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Ocelot

Member Since 07 Apr 2008
Offline Last Active Today, 01:38 AM

#488064 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 16 November 2018 - 11:10 PM

MORE RUMOURS!

 

So hot on the heels of the potential PS5 hype, we have a rumour about a new Xbox coming in 2019: apparently it's an Xbox One S with no disc drive:

 

The company is planning to release an updated console next year, but this device will not be in the Scarlett family, according to people familiar with the company’s plans...

 

...In addition to the new console, there will be a ‘disc-to-digital’ program that, as the name states, turns your physical games into digital downloads. The idea is that you can take your disc to a participating retailer (like the Microsoft store) and trade in your disc for a digital download.

 
So that's cool for people who like that kind of thing. It seems like you can go pretty far with just Game Pass on an XB1, so a really cheap one will probably sell well. I think I'm going to get a regular Xbox One S this Black Friday, though. The 4K Blu Ray drive is a huge selling point for me, and going all digital isn't really an option where I live (bad internet, and games are much, much cheaper at retail).



#488058 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 15 November 2018 - 05:41 PM

OK, we've got some NEWS today. First up:

 

- Thronebreaker, the singleplayer Gwent game, is now on Steam, after having launched exclusively on GOG and apparently not done very well, according to CDPR. I feel like their bigger mistake was putting it out three days before Red Dead Redemption 2 hit, though. If it weren't for that I would happily have bought it on GOG day one, but knowing I'd be ensconced in RDR2 and probably wouldn't play it for a while I was happy to wait, and now I'll probably just get it on Steam.

 

- Speaking of Steam, Killer 7 is now out, for $20 with a 10% launch discount, and Sunset Overdrive will be out tomorrow.

 

But forget about all that, because here's the big one: Sony is skipping E3 in 2019.

 

As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” according to the statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.

 

As the article states, E3's been around for 24 years and Sony's been at all of them, so this is pretty surprising. They've already mentioned that they aren't doing PSX this year, too. So I thought I'd use my EXPERT knowledge of the video game industry, which I am never ever wrong about and you can definitely take my word for that, to explore the possibilities that this announcement raises:

 

1. Sony is getting out of the video game business, everyone panic

 

2. Sony is going to start doing Nintendo Directs

 

3. It's the PS5, baby! Everyone get hype!

 

Jason Schreier of Kotaku, who I think is probably the most trustworthy actual journalist in this whole industry, says he expects the PS5 in 2020, according to actual devs he's spoken with. And now some random anonymous leaker on Reddit (who accurately predicted this E3-skipping news yesterday) is saying the PS5 will be revealed mid-2019, with a blowout at PSX 2019 and a release probably early 2020.

 

Who's ready for next-gen, dorks? Honestly I'd be fine sticking with this one for another few years, since I think video games look pretty damn good right now, but then I did buy a PS4 Pro like a big sucker so I don't know how I'd feel if I was still on an OG PS4. 2020 is probably the right time. I also think that Sony probably doesn't have any major PS4 games left to announce; We've already seen The Last of Us 2, Death Stranding and Ghosts of Tsushima at the last two E3s, and you can't announce any PS5 games without revealing the PS5.

 

btw, Phil Spencer says that Microsoft is still going to be at E3:

 

A lot to share with fans at E3 2019. Always a high point of the year to witness the industry’s creativity and the energy of the community.

 

Also happy birthday, Wolfie!




#488053 John Wick News and also Regular Movie/TV News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 13 November 2018 - 08:29 PM

Rest in peace, old fellow. 95 is a good run by any measure, but it seems like Stan Lee lived a particularly good life.




#488049 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 12 November 2018 - 04:37 PM

And if you haven't been keeping up on it either, Sunset Overdrive has had numerous little details leaked about an extremely likely PC version coming soon.

 

Aaaaand, it's up already. $20 on Amazon with all the DLC included, releasing November 16th. And on Steam, too, so the Windows Store doesn't even come into it. 

 

EDIT - Nominees for the 2018 Geoff Keighley Awards are out, and you can vote here. As expected it's a lot of RDR2 and God of War. Looking back at it like this, there sure were a lot of big open world games in 2018. Anyway they didn't even nominate Vampyr for Best RPG, but games like Ni no Kuni 2 (which is dreck) and Monster Hunter World (which isn't an RPG) got in there, so we still have a long way to go before this award really means anything. #salty




#488036 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 09 November 2018 - 08:19 PM

- Well known purveyor of high quality products, Bethesda Softworks, will be releasing Fallout 76 next week, a video game where the 54GB day one patch is bigger than the actual game.

