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


Gorn
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Wrapping up Druidstone. Very solid game, if you want "fantasy XCOM" this scratches that itch (although the Banner Saga trilogy is overall the stronger series for that). It's tight, it's focused, it's borderline Final Fantasy copyright-infringing, and it's fun. Doesn't outstay its welcome, but both the levelling system (which grants you new abilities) and gem upgrade system (which boosts those abilities and unlocks new ones) are really fun and reward some replaying and fiddling around. Also, the ability to replay any mission at any time with your newly-upgraded powers is cool.

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I finished up my replay of Tomb Raider, aka Tomb Raider: Survivor. The game is honestly best experienced in 2022 with a reshade that restores the drained color that's oddly filtered out in the original release version. It is, on replay, a much better experience the second time around, especially in light of an expectation and understanding of the [thankfully] few quicktime events located within the game.

That said, several bugs do still remain within the game, including a frustrating clipping error near the hunter's lodge that drops players beneath the map - which, though providing some interesting insight into the details and engine mechanics, is still a bit of a pain to escape. I hope someone at Crystal Dynamics might one day patch this. (Hell, I'd be happy to walk them through each and every bug I found!) Sadly, the opening title reveal sequence still features odd lighting and rendering issues that causes the screen to transform into a heckin' mess of triangles when the camera is moved in certain directions.

And something I did not notice on my first playthrough: despite using motion capture to better depict the movements of Lara (courtesy of the brilliant Camilla Luddington), Lara's face doesn't move in sync with the dialogue in non-cinematic sequences, as meshes were used for facial animations in the place of more conventional (but CPU/GPU-intensive) polygons.

All that said and done, it's a brilliant reimagining of Lara Croft and a terrific direction for the series following the less than satisfying Legend Trilogy - which didn't quite stick the landing with its final title, Tomb Raider: Underworld.

All in all, Tomb Raider: Survivor (as I think it ought to have been subtitled, if only to not cause taxonomic confusion) is a majestic game, whose developers were clear fans of The Descent, and who clearly put a lot of love and care into crafting a game where each and every character received a sufficiently satisfying character arc - whilst also laying the groundwork for the antagonists of the subsequent sequels - Trinity.

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Kicked off Subnautica: Below Zero. Very solid so far, much more polished than the first game. Also a little more hardcore in how you start: you can freeze if you spend too much time above water (the first game almost encourages you to stay on the surface for the first couple of hours) and there's no infinite, regenerating supply of medkits. Also, you don't have the crashed mass of the Aurora as a constant navigation aid and logical destination for your first few hours of play. You do have to maybe aggressively head out and brave the elements and risk drowning a bit more than in the first game to build up an initial supply of raw materials and resources. It does take a bit longer to get base-building underway and raw materials are a bit more of a challenge to find early on.

Edited by Werthead
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I'd forgotten how great the middle of Mass Effect 3 is. The Tuchanka missions are phenomenal. I'm starting the Quarian vs. Geth stuff now and it's similarly exciting. In these missions, Bioware did a great job making you feel like you really were in the culmination of three games worth of plot, characters, and choices.

The attack on the Citadel... Is not so great. I'm still confused why Udina is Council Ambassador in this game, let alone why he suddenly becomes a Cerberus agent. Shockingly, Kai Leng is also not a very compelling villain.

But that's just one weird mission. My only real annoyance with Mass Effect 3 right now: I'm not sure why, but The Legendary Edition is cutting out characters and content. All my squad and crew members survived Mass Effect 2, but Thane and Kelly Chambers never showed up on the Citadel for me, Miranda appears to have gone MIA after one chat, etc... Really weird stuff, especially since I can't remember ever having issues like this when I played the trilogy before.

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40 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

The attack on the Citadel... Is not so great. I'm still confused why Udina is Council Ambassador in this game, let alone why he suddenly becomes a Cerberus agent. Shockingly, Kai Leng is also not a very compelling villain.

I believe a lot of this stuff is from the spin-off novels (I just picked up the first trilogy, so will check that out).

Quote

 

But that's just one weird mission. My only real annoyance with Mass Effect 3 right now: I'm not sure why, but The Legendary Edition is cutting out characters and content. All my squad and crew members survived Mass Effect 2, but Thane and Kelly Chambers never showed up on the Citadel for me, Miranda appears to have gone MIA after one chat, etc... Really weird stuff, especially since I can't remember ever having issues like this when I played the trilogy before.

 

I believe Kelly only appears in ME3 if you romanced her in ME2, but I could be wrong.

Miranda's quest goes AWOL for quite a while. I remember puzzling about her vanishing, but then I think she suddenly popped up on the communicator in the Spectre office on the Citadel, which felt random (the left-most of the three terminals).

Thane should always show up as long as he survived in ME2, though I can't remember if he just appears or he contacts you first.

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1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

I'd forgotten how great the middle of Mass Effect 3 is. The Tuchanka missions are phenomenal. I'm starting the Quarian vs. Geth stuff now and it's similarly exciting. In these missions, Bioware did a great job making you feel like you really were in the culmination of three games worth of plot, characters, and choices.

