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Minor spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

I got some in last night. Raided my first bandit camp. Decided I needed some therapeutic hacking and whacking, and raiding a bandit camp delivered just that. It was the one at Devil’s Thirst.

Three thoughts!

1) It really, really, REALLY reminded me of taking out forts in AC4. The way it panned over the place, pointing out where the points of interest were before you hit it? Felt very AC. Not that that’s a bad thing. Besides the shanties, that was some of the best stuff in AC4.

2) Nil’s a complete fucking psychopath and I love it. It’s SUCH a play on the game trope of the repeated side quest giver. So very often, a side quest giver is a nice, jovial even, dude who cheerfully gives you “chores” like “go there and kill the fuck out of those dudes! Now, go THERE and kill the fuck out of those dudes!” And he’s always so NICE. Sure, he’s told you to kill 2349872 dudes, but he’s so NICE. And it’s for GOOD REASONS.

This game gets it so right: Sure, he’s nice. He’s also a murderous psychopath. And MAYBE it’s for good reasons, but really the reason is to give you gratuitous reasons to kill dudes.

I loved that last dialog choice. Probably totally irrelevant to the game, but made the point so well.

3) I can’t figure out this game’s economy for the life of me. Sure, part of that is I can’t figure out what anything in my inventory is, but I STILL can’t figure out the economy. For a while, I could afford a whole mess of what merchants had. Now, after raiding this camp, I can afford pretty much ALL of what merchants have. This early! And it’s odd because I got the sense that when that dude gave me the suit of armor, that was supposed to be good armor that was level appropriate. I could ALREADY afford better stuff, and now I can afford…well…whatever. Ironically, I’m usually sitting there like “Oh, you have a Super Moonshot Carja Deathbringer Devil’s Tooth Bow? Pfft. I can buy five. But WHY DON’T YOU HAVE ANY FATTY MEAT?”

Doesn’t make much sense. I can see the progression of going from outcast to rich over, like, the whole game, but I seem to be loaded already. And it’s early!

Who knew being outcast was so lucrative?

Feminina:

I concur–raiding bandit camps is a lot like AC. Or like those “infested areas” or whatever they were called in TW3, where you’d kill everything and then townspeople would cheerfully move back in while you looked on benignly.

Which is fine! Makes me feel useful, having some places I need to clear some wicked folk out of, make the area free for the use of good, upstanding folk like…myself, and that murderous psychopath Nil…

I also liked his forthrightness, even if he’s creepy as hell. “Machines aren’t any fun because you can’t see horror in their eyes” or whatever. Um, dude, that’s messed up. But I guess as long as it’s only bandits…

A little reminiscent of the Pickman Gallery in Fallout 4. I mean, that dude was a monster. But he was attacking people I didn’t like, so…

I like when a game points out these common moral issues for you. As you say, usually you get all these murder-quests in the name of freedom and justice and whatever, from a generally upstanding-seeming person, and while it’s still true here that we’re on the side of freedom and justice, more or less (bandits do rightly suck!), but Nil makes no pretense of being upstanding, and it throws a different light on things.

Butch:

Oh right! Yeah, it is like in the Witcher. You even get a merchant!

Speaking of which, have you noticed that each merchant has a “free sample” box? I kinda love that. Not because it’s free stuff and I love free stuff (though that helps), but it has this wonderful idea of a dude with little bites of shock root just out, in little paper cups with toothpicks in them. And you’ve had them before, and you know what they taste like, but you have two (yes, two, not proud, how I roll at the whole foods) anyway cuz they’re there.

HEY! Come to think of it, I found “ancient toothpicks” in the ruins (seriously)! THAT’S why they want them!

Nil holds up a wonderful mirror to the player, doesn’t it? “The only two people who give a fuck are me and the psychopath….”

Well, and the prisoners I freed! I helped them, right?

You believe him about the bandits, though? And he’s an ex solider…kinda PTSD. I pity him. No, I don’t.

Oh right, that Pickman dude! But I killed that dude. Of course, I used his bleeding blade myself on all sorts of other people…. is that worse? That might be worse. Moving on.

