The Finale

May. 1st, 2017 08:14 am
fereldanwench: (Mass Effect - Selene Ryder)
I finished the main story in Andromeda Saturday night. A few non-specific thoughts--Not really spoilery, but with the context of having finished the story. Read at your own risk:

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In spite of exclusionary marketing, a rocky start with dead eyes and bad animation, and areas that definitely need to be refined, I thoroughly enjoyed my first playthrough of Andromeda. I'm eagerly awaiting DLC, and I will definitely be doing more playthroughs.

Compared to a few other games:

- It feels less polished than Inquisition, but it's a lot more fun. I've decided: Andromeda > Inquisition. (And this is coming from someone who generally likes Dragon Age more than Mass Effect.)
- Similarly, although ME1 is a tighter experience, Andromeda is a lot more fun.
- ME2 is better, but ME2 in terms of story and gameplay balance is a damn near perfect game, in my opinion. The loyalty quests in Andromeda seem to take cue from ME2, which was a good call.
- I like it about the same as ME3, but I think it has more replay value because ME3 hurts my heart and I felt lighter finishing Andromeda.

Hot Take

Apr. 24th, 2017 02:04 pm
fereldanwench: (Mass Effect - Selene Ryder)
I'm about 60% finished with MEA, and I don't know if it's just the afterglow of alien cunnilingus talking, but I think I like Andromeda more than Inquisition.

- I still prefer smaller maps and story-focused locations, but Andromeda generally open-worlds better than Inquisition. (Havarl is like the fucking Hinterlands, though, with respawning enemies every 30 seconds LIKE FUCK ME I JUST WANT TO PICK UP SOME GODDAMN LOOT GET OFF MY ASS.)
- The codex system is awesome. I love checking up on Selene's psych profile and reading updates about the relationship development with her crew. Seeing little updates like "Jaal loves you" and "Cora values you as a leader and a friend" honestly warms my heart.
- Ryder > Inquisitor. Ryder feels more like a fully realized character, like Hawke and Shepard, rather than a watered down but voiced Warden, like the Inquisitor. And Fryda Wolff's voice is a gift. Like a warmer Jennifer Hale as FemShep. I love it.
- THE BEST CREW. And they interact with each other. They joke and fight and tease each other and share anecdotes and bond over cultural similarities and differences. The Tempest is so homey. I grew really attached to individual characters in other DA & ME games, but this is the first time I can relate to those "ALL these guys are my family" memes.
- More cutscenes! And the conversations that don't have a fully staged cutscene at least pan the camera in for a little more immersion.
- We get tough decisions that pack an emotional punch and have immediate consequences, and a good balance between light-hearted, silly quests and heart-breaking missions.
- Did I mention alien cunnilingus??

Which isn't to say the game is perfect, by any means:

- It still suffers from having no real sense of urgency as a means of giving the player freedom to explore--If BW is gonna insist on continuing with these open-world/exploration games that still have a central, save-the-world-from-doom story, they gotta find a way to balance the two. An in-game calendar with a clear deadline like in FO4, a quest-counting mechanism like what they had in ME2, something.
- Similarly, there are definitely some issues if you don't pace the story as intended, which isn't always obvious. Example: I did two main missions back-to-back and didn't talk to all my crew in between--They'll refer to the earlier mission like it just happened, then I have to exit the conversation and come back to hear their thoughts about the most recent one.
- There is definitely some problematic writing. Gil's personal story stands out to me. Having hit the climax with Jaal's romance, I think the exclusion of his male romance has as many bad implications as excluding Cullen's. Jaal is very sweet and adoring and sends beautiful, heartful messages to Ryder saying how lovely she is in body and soul; deciding to deny mlm Ryders such a tender romance and instead giving them the more dramatic, non-companion "bad boys" raises some questions.
- Ryder's goofy fucking facial animations soured what was otherwise a very sweet and sexy moment with Jaal. Screenshots later.
- Also, at least for Jaal, there's no "Can I get a kiss" option after romance. It's small, but I miss that from DAO/DAI.

But all in all, at this point, I think the game is a much more fun experience than Inquisition.
fereldanwench: (Mass Effect - Selene Ryder)
I've been taking MEA in little chunks for the past week. My morning ritual this weekend was wake up, make some coffee and breakfast, and play for about 4 hours or so. It was super nice, and I'm gonna do it again this weekend.

I find that I do really need to set a few hours aside to properly play it. I've only had about an hour of unbooked time in the afternoons this week, and it doesn't feel like enough time to make any substantial progress. It takes me like 10 minutes to get situated and remind myself of what I'm doing, and if I want to travel to any new locations, the loading time and travel animations can be really tedious. I've made it a habit of saving on the Tempest so it's a little easier for me to planet hop since I tend to decide where I want to go on a whim.

