All, I am Extra-Lifing for the fourth year on this Saturday!
Find my twitch stream here!
Donate a few bucks to my campaign if you like here!
This is the loose schedule of games I'm going with:
(Times are Eastern Daylight Time)
Friday, November 1, 2019
9pm - ? - Gears 5 /
Saturday, November 2, 2019
9am - 12pm - Life Is Strange 2
12pm - 2pm - Dead Cells
2pm - 4pm - The Outer Worlds
4pm - 6pm - Red Dead Redemption II
6pm - 8pm - Control
8pm - 9pm - Dishonored 2
9pm - 11pm - Gone Home
11pm - 2am - Metro: Exodus
2am - 4am - The Outer Worlds (continued)
4am - ? - If I'm still awake, we'll see what I'm feeling!
Sunday, November 3, 2019
?am - ?pm - Encore?
If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever
Well time sure flies. Another year gone by pretty much. I better not make any requests/promises about adding to any end-of-year lists.
Anyway, my gaming habits have changed quite a bit over the past year or so. Not that I play any less (maybe a little less) but that I seem able to focus on one game at a time. I just recently finished Death Stranding and it was glorious. I don't think I've ever played a game that so closely melds gameplay and narrative, not to mention the awe-inspiring level of polish. It has some weaknesses, but I enjoyed my time with it immensely. Kojima, love him or hate him, has his own style and I'm thrilled that 1) he's no longer forced to make MGS sequels, and 2) that he's making more games after this one. It must have taken hundreds and hundreds of people to make that game. Did Sony just tank the cost in order to have another smash exclusive? I presume his studio will live on either way.
Before that I played through Jedi Fallen Order. Did I say not long ago that EA dropped big-budget single-player games like a dirty shirt? Well, it's still true, except when it isn't I guess. How did this game get made? If there was ever a poster child for a game that is "more than the sum of its parts", Jedi is it. The jank is strong, and the stormtrooper dialog never rose above annoying, but I adore this game.
What am I forgetting? It's been so long. Look, I admit it, I play 3rd person action adventure games almost to the exclusion of anything else now (i.e. PS4 exclusives). I have pretty much given up on my love/hate relationship with RPGs (Outer Worlds appeals to me about as much as cleaning the garage does). Sekiro was amazing, did I mention that?
And strike another game off the backlog: Soma. I started this game way back but got stuck and put it down. Just recently finished it and glad I did. Great atmosphere and story-telling, although the attempt at existential confusion strikes me as materialist metaphysical nonsense, but I ain't gonna hate!
Oh, I finally played The Witcher 3. Soooo good! So, so good! Did I say I've given up on RPGs? Well, yes, so long as they're not called TW3. I can't remember the last time I played an RPG that treated me like an adult, or had combat that didn't make me want to tear my eyes out (whether crap mob-control real-time or crap paint-drying simulator turn-based). I actually liked TW3 combat, although it did get a little old near the end. What a great story. I am fully on board for Cyberpunk 2077.
So as per my trend these days, after finishing a big, time-consuming AAA Sony exclusive, I dabble a little for a palette cleanser. I've been playing around with Yakuza Kiwami (the remake of the original) and I like what I've played so far. I had no idea what this franchise was about, and although it's not quite my bag, I think it's well-done.
Next up is Resident Evil 7. Then maybe (in no particular order) Ghost of Tsushima, Outer Wilds, Man of Medan, or Pathologic 2 (can someone explain the relationship of 1 to 2 for me). I'm still on the fence about The Last of Us 2. Naughty Dog has earned a spot in my very exclusive "must play games from this developer" list, but I'm wary of diving in to something that apparently goes in such a dark direction (as if TLOU1 wasn't dark enough).
Hopefully my next post won't be so long in coming.
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Hey Botch! Great to hear from you and I hope you're doing okay.
Death Stranding interests me greatly but I've not pulled the trigger on it! I'm a little concerned that Kojima's... I dunno, 'idiosyncrasies' will rub me the wrong way. I enjoyed MGS (the original) but lost interest in Sons of Liberty. And what I saw of Phantom Pain and that sniper lady rolling around in the rain looked and sounded ridiculous (in a bad way).
