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


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@Fez

Fascinating, but

Spoiler

I'm guessing that part of the lore post-dates The Matrix, right? Seems too similar to be coincidence, though cool that they apply it to a fantasy setting and do different things with it.

 

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

I had assumed from the stuff about the alien artifacts and the images suggesting they play a part in the story that this would be the central quest of the game... but do Bethesda games not have central quests?

I guess I was approaching it like Cyberpunk 2077, because more important than bells and whistles is an actual strong core narrative.

Bethesda games always have central quests.  I rarely finish them, but they're certainly there.

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15 minutes ago, Ran said:

@Fez

Fascinating, but

  Reveal hidden contents

I'm guessing that part of the lore post-dates The Matrix, right? Seems too similar to be coincidence, though cool that they apply it to a fantasy setting and do different things with it.

 

Yeah,

Spoiler

The Matrix released March 1999, and Morrowind released May 2002. So they were probably working out the lore in the months after seeing the movie.

Of course, ES: Arena released in 1994 and ES: Daggerfall in 1996. But Arena had almost no lore at all. Daggerfall did have a fair amount, but I've never played it, so it's always been unclear to me what is stuff that fans are retrofitting to the game based on Morrowind and what was actually in the game.

And there are certainly differences from The Matrix, beyond it being a fantasy setting, so I'll still give some points for originality. 

 

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

I had assumed from the stuff about the alien artifacts and the images suggesting they play a part in the story that this would be the central quest of the game... but do Bethesda games not have central quests?

I guess I was approaching it like Cyberpunk 2077, because more important than bells and whistles is an actual strong core narrative.

Bethesda games are built around the idea of creating a world that is much more fully interactable than Cyberpunk 2077, with you able to leave a mark on the world or being able to engage in optional activities which have no plot bearing (like becoming a smith in Skyrim or an engineer building and selling armour or weapons in Fallout 4, or someone going around building new settlements from resources you scavenge). The games are also focused on creating a character with vastly more options and freedom than in the likes of Cyberpunk.

However, that still does require a central narrative, which takes the form of a long chain of quests, a whole ton of side-missions (which is usually where the games get the most creative and crazy) and then a whole chain of procedurally-generated jobs (these are very similar to the police scanner missions in Cyberpunk 2077). It varies from game, but there's usually several different factions in play and you can align with them or fight against them or mix and match up to a point; Bethesda games are unusual in that they will sometimes allow you to even join the "evil" faction.

The central narrative of each game is usually short-ish, though they've been getting longer with each game, and Fallout 4 was by the far the longest they've done, taking ~25 hours or so to complete (you could probably polish off Cyberpunk 2077's main quest in that time, but only by ignoring a lot of the side-character-based quests). Usually you'll mix the main quest with side-missions with optional stuff, to make the games longer. No BGS game is as well-written as Cyberpunk 2077 though, the same focus isn't there.

By far the best game in that mode for narrative is Fallout: New Vegas, which uses Bethesda's trademark engine and "format" for doing things but was actually created by Obsidian, who are vastly better than Bethesda as writers (though not as good at designing the open world element). New Vegas is probably on a par with CP77 in terms of writing and character, though at a dozen years old it's obviously not remotely on a par technically. Or the recent The Outer Worlds, made by the same team, which is super-focused on the narrative and doesn't really have an open world at all, more a collection of different areas on different planets where you can pursue the main story and a modest number of side-quests. The Mass Effect trilogy is also in that vein and has a really good narrative and some of the best characters in video game history, although the moment-to-moment gameplay is pretty basic (it's almost all combat, all the time, and not the best combat either, apart from hub worlds where it's more roleplaying based).

The best option for something like Cyberpunk 2077 in terms of narrative, writing and character is easily The Witcher 3.

Edited by Werthead
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Yeah, The Witcher 3... started playing for a couple of hours and felt like I was bouncing off of it because of the third person and, well, what I said about maybe not finding fantasy settings that narratively appealing. I'll have to try and get back into it some time.

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58 minutes ago, Fez said:

Bethesda games have central quests, but they are usually pretty short and not that interesting. When the games have interesting quests at all, it's usually in the optional faction quests (e.g. the whole chain of Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion). But Bethesda games usually aren't that strong on the writing. The last time I thought they had some legitimately interesting stuff was Morrowind, but even then it was less the quests and more the background lore in some of the conversations and books (at it's core, the Elder Scrolls setting is crazy in a way most players are not aware of or ever engage in; which is a shame).

