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Spoilers for almost-the-endgame in Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

I got nothing. It was hot, the kids were evil, had to make dinner, had no energy, brain cells or soul left by the end of the day.

Hopefully tonight. Mrs. McP is going to some networking thing to show off her fancy MBA and deal business cards to people like she’s running a Vegas blackjack table.

But this is another problem, in the abstract, that applies to all games, about knowing you’re at the endgame: you really do need a big chunk of time, and a big chunk of time where you know you’ll play well to boot. Otherwise, you run into that whole “stop six minutes from the end and ruin the momentum” thing that I do all the damn time. That’s fine for most people, but I have trouble, especially in fucking JUNE, finding such big chunks of time. I could’ve, maybe, squeezed in a half or so last night, but I knew that would take me about a third of the way through the endgame, thus fucking up momentum, so I didn’t do it, and I got nothing.

This is irksome.

Feminina:

This IS irksome! We can’t discuss the ending if you don’t play it! Yet I appreciate the need to not do it in tiny pieces.

Although do remember there are several different sections to the endgame, so actually you might be able to break it down that way if being able to finish one fight is enough maintenance of momentum.

Also, first there’s some talky stuff that you could totally do to set things up.

You go back to Meridian, talk to some people, go shopping or whatever. When you’re ready, you have to choose to “rest before the battle,” so you know you won’t stumble into the endgame without meaning to.

And then there are different fights in the battle, so you could maybe fight one thing, take a break, come back the next day, etc. I didn’t do the whole thing in one evening myself.

So go play! At least the talky part.

Butch:

Oh, that’s good. Cuz right now I’m at “Go to the sun palace” or whatever, at my meridian campfire. I figured I would exchange everything I own for wire and blaze (I have it on good authority that fire arrows are gonna come in handy), then I thought that once I went to the sun palace that was it, it’s on. It’s not on right then? It’s not on. Cuz if it’s not on right then, I could do that now…..

Dude I WANT to play.

Feminina:

Play! It’s not on until you say it’s on.

Nice of them, I thought. I appreciate a nice clear “this is it” signal. Go do some puttering and talking and buy wire and blaze (good thought)!

Butch:

Ok then!

So I did the “Final chat with all involved” bit and I don’t think I got everyone.

I got Teb (poor Teb, I hope nothing happens to him), Petra, the sassy rogue and the dude who helped the kid defect, the exiled Nora, the young Banuk girl, Erand, Varl, Soma, and the warden.

I think I missed someone, cuz I didn’t get the “recruit all allies” trophy.

There isn’t something as key as the gun for the final battle, is there?

Feminina:

What about Nil? I had Nil. He was down by the river there.

But no, there’s nothing as important as the gun for the final battle. Certainly nothing related to Nil.

You got the important people, and I think if someone is missing it just means you don’t get a trophy. Sadface.

Butch:

Ah man! I should have had Nil! I probably did. I just ran up to the battlements! I didn’t think to look by the river! I could’ve said goodbye/thanks/whatever!

Oh well. I’m sure he’s there.

Do these guys actually fight? Like, do damage? That would be good.

Feminina:

If you didn’t kill him (in your official saved game), I’m sure he’s there. You probably just had to talk to him to get the trophy.

CHIT-CHAT OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

I like to imagine that the fight wasn’t as hard because I had all of them there doing some of the work, but I don’t know for sure. I didn’t see a lot of dramatic cutscenes of different people heroically saving Aloy or anything. But moral support! And it really wasn’t that bad a fight, on the ramparts where you’d expect them all to be making a difference, so maybe they did.

Butch:

You keep pointing out how not bad a fight it was, which makes me nervous.

It’ll be like 27 stormbirds.

Did you do it on normal or drop to easy?

And I didn’t kill him!

Maybe you had to kill him. He just pretended to be dead, then shows up all “Baby….it was so amazing I came looking for you…..”

It’s funny, this bit, because it sure as hell FELT like an RPG. This was a very bioware (before they made Destiny 2, grumble) moment. Meeting everyone on the Normandy/Skyhold, talking to them all, getting little reminders of all the good you did. Very RPG. In a game that…well…is it? I can’t tell. 75 hours in, still can’t tell. It certainly isn’t in the bioware/Fallout vein, but if the witcher is, isn’t this? Sorta?