Synonamess Botch said
Anyway, my gaming habits have changed quite a bit over the past year or so. Not that I play any less (maybe a little less) but that I seem able to focus on one game at a time.
Yeah, this is something I've been trying to do for years now just because I feel like there are an awful lot of games that 'die on the vine' because something else new and shiny steals my attention. And that's a shame because in months or years time I think 'Oh that game was great, why didn't I stick with that?' and just never go back to it. The downside with this approach is my 'gaming bandwidth' is much smaller now and while there are many games I want to play, fitting them in is the challenge.
Jedi Fallen Order interested me just because of Respawn's single-player campaign in Titanfall 2 which was amazing. I'm not a massive fan of Star Wars though.
Synonamess Botch said
Look, I admit it, I play 3rd person action adventure games almost to the exclusion of anything else now
Oh no, you're one of those! 😉 Recently there was an article on The Gamer featuring lots of industry professionals listing their games of the generation and while the list is more varied than I expected, it was still mostly comprised of third-person action adventure games. I lamented to friends how it felt like such a narrow view of the medium. The outliers were Rock Band 4, Gorogoa, Return of the Obra Dinn, Splatoon and Rocket League but it made me wonder why there was no strategy or more puzzle and multiplayer games, because it's been a pretty amazing generation for those genres (and others, I'm sure). The list was ultimately dead to me however, because it didn't feature Outer Wilds.
I forgive you though Botch because you played through Soma! I adored that game, one of my games of the gen (and, surprisingly, was featured in the list mentioned above). I found the existential horror/dread really affecting, especially in one of the last sequences of the game. I think Soma's focus and pace allowed its story, setting and overall theme to breath a little more than when I've encountered it in other media. Either way, I'm glad you finally got round to it and enjoyed it!
The Witcher 3 is something I hope to play in the future at some point because so many people rave about it. I've yet to play the second game but I enjoyed my time with the first. I have an RPG called Age of Decadence that I want to play and while RPGs are usually not my bag, Divinity: Original Sin is something I have my eye on. Disco Elysium is another.
I only said last week how I'd quite like to check out Yakuza having played a bit of the original on the PS2 back in the day. Had no idea Kiwami was a remake of it but I've heard 0 is the one to jump in with. Either way, I'd like to give one of them a go.
See what I mean about gaming bandwidth? Now I'm up to date with my last few games of the year lists, I'm hoping to do one for 2020. It'll be a lot shorter this time! 😀
Hi Gregg. Your thoughtful comments about 3rd person action adventures got me thinking a bit. I don't know that this genre is necessarily my preference for all time, but right now Sony's exclusives are so good and so appealing to my tastes, and also skewed heavily to that style, that it's natural for them to dominate my play time. However, it is also true that my genre tastes have never been as broad as yours. I never much cared for multiplayer, or puzzle games (with exceptions), or rhythm games, or sports games, or platformers, you get the idea.
Some formulas just don't get old for me. People like to trash the most recent Tomb Raider games as bland and formulaic, and I suppose they have a point. But if the formula is really good, and well executed, with a compelling enough story, that's really all I need. I honestly don't understand the negativity, especially since there are so many options out there for so many tastes. Is it unreasonable to expect that the larger the scope/budget, the more it will attempt to appeal to a broad audience? I played all three of those Tomb Raider games and loved them all (with Rise being clearly the weakest entry). I do have my limits though - most of what is really mainstream (say, Fortnite or Call of Duty - Tomb Raider is chump change compared to these) gets nothing but contempt from me.
Interesting setting, playable story, deep skill/upgrade/crafting systems, good combat: put all those in a well-executed package and I'm in. So yes, I guess I am one of those. 🙂 🙂 Gaming has always been a close analog to book-reading for me. That may be the best way to explain my tastes.
