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So we took a long, long weekend there. Kid stuff, family stuff, general hanging-out-off-the-internet stuff. That kind of meaningless junk. But we’re back!

Some side quest and mechanics spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn.

Butch:

Well, got a little in. Did that side quest where you have to go back to the corrupted village to find the lost Carja dude. Said “Holy crap, SWIMMING robot dinosaurs?” (As you probably did as well), but completed the quest anyway. Then trucked over to a vantage point. It was the one with the waterfall, and the dude was all “the mine behind the waterfall” and I thought “Dude, a MINE? Mines ALWAYS have cool shit. I’m gonna find me that mine.” So…..I crossed the area between the vantage point and the waterfall, which was rotten with watchers and longhorns (longlegs? Long something. Long tough sons of bitches) and died about 2478294 times. But then I got to the waterfall! I climbed up! I found……

The bandit camp I liberated last night.

Decided that was enough stupid for one day and called it quits.

But dude did I ever find the best way to get fish bones and meat and stuff! Get up on a hill. Wait until a snapjaw or whatever those swimming things are called comes toward you. Rain fire upon it until it explodes. This kills, like ALL THE DAMN FISH nearby! Voila! I killed the thing, and went to loot, as one does, and there were seven dead fish just THERE! BOOM! SEVEN!

Which makes up for the fact that, earlier, I shot a rabbit only to see it slide down the bank of a river and wash away in the current before I could get to it. Poor little bunny.

Feminina:

Yes! The snapmaws! Machine crocodiles, basically. (Or alligators, I suppose. Their noses are more square than round, I think, but that could be because they’re machines.) That’s the thing I recently shot fire arrows at until it exploded. Which, by the way, is much more effective than my previous tactic of whacking them with a spear and then running like hell while trying to dodge their frost breath.

I didn’t see any dead fish when I did it, but that’s an awesome trick. Even cooler than fishing with dynamite.

Speaking of bodies floating away, I spent about a minute running after a floating bandit body the other night, trying to get it to stay in one place long enough for me to loot.

I also really hate laboriously climbing somewhere only to find that there was a much easier way to get there, and I already did it.

Butch:

Yeah I didn’t want to get into it with the snapmaws with spears. Especially in the water. CAN you even fight in the water? I haven’t tried. Even my fishing, such as it is, has been from the shore.

Machine crocodiles. On one hand, great job game! On the other hand, fuck you game.

And dude it WAS fishing with dynamite! It took me a minute to realize what had happened. I was up on a hill, safely away from the shore, shooting away. Killed it, hopped down to loot (as one does) and there’s all these “loot here” symbols all over the damn place. I thought “Huh? Did I tear off that many components?” and, when I realized I was sitting in a whole dead school of fish, I actually laughed. Poor fish. I feel bad for laughing.

Got my satchel upgraded, though.

I did that with a turkey once, chased it downstream. But I lost sight of the rabbit last night. It was nighttime.

On that, I kinda love how time/the elements actually affect gameplay. We’ve played games with night and rain before, but this game night and weather affect how well you can take cover, and REALLY affect how you can see/aim. I was perturbed about fighting in snow until I realized they couldn’t see me, either.

Neat.

And as just I praised the game, I will nit pick it: they have made the odd choice of erasing things from your map once you do them. Bandit camps, corrupted zones…they disappear. So you can’t say “Ah yes. That’s that bandit camp I cleared that I am looking at” if you call the map up. Other games with a shitton to do in them, TW3, say, would grey them out so you’d a) know they were done and b) remembered where they were. Not sure why this game didn’t do that. I liked it better the other way.

Feminina:

I do like the adjustments you have to make with rain, darkness, etc. It’s cool that conditions have the realistic effect of making it more difficult for you to see, but also easier for you to avoid being seen. Makes the world feel more real.

I know you can’t shoot while you’re swimming (I wandered into the water during combat once), but I don’t know about spear fighting. Even if you can do it, I’m sure it’s pretty ineffective. Being far away and shooting at them until they explode is a WAY better strategy. (One time there were two, and I made one explode, and it significantly damaged the other. BONUS. Even if it didn’t get me any fish bones.)

That’s true, the bandit camp symbol does disappear. I hadn’t specifically noticed that, but you’re quite right. All that’s left is a generic merchant, and they’re everywhere…no useful identifying features to be found there to remind you you were already at that spot.

Butch:

I know! Annoying! Last night, at the vantage, he was all “There was a mine,” and I could see buildings! Buildings! Now, had I opened the map and seen the greyed out icon I would have said “Ah, yes, THOSE buildings,” but no. I did not say “THOSE buildings” until I was standing in “THOSE buildings,” and getting to “THOSE buildings” took fucking forever.

I don’t have that kind of time, game! Especially with the Bruins in the playoffs.

It does feel more real with weather, and it’s cool. I always got the sense that when games had weather effects, it was just to be all “Hey look what we can do!” prettiness, not anything that actually mattered short of being distracting. Here, it MATTERS which is pretty awesome.

