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Some spoilers for Barnabas quest in AC: Odyssey

Butch:

OK, so, before we begin, I’m not rage quitting. I’m not. I’m not even quitting.

But I had a series of revelations this weekend. Here’s what happened.

So I told you that I had to do all that weakening to draw the boat guy into a fight. Remember?

So then I did the pig lady. We can talk about that. She wasn’t a revelation. My revelations started when I got to Delos. When I got to Delos, I started the Kyra bit….a romance with a dark haired sassy lady in a Greek dress. Again. I then sneaked into somewhere. Again. I then had to weaken another place to kill another leader. Again. This took forever. Again. And I thought, “This is boring.”

That was first revelation.

I thought: “Really, why am I doing this?” and, I realized “To make sure Femmy doesn’t get way ahead of me.” Not “So I can write brilliant things with Femmy,” cuz we aren’t being that brilliant, but “To make sure Femmy doesn’t get way ahead of me.” That’s a chore.

That was my second revelation.

Then I opened the map and saw that HALF the map was uncovered and half the cultists were still alive and I have HALF THE GAME ahead of me and the game hasn’t done anything new in hours. This really, really did not excite me.

That was my third revelation.

Then I saved and saw I’m at 51 hours of playtime. 51 hours. And I’ve been playing three months. And I’m half done.

Revelation.

But then the biggie: I quit out. You were on, and it said “Exploring the Real World.” And I thought “What? The real world? She’s way ahead of me. I’m nowhere near seeing the real world. She’s gonna finish soon, and I’ll be looking at burning war supplies and killing leaders for a month just to catch up.” That would lead to about a month of blogging the following:

Me: So….did the thing with the bearded dude and the fort. Remember that?
You: I think so….was that the part with the thing?
Me: No, it was the other part with the bearded guy and the fort and the other thing.
You: Oh yeah….I kinda remember that….don’t know if I remember enough to be smart about it, but you start.

MAJOR REVELATION.

If I was really into this game, I’d put up with a while of such blogging. But this game? It’s just not worth a month of floundering blogging, especially when we have so much cool stuff in our backlog and so much more cool stuff is coming out.

So I figure: I don’t hate this game. You like it, and you’re more invested in the AC lore than I am, so I will continue playing it until you finish. If you finish and I’m, like, three or four days away from finishing, I’ll finish. But if you finish and we have time to squeeze in, say, Detroit before Outer Worlds/Death Stranding hit and I still have a month left? I’d rather you just tell me the end than we do a month of “You remember this?” “Uh….kinda?” bloggage when we could be playing something interesting together.

Sound fair?

It sucks, because I really, REALLY like Kassandra as a main character. SHE’S great. But the rest…..well. I have criticisms past the fact it’s repetitive. We can talk on those and pig lady today.

Feminina:

OK, that’s fair. (Although that was Mr. O’ exploring the real world. I haven’t been back to the real world since the Forge. Gods only know what the hell he was doing in the real world. Something related to a trophy I now don’t have to be concerned about getting, not that I was.)

I’m enjoying the wandering around, but you’re right, it’s a lot of the same sort of thing, and the map is SO. DAMN. BIG. And there are so many bearded guys in forts, you’re not wrong.

Mr. O’ hunted down every last trophy, and he had I think 134 hours in? Compared to my 50-something. I don’t have another 80 hours of this in me, that’s for sure. He did say you don’t have to kill every single cultist, though. You have to kill apparently most of them, because you have to get enough clues from the dead ones to identify the center person (Herodotus!–just kidding probably), but you can get there without all the outside ones being dead. He also speculated that maybe you could finish the main find-my-family story without finishing the cult stuff at all, though that seems like leaving a pretty big chunk of the plot on the table.

But yeah, that sounds like a deal.

So the lady with the pigs!? Did you drink the wine? I said “oh hell no,” although I wish there were an option besides “drink the wine” and “attack.” Like, “no thanks, I don’t care for any just now,” and wait to see if she attacked me. Because I was very, very suspicious of that lady, but at the same time, there was no real proof. I suppose really I should have let her poison me and then at least had some proof.

Anyway, obviously I killed her and a couple of her animals. And then Barnabas was so ludicrously hopeful! I followed up on that quest because I want to make his damn blue diamond go away, and I think I’m almost done with it, but I still have my doubts it’s going to end well.

Butch:

What? Thought he was finished.

It is SO. DAMN. BIG. And, as I was thinking about this, it came to me why I’m so bothered: they made a mistake putting this in Greece. The thing with Greece: a lot of it looks the same. Korinth looks like Athens looks like Delos looks like wherever the hell else. If you take Mafia 3, a game that has similar grind, at least the Hollow looked and felt different from Downtown and the Bayou. This? Port. Temple. Agora. And all the buildings are all made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same. But, if you stick to Greece, what are you gonna do? You’re kinda penned in by your setting.

Well, that’s a relief. The cult thing. Not the 80 more hours thing. 80 more hours would bore me to tears, and, if 50 hours took three months (which it has), that means I finish in December? No way. WAY too much other stuff to play.