 

- The first Crackdown game is free to download right now, for Xbox 360 or Xbox One thanks to those two sweetest words: backwards compatibility.

 

- His Excellency Pope Keighley is hyping up his Game Awards again, promising the "biggest lineup ever in terms of new game announcements". It's happening on December 6th this year.

 

- Microsoft's show X018 is coming in just under 24 hours, teasing "over a dozen game announcements" for Xbox Game Pass, updates for upcoming and on-going Xbox games, and I'm hoping a new DMC5 trailer since Microsoft seems to have the marketing deal for that one.

 




#488031 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 06 November 2018 - 06:35 AM

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolute masterclass in environmental storytelling. I've made a point of checking out every little square on the map that denotes a house, hut, cabin or any other kind of building, and I've very rarely been disappointed. There's almost always a little story to find, and maybe a cheeky little bit of loot for your trouble, too. Here are some of my more memorable finds so far:
 
- A farmhouse with two bloody, slaughtered bodies lying on the floor, man and woman. A trail of blood leads outside to a third dead woman who looks like she died trying to climb onto a wagon. Searching her bodies reveals a handwritten letter from, presumably, the farmer, who was having an affair with this woman and decided to break it off, and she obviously came to visit one night and things went bad.
 
- A frozen over pond up in the mountains with a little abandoned beside it and a small grave dug nearby. Searching the shack reveals a newspaper clipping of an article titled something like "Tragic accident for promising young ice skating talent" :(
 
- A little cabin up in the foothills with a huge crater in the floor and about four burned bodies lying around. I thought it was bandits or something, but then I noticed a small hole in the roof, too, and when I went to look at the crater I got a prompt to pick up a small meteorite. When you go outside you get a prompt for Arthur to draw one of his little pictures of the house that the meteorite hit. Not too far from this cabin is a massive crater in the mountainside where the larger chunk of the meteorite obviously hit, with all the trees in the area bent over sideways from the impact.
 
- The best example of "Always look behind the waterfall" I've ever seen: a massive cave system behind a small waterfall at what I think is called Elysium Lake, or something like that. I'm guessing this will be part of a mission later, because I couldn't find anything to interact with in there, but there was a cave painting with a very obvious hidey hole that makes me think it might be part of a treasure hunt that I don't have the map for yet. The other paths of the cave were all blocked by rubble, so I went back out the way I came, and when I rode over the hill behind the waterfall I found an abandoned mining site with what had obviously once been the entrance to this cave/mine boarded over.
 
- A house in the hills near Strawberry with a congratulatory hamper left on the doorstep and a note wishing the young newlyweds all the best. Further on down the road I come across a stranger peering over the edge of a cliff, telling me about a cart that must have gone over and crashed. I go down and check it out, and sure enough it's the two newlyweds, dead as doornails.
 
- The best/dumbest one: I walk into a small hunting cabin and am IMMEDIATELY pounced on by a GIANT, ANGRY BEAR. I struggle against him and manage to stab him in the neck, then get to my feet and stand stock still for a solid ten count until I get my wits about me again. There's a well-dressed corpse in the room, and an ornate desk with a nice typewriter on it, and when I search the drawers I find a couple of poems. I suppose he was an aspiring poet who came out to the wilderness for inspiration... and then a bear burst in through the back door and ate him one day :P
 
The game also brings back one of my favourite sidequest-y type things from RDR1 with the treasure maps, and they're just as good here as they were there. The fact that Rockstar has the resources to build these open worlds without resorting to any kind of repetition of assets or procedural generation means they can pack them with very recognisable landmarks, and then they'll send you on treasure hunts with maps that point to those landmarks. There are no waypoints or anything, you just have to find'em, and they could be anywhere in these miles upon miles of forests. It's not something you can sit down and bang out, but rather you just keep that image from the treasure map in the back of your mind, and one day you'll be out there and all of a sudden you'll see the exact face-shaped rocky outcropping you remember from the map and KABAMZO you'll have the next step of the treasure hunt in hand. It's such a wonderful feeling.
 
