dkirschner's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay's Creed Origins (PS4) - Wed, 05 Feb 2020 08:10:45, new Assassin's Creed! It's been a few years. I thoroughly enjoyed Black Flag (4), the last one I played. I miss my crew and the sea shanties and firing cannonballs at other ships. But my how the series has changed. My, how it looks and feels more like The Witcher 3 and Soulsborne games! Someone's aping trends. What's Witcher about it? Well, it's got the old Ubisoft map bloat with a million icons on it, but I notice question marks all over the place now. These points of interest encourage exploration, and when you arrive you will find a beast den, a stargazing area, a guarded fort, a treasure hunt, and so on, with little objectives (kill this, steal that) to complete for a small amount of XP and some treasure. Cool, but already those question marks feel like bloat. I remember the question marks in The Witcher revealing lots of really cool things, possibly because of the fantasy setting you never knew what kind of awesome thing you'd discover. Here, trekking across the map to shoot a ram with a bow-and-arrow just doesn't seem as appealing. My favorite are the constellation ones where you get some mythology and play with stars. I've pretty much started ignoring the question marks though. There are also more refined skill trees, and the gadgets tree feels very much like the Witcher's potions tree. Side quests are more fleshed out, which is certainly an improvement over previous AC games. What's Soulsborne about it? After just finishing Bloodborne, I was surprised that the controls and combat were so similar, as AC's combat before felt unique (even though it could sometimes be frustrating). R3 locks on to enemies, just like Soulsbornes. R1 is light attack, R2 is heavy attack, hold R2 for charged heavy attack. Press circle to dodge. I suspect that some later fights may be more challenging like in Bloodborne. So far, I'm kind of shocked at how much melee combat there is (this was always a weak point in AC games), though I did just get the hidden blade, so more stealth and assassinating is in my future. I'm certainly enjoying the game. Egypt is stunning, and thanks to my new PS4 Pro, I am playing a game for the first time in 4K. I see a future where I just walk around in a video game to marvel at the environments to relax after work. Sometimes when I climb up to a view point, I'll sit up there for 5 minutes just looking out over the landscape below. I mean, it's utterly beautiful. I would love to watch an Egyptologist play the game. I'm sure there's a YouTube video for that with a clickbait title. My only real gripe is the intrusion of Ubisoft into what I wish was a single-player experience. I mean, thanks for the amazing recreation of ancient Egypt, but would you just let me enjoy it in peace? The game constantly reminds me to check out the store, it forces other players' screenshots onto my minimap which clutters it even further, and it thinks I give a shit about avenging VapeMan69's death at the hands of a hyena. Look, I don't know VapeMan69 and I don't care what he was doing or why he was killed by a hyena, but can you kindly STOP CLUTTERING THE MINIMAP UBISOFT or give me more refined filters please and thank you. I look forward to playing more and continuing with the story, which has me oddly intrigued as far as AC goes (even the Abstergo part is neat!). I look forward to uncomfortably watching Bayek and Aya make out and have sex in weird places, and I'm already sad because there's no way they would show this much making out and steamy romance if they weren't going to kill Aya. Bayek has already lost his son and he lost is ring finger (symbolic for severing of the marriage??) and he's going to need some more motivation to keep assassinating for 30 more hours. WHAT IF the twist is that Bayek gets killed and you switch to playing as Aya?! That would be awesome. Wed, 05 Feb 2020 08:10:45 CST (PS4) - Fri, 31 Jan 2020 22:24:46 actually beat this. I can't believe it. Take that, FromSoftware. Bloodborne is definitely one of the most difficult games I've ever played and one that punishes you harshly for mistakes. I learned patience, lots of patience. Here are some other things I learned that I didn't mention (or had incomplete knowledge of) in my other post: 1. If you find a good route of enemies that give lots of blood echoes (especially after you get runes that increase blood echoes), just plow through that route a handful of times and boost your level. I found a great run near the end that also supplies health potions, and I thought, "Great! I can farm health potions here if I need to!" And I did that run probably 5 or 6 times because there was a sad, weeping mother with blood on her white dress in a boss-ish looking area who I didn't want to go near. I was getting over 2 levels worth of blood echoes for that run, so I just kept doing it. 2. You might have to farm blood echoes later in the game. It's okay, very easy to do. Go back to Central Yharnam and crush all the enemies around there. You'll rack up 20+ potions and it takes like 5-10 minutes. I did it like 5 times while I was on the phone with my mom and never had to do it again. 