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Some spoilers for the Hearts of Stone expansion to The Witcher 3

Butch:

Nothing much to report, but while watching football the other day, I did get to see an ad for FO4. During football. Funny, you usually only see sports games, shooters, that sort of thing. An RPG during football? A first. Can’t decide if it’s good or bad.

Feminina:

Well, Fallout is a big franchise. People who grew up playing it are now watching football. And there’s something apocalyptic about sports anyway, isn’t there? “We must annihilate the other team! Destroy them utterly (until next week)! Crush them, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of the women!”

If they were advertising Skyrim, that might be a harder sell. “What’s this fantasy elf crap?” But nuclear wastelands, that’s at least part of the right general mood. Or so I speculate, based on nothing but the broad caricatures provided by advertising and pop culture.

I played some of the Hearts of Stone expansion. It’s basically more Witcher 3, nothing dramatically new, which is fine because I enjoyed Witcher 3 but which I admit does have a kind of time-killing feeling of “well, it’s just a job” now that the main story is over.

Which it is, of course, for Geralt. He’s just roaming around doing his job. Work, work, work. Finding contracts on notice boards and investigating. Talking to people about one quest who of course give him additional quests. Running across monster nests and bandit camps and sites where there’s Guarded Treasure. (In the spirit of old times, I crept past one large elemental guardian, took the treasure when it wasn’t looking, and scooted off, leaving it none the wiser.)

Everything I meet now is about 34th level, and I’m 35 so it’s fair, except when there are 6 of them and one of me, so I’m getting killed by wild dogs and randits again. Which is OK–it’s kind of interesting to revive my knowledge of actually using spells and potions, instead of just whacking everything the way you start to towards the end of the main story–but I do kind of wonder why that pack of 34th level feral dogs hasn’t laid waste to everything in a 50-mile radius yet…mysteries of life.

And there are ever so many more question marks to check out, though all in one area of Velen, not scattered all over the whole map. So it’s more of the stuff we liked before, basically.

The main new thing is a guy from Ofier that you meet who, if you give him 30,000 gold pieces to buy tools and materials, can make new, sort of combined runes or glyphs. Good thing I just so happened to have easily that much money on me! I was kind of like “is that all you need? I’ve got lots more. Give me something to spend this cash on!” Right now I’m down to about 65,000. Abject penury is right around the corner.

Anyway, I haven’t really used his powers yet, but I saw he does have one thing that you can put on a sword that makes the ‘grindstone’ enhancement permanent. So basically a permanent +1 or whatever. The trade off is that you can’t have any OTHER glyphs or runes on at the same time, only his special ones, so I’m going to have to weigh whether or not it’s even worth it. But one cool thing he can do is add additional rune/glyph slots to your existing items, so even if I don’t want his super-runes, I could still pile a bunch of regular ones on a sword and make it cooler that way.

He charges a lot of money, which I was mildly peeved about on principle (“I just bought your entire shop for you–with the explicit agreement that I’d get a return of useful materials on my investment, I might add–and you can’t even give me a couple of things for free?”), but let’s just assume he gives me a steep discount. In practice, at least I potentially have something to spend my money on.

And in diversity news, the two Ofieri you meet appear to be black, or at least dark-skinned, so there’s CDPR saying “all right, all right, not every single person in this universe is white.”

I haven’t gotten as far as much in the way of themeage, although there’s a missing lover, and the main villains so far are ‘fallen knights’ who were a company of Radovid’s army and have now turned to banditry. They shout “eternal flame!” and make me feel cheerful about killing them. They’re all near my level and travel in packs, so it’s hard to do, but worth it. I hate randits, and I hate the eternal flame! Bonus double hatred!

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

Butch:

Uh…. I dunno what Mr. O’ is telling you about football….but…..um……

This is why our blog sticks to fashion.

It was interesting that the ad they showed didn’t really talk about story, or Boston, or….well….anything. It really did up the shooty shooty bits of it. Like, a lot. Too much.

Expansion–Ah, see? This is the problem with playing after the end, and expansions in general. There’s no more momentum to the end. The end has happened. Now it’s just work towards….what? There is no answer to that. It’s work towards the next expansion, or platinum trophy, or nothing that actually has to do with anything. It’s glorified space invaders: wave after wave of baddies for no apparent reason other than being able to fight more baddies. ***yawn***

The water hags kept those feral dogs in check……..

until we got there……

Did we like the question marks? Did we? Cuz I left about 2000 of them alone in Skelleggy.