OK. Deal. How much farther along are you, anyway?

I drank the wine, all the while knowing it was a bad idea. I wound up back in the tomb. Remember the tomb? You go in and there’s that boar there that’s just chilling, not attacking you? Well, it attacks you. And then I killed a couple more boars, chain attacked the cheetah and the witch and boom. Done.

I totally agree that there should’ve been another option. This GAME, man. Every time they get to the point where something complex COULD happen, they simplify.

See? This is my point. Here we have a quest line that’s, at the very least, different. No forts. No leaders. No war supplies. It’s for a character we like. And still, STILL, you’re doing it just to do it. Not because you’re all “Dude, this is fascinating, bloggage for days,” but “I want to make this damn blue diamond go away.”

This game is mostly about making diamonds go away.

It could have been so much damn more. Should have been.

Feminina:

He was just picking up that very last trophy. Apparently it was in the real world.

It’s true, ancient Greece is lovely, but in much the same way from one island to the next. I mean, I noticed some cacti on Mykonos and Delos, so that was a fun change of pace! But for the most part, it’s the same hills and beaches, the same plants and trees, the same animals, the same people, the same kinds of buildings. They’re all gorgeous! I like them! But they are the same all over, and the map is SO. DAMN. BIG. that the sameness…becomes very noticeable over the course of 50-135 hours.

You are not wrong.

Ah, poor Barnabas. You’re right, this is something different that we should be caring about because it’s not the same old thing! And yet I mostly just want to make the diamond go away. I mean, I am also curious about how this is going to end up. I am. But mainly I want that big blue thing not to be on my ship all the time, distracting me.

Butch:

I know! It was very nice and interesting for a while. It was! Different! We’ve never played a game in a place like this! But now….well….I could use a change of pace.

And admit it: Mild curiosity. I’m vaguely curious who the big baddie is, especially as my guess was (probably) wrong. But it’s vague! And one does not want to waste fifty hours of game to appease a small amount of vague curiosity when one could be doing some other more interesting thing.

So I’ll let you finish first and you can tell me and I can go “Whoa, really? OK, what are we playing next?”

Feminina:

Fair. Or, alternatively, you could ignore all the side stuff and just pursue the main storyline and probably finish before me.

That would be an option.

Butch:

I’m pondering it. I am. But the problem with that is I’m still level, like, 30, and some of the zones are, like, 44-48. Some of the sages and shit are level 50. Deimos is level 50, and he’s not even the main guy. I have a feeling that if I just put my head down and plow through it I’ll be, like, 41 by the time I have to do the boss, and then I’ll be all “Shit, really? I have to go clear out Kevin for two and a half weeks just to get to the point I can even TRY this?”

That would likely lead to rage quitting, and I don’t want that.

There’s also the pesky truth that the best parts of the game thus far have been the side stuff. The main quest is, basically, “Mommy! Where are you? Gotta warn you that bro kinda turned out not so good!” If I’m just gonna putter until you’re done, I might as well putter doing the best stuff the game has to offer.

I dunno. How much more you figure you got?

Feminina:

Hm. That is true. There are harder levels ahead, and it would be super irritating to work your way to that point in the story and then have to go fight alpha animals and bearded guys in forts just for the XP you needed to continue.

I don’t know, I must be…I don’t know. I’ve made some progress in the main story. Must be more than halfway. I’m level 47, so I’m getting to the point that I could start thinking about challenging the top people, but I don’t know where they are with relation to me in the story right this minute. I feel like there’s a lot left, but a lot of that must be, technically, optional.

Butch:

Must be technically optional. You gonna do it all? Like I said, I defer to you. Don’t feel the need to not play something you’re playing just cuz of me. I can muddle through.

But yeah, we gotta be more than halfway, main storywise. And shit, if you’re level 47 then you’re almost at Delios’ level. Once you’re there, you gotta be able to at least choose to go for the end.

But then, we’ve been at this three months. More than halfway could mean two more weeks or two more months.

Feminina:

Well, yeah, you’d think one could just choose to go for the end at a certain level, but if you have to work through a certain number of cultists to get to the middle…

I did finally upgrade my spear to level 5. Still haven’t gone to the Obsidian Islands for that one dude you mentioned, though. Soon! After I take care of Barnabas’ quest and make that blue diamond go away.

Butch:

This is going to take forever, isn’t it?

Are you still enjoying it? You’re so overpowered that all this is nothing but button mashing unless you made it hard. I haven’t died in weeks, and I’m level 30.

Feminina:

Dude, I’m still wary of huntress camps (so much fire) and my-or-higher level bounty hunters because they kill me semi-often. Everyone has fire and poison now. Plus they’re all basically the same level as me most of the time (a lot of things seem to level with me), so I’m not exactly overpowered, although many things (fighting animals and randits) are pretty simple now.

But also, I’m at the point where I don’t mind things being a little easier: it’s OK to be cruising along, mostly wiping things up without too much trouble the better to sift out the interesting bits.