The attack on the Citadel... Is not so great. I'm still confused why Udina is Council Ambassador in this game, let alone why he suddenly becomes a Cerberus agent. Shockingly, Kai Leng is also not a very compelling villain.

But that's just one weird mission. My only real annoyance with Mass Effect 3 right now: I'm not sure why, but The Legendary Edition is cutting out characters and content. All my squad and crew members survived Mass Effect 2, but Thane and Kelly Chambers never showed up on the Citadel for me, Miranda appears to have gone MIA after one chat, etc... Really weird stuff, especially since I can't remember ever having issues like this when I played the trilogy before.

 

21 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I believe a lot of this stuff is from the spin-off novels (I just picked up the first trilogy, so will check that out).

I believe Kelly only appears in ME3 if you romanced her in ME2, but I could be wrong.

Miranda's quest goes AWOL for quite a while. I remember puzzling about her vanishing, but then I think she suddenly popped up on the communicator in the Spectre office on the Citadel, which felt random (the left-most of the three terminals).

Thane should always show up as long as he survived in ME2, though I can't remember if he just appears or he contacts you first.

Thane is in the hospital and he sends you an email early in the game asking you to meet him.  I guess I don't know what happens if you never interact with him.

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A modder has done what Bethesda has never been able to: create properly-functioning ladders which you can actually climb up.

To celebrate, he presents the mod in-game as a smooth tuxedo-wearing presenter.

Seeing the amount of polish on a fucking video about climbing ladders is ridiculous.

 

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Picked up Hard West 2 on the strength of the reviews despite really not jelling with the first one. And so far it does seem really quite good as far as XCOM-likes go. It rewards being aggressive even more than some other recent games in the genre; to the point that you don't even have overwatch. You can't hold back. And on the flip side whenever one of your characters gets a kill they get back ALL their AP and there's no limit on that; so you can chain 10+ kills in a turn if you're clever enough. The different characters seem to have some pretty neat abilities too; like one can fire through cover and another can swap places with any visible character for a bit of health cost.

The upgrade system is neat too, and thematic. You unlock a shared pool of playing cards and equip them to characters to create poker hands that grant abilities (each individual card also gives a small bonus).

The out-of-combat map exploration and text-based side quests have been pretty basic so far, but do help break up the action.

The voice acting is solid, but the writing is only serviceable so far. There's also a bit of jank where the main character is sometimes written in first person and sometimes third person and I can't tell why the difference exists. He also has less voice acting than the other party members, but does have some. It's like he's stuck between being a silent, player-insert protagonist and a fully realized character.

 

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46 minutes ago, Fez said:

The different characters seem to have some pretty neat abilities too; like one can fire through cover and another can swap places with any visible character for a bit of health cost.

They totally nicked that idea from Druidstone (although I have a feeling they nabbed the idea from elsewhere too).

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Am currently doing a replay of Rise of the Tomb Raider - as part of my revisit of the Survivor trilogy, but this time at a slower pace - completing all the tombs, side quests, and optional quests that aren't mindless fetch quests. 

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Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.  Having a lot of fun with the new monsters. All of them have been solid especially Blood Orange Bishaten who is a grenade throwing spastic monkey. Goss Harag who I never found challenging in high rank is probably the best upgrade fight in master rank. 
 

I’m going to be starting Bayonetta 2. I hope it can retain the fantastic combat from the first game. Platinum is two for two on games I have played so far. I really enjoyed Astral Chain when I played it last year. I’ve got more Platinum games lined up after that. 
 

For the rest of the year I’m looking forward to Bayonetta 3, GOW: Ragnarok, and Return to Monkey Island.  

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I'd forgotten that Rise of the Tomb Raider featured some issues with optimisation that confounds some players - myself included, where places that don't seem particularly CPU/GPU intensive suddenly cause severe hits to the framerate. But it's all worth it in the end for the gloriousness of the cistern tomb - an optional tomb that's gobsmackingly gorgeous and that I completely missed in my first play-through. 

I'm thinking of, after this, trying out Deus Ex: Mankind. I've heard mixed thoughts on it. Has anyone here played it who's happy to comment on the game/provide their thoughts and observations?

 

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9 hours ago, IlyaP said:

 

I'm thinking of, after this, trying out Deus Ex: Mankind. I've heard mixed thoughts on it. Has anyone here played it who's happy to comment on the game/provide their thoughts and observations?

 

DX mankind Divided is a good game. Having Prague as the main hub, having more open worldy bits, more vertical exploring is good. It has some great missions and the end mission is amazingly good and fun. And you can best the game without a single shot fired. 

The big issue is that it doesn't feel like a complete game and the ending is.abrupt, and the scale of the game and the consequences are significantly smaller than any of the others. It feels like what it is - a beginning of a long series, a series they didn't end up doing. 

