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Some spoilers for locations in Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

Got to Meridian! Whoo hoo!

But not before I magpied when I really, really shouldn’t have magpied.

Cuz I said “hey, a side quest!” and it was dudes at a quarry. I thought “Ooo! A MURDER mystery!” and no. It was some awful wormy thing that killed me. But I thought “Our recent post! It says ‘use what the game gives you!'” So I scanned it, and I learned I could make it not go underground if I shot its diggers off. So I tried that, and, the first time, I shot two off! The next, three! “I’m getting this!” I thought….but I really wasn’t.

There’s nothing that wastes time like coming close.

T SHIRT!

So I gave up, and finally went to Meridian.

Did the whole “track Olin” bit you couldn’t avoid doing right then. I must admit, I didn’t expect them to make Ohlin a sympathetic (at least temporarily sympathetic) character. They kidnapped his family, man! That was cool. Especially as we had datapoints that painted the Oseram as drunken, greedy assholes. We were left to figure “Well, Ohlin must be this greedy, icky dude” but no. Here he is with a wife and kid who he loves, who he is terrified for. Nice twist.

And then I spent the rest of my time chasing green exclamation points. So very many green exclamation points.

Found the hunting lodge (weird dudes), found…oh I don’t know…a ton. You’ve found them all, too, I’m sure.

Gave these two arguing merchants their lenses (that was funny), and then decided to do the closest one. This was the one with the dude who’s sword got stolen. Ok, fine. I STARTED that, and got sucked into another trick of this game. So many quests, you do the first several questy bits. You think you’re almost done! And then you get a questy bit that isn’t right there. It isn’t “talk to that dude over there.” It’s not even “Fight that hard monster that’s right there.” No. It’s go WAAAAAAY the fuck over there, to a place that is still clouds on the map. And you GET that objective after you’ve been playing a long time and you don’t have time to go WAAAAAY the fuck over there so you hit save and decide to do something else tomorrow.

So I hit save and I’ll do something else today.

Feminina:

Oh, man, that quarry thing. I got there before Meridian as well, and had about the same experience. I got SO DAMN CLOSE just hanging back and shooting at it, but I couldn’t chip it down far enough before I got all run down myself because of its rock spitting, and ran out of healing. After a couple of tries, I too gave up.

Went back later when I was tougher, killed it then.

I agree about finding Olin unexpectedly sympathetic. I mean…he was trying to save his wife and kid. I can’t even argue with that. The REAL bad guys are, obviously, these ‘cultists’ we keep running into. What is their deal, anyway? (Well, I know. Sort of. I played a lot recently.)

Metal flowers! You mentioned yesterday that we need to talk about them, so let’s talk about metal flowers! I’m only missing one of them before my collection is complete. Clearly, a magpie mission waiting to happen. The only reason it hasn’t happened already is that there are so many other magpie missions (campfire!) and side quests also waiting.

And speaking of side quests, yes…many times the side quests start out fairly close by, and then wind up taking you way the hell across the map. I haven’t actually finished the stolen sword one, because I haven’t felt like bothering to go way the hell across the map yet…although come to think of it, I already AM in that general area. I need to have a look through my quest list and try to wrap some things up.

Ooh, ooh, speaking of quest lists, one thing this game does that I absolutely love? The little footsteps marker showing you how far you are from the current objective on each quest! I LOVE that! I was constantly wishing for that in TW3. So many quests, such a huge map, you want some way to see when you’re near something.

Thanks, HZD!

Anyway, yeah, I played a lot. Got several of those “collect all the [thing]” trophies that one starts to get after a certain amount of playtime. Rode all the tallnecks, collected all the mugs, viewed all the vantage points, cataloged all the machines, killed one of all the machines of type x, etc. Good times.

Butch:

Oh, it’s certainly killable. I could get it with ropecasters, but then it dug. If I could JUST shoot off the fourth digger, then ropes, then win. I probably could do it if I turned it off hard, but meh. Later. It’ll wait.

You’re done, aren’t you? You’re done.

I certainly get there IS a deal. We’ve talked about how tribes don’t seem to be monolithic in their beliefs/whether they’re good or bad. Now, we’re getting that with religion, as I met that mournful priest in Meridian, and that added complexity. With the notable exception of DA, with the Templars and the Chantry, usually religion in games is also monolithic. Good or bad. Benevolent healing priests or bad, intolerant killin’ priests. Not so here. Cool.

