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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers: some unexpected discussion of Dragon Age games we have known

Butch:

The staycation continues, I haven’t played.

But, in going through the mental rolodex of topics….

So you know how we’re always “The best part of bioware games is meeting people and the characters and flirting and stuff?” Well….I think there might be too much of a good thing here.

The last time I shot anything was long, long ago. And not just cuz I haven’t played in a few days. Since running like hell from the remnant core thingy, I have a) set up an outpost on Eos and talked to dudes. b) went back to the tempest and talked to dudes. c) went to the nexus and talked to dudes, did little quests, talked to more dudes, listened to dudes, talked to dudes, d) got back on the tempest and talked to dudes, e) flew the tempest to a planet and wound up talking to a kett dude, then to Jaal’s dudes, and now I’m f) back on the tempest talking to dudes.

And…ok…I like these characters, I like the story, stuff’s happening, it’s not all fetch quests, it’s narrative, it’s moving, great.

But for the first time in a bioware game, and I have played A LOT of bioware games, I kinda find myself saying “Yeah, yeah, can I get back to the action sequences now?”

And it’s weird cuz it’s not because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the talking to dudes bit. It’s good, solid, bioware dude talking. We’ve been itching for good, solid, bioware dude talking for a while, even during Horizon. But yet, I find myself wanting a playing session with less talking and more shooting. IN A BIOWARE GAME!

Maybe it’s just cuz I’ve spent a whole week with the kids and they’re nuts. But I dunno.

Feminina:

Well, I think in the end the best part is really a good balance. We love talking and flirting, but we also love looting and setting things on fire. Too much of either one risks monotony.

This game does tend to clump them up.

You go to a place, you walk around and talk to people for potentially 100 hours. You go to a planet, you drive around and shoot things for potentially 100 hours. It’s easy to get stuck in one or the other mode for extended periods of time. I have gone many play sessions without getting around to returning to somewhere I could talk to people. Then I have gone many play sessions without getting around to getting outside where I could get into fights.

I feel like that happened all the time in Dragon Age: Inquisition as well…you wouldn’t get back to Skyhold for weeks, and then you’d spend days there talking to people. Just the BioWare way?

Butch:

I’m starting to feel that I’m never going to fight again. And I figure that once I land somewhere, I better leave Suvi a picture so she doesn’t forget what I look like.

Maybe it’s the bioware bigassed open world way. Back in ye olden ME, the games were short, and the bits where you weren’t on the Normandy were contained. There wasn’t a risk of magpie. You went, you did, you came back. And there wasn’t that much of any of it! Each ME, for me, was about 40 hours. We’re going to be WAAAAY over that in this one (if we aren’t already). Sure, DAO was long, but it, too, was pretty contained when you weren’t camping. You went to the mage tower, or you went to the forest, or you spent WAY TOO FUCKING LONG in the deep roads (not bitter ok bitter), then you came back.

Bioware knows full well that their big thing is the place where you talk/flirt. Campfire, Normandy, Skyhold, Hawke estate, whatever. So that’s not going anywhere. But with the shift to a) open world games and b) bigger games in general that means when you’re NOT there you magpie and when you ARE there there has to be MORE to say because games always do MORE in games, not less.

Games like Horizon and TW3 didn’t have these issues because you didn’t have a ship/campfire/home to spend time in, or a bunch of people to talk to. Sure, there were NPCs, but there was never a need to have repeated “Let’s get them all together and see what’s up” sessions. And it worked. But bioware’s SIGNATURE is those sessions. Would we play a bioware game that didn’t have a camp/ship/castle? Would we like it as much?

Feminina:

Well, also remember in DAO, at least, you could have conversations with people at places that WEREN’T camp. You could click on companions at any time and sometimes they’d have new things to say (which did mean the responsibility of checking regularly), and sometimes people would just start talking to you while you were out on the road or whatever. You didn’t actually have to go back to camp to talk, although that was obviously the easiest place to check in on everyone at once.

I remember intense conversations at odd times, like “oh, we just finished a battle, let’s stand here and chat among the quickly dissolving corpses,” which is maybe why they moved away from that and into a ‘keep the conversations in a conversation area’ model. I remember kind of missing the at-will conversation options in DA2 or…what was that one, DA Awakening.

I miss having a friendly gabfest over a hot cup of poultice and the blazing ruins of a darkspawn encampment!

Anyway, I’m not sure what the point to that digression was, just fondly remembering the olden days.

I guess one point could be, they HAVE tinkered with their standard model over time, but it does seem that recently, and especially as you say in the bigassed open worlds, they’ve really settled on ‘keep the conversation in the Conversation Zones.’

Which has the advantage of being predictable for players, since we know that when we go to a Conversation Zone we’re going to have the option to talk to people (and we can avoid that for weeks on end if we’re not in the mood), but it does lose a little of the seeming spontaneity of finding that someone has something new to say about something while you’re just wandering through the countryside.

You’re also absolutely right about the timing and the (once highly limited) risk of magpie. I mean, you can roam over every inch of the Citadel if you want (and you do), but it’s a contained space. You have to stop sometime.

Butch:

True, and that was nice, chatting with people on the road. We should do more things like that.

The best was when someone would decide to have some moody conversation with you about their religious faith, or former loves, or the beauty of the land of their childhood, when they were covered in blood.

“Yes, I am covered in the guts of darkspawn, and we’ve been underground in a festering hole with scary assed voice overs for days, but all of that reminds me of the scent of lavender drifting over the verdant hill of Orlais….”

Those were good days. Had some hot companions.

And yet, even though they ditched that, they have kept the idea of the NPCs talking to each other. Liam and Vetra don’t shut up. Though I seem to think this happens more in the NOMAD, but I could be wrong. I guess when the pathfinder gets to pick the radio station, there’s nothing to do but chat.

And the Citadel was, relatively, small. Omega even more so.

Though I could have listened to that big elephant dude read Shakespeare all day.

Feminina:

“The galaxy’s first all-Elcor cast, performing Shakespeare!” So amazing. Loved that.

Ha! Yes, the deep, soulful conversations where you were both covered in blood! How well I remember.

“Should we maybe continue this after we wash up…?”

“No, no, I really want to share the way this distant memory from my childhood has gradually come clear during our travels.”

The companions DO chat constantly in the Nomad. Probably trying to keep their minds off my driving. To aid my concentration, SAM helpfully edits out all the stifled shrieks and cries of “that’s a vertical cliff!” and “I’m going to be sick.”

Butch:

I’m surprised they talk at all. It should be:

“Hey wanna chat?”

“Nah. She’s about to get stuck. Then she’ll reload and we’ll have to say it all again “.

Feminina:

“Better wait until we’re out of this canyon and then say everything we have at super speed to make sure it all gets covered, then autosave.”

Butch:

That’s how I’d play it.

Play first. Talk later. Then for fucks sake auto save.

Feminina:

That there’s a T shirt for sure.

Butch:

We’ve been slow on those of late.

I blame pneumonia. And kids.

Feminina:

Pneumonia even more than kids. You’ve had the kids a long time and it hasn’t slowed you down much. The pneumonia is new, and therefore to be blamed for everything.