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Video Games - Waiting for a New AAA Game (that isn't Elden Ring)


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Started Mass Effect: Andromeda. So far I'm enjoying the great RPG mechanics/focus versus the trilogy and the open-world exploration is good without becoming Dragon Age: Inquisition levels of obnoxious, with too much to do on each planet. The main plot is kind of bland and the entire premise is quite ludicrously unbelievable (the resources spent on the Initiative seem to be greater by an order of magnitude than that spent on the Crucible), but it's all reasonably fun. Combat is also much better than the prior games.

I am not happy with the UI, though. I've had weapons disappear mid-mission without any explanation and the absence of quicksave is acceptable if the autosave they replace it with is decent, which this is very much not.

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Kaiden is still the most boring character in video game history, though, and I can't wait to abandon him in an exploding enemy base. He's an extreme in boringness, but the reason ME1 has always been my least favourite of the trilogy, despite the strong worldbuilding and plot, is because the companions in general are pretty underdeveloped. Wrex is great, and Garrus and Tali will become much better characters in ME2, but otherwise... there's not much there.

Kaidan is ultra-bland in ME1, which is why something like 90% of people pick Ashley over him. Ashley definitely has the better character arc over the three games, even if her "glow-up" in ME3 is really random. However, Kaiden does benefit massively from a greater writing focus in ME3, and in ME3 he's really the better character to have around versus Ashley, to the point that it's quite silly (Ashley only has option bits of dialogue in the lounge, Kaiden has proper long conversation cutscenes like other companions). 

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In Wrath of the Righteous I made it to Drezen and liberated it and appear to be on the path of becoming an Azata, though some paths haven't even been an option so far and I don't think I missed them. I'm really glad I reached a natural stopping point before going on vacation, makes it much more likely that I'll pick it up again once I'm back.

Oddly possibly the mythic ability I like the most for my main character might be the unlimited rage one. I tend to use rage very sparingly, as with all limited resources I always think "what if I need it in the next fight?". Now my main character will actually get some good use out of his signature class ability.

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3 hours ago, Jon AS said:

In Wrath of the Righteous I made it to Drezen and liberated it and appear to be on the path of becoming an Azata, though some paths haven't even been an option so far and I don't think I missed them. I'm really glad I reached a natural stopping point before going on vacation, makes it much more likely that I'll pick it up again once I'm back.

Oddly possibly the mythic ability I like the most for my main character might be the unlimited rage one. I tend to use rage very sparingly, as with all limited resources I always think "what if I need it in the next fight?". Now my main character will actually get some good use out of his signature class ability.

There is a max of 6 paths that could be open to you at Drezen. The other 4 paths don't open up until much, much later in the game.

And yeah, when I made a bloodrager that unlimited rage ability was the first mythic I picked up.

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     Playing Bayonetta.  I have no idea why I waited this long to play this.  A great action game with a couple issues.  The camera and lack of lock-on can cause you to lose your opponent and that can be lethal especially going up against one of the main protagonists who reminds me of the Vergil fights from Devil May Cry 3.  Actually a lot of this game feels like a spiritual sequel to DMC 3.  Great enemy design with fun mechanics. My favorite boss so far takes place on the ocean where you are flying around on a surfboard fighting a mecha angelic sea monster.  Deep fighting system with purchasable upgrades. The environments lack variety and the story is whatever but this game excels at what it sets out to do which is deliver a kickass action game.

     After I finish Bayonetta I’m going to play the expansion for Monster Hunter Rise.  

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On 6/24/2022 at 3:51 AM, IlyaP said:

I am, and I find it personally baffling, but as always: de gustibus non est disputandum.

It's also well-known that Drew Karpyshyn's departure from the series as lead writer after ME 1 resulted in new writers taking over, thus changing the course of the narrative. (This gets covered in copious detail in the book Mess Effect.)

Damn. Shamus Young, who wrote Mess Effect and created legendary webcomic DM of the Rings, passed away last night.

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"I am Aragorn, son of Anduril!"

"That's your sword, dumbass!"

