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Some spoilers for early Horizon Zero Dawn events

Butch:

Ok, NOW I’ve died.

Sawtooth, man. That thing was TOUGH. Now hard is hard. I give. It’s hard. Stayed with it, though, and won against it. On hard.

It kept jumping over my damn tripcasters! I had this whole double trip thing set up…nope. Hit one, woke up, I was all “And now it’s gonna hit the THEFUCKITJUMPED I’m dead.”

So that’s pretty much all I did.

Though I have a new favorite toy: Shock traps. I kinda love shock traps. Though there really should be a mechanic that lets you pick up a shock trap that you’ve inadvertently placed in the wrong spot. Not that I did that. Much.

Feminina:

The sawtooth was tough. It killed me once even on normal, although at that level it wasn’t jumping over my tripwires. Which, I agree, are about the greatest thing ever, and yes, you should be able to pick them up again.

I played some as well. Went someplace. Wandered around. Did some stuff.

I’ll just say: giant robot dinosaur!!!!!!

And speaking of dying, on a question we discussed before we ever saw this game: load screens.

As you have no doubt observed, there is a load screen when you start, and there’s also a load screen when you die, but it’s true that I have not observed significant load time in the normal course of the game, even on the (fairly rare) occasions when I’ve gone from inside to outside. It seems likely that this is part of the secret: so far I’ve pretty much always been in one outdoor environment (there are buildings, but it’s not usually an option to go inside them).

When it’s not outdoors, the transition has been accomplished with a cutscene, which is a nice, sneaky way to hide a little load time.

So I think they could have been telling the truth about a lack of load screens, but partly because of the way they designed the world, without a lot of freely available interior environments that have to be built and filled with things.

Butch:

GIANT ROBOT DINOSAUR?????????? 

Dude, it jumped. I had this whole plan. I had the main tripwire over its path, cool. Then I had two more between there and where I was hiding in the grass. My plan was let it trip, shoot it a couple times, then be all “Hey! Stupid! Over here!” and when it came at me, it would hit the next one, shoot shoot, etc. So it hit the first one, great, fine, then I was “Hey! Stupid! Over here!” and it leapt 50 feet, landed on me, and took out 80% of my health.

Not a good plan.

Not. A. Good. Plan.

The tricky cutscene bit is tricky. In a good way. And it is true that I have yet to find a building I can go inside, a la Fallout or Skyrim. That said, I did return to the ruins of the place where the game starts, and, indeed, you can just fall back down into it, run around it to your hearts content, in and out of doors that sealed the first time, and get all to the end, climb back out and run around like before with nary a load screen. That’s pretty impressive. Bethesda would have had a door and an “enter ruins” prompt. No such thing here.

Feminina:

It’s true, most games would have ‘enter ruins’ and ‘leave ruins’ options there, with load screens. Impressive work keeping all that in the same area and devoid of lag time. I salute them.

And don’t be too hard on yourself. It was a good plan, just an uncooperative monster! I actually had much the same plan, and it worked fine with a ‘normal’ sawtooth.

Zap! Run up and critical hit, run away, it gets up and chases me and Zap!

A sound plan, efficiently executed–your creature was just a little smarter than expected. Happens.

Butch:

I can’t believe, though, that going up to “hard” changes the behavior of monsters. Usually, difficulty is just about damage dealt, damage suffered. Maybe number of baddies, but never their behavior. Like, “This guy has grenades AND a shotgun on hard.” My sawtooth was jumping all over the damn place. Yours wasn’t?

That’s an interesting twist on difficulty levels if it’s really the case.

Feminina:

Really? I swear I’ve had monsters not only do less/take more damage, but be easier to hit, and hit me less often, when I turned down a difficulty level–they don’t dodge as well, or come after me as quickly. I figured they could also be smarter or less smart about tactics.

But maybe that was all psychological, when I turned it down and thought “hey, you’re not so fearsome after all, jerk!” I honestly never investigated it in detail.

Buttons! Buttons ahoy! Weigh in on this matter!

I think my sawtooth did jump a couple of times, but I dodged it, and it didn’t leap over my wires…although my wires were really close together, so basically as soon as it got up and took a step from the first one, it was on top of the second one. Maybe that’s what you should have done!

