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Some minor collectible- and gear-related spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

So as I have been magpieing, I decided to drift back sorta towards the next main thing, which is “Seeker at the Gates,” which also looks like it’s in a city, and I figure cities have stuff like people and side quests and all that shit, and I’m due for people and side quests and all that shit. So on my way I come across a corrupted area. It’s level 15, and I just made level 14. I didn’t have all that much time to play, so I thought “Meh, I’ll give this a shot. If I die 27 times, then I’ll call it a night.” So I drift in. I hide. I’m SUPER careful. Like, so very, very slow. Focusing all over the place. Finally, I see them: Three grazers. I think “Ok….three grazers. Probably the front line. There’s probably all sorts of other trickier shit somewhere close. This is, after all, a level 15 thing.” So I sneak close. I do the whole lure/silent strike deal. Pause, look. Repeat. Repeat and…..

A triumphant chord plays, a trophy pops for clearing my first corrupted area, it congratulates me, I get 5000 XP, and I say “Wait, what? That’s IT?”

I mean, that was nothing! Three grazers that were surrounded by cover and easily lured?

So this game….it seems to be kinda all over the road in terms of level suggestions for quests. That level 10 one with the jumpy thing and the stalker? That was fucking HARD man. This level 15 thing with three damn grazers? Not hard. Not hard at all. I no longer trust the level guides.

So then I trucked towards the city thing, I get close, there’s a campfire, three or four exclamation points pop up, I figure I’d need some time to chew on all that, I had neither time nor energy so I quit at the campfire.

Small steps.

Then I played a little more. Went into Mother’s…Cradle? Heart? Whatever. Took on every errand and side quest, as one does. Talked to the other war chief, whatever she is. Went shopping, and bought the most bad assed armor I could, which was purple “very rare” armor and I feel bad assed. Bought some maps that show places where one can find things that are silly. Decided to do a side quest, so trucked back to Devil’s Thirst to find some dude’s war party.

So I had to kill two sawtooths (sawteeth?). I decided to try to override one, and I did, and that was awesome. It killed the other one, and I had time to hide right next to its patrol path while it was still blue. I got all ready to silent strike it, all happy that I was able to take out two of the things without really working for it. So its override wears off, and BOOM silent strike, and I’m feeling great and OH MY GOD IT’S NOT DEAD WHAT THE FUCK????

I’ve never had them NOT be dead!

Unpleasant surprise, that.

But as collectibles go, I sort of like vantage points. I found one last night, and the promise of little nuggets of story is kinda cool. I’m not sure they will matter much, but I find myself actually caring about finding them.

We’ll see if I care about metal flowers. Doubt it.

Feminina:

I played very little over the weekend because the baby was sick. Not dramatically sick, just out of sorts and–the crucial bit–unable to stay asleep for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Hard to get much done when you you’re getting up every 20 minutes to go soothe a tired, sick baby for 15 minutes. I mean, like two cycles of that and you’ve played for half an hour and it’s bedtime.

But the good news is, we couldn’t talk about anything I did anyway.

Oh–slightly related good news: Mr. O’ has played several hours of MEA and likes it a lot. He said you don’t have nearly the options for creating an individualized face that you had in the others, possibly because the online play uses your in-game face, and that there are a couple of things that are kind of annoying, but that overall he’s really enjoying it. So there’s that to encourage us.

As for what you did…yeah, I think I remember that really easy corrupted area. Like you, I was suspicious of how easy it turned out to be. “That’s it? There’s nothing else coming after me?”

I think there’s another one somewhere that’s also quite easy. I remember the first couple I did being pretty anti-climactic.

Which made me slightly overconfident the time I came across one that was not so easy, but so it goes. You won’t make that mistake!

And you got the better armor! Nice! I still need turkey skins, or something. But I’m saving up now. I’ll get it soon. It’s just a matter of finding the right machine heart.

It’s true, having them not be dead after silent strike was an unpleasant surprise. It turns out that “against small machines” part of the descriptive text is important! I was quite aggrieved that I can’t insta-kill sawteeth and bellowbacks.