 

 

Edited by Werthead
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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

Damn. Shamus Young, who wrote Mess Effect and created legendary webcomic DM of the Rings, passed away last night.

 

WHAT.

 

Oh man. That guy was SUCH a talent. So sad to hear that! He's definitely going to be missed! 

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On 6/25/2022 at 1:07 PM, Werthead said:
 

Kaidan is ultra-bland in ME1, which is why something like 90% of people pick Ashley over him. Ashley definitely has the better character arc over the three games, even if her "glow-up" in ME3 is really random. However, Kaiden does benefit massively from a greater writing focus in ME3, and in ME3 he's really the better character to have around versus Ashley, to the point that it's quite silly (Ashley only has option bits of dialogue in the lounge, Kaiden has proper long conversation cutscenes like other companions). 

All right, you convinced me. For my first time ever, I've let Kaidan live on Virmire. RIP, Ashley and your space racism.

I did always find Ashley's lack of dialogue in Mass Effect 3 to be very odd.

In my last post, I said that I was actually finding the Mako fun on this playthrough. That's still true for the main quests. By far the best change to the Legendary Edition is that you get full XP for killing things in the Mako, so you're not constantly leaving it to finish off your enemies with a single shot. This really improves the pacing. But then I did a bunch of the side missions on Mako-exploration planets and remembered just how truly terrible it is to try to climb over mountains with the Mako, just to get to a warehouse that looks the exact same as every other warehouse and shoot some random husks/mercs/Thorian creepers/biotics. Oh boy.

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38 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

All right, you convinced me. For my first time ever, I've let Kaidan live on Virmire. RIP, Ashley and your space racism.

I did always find Ashley's lack of dialogue in Mass Effect 3 to be very odd.

In my last post, I said that I was actually finding the Mako fun on this playthrough. That's still true for the main quests. By far the best change to the Legendary Edition is that you get full XP for killing things in the Mako, so you're not constantly leaving it to finish off your enemies with a single shot. This really improves the pacing. But then I did a bunch of the side missions on Mako-exploration planets and remembered just how truly terrible it is to try to climb over mountains with the Mako, just to get to a warehouse that looks the exact same as every other warehouse and shoot some random husks/mercs/Thorian creepers/biotics. Oh boy.

Apparently Ashley's writer left between ME2 and 3 (after having sweet FA to do in ME2) and didn't get a replacement, it was someone who was also writing fifty other things and didn't have time to spare, whilst Kaiden's writer remained constant.

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I have to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying Mass Effect Andromeda at this point. It's not utterly fantastic, but it's very good, bordering on great.

I get the impression the game's somewhat shitty reputation comes from being released in a fucking-hell-what-is-this technical state, whilst the game right now is obviously 100% fixed and doesn't seem to have any major problems (my disappearing rifle is the only issue I've encountered and I think that was problem with the UI rather than a bug).

The other issue is that the writing is not as good as the trilogy's, which I think is mostly fair (especially the much more robotic approach to relationships), but the trilogy were narrative roleplaying games where the story is absolutely king and the gameplay was a very distant second. MEA takes the view that the gameplay is far more important and prioritises that upwards, so in many respects the moment-to-moment gameplay of MEA wipes the floor with any of the trilogy. Exploration, combat, and the increased freedom of action are all really satisfying. There's also far more actual RPG systems, the levelling is much better than anything in the trilogy, the skill trees are good and the mix-and-match approach which moves away from classes towards skills and powers is all solid. 

The criticism about the bland crew I don't think is entirely fair. It's hard to go with a 100% brand new crew when in you had two and three games to build up relationships in the trilogy. I'd say the MEA crew as about as developed as the ME1 team after the first game and, say, Vega in ME3. Liam is mildly a better character than the other human blandathons (Kaiden, Ashley, Jacob, Vega), Peebee is a bit cheesy (basically Liara if she was an actual manic pixie girl) but funny, Cora is interesting (as a human raised by asari) and Jaal is fucking great, and would have been a worthy character from the trilogy. Drack is pretty good, but he's like 95% Wrex and the 5% difference is that he has a granddaughter he dotes on. Jaal is also cool for the way he interacts with the other characters, particularly Liam and Drack. Probably only Vetra is really below par.

