Rest in peace, old fellow. 95 is a good run by any measure, but it seems like Stan Lee lived a particularly good life.
- Lord_Capulet likes this
Jump to content
Posted by Ocelot on Yesterday, 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
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.
Posted by Ocelot on 06 November 2018 - 06:35 AM
Posted by Ocelot on 03 November 2018 - 07:47 PM
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.
Everything was first-person shooters
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.
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:
Anyway, the Archon attacks the Nexus and flies the human Ark to Meridian (off-screen, which as we know is the best way of accomplishing things in a story), where it crashes, thereby deciding that humanity's new home is this weird hollow planet where people live on the inside rather than the outside. Which is to say: a much more interesting premise for a video game than what Mass Effect Andromeda actually is. Why not start the story at Meridian? The human Ark goes off course, crashes into Meridian, and this bizarre inside-out planet becomes your new main hub, and then you can branch out and track down the rest of the Andromeda Initiative from there? Why do so many bad reboots want to start back before the cool things happen and then only tease the cool things moments before the credits roll? Andromeda makes you schlep through Nu Citadel -> Desert Planet -> Plant Planet -> Ice Planet -> Nu Omega -> Desert Planet No. 2 and only then gets to something new and interesting at the very end.
EDIT - Did I mention the aliens all have the same face?
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.
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?
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:
OK, here we go with MASSIVE, SUPER-ULTRA-TRUE-SECRET ENDING SPOILERS FOR ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY!
Pythagoras, who died about 60 years before this game if we're to go by our lame actual history and is thus about 150ish, sends Kassandra on a quest to recover four keys to a mechanism that will seal Atlantis away from the world so evil powers cannot use its knowledge to enslave humanity. These are, of course, First Civilization orbs/Apples of Eden, and they're being guarded by horrible monsters that are implied to be failed experiments by some rogue faction of the First Civilization. If I'm reading things correctly, it seems like it is now canon in the Assassin's Creed universe that Greek Mythology was actually straight up 'real', in that every god and tale and monster was either a deliberate or an accidental creation by the First Civilization, as they essentially ran experiments on humanity from their place outside space and time with their consciousnesses uploaded to the ancient future cloud or something. God I love Assassin's Creed. You fight the Minotaur in this game. Like for reals.
Anyway, that's not even the best bit. Meanwhile, in the future, you're playing as Layla Hassan, a former Abstergo employee who turned coat and is now seemingly a free agent (or maybe an Assassin? I'm not really sure). She travels to the gate of Atlantis after seeing Kassandra find it through her new and improved Oculus Rift style portable Animus, and then, unable to open the gate, jumps back into Animus land to watch Kassandra operate the mechanism back in 432BC. Once you complete this final quest in the past, Kassandra seals Atlantis, and Pythagoras agrees to give up his life-prolonging staff and die, content that Kassandra has saved the Earth. Then you wake up as Layla again to try and re-open Atlantis in the future, find that you need that same staff in order to do it...
AND THEN KASSANDRA WALKS OUT OF THE SHADOWS IN A STYLISH PANTSUIT CARRYING THE STAFF
You guys. YOU GUYS. It is 100%, take-it-to-the-bank CANON that Kassandra has been alive for EVERY SINGLE GAME IN THE ASSASSIN'S CREED SERIES. She lived, ageless and fierce, for like 2,500 years, walking the world and waiting for this moment. This is the greatest plot twist in the entire series and I absolutely love it. Every future Assassin's Creed game between 430BC and like AD2020ish now has the potential, nay the mandate, to include a cameo Kassandra. Ubisoft you absolute madmen.
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 ).
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:
Posted by Ocelot on 09 October 2018 - 09:29 PM
Microsoft is throwing some serious money around. Since E3 they now own:
- The Initiative, a new studio
- Undead Labs, the people who made the State of Decay games
- Playground Games, the ones who make Forza Horizon
- Compulsion Games, the We Happy Few people
- Ninja Theory, of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, DmC and Hellblade fame
...and now Obsidian, apparently. This one is extra surprising since Obsidian had been working on a massive Xbox One launch-ish era exclusive RPG named Stormlands that ended up getting canceled. I guess there's no bad blood between them, though. Hopefully this will mean a secure source of money for them going forward, since it seems like they've been running on fumes the past few years. I'd love to see Microsoft fund some kind of exciting big budget RPG from them. Maybe one where you play as, oh I don't know, some kind of spy, for instance. Something with a lot of player choice and an excellent conversation system and a crazy level of branching to the story paths. Something with a cool espionage-sounding code name for a title, maybe...
Posted by Ocelot on 06 October 2018 - 07:15 AM
I've played about eight hours of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and I'm really enjoying it so far. Continuing the RPG-ification of Assassin's Creed started with Origins, we've got XP, levels, and a big ol' world full of loot to find, MGSV-style enemy bases to clear out, and scary enemies of varying strengths. But where Origins was all the XP with none of the benefits, Odyssey branches out into a cheeky little bit of choice and consequence, and even has a really interesting optional... kinda sorta difficulty mode? Rather than your standard modern AAA video game thing of having you follow a waypoint at all times, Odyssey has a mode where quest markers are replaced with just listening to the quest giver tell you "I need you to go to this place, it's west of *insert landmark here*, south of *a certain town*", and then you just find it yourself. It's not quite as hands-off as Breath of the Wild was, and it'd be hard to really get lost, but it is a really nice change of pace.
So I'm playing as a muscular Greek lady named Kassandra, who has thick eyebrows, a husky voice and just a liiiittle bit of that good Greek 'ssh' on her 'ss' sounds, and I really like her as an RPG protagonist. Honestly a great video game face and a voice will take me a long way in a game like this, but Kassandra has a really enjoyable wry sense of humour to her, too, and she's just a big ol' bruiser. Her first scene has her getting clocked right in the jaw by a loan shark's cronies, which was a great intro; she reminds me a lot of our ol' pal Xena, to be honest. She also calls anyone she doesn't like "malakes", and I love that
I was impressed to see that the skill tree customisation is actually really in-depth this time around, too. It isn't seem like the standard Ubisoft skill tree where you're basically just buying all the abilities you should have had from the beginning and eventually you get them all; here you actually have to spec yourself down certain paths, and the active abilities themselves have to be mapped to hot-keys so you can only have four melee and four ranged ones total. So far I have one ability that lets me permanently destroy an enemy's shield, and one that is just the famous "THIS IS SPARTA" kick from 300 which is absolutely wonderful for knocking people off ledges. You still have the annoying thing where high-level enemies can't be killed in one shot from an Assassination stab, but now there's an ability that lets you hold the button for a more powerful stab, and if you can Sparta kick them off a ledge afterwards you can really turn the tables.
I found a good ol' Assassin's Creed cave full of ancient-past-sci-fi stuff, so that's still there, and all the naval battle stuff is back again so we've basically got a Greatest Hits of Assassin's Creed game here. I had a little look at the overall game map, and I had a moment of existential dread when I had to zoom out one step further than I thought I would to see the whole thing, only to find another zoom out after that. This place is absolutely gigantic, and every quest I've done so far has been pretty in-depth, too; no "fetch 10 things". I'm impressed, and pretty intimidated, too.