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Minor spoilers for rackets and locations in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well….killed Kevin?

The good news is it seems these are the last two rackets. I think. This is it! Once I blow this shit up and kill these dudes, that’s it. I think. Forever. Phew.

But something occurred to me last night about why this might feel so tedious (besides, you know, it’s all the same): nothing scales. Not only am I fighting the same Kevin, I’m fighting them in the same way. Sure, there’s little, teeny tiny tweaks. The zemi smokes now…for some reason. But really, the handgun is just bigger. It’s still a handgun. The shotgun has more ammo. It’s still a shotgun. There’s been no skill, weapon, armor, mechanic, ANYTHING that changes, not only what I do, but HOW I do it in FOREVER. Yes, the whole “boat is sinking, jarring you out of cover” was col on the riverboat, but it was SUPER cool cuz it was the first combat wrinkle in ages and ages and ages.

It’s ok to have similar things. Bandit camps, say, in Horizon. But you have to make it so you DO them differently. I’m doing the same thing the same way as I was back in River Row. And really, I’m ready not to.

Two more rackets. That’s it.

Right?

Feminina:

Hm…that’s true. There really hasn’t been a scaling up of combat. Which is realistic, in a way–it’s not as if your average dude roaming the streets or guarding a mob location WOULD have nothing but pistols in one district and anti-tank guns in another or whatever. Everybody’s got pretty much the same equipment, and it makes sense that they would have the same equipment (except for the one boss with a bazooka).

But you’re right that it adds to the sense of doing the same thing over and over again.

It does seem like these are the last rackets–unless there’s something in the bayou. We haven’t defeated any bosses, as such, in the bayou, have we? There’s been stealing trucks and smuggling weed and so forth, but I haven’t defeated any major dude or awarded any rackets to anyone, and it SEEMS like the bayou is a territory that will need to go to someone, so…I don’t know.

We’ll see, I expect!

Butch:

Yeah, but we don’t come to video games for realism, do we?

Scaling is, I admit, a problem in games with Kevin. When you’re fighting aliens or monsters or whatever, you can just create harder baddies out of whole cloth. When you’re fighting humans, especially in a realistic setting, what do you do? But you should do something. At the very least, scale the hero. Give the hero some sort of new trick or gizmo that changes the way the player approaches a situation. Mix it up.

If there are rackets in the bayou, I may cry.

Watch: Cassandra, Vito and Burke will look at the bayou and be all “You take it,” “No, you,” “No, I insist….”

Feminina:

We don’t come for realism, no, it’s true. But some unrealistic things strain belief more than others, and in this game, with the pseudo-documentary framing, I can kind of see why they tried to stay away from giving either Lincoln or the bad guys increasingly dramatic superpowers.

They’re trying to stick with something that arguably COULD have happened within the realm of physical possibility (except for the whole “I hid this 3-foot long-rifle in the leg of my close-fitting jeans and it doesn’t even hamper my movement!” thing. Or the life-saving adrenaline shots that instantly heal bullet wounds. But there’s only so much realism a game can take).

Butch:

You know, you keep talking on Lincoln’s clothes and Lincolns…shall we say…look.

It’s cool, it’s cool. I have my BEBHBBs. You need a catchy acronym for whatever. I’ll leave it up to you. I’m just proud you’ve finally gone for a brooding guy without an exoskeleton.

As for adrenaline, I’m buying it. Why? Because of what Naughty Dog said about Uncharted. See, turns out the “damage” meter in Uncharted wasn’t physical damage. Really. It was a “luck meter.” That is, Nathan Drake was SO lucky that all those shots didn’t hit/kill him that his luck ran out on the one that did. It’s also why he “healed” when he took cover and chilled out. Like, “Whoo! That was close! Better catch my breath, think this through.” Get his “luck” back for the next rush.

I like that idea! Makes so much more sense for all games everywhere. So I’m going with it.

So when Lincoln shoots up, he just gets that little pep back that makes him that much harder to hit, ergo luckier, ergo it makes sense.

Just…ignore the blood on him. That was…from….

If games just ditched blood, this would all work just fine.

Feminina:

Yeah, he’s pretty brooding. If only he had an exoskeleton…swoon. This is why I wish there were a lot more heavy armor in this game. Siiiiiigh.

But I do like that explanation for healing–I’ve always kind of explained it to myself that way, too. “Oh man, that was close, take cover…breathe…all right, good to go!”

Except, as you say, for the blood. Uh…I just got a brief nosebleed from stress! It’s OK now.

There was a similar mechanic in Star Wars D20, if I recall correctly–you had quickly-regenerating luck points that basically meant near misses, and then once those were all gone you started taking real physical damage that was harder to heal. I liked it then, too. In fact, that’s probably why I’ve mentally used that model ever since our short-lived SWD20 campaign. (Though the Bimm of Death will never be forgotten.)