I think you owe it to yourself to play Witcher 3. The world, for me, was immersive to the point that no other RPG comes anywhere close (I'm the recently admitted RPG hater remember). One of the main cities, Novigrad, is hands-down the best RPG city in the history of RPGs. I was continually blown-away by what CD Project accomplished. Beautiful visuals matter, and TW3 is simply gorgeous. I finished the main story after over 200 hours I think. I do admit to being ready to move on to something else after. So I haven't played the DLC yet (I bought the whole package for $15, possibly the best deal ever). I do plan to revisit it. I've not played TW1 or TW2, and I can see how familiarity with those titles helps, since many call-backs are made throughout, and at one point you're asked to make some choices which mirror your choices in those earlier games. But I didn't have any desire to play thems first and I don't feel like I missed out. The ugliness and jank are way too strong in those old games for me.
FYI I picked up Yakuza Kiwami from PSPlus. Otherwise I would never have bothered. I tried it on the recommendation of a friend who is a big fan. I've also heard that Yakuza 0 is a great starting point. Kojima's idiosyncrasies are on full display in Death Stranding (well, not to the degree of MGS2 - that game was just bonkers) but I consider that a plus and it evoked some fond memories of MGS.
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To be fair, I think my own tastes would be a lot more focused if I just followed my gut but I try to kick back against that a little because I think some of the most exciting stuff can be just outside my comfort zone. For the last few years my girlfriend and I have been getting back into music festivals and it's now--or was (with the pandemic cancelling live events), one of the highlights of the year. I found since I started getting artist line-ups well in advance and being able to just stream artists I'd never heard of before, my music tastes have been so much more exciting than they were in the intervening years during 'the festival hiatus'. I did listen to some new stuff but it was spotty. I've kind of found the joy of new music again. There was a study I heard about that basically said that most people 'lock-in' their music tastes in their teens and twenties which I thought was fascinating and quite depressing if there was any truth to it. So I think that's something I'm conscious of with games, trying to keep myself 'flexible'. It certainly helps with stuff like Side by Side--you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get friends to play some of those games when we've had games nights in the past. "Gregg, what the fuck is this...?" "Uh, Mario Kart 8 then?"
(By the way, this is no criticism of your tastes, just general musings!)
I honestly don't understand the negativity, especially since there are so many options out there for so many tastes.
That's pretty much it. When I see folks griping about games these days I just think 'walk on'. There's never been more choice. I occasionally lose my way and find myself on Steam forums and you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
I enjoyed the first Tomb Raider remake but never pursued the rest having had my fill. I realised that I don't tend to replay games or play sequels or DLC often, and I attribute that to 'having my fill' of the core mechanics and gameplay loops. That's probably the case with the Souls games! That said, I wanted to play Dishonored 2 and Death of the Outsider (I own both) but I never finished the Brigmore Witches DLC for Dishonored, and I think at the time I just wasn't really engaging with the story and characters. So I decided to replay Dishonored with Mat C (who'd never played it before) then move on to The Knife of Dunwall and finally finish The Brigmore Witches. I had a great time, though I still have issues with the original game's lethal/non-lethal balance and handwringing over mission stats. The DLC went some way to restore that balance and I really enjoyed the story too. After all that though, I was burnt out on Dishonored again so I've still not started Dishonored 2. Bloody hell. Soon™ 🙂
(I bought the whole package for $15, possibly the best deal ever)
I don't think I've paid a dime for any of The Witchers! Got the first and second games free on GOG and The Witcher 3 came free with my video card, haha. I really should get on to the second game and in turn the third. What I played of The Witcher 2 left a pretty awful first impression, namely the combat felt horrible--and I kind of enjoyed the weird rhythm combat of the first game! I do need to put
some a lot of time aside for them though. 200 hours, man. At Gregg Speed, that'll be about 300 hours! 😉
The ugliness and jank are way too strong in those old games for me.
Jank is fair. I will say though that the first game's presentation I still found weirdly evocative and quite beautiful at times. Something about the melancholic music, the landscapes, weather and day/night cycles affecting the colours, the dreary villages and city streets, the ornate GUI and European folklore. I played it in 2015 so I've no real nostalgia for it! It's not a great game by any stretch of the imagination but there was certainly something about its atmosphere. It kind of reminds me of that bleak European medieval coldness in Demon's Souls, and I suppose Dark Souls, minus the Japanese art direction!
