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


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15 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

With Kingmaker I hit that hard deadline in the first act of the game and while I seemed to be adequately levelled for the fight that would get me past the deadline I just seemed to be too weak to handle the fight. It seems like I would need to start over from scratch, and the game is not quite engaging enough for me at that early level to go through it all again. Plus I don't really know what I need to do improve my party to be able to get past that boss fight. I guess I have just lost my mojo with these types of games. 

The thing about these games is that they require a pretty strong understanding of the pathfinder 1e rule set. It's quite easy to make a broken build by accident that won't do anything. Meanwhile, among the viable builds, some are vastly more powerful than others. If you're the kind of player that likes pouring over the level-up screen to figure out what to do next, it's great. But otherwise it can be quite frustrating.

One easy tip, the spell 'grease' trivializes a lot of early fights.

 

14 hours ago, IlyaP said:

This system never felt completely logical to me in Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Or maybe I'm a bit tense (por que no los dos?). I'd defeat the Stag King, start building out a new town, and then...the game would kinda fizzle. And between the design/story lag and the obtuse interface and lack of ease around weight distribution of items between party members, the game constantly felt like work and low-level item management. Also the movement speeds of characters were shockingly slow.

I won't defend the town management because I thought it was bad. But one interesting thing about Kingmaker's design is that it's in reverse of what we're trained to expect in RPGs. You're supposed to do the main quests immediately when they pop up (except Act 1, where you do everything then fight the stag king) and then you have an extended downtime to explore, do the town management, complete side quests, etc.

9 hours ago, Jon AS said:

Oh, that actually sounds like there's more than I thought, cool. But let's see if I can make it through once before I start planning another run...

Went with Bloodrager -> Dragon Disciple for lots of strength, aming for feats like Intimidating Prowess, Cornugon Smash and Dreadful Carnage to demoralise enemies as I beat them over the head with sharp metal implements.

I always enjoy the simplicity of fighter types, partly because playing a low level caster in a CRPG tends to involve a lot of time simply being a sub-optimal archer because you have nowhere enough spells per day for all the combat encounters and partly because they get to use all those shiny swords and armour. Though with the mythic abilities that grant additional spell slots this is apparently less of a problem in this game.

Yeah, restartitis in the game is real since there's so many interesting ways too go. I've played 471 hours and only beaten it once. I've made it to Act IV two other times, Act III once, Act II once, and several hours in a bunch of times. I think I'm going to wait for the enhanced edition before playing anymore though.

A few builds absolutely rely on mythic abilities to work properly. But the vast majority of abilities are simply quality-of-life improvements; like the extra spell slots or the enduring spells. It's a nice system (and apparently much better designed than what the tabletop module had).

One tip on inventory weight (and this is true for both games), have at least one party member with a pet. Pets all have high strength, so they vastly increase party weight capacity. Get one and never worry again. Or be like my last playthrough, have 3 pets and a carrying capacity of over 6 tons.

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Playing Citadel for the first time as part of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition and it's an absolute scream. Turning Mass Effect into a sitcom is an amazing decision, even if it is tonal whiplash if you do the DLC immediately before the final mission of the game (which you kind of have to, otherwise you miss out on all the squad mates joining in). And then they turn it into a heist!

I have to say that seeing Wrex in a tux and him trying to act suave at the party is quite possibly one of the ten funniest things I've ever seen in a video game. "I LOOK RIDICULOUS." Yup.

Also everyone giving you shit for falling through an aquarium floor when that was in no way your fault (though it carries on the gag of you killing your pet fish in ME2 which you'd apparently overcome in ME3 with the automated feeder).

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The thing about these games is that they require a pretty strong understanding of the pathfinder 1e rule set. It's quite easy to make a broken build by accident that won't do anything. Meanwhile, among the viable builds, some are vastly more powerful than others. If you're the kind of player that likes pouring over the level-up screen to figure out what to do next, it's great. But otherwise it can be quite frustrating.