Deep Elder Scrolls lore spoilers

  Reveal hidden contents

Basically, the foundational layer of the setting is that all of reality is the dream of a primordial god. There's a complex creation mythology filled with gods that is more like classic real world mythology, but all of that is within the dream as well. And there is a mental state that characters can reach, called CHIM, which is where they realize that they are simply figments of a dream. This gives them basically unlimited power to alter "reality" by changing the dream around them. However, they almost never use that power because they stop having goals/ambitions after realizing that nothing is really "real"; in fact often times they simply disappear from reality, retroactively as well. Only two characters in the setting ever didn't, and actually used their power.

There's even some super meta-y/easter egg layers hidden in the early games suggesting that the dream is actually a video game. So in other words reality is actually the game you are playing, and characters who achieve CHIM realize that they're in a video game. That aspect has I think has entirely been dropped though.

 

Definitely wasn't aware of that meta stuff and now that I've read it I think I wish I remained ignorant of it. :P 

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16 minutes ago, Ran said:

Yeah, The Witcher 3... started playing for a couple of hours and felt like I was bouncing off of it because of the third person and, well, what I said about maybe not finding fantasy settings that narratively appealing. I'll have to try and get back into it some time.

If first-person is your thing, then New Vegas and The Outer Worlds would probably work better. The newer Deus Exs for that matter. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition has a very serviceable first-person mod, although I believe it has to come out of it for combat, which is about 70% of gameplay (but then the combat is cover-based, so wouldn't work really in first-person).

I think for The Witcher 3 the combat is very melee and thus almost always situational-based around your character, which CP77 isn't, so a first-person W3 would not necessarily work as well.

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I tried The Witcher 3 entirely because I loved Cyberupunk so much. Also saw someone on this board mention it has the largest in game city for a video game so I wanted to see that. Game didn't really take. I didn't like being forced into the specific character. I didn't like the combat system, despite liking pretty much the same system in Cyberpunk. Didn't like the magic much either.

I did see the narrative strengths though and them forcing you into a character probably  makes that easier to do. I'll probably circle back at some point. The part near the beginning in the tavern was great.

Don't have issues with fantasy at all, but I like playing roles like sniper, hacker, mage, and thief. So that really screwed me up being forced to be a sword slinger and specific one at that.

Edited by Martell Spy
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40 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

Definitely wasn't aware of that meta stuff and now that I've read it I think I wish I remained ignorant of it. :P 

Fair enough. Fortunately it only ever shows up in a handful of the books you can read in game. I think the last time a character actually talked about any of it was Vivec in Morrowind, and even then only obliquely. So you can easily just enjoy the game at the more direct level you had before.

The only direct plot implication of all this relates to the Altmer and their plans (basically everything would go much worse than they expect if they acheive their goal), which itself is only rarely mentioned in the games.

At least that was the case at the end of Skyrim. I never played the MMO, so I don't know what's been added there.

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44 minutes ago, Fez said:

Fair enough. Fortunately it only ever shows up in a handful of the books you can read in game. I think the last time a character actually talked about any of it was Vivec in Morrowind, and even then only obliquely. So you can easily just enjoy the game at the more direct level you had before.

I suppose the disappearance of the two moons for two years makes more sense in this context. 

Spoiler

A dreaming god blinks and the moons of the made up world disappear.

 

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2 hours ago, Ran said:

Yeah, The Witcher 3... started playing for a couple of hours and felt like I was bouncing off of it because of the third person and, well, what I said about maybe not finding fantasy settings that narratively appealing. I'll have to try and get back into it some time.

I'd highly recommend sticking with it until you get through the Bloody Baron stuff, which is relatively early in the game.  

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7 hours ago, Ran said:

I had assumed from the stuff about the alien artifacts and the images suggesting they play a part in the story that this would be the central quest of the game... but do Bethesda games not have central quests?

I guess I was approaching it like Cyberpunk 2077, because more important than bells and whistles is an actual strong core narrative.

Did someone mention Cyberpunk 2077? :D

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Bought Halo Master Chief collection on Steam sale today, 60% off. Story is supposed to be pretty good right? I don't hate FPS but being FPS always counts against a game for me, but I thought I should at least give Halo a go.

Did I make a mistake?

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8 hours ago, Fez said:

Yeah,

  Hide contents

The Matrix released March 1999, and Morrowind released May 2002. So they were probably working out the lore in the months after seeing the movie.

Of course, ES: Arena released in 1994 and ES: Daggerfall in 1996. But Arena had almost no lore at all. Daggerfall did have a fair amount, but I've never played it, so it's always been unclear to me what is stuff that fans are retrofitting to the game based on Morrowind and what was actually in the game.

And there are certainly differences from The Matrix, beyond it being a fantasy setting, so I'll still give some points for originality. 

 

Just as a side note: Most of the lore books you can find Morrowind originates in Daggerfall, though I think most of the super meta stuff was added to explain away how all endings of Daggerfall are somehow true and crashed reality.