Oh hey, I noticed you've been playing Subnautica, Botch. How you getting on with it? Coincidentally, I know three people who are currently playing it!
Gregg, you criticize my tastes whenever you like - coming from you, whose opinion has value and whose tastes are his own, it can only be interesting and illuminating.
You make fair points about the first 2 Witcher titles. They are perfectly fine for their time. Your descriptions of the world remind me how gorgeous TW3 is and how much that contributes to the immersion. Really it is the jank - I just don't have the tolerance for stilted CRPG combat anymore (call it a character flaw). And trust me, I am the world's slowest gamer. What takes me 200 hours takes a normal person 1/3 of that.
Yes I picked up Subnautica again after bouncing off of it some time ago (working through my Steam backlog atm). I don't know why since it is sooo good. I think I just needed a tiny bit of direction, which I got from a Let's Play and then stopped watching almost immediately because I didn't want spoilers. Also I gotta be honest - I'm scared of the water, and the thought of diving down into those dark depths terrifies me. The devs nailed the atmosphere so well in that regard and others. But now I'm deep into the story, and it's the kind of story I can really dig. Not in your face but sitting there, waiting for you to find it. This game is a perfect combination of the Don't Starve (or Minecraft, Terraria, etc.) style of game that has become extremely popular and an adventure game with a story and an actual ending. The former don't do much for me (although I think Don't Starve is a very good game, as all Klei games are). But the combo of the two is great. My son and I are both playing it and giving each other tips about where to find stuff.
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And trust me, I am the world's slowest gamer.
High five! The slow lane is nice.
Yeah, Subnautica is a diamond. It's a bit rough in places but otherwise it's just such a well paced game with some real sights, sounds and scares. Funny you mention needing direction, my girlfriend's brother, Luke, needed a nudge too and did the same. You did well to cut off though because a huge part of the experience is making those discoveries and feeling that thrill of using some new unexpected tech, or coming across something beautiful and/or terrifying. The varied ways the story is delivered is really nice and despite it being an open world it feels coherent. You never feel like you're neglecting 'the main story' because it's all connected to surviving and piecing the larger narrative and sub plots together. I also love the dashes of humour and the fact that the game is mostly non-violent.
Luke was playing it the other night and I asked him if I could watch him play so he started streaming his screen to me via Discord. I was kind of horrified to see he'd done some late-game thing earlier than something he still hadn't done. It was like, whoa, dude, how? There are some random elements to Subnautica but most people I know don't do this particular thing until much later on. Needless to say, he doesn't see the point of said thing because he's so early in the game.
And yeah, Thalassophobia is real.
How far are you Botch?
Where I am in Subnautica:
I just finished exploring the Aurora. I now have a Prawn suit which I'm terrible at using. I also have a Cyclops which is wicked cool but also hard to use. I haven't gone deeper than around 300m. I'm on my way to explore the Degasi underwater site, which is down a deep, scary hole, natch. I've witnessed the Sunbeam getting shot down, which was pretty shocking. I know about the bacteria infection. I've seen a Reaper, but only from a (safe!) distance. I have some initial plans for the escape rocket (the platform part).
Also, I completely agree with your take on the game.
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I finished Metro 2033. I got the Ranger ending. Yet another Steam backlog demon vanquished. I seem to be on a Steam kick lately. Next up is Last Light. I'll be picking up Outer Wilds on the Steam sale. Is the PC version superior to PS4?
Some minor spoilers:
I somehow managed to not pick up the message that the Hole Station captain asked me to send. I also killed all the soldiers in that area where you meet Khan. Obviously those and other things I'm not aware of contributed to my lack of moral points.
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I see you completed Subnautca Botch! My other friend got distracted by Hades so who knows whether he'll make the last push to finish it. He was so close too! I loved the final third as far as the game's plot and trajectory goes (with the deep descent and the contained leviathan) but the final 'fetch quest' tested my patience given I'd already done a lot of logistics to make the Cyclops, PRAWN suit and all their upgrades possible. Still, a wonderful experience.