If the trilogy's goal was to make you feel like Luke Skywalker, the hero of an epic saga against overwhelming odds where you have to lead a large group of people to victory with the fate of the galaxy resting on your shoulders, it succeeded very well. Andromeda has no interest in doing that, it wants to make you feel like Captain Janeway, stranded (if by choice this time) an insurmountable distance from home and having to make split-second decisions about the very basics of survival. And I think it does that extremely well.

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Picked Neon White; a time attack platformer FPS is the best I can describe it as. The writing is cringe-y, but the gameplay loop is extremely satisfying. It's a series of many extremely short levels (good times are often sub-20 seconds, if not less) with an almost instant restart feature.

I also started a replay of Elden Ring. I really didn't think I would so soon, but the lack of new AAA releases is really getting to me. I started a fresh save rather than NG+ so I could go blank slate. I'm going for a faith build this time, not sure yet if I'll mix Dex, Str, or stay pure. Havent had to decide yet, all my early level ups so far have been to get more health, with a bit of FP and stamina as well. I forgot how little you have at the start.

I just haven't gotten sucked in to the FF7 remake the way I hoped. I'm not giving up, but it's just not really doing it for me for some reason.

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The fact we are getting Ron Gilbert's Monkey Island 3 (well, technically Monkey Island 2.5) is still pretty crazy, and it still looks like it'll be out this year which is good news.

It looks like we go back to Monkey Island, Elaine is a controllable character alongside Guybrush and a ton of the fan favourite characters are back.

On the negative side, the art style is going to take some considerable getting used to. It's distractingly weird.

 

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I like the look of it, albeit I have no expectations or connections since I've never played the original games (!). I also feel like I've read, watched or played something in the relatively recent past that's got me used to that particular brand of stylisation, though I can't at the moment think what it is. Some comic probably. 

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On 6/27/2022 at 4:55 PM, Werthead said:

I have to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying Mass Effect Andromeda at this point. It's not utterly fantastic, but it's very good, bordering on great.

I get the impression the game's somewhat shitty reputation comes from being released in a fucking-hell-what-is-this technical state, whilst the game right now is obviously 100% fixed and doesn't seem to have any major problems (my disappearing rifle is the only issue I've encountered and I think that was problem with the UI rather than a bug).

The other issue is that the writing is not as good as the trilogy's, which I think is mostly fair (especially the much more robotic approach to relationships), but the trilogy were narrative roleplaying games where the story is absolutely king and the gameplay was a very distant second. MEA takes the view that the gameplay is far more important and prioritises that upwards, so in many respects the moment-to-moment gameplay of MEA wipes the floor with any of the trilogy. Exploration, combat, and the increased freedom of action are all really satisfying. There's also far more actual RPG systems, the levelling is much better than anything in the trilogy, the skill trees are good and the mix-and-match approach which moves away from classes towards skills and powers is all solid. 

The criticism about the bland crew I don't think is entirely fair. It's hard to go with a 100% brand new crew when in you had two and three games to build up relationships in the trilogy. I'd say the MEA crew as about as developed as the ME1 team after the first game and, say, Vega in ME3. Liam is mildly a better character than the other human blandathons (Kaiden, Ashley, Jacob, Vega), Peebee is a bit cheesy (basically Liara if she was an actual manic pixie girl) but funny, Cora is interesting (as a human raised by asari) and Jaal is fucking great, and would have been a worthy character from the trilogy. Drack is pretty good, but he's like 95% Wrex and the 5% difference is that he has a granddaughter he dotes on. Jaal is also cool for the way he interacts with the other characters, particularly Liam and Drack. Probably only Vetra is really below par.

If the trilogy's goal was to make you feel like Luke Skywalker, the hero of an epic saga against overwhelming odds where you have to lead a large group of people to victory with the fate of the galaxy resting on your shoulders, it succeeded very well. Andromeda has no interest in doing that, it wants to make you feel like Captain Janeway, stranded (if by choice this time) an insurmountable distance from home and having to make split-second decisions about the very basics of survival. And I think it does that extremely well.

