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dwarf

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Posts posted by dwarf


  1. Spoiler

    Completed it.

    Like BotW it pulls off some incredible game design surprises. Amazing emergent moments. Hilarious construction/flight fuck ups. At times you enter a flow state and all the different aspects of the game just click. 

    At the same time, as the game wore on, the re-used map meant I lost interest in exploring, and obviously the base physics engine is slightly less novel the second time round. The combat is still fairly weak and requires too much menu sorting. Each time I entered combat, I started by attaching a powerful (but not overly precious) item to my arrow, and I self-consciously worried if there was something fundamentally flawed and unoriginal in me for picking out the easy option, or whether the combat itself was simply lacking. Leaning towards the latter. I think for reasons of difficulty, and having to tailor the whole experience to a wide-spectrum of players (different gaming abilities, differently levelled characters) Nintendo broadly had to make every enemy encounter beatable through conventional means. That meant there wasn't enough reason to get creative with vehicles and contraptions, unless you fancied just fucking around for the fun of it. I imagine if you made a point of exploring the depths in its entirety, with all the battle arenas littered about, you'd want to get creative and efficient with the building aspect of the game. The fact I wasn't forced to do so in the normal course of the playthrough meant I generally didn't bother - and simply fell back on easy but tired strategies. 

    There's a sweet spot for 20 hours or so in which the game is goated. It's once you've got a handle on the controls, and where improvising vehicles and traversal strategies is incredibly satisfying. You're trying out new tools, figuring stuff out, making mistakes, changing how you approach tasks, etc. Perhaps you persist with a dubious, high risk strategy and you narrowly make it work on the fifth attempt. Brilliant. But when you get powered up (glider, batteries, stamina, etc) and learn how to make the hover bike, much of it becomes redundant. How to put it? The force/desire propelling you to seek upgrades is present and addictive, but as you acquire those upgrades, the playful, self-authored moments diminish. And for me it's those kinds of intrinsic rewards - collisions between your creativity and happenchance physics - that separate BotW and TotK from pretty much all other big games out there, which seem so formulaic by comparison. So TotK kind of shoots itself in the foot, in a way, by letting you circumvent its more interesting mechanics as you progress. Don't get me wrong - there were enjoyable moments throughout the game, but they definitely thin out.

    I liked the sky aspect, the sense of scale. Equally the scale did mean that many areas felt surplus to requirements, in a way that they didn't in BotW. Again, this is partially due to the re-used map. It would've been nice to have an excuse to explore more of the world, but when you have ground, sky and depths, and the ability to fly, it'd be insane to do all of it. Especially once you get to the point where you're stacked with items and are ready to beat the game; there's no real gameplay incentive to do more quests beyond that point since the only reward is extra unnecessary firepower. If the story and characters were more compelling I might've stuck around for longer. As it was, there were vast sweeps of the map I didn't visit. Aside from a few cute lines of dialogue, the writing was pretty boring and there was a lot of narrative repetition - a negative side effect of the 'go anywhere, in any order' design philosophy. Let's face it: Zelda, being a game with a broad audience, doesn't have the same latitude as Elden Ring to be cryptic and esoteric with its story - probably rightfully so. But it nevertheless causes some problems in the way it handholds you through its story. Maybe a ten year old child with ADHD forgets about the imprisoning war because they take 60 hours to navigate through distractions on their way to find the next sage. Whereas me – an ELITE PLAYER AND THINKER (lest we forget) – found the repeated story elements all very tedious. Like tune-out levels of dull.

    Some of the shrine puzzles were brilliant, though they were few and far between. Definitely untapped potential. Perhaps the only thing that could entice me back would be hunting down the more remote shrines, as they tend to have the more challenging and interesting puzzles. Alas, cba.

    I've still got a lot of love for TotK. Despite clear QoL improvements and sequel-worthy additions in terms of mechanics, I think BotW still pips it. A lot of that is down to BotW laying the groundwork for open world sims, and thus being so fresh - the second time round is never quite as impactful. For the same reason I also felt like I wanted to explore all of Hyrule in BotW. Plus, in TotK all the main quests wrapped up quite suddenly for me, and I realised I could bin half the content off. It was like, 'oh, what was all that world-building for?'

