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Member Since 07 Apr 2008
Offline Last Active Today, 08:25 AM

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In Topic: Scorp's RPG Corner - Divinity Original Sin II is Here

Today, 08:29 AM

I thought I'd continue my post about Vampyr here so we can get some use out of Scorp's thread :P


Alright, so I finished Vampyr, and boy I really liked that game. It's honestly not objectively great. I think even the most generous reviewer would struggle to justify an 8/10. Playing on PS4, some of the technical aspects were bad enough to have an effect on my role-playing itself. The city is gorgeous, but every street looks identical, and the loooong load times between areas and baffling lack of any kind of fast-travel system makes it a chore to get around. I often just gave up on any sidequest that involved a trek across the city because I couldn't put up with the schlep. I tried not to kill anyone, but at a certain point I was too underleveled and couldn't stand the minute-long load times after death so I started eating people just to save my patience. I had three hard crashes during my playthrough, and nearly had a heart attack thinking I was about to have a fourth when the post-final-boss cutscene started hitching. Combat is honestly just bad. Just... bad. Mushy dodges, bad hitboxes, unsatisfying weapons; imagine Bloodborne made by French walking-simulator developers, because that's what it is.


But if you're the kind of RPG fan who isn't afraid of a little of that Eurojank, and has a PC to play this on, then I'd still strongly recommend it. There's just so much to love here, so many cool RPG mechanics to dig into, and so many dialogue trees to exhaust. I mentioned I abandoned my no-kill playthrough, and I think I enjoyed the game much better for it because it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. Vampyr's 'good' run is actually quite difficult to achieve because of how tightly interwoven all its mechanics are. There's far more to it than just picking up all the nice guy options, and more importantly, the other paths and levels of morality are really interesting to explore in their own right. To lay things out a bit more clearly:


Being a good guy in Vampyr: You just don't eat the guys, right? Ah, but seeing as how that sweet human blood is your main source of XP in this game, you're choosing to play a much more difficult game for which you'll be perpetually underleveled. The plight of the RPG nice guy, amirite? But, furthermore, you'll actually be locking yourself out of certain options amongst NPCs. A few of London's citizens are monsters in their own right, and there are actually positive outcomes to be had by judiciously gnoshing one or two of'em. Certain dialogue options only unlock after a related NPC is killed, and some of the other folks will live better lives out from under the thumb of the bad crowd.


Being a little bit bad, but mostly good: OK, but don't think you're off the hook just because that guy you ate was a serial killer. You also have the overall health of each of the game's four districts to consider. This is a mechanic made a little bit annoying by the game's lack of fast-travel, but basically every citizen in the game can get sick and your job as town doctor is to make your rounds and give them medicine to keep them healthy. Every time you spend that sweet XP you get from chowing down on a bad guy you have to sleep through a day and wake up the next night, but the game's world state will change overnight. People who were sick will get sicker, and people whose significant others you might have chomped will absolutely tank the district's overall morale level. You might have done London a favour by offing that killer, but consider his elderly mother who lived for her son. Can you keep a district healthy with her bringing down the happiness level? Can you justify killer her, too?


Being a big evil vampire in Vampyr: Ah, and here begins the slippery slope. So you've started killing willy nilly; don't think the game's just going to let you get away with it. In biting these people you're enjoying huge chunks of XP, but when you sleep to spend that XP you'll wake up to a drastically declining world, and if you're having too negative an effect on the district you can simply lose it for good. First a citizen or two will simply disappear without your involvement, but if you're really ruthless you can lose an entire district overnight, failing all their sidequests at once, and when you exit your hideout you'll be accosted by all manner of horrible beastie. Hope the game doesn't send you back through that area later in the story... (it will).


If you haven't already guessed, I got a pretty bad ending thanks to getting a little too fang-happy, and this game follows the Witcher 3 method of deciding your comeuppance long before you actually reach the end of a given quest (or, indeed, the entire game) so there's no last minute Quick Load repenting to be done. I actually really like the ending I got, though. Much like its other clear inspiration, them there Souls games, Vampyr has an autosave function running constantly to force you to live with your decisions, and I really respect that. There was one time early in where I feel I wasn't given enough information before I made a choice, and I ended up choosing an option that I hadn't really wanted (these pesky Mass Effect dialogue wheels not telling you exactly what you're going to say before you say it), but apart from that I feel like the game judged me fairly for how I played it and I'm happy to wallow in the muck I ended up in. I'm definitely going to try and get that elusive perfect playthrough on a replay, though.


I really hope Dontnod is able to make a sequel one day, or at least use what they've learnt from this game in another RPG. I wouldn't say they're one of my favourite developers, but between Life is Strange and Vampyr (and I might even add Remember Me if you caught me in a good mood) they're really building an excellent resume. 