I think all the points you bring up are legit reasons why the game is bad. Ryder(s) are awful, the writing/humor is super cringe inducing, and the squad is annoying. I love Krogans (another reason I find ME3 a letdown=no Krogan squadmate), but Drack is reduced to "I'm old" and/or "I'm tough." All the characters are built like this. Whereas in the original trilogy, half the fun for me was going and checking in on Garrus, Grunt, Wrex, Tali, Thane, Moridin--SO MANY amazing characters--I couldn't stand a single character on the ship in Andromeda.

In terms of bad humor, this is long in the future yet Asari and other races are saying "cool" phrases that are specific to 2016 U.S. culture. I swear PeeBee says things like "that's so lit" or whatever.

The gameplay, though, is very fun--especially the combat. 

Edited by Centrist Simon Steele
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13 minutes ago, Centrist Simon Steele said:

I think all the points you bring up are legit reasons why the game is bad. Ryder(s) are awful, the writing/humor is super cringe inducing, and the squad is annoying. I love Krogans (another reason I find ME3 a letdown=no Krogan squadmate), but Drack is reduced to "I'm old" and/or "I'm tough." All the characters are built like this. Whereas in the original trilogy, half the fun for me was going and checking in on Garrus, Grunt, Wrex, Tali, Thane, Moridin--SO MANY amazing characters--I couldn't stand a single character on the ship in Andromeda.

In terms of bad humor, this is long in the future yet Asari and other races are saying "cool" phrases that are specific to 2016 U.S. culture. I swear PeeBee says things like "that's so lit" or whatever.

The gameplay, though, is very fun--especially the combat. 

Peebee is very much kicking back against asari culture, hence why she spends all her time arguing with the other asari on the ship played by Natalie Dormer. It's also amusing that she uses other races' slang and speech idioms about five minutes after meeting them (she hasn't said "so lit" so far, but she's definitely picked up some South London street slang from Liam, which is amusing).

How they handle Ryder is interesting though. They dropped the "Paragade" idea as being idiotic (four games too late, but still) and came up with this four-way response system instead which is more relaxed but also a bit more unpredictable. So far my Ryder is 95% a total goofball with an inappropriate sense of humour who also executed an enemy in cold blood (although they were a mass murdering fucknugget) and allowed an innocent person to be fried to steal a mega-advanced hyper-computer. I feel it's much easier to tailor your character in several different directions compared to Shepard (who was really either Space Jesus, Space Hitler or actively schizophrenic), but it's also much easier to make them into a certifiable lunatic.

I've found Drack to be much better since I took him and Jaal on missions together, and Jaal gets Drack to open up about his life, family, the genophage etc. There's some good stuff in there.

I also just did Liam's loyalty mission which is oddly-written but it does have one of the greatest all-time Mass Effect settings, with a battle on a ship where the gravity goes heywire, so one second you're fighting on the ceiling and the next on the walls. I think that's a Mass Effect 3 idea they couldn't pull off at the time but were able to resurrect the idea for Andromeda.

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On 6/26/2022 at 3:07 AM, Werthead said:

I am not happy with the UI, though. I've had weapons disappear mid-mission without any explanation and the absence of quicksave is acceptable if the autosave they replace it with is decent, which this is very much not.

The UI, combined with the repetitive planet roving missions, is what made me give up on the game. Also, the plot point with the main character's dad and the helmet decision is just so mind-bogglingly stupid as to be nearly insulting. 

The game at least has a better grasp of RPG systems than the Mass Effect trilogy, what with the paragon/asshat system being completely illogical, in defiance of how humans actually behave, and frustratingly bicameral and thus limiting gameplay/RPG choices.  

The opening sections of Andromeda are astonishing in their design, but then the game fails to live up to the idea of you, the player, discovering new worlds, as every visitable world already has someone on it, thus slightly negative the whole 'strange new world of discovery' intention. (Though the plus there is that it avoids creepy neo-colonisation rhetoric, I suppose.)

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Werthead said:

I feel it's much easier to tailor your character in several different directions compared to Shepard (who was really either Space Jesus, Space Hitler or actively schizophrenic), but it's also much easier to make them into a certifiable lunatic.