Ah, D&D 3rd Edition rules, making it possible to fuck yourself over into non-viability since 2000. Playing video game incarnations of 3E/PF1 makes me nostalgic for 2E games, where at least you could never screw yourself over too much by the yawning lack of options in the 2E ruleset (taps head).

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The Shadowrun trilogy has finally arrived on console, with Shadowrun ReturnsDragonfall and Hong Kong available as a package called Shadowrun Trilogy: Console Edition for PS4/5, Xbox One/X/S and Switch. The package is also available on PC and Linux as a new compilation.

Very good games, that get better across the three titles. They're not a trilogy narratively though, each game is self-contained and you create a new character for each one.

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Really loving the FFVII remake so far. I just got the steam sale "ten items from your wishlist are on sale!" email. Definitely want to buy The Long Dark for the third time while it's on sale. Should probably grab Hades again too.

I also saw they're doing free DLC for Into The Breach which is cool.

 

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Completed the Mass Effect trilogy on a completionist playthrough. 95.6 hours for the entire thing. Interestingly, because this was definitely not the case in the past, but Mass Effect 2 took longer than Mass Effect 3 (36.1 vs 34.3 hours). There's way less to scan in ME3, so I think ME3 still has the most content out of the game in terms of actual missions/quests/dialogue, especially with Citadel (easily the biggest of all the DLC/expansions) added.

I think the honest question arises - again - if Mass Effect has the finest SF worldbuilding/background lore, characters and story ever made for a video game or series (if we go all-genres, then of course a whole bunch of fantasy games and JRPGs enter the equation that could make very strong arguments). In terms of a space opera/SF universe and background, Halo is pretty good, but all ten games combined into one playthrough wouldn't match the trilogy, and of course you have zero narrative choice or impact on the game world. You see a much, much narrower slither of the world and characters. So I don't think that's much competition. All the other big SF video games are licensed (lots of great Star Wars games) or are far too short to go into their universes in as much depth.

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the few games whose characters come close, but of course it's a licensed game (the background having been developed for tabletop games in the 1980s), and it only has a relatively small cast compared to just the "main" cast of Mass Effect, let alone the gargantuan battery of secondary and tertiary characters.

I am just completely bewildered at how they're going to make it into a TV show though. Narrowing down the possible endings/outcomes to the major storylines into one satisfying narrative that will hook in established fans and newcomers alike is daunting. And the time they'd need is going to be prohibitive. You can adapt Mass Effect as one season of television (just about) but you'd probably want two seasons minimum for ME2 and maybe three for ME3. That's quite ambitious. And how the hell they'll work out the ending in a less controversial manner will be interesting.

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8 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Completed the Mass Effect trilogy on a completionist playthrough. 95.6 hours for the entire thing. Interestingly, because this was definitely not the case in the past, but Mass Effect 2 took longer than Mass Effect 3 (36.1 vs 34.3 hours). There's way less to scan in ME3, so I think ME3 still has the most content out of the game in terms of actual missions/quests/dialogue, especially with Citadel (easily the biggest of all the DLC/expansions) added.

I think the honest question arises - again - if Mass Effect has the finest SF worldbuilding/background lore, characters and story ever made for a video game or series (if we go all-genres, then of course a whole bunch of fantasy games and JRPGs enter the equation that could make very strong arguments). In terms of a space opera/SF universe and background, Halo is pretty good, but all ten games combined into one playthrough wouldn't match the trilogy, and of course you have zero narrative choice or impact on the game world. You see a much, much narrower slither of the world and characters. So I don't think that's much competition. All the other big SF video games are licensed (lots of great Star Wars games) or are far too short to go into their universes in as much depth.

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the few games whose characters come close, but of course it's a licensed game (the background having been developed for tabletop games in the 1980s), and it only has a relatively small cast compared to just the "main" cast of Mass Effect, let alone the gargantuan battery of secondary and tertiary characters.

