Tags

, , , ,

 

LadyBrain_64Puncherson_64

Minor spoilers for things near the beginning of Horizon Zero Dawn

Feminina:

So I met the guy with the missing daughter. Agreed to help him, as one does. Noticed that one especially does in this game, because there’s not a dialogue option to refuse the quest. Usually games will give you an “I don’t have time for this” option, but not here. Not that I ever refuse quests, so it doesn’t really matter (and I suppose you could probably have hit circle to get out of the conversation without answering if you wanted), but I thought it was interesting that it apparently doesn’t even occur to Aloy to refuse.

Butch:

Interesting about the dialogue. As I, too, never look for the refuse option, it did go over my head that there was no refuse! You’re right! Weird.

Though, did you agree to get meat for Gerta or whoever the fuck? That Rost mentioned? I did, because one does, and that, I don’t remember if you could refuse, but you could just not take the dialog option that set you down that road. Like, you had to say “Anything else?” or something, which of course one always does, but one does not have to. The hurt guy, once you started talking, that was that.

And those two things are on different tabs on the quest screen. Hurt guy gave us a “side quest,” whereas the meat for weirdo one was an “errand.”

So some are smaller and missable and some are less so? We’ll see a pattern at some point, I’m sure.

Feminina:

I did talk to Odd Grata. Haven’t followed up on her errand, but yeah, I did notice the multiple levels of quests. Speaking of resembling the Witcher, the quest screen also reminded me of that one, with the neat list showing the main and secondary quests and the challenge rating for each–but as you say, in this case we have not just the main quest and some secondary quests, because the secondary ones are divided into sidequests and (presumably the least pressing?) errands.

Like, “I really need to get a new water heater…and also pick up some milk.”

This game was feeling a lot like the Witcher 3 to me last night. Beautiful open world, wandering protagonist, lots of random people with quests, lots of wandering monsters to fight. To be fair, that loose description covers about 90% of the big games we play. I guess it’s more something about the mood of it as you’re running around in the world, picking flowers and killing things. It’s a good thing!

Butch:

I agree both on Witcher and good, and, while we do play many a game under that general description, my reaction to it was the same: feels like the witcher. And it does feel more like the witcher than it feels like Fallout or DAI. Wonder why. The look? The true openness that we didn’t get in DAI?

I’m very curious how it’s gonna feel when we get into a city. Or what passes for a city. I’m going to have a hell of a time keeping Mother’s Gate or Mother’s Cradle or Mother’s Soup Pot or whatever the fuck straight.

I certainly hope “errand” is less pressing. Though I do like that they’re honest about it. These ARE errands, dammit! As was finding moldy flags! Don’t call them quests when they aren’t quests. Refreshing honesty.

And “water heater and milk” is still better than “You really should save the world, and get me 27 frogwart root.”

Feminina:

Ha! “I know you’re all busy with saving the world and stuff, but could you maybe get on that frogwart root order I placed 20 minutes ago? I have important vaguely defined mumble mumble that I need it for.”

That’s another point about this game (at least so far): we’re not saving the world.

We’re just trying to figure out who our mother was and be accepted by the tribe (although she also doesn’t seem to care that much about the tribe? So I’m feeling like maybe this Proving has become something she’s just been working towards forever and is now determined to complete even though, perhaps, the original reason her 6-year-old self swore to do it no longer has much relevance to her).

Of course, it could easily happen that the next phase of the story is some threat to the world and we do have to save it–I won’t be at all surprised–but even if so it’s still interesting that they’re giving us this long lead up to hang out and wander around and help people with no world-imperiling sword hanging over our head.

Like the rather longer-than-usual childhood sequence, this could be a longer-than-usual character introduction sequence, which suggests that they really want you to feel you know this character and this world.

Many times, you open the game on some dramatic event that introduces a threat to the world, and saving the world is your priority (I mean, after the frogwart) from day one. And there’s nothing wrong with that: it’s a perfectly good strategy if you want to immediately hook people into the story. This different approach is interesting, though. It feels as if maybe they’re really taking advantage of the fact that they know they have a really long game…”people will be playing for a while, we don’t have to jump right into the major stuff.”

One could argue that they risk losing people who might get bored if they’re not trying to save the world right away (“you have to immediately tell people why this is important or they’ll lose interest!”), but realistically, many (most?) players are going to spend the first many hours wandering and taking side quests anyway, so it doesn’t make that much difference.

