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Videogames: All Valves on Deck


IlyaP
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On the subject of RPGs, I've been playing Horizon Forbidden West which is very good. I'm not sure if it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's close. In terms of the gameplay, it is as good or even better, jury is still out on the story. So yeah I would count Horizon Zero Dawn among the best action RPGs with an established character.

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7 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Would be quite something to say I dislike a game I've already played through 3 times over the course of 200 hours.

I was saying that you seemed to be quite vehement in your disagreement with Rodrigo's assertion that it's the "best game ever" ie. you very clearly seem to dislike it being given that accolade/it being in that conversation. 

 

5 hours ago, IlyaP said:

It's also just a weird thing to try and quantify full stop where art and personal preferences are concerned. No one asks "what's the best painting of all time?" because that's a preposterous and fundamentally useless question. Why does one thing have to be The Best Thing?

I completely agree that fighting about it and trying to project ones own tastes on to others for what... some sense of superiority? is very pointless. Ultimately what people mean when they say "best" is most often "favourite" and everyone's entitled to their own (often evolving) favourite; to me it just seems rude to jump on someone so vociferously for expressing love of something. I do get the instinct to insist that people who didn't play Morrowind when it was new and so can't appreciate it properly the way I did can't possibly know what they're talking about but unfortunately people who were born after its release can now vote so that's a world I've got to live in.

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I'm really going over it in my head and trying to figure out what makes Baldur's Gate 3 so unique and special that people are reacting to it the way they are.

Looking at what I consider to be some of the most important characteristics of RPGs I can't find a single one where there's not another or many other games that are equal or superior to BG3.

For example:

  • Length: It's one of the shortest RPGs I've ever played. Looking back, it doesn't feel like much really happened in it. Compare that to epic, globe spanning adventures like The Witcher 3.
  • Exploration: The game's very linear and you don't actually get to visit that many locations. Compare that to the open-ended exploration of The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, and Baldur's Gate 1; and the rich variety of locations you visit in Baldur's Gate 2.
  • Combat: It's fine. If you really like turn-based combat then year BG3 is the one for you but I think most people don't care whether it's turn-based or real-time, so long as it's fun and tactical.
  • Characters: This is purely subjective. Lots of RPGs have great characters and if you think BG3 has the best then that's fine but you can't say it's objectively the best. Personally I found the Mass Effect 2 cast far more compelling.
  • Character relations: Same as above. Most of the best RPGs have character romances and relationships. The interactions between characters in Mass Effect are every bit as cinematic as in Baldur's Gate 3. Sure, BG3 has some great moments like Wyl's dance, but so do all the other games mentioned.
  • Story: Maybe this is harsh but I actually think BG3 is one of the worst in this category. Found the plot completely underwhelming. So you've got to save the city from a big eye. Whoop de doo. Compare that to the apocalyptical threats in Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and the numerous sacrifices you have to make to win those battles.

So, that's my take on it. Ultimately I think BG3 is just a well-executed mishmash of stuff we've already seen plenty of in previous RPGs.

I'd like to hear the BG3 fans' takes on what it is makes the game so special and unique as to warrant the hype and accolades it's received.

 

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1 hour ago, Darryk said:

I'm really going over it in my head and trying to figure out what makes Baldur's Gate 3 so unique and special that people are reacting to it the way they are.

Looking at what I consider to be some of the most important characteristics of RPGs I can't find a single one where there's not another or many other games that are equal or superior to BG3.

For example:

  • Characters: This is purely subjective. Lots of RPGs have great characters and if you think BG3 has the best then that's fine but you can't say it's objectively the best. Personally I found the Mass Effect 2 cast far more compelling.
  • Character relations: Same as above. Most of the best RPGs have character romances and relationships. The interactions between characters in Mass Effect are every bit as cinematic as in Baldur's Gate 3. Sure, BG3 has some great moments like Wyl's dance, but so do all the other games mentioned.

So I think these are the two that are the most influential, along with another that you're missing that's very important. BG3 has really great characters AND really great character relations. The Mass Effect relationships are not remotely as cinematic and close as BG3 in many ways, but the easiest one to demonstrate is that you can't play as any of those characters. All of the BG3 starting characters are fleshed out with their own storylines that make them the main character if you so choose to do. I say this with some seniority given how many people who care fuck all about most video games, much less RPGs, have wanted to play this. The scripting and character beats and relationships are a very large part of it.

