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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

A few minor spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda and the end of Mass Effect 3

Butch:

MAN the late summer gets busy. Where were we?

Ah, yes. Voeld.

So, despite busy weekend (hit the beach, went outside, all the things you don’t do) got some in. Went back to Voeld, fought through randits (remdits? Cuz remnant? Maybe not), got PB her thing and was expecting story and didn’t get it cuz I have to wait to be back on the Tempest, found the second outpost there, got a bunch of quests, fought my way to find some dudes who had an old map and they turned out to be smugglers (wasn’t surprised), now I’m looking for poachers cuz I anticipate hope themes there.

Stopped when I hit a kid land mine. An email from a kid (don’t do it game) to his father (please don’t go there) who’s obviously dead (sigh) saying that he’s sorry for breaking his dad’s star map and promises to be good, will the dad come back? (Fuck you game.)

He thinks his dad abandoned him because he was bad, and he’s sorry, and wants his dad back.

Seriously, game, fuck you. Those emails are supposed to be either useless or funny.

Which brings me to today’s starting point: This game, to an even greater extent than DAI, has a dark streak. Sure, there’s flirting, and jokes, but there’s also a very distinct vein of dark. Not just random upsettingness, but darkness. “Hope is silly” is a pretty dark theme, and we see it a lot here. And we DON’T really see that in other bioware games, which, while I love them, are not exactly as thought provoking as other games we have played. They tend to be about power fantasies and hot sorceresses.

Which gets me to wondering: Are they turning dark to be more “artistic?” Are we just reading it this way because we’re getting old and cynical (and by getting I mean moreso)? Is the art form of games, in general, mirroring the world at large and the pessimism in it, as art tends to mirror the mood of the world?

It’s something, cuz it’s there.

He thinks if he says he’s sorry for breaking his dad’s thing, his dad will come back. No, he thinks his dad LEFT because he was bad…fuck you game.

Feminina:

Beach? Sun, sand, the music of the waves, the smell of the sea? Ew.

But I don’t know, man, I remember some pretty dark letters from DAI, at least. Something about how “we’re all so hungry but mom went to find food and as soon as she gets back everything is going to be great,” next to some tiny skeletons or the like. I feel like the occasional touch of human tragedy has showed up in previous MEs as well. They throw these notes in every now and then, like grim seasoning, just in case we thought life was all fun and loot and laser gunfights with randits.

I agree, though, they’re never fun. Why do you do this to me, game? I just wanted fun and loot! But they want to make us think a bit, how maybe it’s all fun and loot for the mighty Inquisitor/Pathfinder/General Hero, but it kind of sucks out there on the ground.

Butch:

There was, if it makes you feel better, a distinct lack of rum. Up here in New England, we do have some nice beaches, but MAN we missed the memo that nice beaches really ought to have a place very close to them selling rum. Preferably in buckets.

I thought we were starting to see bioware start thinking about adding dark in DAI. DAI did have some rough stuff, but this one seems to have far more, and more front and center. It isn’t just in the emails and stuff. That’s what made me think of it today, but there’s stuff out there, themes, NPC stuff, that’s just plain unavoidable.

And, well, it WAS all fun and loot for the Inquisitor/general hero, but I’d argue it ISN’T for the Pathfinder.

Cuz this is the first bioware game where I haven’t been 111% certain that the hero won’t have, at least, the choice to fix everything. The genophage? Sure, it was bad. Genocidal, awful. And there was no doubt that Shep was going to fix it. None. There was GOING to be the picture I got at the end, of the loving, happy Krogan couple with the baby. Ditto DAI. Sure, there were little blips of dark, but you knew, KNEW, that you were going to have, at least, the choice of ending happy in Skyhold, and, indeed, the last image I had was holding hands with Sera looking at a sunset, joking around. And that ending surprised me not at all.

Here, I don’t know if it’s gonna end with a sunset and jokes and Suvi. It might. Hell, it’s likely that it will. But this is the first bioware game where I’m only 82% certain that it will, and that, in and of itself, marks a change in how Bioware is telling stories.

But dude, the double whammy of the dead dad and the GUILTY kid? The kid felt GUILTY and dad was dead? Dude. DUDE. Pull a punch, bioware, I’m just trying to flirt.

Feminina:

I blame our puritan history. Beaches are for harvesting the bounty of the sea in a sober and god-fearing fashion! Not for lounging and rum-drinking. Set some lobster traps or GTFO.

You’re 18% convinced there’s not going to be a happy ending? Interesting. I don’t think I have that much doubt that everything is going to work out fine just like it always does for the hero.

Maybe it’ll be a little more obviously non-great for everyone else, though…that would still be pretty interesting.

Butch:

Them fuckers! Always killing whales instead of trading in rums! And…um…slaves…. Hmm.

Guilt attack.

Waaaaiiiiit….you’ve finished, haven’t you? That’s you’re trying not to spoil voice…..

YOU HAVE! I know that voice anywhere.

Feminina:

Um…right…slaves. About that…um…look over there! A squirrel! Highlighting the bounty of the land, which we must harvest in a sober and god-fearing fashion!

All the while murdering the current inhabitants and driving them from their homes…um…look over there! A bird! Let’s just go to space already!