Also I'm finally getting used to the controls. Once you get a feel for where everything sits within the hopelessly complicated menus within menus, you can actually blast through'em pretty quickly, and right now I'm feeling pretty overpowered. In my first ten-ish hours with the game I felt like I could only reliably win a gunfight if I had some good cover and everyone had the decency to come at me from one direction, but now that I know that the radial menu can pause time, and ability-enhancing tonics can be drunk almost instantly, and the Deadeye bullet time meter can be refilled as many times as you have tonics to refill it, I'm practically invincible. One of the games random encounters will have you ambushed by bad guys after you enter a covered bridge, but thanks to my insta-tonics and Deadeye I was able to effortlessly drop six dudes with six consecutive perfect headshots from my repeater and ride off without a scratch.



#488028 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 03 November 2018 - 07:47 PM

Some say that the phrase "YAS QUEEN" is overused, but I submit to you that nothing has even been more deserving of a YAAAAS QUEEEEN than this:

 

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Lady Gaga is playing Bayonetta. I love this.

 

EDIT - It got better:

 

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#488025 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 03 November 2018 - 12:31 AM

So now we can't complain we have to pay the price of a full game to get the good bits of Destiny 2, I guess?

 

I suppose this is one pro of the dark, Games-as-a-Service, never-ending lootbox-platform grind'em-up future we have to look forward to. After a year the base game's price drops so far that it's in the publisher's interest to just give it away, because you need it to play the newest expansion.

 

Oh, by the way, if anyone feels like a sobering look at the state of video games today, here are the top ten selling games on the PS4 and Xbox One over this entire generation so far:

 

img_20181102_234712upcbe.jpg

 

img_20181102_2347091liz7.jpg

 

Everything was first-person shooters :P




#488022 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 02 November 2018 - 07:25 PM

So if anyone wants to play Destiny 2 for free... you can. From today until November 18th you can get the base game, seemingly to keep forever, just by downloading the Battle.net client and accepting it as a gift. I just did it and, yep, I guess I own Destiny 2 now. I'm downloading all eighty gigabytes of it now.

 




#488008 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 30 October 2018 - 03:23 AM

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#488007 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 29 October 2018 - 07:19 AM

"Ryder's decisions will have far-reaching consequences", Mass Effect Andromeda lies to me in a loading screen tooltip, during an initial load that, on my PC seems to take anywhere between 20 seconds and like ten solid minutes depending on whether the game is of a mind to go through a lengthy "BUILDING SHADERS" process or not. I have now finished the game, uninstalled it with the quickness, and I feel I am now qualified to speak on this game's version of that noblest of RPG traditions: choice and consequence. The verdict? There are no consequences to anything, but to be perfectly fair, it's hard to have consequences when you have almost no choices to begin with.

 

Gone are the meaningful dialogue choices from your grampappy's Mass Effect, almost entirely replaced here with points at which an entirely fixed conversation will stop and ask you whether you want to say the next insignificant line normally or irritatingly. None of this plays into any kind of morality system, or has any other kind of effect beyond the immediate, so say your memes to your heart's content because none of it means anything. The achingly difficult moral grey areas that Loyalty Missions of old would force you to choose between are gone, replaced with... nothing at all. Andromeda's Loyalty Missions actually have the squad mate in question making the decisions, while you just stand there watching the game play itself, thinking fondly of times past when Mass Effect was an RPG. There are a few missions where you get to choose who will be the Pathfinder representative of another race, but, as I believe we have discussed, all the aliens in this game have the exact same model so what does it even matter if you end up with one over another?

 

Most other 'consequences' throughout the game manifest as "X character may or may not be friendly enough/alive to make a brief cameo in the final mission", which is an affair so stuffed with radio chatter that's mixed too quietly to hear over the roar of you blasting away at your ten millionth identical Kett soldiers that you'd barely even know it anyway. The worst one of all is a main mission to save this Angaran Priestess from a Kett POW experimentation facility, where the choice ends up being "Evacuate all the Angaran prisoners" or "Blow up the entire facility with the prisoners still inside", and, inexplicably, the Priestess is pro blowing up the facility. Even when Jaal tries to tell her we can just come back later and blow it up once everyone is safe, she gets super pouty that you won't callously slaughter a few thousand of her own people and warns that you'd better be ready for her to turn her back on you in your hour of need some day. And then nothing ever comes of it anyway.