    Main takeaway is that even though there are a lot of flaws in the new Zeldas, I can partially overlook them because they're such wonderful and ambitious games. I'd rather play a flawed game that takes risks, and reaches high highs, than a perfectly polished version of a game I've played before. Not that Zelda isn't 'polished', per se. It very much is.

    Where does Nintendo go from here, then? In a way, TotK seems like a natural conclusion to the open-world sim philosophy they cooked up. Do they continue to iterate on it so that all the different pieces of the puzzle integrate with each other better - minimising the more obvious design flaws in the process? I'd like to see them build on the physics stuff, personally, but package it in a slightly smaller world with more finely crafted dungeons and regions. Change up the field of view slightly. Pour more resources into making the story genuinely interesting - pinch some Ghibli writing talent! I'm not convinced that would represent a seismic enough shift. All I know is that it would almost feel like a backward step to deviate too far from the general approach they've taken, in terms of the freedom they grant you as a player.

    D'ya know what, I kind of feel a bit melancholic? Like it took Nintendo so long to reach this level again. It's not that I expect them to get rid of their risk-takers any time soon, given the recent success they've had with them. I just can't imagine being surprised by them to quite the same extent as I have been by their recent Zeldas. It's like Messi winning the world cup, or something. I followed Messi closely over the course of his career and after great hardship, highs and lows, he finally achieved his ultimate goal. But it was a bittersweet moment because, for me, nothing in the sport could possibly live up to that moment again. The combination of having watched him as I grew up, the fact of his historic, unrepeatable rivalry with Ronaldo, etc, etc, meant that nothing could eclipse it in meaning. Messi completed football; with the recent Zeldas, Nintendo completed games. I know the analogy is derivative and strained, but that's the feeling I have. I hope they prove me wrong.

    Also, genuine, non-trolling question - I don't play much of anything these days: how should I sell on my Switch? I've got the console, Zelda, joy cons and a pro controller. Would I get more money by selling Zelda and the pro controller as two separate items on eBay? Thanks for any tips.

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  2. I recently finished Elden Ring, which dominated by life at various points over the last 6 months... and now this big chungus is about to drop!

    Re-listening to some BotW soundtrack today - man it's taking me back. I had a brutal manual labour job at the time and playing it was such a release, one of the few I had. What a magical game. HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

    With the foundations from the first game already laid, they've had 6 years to build on all the core concepts that made the original so good. Surely the result has to be amazing?! Like I get the hesitation about them re-using the same map (more-or-less), but if anyone deserves to be trusted, surely it's these guys.

    Won't be watching any more pre-release footage.

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  3. Completed this just now. Fiddly controls and repeated mini-bosses aside, absolutely loved it.

    Only a half-formed observation which might not stack up, but I feel like Dread bucks the trend with other Metroid/Nintendo games in the way it rewards precision - particularly through the 360-degree aiming. Super satisfying to clear a room quickly by exercising that extra level of finesse, even if it's rarely necessary.

    Spoiler

    The Kraid boss fight is beautifully crafted. The first phase is initially difficult, but once you've sussed the patterns and found a way to land rockets from various angles, you can progress to the second phase fairly comfortably. This is a real blessing, and well designed, because the second phase of the fight ruins lives; the claustrophobic playing area, the panic-inducing balls of sludge, and the platform projectiles which are seemingly unreadable even when they've repeatedly scythed you open in slow motion.

    After several attempts without making progress in phase 2, you give yourself a talking to at the gameover screen, and try to summon your inner reserves of composure. Finding the right balance this time between evasive manoeuvres and offense, you miraculously ascend the platform projectiles and find a ledge from which you can unload into the lizard's maw. Given the precarious nature of the situation, you decide to spam your rockets as fast as you can to maximise your damage, but you quickly find yourself dislodged by another of its projectiles. With a herculean effort of concentration, your mind and body become one. You begin to understand everything in your life that has eluded you until now: you don't have to finish bad books; it's possible to make soup without telling anyone; you can defeat Kraid by shooting down his projectiles while hanging from that ledge! 