So you’re saying…. more work and we can get all min-maxer stat happy? You are not talking me into this.

At least this gives us another reason to mount up large amounts of gold we don’t need in game: we can say “Hey! This might come in handy in the expansion!”

Ofieri–Wait, what? I have more of a problem with that then total whiteness. Who are their parents? What is all this? Go figure.

Feminina:

Wait: football DOESN’T glorify competition and seething rivalry, and play up every game with combat references and dramatic, militaristic graphics? I HAVE been misinformed.

But I’m sure you have to know (or try to guess) your audience. Football = shooty-focused advertising. Show on New England architecture on the History Channel = Boston-focused advertising. (I assume. I would like to see that ad, actually. It would probably be pretty funny.)

I liked question marks, except the ones in the water in Skellige, which I also mainly left unexplored. These new ones are all on land, and potentially represent at least monster nests or something.

The implication is that everyone in Ofier–wherever that is: somewhere in the south–is black. It’s a faraway land, you see (not just a local village or something, and I was unclear if that’s the impression I gave). These people we’ve just met are explorers, traders, adventurers, come to view the strange northern realms. There was an amusing bit where the guy says something like “northerners are so inexpressive, just grunting wordlessly,” and then it cuts to Geralt making a noncommittal “grmmm” noise.

So, yeah, I actually played for several hours! Destroyed two monster nests, cleared two Abandoned Sites for habitation, looked for the halfling herbalist’s missing apprentice, and tracked down several Ofieri diagrams (which are rumored to produce some sort of awesome gear once I have them all and get them translated.)

Butch:

Oh, well, yeah, football does do THAT, but not the lamentations of the women bits. I have never known a woman who laments football losses.

Well, for discussion’s sake:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3IlHBBGCIw&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dk3IlHBBGCIw&has_verified=1

That’s the trailer they showed. I did like the billboard at the end that said “Welcome Home, reserve your spot today.” Nice touch.

Land question marks. Land is better.

I wonder if you lost your trophy for “destroy every monster nest in Velen.” You won’t check, so I’ll check for you when I play tonight.

HA! Glad to see they kept their sense of humor. But that makes sense: these aren’t the two black dudes in Velen. That would be odd.

Feminina:

Fair, fair. I mean, apparently women who are not me are a small but growing percentage of the NFL’s audience (they sell all that pink stuff now!…because duh, women demand pink), but across the board it’s probably true that lamentations by women are comparatively minimal.

“The lamentations of their fans” would have been more accurate.

I see what you mean about the ad. Focus on wandering, shooting and wearing a giant combat suit. And having a faithful dog. Nothing about Boston. It felt very ‘first-look’ though: something to whet the appetite of the potential player and get them interested in learning more. Nice graphics, too, obviously. Very clear and sharp.

If this is like other games, DLC/expansion stuff doesn’t count towards the main-game trophies. I mean, we got platinum in Skyrim even without getting all the trophies in the ‘hearth and home’ update or whatever the cabin-building one was called. So we should be OK on our original monster nest trophy, even if there are some new monster nests now. Plus, just you wait, I’ll check out all these new question marks before I’m done.

I concur, it would have been worse than nothing to have just had two random black dudes in Velen with no explanation whatsoever, when there had never been any sign of such dudes before. I mean…I suppose you COULD just have one village where everyone was black, and we’d assume it had been founded by immigrants in days of yore, but not just two random guys. It worked OK to give them a history and a specific country of origin and a reason to be in Velen. Maybe by TW4 they’ll found a village, assuming they wanted to stay in this inexpressive, monster-harried country.

Butch:

They sell all that pink shit to raise awareness about breast cancer. See? They CARE about women. Especially when they’re dressed like cheerleaders. Or can testify against star players in assault cases.

Cynical, me.

Regarding the trailer, we’ll just hope that people know the series. Cuz not only was there nothing about Boston, there was nothing about talking, role playing, stats, or story. But hey. Ad time during football is expensive.

There was a cabin building expansion for Skyrim? I mean, that’s AFTER you’ve bought alchemy tables and 27 wheels of cheese for the eight houses you bought with money you got from doing random quests that were all the same? People wanted MORE of that?

That game, man. I still don’t get it. That and minecraft. What are people seeing that I’m not?

Or TW4 will take place in Ofier!

How did they talk? Were they Scottish?

