Spoilers for a fight and plot point in Shadow of the Tomb Raider
What in the actual fuck? HOTMAIL CHANGED! Is this the fuckery that you have been living with? IS IT GOING TO SUGGEST THINGS???
Man, I haven’t had enough coffee for this.
Ok, I did play a little, and I have two things to talk on, and enough so that I don’t want to discuss at the same time. We’ll do one after lunch. I’ll ask Siri to remind me. Fancy new phone.
Ok, so I was at the “you just have a knife” bit. I got past the first wave of dudes pretty well, then got amazingly stupid and should have known I was tired and should have stopped. But did I? No. Here’s how stupid: I killed a guy, there were two other guys. Ok, fine. So I made a corpse bomb (you’re right; awesome) and tried desperately to get the other two to come check it out. Forever. I took forever. And then I realized there was a pond between them and dead guy and they couldn’t swim.
I was missing ponds. Should’ve stopped. But no.
Cuz then I got to the dudes with thermal glasses.
Game, that’s not fair.
But I got by them, and then got to the place where you learn that if you’re muddy then the obviously cut rate glasses Trinity has don’t work. And I tried to get by that but by then the fatigue had made me completely stupid and I gave up.
First thing of the day:
It’s too much. It’s all too much. Every single fucking fight this game does something different. Every one! There’s a new stealth thing, there’s a new weapon, there’s a new bad guy, you’ve lost your weapon, you’ve gained a weapon, SOMETHING. And that’s not even counting the fact that you’ve likely picked up a skill or two that you’ve already forgotten about since the last fight.
Now, you or one of our loyal followers might be reading this and thinking “Butch, you hypocrite. Back in Mafia 3, you complained at length that every fight was the same, nothing ever changed.” Yes, yes I did complain. AFTER ABOUT 30 HOURS! After it got boring! This changes so fast I don’t have time to get used to any style before it changes. Shit, I don’t have time to LEARN any style before it changes! Every damn fight is like a tutorial, but with late game difficulty!
Let me get bored before you switch it, game. Or at least let me get close.
I think the whole thing is a symptom of design, though. We talked about how people wanted more tombs crammed into TR games, and this game aimed to deliver. But it seemed to do that at the expense of combat. There aren’t a whole lot of fights in this game, precious few compared to other games like this. But the game has a bunch of fighting skills, and they gotta use ’em. Shit, the game’s cover is a hot woman (what? She hot) carrying five, count ’em, five weapons. It’s a combat game! But it isn’t. But it is! So they have to cram all these combat ideas in, and it winds up being a tutorial. The whole time.
And pissing me off.
Where’s the fucking send button……ah.
Hotmail has changed!? I bet you start getting helpful automatic conversation suggestions soon!
Welcome to my world.
Well, Microsoft’s world, really.
And yes…the thermal glasses. That was a nasty trick, Trinity. And then the “oh, never mind, here’s how to render the thermal glasses obsolete!” That was amusing.
We’re going to give both the player AND the enemy new tricks that they almost immediately either forget about or can no longer rely on anymore!
I see what you’re saying. The combat IS a lot of new stuff that you learn and then forget, or learn and then learn to counter. And as you say, there isn’t a whole lot of combat, comparatively speaking, so I agree, probably these new things would be welcome and refreshing changes of pace if we’d been engaged in heavy fighting most of the game, but when I barely remember how to switch weapons from one fight to the next because it’s been so long, making me learn/remember some new stuff TOO does get a bit overwhelming.
I didn’t actually mind it that much, maybe because I wasn’t playing while I was tired, but I do see what you’re saying. They are trying to pack a lot of stuff into the relatively few combats they have, so yeah, it starts to feel like something new every time you get into a fight.
Which I could see working, if the game were kind of ABOUT combat in some thematic way. It contributes to this sense of uncertainty about fighting, being always a little on edge, which would be effective in a game with a protagonist who was less skilled. Say, back in the first game, when she was really just learning to be a cold-blooded killer. Being constantly thrown off by some new trick, always just about to stumble and fail because the reflexes aren’t quite there, that could work.
Or, alternatively, maybe in a game very late in a series, where the character wonders if she might not be losing her touch, getting too old for this, whatever.
It fits more oddly in a third game, when we’ve put in a lot of murdering time with her already and are more in a “coming into her own” mindset. “Becoming the Tomb Raider,” as the copy says. We feel like right now we should KNOW how to fight, and so having to learn it all the time doesn’t make as much sense, narratively.
Plus it slows us down, as players. Especially if we’re tired. Have a little sympathy, game. We’re old and tired!
Oh…damn. Maybe it’s not talking about Lara, maybe it’s talking to US!
“Are you losing your edge there, player? Mind and fingers not as nimble as they were? Eyes not as sharp?”
Nah, probably not. They’re selling to young people too.
And what a colorful world it is. This is like some Disney email fever dream.
This is my very point about those goggles. That all happened in the span of minutes.