I am just completely bewildered at how they're going to make it into a TV show though. Narrowing down the possible endings/outcomes to the major storylines into one satisfying narrative that will hook in established fans and newcomers alike is daunting. And the time they'd need is going to be prohibitive. You can adapt Mass Effect as one season of television (just about) but you'd probably want two seasons minimum for ME2 and maybe three for ME3. That's quite ambitious. And how the hell they'll work out the ending in a less controversial manner will be interesting.

Well there's ME4 whenever that comes to consider for a TV adaptation. Plus, I would go deeper with the lore and background for a TV adaption before jumping into the Reaper storyline. I also think that Andromeda would make for a good TV show, especially with EA/Bioware likely not attempting a sequel for it anytime soon. A TV show could start with Andromeda's premise and take it in whatever direction they wanted since they would not be constrained.

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12 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

Well there's ME4 whenever that comes to consider for a TV adaptation. Plus, I would go deeper with the lore and background for a TV adaption before jumping into the Reaper storyline. I also think that Andromeda would make for a good TV show, especially with EA/Bioware likely not attempting a sequel for it anytime soon. A TV show could start with Andromeda's premise and take it in whatever direction they wanted since they would not be constrained.

Andromeda is so disliked and was so commercially disappoininting that it certainly won't be the basis for a TV show. And we don't know what they're doing with ME5. It does look like Liara might be involved, but that still means it could be set eight or nine centuries later.

I think with Mass Effect the key appeal is the story and the characters, so picking up the Mass Effect IP and starting with the First Contact War is like picking up the ASoIaF IP and starting the story with the War of the Ninepenny Kings. There's some interesting stuff there but it's not the story that the millions and millions of pre-existing fans are expecting to see. That's stuff you can flesh out later on in spin-offs. Halo starting earlier than the games did make some sense because the games are pretty short (and are 95% people shooting aliens, which is no basis for a TV show), but even then they immediately started building up to the start of the first game and they used the games' key characters.

The first game actually works quite well with a James Bond-style "straight into the action" sequence on Eden Prime, some immediate exposition against an action backdrop with the various races, introducing Shepard and Anderson straight up-front, and then a long sequence on the Citadel which does a lot of worldbuilding whilst also developing the story. The first game would work very well as a TV season, although the TV show probably won't spend 20 minutes with the Mako stuck up a mountain or an episode where Shepard gets stuck to a piece of cover, can't more for some reason and is then killed by a grenade.

ME2 as a TV season would be deranged though. It's far too long, especially since ME2 is basically a massive side-quest in the overall story, and it has too large a cast of main characters. You'd probably have to cut it way down (maybe lose Zaeed, Kasumi and maybe even Thane as main characters, possibly Samara as well, since they're all kind of redundant), and possibly ramp up Cerberus in Season 1 so they don't come out of nowhere as this massive, rich organisation in ME2.

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

ME2 as a TV season would be deranged though. It's far too long, especially since ME2 is basically a massive side-quest in the overall story, and it has too large a cast of main characters. You'd probably have to cut it way down (maybe lose Zaeed, Kasumi and maybe even Thane as main characters, possibly Samara as well, since they're all kind of redundant), and possibly ramp up Cerberus in Season 1 so they don't come out of nowhere as this massive, rich organisation in ME2.

The writers would also have to explain how ME2 takes everything set up in ME1 and throws it out the window, forcing players to participate in a narrative that feels unconnected to what ME1's ending set up, before getting back on track (somewhat) in ME3 - though that game also makes baffling decisions (yeah I'm looking at you, Kai Leng) that don't quite feel consistent with what ME1 set up.

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38 minutes ago, IlyaP said:

The writers would also have to explain how ME2 takes everything set up in ME1 and throws it out the window, forcing players to participate in a spectacularly idiotic narrative that makes no sense, before course-correcting (somewhat) in ME3 - though that game also makes baffling and frustrating decisions (yeah I'm looking at you, Kai Leng).

I think you're aware that ME2 is generally regarded as the best of the trilogy, no?

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9 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

I think you're aware that ME2 is generally regarded as the best of the trilogy, no?

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.)