Dude, no. I have not finished. I’m on a new planet collecting the usual 500 tasks and trying to make it suitable for an outpost.

While murdering the current inhabitants and driving them from their homes…damn it! Guilt follows us everywhere!

Butch:

Oh, so it isn’t Voeld, Hvarl, couple of scans, end?

Of course not.

I saw level 29 on your character screen and made assumptions.

I am not level 29. I don’t think.

I really want rum. I also want to play. I tell ya, it took a while, but I do want to get back to this game when I’m not playing it. I was also pondering that, and what hate this game got, and I think I’ve come up with something that I will, someday, test.

It’s the nexus.

The nexus is a narrative albatross. I like the planet stuff. The story is good, the combat is good, the banter is good. I like the tempest stuff. It’s interesting. The characters are good.

The nexus, so far, is a drag, man. I think I find myself saying “Hey, I wish I was playing right now” because I am nowhere near the nexus.

Feminina:

Of course it’s not that easy!

Based on textural clues, I think there’s one more planet to visit after the one I’m on, but I could have missed something–there could be 12.

Butch:

My. Long game. Though, strangely, I do feel like I’m making progress. I like the mechanic of having the quest markers on the map, even the ones you’re not doing. The ability to say “Ok…what’s close…THAT!” and then having it disappear on the map gives me a sense of getting shit done, so even when it’s long, I feel progress.

Except when I’m on the nexus.

Feminina:

It’s true, I do like that about the map. “What’s going on around here, oh yeah, I’ll do that!” And the way you can highlight a quest by selecting its marker, so if you do one part and then want to follow up, it will be your active quest and you don’t have to hunt through the ‘journal’ to locate it and activate it.

Ah, the Nexus. Hm. I don’t know, I don’t feel myself losing momentum all that much in the Nexus, but I haven’t really thought about it. It’s obviously meant to be the equivalent of the Citadel in previous ME games, and the Citadel was always just a place you could stop by, do some shopping (at your favorite store!), follow up on random quests, etc.

I don’t have strong feelings about the Nexus either way, I guess.

Butch:

There’s Femmy’s ambiguity!

The problem with it is it isn’t just a place to drop by if you shop. There’s times you HAVE to go there, and it’s fucking BIG. The citadel was far more contained.

And the stuff you do there (so far) is just moving stuff along to move it. There’s no meat there. The only thing is they needed a place for the Initiative bosses to hang out, needed it to matter (cuz bosses), and needed it NOT to be the Tempest. But, in typical bioware fashion, that overarching quest is the lamest thing in the game.

But the click to select, that is a feature every damn game should have. Click and select. Sure, other games have it, but you just hover and get the quest name, and it’s always something like “Sausage and cheese?” and you have think “Which one was that,” and you wind up scrolling through the journal anyway. This has the name, what it was, and you can select right there! Genius!

Feminina:

I don’t feel any particular way about it and I feel no particular way very strongly! I’m passionate about ambiguity.

You haven’t gotten to flirt with…anyone yet on the Nexus? Or what about the crowd of people protesting the…stuff?

I agree with you in part, there is a lot of just going around doing busywork (and man, those quests where you had to take the train to one area, talk to someone, take the train to another, talk to someone, take the train back to the first area…I could have done with less of that), but I feel like there’s also a bit of actual, story-telling questing scattered in. I mean, First Murderer was partly based on the Nexus, and we got some discussion out of that.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!!!

The ambiguity bit.

But nope. I haven’t been back to the Nexus since the marathon session of not killing dudes and acquiring tasks. The one where I started the Anti-AI guys thing. It’s been a while. I’ve been chillin’ on Voeld (HA! See what I did there?).

THERE’S FLIRTING????? That’s it. I take back everything I said.

True, First Murderer was good for discussion. But they REALLY should’ve made it one area. Or, at the very least, kept the quests in one area. That train….it haunts me. The citadel, if I remember, was one area. That would have been plenty.

And I do anticipate some bloggage when I finally get on with the AI guys.

One of these days we should yap about SAM and Ryder’s relationship with him (it?). There’s a lot of “Is AI good?” going on, and I have a feeling there’s more of a metaphorical question than just “Is AI good?” going on. I’ve been pondering some time. Still need more time, but we should get a day’s bloggin’ in on that at some point.

Feminina:

There’s a bit of flirting, yeah. You know you want to go back!

I feel like there were a couple of levels of Citadel, maybe an elevator…but you could be right. It’s been a while. Certainly it didn’t have the train.

I do think that maybe that first marathon session of acquiring tasks and not shooting people is the major upfront cost of the Nexus, and going back you don’t have to run around quite as much having already done a lot of the footwork, so it may not be as annoying in the future as it has been.

Give the Nexus another chance, man! Think of the flirting! And the booze they’ll be making when you find some ingredients!

Butch:

No, it did not have the train. I felt that it was one you could do with stairs and little else.

Dude that quest is still locked! Or glitched! Or something!

Need BOOZE!

Feminina:

Don’t worry, it will unlock itself once you’re somewhere you can find an ingredient. You’ll be looking at the map admiring all the hexagons, and think “hey, what’s this one…BOOZE!”

Butch:

Today is the kind of day I need to find random hexagonal booze.