I have my settlements established on Eos and Voeld, and I just visited Havarl. Eos and Voeld are beautiful (Voeld especially after you clear the blizzard), but in essence, they're just desert and snow levels so they don't feel that innovative. Havarl has a little more character to it; it's a jungle world with incredible fauna. The colors remind me a little of the Frostback Basin from the Jaws of Hakkon DLC, which was one of my favorite areas in DAI.

On Sunday, I endured what the longest and most tedious "boss" battle of my ENTIRE LIFE with a type of enemy called an Architect. I expected it to be something similar to the dragons in DAI, but whereas the dragons were one of the few enemies that actually required any tactical thinking and were, in my opinion, a lot of fun and rewarding to fight (minus feeling like an asshole because they're beautiful, majestic bbs and like half of them aren't even bothering anyone), the Architect was like a 30-40 minute rinse-and-repeat battle with no real challenge once you figured out the pattern of attack. It wasn't a long fight because it was hard or I was bad at it; it was only a long fight because it was unimaginatively designed to force the player to only be able to hit certain weak points after fighting certain waves of attack.

I saw at least one more of these fuckers on another planet, and I'm not especially excited to do that mission because it was awful. I probably would have played more on Sunday if I hadn't done that fight, but it was just draining.

I haven't really had any more issues with animations. About 40-43 hours in with this Ryder, and it seems like the worst has passed.

One little feature I've really come to appreciate is how your journal/codex area keeps really specific details about the decisions you've made. Lexi even provides a "psych analysis" that breaks down how your responses are crafting a certain personality. It's been very helpful in me getting a feel for who my Ryder is and what I want her to be.

Also, I'm coming to really adore my companions and their relationships with one another. You know how in Inquisition all the companions and advisors felt really spread out and kind of isolated from each other? Totally not like that at all in Andromeda. The companions have their own areas on the Tempest, but they also move around on the ship and have a lot of conversations and fun banter with one another. They also talk a lot more out in the field. The overall dynamic feels a lot more homey and casual, more like Hawke and the Kirkwall crew.

Gil is a champ at poker--You get a chance to play with him at one point, and I also found a datapad with his notes about the crew and how they play. His observations were the most goddamn endearing thing I've read in a while. I seriously just wanted to group hug the entire crew after reading it. A part of me wants to see the whole crew play to witness that in real time, but another part of me just wants to hold on to what my imagination conjured up because it's beautiful.

So discoure re: Gil, Jaal, & Cora, because there is some shit in how they were handled:

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fereldanwench: (Mass Effect - Selene Ryder)
A combination of things made me renege my "I'm not buying Andromeda" stance. Needing a release from a long week, getting my tax return, seeing everyone's Ryders, seeing Sara Ryder's trailer, fuckboys complaining about gays and women ruining their series, etc. Or in other words: I'm weak, dudes.

I think I'm at about the 10-15 hour mark. I restarted after spending about 2 hours trying to accept my first Ryder's terrible facial animations, and on Friday I was bouncing around a lot between playing and chores, so my hour tracker doesn't reflect all that. Outside of the Initiative ships (Hyperion, Nexus, and Tempest), I've seen 4 locations, and I did just get all 6 companions.

Since I'm not too far, I doubt I'll be revealing much, but I'll put the story and character stuff under a cut.

Graphics & Optimization
Minus a few things I'll touch on later, the game is really beautiful. The environments are incredible--It seems like they really built off what was crafted in Inquisition in terms of getting the most out of Frostbite. The game also seems to be well-optimized for PC players. My processor and RAM are the two things that don't meet their recommended specs, but I wanted to test my limits: I put it all the high settings right out of the gate, and when I saw how smooth it was running, I decided to see if I can push for ultra. So far, so good. The only time I've noticed any lagging is when I'm running a video recording on Fraps for too long, but that's not a big deal for me.

Character Creation
Andromeda's CC is a slightly upgraded version of what was available in the original trilogy:

  • You have the default Ryders who cannot be edited and have to be played as is, and then there are 9 other presets for each gender that you can modify.
  • There's a good spread of racial diversity across the presets, but you can only make minor adjustments to their features rather than rotating through other shape options (like in Inquisition).
  • The skin textures are also locked into the preset, as are the eyebrows since they're a part of the texture.
  • There are some really cool tattoo, scarring, and makeup options.
  • The hair is fine, although most, if not all, of the options are gender-restricted. There are lots of bobs for female Ryder, and male Ryder has some nice undercuts that I wish were available to f!Ryder. There was a tweet from a dev asking what people would like to see in the CC at a later date--It sounds like they might be patching in more options at a later date.
  • There's a ton of variety in hair color, but the really bright and light tones highlight a lo-res hair texture.
  • You can edit your twin, but not your father; Alec will generate according to your Ryder's preset (kind of like the Hawkes in Dragon Age II).
  • You can also choose to keep the default names. Dialogue will reflect that decision; sometimes Ryder will be called by their first name instead of surname or "Pathfinder."