Butch:

I think it was psychological. The easier to hit thing might be that weapons are more forgiving. Like your shotgun has a wider spread or their armor doesn’t deflect as much. Maybe speed, but slower isn’t “can’t jump” or “Has grenades now.”

Yeah, where is Buttons?

I did put the traps close together! That’s why it managed to clear them so well! That thing’s got some mad jumps!

Oh, hey, I forgot:

Did you catch that Rost tells Aloy, when they’re going to go hunt the sawtooth, that sawtooths (sawteeth?) are new? They’ve only been around ten years?

Interesting.

That means, what? They’re evolving? That someone or something keeps making new ones? There’s some factory and R&D facility somewhere?

If you know, don’t spoil.

Feminina:

I did catch that! This is where I began to think “aha! a possible whiff of the ‘you must save the world plot!’ if there’s a dangerous mystery and all.”

But I don’t know for sure yet.

Still, very interesting that the machines are changing and getting scarier out there somewhere. Can’t be good. We’ll probably have to do something about it at some point. Not a spoiler, just speculation based on having encountered stories before.

Butch:

Oh, I think that’s pretty certain. Especially given Rost’s whole spiel on “You did this for THEM, your TRIBE! Bigger than yourself and all that razzmajazz.” There’ll be a “I promised Rost….” moment.

Because stories, games, that sort of thing.

Feminina:

“For Rost!” will be our battle cry.

Ooh, sometime a game should give you the option to select from a variety of battle cries as you charge into combat. That would be fun.

“For [person’s name]!”
“For the glory of [place name]!”
“This is my 15th respawn and I’m mad as hell!”
“Run for your lives, cowardly scum!”
“YeeeeeeeeHAW!”
“I hate you all!”
“You’ll never take me alive!”
“DEEEEEEEEEAAAAATH!!!!!!”
Etc.

Butch:

I have a feeling this “lesson” thing will be revisited in a slightly melodramatic way. I will forgive this game some melodrama, though, because ROBOT DINOSAURS.

Feminina:

Yeah, Rost’s serious-mentorness does sometimes risk going a bit over the top. But that’s who he IS, man. “Cherish the tribe! Respect the law! Honor the Allmother!”

He’s a believer. One really does wonder why he’s outcast, considering how much he values the society. I’m sure one day it will be revealed.

Butch:

And why he CHOSE to be an outcast. Maybe “I offended my own sense of duty?” Who knows? Hopefully, we will!

Though, must admit, when I hear them be all “This will be an enduring franchise,” I worry that they will keep some secrets for the next game (and, as this game apparently had blockbuster sales numbers its first week, we can be pretty certain there will be a next game). It differs from UC or TR in that Drake and Lara can always be given another THING to go find, and off they go, and they find it, and that’s that, rinse, repeat. But when you’re doing a coming of age story, well, you do that once. If you’re doing a SAVE THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD story, it gets old if you KEEP having to do that. If you’re doing a FIND ALL THE ANSWERS story, it ENDS when you find all the answers. And the easiest way to franchise a story like this is a FIND ALL THE ANSWERS story….and not to give out all the answers in game one.

This concerns me.

Feminina:

You know, considering it’s Rost, he probably DID offend his own sense of duty.

Good point about enduring franchises and potential issues. Hm. Well, maybe it’ll be a “save THIS PART of the world” this game, and then next game we’ll travel to another continent to explore and have to save that, or something. Or maybe it won’t actually be a “save the world” quest, just a “something’s going on, find out what it is, big story but the world wouldn’t actually END if we didn’t know” kind of thing.

Although the stronger, scarier machines showing up plotline does kind of incline one towards a concern that that world may need saving.

Maybe this one we save, the next time we explore, or something.

We’ll hope for the best.

Butch:

We will hope. And I think we have good reason. I mean, I’m really liking it so far, and the fact it got great reviews (that did not say “falls on its face at the end”), AND the fact it’s selling, AND AND AND that Sony wants it to stick around….

I mean, Dragon Age has sort of the same problem, and we still love the dickens out of that, right?

I’m optimistic.

Also, as an aside, with ME coming out, I sorta figure we’re due for a DA4 reveal pretty soon. Can we start hoping for that?

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