    A sequence of precision jumps and rolls puts you back in prime position to take him down. His attacks are impotent in the wake of your measured fire. Surely all that's left are a few more hits as he leans his head forward in resignation. At least, that looks like resignation, right? He ain't got shit left, right?

    Oh. He was just winding up a 500kph haymaker to the face.

     

     

     

    The one at 4:40 in this video. Couldn't help but laugh. 

    (10/10)

     

     

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  4. Was terribly bored this evening and realised I hadn't played anything in a while. Decided that I might like to try out the Hitman games.

    As it turns out, one doesn't simply try out the Hitman games.

    Figuring out what entry to buy, alongside which DLC, in order to get a reasonable price for the main content... I honestly just gave up. I feel like I'd sooner hack into MI5 with a Nokia N-Gage. 

    IO Interactive, if you're listening - you can get in the bin. You'd have my trilla if you weren't such bastards about this whole affair. Ye just don't deserve it, DO YEE!?

    • Haha 2

  5. 41 minutes ago, Julius said:

    Great points @dwarf, that was an informative read, thanks! Definitely more informed than I am on the matter, so I appreciate your insight :smile:

    When you mentioned the material explanation I think I was thinking of it more as applying only to the work productivity change you mentioned before, and that shift in the work-life struggle leaning overwhelmingly towards work taking priority, but I think that's just an example of me trying to oversimplify things, so that's my mistake! It definitely is across the board, and it's absolutely crazy how much money and work dictates so much of a person's day-to-day life, to the point where sometimes weekends just feel like a short respite from the dread of the work week rather than a time to shift focus to other things. That's the case for me at least, and some others I know. 

    And yeah, honestly, the more I look into and learn about four day work weeks the better an option it seems for improving the workplace. Not even just because it sounds nicer on paper, but it's just about having that time to actually make decent progress elsewhere in life (studying part time, taking up a hobby, writing a book, etc.), rather than feeling like almost all of your energy is being sunk into someone else's gains. 

    It's really difficult to find a decent work-life balance as it is, especially with how much pressure there is on doing well from a very young age especially, and I think it's a bit of an issue from the very bottom. 

    It's one of those things that I absolutely want to see, but just seems too good to become a reality here in the UK (obviously I hope that I'm wrong). I honestly have no idea which side I land on politically, mainly because while I have an arm's length interest in politics and couldn't care much less for major politicians or parties, but I think that's just because since I've been born I've been around in a time where it seems to get consistently worse, where the next guy seems worse than the last, and no real change is ever made ::shrug:

    But that's me totally derailing the thread and a topic for another time :p

    Sorry I should have made it clearer: by worker productivity I mean the value workers create through their labour has shot up (because they're more skilled, the technology they use is more advanced, etc), but instead of getting paid more in recognition of that, that extra value is taken as profit by employers. Completely unjust, but this is what happens when you don't have unions.

    Fab post all round though, especially the bit in bold. The phrase 'living for the weekend' also hints at a broad discontent among the public with regards to work time issues. Glad this has been fruitful though!

    Without derailing the thread or trying to force more socialism down your throat, I'd argue the lack of positive change has been down to the marginalisation of the left. Labour has lost its roots in trade unions (restored somewhat under Corbyn but that ship has sailed now), and the Tories have only ever spoken in the interests of capital. Both have bought into the market fundamentalist ideology I mentioned earlier, so it's just been a relentless torrent of shit for working people. The Tories just happen to be significantly worse.

    But yeah... Cyberpunk looks sick.

    • Like 1

  6. I promise I'm not being contrarian for contrarian's sake, but I'd really stress the material conditions as the overwhelming reason for increases in overtime. If people have to work harder and longer to maintain the same standard of living, they're going to do that through lack of any other choice. 

    If people are working more overtime in other industries, and in other countries, that's because rising inequality has been a global trend. Stagnating wages, the privatisation of public services, a less generous welfare state, etc, have forced workers to work longer, and historically low union power means they've been unable to mount any opposition to the economic exploitation they've faced.