    The CC kind of felt like a step back from Inquisition, which (excluding the weak hair options) I think is probably the best vanilla CC in a BioWare game, but an upgrade from past ME titles. It's difficult to make a really unique Ryder; after seeing all the presets, it's easy to tell who used what preset during their creation.

    Also, not all Ryders animate the same. The first Ryder I made was created with preset 9--Her resting face was true to what I made in the CC, but her animations were ridiculous. I used preset 5 for Selene Ryder (icon), and she looks fine in most scenes. (I found a video the other day that demoed all 9 presets, but I can't find the link again. Will update if I do later.)

    Currently, there is no way to edit Ryder's appearance after you exit the CC, but it looks like the devs are actively making updates to the game based on player feedback, so I wouldn't rule out a Black Emporium-type addition at a later date.

    Combat & Exploration
    THE JETPACK IS DOPE. In principle, it's a fairly basic addition to the game, but a fun one. It's not as OP as the crazy jumping in Saints Row IV, but it produces a similar effect, in my opinion. It's a lot of fun hopping up on structures (which is essential in some missions), and it can be utilized in combat in some awesome ways. Slamming down on an enemy with your omni-blade is super satisfying.

    The combat is similar to the original trilogy, but it feels a lot faster paced. Ducking behind barriers is still an essential part of combat survival, but I found myself rushing enemies a lot more. It seems like Ryder can withstand more damage than Shepard, and the shields regenerate pretty quickly.

    Rather than choosing a locked-in class like in the first games, you can select your character's history in the CC, which determines your starting abilities, and then as the game progresses, you unlock combat profiles that you can activate at any point in the game. I think all the combat profiles are the same as the classes in the trilogy; I currently have Infiltrator active, which was my favorite build for Shepard. Biotics were never super appealing to me, and I haven't used them, but from what I can see from my companions, they went through some major upgrades.

    The Nomad is Andromeda's response to the Mako, but it is definitely enhanced. The boosters are still clumsy and can result in some hilariously bad navigation, but there are a few little upgrades that give the player a lot more control. My favorite is the ability to turn on six-wheel drive to get up hills--You just hold down the left shoulder button in addition to the right trigger, and the Nomad grinds its way up. A small but immersive touch.

    The Nomad is also very much a necessity for exploring these gigantic maps. Fortunately, unlike the mounts in Inquisition, it doesn't interrupt companion chatter. It comes equipped with a mining drone, which can help gather crafting material, but if you want to pick up materials from the world (like metals or herbs a la Inquisition), you have to exit the Nomad.

    Throughout the worlds, you can establish forward stations, which are similar in function to the camps in Inquisition. They act as a means of fast traveling, calling down the Nomad, and replenishing supplies. Ryder also establishes actual settlements; I've only set up one, so I can't speak too much to how they're integrated into the gameplay, but it feels similar to a Keep in Inquisition, but with more interactive abilities. Actually, a lot of the exploratory gameplay feels like they took some of the more immersive features that were cut from Inquisition and repurposed them for Andromeda.

    The main missions so far have been very long and spread out. I've had fun doing them the first time around since it's a new experience, but I don't know that I'd want to do them in another playthrough. The one on Eos was starting to get in drudging territory by the time I wrapped it up.

    Andromeda kept the planet scanning from the original trilogy, but it's a little more compact and with some animation flourish. I also just opened up a feature that is similar to the War Table missions in Inquisition. Ryder can send out teams of scientists, soldiers, and/or merchants to gather supplies and XP. I've only done a few, but I think the amount of time they take can vary, and there's a stronger emphasis on failure and success than just different outcomes.

    They also integrated multiplayer with single player through the Strike Team feature. I don't do multiplayer so I doubt I'll see how that works, but for people who do, it seems like a cool touch.

    The one thing I really don't love is travel across the 3 space stations/ships. The Tempest is about the size of the Normandy, minus waitng times in an elevator, and it docks at the Nexus, which is about the size of the Citadel. You also have to go back to the Hyperion for Ryder family business, but there's no quick dock there, so you're always going through the Nexus to get to the tram to take you back to the Hyperion. It's a little tedious.

