bit, the end of Junior, and the evacuation of the mages/Triss) and I didn’t get one of those cartoons. Did you?

We thought those cutscenes were weird when they happened, and the lack of them in any other big place makes them even weirder. Am I missing something?

Feminina:

I played Friday and Saturday, but not last night. Why not last night? Because I finished it on Saturday. Boom. Pretty good ending. Some things I’d try doing differently if I were to play it again, but…damn, I’m not going to play it again. It’s too freaking big. It took me four months to finish it once, and there’s other stuff to do.

Having seen several of those cutscenes through the course of the ending (and no, none at any of the points you mentioned), my only take is that they seem to pop up whenever you finish something that they’ve decided is a branch point. Like, are Anna and the Baron dead, or alive?

Why they’ve selected certain things as these significant branch points and not others, I’m not sure (as you say, Corinne and Sara together doesn’t seem THAT earthshaking), and there was one bit in particular where I was like “what did I even do to make this happen, or what could I have done differently to change it?” So yeah, I don’t know. Maybe these are all going to be defining aspects of the next game, in some way we can’t fathom? The Baron/Sara’s presence or absence will shape the state of the world?

And apparently, whether or not you killed Junior doesn’t make much difference…Junior just wasn’t as important as he thought he was (or as WE thought he was, for a while). It could be a kind of interesting commentary on how you never know in the moment what’s going to wind up being important later. We go around dealing with all these big, critical issues with major, scary bad guys, but those don’t have as much impact, in the long run, as letting one godling stay in one ‘haunted’ house.

Just do the best you can, maybe it says, because you can’t predict the long-term result and it’s pointless to try.

And so these weird little cutscenes would be a slightly clumsy reminders of that, just so that we don’t forget that sometimes things don’t turn out at all the way we intended (that horse spirit?). I dunno. They are weird, though.

Butch:

Sort of figured you’d finish soon. Sigh. Well, I’ll get back into it. I’ll finish. Someday.

Do try to remember everything you did.

I wonder why Corrine was important. And now I think things that were branches aren’t. Triss wasn’t a branch point? Odd.

We shall talk later. Don’t spoil! You’ve been so good about it!

But the cut scenes are very weird. And oddly placed.

Ok, so, now that you’re done, what percentage have I done? Am I even slightly close?

Feminina:

I’ll try, but you’ll probably have to refresh my memory.

I actually did Cerys’ quest before the ice giant one, and it is memorable. The giant was kind of ‘meh’ in comparison, although to be fair I was also vastly overleveled by the time I got around to it, so it didn’t present the kind of challenge it might have.

And yeah, apparently whatever you did with Triss wasn’t important in the long run…or, perhaps, was important but not a branch, because whatever you did, you didn’t have the option to do something like pick a fight with her and tell her to get out of your life forever, which might have made a difference if (no spoilers) you were to need her help later on or something.

And we could argue that this is narratively quite reasonable because, as we’ve discussed, Geralt to some extent does what he’s going to do: he’s not as closed as Joel in TLOU, but he also isn’t us, he’s Geralt, and so there are some choices that we can make for him that will have significant impacts later, but there are things, even quite big things, that are not really choices for us because he, as a character, just wouldn’t do them. Our choices as players are constrained by his existing character (and of course by the need to limit options so as not to have to account for 8 million possible decisions in the writing/coding).

As for being close to done…um. There’s a lot of Skellige. And even the endgame, after the “we suggest you make a manual save here, some sidequests may no longer be available” is quite long. I’d say you’re more than half done, maybe about two thirds? Depending on how much you do going forward. Obviously you’re closer to done if you decide to ignore a lot of the Skellige quests, but…there are some good ones, and you’ll need the XP to level up anyway, so you’ll probably want to do them. At least the ones that you aren’t incredibly overpowered for already.

But unless you want to kill time, seriously, just ignore all the question marks in the water. I haven’t found a single one that was anything more than a smuggler’s cache or occasionally a ‘spoils of war’ (which is also just random underwater loot). They’re meaningless time sucks unless you need loot to sell.