I always thought of Paragon Shepard as Captain Picard, and Renegade Shepard as Dirty Harry In Space. Renegade Shepard does have some moments of bad writing (particularly in ME1) which are of the "Space Hitler" category, but most of the paragon/renegade choices come down to where you stand on the idealist/cynical scale, or alternatively "by-the-book military professional" / "loose cannon".

Edited by Gorn
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7 hours ago, IlyaP said:

The opening sections of Andromeda are astonishing in their design, but then the game fails to live up to the idea of you, the player, discovering new worlds, as every visitable world already has someone on it, thus slightly negative the whole 'strange new world of discovery' intention. (Though the plus there is that it avoids creepy neo-colonisation rhetoric, I suppose.)

I did like the fact that the Angara are really on their back foot against the Kett and suddenly they get tens of thousands of reinforcements with superior technology (the game could have made more of the fact that you're actually better-off than the bad guys, which is a really nice inversion of the norm, there's just a lot less of you and more of them) and some of them are really happy about that, and others are, "Wait, is this a good thing? Are we swapping one colonial master for another who just smiles more?" and you can have conversations with several Angara characters about it. There's also the great stuff with the ambassador and his staff visiting the cultural centre on the Nexus and reading all the ludicrously happy literature about life in the Milky Way and clearly thinking it's bullshit, and of course it is when you go through and read all the entries yourself.

There is also some interesting stuff about the Initiative refusing to set up a base on Aya (the adopted Angara homeworld) or Havarl (the actual Angara homeworld) and only doing so on Voeld to fight alongside the Angara against the Kett, in the knowledge that even post-freezing Voeld is too inhospitable for humans to properly colonies. Eos is a shithole that the Angara don't want, so are happy for you to set up home there.

It would have been nice to have visited some more side-planets, but I think they wanted to combine the best of ME1 and 2/3, namely having lots of side-missions but putting them on the same planet which you also had to explore ME1-style in the Mako 2, but because there's only five of them you're not riding around tedious landscapes 30+ times as in the original, and there's way more handcrafted content and actual quests.

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13 hours ago, Centrist Simon Steele said:

 Whereas in the original trilogy, half the fun for me was going and checking in on Garrus, Grunt, Wrex, Tali, Thane, Moridin--SO MANY amazing characters--I couldn't stand a single character on the ship in Andromeda.

 

12 hours ago, Werthead said:

I've found Drack to be much better since I took him and Jaal on missions together, and Jaal gets Drack to open up about his life, family, the genophage etc. There's some good stuff in there.

I think that's a big change in how the games present their characterization.  In the OT, most of it happens in the ship with not a ton of unique interactions in the missions with a few exceptions.  Whereas in Andromeda, a lot of the best conversations happen when just driving around in the Nomad, so its a lot harder to get those conversations as its gated behind just driving.  One of my favorites is when Jaal pretends to be asleep so he can ignore Peebee and then she pretends to make it sound like she and Ryder are having sex.  :lol: 

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The 3rd time's the charm, as they say. I'm finally getting immersed into Horizon Zero Dawn. It took me a while because I have some issues with the gameplay:

  • the combat is extremely difficult and I had trouble getting into the mechanics; I'm playing on easy because I'm interested more in the story. I'm playing on the PC what is a console game. For whatever reason, they decided that each of the two main mouse buttons is going to active a separate weapon, melee with the left click, and range with the right click (but also left). Years of muscle memory developed from playing other games had to be overcome.
  • I don't like the rest of the UI that much, either. Again console vs PC.
  • The gameplay is in part a classic fantasy RPG but in post-apocalyptic SF setting. Some things just don't jive with immersion, like drinking a health potion to restore your health bar after being bulldozed by a giant robot.

But there are good things - the game is gorgeous, there are plenty of good quests and even the repetitive stuff like clearing out bandit camps offers some variety, and I am liking the narrative more and more as I go along. The voice acting is good, too. If only characters didn't spasm so much in dialogue scenes - it makes Mass Effect Andromeda at launch feel not so bad. 

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