It works especially well in a semi-realistic setting where you’re dealing with a lot of gunshots and a hit should be either fatal or debilitating for a long time in the absence of magical healing. Fantasy games get off easy: a significant sword wound should also be debilitating, but hey, healing potion!

Butch:

Healing potions make sense! When they’re not poultices.

When I read that, it made perfect sense that Drake never did bleed. Lincoln does, though, which makes one need to suspend disbelief.

On two levels: How do those shots heal him, and how do they instantly do his laundry? One shot, shirt’s clean!

Feminina:

Stress nosebleed! And, uh…vinyl clothing. Blood slides right off. I’m going with it.

Healing potions do make sense. When they’re not poultices. (Best thing ever, that bit in DAI: “yes, it tastes terrible–you’re not supposed to drink it!”)

I like to use healing potions to explain the health of the general populace, as well–mostly in fantasy games people don’t have missing teeth, pockmark scars, etc. I also used it to explain how I avoided turning into a vampire in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. The disease progressed every time you slept, so I never slept! Problem solved! I liked to think I didn’t have to sleep because my frequent consumption of healing potions kept me functional without rest.

Sadly, in non-fantasy we need all these stretches and workarounds to achieve the same convenient story benefits of a simple magical potion, which is really what we’re after.

Butch:

Folks in the Witcher were pretty nasty. But then, only Witchers could drink potions and Sorceresses relied on magic. So it made sense.

We’ll stick with luck.

But there’s some things I can do without. If Lincoln had to sleep, this would take even longer. And Heavy Rain taught me we don’t really need toilets.

Feminina:

Yeah, the Witcher is kind of a special case, and I respect their attention to detail.

And yes, in general I can do without sleep, and certainly without toilets (though we’ve both shot guys in the bathroom in this game, if I’m not mistaken, so they’re useful to have around for OTHER people).

Sleeping in Oblivion gave you a Rested bonus (as it often does in Bethesda games), but I was willing to forgo that to avoid the hassle of going full vampire. Having people shriek in horror when they saw me and refuse to buy the loot I’d dragged into town… getting burned by sunlight…vampirism was a drag, man.

Butch:

Boy, ain’t it just? But hey! Vampirism gives you an excuse to stay in all day playing games!

And yes, peeing Kevin is remarkably easy to kill. Probably why Lincoln never goes.

Feminina:

He goes between cutscenes, after he’s had a couple of glasses of bourbon. And he sleeps when he’s dead, between reloads. It’s all perfectly logical.

Butch:

Man, has there ever been a game that gives us such extremes of bloggage in but a few days?

This ain’t on us. This is on the game.

Feminina:

I dunno, man. I mean, every game has those spells.

“Today I accomplished a lot of stuff and advanced the story and met some people!”

“Today I wandered around and got in a few fights and didn’t achieve anything.”

They all do that. I mean, the big games do. Like, Gone Home or something didn’t, because it was about three hours long. But I feel like most of the games we play, there are sessions where you do Meaningful Stuff, and then there are sessions where you just poke around and kill things.

It doesn’t help that I didn’t play last night, so I’m not contributing much to the discourse. I had to sew the handles back on my bag. It was coming apart!

I’ll play tonight. Keep working on…uh…Southdowns. That’s where I am.

And then I also have to go back up to Frisco and finish up with that. I did the rackets, but right now my quest list says I have to kill a certain someone. Someone I’ve been waiting a long time to kill! But I’m holding off because of the Connection to Cuba and all that. Like we agreed, trying to get back to where we would be talking about the same things.

It’s gonna happen. I think the game is drawing close to the end. We’ve killed a lot of the important people already. We’re working our way steadily towards Sal.

Butch:

Wait, your other Something didn’t have to do with Frisco? Why the hell am I in Frisco? I was searching for a capital S Something!

And I haven’t DONE the Alvarez thing. I got busy with Lou and Riverboats and shit.

Feminina:

Oh no, it has to do with Frisco. Most definitely, it is all about what goes on in Frisco. It just comes before the very end of all the stuff in Frisco.

Don’t worry, you’re following the plan. Just keep plugging away at the Southern Union. You’ll know it when you get to it.

Butch:

Cool.

I am rather curious about what that “racket” is. Like, we take over the racist propaganda racket? Burke’s gonna be all “Uh…wait. Cassadra got sex.”

Feminina:

I wondered about that too.

“So, what kind of propaganda do you want me to print, new boss?”

The Mob and You?
“Don’t call the police,” and ten other tips for life in a mafia-controlled territory?
Sal Sucks: Why you should support Lincoln Clay’s plot to kill him?

Maybe they could just print flyers for all the other rackets. “Get your porno in Downtown! Call Burke for all your auto theft and garbage needs!”

Butch:

I like it!

“Recent improvements to riverboat safety.”
“No really, we didn’t tap your phones.”
“A sincere apology about stealing all your nudie mags.”