3. If you think you might be coming up on a boss (big, open arena? check. big, double doors that you have to push open? check), don't be afraid to go back to the Dream and spend your blood echoes. It'll be relatively easy to get back to the boss and you won't lose all your experience. 4. Tired of running out of health potions on bosses? Don't use them until you can knock a chunk of the boss's life off without using one. Learn its moves. Then when you're smarter and more confident, commit to using potions and finishing the rest of the battle. 5. Learn how to do a visceral attack. I didn't know this existed until I got a run that enhanced my visceral attack. The game doesn't teach you so...I don't know how you're supposed to know. I looked it up when I saw that rune. You can do some major damage and get some rune effects. 6. Don't be afraid to use help from the summoning portal things. You can use insight to summon another hunter (NPC offline, human online). You can use the bell to summon players any time I think. I never did this. But I gather that you have to be careful because they might kill you. 7. Stat scaling on weapons is useful to pay attention to and can determine how you can best level up. I realized at some point that the sword I was favoring scaled with skill and I should quit putting points into strength. 8. Frenzy is a pain in the ass. I didn't understand how this worked until very, very late in the game in the Nightmare of Mensis. I didn't understand until then because every time I got frenzied until then I died. My resistance was super low or I just didn't get it or something. Again, no explanation for this in-game! 9. The special altars or whatever they are called are unnecessary. I went into one toward the end of the game just to see what it was. Looks like randomized or procedurally generated dungeons crawling. Probably special items in there or something. Extra content for those who love the combat I suppose. 10. Before the last boss, which has that great experience and potion run I mentioned earlier, if you don't plan on New Game Plus or anything, just sell all your shit that you don't use and level up as much as possible. I squeezed like 5 levels out of selling things and using the rest of those blood gems. I think in doing that run 5 or 6 times and selling everything, I gained about 20 levels. Perhaps that's why the last boss only took 5 or so tries. 11. The story is...hard to parse. It's told sparingly, largely through environmental means. You have to work to piece it together. I read wikis. That's gotta be about it. I don't think I'm going to go back and play the Souls games, but I will look forward to Sekiro when the price drops. There's no way I can play too many of these kinds of games. My nerves.Fri, 31 Jan 2020 22:24:46 CST (PS4) - Mon, 30 Dec 2019 18:14:34, this is it. This is the one. I tried Dark Souls [checks notes] 3.5 years ago and found myself lacking. It was too hard. It has haunted me ever since. I've completed plenty of brutally difficult games. Why was Dark Souls different? My best guess is that it doesn't just punish you with time invested, but it really saps your potential progression. By that I mean, when you die, you drop all of your souls. If you die again before reaching the spot where you died to retrieve your souls, you lose them forever. Therefore, when you die, you lose the potential you had accrued to level up, and for all intents and purposes are demoted. Even though you hadn't actually spent the souls to level up, you HAD them. It's like you went to cash a check and you lost the check. You had the money, but you hadn't converted it into something usable, and it hurts just as much to lose. SO, the PS4 I bought a few weeks ago came with a few games, Bloodborne being my most desired. I wanted to take another stab at a FromSoftware title and show them who's boss (me!). My ambition didn't go so well at first. I installed it, played an hour or two, and had flashbacks to Dark Souls. I couldn't get past the first area. I died over and over and over. It was so sad. Fuck that! I quit and picked up Nioh, another "soulsborne" game that had (gasp!) a tutorial that made me feel competent. After I went through the whole tutorial and played some of the first bit of Nioh, I had work for a week and when I came back to the PS4, decided I was not, in fact, done with Bloodborne. In fact, Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to be better at Bloodborne. Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to learn the lessons of FromSoftware games. I booted up Bloodborne again, determined to figure out how to approach it. Fast forward a couple weeks and here I am, being successful (I think)! I've learned to deploy all my patience and all my caution. If you are slow, careful, methodical, and observant, you can tackle Bloodborne. I've written about a few extended examples, but I'm not sure what to sum up, so I'll make some notes, a couple quick stories, and elaborate later. 1. Learn enemy attack patterns. What are their tells? How far away do you need to stay? Every enemy can kill you, so don't take your chances. Wait for their tells and strike appropriately. It's not a race. 2. Don't be afraid to go back to The Hunter's Dream. In this safe zone, you can spend your blood echoes to level up, purchase items, and upgrade your weapons. Yeah, all the enemies will respawn, and that can be annoying, but you'll also learn that ... 3. You don't have to kill everything. You'll open ingenious shortcuts and learn what you can run past (often based on what probably won't drop good items anyway!), so respawning enemies are not always a big deal. Plus, you're getting better at the game, so you can dispatch them more easily. 4. Upgrade your main weapon. Yeah, there are lots of weapons, but the beginning Hunter's Axe has been working for me just fine. I bought everything else, but I've upgraded that axe as much as it'll go for now (level 6; how many levels of upgrades are there? A: At least 9.). Experiment with the weapons to see what suits you. And don't forget that you can hit L1 to alternate between two forms of your melee weapons. 5. You'll get past that first area and that first boss, the something-something-Cleric. The big bird thing. Terrifying. On the bridge. After being mauled by werewolves (explore and find the other way around). Once you get past that first boss, the game becomes easier. You won't have to farm health potions again (yet, anyway). This first area of the game is like a hazing ritual. 6. If you need help, summon someone. I'm playing offline, so I can't summon other players, but on the third boss, there was a summoning place there and I got an NPC. She tanked the boss (the one in the Grand Cathedral) and I chipped away at its health from behind. Victory. If you can't summon someone, refer to #1. 7. I'm so impressed by the interconnectedness of each area. Navigating can be disorienting, but keep wandering and you'll connect seemingly disparate locations. The other day, I wandered into an area with an enemy I couldn't kill, another area with some hazy demon that killed me, another area where I got killed by some sort of void energy that said "frenzy" on the screen, I wandered into a totally different zone (Forbidden Woods?), and through all this learned many different paths. 8. If you're not sure if you're supposed to be somewhere or not, you might need to die a few times to figure it out. Enemies crushing you? Maybe there's somewhere else to go first where you can gain some levels. It seems like wandering around and seeing everything is sufficient for being strong enough to tackle enemies and bosses. More later. But I am LOVING this game now that I'm over the initial hump (seriously, through the first boss is just brutal). I can't wait to play more.Mon, 30 Dec 2019 18:14:34 CST (PS4) - Mon, 30 Dec 2019 16:50:59 first PS4 completion on my brand new used system! I played Flow yesterday morning because I was up before my brother and mom at her house and didn't want to wake everyone up with Bloodborne. A nice, quiet, relaxing game would be better, I thought. I didn't really know what to expect; I haven't played any of thatgamecompany's games (criminal, I know, but I'll get to Flower and Journey soon). Flow immediately reminded me of other "eat things and grow bigger" games like the incomparable Osmos. It's beautiful and sounds great (relaxing, right?) and the movement is simple and fluid with the motion tilt on the PS4's controller. Fortunately, the game is short because it sure gets dull quickly. Each level and each character are essentially the same thing and there is no variation in what you do. You take control first of a "snake" creature underwater. Eat smaller creatures to get longer (this is visually mesmerizing), and then eat the red blob to descend to the next level in the ocean. It's neat that you can eat the blue blob to go back up, going up and down as much as you please. I did this a couple times when there was an annoying enemy (go back up to eat some more creatures and get stronger or go down to skip it), but I accidentally ate the blue or red blobs 20 other times and changed levels when I didn't want to. Eventually you will encounter enemies who can eat you. You never die, but rather go back up a level when you get