In Topic: moving Wicktures that you are watching

17 June 2018 - 01:18 AM

I enjoyed that new Tomb Raider for about the first forty minutes. They went with this interesting story where Lara is living by the skin of her teeth as a bike courier in London, with a team of spunky young friends with interesting haircuts. Alicia Vikander's accent is shaky, but she still does posh better than Camilla Luddington from the new games, and she's immediately a lot more lively and likable. She's showing off her sweaty sixpack at an MMA gym, she's showing off her smarts in a bike race through the city streets (that's actually surprisingly well-shot and exciting), and you're immediately drawn in to the mystery of why our favourite rich girl is out there scrambling around for money.


Unfortunately, it becomes a completely different movie once Lara gets to the spooky island. Those spunky friends from the beginning? We never see them again. Instead, we just sit through a checklist of every major action setpiece from the 2013 game, in what is basically an hour of Lara vs. the CGI Animators. The rusty old WW2 bomber, parachuting through the forest, getting impaled on a tree branch, finding a bow, etc etc. They even copy Game Lara's laughably quick transition from reluctant, "What have I done?" self-defence killer to unflappable murder machine, but somehow they do it even worse in the movie! Nothing is given any time to breath, nothing is given any special care, and I'm pretty sure they only had a couple of shooting locations to work with because the big jungle island looks suspiciously like the same two or three places over and over again.


The final act turns into Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remade by amateurs, with a short reprise of Lara vs. the CGI Animators for good measure. They try to do all the fun riddle-solving and ancient-mechanism-activating scenes, but they forget to establish where Lara gets all the information she needs to solve the puzzles, so she just suddenly starts chanting these "The penitent man will pass"-style cryptic hints that we've never heard before, and rotating these big gear wheels without telling us why she's doing it. They talk a big game about this ancient cursed Japanese Queen who was exiled to this island, and how her thousand servants all killed themselves to protect her in the afterlife, and then they do the least-interesting thing they could do with that setup.


It's just a big load of rubbish, you guys. It has all the hallmarks of a movie that's been rewritten ten times, with bits and pieces from earlier drafts still left over in the finished product but without all the connective tissue they need to make sense, chopped to pieces in the editing room and then sent out to hopefully make some money off the brand name. I wouldn't recommend it.

In Topic: The Video Game News Thread

16 June 2018 - 12:56 AM

So I heard you guys like POST-E3 CATCH-UPS!


- There's a new Octopath Traveler available on the Switch eShop. It's basically just the full game with a three hour time limit, and your progress will transfer over into the full game


- Capcom plans to release both Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5 before March 31st 2019. RE2 is dated for January 25th, so presumably DMC5 will be some time in March. What a time to be alive.


- Shadow of the Tomb Raider has separate difficulty levels for combat, puzzles and exploration, which I think is wonderful. I actually find the combat in these games uncommonly easy on the default difficulty (and I'd never consider myself especially good at third-person shooting), but I'd be happy to ramp the puzzle difficulty up.


- The studio that ported Doom and Wolfenstein 2 to Switch is going to be announcing another "major port" for Switch next month


EDIT - I thought this was interesting:




Here we see concrete proof of Bioware never making another Mass Effect game again.


Also I just want you guys to know that the lettering on Leon's gun in the RE2 artwork says 'Machilda', because someone just transcribed it straight from the katakana and didn't know that Leon has a gun named 'Matilda', and if this mistake goes unnoticed all the way to the final game's box art I'm going to be so happy:



In Topic: D3 2018: The DMC5 Display Demonstration

15 June 2018 - 04:30 AM

Here's a translated synopsis of an interview Miyazaki did with Famitsu.

A lot of good info that clarifies some things about Sekiro.


This game sounds awesome. The little taste I've had of From Software I've had so far with the Dark Souls Remaster has been pretty great, so I'm really interested to see with a more traditional action game that's much more up my alley.


Well, I think that will about do it for E3 2018. We've laughed, we've cried, but most importantly we've seen DEVIL MAY CRY 5 and that makes this the best E3 there ever has been. I just want you to know that I love each and every one of you bozos. We've been together all these years, united in our tireless wait for DMC5 (I mean, we've also done other things here, too), but we've finally done it. It's here.


I'll leave you with the gif I didn't get to use because Nintendo's show was so bad:



In Topic: What Are You Currently Playing?

14 June 2018 - 01:29 AM

I need to tell you guys about this game called Vampyr, because I think I might love it. It's a new action RPG from Dontnod, the people what made Life is Strange, where you play as a vampire named Jonathan in foggy post-war London, and to be honest it's pretty janky and gives a really bad first impression, but if you stick with it for a couple of hours it turns into an incredible RPG with some of the most interesting RPG-ing mechanics I've seen in years. Let's get into this bad boy!


