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Some spoilers for Meridian quest in Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

So let’s see, did the last Brightmarket quest (the dude who ambushed me). He was all “What a perfect place for an ambush” to which I said “What, you give someone with a blast sling the high ground?” Turns out that’s not such a good place for an ambush.

Got some corrupter blood for Brin. Important tip: When firing a bunch of tearblast arrows into a bunch of glinthawks, count the glinthawks correctly before you fire.

And then decided it was high time to move it along so I did the plot on Meridian bit all the way through. Then fast traveled back east, where I am going to hit a bandit camp on my way to the Grave Hoard.

But let’s talk about that Meridian bit. And let’s start at the end.

So, once again, I have lucked out and done two quests in a very interesting order. Coming off the young lovers bit, this one really resonated. We were just yapping about how Aloy really wanted to help there, and wanted a bit of romance? Love? Something? herself, and was fumbling around not too sure how to get it. This quest ended with the first, well, flirting we’ve seen in this game. I had her say to Avad “this…isn’t the right time…” but she still left it open. “We’ll see each other again…” “Yeah, I’d like that.”

But the best dialog was the stuff with Erand. “So you’ll always have a minute for me?” and she says “Yeah..maybe two! heh.” And he says “Ooo! She likes me!”

Now, with bad voice acting or inconsistent writing, that’s just bad, cheesy game dialog, but here, it isn’t. This was SUPPOSED to be awkward, middle school level flirting. She doesn’t know how. And it was acted perfectly.

So I’ve seen Aloy awkwardly confront lovers and, maybe, say “Hey, maybe that’s not so bad,” and then, in the next session, I’ve seen Aloy very, very awkwardly take her first tentative crack at flirting herself. And she sucked at it. Certainly compared to the young lover planting her garden with her man, Aloy just looked like a socially inept middle schooler.

Now…I’m sure you’ve finished the game so don’t spoil: This game could end with her landing in the arms of one of these dudes. It could end, after a great victory, with a big ol’ victory smooch. It wouldn’t be the first game/movie/whatever that ended with the big ol’ smooch, sunset, fade to black deal. But I really, really, REALLY hope it doesn’t end that way. I certainly get the feel that Avad, Erand, etc. are being set up to be in sequels, too, and I hope, really hope, that this is all the start of a big, MULTI GAME coming of age story. Because this groundwork, if it is groundwork for that, is really good.

(An aside here: I don’t think the game wanted us to be able to override glinthawks before doing this quest. I think they had a really great after boss fight planned with the glinthawks. As it was, after I killed Dervhal with one triple shot from my bad assed bow, he lay there screaming “Why do your killing yourself when machines can do it for you?” in a menacing way as I overrode glinthawks and hid until one was left and I killed THAT with one shot from badass bow. It wasn’t exactly a tense, exciting boss fight. But at least I got to completely agree with the bad guy.)

Feminina:

I also thought that we probably weren’t supposed to be able to override glinthawks yet for that final fight. Which would have been a serious bastard of a fight earlier on! But as it was, it was more like “hey you, c’mere. Now go kill your friends for me. And if you can come as close to death as possible yourself while doing it, that would be great.”

But, like you, I did completely agree with Dervahl. “Indeed, why do your own killing when a machine can do it for you? Right with you, man.”

And yeah, I liked the awkward semi-flirting, although in my case it didn’t immediately follow the other quest. Your timing worked nicely. In my case it was still a sort of fumbling, “so, maybe we can…banter?” that was acceptable because it wasn’t meant to be smooth and it worked for a non-smooth character who’s really still figuring out how to talk to people in general, let alone in a potentially LIKE-like kind of way.

I did play, and I have advanced a fair way in the story, but I haven’t finished it, so I don’t know if she winds up in someone’s arms or not, but like you I hope she doesn’t. I would be happy to see a longer, slowly developed relationship as the characters grow and get to know each other–that would be cool. It would feel a little forced at the end of this one…but we’ll see.

As for the ambush, did you do the optional “escape” or the optional “kill everyone”? I killed everyone, because I’m annoyed on principle with people trying to kill me. (You let it slide one time and before you know it half the people in the game are attacking you on sight! And that would be…exactly the way the game is. But, you know, with more attitude. Can’t have that.)

But this was a point where the game did allow you the option of just running off, if you didn’t feel like killing everyone (or if you happened on this quest early and it was difficult to kill everyone). It’s nice that there are different ways to approach things.

I was glad we didn’t have to actually kill the corrupter to get Brin’s blood. I mean, we’ve done it before, but they’re still not much fun. It was nice to be able to just go loot a body instead.