I enjoyed Metro 2033 but I couldn't follow what was going on so didn't have much investment to start Last Light, though I own the Redux version. One day I'll get back on to that series! My favourite thing about 2033 was the HUD-free design and how you had to manually check your weapon's ammo and... mask quality and oxygen? Stuff like that.
I have some criticisms of some of the plot points but they're minor.
You know, I really enjoyed Firewatch but there was one plot point that undermined the whole thing for me and I now can't remember what it was.
It was something to do with that guy inexplicably keeping the kid a secret.
If you liked that, check out What Remains of Edith Finch if you haven't played it already. That will be on my Games of 2020 list, if I can pull myself away from Phoenix Point to continue writing it! 🙂
Spoiler-y response to your Firewatch criticism:
I don't think it was inexplicable. He knew he would be blamed for what was really an accident, so he went off the grid. However, his whole effort to throw off the protag from finding the truth by manufacturing a secret plot to spy on him, seemed a little too far-fetched. You would think he might have buried the body at least.
I played What Remains... as well and liked it. It's another example of an interesting little story told in game form. Maybe that's a good way to describe these so-called "walking simulators". They're really stories told with the aid of video game mechanics (which are familiar to many people), rather than games with minimal (read non-existent) mechanics which are focused on telling a story. To The Moon would be a similar example (which I also liked).
It's perhaps a minor descriptive difference, but it serves to reverse, and properly frame, the focus. So instead of "this game suxxx!!", one might be more inclined to state: "This was a cool story which effectively used the language of video games to present it."
I picked up Subnautica: Below Zero as well. It looks to continue the excellent trend.
Right now I am deep in my Metro binge. Metro Exodus is sooooo good. If you like the gun customizations of 2033 and Last Light, Exodus turns it up to 11. The clunkiness of the weapons and gear (cranking the battery charger, etc) is a big part of the charm for me. And lovingly crafting my favorite homemade rifle to suite my style is just so satisfying. My biggest criticism so far is that the exposition is laid on thick and awkwardly in the beginning. It let's up later but still struggles with the fact that it's trying to deliver story in a game that is no longer walking a simple, linear path.
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Finished Metro Exodus, which completes my recent Metro binge. All three games are outstanding. I think Exodus has been compared unfavorably to recent "open world" games and I think the comparison is off the mark. It does have some elements of open world games, but it retains the linear DNA of 2033 and Last Light. I think the combination works great and I had a blast.
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Picked up Outer Wilds recently and just started playing. To say it hasn't made a great impression so far would be putting it mildly. I kind of hate it in fact. I'm OK with not having a clear direction, but this game is obtuse to the point of infuriating. The dialogue and text do their best to be confusing by referring to every individual as "they": I can't tell who is talking about whom. Third-person, singular, neutral gender pronoun people! Sorry, this is one of my pet peeves. I have not been able to make sense of the controls or the physics and just wind up getting further annoyed. Then i die, repeatedly. At least with Dark Souls I knew why I died.
Anyway, I would be happy to be convinced otherwise and crack through its apparently shitty exterior to find something worthwhile underneath. But until then, this is a strong pass for me.
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Regarding Firewatch: yeah, that sounds about right.
The scale and needless complexity in hiding that particular truth just seemed too daft to me, but it was such an intriguing story until that reveal!
Yeah, god, I hate the phrase 'walking simulator' and always have done, because while it's not the derogatory phrase it once was (to describe games like my beloved Proteus and not so beloved Dear Esther) I still find it hugely reductive and kind of disrespectful. It's a very popular Steam store tag now though so I think it's here to stay. Bleurgh!
What Remains of Edith Finch feels a lot more involved than your usual minimalist exploration/story-based game in the sense that it has all these vignettes with their own concepts, stories and controls. Some of the sequences are glorious and simultaneously haunting. I'm not so great at reading into the meaning of some things but I found Joseph Anderson's video about it really interesting and insightful.
I picked up Subnautica: Below Zero as well. It looks to continue the excellent trend.
Yeah I've got it on Epic but holding off until it's 'done'!
I think Exodus has been compared unfavorably to recent "open world" games and I think the comparison is off the mark.
