fereldanwench: (Mass Effect - Selene Ryder)
Keeping all this under a cut for romance spoilers, personal interpretation, and OC musing:

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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: (Video Games - Pitfall)
    One of many reasons I was throwing hissing fits about working on Saturday was BF and I had plans to check out SFGE. This was only the third year of the convention, and they had grown so much that they ended up switching venues to one of the bigger hotel/convention centers that is a little less than two miles away from us. The emphasis is on retro gaming (including home consoles and arcades) and pinball machines. We did the $30 at the door, but they have early bird discounts and weekend bundles that we might consider next year.

    We arrived around 3:15, and I think we got there right at the peak of attendance--There were still a lot of families around and the game rooms were pretty crowded. I was starving, though, since I forgot to eat something after the gym and before going to work, and we decided to grab a bite to eat and get a few drinks while the families wrapped up their pre-dinner playtime.

    I wasn't really impressed with the hotel's service, and chatting with a few people around us, it seemed like they were just under the impression that since we're all here for the video game expo, that we're probably gonna be shitty tippers. The thing about that attitude, though, is it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to leave a good tip. I usually tip 25-30% when we do these things because I know how demanding conventions are on wait staff, but I mean... We waited like 45 minutes for a glass of already overpriced wine.

    They did open up a cash bar between the console gaming and arcade area, though, and that was nice, although also very pricey. I think next year we might do the ol' vodka-in-a-Sprite bottle trick. Not that either of us were out to get shitfaced or anything, but the social lubricant certainly helps in a fairly crowded venue.

    So the expo itself was very cool and a lot of fun. There were some awesome novelty pinball machines, like one for The X Files and Foo Fighters, and BF is interested in doing all the homebrew/emulation/home arcade stuff, so he got a chance to look at some of the local scene.

    We played a lot of the arcades (I was happy to discover my N64 Dig Dug skills transferred over to the arcade), but I think we had the most fun in the retro console area. In addition to being a little quieter, it was so cool seeing the old technology. Some of it was nostalgic, like the Sega Genesis, and some of it was an opportunity to experience history we had only read about. The available Virtual Boy game was a pain in the ass and the controller was really uncomfortable, but I think as far as novelty goes, that was probably my favorite. I had just been listening to a podcast about the Sega Master System a few days ago, so seeing that "in person" was oddly very timely.

    We ended the night with the Sega Saturn. Neither of us had one growing up, but there was still something so nostalgic about sitting in front of a CRT TV playing a well-done sidescroller (Rayman). BF has a bajillion emulation apps on his PC, and he's generally a proponent of emulation as a means of enhancing old graphics, but the scan lines, man. The scan lines. Something always felt off when we'd play with emulators on his computer--It was the lack of scan lines. We have little debates about this all the time, but this weekend solidified my position: I'm definitely more interested in accurate preservation of old games than tweaking them.

    We stayed a lot longer than we had planned on (until about 9:30), although the expo was open until midnight with more adult-y events, like Guitar Hero drinking games. They also had panels and movie screenings, but we didn't check any of those out. It was a lot of fun, though, and I think next year we will go ahead and get the weekend pass. I might look into volunteering or donating my old games, too.
    fereldanwench: (Saints Row - Boss & Johnny)
    For my Saints Row brethren: Volition released a cinematic trailer for their new IP, Agents of Mayhem. I'm guessing we'll be getting more deets at E3 next week.

    I'm neutral-interested at the moment. There's some very clear Saints allusions, but whether those were easter eggs for Saints fans or because it's in the same universe is yet to be seen. I'm going to be disappointed if we have to play as one of the three characters introduced, though. Saints Row's CC, to me, is one of the games biggest strengths, and I think Volition should play that strength up.
    fereldanwench: (Default)
    ACS was the other game along with The Witcher 3 that I purchased when it was half(ish) off at the end of 2015. I installed it right after I bought it, thinking I'd play it pretty soon thereafter, but other games (Fallout, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Tomb Raider--The usual suspects) had me pretty engaged for the past four months. I wanted something fresh yesterday, though, so ACS it was.

    I'm not too far into the story, but I've been spoiled on some main plot stuff so under a cut for potential spoilers:

    Read more... )
    fereldanwench: (Tomb Raider - Rise)
    Last post for today. (Sorry, I'm probably clogging up everyone's feeds. IT'S SLOOOWWW AT WORK. I need to amuse myself.)