Butch:

I decided maybe he was lying face down, and didn’t recognize how stupid he sounded. “You MURDEROUS glinthawks!” Like, dude, who are you cheering for, here? “There’s more coming!” Oh, ok dude. I’ll just sit here in this cocoon of shock traps I’ve made (So nice to know you can just pick them up if you don’t need them, so trap away!) in my ice hunter outfit, occasionally popping out to override one. But hey, you keep being all evil and stuff. You do you.

Did you talk to him after? Cuz after they dragged him off, it said “Talk to Avad” (check) “Talk to Erand” (check) and then “Talk to Dervhal (optional)” and I was going to, but I did Avad and Erand first, as they were right there, and boom. Quest over.

The semi-flirting was pretty great. And I liked that, at least with Erand, it followed a bit where they worked together. The scene where they both push the bomb out the window, he’s all “Are we going to survive?” and she jokes “probably not.” You don’t often see a) hero working with NPC, it’s usually one or the other and b) having that teamwork immediately translate to something that slightly changes a relationship. It read as “Well, I kinda liked you before, but now that we did this thing together, maybe we can…you know…chat more? Maybe?” Which is such a humanizing thing, and something you so rarely see in games. All too often there’s a passing reference of “We sure showed them, together,” and then the same dialog options. This, it felt that this major thing they just did together mattered to their relationship, and that was cool.

There’s so much more advancing, isn’t there? I’m so not close to anything, am I? Shit, I checked game progression (61% and change) and, by “bandit camps” and “tallnecks” and “cauldrons” I STILL have “undiscovered” by one. I have a whole CATEGORY of shit I haven’t even discovered yet! The fuck is THAT?

I, too, would like to see things slowly develop into what is certain to be a sequel (can we safely assume sequel here? I think we can, given this game’s success). But games are often scared to do that, because they don’t want people who didn’t play the first one to feel left out. Shit, even ME didn’t really let you further anything with Miranda or Jack from 2 to three. Sure, you could have a conversation where you declare your loyalty or not, but nothing developed at all. TW3 went there, as the Triss/Yen history affected what went on in three, but that was gutsy. I hope that Horizon has the guts to avoid the temptation of ending all the storylines here so they can start afresh in two.

I, too, like options, but I, too, killed everyone. It was just easier. I wasn’t kidding about the high ground and the sling. I found myself, almost immediately, on this pillar thing, where I could crouch and be totally out of their line of sight. This didn’t stop them from congregating in nice little clusters and the base of the pillar, and once focus showed me where those clusters were, I could toss blast bombs just over the edge of my pillar and voila. They never even got a shot off. And the second wave did the same thing. “Hey, look, it seems all our friends stood right here and got blown up. Maybe if we stand here it’ll be different. Hey, what’s that falling from that pillar?”

I did let the ring leader live, though. Did the whole badass “Tell them about me” thing.

Yes…looting the corrupter body WOULD have been easy. Yes, it would have.

Had I not chucked a mess of tearblast arrows into a crowd of what was very much NOT only three glinthawks.

Always. Count. The. Glinthawks.

Feminina:

I like the explanation that Dervahl was lying face down and just imagining scenes of carnage. “Yeah! I bet they’re totally destroying her now! MURDEROUS glinthawks!”

There is a lot more advancing. I’m at 80-something percent complete according to the info screen, and there are still about 10 hidden (presumably story-related) trophies. A bunch of stuff must happen in the last few hours. Or else I missed some story somewhere, which would be distressing.

I did go talk to Dervahl in prison. It was uneventful. He was pretty much “my only regret is that I didn’t kill you” kind of unrepentant, no surprising revelations. I wound up kind of wondering why it was even an option, since I didn’t get anything significant from it.

Butch:

It’s the only explanation, really.

And dude, what? Really? REALLY? Ten hidden trophies? Do you at least know what my undiscovered category is? I have no idea. It has Machines scanned, purple thingies (well, it doesn’t say that, per se), figures, relics, flowers, camps, EVERYTHING! WHAT IS IT?

I did find all the relics. So proud. That was the other news of the weekend.

As for trophies, I bet that at least a couple of those have to do with the hunting grounds, which we so aren’t gonna get. I did get one for “Get at least half a sun in all trials at one ground,” which leads me to think there’s something obnoxious like “get all the blazing suns” or some shit that I am so not getting. There’s always a basic, easy trophy (such as “find first relic”) and a later one (“find all relics,”) so I’m gonna bet that the same thing’s true with the grounds.

Well, that’s good you talked to Dervahl. You know me, always worrying I’ll miss out.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, the undiscovered things…I don’t remember what those are. I was just looking at my information screens the other night, checking to see what I still had to do, and I don’t remember seeing those, but I do remember them from earlier in the game, so I guess I discovered them at some point.