Also, of course, when you have a hook like ROBOT DINOSAURS, you’re pretty much good to lead with whatever the hell you want, as long as you include said ROBOT DINOSAURS. Which they have done quite handily.

Butch:

And wrap the frogwart in a moldy flag!

I’m totally expecting it to become a save the world, or at the very least a prevent something really bad, story any time now. I have diligently avoided spoilers, so I have no reason to think it’ll turn into one except my own guessing, but I’m guessing.

Robot Dinosaurs is a hell of a hook.

But yes, even the greats such as bioware start with the DOOOOOM. DAI started with a catastrophic explosion on the menu screen. The MENU SCREEN! We didn’t even START the game!

And games like TW3, which are about family in a lot of ways, are still “This is about my daughter…..who happens to be surrounded by a bunch of really cold mean dudes who want to end the world.”

Now, I read your email waiting for Meatball, and I pondered that last bit I thought of on the ride home, and came up with YET ANOTHER way this is like TW3, only not.

TW3 featured an old, grizzled, bearded expert (we have met a similar character in HZD) who is chasing/caring for a superpowerful young person of questionable parentage who gets messed up in world ending shit through no fault of her own. I have a feeling that HZD is going to feature the superpowerful young person getting caught up in world ending shit through no fault of her own. We kept saying we’d like to play a game as Ciri, and, plot wise, we might be. WITH ROBOT DINOSAURS!

Which is ALSO a cool twist on a trope. Ciri says, rather scoldingly, to Geralt at the end: “This was never your story,” and we wondered why, were that the case, they didn’t just make the damn game about Ciri.

Feminina:

Ooh, good point! This IS like the Witcher but with us playing Ciri! Awesome. I so would have played that game. (You never know, maybe someday we will.)

Nice. So it’s got a lot of similar tones in terms of mood and world: here’s hoping it holds together in a similar way that makes us happy to spend the next 700 hours of gametime on it.

So far so good!

Butch:

Well, Ciri and ROBOT DINOSAURS! And a lack of inexplicably bare midriffs.

So far, so good. And it passes a major test of early game goodness: I can’t wait to get back to playing it.

While we’re just throwing stuff out as to why it may remind us of TW3 more than other games, it has something else specific in common with TW3 (for us): they are the only two really big budget games we’ve played made by European studios. CDPR is Polish, Guerilla Games is Dutch. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, or there’s some unique approach to storytelling, or there’s some rising style of European game design that will stand with “Western” and “Japanese” games as its own thing…who knows? But yet another thing in common.

Feminina:

Also true–her clothes are unusually practical for a video game. I noticed that. That is a decided difference between this and TW3.

And yeah, interesting that we note such a similar feel to two games that are not from North American studios. Is it a European thing?

Hm. Did Life is Strange have something of this same feel? Maybe…it’s such a different game world, it’s hard to compare.

Butch:

Remember Me might be a better comparison point, but I didn’t play that.

Aloy does wear very practical clothes. Except those boots. I wouldn’t want to climb rocks and ford streams in those.

Feminina:

Well, we’ve all got to have a fashion weakness. Impractical boots can be forgiven if they’re not the finishing touch on an outfit that’s equally impractical in every other way.

And yeah, I didn’t mention Remember Me because you couldn’t weigh in, and honestly it’s been a long time so I’m not sure even I can really say. Although I DID complain vociferously about the giant robots in both Remember Me and one of the TW3 expansions (although it was a sort of magical construct there)…aha! We’ve found the similarity! European games are more likely to include giant robots!

Because you can bet anything you have that HZD is going to feature a giant robot somewhere down the line.

Butch:

Technically, it has. Let’s just hope it’s not one of THOSE giant robots. Maybe this is the game where you finally get over it all! A healing experience! Tolerance in our time!

Feminina:

Could this be the game that forges a peace between me and giant robots? Oh, happy thought!

Time will tell.

Butch:

You’ve already had a bit of a conflicted relationship. I mean, there’s so many similarities to the loves of your gaming life and giant robots.

You WANT to love giant robots. You just don’t know how.

T SHIRT!!!!!!!

T SHIRT that might get us arrested but T SHIRT all the same.

Feminina:

It’s very true. They have so many qualities that appeal to me, and yet we are in constant conflict, such that I end up seething with hatred. If romance novels teach us anything, it is that this is the basis of a love that shall last beyond time.

I must purchase that T shirt, and wear it while I play this game, in hopes that it will all work out for us.

Advertisements