    Crafting & Inventory
    I've not done much crafting--It's super overwhelming. The inventory interface is set up similarly to the original trilogy, but you have an item limit like in Inquisition. The crafting is just too much for me right now. There are separate sections, research and development, that produce different types of equipment and perks, and they're further divided into Milky Way, Andromeda, and Remnant (Andromeda's response to Protheans, basically) tech. I eventually got a feel for Inquisition's crafting after being overwhelmed, so I'm sure I'll figure this out, too, but it's not been a priority.

    Although it's not crafting exactly, I do want to mention the customization for Ryder's casual wear and armor, because it's a nice touch. There are a few color wheels and patterns that can be used to put them in something other than the stark white Initiative gear.

    Story & Characters
    I'll put the rest of this under a cut since it might get into spoiler territory.

    Read more... )

    All in all, I'm enjoying the game. It does feel distinctively like a Mass Effect game, regardless of the protagonist, and I think they improved on the open-world elements that were established in Inquisition. The game is huge, and it feels kind of overwhelming as a result, but it also feels like it's big with exciting stuff to do, rather than just being big and empty; in a lot of ways, it feels more like what I expected Inquisition to be. It's so big, though, and with so much to do, that I don't really see it as something to be replayed. I think it's going to be a fun, one-time experience, and I'm totally cool with that.
  • fereldanwench: (Mood - Pour Me a Drink)
    So I just finished it. Mega spoilers under the cut:

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    fereldanwench: (Default)
    BF and I decided to take a little break from our weekend outings to catch up on some video games. He played Shadow of Mordor, which looks like fun and has some cool gameplay elements (like enemies who kill you get stronger when you face them again), but you have to play as a dude and IIRC, a substantial part of his motivation is avenging his dead wife or something. So yanno. No thanks.

    Anyway, Life is Strange is another game I picked up shortly after its full release, but it sat unloved in my Steam library until yesterday. I haven't finished it--There are five chapters, and I'm just about finished with the third chapter. It follows senior high school student, Max, who is a photography student at a boarding school and learns that she has the power to rewind time. She uses the power to save, unbeknownst to her at the time, a previously estranged friend, Chloe. Adolescent drama and chaos theory ensues.

    I'm actually not too keen on high school stories in general, and Max and one of her friends deals with a lot of mean girl shit in specific that I find draining to address even in a virtual world. Max is also fighting an uphill battle against a corrupt power structure within the school and a controlling economic elite family within her whole city that is also just kind of exhausting. None of these characters or structures are glamorized, but sometimes it's just too much.

    Sometimes it's just really cliché, too. There's enough depth to the characters that I'm still interested in them, but a lot of the foundation seems to be built on very overdone high school tropes. Quiet, nerdy girl reunites with her now troubled childhood friend. Troubled friend's mom goes on about how she wishes daughter was more like nerdy girl. Trouble friend's troubles starting because her dad died. Asshole socialites who are mean for no apparent reason. Fat goth girl who gets picked on for... being fat and goth, I guess.

    There does seem to be the potential for a romance between Chloe and Max, but there's also a boy in the picture, Warren, who seems to be vying for Max's attention. I've managed to avoid almost all the spoilers for this game, but I did catch some critical whispers about how this all plays out so I'm not getting my hopes up.

    Like with the Telltale games, the game is largely driven by making hard choices; it also tallies the decisions players made for the end of each chapter so you can see how you fair against the community. The rewind power does add a really unique twist to that gameplay, however, in that you can at least see the immediate outcome of a decision and react accordingly. Emphasis on immediate--What might have the "better" initial outcome could still be detrimental in the long run.

    (There was one decision in particular where I opted to go for the better initial outcome, but I knewknewknewknew I'd miss out on something paramount going forward. I was right. -_- It was kind of worth it, though.)

    The rewind power is also utilized in some cool puzzles since Max stays stationary in time, so to speak. You'll have to manipulate time to gain entrance to locked areas or avoid certain characters in some locations.

    Max's pursuit of photography is integrated into the game as a secret/achievement function. Sometimes it's just about being in the right place at the right time, and sometimes a little more work has to go into getting the shot. It's probably one of my favorite details about the game, especially since the style and lighting is so pretty.

    I'm glad I got it, and I'm looking forward to finishing it this week, but I think this will probably end up a one-time play for me.
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    My brother introduced me to Indigo Prophecy, or Fahrenheit as it's known everywhere else, in the summer of 2007. I think he picked it up on a whim in some bargain bin for PS2 games, but it ended up being the game of our summer. It was remaster in 2015, and I finally sat down for another replay last night.