 

None of your squad can die. They're all added to your party automatically so you can't miss them. They won't argue with eachother. They'll all idolise you no matter what you say or do. You can't actually say anything to anyone that might upset them anyway; you're literally just choosing the tone in which to express the specific sentiment Bioware has laid out for you at any given juncture. It's like the sexless, bland cast of some middling sitcom, where each one has their own single characteristic that is mined for jokes (*canned laughter every time Drack mentions how old he is*), and there's no issue so serious that it can't be solved before the credits roll. Remember when Mass Effect 1 had you get to know Saren before he turned on you, and you could talk him out of a phase of the final bossfight? Remember the conversation with Sovereign on Virmire where you got a glimpse at the real menace and never once said a meme at him? Back when Mass Effect was an RPG? Here Ryder mainly talks to the Archon in non-interactive cutscenes, and he has all the pathos and nuance of a bad Power Rangers villain, complete with the dumb outfit. He has this loop of bone on his skull that looks so much like a basketball hoop that I spent every moment he was on screen imagining dunking on him and then hanging off his head rim. Weirdly enough his gross, four-nostrilled alien mug actually has the best facial animation in the game, but it's wasted on a villain about as memorable as that guy from the Justice League movie.

 

I don't know if I've made it clear yet, but I really didn't like this game. There's still so much I want to talk about, like how you start seeing Angaran mercenaries mixed in with the bad guys you fight all over the galaxy, seemingly days after your supposed first contact moment. The removal of manually-controllable squad mate powers is such a huge step back and basically turns squad mate selection into deciding who you want to hear talk to eachother on long Nomad rides. They don't even get alternate outfits when you do their Loyalty Missions any more; they might as well not even be there in combat. And I can't stand how the game keeps brushing off questions about the Remnant, or how exactly SAM works inside Ryder's body, with glib "It's complicated" handwaves, when this is Mass Effect. Don't tell me it's complicated; explain it to me. Fascinating lore is what this whole series was built on!. Here even the Codex is mostly just descriptions of enemies and the various mechanics you use as you grind your percentage bars up.

 

The worst thing is I still feel like there's great potential in the premise of a non-military team of scientists, researchers and wilderness experts building a home in a new galaxy. A game about finding new planets that nobody has set foot on before, and using your ingenuity to turn those planets into worlds. Dealing with peculiar races of aliens who don't speak your language and won't just perfectly fit in with your customs. Establishing colonies and making hard choices for the greater good, where every decision has drastic ramifications and nobody is ever happy, and the entire situation is a political minefield (like, y'know, an RPG). Imagine a game where the aim is to hold life precious at all costs, because that is what colonising a galaxy is about. Imagine a game, then, that is THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA, which is a game about going to a galaxy where everything has already been discovered and then killing everyone in it.

 

EDIT - No, wait, I forgot the worst thing: I romanced Vetra and we didn't even have gross interspecies sex! I didn't see so much as a chitinous Turian buttcheek. She made me fly all the way to Kadara and we just kissed lamely, and that was that. Bioware, I was sold a bill of goods here.

 

EDIT - No, wait, one last thing: imagine seeing the reaction to Mass Effect 3's space magic ending and then deciding to go waaaaay further down the space magic hole with your followup. Andromeda is barely even a sci-fi game any more. Every planet you land on just so happens to have an ancient alien terraforming machine that instantly undoes thousands of years of climate change just by mooshing your palm against a couple of triangular keyboards so your impossibly advanced AI can interface with it (how does that work again? Oh, right, it's complicated). But then later in the game you lose your AI, and in a dramatic scene Ryder finds she can still work all the keypads, literally just with her chosen one protagonist magic powers now. Oh, but she gets a nosebleed like in every other work of fiction when people use their psychic powers too much. Thanks I hate it.

 

EDIT - OK, I promise this is the last one. Spoilers for the ending of this bad game that is never going to get a sequel:

 

Spoiler

 

EDIT - Did I mention the aliens all have the same face?




#488006 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 28 October 2018 - 05:10 AM

OK, part 2 of Ocelot's journey through Mass Effect Andromeda, wherein he occasionally finds brief pockets of enjoyable Mass-Effect-iness amongst the bland, 'this-is-what-all-AAA-video-games-are-like-in-the-current-era' open-world checklist-ticking design, but then makes the mistake of pursuing the various Loyalty Missions and is jerked around from planet to planet for so many menial tasks that he completely sours on it all again.