These days I get pretty annoyed with folk just absolutely missing the point of certain games. I can't imagine how disappointing/stressful for developers it must be. I think it's almost always down to misguided or unfair expectations being brought to the game rather than accepting what it is like, oh hey, this isn't for me. Sometimes I read what folk are saying and think 'you want a different game! Go play something else!' I look back at my Firaxis XCOM rant and that's a good example. I wanted more of the original X-COM and not the abstracted, streamlined XCOM we got. (This is why I've been enjoying Phoenix Point a lot recently with the Year One Edition release.) Wow, that article was 8 years ago, and you commented first! I'll say this though: I'm hugely appreciative of Firaxis reviving the genre and being responsible for so many great 'XCOM-likes', like SteamWorld Heist and Mario + Rabbids. God, I love those two.
Anyway, OUTER WILDS! Man, it's so funny you posted about it last night because it was only last night that my friend told me that he'd tried to play it too, and got frustrated with the controls. I think that's fair because, while I didn't play it on a controller as the game recommends, the keyboard and mouse controls are a little unwieldy and unintuitive too. At least at first. When I was writing about Outer Wilds for my games of the year(s) list, I wrote in a draft that if the game doesn't get you asking a bunch of questions almost the moment you open your eyes; if it doesn't fire up your curiosity enough to eagerly blast off into the sky to find answers, then it might not be the game for you. I took it out because it felt a little too dismissive or, I dunno, 'closed'. My eyes opening and seeing an explosion in the sky and several things whizzing past and a massive planet behind it all was like... Okay, I've got to see what's going on up there! And... the rest is history.
The Hearthians are the only creatures/aliens to be non-binary, and yeah, it confused me too, but after a while I got used to it, and actually thought it was pretty cool. As for the physics: generally speaking you need to be comfortable with targeting other celestial bodies and matching their speed which you can do with a couple of buttons. Not sure what it is on controller but it ensures you don't go flying off and you can land comfortably, orient yourself and explore in relative calm. There's a zero gravity tutorial on Timber Hearth which helps with this. Auto-pilot is great too, but make sure the sun isn't between you and your destination 🙂 It does feel clumsy initially but with time I found it very satisfying and felt that it captured the feeling of piloting a rickety little spacecraft against the wild cosmos.
As for your deaths: I can say for certain that my first death or two was a mystery then later I was like 'Oh, that's what got me!' The thing is: Outer Wilds is wide open once you get off Timber Hearth and as such you can find yourself in the weirdest, most confusing places totally at the mercy of unknown forces. And that's fine. It's all part of the experience and you've just got to roll with it, but sooner or later (probably sooner) you'll get a foothold somewhere, and that's when you start your climb. Your ship's log is a great way of keeping track of things.
It's probably my favourite game so naturally I'm going to say 'stick with it!' but I'm getting mellower these days so... uh, follow your heart Botch! 😀
(Stick with it!)
Yeah I imagine the "this is not the game you're looking for" problem will be with us forever.
Outer Wilds. It's not so much the flying, which I didn't have too much trouble with, but the walking around and not being able to move forward when it seems I should be. The orientation feedback was just a bit too subtle probably, but I can imagine getting the hang of it. My first two deaths were from exiting my ship on the moon (Attlerock?) without a suit on. Hey, that knucklehead sitting in his chair can do it, why not me? Then I was faffing about with that confusing puzzle when...well I don't know what the heck happened. Some blue thing got really big in the sky and then I was dead apparently. It may well be that the initial hook was just not enough to pull me in. I'll most likely give it another shot though.
I noticed you playing Phoenix Point on Steam. I've seen what appears to be some harsh, yet valid criticisms. Does it scratch that itch well enough to overcome any shortcomings it may have?
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not being able to move forward when it seems I should be.
Hmm, I'm not sure what you mean. Like invisible walls or steep slopes perhaps? I know there are some unusual landscapes to traverse but unless gravity is against you then you should be able to go pretty much anywhere. I know there are some craters on the Attlerock moon that aren't easy to walk up the edges of, and perhaps the odd incline/cliff on Timber Hearth.