    When I first played Indigo Prophecy, it was a completely different game than I had ever played before. I tended towards puzzle games and action-adventure platformers, with a little Sims action when I wanted to waste a weekend--Playing a game for a story was a video game experience that, until recently, had little appeal to me. But the setting, the characters, and the opening sequences did a lot to pull me in, and Indigo Prophecy became one of those games that stayed with me over the years.

    The developers, Qunatic Dream, also did Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls, but Indigo Prophecy was their first "interactive film," as they called it. It's a pretty apt description--Much of the gameplay is like an extended interactive cutscene, with a little bit of a point-and-click (or point-and-rotate-the-analog-stick, as the case tends to be) and minor exploring with a semi-fixed camera.

    You play as three different characters: suspected murderer Lucas Kane is essentially the main protagonist, but detectives Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles are active players in the story. There's also a meter that tracks their mental state--Certain tasks have to be performed to give them emotional boosts, and if the meter gets too low, it can have disastrous effects, including death.

    I'm not going to delve too much into the story details since synopses are readily available. Also because the story can change pretty dramatically depending on your choices and game performance--Failing a sequence, for instance, doesn't necessarily mean "death," nor are you necessarily able to reload to "fix" any mistakes. When I was reminiscing with my brother, he mentioned that there were at least six different endings that he knew of. If you want a game where your choices matter, this is a good one.

    But I do want to touch on a few points: I remember when I first played that I was a little underwhelmed with the conclusion of the story, and that is still true today even after achieving a few different endings. A paranormal murder mystery is essentially what kicks off the plot, and although it's a little overwrought with the human sacrifice imagery, it's a pretty tight and somber kickoff. The conclusion loses some of the cohesion, and frankly, it gets a little silly. I think it's one of those situations like with Lost where the mystery is far more compelling than the answer. And although I'm normally a proponent of a happy ending, I actually think the darker endings are a better match to the overall tone.

    The game has a decent spread of representation, but in some cases it feels like one-step-forward, two-steps-back. A lot of the "minority" characters fell on tired and arguably offensive tropes. Tyler, for instance: black male, excels as basketball, has this funky smooth disco music that plays whenever he's strutting in a location, and his backstory was summed up as former gang runner turned cop. Carla has a white gay BFF who comes over for wine and talks about her love life (although he does mention that he's involved in a promising relationship himself, which is nice). Carla, who I think is otherwise well-written, gets reduced to being shoehorned into a ridiculous romance at the end of the game that makes no sense for her character or the story. And one of the driving points of the paranormal plot falls back on Mayan sacrifice cliches.

    Although I wasn't personally bothered, there are also a few scenes with Carla where you could make a strong argument that the male gaze was workin' its magic. (For what it's worth, I think the treatment of Madison in Heavy Rain was far more egregious in that respect.) You get to play each character in their underwear at least once, with the option to dress them pretty quickly if you want, and there are multiple heterosexual love scenes with both parties fully nude. The biggest difference I noticed was with the shower scenes--With Tyler and Lucas, the camera almost completely pans away, and with Carla, we get a sexy silhouette and a pixel nip slip.

    The camera angles can get a little frustrating--Think Resident Evil with a little more control and at least no need to aim and shoot at anything--and sometimes the analog rotation can feel a little unresponsive. Additionally, I find the UI immersion-breaking; Quantic Dream really improved upon that balance of aesthetic and function in Heavy Rain. Having these Simon Says-looking buttons dead-center in the screen is not very pretty. But I found the overall gameplay to be fun and well-balanced. It did a good job of complementing the story, and some of the long fight sequences that rely solely on you hitting the right button are more challenging that more traditional gameplay.

    The game has a Metacritic aggregate of about 85%, which is spot-on in my opinion. It was definitely worth the replay, and I'm invested in exploring a few other outcomes. A full run took me about 9 hours, so playing it takes a little less time than watching a season of a modern TV show. It does save in chapters, too, so if you want to branch off into different outcomes, it can be done without replaying the whole thing. I'd recommend it if you're looking for an engaging and non-traditional gaming experience that can be wrapped up in ten hours or less.
    fereldanwench: (Tomb Raider - Rise)
    For the past four or five years, Dragon Age and Tomb Raider have alternated between being THE fandom for me. Currently the pendulum is swinging back towards Lara and her bad ass self.

    I have a lot of (mostly overwhelmingly good) things to say about Rise of the Tomb Raider; I've been working an indulgent and excessive review over the weekend that I had wanted to post over the weekend, but I got sidetracked after I started playing the 2013 game for comparative purposes. I'll still be sharing my waytoolong thoughts later this week, but in the meantime, I need to spew a little about how Tomb Raider 2013 (just called Tomb Raider from here on out) and Rise feel like such different games.