 

This game is a mess of logistical roadblocks, congested menus, inefficient UIs and all kinds of other quality-of-life ruiners, the kind of thing you expect from one of Ubisoft's behemoths that 12 different studios across the world worked on without ever consulting eachother. The planet Aya has a wonderful Fast Travel system to save you the trouble of schlepping around the whole place on foot, but the much larger areas of Nexus and Kadara don't. When you're out on a big planet that you need the Nomad to get around, you can warp straight back to the Tempest from the Nomad, but not from outside the Nomad. You can skip the long animation for flying between two planets, but you can't skip the one for traveling between systems or the ones for landing on or leaving a planet. You can only check your e-mail from your spaceship, and you aren't allowed to just walk around your spaceship while it's docked on a planet. YOU HAVE TO GO INTO SPACE TO CHECK YOUR E-MAILS. This is such a baffling design decision that I find it almost impossible to believe. Mass Effect Andromeda posits a world in which the main character has an AI inside her brain powerful enough to effortlessly interface with ancient, terraforming-level technology from another alien species, but checking e-mails can only be done at a desktop PC. After flying to space.

 

To be fair, Bioware has always conveniently ignored modern-day smartphone technology for narrative convenience in Mass Effect (see also: a Reaper attacked the Citadel in ME1 and nobody took a picture, nobody just looks up "What do Quarians look like under their helmets" on Google, etc), and I could let something like this slide if it wasn't such an obvious problem in this game. I can't tell you how many quests in this damn game have sent me pingponging between STAR SYSTEMS just so some random loser can drop three lines of dialogue on me and update the waypoint I blindly follow to point to the next step of the quest. For the love of God, CALL ME ON THE SPACE PHONE! I have one! It's right there on the ship! Send a text to my Omni-tool! Ryder's laughably-animated jazz-hands gestures at its holographic interface can make that thing do everything from hacking doors to seeing through walls to turning into a STRAIGHT UP ACTUAL SWORD; I refuse to believe it doesn't come with a cell plan. This is a science fiction universe in which people stranded a billion light years from civilization are burning through tons of precious space fuel to zigzag across an entire galaxy doing favours for their friends because they refuse to use technology that exists TODAY IN THE REAL WORLD. I'm so angry you guys oh my God.

 

I swear to God I have visited every single planet twice for Peebee and her Loyalty Mission still hasn't officially started. And what makes it worse is that I've finished the other five Loyalty Missions and they weren't even good. I liked Vetra's, mainly because I like Vetra, but none of these other schmucks have anything interesting going on in their lives and I resent all the time I've spent trying to get to know them. It's not that they're bad characters; there's no standout Garrus or Tali amongst them, but if we're being real there was no Garrus or Tali in the first Mass Effect either, just characters who would become our Garrus and Tali over the course of the series. I think Vetra has some real potential, and Drack and Peebee could go places. But Jaal is a boring man from a boring race, Cora is just your standard neutral human Bioware companion, and Liam is... it's like they've actually tried really hard to make me personally dislike him. Liam is the personification of this game's "What if Mass Effect... but memes?" tone. Everything Liam says sounds like Reddit wrote it. His Loyalty Mission is this insufferable meta examination of Mass Effect itself which hovers on the brink of breaking the fourth wall the whole time. I can't stand him.

 

This game reminds me of those unwatchable cartoons where you can tell the suits in marketing said "Nobody wants to see Batman any more; kids want to see characters their own age fighting crimes". The Mass Effect trilogy put you in the shoes of a confident, capable, sexually-irresistible soldier and let you live out all your best space fantasies. Mass Effect Andromeda feels like you're in the shoes of someone from the Bioware Social Forum who only knows how to respond to the real world through gifs and memes. "Now there's something you don't see everyday", you quip sardonically, as you uncover an ancient, unknowable world machine built by a super-advanced alien race from the other end of the universe that make the Protheans look like cro-magnons bonking things with stones. "Let's not die", your squad mate quips back, her Turian face somehow contorted into the tongue-out emoji. "We got this", you reply, using that exact, meaningless line for like the tenth damn time in this video game Jesus who wrote this? I can't stress enough how much the Imgur comments section tone undercuts any kind of gravitas or solemnity this game might have otherwise had, and it's seriously there every time you get to pick dialogue options. 99% of the 'options' here are just to make the conversation move forward in two different tones, but one of those tones is always "meme" and I really dislike it.

 

Also, I know I mentioned this before, but I CANNOT BELIEVE THE ALIENS ALL HAVE THE SAME FACES. I can't believe it! Every Asari but Peebee is the exact same person! This game came out in TWENTY SEVENTEEN and when you come back to the Nexus after rescuing the Asari Ark you see forty of the same face come walking in the door. I can't deal with it. How did this game happen like this? What is this game? Am I in crazy town? Is this the real life? No, wait, I'd better stop or I'll start sounding like Liam.