And mud. It HAD to be mud. I’m SO bad at remembering if I’m muddy. And then I’m in cover and I can’t see if I’m muddy and even if I could it’s not that different from being not muddy… confusing. It’ll get me killed eventually. Maybe it already has. I JUST DON’T KNOW!
Right. New every times. And, as you say, overwhelming. Especially as there’s things I wish I knew. This “chained takedown.” I’m supposed to be able to do another takedown of a nearby enemy after a stealth one. How? Just another triangle prompt? HOW? Why are grenades sometimes smoke, sometimes shrapnel? What if I WANT shrapnel? What if I WANT fire arrows? I don’t know how to do what I know how to do! I certainly don’t know how to do what I don’t know how to do!
I’M SO CONFUSED!!!!
Maybe they were all into it the other way, like, “Well, by now she’s a killer and knows 84295738597 tricks to kill, let’s put them all in! At once! But not really cuz thermal glasses and mud!” Which, yes, accurate. She WOULD know all this. But I don’t, and I’m the damn player.
I have chained takedown! I have never used it because I’ve never figured out how or been in the right place at the right time. At least you dodge sometimes. I have the ‘dodge then attack’ move and I can never remember to dodge so I can use it. Or I dodge, but not at the right moment, so I’m scrambling instead. It’s a mess.
I’m just going to keep telling myself it’s not because I’m old.
Well, at least tell me this bullshit is possible even if you are old. Cuz that was frustrating last night.
Ok, so I set a reminder for myself to talk about the other thing. I said “Siri, remind me at noon to talk to Femmy about that thing.” And it just said “Talk to Sammy about that thing.” Confused the hell out of me.
The second thing:
So that first kill there, when she gets out of the water. The man’s all “Look what I found….” and there’s a cutscene where they fight and she kills him, her on top of him. That HAD to be a callback to the first time Lara kills someone. Attempted rape, or, at least, implied imminent attempted rape, big wrestling fight, one person on top trying to kill the other. Right? And this time it was Lara on top and she wasn’t shocked at all. Or scared. She was all “Don’t try me.”
But, and this dovetails with our “we’re getting old and we suck at games” thing, they took all control away from the player at that point. That whole thing was a cutscene. The first kill in the first game was not. It was all QTEs and shit. But this, you watched. And I think that was because they didn’t want to give you a chance to fail. This was a scene that intentionally mirrored the first game, and, if you died, even once, it would have changed the whole scene.
Which…hmm. Is that “gamey” enough?
I noticed that too. Her rising from the water, extremely cinematic, all dark and sinister and silently lethal–and not under your control. And you’re right, if we’d missed that kill, it would have spoiled that whole mood, so that’s probably what it was about.
“Look at me, an avenging angel of darkness and murder–oops! Stubbed my toe, fell down, the dude shot me in the back.”
SOOOOO not cinematic.
I think it’s gamey enough, as long as they don’t do it constantly. It’s a trick that could get old, for sure. “Oh, great, another dramatic cutscene moment followed by a murder I don’t control and won’t get XP for, yawn.”
But since this is basically the first time we’ve noticed it in this game, I’m OK with it.
It’s not just that it wouldn’t be cinematic. If the whole point of the scene is “Before, she was weak and scared and now she is a death machine who barely blinks,” then if she/you die nine times then she/the game fail entirely to make the point in the first place. And…I dunno. I can see using a cutscene to make a point, but the times I’ve seen that (the one that snaps to mind is the death of Sam in TLOU, when there was that 12 minutes cutscene) are usually there because something huge is happening, like an archdemon is emerging from the moon or some shit, OR to make the player feel powerLESS (like in TLOU). It’s weird to have a moment where the PC is supposed to be powerFUL be taken away from the player. WE were powerless, watching HER be powerful, and that kind of break…was jarring. In a game.
Hm…yeah…I can see that. But on the other hand, you also argued in an earlier discussion that the correct amount of previous knowledge to expect a player to have is none. Given that, we should assume that while WE might think back to a scene in the first game, it’s not actually reasonable to expect that any player will, and therefore the scene must have been designed more with a blank-slate player in mind than with one who played the first game.
In which case, considerations of “how is this going to play for people who might remember that scene in the first game” are at best secondary to considerations of “how freakin’ badass is she in this scene.”
For me, the jarring bit was more “I was so deadly and invincible two seconds ago and now I’m going to get killed 8 times in a row.”
I’m so freakin’ badass! Oh, except I can’t remember how combat works or how to make grenades and I keep dying.
So I get what you’re saying. There is a bit of a disconnect there: “you’re awesome! But we can’t actually trust you the player to be awesome here, so why don’t you just sit back and do nothing and watch the awesomeness we did for you.” It takes the player out of the game in that specific moment. And that moment is kind of a key one for the character, and yeah, the player kind of likes to be involved in key moments.
On the other hand, they’re kind of right not to trust the player to be awesome enough for that moment, so I can see why they did it.