    Specific spoilers for the 2013 game below. Mostly spoiler free for Rise, just some talk about gameplay mechanics and very generalized mentions of the story.

    Read more... )

    If you don't read anything else, just know that there's been a like a 97% reduction of QTEs in Rise SO PRAISE JESUS FOR THAT.
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    There's nothing to do at work today so I'm just going to keep blathering on about The Witcher 3.

    I didn't read too many in-depth reviews prior, but I figured I'd dig a little and see how my opinions are matching up with some of the big name opinions. I did not anticipate seeing much about the sexism in the game, but this Polygon review actually delved into some detail about the treatment of the main female characters and the misogyny rooted into the world.

    Read the comments at your own risk. They're fairly civil given the topic, but oh so tiring. Historical accuracy, social agendas, political correctness, too sensitive, etc etc. Same old lazy denial that these are important things to discuss in all types of media.

    One person said they'd no longer read Polygon articles because of their "pandering." I just really wonder how one can accuse someone of being oversensitive because they point out targeted violence to a particular group of people that occurs in real life without recognizing the complete hypocrisy in being so offended by that theme being addressed. Like, where are your priorities.

    I like that the writer specifically acknowledged that they are aware of what CDPR is trying to do, too. I get that I am not the intended audience of this game. I get that. It's just frustrating because there's quite a bit that I do like about it--I'd love to be the target audience, or at the very least, not feel quite so "othered." I don't feel like I'm the target audience for Mass Effect either, but at least I can find a mostly comfortable niche.

    At this point, I'm probably a broken record on this topic. It really is just a little extra frustrating because Witcher is almost there for me. There are a lot of elements of the game that could make it a favorite for me, but it falls short in a lot of important ways.

    Anyway, moving on.

    I learned from IGN's review that apparently Ciri was introduced in the books. They also mention that it's really not paramount to play the first two games. Kotaku's review, on the other hand, says that it can be kind of difficult to pick up on some of the political significance of characters, events, etc. Kotaku's review also mentions that there can be different endings based on your choices. I might have to pay more attention to things when I get back into the plot.

    I'm conflicted on games built on supplemental reading to truly understand or appreciate plots, characters, etc. For a series that I love, like Dragon Age or Tomb Raider, there's a good chance I'll read them or at least know they exist so I can wiki a summary. And for a series I love, I generally like getting all the extra info I can. But when I'm not that invested in a franchise, only a little curious, I find it a little presumptuous to assume that their players will have read/watched the extras. Especially given that a good game does not always translate into a good book, comic, etc.

    Most of the reviews seem to agree that W3 improved on the past games' combat systems; what little I do remember of W1 was the fighting feeling very clunky. A few also feel that W3's main plot suffers from being spread across a world that's too big and filled with too many fetch'em quests. Some cited Skyrim as a reference point, but it actually made me think of Inquisition first. I never saw Skyrim marketed has having an engaging story, but Dragon Age and apparently The Witcher have a history of strong story-telling.

    It got me wondering if maybe we'll start to see any shifts from the industry. I've heard frustration, especially from adults who were serious gamers when they were young but are now in the midst of family and career responsibilities, with games that are just too big and long. The indie market has picked up on this a little bit--Games like Journey can give you unique and satisfying gaming experience that's finished in about an hour or two. But I'm curious if the big names are hearing this, if it's a voice they think is worth listening to.

    I'm a pretty selective gamer (SURPRISE), and I don't watch a lot of TV or movies; since I have a shallow pool of games to select from and video games are my primary source of entertainment, I'm generally fine with really big, long games.

    Okay, so. Anyway. I guess that's about it for now. It seems like a lot of the things I've been enjoying in the game are the things that have garnered the game such high reviews.
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    So here's the thing: I knew exactly what I was getting into when I started playing W3. I had read about the unapologetic misogyny in the first two games, and I watched the BF play some of this one--I think if I had gone into the game expecting the treatment of female characters to be on par with, say, DAI, I would have rage-quit after being introduced to Tomira's butt before her face. But I didn't, because I knew what I signed up for.

    But even with that mental preparedness, sometimes the way the sexism is so deeply rooted into the world-building still throws me off guard. Wanting to explore the world is one of the big perks that has kept me interested in the game--I really cannot say enough how gorgeous and inviting it is. Most of the time, when I'm just fighting bandits or ghouls or wandering through lively villages, it's easy to get lost in just enjoying the basic gameplay mechanics.

    Until you're walking through a group of NPCs and a guy asks you how often he should beat his wench.