It’s still working for me. But I can totally see what you mean when you say it’s really not doing much for you anymore.

Butch:

It’s just so much the same. The same skills. The same dodging. The same approach to every single fight.

Sigh.

Feminina:

That is true. But also, we complain when games throw too many new and different mechanics into combat, as well as when they don’t throw anything new and different into combat.

Also, there are about 15 skills that might make combat different but that I haven’t bothered to get because I already have four things on my “Assign This Skill To Use It” section already and I don’t want to have to think about starting a second level. So to a certain extent, I don’t WANT new approaches to fights. I sort of WANT to just get good at combat and then not have to think too hard about it.

But there is a vast, vast array of similar combats, and that does begin to pall.

I think maybe the thing of it is, is that we don’t actually want enormous sandbox games. Games think that’s what we want, and maybe it is what someone wants, but we always seem to come to a point where we find it exhausting rather than exciting to have so much to do.

I think maybe we just actually prefer smaller games with more distinct boundaries. We loved the hell out of DAO and ME2, which were essentially linear games with distinct boundaries, that managed to FEEL like enormous games in huge worlds.

And we were not nearly as psyched about MEA, which went the vast sprawling sandbox route. And I loved the early AC games, which had pretty clear boundaries, but I don’t love this one the same way (although I’m still enjoying it).

Half the praise I had for RDR2 was that it hid some of its largeness from me so I didn’t feel compelled to explore it all.

Maybe we have to face the fact that huge open worlds aren’t actually what we like.

Butch:

Dude, I’ve never said that open worlds are my favorite. You loved Skyrim far more than I did. I feared (and continue to fear) the Skyrimification of video games. That game was such a hit, and ingrained the whole “more is more” idea into video games. That, plus the desire of publishers to keep us playing until DLC hits dilutes story like mad.

Worst thing DA and ME did was trying to be more Bethesda.

The one exception was, sort of, kind of, Horizon. That was more open world, but still had such tricky gates that it kinda wasn’t. There was just no real way to get to the Carja lands before you were strong enough. Sure, the Nora lands were big, but…..

I’ll happily face that open world games aren’t the best. Been saying that all along.

Feminina:

Yeah, you’re right. You have always been dubious. I didn’t mean to imply that you’ve been all “yay sandbox!” in the past–I meant more that maybe it’s time to specifically put on record that we DISLIKE this.

Although I don’t know that I would actually go that far. Quite. Yet. I think for me it’s less that I don’t like it, and more that I’m coming to feel I don’t have time for it.

Like, do I want to spend ALL THE TIME on this one game? Maybe not, unless it’s really great. And yet, once I’ve poured in 50+ hours, and I AM enjoying it, I don’t want to bail before the end, even if I’m not enjoying it at the level that I enjoyed, say, Horizon.

Hm.

Butch:

Well, unlike you, I don’t feel so obligated to do everything. I think the best thing about, say, Horizon is that it never forced you into doing busy work. Mafia did. This did. I don’t mind extra shit if people want extra shit, but when a game MAKES me burn war supplies to progress or MAKES me do a whole lot of ship shit when I don’t want to, that’s annoying. Games seem to be, not just putting stuff in, but making players do it simply because they put it in.

THAT sucks.

The last two playing sessions I HAD to raid forts. I don’t want to raid forts. If other people want to raid forts, fine. Put in the forts. Put in the boats. Put in the car races. But shit, don’t make me DO them.

Because that gets away from what sandbox games should be. Once you get into YOU HAVE TO DO THIS it isn’t the kind of game even Skyrim was. You could ignore the main story totally in that. Or, you could do the main story (such as it was) and ignore everything else.

That’s not true here. Nor was it with Mafia.

And THAT sucks.

Feminina:

Hm…yeah, I see that. I mean…I don’t mind if the game makes you do something once or twice, just to make sure you know what it’s about, but a lot of things should probably be optional after that. Like, fine, force me to learn to play gwent, but then if I want to skip every game after that, I should be able to.

I’m with you on that.

Butch:

Exactly! Horizon got that right. Want to craft? Craft. But, if not, buy shit. Want to ace all the hunting grounds? Fine. Do it. But, after that first one, you could ignore them.

Imagine how infuriated you’d’ve been if you HAD to play five gwent games to move the main story.

That’s how I’m feeling right now.

Or, even if you make me do it, make it be quick. I had to weaken the place I am, you know, with the port and the agora and the temple, to kill the guy. Annoying. So I went to a HUGE fort and killed everyone and burned everything and stole the damn treasure, and it STILL wasn’t enough. Almost an hour of real time. No real thought to it. “Oh, there’s the supplies, ok, sneak kill burn, repeat.” And I STILL had to do more.

No, game. No. Not cool. I proved I could sneak and kill and burn. That should be enough.

Feminina:

Yeah, I would have been pretty annoyed. No doubt. Or playing poker in RDR2. OK to make me do it that one time for that heist, that was entertaining. Don’t make me play poker with a bunch of people as the only means of gaining their trust and getting control of their forts, or whatever.

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