Butch:

I sort of liked the giant quest, but there was this weird glitchy bit where I gave that dude nails prematurely and I think it skipped over some important story stuff. It was odd. I still don’t really know who that old dude was, and I think I’m supposed to.

Hmm. Sure felt like a big choice with Triss. That it did. I mean, he did have a choice to say goodbye, which might have cut her off for good. Or maybe not. I suppose I should play more, huh?

Being done…Yeah, I like quests. I want to do the quests. And the contracts. Gotta admit, the treasure hunts aren’t really doing it for me. I think they made a mistake highlighting where everything is on the world map as quest markers. Sort of makes it less of a treasure hunt and more of a chore. Go here, find that. I mean, if you know where everything is, then is it really a treasure hunt?

As for the water question marks, I don’t need loot, as really, despite the fact I am far poorer than you, I haven’t really gotten stuck cuz I don’t have enough money. I have money. I’m content.

I have pretty much avoided them. You say no need, and I say I don’t like swimming. So I’m gonna ignore. Quests and contracts, I’m gonna do.

Feminina:

I got nails, and then forgot to go back and give them to that guy. So…I dunno. I guess he’s still there. I should probably go back and take him some nails, but I think I sold them after carrying them around for a month. I don’t know how much important story he really had, maybe I also missed it by not going back with nails…did you get the bit where he was talking to all the skulls as if they were still his men, alive? I think he was the leader of a previous group that had tried to defeat the giant, the guy they were talking about in the pub (the one who wasn’t Hjalmar, obviously), and that was pretty much all I got from him.

Though, again, if I’d actually taken him back some nails, he might have told me more.

I have the feeling that saying ‘goodbye’ to Triss at that point would have cut off the romance, but not have driven her away forever. You would have parted friends, probably, and then she still would have liked you enough to show up when you needed her, or whatever. So it’s not a branch, in the sense that it wouldn’t have changed her later behavior. Not like saying “good riddance–get the hell away and STAY away you conniving monster!” might have…which was not an option. (Although who knows, that MIGHT have been how Geralt translated “goodbye”: as we’ve discussed, you can’t always go by the short text on the dialogue option list.)

Also, remember that the cutscene only shows up after the ‘end’ of a particular story. We didn’t get the explanatory voiceover about the Baron storyline until the Baron was dead. It’s possible your story with Triss has not yet reached its conclusion, and the long-term consequences of your decision on the dock may still remain to be revealed. Possibly. No spoilers.

Butch:

The guy on the boat WAS talking to his people. Which was pretty funny.

See, I found some nails RIGHT OUTSIDE HIS BOAT that said “quest item,” so I picked them up, and that pretty much tripped whatever I was supposed to do. It was weird. I’m not sure what was supposed to become of all that.

Hmm. Good point about the dock not necessarily being the end of the Triss story. I’m just so used to game goodbyes being so permanent.

Now, here’s a question: In Mr. O’s game, the Baron lived, so did he get that cutscene (or a similar one? I mean, obviously, the baron wasn’t dead in his cutscene, like he was in ours, but you get what I’m asking). Did that story have to end so definitively?

I hope I get to see Triss again. I like Triss. But Yen….Yen is growing on me…

Feminina:

If the Baron and Anna live, Anna’s all raving from trauma and so forth, and the cutscene says that the Baron went off with her to look for help to cure her. So he’s still gone from Crow’s Perch whenever you go back, and I think that within the boundaries of this game, you never see them again. So it’s still the end of your part in their story (and vice versa).

But other than that, goodbyes are not permanent, man! Remember, you’re going to see everyone again at Kaer Morhen! Gathering place of all the weirdos you come across!

Although, spoiler: the Baron does not show up there. Nor does Black Beauty, more’s the pity.

Speaking of Black Beauty, apparently (reading forums) there was a way to free the tree spirit, save the children, AND save Anna and the Baron, but it involved stumbling across the tree before you accepted the villagers’ quest about it, and choosing to save it. Sometimes bypassing contracts is the way to go!

Butch:

Ok, so there’s still a cutscene. I also imagine there’s one that says “Corrine and Sara did NOT live happily ever after,” too, if it comes to that.

Oh man! I’m kinda annoyed that Black Beauty remains somewhat unresolved. That felt like something that was going to be…you know…important.