Step 1: OK, so check this out: vampires eat people, right? And RPGs (good ones, at least) are all about making choices about how you're going to treat people and whether you're going to be a Paragon or a Renegade, or a cool customer somewhere in between. So what Vampyr does is give you a world where every NPC in the game is named, with their own personality, sub story, side quests and social links with other characters, with an excellent Mass Effect style dialogue wheel and wonderful branching conversation options with each of them. Apart from generic enemies you fight in combat sections, there are no nameless, faceless NPCs here; it's a really intricately crafted and interlinked world of people. Those links take the form of friendships, professional rivalries, family relationships and all manner of others, and, of course, you find out through the old RPG routine of talking to everyone and exhausting dialogue trees. Vampyr treats new morsels of information as keys that will unlock new branches of those dialogue trees, so if you're anything like me you'll want to spend hours just moseying around prying into everyone's private business so you can find out everything about them, open up new sidequests and generally just find out all the hot gossip.


Step 2: Alright, but now check THIS out: you can eat every named character in this game. All of them. In the midst of dialogue there's a button you can hit to mesmerise them with your vampire powers, walk them out into the shadows and suck'em dry. Whether you can glamour a certain character is governed by your Mesmerisation Level, so it isn't a complete free-for-all where you can eat every NPC at the start of the game and break the story entirely (I'm assuming certain important story characters won't be edible until towards the end), but I think that's pretty cool all the same.


Step 3: Right, you with me so far? Now see if you can hang with THIS: as a classy gentleman vampire, you don't want to drink just any old blood. In fact, Vampire Jonathan is a physician, one who specialises in blood transfusions no less, so he has an innate sense for the quality of a human's blood. In gameplay terms, this manifests as a checklist of things you can do with each of your potential victims to improve the quality of their blood, and thus the quantity of XP you'll receive if you decide to have a nibble on them. If you just walk up to a new character and chomp'em, you'll miss out on a lot of potential XP that you might have been able to reap if you'd spent a little time getting to know them, getting them to reveal their inner secrets, maybe completing a side quest for them that sets their mind at ease and makes their delicious blood all the sweeter. It becomes this perverse game of solving people's problems like a good little RPG protagonist, but at the same time feeling like you're just fattening up all your little piggies for the inevitable feast :P


Step 4: BOYS, this is where it all comes together. This game doesn't have a difficulty setting, instead the game's challenge is predicated on how much XP you can suck down to buy the necessary stat upgrades to spec your character out just right. You'll get a drip feed of XP from conversations and unlocking new hints about characters, a decent chunk of it from completing quests, but by far the biggest source of XP comes from sucking the blood of characters in the game. If you manage to complete all their little substories and get their blood to maximum tastiness level you can get HUGE blasts of XP from them. And the game tells you this right as you load it up: if you want the game to be easier, you've gotta eat those dudes.


So, I think this is brilliant. I think it's not only an incredibly clever RPG mechanic, but a wonderful new twist on the morality system and even a pretty cool way of designing a game's difficulty level, and they're all tied together. If you're struggling with the difficulty you have to consider biting some of the people that you're trying to help in the game, but then you also have to consider what's going to happen with all the other characters they're linked to, and what you might be missing out on later in the game in terms of unlockable substories or sidequests. You obviously want to complete those characters' sidequests to fatten them up to get the most XP out of them, but in doing so you learn their stories, and then it becomes a matter of "Can I kill this guy knowing that he has children at home waiting for him?" And then how is everyone else going to react if people around them start going missing?


I honestly don't know, and I find it absolutely fascinating. I'm trying to play the game without chomping on any of these people, because I generally like to play a goodie-two-shoes in RPGs, but also because I'm really enjoying all the dialogue trees and character relationships and I don't want to lock myself out of them. I'm so curious about what might happen if I started gnoshing these guys, though! The game tells me there will be consequences, and the atmosphere they've created so far is enough for me to believe them. I'm definitely going to have to do another playthrough once I finish it.


I don't think I've been this enthralled with just wandering around talking to characters since The Witcher 3, which is probably the highest praise I can muster. To be clear, I don't think Vampyr's technical aspects are up to the comparison (the writing is a bit plain and the voice acting lacks personality, for starters), but considering this was probably made on a much smaller budget I'm still really impressed. The actual action gameplay is kind of a Bloodborne-lite in design, but far short of that game in execution; the combat really doesn't feel very good, but it's at least manageable. The meat of the game is definitely in the RPG-ing, and I'm really surprised by how much I've been enjoying it so far.