There's another part that BG3 does better than a lot of other games and that's the actual script. That's different than the story but I think it should be called out - there are a genuinely lot of hilarious moments, a lot of incredibly sad moments, some real clever dialog and quips and relations that many other games do not nail. I know of two people in my house who play BG3 and got into it almost entirely because of things like small scenes or beats that were awesome or funny, like causing a spider uprising or flinging a gnome into the stratosphere. 

That they're acted with better skill than almost anything we've seen is another factor, but BG3's characters have absurd depth. Especially when you factor in the other part that BG3 does better than most:

- consequences: This is probably the biggest one that you don't mention, and probably the biggest difference from most of the games you've called out earlier. BG3 has an absurd set of consequences for almost every choice you make or don't make in the game, and lets you do almost anything you want to. That combination of freedom of action and consequence of action is very well done. I'm sure other games do have things like it, but not many and not to the scale and thoughtfulness that BG3 does. From huge character beats and story arcs to small things like going through a dungeon in a back to front way which makes the enemy bandits think that you're a zombie (because you're coming from the zombie area). That also dovetails into the other thing you didn't mention:

- freedom: The ability to do all sorts of nearly game-breaking things (and sometimes actual game breaking things) and just let you do it is pretty crazy. It's close to Deus Ex or Dishonored in how the developers just let you cook. BG1 and BG2 did this too to a large degree, but BG3 does it better and with more interesting results. Most areas and fights have multiple ways to approach them, multiple entrances/exits, multiple ways to approach the boss fights (or avoid them completely), reward exploration and discovery, and in general just let you do things the way you would actually like to do them. 

Between these two things I think it gets down to one of the big cores of game design that Sid Meier said a long time ago: great gaming is about having choices and making your choices matter. BG3 may not do this as well as another brilliant game - Disco Elysium - but there are very few games that can say they do this better. Certainly not things like Skyrim or Morrowind. Definitely not Witcher or CP2077 - and they do a good job! 

1 hour ago, Darryk said:
  • Story: Maybe this is harsh but I actually think BG3 is one of the worst in this category. Found the plot completely underwhelming. So you've got to save the city from a big eye.

Uh...well, I guess if you think you had to beat a giant eye you might find it underwhelming. Maybe you played a different game altogether? Because the whole point is that you don't have to just save Baldur's Gate; you're having to save the entire goddamn realm from an Elder Brain with the power of a literal god. You are stopping the culmination of the entire Mind Flayer prophecy and goal - of enslaving every single sentient race in the multiverse. That's pretty apocalyptic! 

But the big one - at least for me - is that BG3 does something that almost no other game I've ever played (at least single player) does - it captures the absolute chaos, inventiveness and silliness of an actual D&D tabletop game. Other games have had more moving beats or made me feel more of that role, other games have had some more interesting character interactions (though not very many), but none of them have captured that feeling of sitting around a table and talking to other people in character and having them react to my choices in ways that were real surprising and adapting the story to those changes.

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I’m sure BG3 is over rated in a lot of ways. The story isn’t anything special, the combat can get really annoying and it’s not massive, totally agree.

Have to admit the production quality really does add to my enjoyment, if the acting and visuals weren’t as good maybe it wouldn’t be up there. 
 

I think what makes it feel special it’s ability to make you feel like you can play the game in a number of different ways, you can be different characters, there is a ton of variety of how you can approach it, and the game caters to that desire. I think it pulls off that trick really well. 
 

That was something that kept me coming back to Skyrim, I could play it a million different ways and not get bored. It’s quite rare for a game to have that quality.

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1 hour ago, Darryk said:
  • Length: It's one of the shortest RPGs I've ever played. Looking back, it doesn't feel like much really happened in it. Compare that to epic, globe spanning adventures like The Witcher 3.
  • Exploration: The game's very linear and you don't actually get to visit that many locations. Compare that to the open-ended exploration of The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, and Baldur's Gate 1; and the rich variety of locations you visit in Baldur's Gate 2.

I don't think either of these two statements are accurate.