I dunno, dude. I think it’s ok to say “We need to teach the player to do stuff, but we also know that there’s an overarching narrative here.” If you make a sequel to a movie, you still have to do some plot exposition for people who haven’t seen the first, but you still can assume that some knowledge of the plot exists in some people. Plus, in games, it’s easier to remember narrative details than it is to keep specific motions in your hands over time. Tutorials and whatnot act to get your hands working again. That’s what has to be blank slate.
And, much like any other genre: There’ll be scenes in sequels that people who have seen/read the first couple will read differently than those seeing/reading/playing it first. And that’s fine. I think this scene was something that new players would read one way, but also very much recalled the first game.
But I just played more! And WAS awesome! Got through the part that was giving me fits last night in the first go (amazing what a little rest will do), and got fear arrows which are awesome, and did the bit where you could actually USE the trees for the first time in forever which is awesome (they should have done more of that), and then heard Jonah was dead (hmm), CLIMBED a tower TOWARDS a helicopter for some reason (what, exactly, was Lara’s plan? I died twice there because I didn’t think there was any WAY I was supposed to go up…), got the REALLLLLLLY cool scene where she comes up out of the water with the fire behind her (and was SO thankful I was wearing the feathery thing with the boots cuz DAMN I looked good), machine gunned dudes and somehow shot down a helicopter. I have no idea how I shot down the helicopter. I was just picking off dudes thinking “Once I pick off the dudes I shall deal with the helicopter,” and then it crashed for some reason. Whatever.
Then Jonah was alive and despite Lara being consumed by a dehumanizing rage at hearing he was dead, she kinda was just like “Oh, hey, Jonah, sup?”
Lara, weren’t you in a dehumanizing rage for a while oh whatever.
Game gonna game.
But see, that level with the trees and the cover and all the options as to how to approach it: THAT’S what this game should be doing more of. THAT’S some serious TR shit. But too rare, too brief.
Seriously, what was with the whole Jonah’s dead no he isn’t deal? And how is his whole escape plan “I’m gonna call some people?” That’s the plan? And it WORKED???? Like, he got an Uber?
Lara’s overthinking shit, it seems.
That was a bit of a narrative anticlimax.
“MY FRIEND MIGHT BE DEAD I WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING–oh hey man, there you are, alive I guess. How’s everything?”
I think maybe when we shot the explosive barrels while the helicopter was low enough to be caught in the blast, it crashed?
Like you, I was kind of just going along, surviving, picking off dudes and remaining aware of the helicopter up there, and then somehow it had crashed without my needing to deal with it. So yay! I think it had something to do with the explosive barrels. Or maybe I just accidentally hit it the magic number of times while shooting wildly at everything in that general area. It’s a mystery.
The important thing is, we didn’t have to find a grenade launcher to bring it down.
And no one came after it or got in our way while the Uber Jonah called came to pick us up and take us back to the safety of the village.
I’ll say anticlimacx. And rather unexplained. They could have at least done something like “I thought you were dead! He said you were dead!” “Uh, no, Lara, I was just…well, you know this incan food has a lot of fiber, so I was out in the bushes. But, you know, not the ones you took cover in back there. I think.”
There were barrels?
Oh, I was very pleased about the crashing. Helicopters, man. There’s always a helicopter. This was, by far, the least annoying helicopter.
Ha. “JONAH GET OFF THIS CHANNEL!” “Hey, Lara, was just asking if you want to spring for an Uber…we could do a Lyft but we’d have to wait, like, ten more minutes oh you’re busy.”
I never notice the barrels. There are always explosive barrels that I notice AFTER the fight. “Oh, I could have shot at that, I bet it would have blown up and done some damage, oh well.”
This time I noticed the barrels! At least once. They were up on that catwalk that guys kept jumping down from, and I shot them, and there was a big explosion, and the helicopter kind of reeled a bit.
But maybe it was going to do that anyway, if you didn’t shoot any barrels.
The important thing is, it was the least annoying helicopter. We will always remember it fondly.
It, and Jonah’s Uber.
“Hey Lara is this channel safe yet, because I wanted to know what you were thinking of doing about dinner? There’s that little place next to the crypt I’ve been meaning to try…”
“JONAH! SIGN OFF!”
“Well, there’s two places, and they both have a 4.6 on yelp, so I thought I’d let you choose, cuz I’m always picking the one with the longer wait and-“
“Or do you need me to find a place with some gluten free stuff on the menu? Cuz there might be-“
“I liked you better dead.”
Barrels. Yeah. See also the ambush scenes. They always have shit I never noticed.
I don’t know, man! I didn’t even really move. I just hunkered and picked and eventually it all ended. It was so not annoying. Really, more helicopters should just give up.
Maybe it was ashamed that it failed to kill the hero that CLIMBED RIGHT UP TOWARDS IT FOR NO REASON WHAT WAS THAT.