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10 hours ago, IlyaP said:

I'm thinking of, after this, trying out Deus Ex: Mankind. I've heard mixed thoughts on it. Has anyone here played it who's happy to comment on the game/provide their thoughts and observations?

It's a great game, and if you enjoyed Human Revolution you will absolutely like Mankind Divided. The significance of some events is clearer if you've played the original Deus Ex - Mankind Divided is much more of an actual prequel to the original game, whilst HR only nominally felt it was in the same universe - but it's not required.

It's a bigger and longer game than HR but it's storyline isn't quite as world-shaking.

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Anyone played Nioh 2; how does it compare difficulty-wise to Elden Ring? Is it similar or significantly harder?

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20 hours into Subnautica: Below Zero and it's very good so far, and certainly worthwhile for anyone who enjoyed Subnautica. Certainly Subnautica is a stronger game in many respects and it's better to play that first, especially as some storylines that Subnautica began Below Zero finishes off.

I can see why some people are down on Below Zero though. The map is somewhat smaller and at least a third of the map is taken up by land, whilst in the OG game it's more like 5%, if that. Getting up on land for long haul exploration is also a major pain, because you need to re-fabricate a whole second set of equipment for surviving on land (including cold suits and a land-based vehicle). Building a second base in Subnautica is of course part of the fun, but Below Zero makes it a major ball-ache because you have no Cyclops. In the original game, you could use the Cyclops as a mobile base, pack it full of storage to carry your entire resource stockpile around with you. But the Cyclops isn't in Below Zero and its replacement, the Seatruck, is considerably weaker and can't carry as much stuff around, and isn't suitable  for use as a mobile HQ. This means much more toing-and-froing than in the original game, especially if you've relocated your base from the starting location to a more central area (like the Delta Island).

Still, once you get that out of the way there's still a lot of greatness, even if it's a safer game (the worst sea predators aren't a patch on the OG Leviathans) and not as deep a game (I mean literally, the OG map went down over 2km in terms of areas you actually needed to visit and as deep as 8km on the map edges, whilst Below Zero barely drops below 1000 metres). The expanded basebuilding is fantastic and the new UI options, like pinning the current resources you are looking for in the UI, is brilliant. These options are all being backdated into Subnautica in a future patch, which should be great as well.

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On 8/3/2022 at 4:43 PM, Werthead said:

I believe a lot of this stuff is from the spin-off novels (I just picked up the first trilogy, so will check that out).

I believe Kelly only appears in ME3 if you romanced her in ME2, but I could be wrong.

Miranda's quest goes AWOL for quite a while. I remember puzzling about her vanishing, but then I think she suddenly popped up on the communicator in the Spectre office on the Citadel, which felt random (the left-most of the three terminals).

Thane should always show up as long as he survived in ME2, though I can't remember if he just appears or he contacts you first.

Ahh, you were right about Miranda. She did eventually show up again. As for Kelly, no big loss there. I'm still confused about Thane, because I never got a message from him on my private terminal, which the internet says you should, and he was never in the hospital. He then just never showed up in the Citadel coup. But his name is on the Normandy's monument to the dead. Very strange.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

Ahh, you were right about Miranda. She did eventually show up again. As for Kelly, no big loss there. I'm still confused about Thane, because I never got a message from him on my private terminal, which the internet says you should, and he was never in the hospital. He then just never showed up in the Citadel coup. But his name is on the Normandy's monument to the dead. Very strange.

I wonder if the game thought Thane had died in the suicide mission?

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44 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I wonder if the game thought Thane had died in the suicide mission?

Yeah, somehow that must have happened. Too bad - Thane is one of my favourite Mass Effect companions. But I suppose I can just watch Youtube videos of his scenes in ME3 and pretend they happened in my game.

I'm getting pretty close to the endgame - I ended the Geth/Quarian war and some confusing stuff happened on Thessia. I'm thinking this is probably a good time to start doing all the DLC. Though from what I remember, Omega is pretty mediocre, so I might skip over that one.

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I seem to have unleashed the Pinnacarid apocalypse in Subnautica: Below Zero. Pinnacarids are seal/dolphin-like creatures (but with fluffy wings) who are ordinarily fairly friendly towards your character. I picked up a couple of eggs whilst looking for other stuff without realising they were Pinnacarid eggs and casually left them in the containment unit in my base, which resulted in two Pinnacarids essentially being locked in a breeding chamber (not deliberately).

I went off and did a massive chunk of the game on the ice shore, which required building a separate base and doing tons of stuff, so it was weeks of in-game time before I got back to my primary base, which was now jam-packed with lusty and massively inbred Pinnacarids. In a hurry I manually transferred them to the sea outside, forgetting that "breeded" creatures are super-friendly to the max towards the player. The result is my base is now effectively besieged by overly-friendly fluffy dolphin-things and I have to be careful not to massacre a bunch of them by accident just reversing my seatruck into the docking bay. One was so enamoured of me that it clipped through the wall of my base bedroom and promptly died on the floor, and I couldn't get rid of its corpse until it despawned when I left the area.

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