Baldur's Gate III took me 102 hours to complete in my standard "fast-but-thorough" playthrough style, where the main quest and all side-quests, faction quests and companion quests are completed efficiently, but I did not laboriously check every single nook and cranny of every single location for lore, treasure, hidden information etc. People who did do that have reported putting 200+ hours into the game. It is not a short game, at all.

You can complete it substantially faster than 100 hours, but only by ignoring a substantial chunk of the story/characters/events of the game and possibly gimping yourself for the endgame (you can also do this in The Witcher 3, BG1, all three Mass Effect games etc).

Baldur's Gate III is also a significantly longer game than The Witcher III (which in a similar style took me 88 hours to complete, including Blood & Wine and Heart of Stone, but not all the optional treasure hunts or monster contracts). The Witcher III is also not massively globe-trotting: you spend ~80% of the game in a relatively small area around Novigrad and in the Velen swamps, and then small-ish chunks in isolated locations with some off-screen travel. This is similar to BG3 where you spend a large chunk of the game near the crash site, another large chunk in the city of Baldur's Gate and several adjoining towns, a small-ish chunk in the Underdark, and then a bunch of episodes in Avernus.

Hell, BG3 is slightly longer than all three Mass Effect games combined, which chalk up at around 95 hours in the Legendary Edition including all DLC.

BG3 has a fair few number of locations, far more than Mass Effect (especially if you're talking just ME1, and identical barren ice worlds do not count), but the maps are not absolutely massive. They are relatively cleverly designed, though, to fit as much in as possible without it getting silly.

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6 hours ago, Poobah said:

I was saying that you seemed to be quite vehement in your disagreement with Rodrigo's assertion that it's the "best game ever" ie. you very clearly seem to dislike it being given that accolade/it being in that conversation. 

 

Nah. The kid enjoys it, and I'm a big fan of it as well. But as you said - it's ultimatelly a pointless discussion and I know he means favorite when he says best, I'm just trying to get him to savvy that.

It's a fine enough game, that I did three playthroughs to try different stuff out. Won't ever be in my top ten, but it's also not a game that speaks to my tastes, but it doesn't have to be.  

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I don't really care who thinks what is the best RPG but I have been trying to figure out what Rodrigo meant by 'the best RPG ever made from a genre perspective' because... well, what does that mean? 

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23 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

I don't really care who thinks what is the best RPG but I have been trying to figure out what Rodrigo meant by 'the best RPG ever made from a genre perspective' because... well, what does that mean? 

He means the cake is a lie. Right Rod?!

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I don't know if I want to live in a world where BG3 is considered short. I spent over 100 hours on one playthrough! That's short?!

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15 minutes ago, Durckad said:

I don't know if I want to live in a world where BG3 is considered short. I spent over 100 hours on one playthrough! That's short?!

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla takes about 170 hours if you include the DLCs, and about 110 if you include just the base game. 

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Pentiment took me about 27 hours and I'm pretty sure I'll be right back into it in a few weeks after I've taken a break to catch up on some reading. 

Solasta: Crown of the Magister, which replicates a TTRPG experience masterfully (and with the same level of silly, cavalier glee as BG3) took about 30 hours to do the main campaign - and I got to make my own party, which I really like doing (I loved doing that in IWD, and writing character bios and the like for each of them). With the expansions/DLCs, it's closer to about 70 hours? But they're not mandatory, and the main screen separates them into different "modules" if you will, that you can access at any point during the game. Wonderful stuff, really. Still my favorite 5e game. 

 

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4 hours ago, polishgenius said:

I don't really care who thinks what is the best RPG but I have been trying to figure out what Rodrigo meant by 'the best RPG ever made from a genre perspective' because... well, what does that mean? 

Individually not the best writing or gameplay or graphics etc in a video game, but as an RPG it’s best in clsss. Like I said, CP2077 is really an action adventure game with RPG elements, same as Mass effect. This is a full fledged RPG, I did mean this all to be subjective to me, it’s the best RPG I have ever played.  
 

Even objectively you guys have to agree it’s the most replayable RPG ever made just by the sheer amount of unique moments you can create in it, more than vanilla Skyrim even. Can’t wait to see how it develops once modding support is official along with some type of quest editor, it should dethrone modded Skyrim eventually if that happens as the longest played RPG

Edited by Ser Rodrigo Belmonte II
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8 minutes ago, Durckad said:

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck. That.