Maybe in DLC. I mean, they have said that the two expansions (the first of which comes out in a few weeks) will be over 40 hours more gameplay. 40. Hours. That’s, like a game or two right there.

Speaking of which, whatchu gonna play until November 10th?

Tree stumbling could have saved everyone! Ah, well. I own my decisions, I do. Can’t save ’em all.

Feminina:

Nope, can’t save ’em all. The limitations of your own power are another big theme here. Yeah, you’re a badass, but you can’t do everything/save everyone. You just can’t. You’re a badass within a certain narrow range of activities. You’re good at fighting and killing things. When fighting and killing things isn’t the immediate answer that clears everything up, you’re just guessing, the same as everyone else.

And yeah, I’m sure there was some kind of sad “You had to kill Sara to get her out of the house and the merchant moved back in so the house wasn’t empty when Corinne needed someplace to hide, and she was burned by witch hunters” or something. Glad I didn’t get that one.

Butch:

Holy crap. But yeah, I guess that IS how that would have ended, wouldn’t it? Man, fuck those witch hunters. That’s another difference in this game: In any other game, YOU, the PC, would’ve killed Menge, or at least told/oked someone else to do it for you. Here, that was given to an NPC.

This game should’ve had more Corrine. Not only was she hot, but the whole “dreamer” thing was cool. And explained. Unlike the cheese magic….

As for your limited powers, you’re even guessing half the time on the monsters. If I had a nickel for each time I said “What the HELL is that?”

Feminina:

The game’s not over yet! You could still see Corinne again. Although I should stress that I didn’t look anything up, so I was just imagining she’d wind up in trouble with the witch hunters. It could also have been a less horrifying “she lived a life of loneliness” result.

We can’t know! Unless we check the wiki, and honestly, I’m too busy at the moment.

Butch:

I’ll check later.

Seriously, those witch hunters. These women are good looking, guys!

Feminina:

Ugh. I think we’d just as soon they DON’T take that into account. Otherwise, before you know it they’re being kept in some sex dungeon until they’re no longer attractive and THEN burned, and I don’t think that’s particularly an improvement. Let’s just not go there.

Butch:

I DIDN’T go there. YOU went there.

You scare me.

Feminina:

Oh, OK, right. All you did was remind the witch hunters that these women are attractive, so they could…what? What lovely realm of sweetness and light are we SUPPOSED to get to from there?

Keeping in mind the grim and threatening land of the game we’re actually discussing.

I guess maybe, best case, the witch hunters are going to say “oh, good point, we wouldn’t want to deprive the world of this appealing female figure! Let’s go burn some ugly people instead, which is much less likely to provoke any fuss. Justice is served!”

Butch:

I was going for the “spare the hotties” angle and not the “sex dungeon” angle. Jeez.

Feminina:

Yeah, but we know that witch hunters are horrible people. Unlike you, they won’t be moved by the sheer altruistic desire to preserve beauty for the world. They’re going to ask “WHY would we spare the hotties?” and the answer, inevitably, would be “sex dungeon.” It’s just logic.

Butch:

You’ve been spending far too much time with Mr. O’.

Feminina:

And you’ve been spending far too much time in unicorn-fairy-candy-booze-land where everyone agrees that beautiful things must be cherished and never harmed for no better reason than that they are beautiful. That’s a nice land, my friend, but I’m pretty sure it ain’t Radovid’s Redania.

Also, an unstated but unavoidable corollary to “spare the hotties,” even if accepted, would be “don’t bother to spare the non-hotties,” which is, in the long run, a troubling principle for those of us unable to maintain perpetual hotness via magic.

Butch:

Just the sorceresses, man.

Although for some reason I am also carrying around a picture of Hemmelfart. I mean, it’s a picture!

Feminina:

The dwarves gave you that picture, didn’t they? The ones at the cottage where you rescued Dandelion? They gave me one. I carried it around for a couple of days and then was like “why the hell am I keeping this?” and sold it. No one ever asked me for it, so I assume it wasn’t important.

Just a random piece of weird loot. Which I’m all for. Adds character to the inventory screen.

Butch:

That’s the one.

14 whole gold!

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