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Oh my. So, NightDive Studios released Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition at 3am today. I of course got up a bit early to buy it and try it out before work.

It's...uh....not good. It's getting reviewed bombed to hell on Steam, and the the reviews from established game rags are...less than flattering:

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/the-blade-runner-games-new-remaster-looks-worse

https://alternativemagazineonline.co.uk/2022/06/23/game-news-blade-runner-enhanced-edition-is-out-now-and-its-in-desperate-need-of-a-patch/

 

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11 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

I think you're aware that ME2 is generally regarded as the best of the trilogy, no?

It depends who you ask. Mass Effect 1 seems to be regarded as having the best story, RPG systems, the best villain, best pacing (lame planet-hopping excepted) and the greatest amount of freedom and player agency, but the worst combat, controls and graphics (although the LE certainly rounds off those problems a bit). The much more succinct story also means that relationships are more rushed than in the other two games, especially with Liara (since you can acquire Liara relatively late in the game, so she basically wants to jump you five minutes later). Even in the LE, the animation feels stiff compared to the other two games.

Mass Effect 2 seems to be regarded as having the best self-contained quests, the best focus on characterisation and the best ending of the three games, and possibly the best single mission in the series (and maybe one of the best video game missions in history) with the suicide mission. It probably also has the best difficulty balancing. However, the planet scanning minigame is the least satisfying of the three main exploration mechanics in the series and for every great new character the game introduces, it also introduces some who are kind of pointless (Zaeed, in particular). The game also has a lot of complete logic breakdowns which don't make sense. How Shepard is saved, why on Earth he/she would even consider working for Cerberus after their bullshit in ME1, the characterisation of Cerberus being wildly at odds with both ME1 and 3, destroying the Normandy only to immediately bring it back in a slightly better form, and completely sidelining the ME1 cast in favour of newcomers, which then screws over character relationships in ME3 (in particular making it impossible to get the romance achievement across all three games in the trilogy unless it's Tali or Garrus, which makes you a monster because they're destined for one another; although considering you can touch boots with Liara in Shadow Broker, it's weird the achievement doesn't recognise that). The entire ME2 cast being disposable in the final mission also makes it impossible for them to play a major role in ME3 (apart from Garrus and Tali, and again only a monster would get them killed in ME2), making the game feel even more like Mass Effect 2: Side Quest - The Game.

Mass Effect 3 seems to be regarded as having the best combat, the best soundtrack, the best atmosphere, the best planet-exploration mechanic and some of the best crunch point decisions in the trilogy, along with probably the best expansion in Citadel. The iffy ending loses it a lot of goodwill though, perhaps a bit too much considering the ending is 10 minutes out of a 30-hour experience.

11 hours ago, 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.)

Karpyshyn left after Mass Effect 2 and the other writers who took ME2 and 3 through to completion did work on ME1 as well, so whilst Karpyshyn was their best writer and him leaving was problematic, I don't think it was the entire story. There's plenty of great moments in ME2 and 3 and some clunkiness in 1, although the reverse is generally the case.

A lot of Shamus Young's points do resonate though, and I think the takeaway that it's very difficult to construct a thematically coherent story when it's being pushed and pulled all over the place by the vagaries of 7-8 years of continuous video game development whilst your company is undergoing massive transformations is a good one.

I do think the move away from the Dark Energy problem in Mass Effect 2 as the ultimate threat of the series and motivation for the Reapers had arguments for and against it. In favour was the fact that Dark Energy and the whole Mass Effect "science" were massively undersold in the series. Nobody really talks about them, so making ME3 and the motivation for the Reapers all about them would have been pretty weird. On the other hand, the issues with synthetic/organic relations were a major part of ME1 and an even bigger part of ME2, so that does work better as a foreshadowed plot development. The main argument against is out-of-text, namely that it makes the entire Mass Effect plot feel like Babylon 5 mixed in with 2003 Battlestar Galactica, and more derivative and less interesting. Making the Dark Energy storyline the main threat, in a hard SF, David Brin kind of way (and it's annoying that some of the minor races being "uplifted" by the older ones is a point that's completely minimised), would have been great and more original, but wold have required a rewrite from the very start of ME1.