Especially as that Nil dude has no other reasons for wanting to fuck shit up. He doesn’t care about the loot, he doesn’t care about revenge (when we said “did you find your friend?” he was just “Meh. Dead. He was stupid.”), he doesn’t want a settlement for his people….

And aren’t we the same? Sure, this made me rich, I guess, but there’ll come a time when we don’t need loot, or another merchant, or revenge against these particular people, and we’ll raid it anyway, because it’s there.

How I roll at Whole Foods.

Feminina:

I do kind of love the free samples. “Yeah, look, I got this nice ridge-wood, very good price on the full bundle if you like it…”

I also killed Pickman. And then used his (awesome!) knife to continue killing, thus carrying on his legacy, but…moving on. I mean, at least I never used the bodies of my victims–I mean, righteously slain enemies–for art projects.

And it’s so true. For now, we’re killing to free members of our tribe, and collect some loot, but before long we’ll have all the shards we could ever want, and be in some territory where we know nobody, and we’ll still go clear out bandit camps that we only know are bandit camps on the say-so of someone like Nil, just because they’re there. That’s SO Whole Foods.

You make a good point about already being rich. It’s true, I can already afford pretty much anything anyone has to sell. And I’ve picked up tons of stuff for which the only listed use is “trade to merchants for shards,” so I guess I’ll trade those for shards (ancient toothpicks and ancient chimes being prime examples), and you can actually get quite a collection of shards just selling stuff, so I’m already quite well off.

An interesting approach to resource management. Don’t worry about it! Have whatever you want!

Butch:

No. We didn’t kill for art projects. Just for loot we didn’t need.

I had to trade a bunch because I ran out of satchel space, and didn’t have enough fatty meat to expand it. Then I killed a boar, expanded it, and the NEXT expansion needed a “boar bone,” which I didn’t have. And did the dead boar at my feet have boar bones? No. I killed a boneless boar. The futuristic relative of the chicken that gives us boneless wings today.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m running into the same problem of needing oddly rare components to expand my satchels.

I need a boar skin, which apparently none of the many, many boars I have slain have possessed (I suppose I have very high standards, and none of them had NICE ENOUGH skin that I would condescend to use it for my pack), and a fish bone (I have shot a number of fish, but do any of them have bones? no), and now a turkey skin.

So their approach is “have whatever you want, if you can carry it!” Games also tend to do this, sometimes even more so than this one, so I guess we can’t complain. I’ve only had to drop things a few times, and usually I can just toss down a couple of bundles of ridge-wood and be good to go.

Butch:

Except the “who cares how much it weighs” mechanic is dumb. I have to drop 300 sticks to pick up a glass bead? What?

Those 50 compartments in my pack are strangely shaped, they are.

FISH? You can shoot fish? I didn’t even know you could do that!

Turkeys I’ve seen. Indeed, no turkey is safe from me. Though those boars are tough sons of bitches. I’ve found it much easier to sneak up on them and strong spear them. Oddly satisfying.

But FISH? Damn. I gotta keep an eye out for fish.

You know, Mythbusters once did an episode on whether “shooting fish in a barrel” is, in fact, easy. Guess what? It isn’t.

Feminina:

I suppose it’s probably easier than shooting them NOT in a barrel. Unless you can tag them in your focus. Then it’s a piece of cake.

Ha! It’s true, dropping 300 sticks to pick up a bead is pretty silly. It’s like being too full to finish supper, but still having room for dessert because dessert goes in a different compartment.

But hey, they gotta manage it somehow, and at least this doesn’t trap us with having to move…very…slowly…when we inevitably pick up too much loot and can’t bear to part with any of it. Just me?

Well, this game is looking out for me, then.

Butch:

True. That was the worst. I died a couple times because I looted a dude mid fight hoping for ammo or a stimpack, only to become encumbered, unable to move to cover, etc.

Good on ya, game.

Feminina:

Yeah! “Do you have anything good on you, oh no I’m under attack, help why can’t I run for cover, oh I’m dead.”

Not in THIS game, man!

We’ll just have to die for other silly reasons.

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