It does do extra damage, so if the terrain is right I sometimes do a silent strike and then run away and hide and then sneak back and do another one until I gradually wear them down, but that doesn’t work unless you’re in good hiding territory. Sigh. My favorite tactic — stealth assassination — is snatched from me just when I need it most! Against very large and dangerous machines!

But overriding one and having it fight the other one for you, that’s pure gold. I could do that all day. Or at least for the 20 minutes until the baby wakes up. (He was better this morning. Better enough for daycare, anyway. He never sleeps there anyway, so they can deal with it.)

Butch:

Oh, good! I was gonna ask about Mr. O’ and MEA. Saw he was starting to rake in the trophies. He’s a tough critic, and has similar tastes, so all good. I’ll take his word. I mean, I was gonna play it anyway, but now I’m less nervous.

Corrupted area: Yeah, this was 1) Aloy said it was done, and I said “really?” 2) the quest completed thing came up and I said “No way, this can’t be it,” 3) A TROPHY popped and I was finally “Oh….if you say so….”

It’s very nice armor. And props to the design of it, because, even with the helmet, you can see Aloy’s face. I hate face hiding stuff. I always pick “Hide helmet” given the chance. Acting needs faces, after all. And the hat does flatter her hair.

Not only is silent strike snatched away, but it’s a hell of a lot less useful. You spring out, you’re all “here I am and BANG!” and then a) it knows where you are and b) where you are is right the fuck under it. This is not a good situation to be in, I have learned. Especially as when I learned this I was c) in a rather confined ruined building.

Live and learn. Or die and learn.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Though here’s an issue with overriding and then fighting: You said eventually you get a permanent override. Ok, fine, good. But last night I had “Kill the sawtooths (sawteeth?),” my possessed one did it’s duty and killed the bad one, but then….what? I had to kill it to proceed. So I waited, blah blah blah, but if it had been permanent, would the quest have locked?

Feminina:

Yeah, I use silent strike much less now that I’m running into more ‘medium’ machines. It’ll still take, say, a fifth or a quarter off the health off a longlegs, which is nothing to sneeze at, but as you say, once you’ve done it the thing knows where you are, and where you are is directly under its feet, the better to be squashed into paste.

I pretty much only do it if I have something to run around and get behind to break line of sight…otherwise they just chase you. (You CAN outrun a lot of things even without having a place to hide, but you have to run a long way before they give up, and then it’s just a hassle to find your way back. And if you didn’t want to go back to finish the job, why are you bothering to attack in the first place?)

I wondered that about permanent override too! In, I think, that exact place, because I also overrode the one sawtooth and it killed the other one and then I was just waiting around wondering if I should attack the other one while it was still friendly, or what.

I think I did, and then it turned out that if you do attack them while they’re friendly, they become unfriendly immediately (like ‘charm person’ in D&D!). I imagine that’s true even with permanent override, so if you really have to kill a machine to advance, you can probably just start shooting at it.

“You have my eternal friendship!–unless you’re shooting at my head.”

I think that’s fair.

Butch:

Squashing to paste is pretty much what that sawtooth did. I have found that being unseen until you’re REALLY ready to not be seen is key. Very key. A fifth is but a fifth, and you can’t use silent strike to take a component off, which is getting more and more key.

At least it will always work against humans, right?

Right?

I ran into that running-away problem with the invisible thing. AIEE!

I’ve also had the fun experience of running like hell and not noticing I’m running smack into a herd of something else. “Phew. Escaped. What’s that tapping me on the shoulder? Oh, seven watchers….”

Ah: attacking breaks the charm. That must be it. It would be quite an oversight to give you a mechanic that you could use to break all sorts of quests.

Eternal friendship unless you’re shooting at my head is very fair. Generally how I approach others at the bus stop.

Feminina:

It KIND OF always works against humans.

That is, it does if you keep upgrading it. (Sadly, upgrading it to work on more powerful humans does not make it work on larger machines. Siiiiiigh.) I have it maxed out so I can stealth assassinate even those big guys with the big guns, not that I usually do.