Maybe they’re the story-critical locations, like the Grave Hoard and Maker’s End, that they don’t necessarily want you to be able to locate in advance but that will eventually have their own markers on the map? Because they have that little ‘cave door’ icon or whatever it is, and if you haven’t been to Grave Hoard, there are at least two of those in the story that you haven’t found yet. (Although I trekked all the way out to Grave Hoard before I ever even went to Meridian, so I did have it on my map earlier–I couldn’t get into it the first time, though.)

Spoiler: one of them is in that city Sylens totally doesn’t want you to go into! Until he wants you to go into it. I went there over the weekend.

Oh yeah, I went there.

I also am always worrying I’ll miss out. I was looking at my ‘data points’ catalog and noticing some gaps and thinking “should I go back to all the places I’ve been and try to find more data points? There was one there that I didn’t find!”

Butch:

None of that about the undiscovered line makes any sense! Seriously. Read that sentence.

Hmm. I shall see. I will be at grave hoard very soon. Very soon.

And not much of a spoiler. I figured that place might just be important.

It’s just damn cruel when games make it so that you have gaps. The first couple you find are points one and two, and then you find point thirty three and you have heartburn for the rest of the game.

Now that I think on it, another one of those hidden trophies is probably “Find all data points,” which is another “No, just, no” trophy.

But speaking of things you CAN get, I’ve pretty much decided that my (our, cuz I’m bossy) next few games are MEA (of course), then Tales from the Borderlands, which looks, frankly, awesome. And funny. We need funny. So you better have scooped it up last month cuz free.

And then, of course, PLAYING AS CHLOE.

But then, E3 is this month, and that tends to upend plans.

But get that freebie anyway.

Feminina:

Got it!

Dude, that makes perfect sense and is a model of elegant and coherent language.

Points:

  • I don’t remember seeing them when I checked last night
  • I DO remember seeing them earlier on in the game
  • Therefore, I must have discovered the ‘undiscovered’ things during the course of play

That is TOTALLY sensical.

“Find all data points” is not going to happen.

Butch:

As a general rule, if you need bullet points to explain a sentence, it was, most likely, not your best sentence.

I thought I might have to delay going to grave hoard, but I won’t. Mrs. McP’s out tomorrow and what am I supposed to do? Sit around not playing? I think not.

Feminina:

Dude, this is ART. Ha.

Delay going to Grave Hoard? I think not. Definitely go there at the earliest opportunity.

We’ll talk about it eventually. And you can see whether or not it makes one of the ‘undiscovered’ lines disappear! Make a bullet point out of it.

Butch:

I don’t know how to make bullet points. What am I, a librarian?

I’m on my way to Grave Hoard! But I have to do this camp first. It’s the level 25 one I discovered all those months ago. Maybe Nil will be there! Haven’t touched base with Nil in forever. And now that I have some flirtin’ skills….

Feminina:

Yeah, check if you see Nil. He’s got to be somewhere. And once you’re done with all the bandit camps…yeah…flirtin’ skills…or something.

Butch:

Damn. Aloy sees one over the moon lovebird and now she wants to get her freak on with everyone from kings to, well, freaks.

Save something for the sequel, Aloy.

But seriously: One thing about that ambush/I’ve been lied to quest: it started with the bad guy drooling over Aloy. She even said “My eyes are up here.” (Good to see snarky t shirts survive 1000 years. More optimism for our empire). He turned out to be a liar and a cheat. The hairy, lecherous shithead who, if you were doing the quests in level order (HAHAHA) would have been the first dude she met who was flirty.

Interesting.

Feminina:

Well…something. Really more the “or something” on this one. Just…we’ll talk after the bandit camps.

Good point about doing quests in order of level (ha! ahahaha!) and running into this sleazy guy first. Hm. Maybe he’s meant to kind of put her off the whole idea of flirty banter (because yeah, ew), and then later she kind of sees that it’s not ALL gross…but hey, whatever, we get the main ideas eventually, in whatever order.

Butch:

Uh oh. Is this something I should do without anyone around? She doesn’t….does she?

Feminina:

No. Oh god no. This is T for Teen! And also, just no.

It’s perfectly over-the-shoulder-viewer-friendly, it’s just…weird. We’ll talk later.

Butch:

Oh phew. PHEW.

Cuz I’m rooting for Erand.

Please hold obvious observation that he is brooding and armored.

Please hold obvious observation that I have been making fun of you for that for years now.

Uh…..ROBOT DINOSAURS!

Feminina:

I knew you’d come around. And all it took was ROBOT DINOSAURS.

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