    Linky to Rhianna Pratchett's Polygon interview. Interesting stuff about game writing in general.
    fereldanwench: (Tomb Raider - Rise)
    Dragon Age was the first fandom I participated in that had a shipping culture. I guess an argument could be made that Star Wars was my first shippy fandom--That was were I actually first read "OTP"--but where and how I participated in those communities didn't have much emphasis on romantic or sexual pairings, and when they did, it was mostly about a few high-profile canon relationships. Dragon Age was kind of an eye-opener for me when I realized that you could take two canon characters who never even spoke and then have them bang, aw yiss.

    But shipping was never really a thing in Tomb Raider fandom. In the first five games, there was no indication that she had any kind of romantic/sexual partner or was even interested in pursuing that kind of relationship. Every now and then a quiet voice might pop up to say that they liked the idea of her and Larson, the blond cowboy out to foil her plans with his French boyfriend Pierre. In TRIII, villain Sophia Leigh for whatever reason generated some shipping interest (possibly just for the sexy factor). But that was about it.

    Angel of Darkness brought a little bit of that shipping drive to the fandom, with the introduction of Kurtis Trent. He and Lara never have any kind of explicit romantic scene in the game, but for some fans, there was enough tension between the characters that the ship was born. The most notable and active group to support the ship and Kurtis himself was the KTEB--The Kurtis Trent Estrogen Brigade. I guess they've maintained a close relationship with his VA, and it looks like they're still active on Tumblr.

    I didn't know what aromantic or asexual was when I first got into the series, but that's always how I read classic Lara. I didn't see her as having any interest or desire in those sorts of relationships, and to this day, one of my biggest gripes with the movies and Top Cow comics was her stupid, forced straight pairings. AoD is actually the only TR game I have never finished so I can't speak to the full arc of their relationship (although I'd guess it was unfinished anyway given that AoD was supposed to kick off a scrapped trilogy), but I always hated the idea of Lara and Kurtis.

    When Crystal got Tomb Raider, they dumped any indication of romantic interests, but they did give her more friends and professional acquaintances. Zip and Alister (voiced by Greg Ellis, btw) didn't generate too much shipping interest--They were just barely tolerated, and a lot of players found their yammering to Lara atmosphere-ruining.

    In Legend, there was the odd comment again about a potential relationship with her male adversary, Rutland, although her friend-turned-antagonist Amanda never received the same treatment. Anniversary reignited some Larson feels for a few people, but when he became Lara's then canonical first kill, that did a lot to squash the whispers. No new characters were introduced in Underworld, so there wasn't much opportunity to pair her up with anyone else.

    Shipping just really wasn't a Tomb Raider thing. For a lot of fans, Tomb Raider was just about Lara and her solo adventures.

    TR '13, with its more complex story, fleshed out characters and relationships, and a new Lara, did spark some interest in romantic pairings. Canonically, Alex (male) has a small crush on Lara, although it's not really reciprocated. Lara and Sam (female) are best friends, but there is a lot to read their relationship as something more; writer Rhianna Pratchett said she'd be open to writing Lara as a lesbian, and I think somewhere else she said she actually feels like Lara is attracted to Sam.

    What's interesting, in that kind of frustrating, why-does-everything-have-to-be-straight-when-doesn't-even-work kind of way, was how often I'd see people say they shipped Lara with Conrad Roth. Roth. Her mentor who was a close friend of her father's. Who's more of a surrogate father figure to her than anything. There wasn't a lot of it, but just enough to make wonder why that was the pair they wanted to see. Not with Sam, with all their love and admiration for each other. Not even Alex, the cute nerdy guy at least in her same age bracket. They want the man who's probably about 30-35 years her senior and has only known her in a familial capacity to smooch her. ugh yuck I feel gross even typing that

    Most of this, for the record, was on the forums I used to frequent. Outside of running a TR blog for the models and cosplayers, I don't really engage with the TR fandom on Tumblr.

    That said, while I was doing some searching on Tumblr, I saw the same thing happening with Lara and Jacob while I'd browse the Rise tag. Their relationship is again very similar to what she had with Roth--Jacob is actually the father of Sofia, a young woman who's probably just a little older than Lara. He's kind and compassionate towards Lara, and obviously has a great deal of respect for her, but there's nothing in their relationship that suggests any kind of romantic interest. Yet I see these gifsets with tags like "ugh look how they look at each other they're so in love." ????? I see two people with mutual respect who will set aside any wariness to achieve the same goal.