    The games industry shouldn't be let off the hook because people everywhere seem to want to work more these days. The question here is about the extent of exploitation, and the games industry happens to be a particularly egregious example because union density is lower than in other industries. If game designers were in a position to collectively bargain for better wages, realistic release date schedules, and reduced hours, they wouldn't have to do the overtime.

    Working to hang onto your job is a material question. Saving up for a wedding is a material question. Someone might be 'happy' to work 6 days to see a game off, but again, is it really a choice if they need to work those hours to hold onto the job? If they had the option to push the release date back and work 5 days a week, I'm sure most would take that option. These people have lives to live. If the rich fucks at CD Projekt and/or the publishers have to take a slight hit to account for that, then that's the sacrifice that has to be made.

    You could ask: well why is union density low? Isn't that a cultural issue? Well yes and no. Material and cultural explanations are intertwined. A market-driven ideology has ruled the world for the past few decades, which comes from the top. Leaders have introduced laws that make it harder to unionise. The greater variety of jobs, and types of work contract (zero hours, temporary, freelance etc) also make it harder for workers to unionise, as they seemingly have fewer shared interests to unite over. All of this worsens people's material conditions. This then drives changes in culture - people have less time and money to support other people, they become less used to engaging in collective efforts, they meet more of their needs in the market rather than in publicly provided services, they're fed stories in the billionaire press about poor people being scroungers, and so on, so they become more individualistic. Individualistic people are more easily exploited because they don't support each other, which leads to worsening material conditions, and the cycle continues...

    It wasn't the case back in the day, but the galaxy brain take in today's world is that work is a political issue. Workers need to build collective power to oppose things like crunch, plain and simple. The idea that we have work-life balance in a five day week is a myth, let alone in a six-day week. That this is isn't obvious shows how far we've fallen.

    For full disclosure, I consider myself a socialist (or at the very least a social democrat) and I'm working on a video about the idea of a four-day week (as a political policy), hence the essay! With that said, I don't think you have to be terribly left wing to agree with most of the above.

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  7. Worker productivity has increased dramatically over the past forty years or so, but in the same period that hasn't translated into higher wages (in real terms) for the average employee as the value they're producing is increasingly lining the pockets of the top few earners. It's therefore likely that people are working overtime to make up for the money they've lost out on; so on some level it's contentious as to whether you call that overtime voluntary or not. Cultural changes have an impact on people's willingness to work overtime, sure, but the underlying material explanation might be more compelling.


  8. The difficulty of the Souls games is exaggerated, true, but they're still difficult when push comes to shove. And it's one of the few series where seeking out tips and guidance online comes recommended - if you go in blind you unwittingly handicap yourself in a big way, as the mechanics aren't made transparent. I'd also disagree slightly with buddy Goron: some things in the series are outright unfair, but like other unconventional aspects of the game (including the opaque systems, minimal dialogue etc) in most cases they make the game better, darkly funny, or at least distinct. We could pick bones about what encounters are fair or unfair, but ultimately we'd all agree that even the hardest sections are worth persevering with. Also not mentioned: the sense of atmosphere and reward you get in Souls games is unmatched, and so many details contribute to that.

    My personal recommendation would be to play Dark Souls first. Play the best, I reckon, and then try the other entries if you like it. I love what they've revealed of the Demon's remake so far, don't get me wrong. The FOV makes it look way more cinematic than I remember it being, and it'll still be a treat to play even after all this time. But some of the less polished aspects of the game could put new players off, so you may as well try the series at its peak if possible, and it's cheap and easy to do.

    I didn't get along with the movement/combat of Sekiro so I didn't stick with it, but that might've been from general Soulsborne fatigue more than anything else.

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  9. On 8/13/2020 at 12:01 AM, CrowingJoe79 said:

    I kind of like that cumbersome feeling, though. You're not well equipped to begin with, which adds to the dread and realism. As the levels get harder, you acquire better s*** to combat said hard levels. I think in the RE games, you can have your gear carry over into the new game, but in general, it makes some of the otherwise challenging parts become nothing but a simplistic cakewalk...

    :)

    Don't get me wrong - it's a good way to build tension. It's just that it makes up too big a proportion of the game, especially on harder difficulties which require you to stock up.