eaten. Levels are small and take just a few minutes to clear, so this is no big deal. Once you reach the last ocean level, there is a teleporter thing that warps you back to the beginning, where you are given a new creature, one that you have seen, to play with. Each new creature has some kind of ability setting it apart from others. There's one that turns green, and if you eat (part of) another creature while green, it turns green too and slows down. If you eat it while green, then all the little organisms it spawns upon death are green, and if other enemies eat those, then THEY turn green. That was probably my favorite. Another creature lets you repel others; another gives you big bursts of speed; and so on. By the third creature (of 5), I was looking on the internet to see how much more there was because the game was feeling very repetitive and I was bored. I powered through and easily beat it. The credits are neat. I later learned that the game was released in 2006, which makes my problems with it somewhat meaningless. This was probably ridiculously impressive in 2006, evident by its history. I look forward to Flower, and then Journey in the future. One other random story to note: I picked up a copy of Ian Bogost's How to Do Things with Videogames and had been reading it just a few days before. In a chapter on relaxation, he offers a brief analysis of Flow, pointing out that the game is not relaxing (you chase things around to eat them while risking being eaten by them) despite it's beautiful visuals and music. I found this to be true (boredom also came), and it got me thinking about other games that have promised to be low key and relaxing but are not. Or rather, it got me thinking even more broadly about games that coast on unique audio-visual style and polish, but are not much more than that. I'm thinking recently of Little Nightmares. I had to play it when I saw it, but it really wasn't very good, a sub-par 2D puzzle platformer mechanically. After that game is when I learned my lesson: Don't buy a game just because the art looks cool!Mon, 30 Dec 2019 16:50:59 CST from the Borderlands (PC) - Mon, 09 Dec 2019 11:46:48 started this in August and finally finished. That was due to a couple dry gaming months, finishing a couple other games, and then finally completing the last 3 episodes of this this weekend. My initial impressions were really positive, but in the end I think I just am not a fan of Borderlands anything. Telltale's storytelling is fantastic as always and the game mechanics are sound. Tales from the Borderlands naturally has a good deal of combat, including a pretty sweet finale, and gunplay mapped fine onto Telltale's style but could feel jarringly slow and disjointed during action sequences. I suppose what I'm most impressed with is Telltale's (RIP) ability to do such mapping, to fit any franchise they've handled into their style of narrative game. I've played some of the Walking Dead seasons, A Wolf Among Us, and the Game of Thrones one, and they all feel so unique, wonderfully capturing the spirit of each universe. I know they did such a good job with Borderlands because I felt like I always do about Borderlands by the end! Some of the jokes landed, sometimes I laughed out loud, but a lot of the humor missed. The world and characters are wonderfully weird and wacky, which I sometimes appreciate and sometimes cringe at. One funny thing is that I misread the romance options. I took the two main characters relationship as flirtatious when apparently it wasn't supposed to be. In fact, the guy can become romantically involved with her sister. I made him constantly reject her and not flirt with her because I wanted the two main characters to get together! My girlfriend thought this was hilarious. Does that mean I'm a bad flirt? Aw man! So really, Tales from the Borderlands taught me that I don't really like Borderlands so stop trying and that I'm a bad flirt. 10/10 learning things about myself.Mon, 09 Dec 2019 11:46:48 CST (PC) - Wed, 04 Dec 2019 20:57:56 is more a toy than a game, really like one of those interactive screensavers I used to have as a teenager. Remember the cute sheep that would eat your desktop icons? This toy/game/screensaver is designed to run in the background while you do something else. It's a digital mountain floating through space. You can spin it around, zoom in and out, click on trees to make birds fly away (into space??), and toss around objects such as airplanes and soccer balls that fall to its katamari-like surface. If you fancy yourself a musician, there are three octaves of a keyboard you can bang out. Finally, if you tire of watching your mountain accumulate stuff, you can send an asteroid at it and start over. There is no goal to Mountain. You poke it and prod it and see what happens. You leave it alone for hours like I did