    Peeking in at AO3, the Lara x Sam ship does dominate all the other pairs, and I don't think it'd be fair to say ships like Lara x Jacob or Lara x Roth have taken any kind of substantial footing in the fandom at large. I've just always found any pairing with Lara and a man to feel sosososo out of character for her that I'm always surprised when I see it. Lara x Sam have the most canonical potential, I think. Lara x Sofia has a lot of slow, reluctant-allies-to-friends-to-lovers potential. If this is gonna become a shippy fandom, just let Lara have her healthy platonic male relationships.
    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: (Tomb Raider - Flamethrower)
    A friend shared this article on Facebook--I thought it was an interesting perspective regarding the violent nature of most video games. This in particular struck me:

    The problem isn't that these games include combat, but that combat is relied upon as the primary method of engaging with their detailed, incredible worlds. Developers are now so effective at creating detailed versions of both realistic and fantastical environments, but our interactions remain fixated on violence.

    I haven't played much of the previous Fallout games, but I did play a lot of Skyrim, which was a little more nuanced in worldly interactions--I did find that early in Fallout 4, I'd approach figures with caution but would never shoot on sight. Just on the off-chance that they might be friendly. That quickly changed to me just picking people off from a distance (or avoiding them completely) because it felt like 90% of the time they were fucking raiders. And the other 10%, they were fucking ghouls.

    I do think the writer's opinion of W3 is a little romanticized (although he was also one of the Polygon writers who talked about the lack of racial diversity in the game)--I spent the first few hours of the game saving every 15 minutes or so because I never knew when I'd get into a fight, and I haven't really felt like my decisions in W3 have been any more poignant than the ones I've made in Fallout. That said, I agree with the overall argument that stories, even the sidequests, in Witcher 3 are more defining than the battles.
    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.)


    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)
    Firs things first, I like my Shepard a lot, y'all.

    Hailey Shepard )

    Renegade scarring is amazing. HER EYES ARE GLOWING. It's been a great incentive for me to choose "mean" options and whatnot because it looks amazing and I am weak for cool ass scars. I do like, though, how the intimidate/renegade options aren't necessarily "bad." Using it to negotiate with Erinya was actually pretty sympathetic, but just in a no bullshit kind of way.

    I am having so much fun with it--Waaaay more than when I first picked it up. ME2 was one of the first games I bought when BF and I were able to afford a PS3, and that had been one of the first games I had played in a while--I'm not a "good" gamer now, but after a dry spell (vidya games aren't exactly a priority when you can't even afford to keep electricity on), ME2 even on easy/casual was hard for me. I'm advancing pretty comfortably on the normal difficulty right now. I've only died a couple of times, and I haven't died in the same spot more than once.

    I remember the fucking Harbinger destroying me the first time I played, but I got his creepy ass back this time.

    Also, the sniper rifle is my jam. HEADSHOTS BABY.

    I had some extra BioWare points from getting the Dragon Age II DLC, so I decided to load up on ME2 DLC as well. Of the DLC, I've only done Kasumi's mission so far, which I've played before, but I got a couple other story-based ones to check out. I also very much appreciate the options to put Miranda and Jack in more appropriate clothing. I think I might have had one for Samara, too, but I just started her recruitment mission.

    I might be trading in Shenko for Shakarian. Garrus' "You don't make me uncomfortable. Nervous, maybe, but never uncomfortable" line kind of destroyed me last night (which reminds me that I have some gif'ing to do later this evening.) We'll see what happens in ME3, but I think they're a better match than her and Kaidan. I have heard that some of his writing is pretty atrocious in ME3, too--Apparently he'll forgive Shepard for "cheating" on him, but like. He made it pretty clear on Horizon that they were done so... We ain't playing that game, Alenko.

    (I believe, too, that if it was a male Shepard with Ashley that he "forgives" her instead, regardless of what he does in ME2, which is a gigantic pile of bulllllllshit. I have a feeling I'm going to get angry again when I get to ME3.)

    I could actually see myself playing a few more Shepards just starting with ME2--I've got that Genesis comic add-on so I can produce a ME1 worldstate without going through the tedium of playing it again.

    Oh, and for anyone who wants to use a controller on the PC, I found that this mod worked the best. There's one on the Nexus too, but it doesn't properly replicate the combat wheels, which is frustrating.
    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: (Default)

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