    • Like 1

  10. See I'd be interested in going for the grounded trophy, but I just can't be arsed to go through the slow-paced item collection. Maybe one for when I upgrade to PS5 and have an itch to replay it.

    You'll hear from me in a year's time when I nope out after the first proper mission.

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  11. I'm glad she raised the fact that indie game UIs are generally more flamboyant/eccentric. While I generally prefer minimalist or customisable designs, there's definitely still space for other approaches. I remember enjoying Papers Please for its more creative aesthetic, and the fact that certain areas of the screen appeared to be bigger than they needed to be - as if the developer was making a virtue of sacrificing functionality in favour of style. Retro UI designs probably also play into a nostalgia for outdated operating systems or software. Papers Please took me back to using Windows 98, or playing Monkey Island, when elements of the UI weren't responsive to your mouse pointer. Today everything on your desktop animates or changes colour depending on your mouse position, which is obviously helpful, but it's nice to revert back to a time when things weren't so slick. One of the pleasures of Monkey Island was the fact that you never knew if you were about to click on the right area of the screen until the game world reacted to your click. Contrast to today's games, where the interactivity of certain objects in the world is revealed (or 'spoiled') to you before you make the effort to interact with them, be it through button prompts, the colour of the objects themselves (e.g. if they have a shiny quality to them) or other signals. 

    Also, was reminded of this after sharing the last video. Great channel:

     


  12. Posting this here because it's the kind of video Mark Brown would make, and the presenter is hilarious. As mentioned in top YT comment, it's great that she sticks to her own opinion despite the fact that the developers she interviews offer the opposite view.


  13. 11 hours ago, Mandalore said:

    Finished it last week. 

     

      Hide contents

    What exactly was the reason it got review bombed? It was a strange ending, when they were in the farm house I was thinking 'please be the end please be the end', but Ellie wanted to go get revenge. Really tragic.

     


     

    Spoiler

    The backlash can mostly be attributed to bigotry around diversity issues and fan attachment to Ellie and Joel's relationship, which gets cut short and sidelined for half the game.

    It's perfectly fair to criticise the game, or dislike it, it's just that some criticisms are more legitimate than others. For example, the story being split in two was a problem for me, but more because of the pacing issues that arose from it (with Abby's section essentially being a series of flashbacks within flashbacks), rather than the fact that you have to play as a new female character with big biceps. 

    There's also some truth to the idea that TLoU 2 has been held to a higher standard than other games because of its technical brilliance and movie-like production values. Some users overcorrect their scores in order to counteract the praise these kinds of games receive, which is also indicative of a wider social media trend where only the most controversial takes get noticed.

     


  14. 1 hour ago, dan-likes-trees said:
      more end of game spoils (Hide contents)

    Yeah I actually think the way the game encourages collecting every last thing (and how a lot of it reduces down to clipping-along-a-wall-waiting-for-the-item-prompt-to-pop) is one it’s bigger 'failings'. The game does such a great job of making it just about possible to stealth past sections (love how they usually end having to open a loud clunking door that takes a few seconds whilst everyone suddenly realise where you are) and there it feels most natural and real, but it’s always tempered by the nagging sense that you’re missing cool shit.

    By the end I’d kind of worked out the ‘language’ of the game in the sense that they make it somewhat clear what sections just have resources (ie skippable) and which have story stuff / collectibles / notes and missable items. Definitely the best approach would to be to do one playthrough totally naturally and then a second trying to uncover everything, but aintnobodygottime for playing such a grim game twice in quick succession!

     

    Same thoughts as you with the dance flashback. The interaction with Joel there really made the whole game work for me (in the sense that Ellie’s lust for revenge seems as much about her frustration that her last years with Joel were spent or were wasted hating him than necessarily just that he died). The acting from everyone in that scene was beaut.

    LOVED the stadium (and playing with doggos). Also jumped right down that hole in the roof, lol.

    Re - narrative dissonance - Yeah I think you’re pretty spot on, see what you mean with the fine line on what seems fair and unfair to ‘fail’ the player on too. The balance of player input in those those cutscenes is so tricky to get right especially when it comes down to splitsecond hesitation.