    So between that and having a rape joke in a card game, I have recalibrated my tolerance and expectations and decided that no place is safe in W3.

    (Side note: I'm almost worried about playing as Ciri now. I'm anticipating a lot of male NPCs hitting on her or otherwise making crude remarks, which is going to drive me up the fucking wall. In some ways, it might be better to play as a man in this world.)

    There is a lot in W3 that's fun, though. BF has been working late this week, so I've had a few hours in the afternoon to myself, and I've genuinely looked forward to picking up the controller when I get home. I'm looking forward to it when I get off work today.

    I've been doing a few of the treasure hunting quests--I like these a lot. Geralt has a Witcher sense function which basically acts like any other enhanced sense function in game: it highlights items that can be interacted with, and in some quests, highlights items/environment details that he needs to find to solve some kind of mystery. It reminded me a little bit of searching for clues in the Batman games.

    I'd actually recommend looking for these early on, too, so you can get some decent equipment. One non-sexism related criticism I have is that it takes forever to level up (playing on normal--not sure if this is coded differently for other difficulties). I remember BF complaining about dying all the time. I told him to just go grind for a little while to level up, and he said that he did but it didn't do much. I'm finding that to be true, too. Even doing side quests doesn't grant much XP, but I'm still below the recommended level to pick up on the main quests again.

    There are also "places of power" that you can find. Before you reach them or any other place of interest, they only appear as question marks on your map; you probably wouldn't be able to locate them quickly without luck or a guide. But I'd recommend searching those out, too. They'll grant a Signs (his magic) enhancement for about 30 minutes, and a couple of them gave me ability points. I found increasing Geralt's vitality was a huge help when it came to staying alive during the fights.

    The combat did take me a while to get a hang of, probably because I haven't played anything other than third/first person shooters or Dragon Age in years. I find the telekinetic burst is really useful if you get surrounded, and backing up to draw enemies out of their groups to fight them one-on-one/one-on-two helps a lot. Fighting in open areas isn't too bad, but I still struggle a little in close quarters. It was tempting for me to go into the fights like a hack-and-slash, but you're much better off taking a slower pace.

    The game really encourages buffs, too, whether they're from alchemical potions or finding magic stones, armorers, etc. It also really encourages you to read through the bestiary--Some enemies are damn near impossible if you don't read their codex and find out what they're vulnerable to. Once you have that information and proper equipment, though, the fight becomes a lot more balanced. I think in these regards it's a pretty smart game, and it adds to the satisfaction of taking down harder enemies.

    And one last thing, going back to the villages and their inhabitants: although I could do without questions about the best methods for domestic violence and the gross hacking noise some of them make, the villagers really do add a lot of life to their homes. There are a lot of animals, like ducks and cows, that wander around, and the kids are surprisingly well-done: boys and girls swinging play swords or shooting arrowless bows, singing bad songs, etc. One kid actually pushed Geralt when he told him to go away and I decided I didn't want to.

    (One actual last thing: I found out BF got a trainer and has been cheating after he got annoyed early in on the game. Our gaming skills are fairly on par, but I tend to be better at RPGs, so I was wondering why I was struggling more than he was at first. I wasn't, really. He's just a cheater.)
    fereldanwench: (Melisande Trevelyan)
    I started playing DAI again this weekend because I missed Melisande. Also found some new and exiting mods, and I'm thinking I might go with this for the Trespasser look.

    When I finally get there, anyway. I always get in this loop of wanting to see my fave PC's story finished and not wanting it to end. Tentative plan is that I'm going to completionist everything up to the end of the base game, then use JoH and Descent to fill in the year gap, and then do Trespasser. Only thing that's kinda making me want to do JoH and Descent before I kill Corypheus is the ability to talk to my companions (kiss Cullen) during Skyhold visits.

    So, anyway. Last night I recruited Loranil (YOURE WELCOME FOR THAT FUCKING GOLDEN HALLA stupid fuckin thing was about to be added to my collection of crafting materials what an obnoxious side quest), and Cullen notes at the war table that he's extremely eager. His tone seems kind of put-off by it, and Leliana quickly jumps in to say that the Dalish are very knowledgeable and they should be happy to have him on board.

    It's not on the wiki page and I didn't see anything about it on Tumblr, but I'm wondering if he is/becomes one of Solas' agents? Loranil works under Cullen, so that'd give Solas additional insight to the Inquisition's military. I also wonder if Leliana suspected that he might be up to something but wanted to keep him close as a means of keeping an eye on him? Because her tone seemed less sincerely honored and more like "stfu Cullen we need to keep him close."