#488004 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 26 October 2018 - 07:46 AM

It's October 26th, so you know what that means: after years of waiting, I am finally playing Rrrrrreeeee- Mass Effect Andromeda. Yeah, Origin is currently giving away a free 7-day trial of Origin Access on PC, and Andromeda is in the Vault, so I'm giving it a go. And I don't like it.

 

I'm determined to give this game the benefit of the doubt and approach it like I live in another timeline where it wasn't a huge public disaster. A hundred years ago I used to be a die hard Mass Effect fan, and there's nothing in the world I'd love more than a good new entry in the series, so I'm trying here. The game I'm playing today has had all the patches and post-launch attention it's ever going to get, so character faces only look awful rather than hilarious, and the game's only hard-crashed on me three times in the first ten-ish hours; not exactly great, but nothing to bear a grudge over. But, uuuuugh, it's just so... bad. It's boring. I'm in a new galaxy in a cool spaceship full of gross aliens who want to bone me and I just don't feel any of the Mass Effect magic at all. I just see a Galaxy Map full of busywork tasks to tick off a giant checklist and percentage bars that need filling up.

 

Worse, I've just reached Havarl, which means I'm hot off the worst 'first contact' scene ever written in all science fiction. We arrive at the planet Aya after having just flown through a dumb cloud of evil space smoke, and are escorted to a settlement by some local ships like in Empire Strikes Back. We land, and I walk down the gangway to humanity's first meeting with an entirely new race of alien creatures... who immediately speak to me in perfect English. This is not acknowledged or explained in any way. With all the pomp and circumstance of a low-key job interview I'm escorted down a couple of corridors by some seemingly low-level authority figure, and then immediately palmed off onto a fellow whose obvious higher-fidelity character model betrays the fact that he will be my next squad mate, who then leads me to another guy who almost instantaneously launches into generic RPG quest-giver speech patterns. "Oh, we can help you accomplish your goal, but first you complete a series of tasks for us". Then, on the way back out, I talk to the first NPC in the area with a talk prompt and am greeted as 'Pathfinder' and spoken to like I'm any old schmuck on the street.

 

THIS IS HUMANITY'S FIRST MEETING WITH A NEW ALIEN RACE! Can you even imagine what that would look like if aliens came to Earth one day? The mind-boggling level of hand-wringing on a global scale as the entire might of our planet's media, scientific powers, military forces and internet meme creators laser-focus onto the most remarkable event in human history? How would we speak to them, how could we exist alongside them, how could we learn to know a fundamentally different form of life? Where would the representative of this new race be taken? What sights would they see? Where would the ship land? The very idea that beings from an entirely different galaxy could walk on a planet of our gravity level, and comfortably breath the mix of chemicals we call air is a cosmic coincidence that would incite generations worth of debate.

 

Mass Effect Andromeda doesn't concern itself with any of these questions. It doesn't do anything. You just land on a planet and an NPC leads you to a quest giver; another day in the life of Video Game Character on a quest to fill percentage bars. This game's only gameplay style is shooting, and you can't shoot your way through a language barrier, so oh well the aliens just speak English straight away and you'll get a throwaway line about 'translators' to half-heartedly explain it. Where are you going to land? In the docking bay, of course; as we all know, an entire alien planet only has one settlement with no houses where all four dozen inhabitants stand around all day and night saying single phrases. Shouldn't you be taken to meet the President in the planet's highest-security fortress or something? Eh, no, this random guy in this random room over here will be fine. Are you going to... I don't know, ask them about their culture? Their history? Leave some humans behind as ambassadors? Do literally anything? No, you're just going to leave immediately on the next step of your main quest, because there are guys out there to shoot and percentages to raise.

 

Just... what an absolute waste. What an absolute waste of the Mass Effect name, of Andromeda's premise and its promise of a fresh start. I was disappointed that my main job in the early hours of the game was not finding a new planet but simply fixing a settlement on a planet that had already been found and half-colonised, but this? I hate it. I'm going to keep playing for now, because I at least want to see some of the squad mates' Loyalty Missions, but I'm not happy with any of this.