Feminina:

It warms my heart, it does, to know how much the NFL cares about women. I mean, who else is going to cheer in tiny outfits and buy all that pink stuff? THEY HAVE SO MUCH PINK STUFF, it is imperative that women understand how much they are cherished!!!!! Let us cherish you by selling you things!!!!

It’s possible that the very vagueness of the ad was kind of genius, though. I mean, people who know the series are going to automatically figure “OK, there’s a lot more to it than this” (we already know there is based on previous reports), whereas people who aren’t familiar with it may think “ooh, shooting and combat armor, looks cool!” and check it out even if they wouldn’t normally be attracted to the talking, stats, roleplaying aspects of Fallout. (Or even if they aren’t watching or don’t personally think it looks that cool, parents/grandparents/uncles might think “hey, young Billy likes those sort of shooty video games, that looks like something he’d enjoy–Christmas list!”)

Yeah, “Homesteading,” I think it was actually called? Or “Hearthfires,” or something. You could get some land and hire an overseer and build a house, and to do so you first had to quarry stone and mill lumber and forge nails and stuff. Or in some cases pay other people to do it…I don’t think I actually had to quarry the stone. But you had to locate the right person and order the stone. And then you’d furnish your house, and to do so you needed to gather wood and leather and glass and hinges and so forth. It was sort of the distillation of Skyrim’s busywork aspects, really: collect a bunch of parts so you can make something else.

Then once you had a room furnished for them, you could adopt a child, which I thought was silly because I already owned about 6 houses that apparently weren’t good enough for a child. Damn picky orphans. I mean, granted, I never bothered to furnish any of my houses because I never stayed in any of them, being too busy wandering around fighting randits and such, but I would have been happy to buy furniture for an orphan’s sake, only it was never an option. The child needs its own bedroom, and it’s no good my saying “look, there’s only one bedroom here but the kid can have the WHOLE HOUSE, I’m never there!”

Although I suppose “I’m never there” also isn’t the best self-advertisement when trying to argue that you’re worthy to take on the care of a vulnerable young person. “Yeah, I’ll just give him a bunch of money and a barely furnished house and check in every few months to see if he’s OK! There’s literally no way that could go wrong!”

Anyway, I never completed my house because once I got platinum I pretty much stopped playing Skyrim. 298 hours or whatever it was, was enough.

And no, the Ofieri do not sound Scottish. They sound…I want to say Middle Eastern or East Asian-ish, but I’m not sure I’m correctly identifying the accent. Anyway, something we haven’t heard before, that conjures images of desert lands, or at any rate films I’ve seen set in desert lands.

Butch:

It’s also a quiet irony that their womanly cause is breast cancer. Not because that’s not a good cause, but leave it to the NFL to equate “we care about women” to “we care about their breasts.”

Sigh.

They are good at selling games, Bethesda.

Also, on a side note, it has been noted on the interwebs that that song (Dion’s “The Wanderer”) is from the sixties, a decade that the other fallout games have NOT used music from. True, in FONV there was reference to Elvis (remember “The Kings” gang?) but the music is usually from the 40s and 50s. Even I was a bit taken aback by the use of music.

Are you fucking kidding? After 500 hours of that drudgery Bethesda charged people money for MORE drudgery? See, this company can market chores as DLC. I trust them to put together football ads that are well targeted.

Leave Lidia there with the orphan. She’ll handle it.

Dude, I never got to 70 in Skyrim. I think my steam counter has it at 63. And there it shall stay.

298. Damn. And you say the witcher is long.

But then, the witcher is 180 hours of good stuff and Skyrim was 290 hours of chores and 8 hours of game.

Feminina:

It’s true, breast cancer is certainly a worthy cause, but a lot of the “we care!” promotions surrounding it do lack somewhat in…caring about people as opposed to a specific, highly sexualized body part. “We love breasts! How tragic if anything should happen to them!”

Homesteading only cost $5, but yeah, it was pretty clever of them to get people to pay for the opportunity to do more chores. But some people get a sense of accomplishment from chores! Some people like crafting! I KIND of like it, a lot more than you do anyway, though I concede that there was an awful lot of it in Skyrim.

Interesting point about the musical era of the trailer. Hm. I wonder if that will be reflected in the game itself? Maybe the Boston area maintained a semblance of pre-bomb culture a bit longer than other parts of the country, and managed to produce a few more songs? Although we shouldn’t necessarily read too much into it without more evidence: “The Wanderer” WAS only 1961, and the early ’60s were a lot more like the ’50s than they were like the ‘classic’ image of the rebellious ’60s. “Big Iron” (or, “the ranger with the big iron on his hip”), often heard in FONV, was apparently from 1959, so there’s not an extreme difference there in terms of musical era, although there certainly is in mood.