and get some achievements. At first, it was distracting in the background. Any time a heard a non-weather or ambient noise from it, I'd look and see what had happened. But after a while, it became soothing background noise, blending into the other noises in my apartment, and was really relaxing when I went to go read. All in all, that's a pretty cool thing! Wed, 04 Dec 2019 20:57:56 CST (PC) - Wed, 04 Dec 2019 13:39:32 was a surprise! I have had two card F2P card games in my backlog since I quit Hearthstone. I booted up Faeria last week, then one day when the servers were down, I tried the other, Duelyst. I made it through Duelyst's tutorials and screwed around a bit, but it didn't captivate me like Faeria did. But after an all-night binge last night, I think it is best for me to set this aside, after gushing about it first. Faeria combines elements of Hearthstone, Magic, and Catan, Hearthstone being the most familiar to me. You build 30-card decks with mixtures of creatures, structures (immobile and give passive bonuses), and events (aka spells). You mulligan like normal and gain faeria (mana) each turn like normal that you spend to play cards. The hybridization comes in because Faeria has a, as the promo goes, "living board." You don't just play cards on your side of the table. Rather, each player has a "god" and builds lands emanating from the god. Each turn you can build two regular lands or one elemental land (and if you don't want to do that, you can opt to draw a card or gain a faeria). You can only build lands adjacent to lands you already have or adjacent to your creatures. The default board is all water, and while some (blue, "aquatic") creatures can actually swim through it, everything else needs some kind of land. So, the strategy is not only in building your deck, but in building the board each game. Stronger cards will require, say, 4 fire lands before you can play them, and some cards require multiple kinds of land. In addition to the land, there are "faeria pools" that generate one faeria each turn. If you place a creature next to one, you get that bonus faeria. So you also want to maintain control of as many of those as you can because you will be able to play more and stronger cards. It's a balancing act because you can't just go straight for the faeria pools. They are on the corners of the board, and if you build outward, your enemy may start building straight down the middle and rush your god. But I found that generally having control of more faeria pools led to victory because you simply out-spend your opponent. I've established that the mechanics are complex and a whole lot of fun. So what is there to do? There are a ton of "mission packs," typically with 8 or 9 scenarios and little bosses at the end. These serve as tutorials, challenges, and practice against AI, while allowing you to unlock rewards like cards packs, lore book entries, and the in-game currencies. Some are "puzzles" with the goal of defeating the enemy in one turn with a specific board state. As you complete missions and level up your account, you gain access to more stuff, including a single-player or co-op campaign, online casual and ranked modes, and Pandora, which is a draft mode. My favorite thing in Hearthstone was Arena, so I went straight to draft mode as soon as I could. In Faeria, you have to wager card packs or currency for entry, which I suppose is like paying 100 gold in Hearthstone. You either lose it spectacularly or do well enough to make it back plus rewards. I FULLY expected to get crushed in Pandora. I'm still learning the game, I've never seen most of the cards, total noob playing against experienced players, right? Well...I had a near perfect run and went 6-1 (and somehow got the achievement for going 6-0!), earning the top prize of 5 card packs and a lot of currency. While this was awesome, and I stayed up until 5am doing it, there is no way in hell that someone who has played a competitive collectible card game for just a few hours should be able to stomp everyone in draft mode. Like, that could say a lot about the player base or design. Is everyone else a noob too? Is there no one playing (queue times averaged probably 3 minutes)? Did I just get lucky and draft awesome cards (I don't think so)? Is the game SO well-balanced that skill doesn't affect outcomes as much as in other games (probably not)? What a weird positive-negative feeling. Since I basically achieved the pinnacle of CCGs for me, winning a draft mode, I decided to retire at the top of my game. I still have about half the mission packs to complete and after that there are randomized "wild" packs so you have something to do forever. There is still the campaign mode, which I dabbled in and didn't find especially interesting. And there are puzzle modes, infinite card backs and things to buy, daily