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14 hours ago, Werthead said:

I think the honest question arises - again - if Mass Effect has the finest SF worldbuilding/background lore, characters and story ever made for a video game or series (if we go all-genres, then of course a whole bunch of fantasy games and JRPGs enter the equation that could make very strong arguments).

Now there's a fun question. The extended Fallen London/Sunless Seas/Sunless Skies universe makes a strong case as well. Its characters are certainly weaker and there isn't really a single central narrative, but it's worldbuilding, lore, and quality of writing is incredible. There is a case to be made that its fantasy rather than science fiction, but I think Skies makes clear that it's SF.

The Alan Wake/Control universe is another contender. I prefer Mass Effect, but those games have really cool ideas and writing. Characters are again the weakness here.

Nier: Automata on its own (I didn't like the original game much) comes close. But in a single game you just don't develop the same close connections you do across the ME trilogy. Likewise, I'd says Xenogears, although that may be my nostalgia talking.

Honorable mention to Fallout (primarily 2 and New Vegas) and Bioshock.

 

3 hours ago, Werthead said:

More Mass Effect stuff

I do not have time to write out all my Mass Effect thoughts. Suffice to say, 2 was incredible and I don't blame it for making changes from 1's story. The problem arose that 3 didn't follow on from 2 and instead acted more like a direct sequel to 1, thereby making 2 feel redundant.

Also, 3 had problems beyond just the very ending. The entire priority earth mission was disappointing, Cerebures' incredible military might came out of nowhere (and it was dumb that they were the bad guys in just about as many missions as the Reapers themselves), a lot of seemingly important choices from 1 and 2 were wiped away, Kai Leng was an awful character, etc. I still adore the game, but it had some real issues.

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I didn't know this, but apparently if Shepard romances Miranda in Mass Effect 2, they get it on in the engine room...which has big windows looking out into it from Thane, Mordin and Zaeed's rooms overhead.

All these windows are mysteriously blocked off in Mass Effect 3. Hmm.

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On 6/21/2022 at 11:54 PM, Werthead said:

Ah, D&D 3rd Edition rules, making it possible to fuck yourself over into non-viability since 2000. Playing video game incarnations of 3E/PF1 makes me nostalgic for 2E games, where at least you could never screw yourself over too much by the yawning lack of options in the 2E ruleset (taps head).

I never enjoyed the mechanics of D&D 3rd edition games myself. I just googled strong builds and played them for the story. Mask of the Betrayer probably has best story of any D&D game that is not Planescape Torment. I never replayed any of those games I think unlike Baldur's Gate 1+2 and Planescape Torment.

I never finished even IWD2 IIRC.

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Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition was patched this morning, allowing people to play the original version, as well as the uncut version. 

However, owners of the GoG version could already do that - which further puts into question the need for this 'enhanced edition'. I really don't know why it exists. It can't add or do anything new that's an improvement over the 2019 version that GoG made available. Utterly baffling. And now PCGamer has come out with a review stating it's less of a remaster and more of a disaster. 

All of this begs the question: what the hell happened at NightDive?! 

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I picked up King Arthur: Knight's Tale for 35 bucks on the steam sale. Despite the idiotic name (the main character is mordred and the villain is Arthur) its actually kind of fun although grimdarky out the wazoo. I like that they make you feel in the game that knights a a big deal and not random stooges.

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Speaking of Mass Effect, I started the Legendary Edition myself a few days ago. I'm surprised by how much I find myself enjoying Mass Effect 1. The last time I re-played it 7 or 8 years ago,  I was so annoyed by the gameplay that I switched it to easy and rushed through so I could get to ME2 (which is, imo, the best game in the trilogy by far). ME1 still has a lot of weaknesses and jank, but I'm managing to enjoy the combat and even some of the Mako exploration. I know they altered ME1 more than other games in the trilogy, so maybe some of those changes paid off.

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.

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