Ya I hate filler in a video game, that’s what’s putting me off from playing the horizon games as I’ve heard the entire crafting system is just that…and those games just look boring af from the videos I’ve seen on YouTube and the character interactions in it.

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6 hours ago, Ser Rodrigo Belmonte II said:

Even objectively you guys have to agree it’s the most replayable RPG ever made just by the sheer amount of unique moments you can create in it

'Brought to you by Ubisoft!'

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21 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

On the subject of RPGs, I've been playing Horizon Forbidden West which is very good. I'm not sure if it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's close. In terms of the gameplay, it is as good or even better, jury is still out on the story. So yeah I would count Horizon Zero Dawn among the best action RPGs with an established character.

Both Horizon games are solid from the POV of having very solid plots and pretty good characters and factions. What makes them outstanding are the robot animals/dinosaurs, working out how to bring each one down (although each type has one reliable trick to do it and it can get a bit easy to do that; Dark Souls, this is not) and the extremely interesting, well thought-out backstory/worldbuilding. As well as the great graphics.

They are fairly linear though, and you're really just moving around the order of the quests you do. The advancement trees are okay, but not too special. There are some dialogue choices but I believe they have zero impact on anything that actually happens in the game. There is one possible romance choice that happens right at the very end of the expansion to the second game, about 120-ish hours into the franchise. The compression of the map is also very, very silly (walking around a Boston that's 1/8 the size of the real thing in Fallout 4 is fine because the illusion is easier to sell; the Mojave Desert being about 400 metres wide in Forbidden West, and being able to see El Capitan from the tallest tower in Vegas, not so much).

They're are very much action games first and foremost and RPGs a very long, distant second. So they're more Far Cry (3-5) in that respect than, say, Cyberpunk 2077 (for all the moaning about it, it is an RPG, and actually far more of an RPG than The Witcher 3), let alone Baldur's Gate. I actually respected Far Cry 6 a lot for actually saying, "Fuck it, we're not an RPG, let's stop pretending to be an RPG and go back to just being an action game," and putting progression mechanics into being able to upgrade weapons a bit.

Quote

Ya I hate filler in a video game, that’s what’s putting me off from playing the horizon games as I’ve heard the entire crafting system is just that…and those games just look boring af from the videos I’ve seen on YouTube and the character interactions in it.

The crafting system in Horizon is optional, pretty barebones and rather simple. It can be almost completely ignored. The game also drowns you in money, so you can just buy and restock everything from vendors and it's pretty easy just to pick up the consumables you need (the healing berries) as you walk around.

Like way too many games, the crafting system in the Horizon series might as well not exist, and I wish there was some option to completely disable it.

If the entire game is built around crafting as a mechanic and the game is excellent, like Subnautica and Grounded, that's fine. But for 99% of games it's, "well all modern unit-shifting AAA four-quadrant all-demographic appeal-blandathons need crafting, that's the rule now."

Edited by Werthead
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I did like the way developers for years have been developing these crafting systems and Nintendo made Tears of the Kingdom and went 'just stick stuff together lol'

 

Admittedly the amount of coding skill and refinement that must have gone into backing up that 'lol' is, by any accounts from people who would know, insane. 

 

 

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I've had CyberPunk in my Steam library ever since I bought my Steam Deck, but have never actually played it.  All this talk made me decide to install it on my new PC here at the office and give it a go.

Installed and the Steam Launcher opened a CDP launcher (I hate launchers that launch other launchers btw).  As soon as the game tries to start... it crashes.

This is why I've always been a console gamer... they. just. work.  :tantrum: 

So anyways, to the Google machine... I don't have anything running that I feel like should be a problem.  I don't have a jsun file.  There does not seem to be any Nehemic files running in the task manager (whatever those are).  I went searching through my files and found the actual app and tried launching directly.

Any suggestions from the group I trust the most for gaming advice on the net?  I haven't tried it on the Deck yet.  I may do that when I get home.

ETA:  it has a pop up screen when it crashes that says it has Flatlined and asks permission to send a crash report.  But I don't get any error messages.

Edited by Rhom
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