 

Some more assorted thoughts:

 

- Tone-wise, the writing team seems to have aimed for 'the snarky character in the sitcom' at pretty much all times, for almost all characters. Eventually you start hearing their individual voices, but only underneath all the sarcasm and "Isn't this situation we're in right now so craaaazy?" self-referential stuff. Dialogue choices seem to be mainly "Yes" or "Yes, but obnoxiously", except for the obvious romance speech options that are now straight up marked as such with a giant heart symbol so you couldn't possibly miss them. Honestly there's about as much thrill to it as just picking your choice of alien sex cutscene from a menu.

 

- Every alien non-squad-mate character within a certain species has the same face. Every single one! Every male Turian in this game has the same face in different colours. Every Asari, every Salarian, same face. I recognised my ship's Asari doctor as having Natalie Dormer's voice, and I thought her face looked pretty good, but then I realised that every other Asari in the game looked identical. I was chasing up a Turian accused of murder on the Nexus, so I went to see the his jailer, who showed me to the guy's cell, and they were both the same person. There's this scene with the fellow I now know to be the Kett Archon, where he tries to open a Remnant door while his four bodyguard soldiers shuffle around in the background 100% IDENTICAL TO EACHOTHER. What are we even doing here? What is this? Isn't this Mass Effect?

 

- There's been no attempt to write natural-sounding conversations; everyone wants to spill their deepest, darkest secrets to you immediately because you're the player character. I spoke to my Scottish navigator Suvi, who immediately told me her life story and mentioned that she believed in a higher power. My two response options? "I do too" and "ACK-CHOO-ALLY, there's no proof of God". Terrible.

 

- The storytelling has just been shockingly poor so far. Your introduction to Andromeda, with this rubbish mission on some lame planet where Clancy Brown is briefly your father and then dies pointlessly before apparently declaring you the Pathfinder off-screen, is so truncated and... just bad, to be honest, that I don't feel like I have a good grasp of anything here. People just start talking about 'Remnant', like I'm supposed to know exactly what it is. Oh, sure. Remnant. You want to, maybe, introduce them? Set up some kind of story about them? No? I should just platform across their floating columns and shoot their robots for the rest of the game? Oh. Good. Just what I like.

 

- I like the zoom-y boom-y jumpjet stuff in combat, but I'm already getting a little sick of the same dance of putting crosshairs on faces and pulling the trigger until the health bar empties. These enemies are not very interesting to fight, and my character is fragile and my weapons weak enough that I can't really risk blasting around out of cover at the moment. Apparently you don't get to control your squad mates' powers any more, so that's another option off the table. Also I wish developers wouldn't do automatic cover systems. They're always this ineffective half-step between a full-on sticky cover system where you press a button to slam into a wall, and the traditional 'just stand behind things' tactic of older games.

 

- The Tempest is a beautiful spaceship, and the CG cutscenes you see every now and then are gorgeous. Those moments are the closest this game has come to igniting that Mass Effect flame inside me.

 

- I hate that the game doesn't let you manually save during a Priority Mission. Why? It's so weird, and because I'm playing this on PC rather than my beautiful console with my beautiful Suspend/Resume feature, every time I have to step away from the game I just have to hope I don't lose too much progress when I come back. Why would you do this Bioware?




#487981 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 16 October 2018 - 05:03 AM

OH DUDE I have to tell you guys one last thing about Assassin's Creed Odyssey because it's insane! But first one final update: I got the Platinum Trophy and I still think this game's great. I'd like to see Ubisoft work on a few things for the next AC game in this vein, but boy I had a nice 65 hours with this bad boy. If you don't want to read my massive spoiler here (and boy it's really big, because it's the culmination of the three major story quest lines that you spend this entire game working towards), then let me just leave you with my hearty recommendation and this picture of Kassandra when her hair textures didn't load in right one time and it somehow made her look even more Yas Queen SLAAAAY than usual:

 

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OK, here we go with MASSIVE, SUPER-ULTRA-TRUE-SECRET ENDING SPOILERS FOR ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY!

 

Spoiler




#487979 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 14 October 2018 - 10:58 PM

OK, baby, time for an Assassin's Creed Odyssey update, after about 55 hours. I've finished the main story, and there are a few more juicy questlines I want to chase up on my way to the level cap. I might end up going for the Platinum Trophy if it doesn't turn out to be too much of a grind. I'm happy to say that this is my favourite Assassin's Creed game. If you'd asked me before this I would have told you either Brotherhood (for being, at the time, a fresh new kind of game design that would go on to be Ubisoft's only kind of game, and also having Ezio) or Black Flag (for just being a great pirate game), but Odyssey has a decade's worth of gameplay upgrades, quality of life improvements under its belt, a really enjoyable story that neatly avoids the usual AC problem of Forrest-Gump-ing your character into well-known historical moments at the expense of any kind of continuity, and, without a doubt, the best character in the entire series: Kassandra (and no, I'm not just saying that because her husky voice and big muscles make her Ocelot kryptonite :P).