    FALLOUT 4

    Nov. 17th, 2015 11:44 am
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    Putting this under a cut for potential spoilers. I don't think I'm too far into the main story, but if Nick Valentine, Brotherhood of Steel, and the Institute don't sound familiar, you might want to avoid this:

    Read more... )
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    I definitely could have finished ME1 yesterday.

    I could have. Instead I got all completionist-obsessive (and Steam doesn't even track achievements /sobs I wish I could transfer my PS3 trophies over) and decided I needed to travel to every system and cluster and planet and abandoned ship in the galaxy. OH! And I finally got all 21 keepers. The first time I played I gave up at 20 and went to kick Saren's ass, but I did it. Such accomplishment.

    The game has gotten a little glitchy on me. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the mods--They've been running smoothly for the first 25 or so hours. Game just crashed out of nowhere twice, and I've had Shepard get stuck in a few places. Making her draw her weapon got her out of one spot; the other was a deal-breaker and meant I needed to reload. Fortunately, I save like every 15 minutes. Every 5 now.

    It really made me wish I could switch to other party members à la DA--That saved me a few times in all 3 games.

    There's been a fair amount that I forgot since the first time I played. Like Feros and the Thorian--Once I got there again, it all came back to me, but prior to that I was staring at my journal log with no recollection of what happened there. And then when I got there, it was "Ooh, this is the place with that fucking sky bridge."

    I remember really enjoying ME1 when I played it the first time, and I still am now or I'd call it quits, but replay value seems to be low. Doing a lot of the missions a second time just feels like an obligation rather than something I really want to do. I think what's really driving me is:

    1. Playing more renegade than paragon
    2. Wanting to talk to my crew
    3. Wanting to play ME2/play all 3 games with a single Shepard (this is really the big one--I like this Shepard a lot, too)
    4. Being obsessive about checking off tasks on lists (it's what drives me, man)

    I'd like to have it done by Thursday--This is one of my short weeks, and some ME2 + alone time (starting to get very PMSy--sorry, everyone) on Friday sounds really good.
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    So I definitely hit a little Dragon Age burnout after finishing Trespasser. Seriously--I've clocked about 600 hours in Inquisition since it's release, and probably another 40 between DAO and DA2 since the beginning of this year (not counting the 800 or so in each prior to this year). I love DA to death, but as far as gameplay and mechanics go, I needed something new.

    I did break out Tomb Raider 2013. I forgot how fun that game is. And beautiful, especially maxed out on PC. I'm about to hit a part I don't like, though, and I keep just getting really pissed off about ROTTR, so I decided to set that aside for now, too.

    I have a few new games to finish or at least start. I still haven't finished Transistor, TWD or the recent Lara Croft title (Temple of Osiris, IIRC), and I finally downloaded Life is Strange but I'm not really in the mood for anything new. I'm also starting to hit a point where I'm just not interested if I can't play a female character, but I'm significantly less interested if I can't create my own female character.

    So I gave into the latent urge I had been having to give ME another shot.

    First things first, mods:
    Read more... )

    General blah-blahing. JIC--I do mention major endgame spoilers for ME3:
    Read more... )
    fereldanwench: (Melisande Trevelyan)
    I figure Ostwick is a lot warmer than Ferelden and Orlais, so Melisande isn't especially fond of the cold. Emprise du Lion in particular sucks for her.

    Luckily, the Inquisition's Avvar allies gave her some warm clothes to bundle up in.

    Screenshots )

    Tinting the armor was a bit of a challenge, but we'll say she's going with the white-ish fur to hide better in the snow. Or something.

    I like how bulky she looks in it. <3
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    I still haven't done Adamant so I still haven't had the serious lyrium convo with Cullen, which means he and Melisande are not official in-game yet. But I can't talk to him about anything else and I am weak and I keep seeing that little heart option pop up so I was like "Might as well play with the new flycam." >.>

    The pause feature is really nice, but a little imprecise. If you pause while a character is talking, they will continue to talk (with lip movement and facial animations) until they finish whatever line they were saying. Pausing can also remove the facial animation in a few situations. Cullen isn't saying or emoting anything here; it's just the difference between pausing the flycam and the natural delay caused by waiting on the player to select a dialogue option:





    I'm not sure if pausing the game mid-scene just allowed me to catch characters jumping around more easily, or if it somehow produced that effect. Jim consoling Cullen happened when I paused the scene during Jim's entrance, which I hadn't seen while flycamming before.

    So! For some of the sweet/sexy/generally romantic bits I captured during the first kiss and the woo break kiss:
    Read more... )

    Shots that have potential but the clipping was a little too much or the positions were just off enough to make it weird instead of sweet:
    Read more... )

    And the best part, the outtakes:
    Read more... )

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