Yeah, this game did explode with side quests (except for that lone light place, which I went to just to find side quests, so of course no side quests). I was pretty much out of them, then I got to Meridian.

Metal Flowers! You have more, so you have more poetry, but I got her saying “These are made to….spread life….” THAT got my attention. Spread life, huh? I did not expect that. It’s a collectible for fuck’s sake. Collectibles are not interesting. This is interesting.

Because it makes me ponder (questions you have answers to cuz you’re done): did this evolve? Was it made by other machines (there we are with AI stuff)? HOW can it evolve, it being a machine and all? Was this made by the Old Ones before things went pear shaped? What KIND of life? Organic plant life? Machine “life?”

But back to gamey stuff: It’s an interesting collectible! It’s a COLLECTIBLE that makes me ponder! That isn’t supposed to happen!

Do try to finish the stolen sword thing. It’ll be easy. I think. Who knows, with these levels?

There are distance indicators both in the quest list and in the gameplay! Nice.

Though……

This, too, lies. I have given up on levels (unless they’re red) cuz you can’t trust them, so I’m picking quests based on what’s closest. Seems efficient. I did this with the sword thing. It was right there. Easy! And then everything else was right there! And then it wasn’t. You start the quest because it’s 78 feet away, and then “HAHAHAHA you THOUGHT it was 78 feet but it’s really 244895317431 feet and there’s no way to fast travel there cuz you haven’t been there! And it’s not really level 12 it’s level 413797541985! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

LIES!

Ooo, trophies! I got a “kill all recon machines!” That’s something!

Try not to finish MEA, too.

Feminina:

Relax, I’m not done. I’m only at 60%. Which means probably less left than 40% given that I certainly won’t complete everything there is to do and get to 100%, but there’s still game to be played.

I like the metal flower poetry too. It’s weird, but intriguing. Sort of like…machine art, I guess? Machines can replicate biological functions like fueling themselves and replicating, and now they can replicate intellectual functions like putting words together in poetic ways, and, apparently, making the plants around them grow in what may be an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ way (or maybe it has a useful function like funneling solar energy or something, who knows).

And based on the conversation with the guy in Meridian who wants to buy them, these metal flowers are relatively recent discoveries in the world, right?

So one wonders if they are related in some way to the fact that machines are growing more hostile, and that new, more dangerous machines are appearing.

Somewhere, for some reason, the machines are changing. Getting bigger and meaner, but also turning into poetic flowers. For the same reason? For completely unrelated reasons? One wonders. (One does not know. If there is an answer, one has not found it yet, although one HAS picked up a lot of critical story information about the apocalypse and stuff.)

It’s true, the nearness indicator for quests is often only helpful if you’re not specifically interested in COMPLETING a quest, since the next step may not be near at all. But at least when you’re somewhere, you can take a look at the list and see if there’s anything nearby that you were supposed to be looking into. It’s better than that thing where you decide “OK, I’ll highlight this quest here” and then find out that the next place you have to go is exactly where you just were, and now you have to go back.

Butch:

But is it machine art? Or was it left there?

Oh shit I forgot to talk to that guy who wanted flowers! I DID talk to the guy with the mugs, which was funny, but I didn’t talk to flower guy or vantage guy, if there is one. I better go do that…at some point.

True, the machines are changing. One assumed you had story stuff. I got…a little? I found a vantage point (near the quarry there) that seemed to have fighter jets or something, which indicates…war? Some response to the machines that didn’t work? That was an interesting one.

And the wandering is fine except I LIKE completing side quests. When you play in shorter bursts, as I do, there are times you say “I will plop down and DO a side quest.” Not start a side quest only to realize you can’t/don’t have time to DO it, only to start another one you won’t DO.” Do means do. And this is not a helpful mechanic for DO.

Feminina:

There’s no vantage point merchant that I’ve found, but there is one for flowers, and for Banuk figurines. (Talk to the Banuk figurines lady. That’s an interesting little story.)

You’re right: if you just want to sit down and DO a side quest in an evening rather than finishing parts of different quests and moving on, the nearby-quest objectives mechanic will do you little good.

