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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for plot points and character dialogue in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

You know how sometimes you mean to do stuff and you wind up magpieing? Yesterday was the opposite. Just wanted to chill, check some things off, and wound up with so much bloggage I don’t know where to start.

I trucked out to find an outpost for Liam. There was much driving (I’m getting good!) and I get there and….I need 40% viability. I have 35. This annoys me. But it’s cool, I’m close to a monolith. That’ll be good for 5, right? No. Did the monolith, got nothing. NOTHING! WHAT??? What’s the damn point?

So I figured “quests. Need some quests.” And that’s where the bloggage began.

Because I did the “lost scout” quest. With the scout torturing the Kett. And holy hell what a lot to unpack. I killed the kett. But there was so much MORE there. The kett being “human,” sorta. Whether it was ok to torture the enemy, who may or may not be “us.” And, of course, hope. She’s doing it because it’s her last hope, and, when I killed it, HER hope died, too. Here we go again with hope.

But I’ll let you start discussing that cuz I didn’t stop there. Why? Because that quest didn’t give me five, it gave me FOUR! And I was so pissed that I was one short that I decided to go to the kett facility.

Yeah.

And it was after, maybe, the fifth wave of Kevins and the third moving of the goalpost (SAM saying “Oh, wait, did I say do that console over there? No, you have to override it first and that’s over there….”) that something dawned on me. Something awful.

It dawned on me that my old and dear friend, Feminina O’Ladybrain, told me there would be a long, LONG fight on a icy world, and this fight would have no save points. It then dawned on me that I had not seen a save marker in some time. And it dawned on me my shields were gone and I was at 75% health. Then it dawned on me that was already about an hour and twenty into my playing session and I was tired. But DAMNED if I was losing all that effort.

And I didn’t die. No, after about what seemed like eight hours and a whole lot of swearing later, I did it. Destroyed the facility. But what saved my ass? PB’s drone, which I have put six levels into. PB’s drone pretty much drove around vaporizing dude after dude after dude. And in that end boss fight? Whenever I said “Where is the baddie? WHERE?” all I had to do was check where droney was shooting, and I could say “Ah, over there.”

I can certainly see how one would have rage quit in that one. Yes, yes I can.

Dude, the panic when it dawned on me.

Feminina:

The kett facility! How vividly I remember. Nice job not dying, though. The drone sounds awesome.

I went to level up Peebee and didn’t see it!–so there must be something I still haven’t done. Maybe I have to talk to her first and say “hey, nice drone” or something. I dunno.

That was just a mean battle, though, wasn’t it? Waves of dudes, deceptive pauses where there were no dudes and you’d think “must be saving about now…wait…” sidetrack quests to hack consoles, pauses to loot rooms, more waves of dudes. It was really just too long to go without saving.

Or not, I suppose, I mean that’s obviously part of the way they set it up to be challenging, and it was…but it was also quite frustrating, and that line between invigoratingly challenging and maddeningly frustrating is a delicate one.

As for the scout, and the torture, and the kett…yeah. Interesting moment. I also killed the kett. And the scout’s (almost certainly vain) hope. Hope isn’t always a good thing if it goes against all reason and makes us do terrible things, maybe. Sometimes we SHOULD give up hope. (Have you had that little exchange with Jaal and Lexi about the angara-turned-into-kett? Some more of this idea.)

We generally think of hope as a good thing: don’t give up hope, there’s always hope, hoping leads us to strive for better things, etc.

But sometimes holding on to hope for one thing keeps us from striving for other, more achievable things. Sometimes hope keeps us stuck in the past. Sometimes hope turns us into monsters.

Like challenges in video games, this is a delicate balance.

Butch:

Dude, when the drone is jacked up as high as I have jacked it, it is FEARSOME. It just vaporizes dudes. Chosen? What chosen? Where? Oh, they’re GONE that’s where!

And no, dude, it’s YOUR power. Under tech. It’s called Remnant VI. You don’t even NEED PB around! I was doing this with Liam and Jaal!

Way too long without saving, though. I can certainly see the rage quit potential. I probably would have. But having it dawn on you MID FIGHT that THIS was the fight you meant was horrifying.

I really wanted to kill SAM. Like, dude, I was just standing BY that console on the other side of the room! Why didn’t you tell me to use it to override whatever when I was standing right next to it?

Seriously, SAM. A great deal of that could have been handled more efficiently.

I must say, your preview and the horror that brought enhanced the whole experience. Had it not dawned on me mid fight, the fight would’ve played differently in my head. But I had this picture of you rage quitting, and telling me how awful it was, and that really did color how I approached the whole level and how I thought about it. It added some invigorating challenge! So thanks for that.

I have not had that discussion with Lexi and Jaal. But, ok, admission. At first, I didn’t kill the kett, and said “leave her there.” And Jaal was NOT happy, but not about the kett. He said “We can’t leave HER here to die.” He knew she’d be consumed by her rage, and she’d die. Jaal knew her hope was futile, but also knew someone still cared about her.

So I reloaded. Forgive me.

And ‘hope’ I certainly think is a theme in this game. Repeatedly. And, strangely, the game seems rather pessimistic.

Like, I’m playing Ryder as an optimist. Yet, there are times I think she just comes across as naive, dweeby even. And I don’t think it’s bad writing. You can see the NPCs who really do have problems and then some, thinking “Really? REALLY? Are you not seeing what’s going on here? Life kinda sucks.”

I could go deeper and say this could be representative of some Obamaesque (Hope, after all) ideal and a Trumpesque “American Carnage” pessimism, but with the long development cycle of this game, I don’t think they meant it to be that timely. And yet, it is.

Feminina:

Oh, it’s MY power! Oh. Man. OK, good to know. On that.

Although, not seeing it last time, I did kind of spend 60 skill points on other things, so I might have to wait a while to get it all awesome. On it, though!

I’m just glad my dire warnings about that fight could enhance the experience, and perhaps help keep you alive.

Here’s another helpful tip: at some point, on some planet, you will have cause to attack a “flophouse.” This will be exactly the same situation as the kett facility. Waves of dudes, pauses to go poke around, picking up new quest objectives, more waves of dudes, looting…no save points. DO NOT DIE IN THE FLOPHOUSE.

Actually, that’s pretty good advice in general. And really, pretty much always timely, no matter the length of the development cycle.