Oh, and I’ve been waiting to read/discuss this for a long time to avoid spoilers:

Horizon Zero Dawn’s Best Armor Makes The Game Even More Fun

I don’t think I agree. It’s great armor, but the whole challenge of the easier stuff helped the game, I thought.

Whatchu think?

Feminina:

Twenty-FIVE stormbirds. Don’t exaggerate. Anyway, you’ve got the big gun and the sweet armor, it’ll be fine.

I finished it on normal. It might be hard enough on hard that you want to move down to normal (or it might not!), but there should be no call to drop it to easy.

I can see the article’s point about this armor. It does make all other armors obsolete, and I do kind of regret that I didn’t get to wear it around more, since I only got it RIGHT before I went into the endgame.

And I totally know what he means about going to gather some herbs so you’ll be ready to tackle some specific fight, and then some random wandering robot attacks you and you have to use them all, so you’re still not ready for that fight. Been there, dude!

But, like you, I kind of liked the challenge of dealing with all those things, plus I would really never have worn any other armor at all and it was kind of interesting to have reasons to shuffle through the armor collection for different battles.

Mainly, though, I disagree just because there’s no way I want to finish the story and then keep playing a game for another 50 hours. It’s just not how I approach it. I mean, I see how one might do that, and certainly the game is set up to allow it and it even makes logical sense if you care about saving the world: why NOT deal with the encroaching threat to life on earth before you bother with finding so-and-so’s lost sister? But I feel like I just wouldn’t do it. I am arguably stuck on an old-fashioned idea of narrative here, where the climax of the story means you’re done and you move on, but old-fashioned or not that’s how I feel.

Just a different approach, I guess.

Butch:

Honestly, I found the stormbirds to be far worse than the thunderjaws. At least you could kind of hide from thunderjaws.

Normal it is. I mostly want it over with. Over. The whole chip away at hit points thing gets old. Fast.

As for the article, we’ve all been there, with the using up herbs on random fights and still not having anything for the big fight you went herb-hunting to prepare for.

But I kind of liked that. I LIKED playing this game on hard, which, as you know, is not entirely like me. Often, “hard” is just baddies having more hit points and doing more damage, without really changing how you approach the fight. Nathan Drake always had to hide there, and get that gun, and shoot those dudes who were over there, then those dudes. This game, there were maybe 329847425 ways to approach each fight, and the damage and lack of healing forced you to think, not just have faster reflexes and more patience. Having real risk to combat made failure to do that have consequence, and that consequence wasn’t always dying and having to restart. How many times did we end a fight victorious but hurt? And knowing we were a mess, without healing, far from a campfire? And having to wonder “Do I try to sneak straight to the campfire? Or gather herbs which might get me too close to those snapmaws? Or do I craft a fast travel pack to bug out of here? Or use that meat for a health potion?”

Those are cool choices, and not just busy work. This armor would probably take a lot of that away.

And amen to not wanting to play for 50 hours after you finish the story! It’s that whole “last impression it leaves you with” thing. Just yesterday, I was saying I didn’t want to spend a week running around clearing zones and collecting flowers because I didn’t want to have that impression, even doing all that BEFORE the endgame. After? That just means you end the game with ten hours of memories of busy work.

Plus, it adds to the Fallout 4 syndrome where the “ending” has no punch. Devs get sloppy because they think (or, if you’re a cynic hope) that you keep playing (because, if you’re a cynic, you buy the DLC). I’ve disagreed with Buttons so much when he says “A game ends when you put it down and don’t pick it up again.” No. A game should end when it ends, and if you put it down and don’t pick it up again BEFORE it ends, that’s not its ending anymore than a 27 chapter book ends if you put it down on chapter five.

A different approach… A wrong approach. And one that encourages lazy (or, cynically, greedy) developers.

Oh, and another reason I just won’t go back after the ending:

Having to kill two corrupted rockbreakers.

Nope.

“Hey everyone! Saved the world! Except for you folks living over there…yeah…y’all are kinda fucked.”

And…..scene.

Feminina:

Those people next to corrupted rockbreakers can move. It’s a small price to pay.

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