Speaking of humans, and difficulty ratings, I found a bandit camp the other night. Level 15, right? I’m still 22: no problem! I’ll just stroll in and take care of business, even though Nil isn’t here to help me! Right?

Not right. There were about 500 bandits in the camp, and I could easily pick off the first 20 or 30, but it takes a long time and eventually I’d get careless and slip up and someone would see me and I’d get mobbed. And I’m sure I could have done it, eventually, but I have limited time and I’d always respawn back outside the camp where I knew I’d have to pick through the first 20 or 30 again to get back to where I had been, so I gave up and wandered off. I’ll go back someday, of course, but man, you have to WORK for that 15. Even when you’re 7 levels above it.

So I’m with you, I’m no longer sure we can trust their evaluation of difficulty at all. I felt like it was pretty right on for a while, but that might have been a few fluke fights that happened to match up.

Maybe it would have been a more even (or less even, in my favor) match if I’d had the purple armor.

Butch:

Dude, KIND OF always is not always. That’s like KIND OF pregnant.

But upgrading. Yes. That is key.

So you found a swarming bandit death place and I found three damn grazers and they were the same level. Yeah, game, work on that. I have no faith in the level thing anymore.

The armor is pretty keen. And flashy! I’ll send you a screenshot.

We could get into practical dress again here. Yes, it’s true, skimpy armor is something that makes very little sense. But then…well….you’ll see. Let’s just say that this particular suit is, perhaps, not something you’d wear to sneak and run up mountains. It looks like a cross between a huge pile of scrap metal and the world’s weirdest wind chime.

Can’t a girl get something PRACTICAL here?

Feminina:

I am intrigued by the giant, weird wind chime look. That’s exactly how I dressed for prom!

Someday I’ll have the right machine hearts and animal bones to get some better armor. I hope it looks that good. My current stealth armor looks kind of like I’m wearing a decorative fish net draped over my clothes. It’s also a good look.

Butch:

Oh I was pumped until you said “over my clothes.”

I’m still really foggy…..

Feminina:

Heh. See, as soon as I typed “fish net” I knew it would sound more exciting than it is, so I had to clarify that I’m fully clothed under the net.

Which is actually more of a giant doily festooned with tassels, now that I think about it. That maybe sounds less interesting than fish net.

Butch:

I dunno, man. Depends on what you’re into.

Takes all kinds.

I mean, you’re into moody bugs. Glass houses, dude.

Feminina:

True, true. Festooned doilies may be somebody’s thing. I don’t judge.

Speaking of things, I vaguely recall you mentioned vantage points up there. I like vantage points. They’re cool. It’s interesting to get that hazy view of what the ancient structure looked like, and compare it with the current forest or whatever.

I also kind of like metal flowers, although they don’t do anything so dramatic. They just have weird code-poetry. I’ve collected a number of them. Supposedly someday I can trade them in for shards (or, ideally, turkey skins! give me something I can actually use!) in Meridian. We shall see.

Butch:

We do not judge here. Judgment free zone.

With the vantage points, there also seems to be a story there. I’ve only found two, but they do seem to have some consistency.

And there’s some themey stuff (we’ve been talking on gameplay so long, I’ll plant this seed for tomorrow). We’ve talked on the obvious theme of science/nature/spirituality. The vantage I found yesterday was of “Colorado Springs,” and it was of this rather blah, ordinary office building. The vision of the unspoiled, good ol’ days past was far less interesting and beautiful than the “ruins” that we’re in. That vision was intentionally of a really, really boring office building, and here we are in a place of plants and twisty neato ruins and the thump of a super cool tallneck. That was an interesting choice.

Ooo! Poetry! Potential themes!

On it.

Feminina:

Yeah, so far the vantage points are all the same person, which suggests a well-traveled dude who may lead to some themeage as his story unfolds. And as you say, there are some interesting contrasts. Sometimes the ‘ancient’ view is kind of cool or impressive, but sometimes it’s this very boring landscape that doesn’t really compete with the present in terms of being nice to look at.

Get on that poetry! It’s rather pretty, in a weird, fragmented way.

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