DUDE I have been trying so hard to do the “blow shit up and kill others” trick. I still think that’s what they wanted us to do in the “ring” stadium bellowback fight thing, what with all the dudes clustered around the bellowback. I’m sure they had this very dramatic climax in mind where one flaming arrow arced from our bow, hitting its mark, and winning the day. But we blew it.

Feminina:

I totally remember that bandit camp. On the cliff there?

I had JUST been there, so when I admired the non-destroyed view from the vantage point and then the destroyed view in ‘real life’ I realized it was the same place and didn’t bother to go back, but I can definitely see how that could happen.

You’re probably right, we should have blown up the bellowback and destroyed all our enemies at once in that one battle. Even more dramatic than a big gun! But no…we refuse to learn the tricks.

Butch:

I TRIED dude! Remember back when I was all “Man, they say shoot it here and shooting it there doesn’t do shit?” It was that fight that inspired it! I was pumping arrows right into it’s gullet and nada. I guess I wasn’t shooting fast enough. You REALLY have to shoot fast. This makes concentration pretty key.

Combat in this is complex it is.

Embarrassingly, I HAD just been at that camp. A couple days ago when I was talking on the level 9 thing that was hard until I got the heavy weapon? That was the one. But after that I ran all around creation and things all look similar, you know? There were a couple of fast travels involved…one gets disoriented.

Feminina:

You DO have to shoot fast to get that line to fill up so it will explode! I think I shot that snapmaw about 8 times before it exploded, trying to get it to fill.

And I keep trying to make glinthawks explode (I feel like it said they would? at some point somewhere in the game?), but I can’t shoot them fast enough. Eventually they die anyway, but without a satisfying boom.

I want my giant explosion!

Butch:

Not only do you have to shoot them repeatedly, but you have to hit the component in question repeatedly for it to explode. That’s really the trickiest bit of all.

There must be a way to stack stuff. Like, get it to hit a tripwire/trap, then bomb it, then arrow. Or something.

But that “fill the gauge” trick is, in fact, the trick, yes? Yes.

Feminina:

I think so? I’m going with that, anyway. It seemed to work, to the extent that I could successfully pay attention to it in the midst of a tense shoot-fest where I was running around between arrows.

Butch:

I say we go with it. This is our usual progression in games: We don’t know about a trick, we find about one and can’t figure out how to do it, we THINK we’ve figured it out but we’re wrong, we finish the game.

Feminina:

It’s worked for us so far. Why mess with success?

Butch:

God forbid we ever do something rash, like, get good at games.

Feminina:

No, no, that wouldn’t do at all. We play so we can complain, romance angsty characters in heavy armor, and discuss themes, not so we can become technically competent.

Well, all that plus looting and setting things on fire. I don’t want to make us sound too intellectual here.

Butch:

Yeah, I was gonna say. Dude. There’s always loot.

And hot sorceresses. But very intelligent, erudite hot sorceresses.

Feminina:

Throw some heavy armor on them and have them brood on their troubled pasts and I’m right there with you.

Butch:

Can it be really skimpy heavy armor?

Feminina:

Hmm…no. That introduces a fatal logic failure. But they can wear other things sometimes. Fancy dress balls are key, after all.

Butch:

Oh come on! Metal bikinis are just the same as full body plate mail. Game stats say so!

It’s the same in Horizon, the ridiculousness. I mean, fishnets making you MORE stealthy? Dude, I notice fishnets.

Feminina:

Not if they have little camouflage tassles woven into them that vaguely resemble leaves, and are draped over your ratty boar-fur garments.

I mean, you might notice that, but not if I were hiding in some tall grass at the same time. INVISIBLE.

Butch:

They have tassles? Fishnets and tassles? What is she, some weird, leather clad post apocalyptic stripper?

Even more invisible when you’re surrounded by fireflies…..

Feminina:

The fireflies really help me blend. Thanks fireflies! I will definitely not shoot at you, and not only because you’re too small to hit with a bow and don’t have any usable meat. (Though thinking of small things, have you shot any rats? I shot one and got a rat bone and some “tiny meat.” I mean…that just sounds adorable, if not very filling. “Would you like a tiny rib roast?”)

But dude, you can check out this apparel for yourself at any merchant stall. It’s not nearly as interesting as it sounds.

Butch:

Probably not. Silly game is T for Teen.

Tiny meat is pretty awesome.

Feminina:

At the end, when we get the group hug over the Feast of Meats after the fancy dress ball, there will be a tiny plate with some tiny little roasts carefully arranged on it.

Butch:

Which no one will touch. Sad, really.

Feminina:

It is. Someone spent a lot of time slaving over a tiny fire to make that!

But no love for the minuscule rack of rat with the teeny scoop of salvebrush jelly. Fine cuisine is wasted on these barbarians.

Butch:

The chillwater really brings out the flavor.

Feminina:

Niiiiice.

The next version of this game will feature various combinations of food in recipes, like Skyrim. It will turn out tiny meat gives you a bonus to stealth.

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