quests, and etc., etc. In short, if I wanted to commit to another CCG, I would spend more time here. But as much as I enjoyed Faeria, I don't want to get sucked in. I hope the game stays afloat because it's worth attention!Wed, 04 Dec 2019 13:39:32 CST 2 (WiiU) - Sat, 30 Nov 2019 17:31:45 and...surprisingly easy. The first Bayonetta kicked my ass. I remember spending hours on the final boss. In Bayonetta 2, I can count the number of deaths during the entire game on one hand. Let's assume I've become very good at action games. The story is interesting once it picks up. The only character with enough time and space to be really great this time around is Bayonetta herself. The "little one" felt relatively flat in her presence, though not unlikable. In this game, you get to go to Inferno (hell), which looks stunning. Given that, the game is not as jaw-dropping in any way as the first one, which is disappointing. Graphically, perhaps it isn't as impressive because it's on the Wii U. Technically, it feels like the first game except easier and more button mash-y. Character designs are still awesome though, especially the Paradiso enemies, but bosses are not as giant, imposing, or multi-stage. They look cool but aren't as epic to fight. In most action games you need to consider your combos, use them situationally. In Bayonetta 2 it hardly matters. I spent most of the game going XXXXX. RT. XXXXX. RT. XXXXX. And I still got a ton of platinum and gold medals. It's fluid as hell and feels great, and the complexity exists if you want/need to delve into it. You will dodge (RT) a lot. This activates slo-mo (Witch Time) and lets you unload on enemies. Witch Time is super easy to activate. Enemy tells are obvious to read and there is enough time to get out of the way. That's really it. Solid action game. Not essential like the first though. On to the next game!Sat, 30 Nov 2019 17:31:45 CST Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC) - Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:32:00 up additional thoughts on the eve of defeating the Black Hand. My first entry was raving about the Nemesis system, so I’ll continue from there. The Nemesis system becomes even more fun (and harrowing) as you gain more control over it. It’s like a giant toybox and you’re playing with action figures. The game lets you get a feel for the system in the first chunk of hours by killing captains and seeing how challenges work and how uruks move through the ranks. Then, you’re introduced to warchiefs. You have to kill all the warchiefs to move to the game’s second area. Warchiefs require special actions to be lured out into the open, so for example, you may have to “brutalize” his favorite uruk. Warchiefs in the second area, now these bad boys have elite captains for guards. When you lure one of them out, you’re in for a battle. But, you can kill their bodyguards by hunting them down beforehand so that the warchief comes out alone, or with just regular uruks. The fun part really comes when you gain the “dominate” ability and are able to manipulate Sauron’s army. You can essentially mind control uruks and make them fight for you. They don’t just start hacking their brethren though; you have to activate them. This means you can strategize by queueing up dominated uruk around a captain, then give the signal and they all turn on him. It’s incredibly satisfying. So in that second area, your goal is not to kill all five warchiefs, but to dominate them. I suppose when you fight the Black Hand, then his bodyguards, the warchiefs, will betray him and make your fight easier. When you dominate captains, you can promote them, make them bodyguard of a warchief, or direct them to attempt to murder another captain. Long story short, if you want to, you can dominate Sauron’s entire army, orchestrate duels and things to level up your favorites, and really manipulate the Nemesis system. The potential for control is quite impressive. This is all useful because some of the captains and warchiefs (and I’m sure the Black Hand) are difficult battles. Last night, I came across a warchief that was resistant to all of my attacks. How do kill him? I tried a couple times and I could get him to flee (he’s scared of me and of betrayal, so if you have a dominated captain betray him and you show up too, he bails). But even once he was fleeing, I couldn’t do enough damage to him before he escaped. My solution was to dominate about 20 uruks where he patrolled and turn them loose. He simply became overwhelmed as we all hacked at him. It is incredibly satisfying to creatively use the tools the game gives you to overcome obstacles. All of the above is the best part of the game. Other things I enjoyed (story, characters, general mission structures, abilities, etc.). Abilities, for example, are drip-fed throughout the campaign. You’re always