    Re - violence - Yeah I did think of the Nora scene whilst writing that, but I guess it’s partly in the buildup - David is shown to have gone a bit mad, it’s at the end of a fight, it seems more instinctive (ie right after he has you pinned to the ground) whereas the Nora is shown to be a more human character, it comes at the end of you specifically tracking her down, chasing her, and then the player is made to be more complicit in what’s ultimately torture of a dieing woman for information, rather than killing-or-be-killed.

    In general though it was more the kills of random grunts that got me (also having to see horrible gore every time Ellie/Abbey died - not sure I needed that, esp. on hard mode). Defo had the same kind of instinctual laughing reaction to some of the kills (MK style), but the insane fidelity felt soo brutal in other places. There was one bit where one of the random grunts was like ‘come closer.. (I did) I want you to look me in the eyes (I did)’ and then over a few seconds bled out and collapsed in front of me. On the one hand - amazing, spontaneous, natural - on the other hand, not sure what any of that stuff is reeaally there for asides from hammering home that this world is brutal and violence is cyclical, which it already does quite enough of

    Also though, hard to say what I’ve misremembered from the original too - plus I played this game with my partner watching some of it, in contrast to playing the first on mu own, which probs made me more atune to that stuff and why it’s in the game.

    Great hearing everyone's thoughts on the game. Finding myself talking more about things I didn't like or wasn't sure of just as that stuff is all quite interesting, so would like to confirm that I thought it was fucking brill.

    Keep us updated on your progress @Fierce_LiNk - it's about where you are that the game starts to get a bit more divisive in peoples opinions, so would love to hear your blow-by-blow thoughts!

     

    Spoiler

    It feels like we're more or less in agreement on most things. But I have ONE MORE THING I AGREE ABOUT which I forgot to mention before:

    Abby - I feel like they managed to make her a genuinely interesting character. It could've easily felt like they were simply trying to avoid all cliches, or other character archetypes in the game, by making her really fucking weird. But they wrote someone who was on the one hand hench, resilient and cynical, but also vulnerable, emotional (albeit in a repressed way), and joyful. Her relationship with Owen is fairly unique for videogames - so much of their affection is communicated non-verbally, or is only semi-expressed. The dynamics shift back and forth in the way Abby tries to win him over silently/passively as he leads her on, only for her to eventually turn him down on principle (because of Mel's pregnancy). It's an extreme act of self-denial on her part, but the story doesn't dwell on it. It's only when Owen dies that you really feel the pent up emotion pouring out of her.

    At least the two of them boned, eh?

    I guess much of the description above could be applied to Ellie as well, but I agree with Yahtzee's assessment that Ellie and Dina were too similar to make their partnership that interesting. The differences from what I could make out were that Dina was bisexual and slightly less blood-thirsty, which is to say very minor.

     

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  15. Neil Druckmann posted this on Twitter in September last year:

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    I'm guessing they would've had to delay the game well into PS5 territory if they wanted to include the multiplayer mode, which was probably financially untenable. When asked about the game in recent interviews Druckmann mimed his mouth being zipped, so it's presumably still in the works.

    As for Part 2 having coop from the start - did a guy in an internet video tell you that or did you make it up? 

    I'd probably play a NaughtyDog game that was built with co-op in mind, but then again I'd play practically anything they came up with. Bolting it onto TLoU would've been a waste of development time. As soon as you introduce another player into a narrative driven game like this, you detract from the connections you make with your companions, which should feel intimate. Having your friend run around as Dina, guns blazing, sprinting ahead to pick up all the loot before you do, would completely ruin the experience. Your companions in this game tend to you, ask you how you're feeling, set the tone and pace, set your expectations about what's coming next (e.g. a period of reflection or a tense fight), and spontaneously react to and interact with objects in the world. All of that collapses when your mate Steve takes control.

    Resident Evil was built with co-op in mind, and it's a fun action series for what it's worth, but you don't come away feeling like you've bonded with your companion. Now that's as much to do with the dreadful writing as anything else, sure, but it's also to do with the lack of meaningful interactions you have with them during gameplay aside from shooting zombos in the face.

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