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8 hours ago, Ran said:

Yeah, The Witcher 3... started playing for a couple of hours and felt like I was bouncing off of it because of the third person and, well, what I said about maybe not finding fantasy settings that narratively appealing. I'll have to try and get back into it some time.

I bounced off it the first time I tried as well. A big part of my issue with it is aesthetic, but still significant - the first major zone is a swamp. It's constantly raining, muddy and miserable and it really puts me off. For all that Night City in CP77 is a terrible dirty city with garbage bags everywhere etc, it's also gorgeous and breath taking. Graphically TW3 is fine but that lack of something beautiful to appreciate really made it harder to get into.

When I tried it again I did get over the hump and enjoyed it a lot, it's the reason I then gave CP77 a try though so I'm not sure how I would have received it if the order was reversed. I was already ok with 3rd person though so that's an extra hurdle for you. I found the Bloody Baron quest line mentioned above to be a bit overrated by the fandom but in a particular meta way, it's certainly where the game starts to show there's more meat to its narrative. The final zone of the second expansion finally gets you out of the terrible weather, it's sunny French wine country and demonstrated just how much of an impact that aesthetic choice was having on me lol.

@Martell Spy that "largest city in gaming" must be a statistic that predates CP77. Yes the city in TW3 is huge by gaming standards, Night City is most of the game and actually manages to feel like a real city. That's not a diss on the one in TW3, just acknowledgement that they're still improving.

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I need to get back to TW3. I loved it but when I got to the City I somehow got a bit overwhelmed and bounced off. That was ages ago. 


I also need to get into Disco Elysium which has been sitting on my Switch for a couple months now, only a couple hours played.

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10 hours ago, Martell Spy said:

I tried The Witcher 3 entirely because I loved Cyberupunk so much. Also saw someone on this board mention it has the largest in game city for a video game so I wanted to see that. Game didn't really take. I didn't like being forced into the specific character. I didn't like the combat system, despite liking pretty much the same system in Cyberpunk. Didn't like the magic much either.

The definition was The Witcher 3 having the largest "medieval" city in a video game, with Novigrad (maybe Beauclair later on). It was certainly a smaller city than Los Santos in GTA5 or Liberty in GTA4. The comparison was more with the cities in Skyrim, which are all tiny, even the supposedly massive regional capitals.

9 hours ago, briantw said:

I'd highly recommend sticking with it until you get through the Bloody Baron stuff, which is relatively early in the game.  

Yup, the Bloody Baron questline is surprisingly good, and then even gets sequel quests later on. The Baron himself is an interesting character, sort of Robert Baratheon-ish but with more pathos.

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About Starfield - well, it's Bethesda. They wanted to make procedurally created games since 1996! I too think that 1000 planets are too many, unless they have finally managed to implement some decent reactivity to the world. Like, at least  price fluctuations  depending on your actions, pirate activity going up or down and changing sectors, regenerating enemy hide-outs changing enemy types after being cleared out, etc. Maybe placement of certain valuable resources could be randomized on each game start to make visiting empty planets worthwhile? I guess that they won't be implementing simple puzzles to enliven exploration with so much procedural content, sadly. Also, non-lethal capture option still doesn't seem to be available, sigh.

But a lot of other stuff that I saw/heard are actually things that I always wanted to have  in the same game: being able to play both on planets and in space, building outposts and hiring NPCs to work/gather  for you, customizible spaceships, jetpacks for some verticality, zero G action, etc. And I really love the return to the great RPG mainstays like the silent protagonist for more and more impactful dialogue options and traits on character creation with both positives and negatives. I really hope that skills are on point and that it is possible to alleviate weak FPS-fu with slow-time perks or something.

 

I have been playing Ever Oasis on 2DS for these past weeks and it is indeed a criminally overlooked gem of a game.  Particularly exploration is well done, with many different-looking areas and simple, yet varied  and satisfying puzzles, which never stump you, but provide a very enjoyable  change of pace from combat. Tracking down potential residents and managing the oasis growth and satisfaction/ resource-gathering  of it's population also works very well.

There are a few warts, though -  making it impossible to look around while in combat makes it  too chaotic to be fun if you are fighting several opponents, particularly in tight spaces. Yes, it is difficult to actually fail a fight because of the 2 revivals + all the healing items you can have, but still.  Itemisation is also a bit weird.

It is really too bad that this game didn't spawn any sequels, because the foundation is great and with a few improvements it could have been stellar, IMHO.

 

Edited by Maia
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I got the preorder for Bloodlines 2 refunded on steam because it seems unlikely to me that it will be released in the foreseeable future.  

I dunno what I will do with the money I have now in my steam wallet. 

Maybe I should get Elden Ring but I also have a PS5 and it might be more fun to play there. 

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I don't expect all 1000s of planets in Starfield to be interesting, most will probably just be for mining resources. But it does add to the immersion of the setting.

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