 

The game gives you three main paths down which to spec your character: Hunter (bow and arrow stuff), Warrior (fighting guys) and Assassin (stealthy boi), and I went in hard on stealth and then shored myself up on fighting for when I'd inevitably get caught. This is one of those games where certain builds will break the game in disgustingly fun ways, so I ended up with this warping Assassination manoeuvre that I could chain to four guys, and a giant axe special attack that I could chain to another four, with a 50% heal I could pop at any moment and the wonderful Sparta Kick for whenever someone made the mistake of putting their back to a ledge. All the special abilities run off an Adrenaline Bar, so of course the game becomes a matter of spec'ing yourself to maximise Adrenaline build-up while minimising the amount you have to spend. There's an easy re-spec ability, too, which I know RPG purists might baulk at but I always appreciate it. What I would really have enjoyed is a Nier Automata style loadout system, where I could match certain armour sets with certain builds depending on what I'm trying to do, but I suppose we can't have everything.

 

I can't say the choice and consequence side of the game really holds up its end of the bargain, though. While there is one major moment where you make the choice in Chapter 1 and the consequence only follows up in Chapter 7, and it does have the Witcher 3 style of ending where it collates certain choices you've made over the entire game rather than just at the very end, most of the game is just very shallow, binary choices. None of your character upgrades apply to any kind of charisma or speech ability; it's all "Do you let this guy walk away or kill him?" and  "Will you splash some Drachmae to pay these guys off or kill them?", that kind of thing. Once you have to choose who's more deserving of medical care: the farmer who feeds the whole village, the rich woman who'll pay you, or the mother of two sick kids, but as far as I can tell there's just no followup to any of it. Comparing the ending to Witcher 3's is not quite deserved, either, because Odyssey really just has the one ending and your choices only determine who's alive to see it. I ended up getting two characters killed due to what felt more like a clerical error in the towering system of checks and balances that govern the outcomes than my actual behaviour in the game. Afterwards I looked up exactly what you need to do for the 'best' ending and I would have sworn I'd done all of it, but... apparently not. It's a shame because I don't feel the ending I got reflected the way I'd actually played the game; I feel like one particular dialogue choice is weighted too heavily and I just happened to pick it by accident or something.

 

There's a lot of hubbub about this game being Ubisoft's newest low in the race to empty gamers' pockets with predatory microtransactions, and that really wasn't my experience at all. It's an enormous game, and a very long one, but I never felt I had to grind just to make the required levels for main story missions. It does seem like you can't stick to only story quests, though. If you're picking up a side quest or two in every new area you'll stay within the recommended level range, but if, for example, you're a game reviewer or shouting Youtube influencer whose livelihood rests on shotgunning through the critical path as quickly as possible so you can produce content, you're probably going to run into level gating problems. I do think the game is probably too big for its own good, and I suppose it's fair enough that not everyone wants to play through side content, but at the same time I think the side content is actually pretty good and well worth seeing. There's probably a happy medium to be struck for future games. Personally I'd happily take a smaller game in terms of overall scope, but a denser game in terms of story branching and player choice. There are only so many times you can be asked to infiltrate a base to retrieve/kill an item/dude before you start longing for a way to talk yourself out of problems. Or maybe play a game of Gwent...

 

But, like I said, I really like this game, as evidenced by the near-sixty hours I've poured into it in just over a week. It's an extremely smooth, fun, easy game to wile away the hours in, with a slick control scheme and some positively delicious quality of life features. There's a rolling series of autosaves going back every minute for the last five minutes or so, allowing you to go back and redo any given conversation even if you forgot to quick save beforehand. Entering and exiting combat is as easy as locking-on or -off, none of the usual Assassin's Creed misery of trying to leave a fight and not being able to. When you loot a dead body, Kassandra has this kind of 'loot aura' that automatically loots every dead body in like a 10 foot radius, and you can even do it from horseback. And the greatest thing of all? You can't die from falls any more. For the game's opening hours you take fall damage but won't die, but once you hit Lv 20 Kassandra starts casually throwing out a graceful somersault and roll and laughs in the face of certain death. It's bewdiful:

 

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