unlocking something new through completing story missions, and you will have enough power and currency to get most all of the abilities you want without any extra effort. Other things, though, were disappointing. Luckily the disappointing things are easy enough to ignore, though I wish I’d known out of the gate. There are two kinds of collectibles in Mordor. I expected something to happen once I collected all of one of them because each piece uncovers more of a picture, that looks like some magical run on a wall (a doorway somewhere??). Alas, nothing happens, just a cryptic poem. Do not waste your time finding collectibles unless you want an achievement. The same goes for the weapon lore quests. I assumed that completing these (10 missions for each of your 3 weapons) would lead to a new ability or a stronger weapon or something, but no, nothing! It’s just some more narrative, while interesting, is not the kind of reward I wanted. Weapon runes are also quite useless. When you kill a captain, he drops a rune you can slot into a weapon. You start the game with some really awesome ones, and I used these the entire game. The ones I found, I hardly ever used. The game hints at more epic runes of the type you start the game with, but I rarely saw one (edit: My epic starting runes were probably from a DLC pack that I didn’t know I had. Why would these be automatically applied?!). Finally, I was disappointed in the second area. It’s the same as the first but with a new coat of pain (ooh, pretty Mordor by the sea instead of industrial Mordor). There are some harder creatures roaming around and some different terrain, but nothing functionally unique. Perhaps the main point is to give Sauron two sub-armies, but that seems to serve you getting the dominate skill and putting it to use only, as you deal with the armies in exactly the same way aside from now being able to dominate uruk. And now that I’ve completed the game… The last two “boss fights” are a joke. What a letdown! They weren’t even fights! QTEs get outta my face! So much for all the army buildup and investing in my skills for a final showdown. Sigh. This could have been epic.Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:32:00 CST Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC) - Fri, 15 Nov 2019 07:05:04 famed Nemesis system. Wow. First impressions: Sauron’s army has a bunch of captains. They have varying “power” levels. If you kill one, you get that much power, a resource that unlocks new tiers on the ability tree. It wasn’t too long before a captain killed me (I got in a scrap with two at once, actually). The one that killed me increased in power and became, formally, my nemesis! The next time I fought him, he was even harder, but I was stronger too and made short work of him. The second one that survived our encounter gained a lesser amount of power. This may add a sort of risk/reward for creating nemeses that get stronger so that you can then kill them for more power. I suppose this could easily spiral out of control if they become too powerful. When you kill a captain, another uruk can take his place in the hierarchy. I think this happens over time; one spot was vacant for a couple hours then filled. You can also learn captains’ strengths and weaknesses by gathering intel, either from finding it or from interrogating captains and other uruk with special markers. Strengths are obviously good to know; I came across one captain whom I couldn’t parry. Weaknesses are even better though because, not only can you exploit them, but if you kill the captain with a specific weapon weakness (often weak to ground executions with the blade or combat executions with the sword), they’ll go down in one hit and they’ll drop a nice rune for that weapon. At this point, I’m curious how randomized the captains are. Do they have names that give them specific strengths and weaknesses (like “the coward” might give them the easily terrorized trait) or is each uruk a pre-determined character? I have similar questions about the runes, which you can slot into your weapons to receive benefits (additional critical strike chance, resistance to poison, etc.). My first impression of Shadow of Mordor is extremely positive. The Nemesis system is already blowing my mind with possibilities and gives the game a “hunting” feel. Interactions between uruks, human slaves, and local wildlife (which I have already killed, been killed by, has killed a captain for me, and has ravaged uruks and humans alike) make Mordor vibrant and deadly. The minimap is busy with icons, though most are herbs and other things that I’ve already learned to filter for the most part. There are a few collectables and quests per area, which so far have all been interesting. There’s a wonderful lore book. Gollum is here. Really excited to play more.Fri, 15 Nov 2019 07:05:04 CST