My first two deaths were from exiting my ship on the moon (Attlerock?) without a suit on.
This is natural and I did it tens of hours into my playthrough like a numpty! So eager I was to get out and explore. 'What's happening? I'm dying! ...Oh. I'm an idiot.'
Hey, that knucklehead sitting in his chair can do it, why not me?
I'm sure it mentions it on Timber Hearth before you take off as well, but there's also a note beside the cockpit in your ship that says trees refill your oxygen. If you're wearing your suit you'll notice that when you descend into the Attlerock crater that Esker is rocking and whistling in, it says 'Trees detected - oxygen tanks refilled' followed by a hiss and your heavy breathing apparatus stopping, implying that you don't need to use it. Technically you shouldn't be able to die of asphyxiation in that area! Outside the crater away from the trees though...
Some blue thing got really big in the sky and then I was dead apparently.
This is also fine! And I'm so happy to hear you don't know what it is yet because most folk find out before they even start the game. Can't you tell I love a good mystery?
Yeah, the reviews for Phoenix Point are weird. A lot of them are basically doing what I did with my Firaxis XCOM rant, but they're comparing Phoenix Point to Firaxis' XCOM, and of course, they're going for very different things. Phoenix Point is best compared to the original X-COM because it's a lot more crunchy and simulated.
The Epic exclusivity deal is also something that certain gamers can't seem to stop harping on about, even now. Not having access to the shittiest release version of a game a year before everyone else doesn't sound too bad to me. From what else I've read it sounds like people either missing lines of tech, ability synergies, misunderstanding systems or just getting a bad starting spot. It's one of the reasons I've held back on a Steam review, just in case I was missing some ugly bits.
I backed it on Fig and the Epic release was so rough that I just stopped after an hour and uninstalled it. I was really disappointed and was left hoping (but not hopeful!) that they'd get it sorted. The Year One Edition arrived and I fired it up just to see how it was all looking and... well, I got hooked, big time. I didn't play much else over Christmas!
It definitely has its niggles but pretty much everything that bothered me about the direction the Firaxis games took, Phoenix Point avoids. It's like they read my rant, haha. You get free-aim with no percentages; VATS-style limb/weapon disabling; action points (like time units but simpler), so you can do multiple things per turn if you're careful; fine control overwatch cones (like Frozen Synapse); will points to squeeze more out of your turns; proper hybrid classes which are fun to mess about with; items and inventories for crisis gear swapping mid-mission; faction diplomacy, trading and raiding; multiple bases (still not sure how I feel about this one because it adds a lot of faff); proper base invasions; no alien pods interrupting your turn to disperse and hide; mutating 'terrors from the deep' enemies; more utilitarian menus; geoscape multi-tasking; settlements defending themselves and even attacking nests independently of me!
It feels more like the spiritual successor to X-COM and Apocalypse, but with enough to make it distinctive. It's a little rough compared to the AAA polish of the Firaxis games, and that crunchy, simulated direction means my first playthrough (as a slow bastard too) is taking forever (100 hours so far). I recall X-COM also taking forever and I'm not going to lie: I wish Phoenix Point was more, uh, to the point than that. Still, it's been a really nice surprise to have been enjoying it so much and I think it's in a great place now. They've apparently got a lot more planned for it and a new 'Festering Skies' DLC coming this year so here's hoping it keeps improving.
Yeah it was the craters. I just couldn't get my head around the walking up to the edge part. I get no sense of how far from vertical my body is.
I'm glad that Phoenix Point has gotten to the point it has. It always seemed to me that the dev's ambitions outstripped their budget, which is always a thing with these crowd-funded projects. I remember criticizing Firaxis XCOM myself way back, with I think my main complaint being that it wasn't an actual simulation (which is directly related to points you've raised). But ultimately I learned to appreciate and really enjoy Firaxis's take. It's not necessarily clear-cut where the line is between elegant simplification and gross dumbing-down. And I think it's equally valid to state that Firaxis did both: they didn't remake XCOM, they made a new type of game wrapped in the shell of XCOM.
At this point I don't even know if I'd have the patience for simulation-style XCOM 🙂
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