Still, something to keep an eye on.

Butch:

Ah, the NFL. Gotta love the NFL.

See, hockey doesn’t give a fuck. Another reason to love hockey.

Breasts are good, I gotta admit. But the NFL, whenever it tries to be progressive, just isn’t. They had a campaign about domestic violence last year, in which a series of players looked uncomfortable, silent, sighing and stuff, and the tagline is “It’s hard to start a conversation, but we have to,” or some shit. It was like, “Hey! Um….we wanna SAY we care, cuz ratings, but…uh….we’re pretty much admitting we have nothing to say whatsoever about this.”

Yes. Yes there was an awful lot of crafting in Skyrim. And a lot of it was similar to crafting in Witcher that I’m not doing. “Hey! A diagram for pants that were not as good as what I had 20 levels ago! Great! Let me go not make that!” Skyrim was FULL of that.

Really? Wanderer was that early? I stand corrected. I thought it was like 1967 or so. In that case, hell with it.

I mean, there’s some wiggle room. The great war where all the bombs went boom happened (happens?) in 2077, so, you know, music could have happened. It’s just in the 2077 that they thought would happen and didn’t.

Keep an eye I shall. And you, too, if you ever notice music.

Feminina:

Yes, you keep an eye (or ear) on this topic. I will probably not notice the music (I won’t PLAN to ignore it, but let’s be realistic), but you can point out interesting songs and I’ll look them up on the internet.

But yeah, if we’re assuming that culture/music kind of froze in a specific era and stayed there until the bomb went off in 2077, ‘The Wanderer’ is not that much of a stretch from previous games.

When you think about it, the PRE-bomb world of these games must also have been a sort of weird dystopia…stuck in the cultural outlook and style of 100+ years previous, but developing in destructive potential…perhaps somehow kept at bay through rigid adherence to the rules of the time the bomb was initially becoming a threat, until it wasn’t.

I admit I didn’t do much crafting in the Witcher either. I mean, there was that brief bout of making and selling expensive pants, and then I made myself some OK witcher gear, but unless it was better than what I had on (which so few of the diagrams you pick up are), I pretty much didn’t bother.

But in Skyrim, you could gain XP for it, so crafting was more interesting to me. I’d sometimes make piles of cheap armor and just leave them by the forge because they weren’t worth selling/carrying around, but I’d gained a point of Smithing or whatever and that got me to the next level. It’s all about what the game rewards, and how.

Butch:

It’s harder to ignore music in Fallout. And I bet you could still do Big Iron in any karaoke bar in the country and bring ’em to their feet.

There was a wonderful level in FO3 that explored just this creepiness about the pre-bomb society. Tranquility Lane. Still a level that disturbs me more than any other level in retrospect.

The word is that part of this game takes place pre war. We shall see.

Feminina:

Yeah, I heard Big Iron in the Border Cafe a while back. I was like, “hey, it’s FONV!” (Because I wasn’t really familiar with the song before, and then heard it roughly 8000 times while playing.) It’s still a catchy tune.

A pre-war section? Intriguing.

Butch:

Yeah from what we can tell from the demo, at least the character creation bit is pre war. Then you wake up or something after the war, with Mr handy remembering you and the fun begins. They have implied there will be flashbacks as well.

Feminina:

Interesting! Well, in that preview we did see nice cheery streets and green trees before everything was swept away by fire. It would interesting if we got to walk around those tidy streets a bit.

Butch:

The character creation is you and your spouse getting ready in the bathroom mirror in your prewar house. Do well, cuz the game then generates you kid based on what you look like (and your spouse). Which I think opens it up to some freakish kids.

Feminina:

Mark my words, there will contests for who can get the weirdest-looking kid.

Also: you have a kid? High alert for heart-wrenching parenting themage.

Butch:

Oh no doubt. Damn there was a shot of you and spouse standing over a pre war crib in the travel trailer.

Feminina:

Shudder. Prepare to be emotionally crushed.

Well, I hope while you mourn/look for your kid, you can at least adopt some orphans and house them in the abandoned buildings you can (I hope) take over and furnish with things you make out of spare parts you find lying around.

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