I mean, it could still help you pick the one to get started with, but there’s certainly no guarantee you’ll end up anywhere close to where you started. I guess that would be a whole other mechanic: sorting quests not only by how close the next objective is, but by some average of the entire distance you’ll need to cover, modified by whether or not you have an active fast travel point next to each place you have to go. And with a little note clarifying the ACTUAL difficulty of the combat you’re going to run into.

I’m sure this is coming in the sequel. Just hang in there.

Butch:

I’m hanging in.

But seriously: if you’re going to go through the trouble of providing information, why not make it accurate, useful information? Better to say nothing at all.

Oh, shit, I forgot the figurine one, too. I keep forgetting those. I only have one. That and they have the same icon as merchants, and I wasn’t shopping, so I ignored more than I should have.

Feminina:

Yeah, I missed most of those ‘special merchants’ the first time too. There’s no clear “this guy wants mugs!” symbol.

They have that star between the antlers, but to make it even more confusing, not even all the merchants-with-stars are interested in collectibles: some of them just SELL special stuff (like, if you really need a trampler heart and don’t feel like going to hunt a trampler, you can buy one from this lady in Meridian!).

Which is all well and good, but you basically have to talk to every one of them to figure out who buys/sells what. Oh well.

Speaking of not feeling like hunting things: THE BEST thing is to tie down a glinthawk with ropes and then override it. Then it gets loose and goes to attack the other glinthawks, and you can slink away and enjoy the chaos! Love it.

Butch:

That’s what I thought they all were! I thought, because this is the big, bad city that there were just specialists!

That’s good to know about the heart dude. I have my eye on this armor that’s got MAD fire resistance, but dude wants a charger heart for it. Of course, of all the things I’ve found that can kill me, I have not been able to find a single charger.

Speaking of big, nasty things what kill you, I went to the hunting lodge (that was COOL. The bar with the big thing hanging in it? Great art direction) and somehow I think that killing “Big Red” or whatever the big thunderjaw is called is going to be a part of something. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to that.

Talking to every single merchant is annoying.

Of course, I’ve talked to every OTHER merchant I’ve found even though I know that they all sell the same thing….

Uh….cuz free samples. Ok.

Ooo! Can I do that with glinthawks? I want to do that!

Feminina:

Ha…true, it’s like “I WAS GOING to talk to every merchant who sells the same thing as every other merchant, but the fact that I HAVE TO talk to them to find out what they do that’s NOT like every other merchant is super annoying.” Man, we’re picky.

I don’t remember which cauldron gave me glinthawks. Not Zeta, because I haven’t been back yet.

The Lodge was interesting–and yeah, I have a strong suspicion that at some point in the future I’m going to have to face Redmaw. Can’t wait! Sounds like a fun time!

I don’t know, I got that assignment from my maybe-sponsor and I’ve collected all the trophies, but I haven’t been back to Meridian since so I haven’t finished that storyline.

Butch:

We are picky. And kinda dumb.

OOOOOOOO I hope it’s the cauldron I did. NEED that.

Yeah….how much you wanna bet hunting Redmaw is the “join the lodge” thing? Not in a rush for that.

That first part didn’t sound that hard. I’ve killed those things. But NOOO I didn’t get trophies cuz I killed them before. I hate that.

“You must kill two ravagers to prove your worth!”
“Totally did that.”
“You cannot prove it without the trophy!”
“Uh….how about these lenses and hearts?”
“Not good enough.”
“C’mon, man! I couldn’t GET trophies! They didn’t pop up when I looted!”
“Hey, next time do the quests in order and magpie later. Like all hunters do.”

Feminina:

Becoming a hunter of the Lodge is less about hunting prowess and more about doing everything by the book in the prescribed manner.

Bunch of squares.

Butch:

And wearing wacky assed eye make up.

Feminina:

Yeah, that.

Aloy and her ‘fresh-faced all-post-American girl’ look really missed that memo.

Butch:

It is a more practical look, Aloy’s. I mean, you’re hunting a stalker, those things are gonna get loose, get in your eyes. If you’re going down the eye make up road, stick with eye shadow, spells, and revealing outfits. And accents…and that one glove thing…..

Sorry, I’m back. Had the exterminator in. It’s the fumes.

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