Whatcha Been Playing?

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by KSubzero1000 » April 12th, 2018, 7:31 pm

Whooops, my reading comprehension leaves a lot to be desired, apparently. :P

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Scrustle
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Scrustle » April 13th, 2018, 12:38 pm

Lately I've been playing Ni No Kuni 2. I've been enjoying it quite a lot, but I'm not exactly crazy about it either, I have to admit. I love the idea of a Ghibli RPG, but didn't get on with the demo of the first game This one though has got me hooked. The combat in that demo felt really clunky and unresponsive to me, so I was happy to see this one fixes that problem very well. Combat is still pretty basic, but it's fun enough. That's kind of my feelings of the whole game in general. Fun enough. I don't find the kingdom management or basic RTS-style skirmish mode to be that engaging, but they're fine. I definitely enjoy the normal combat over those though.

Story wise, it's kind of a mixed bag so far. None of it is bad per se, but a lot of it feels kind of like filler. The beginning is pretty odd though. Without spending forever getting bogged down in minutiae, a lot of very outrageous things happen right at the start, but then the story seems to just immediately forget about them. Then you are given your overall goal for your quest; to take over the world! It's a game about a megalomaniacal catboy. They try to play off the story like it's a charming fairy tale, in the Ghlibli style, but it brings up a few awkward questions that I don't think it was intending to. I find that more amusing than anything else though, and I can see some of it being addressed later, hopefully. But aside from that, there are also some fun little moments. After that initial opening moments the story felt like it was dragging a bit for a while, but it recently seems to have picked up pace and is having a bit more fun with the characters. There was recently a scene where they stage a mock marriage proposal between the catboy prince protagonist and one of the other young party members. It was pretty amusing stuff.

Overall though this game is feeling like it's sort of humming along at a low level of enjoyment. I'm liking it, and I want to play more, but I can't say it's a masterpiece or anything. Nothing about it is bad though, although I have to admit I'm not sure I would be as invested as I am if it wasn't for the Ghibli connection. But it is very pretty, and the soundtrack is nice. I also hear they take the story in some really interesting directions later down the line, so I'm looking forward to seeing what that turns out to be.

Also been playing an indie game called Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth. It's a game that is very obviously inspired by the 3D Zelda games, Wind Waker in particular in terms of art style. I've always thought indie games have been really dropping the ball when it comes to exploring that formula, especially given how common the 2D Zelda formula is in that realm. And with Zelda itself going in a different direction now, that leaves things open for indie games to fill that gap too. It seems to be very rare that they try it though, so this being one of the few that did, I thought I should try it out.

I think I'm about 2/3 of the way through already, and I am enjoying it. The game is incredibly rough around the edges though. It looks attractive enough, but there's an obvious simplicity to the visuals, especially when it comes to textures. A lot of weird things happen with collisions too. It's very common to walk towards an enemy in combat that is twice as tall as you, and end up just walking right over them. Combat itself is kind of sluggish too. It copies the old Z-targeting method with simple mechanics of attacking, blocking, and dodging. Funnily enough though, this game has you picking up and using your enemies' weapons that break after a certain length of time, like in BotW, despite coming out first. Clearly, Nintendo copied this game.

The world design is kind of impressive, and a lot more complex than I was initially expecting, given the general low polish to the game. After a short linear introduction sequence at the beginning, the game opens up to this semi-open world structure, where you have a central hub town that has branches leading out in different directions to locations that each have a dungeon at the end of them. There also seems to be connections between adjacent areas out on the ends of branches too. The dungeons themselves are pretty long and complex. You go through them in a somewhat linear way, making your way through rooms with combat or simple puzzles. These paths tend to loop back around to previous rooms, opening up shortcuts as you go. Almost like that game that everyone compares to everything else which you're not supposed to mention. The puzzles don't have a huge amount of variety, but each dungeon does give you a new ability that is used for puzzles in that area, and can be used back in the overworld to explore it more thoroughly.

So right now I'm kind of impressed by it. It's still clearly far from a technical or game design masterpiece, but it somewhat scratches that 3D Zelda itch. Even though I like this game for what it is, indie games in general could do a lot better at doing that particular thing though.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Alex79uk » April 14th, 2018, 12:18 am

I was playing Fallout 4 tonight and thought I'd have a quick try of Mad Max before bed. Looks nice, but what's up with the controls!? L2 for jump, circle to shoot? What's that all about!

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by ThirdMan » April 14th, 2018, 2:18 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 7:31 pm
Whooops, my reading comprehension leaves a lot to be desired, apparently. :P
:lol:

What's this mysterious podcast you've been listening to? I'm always on the look out for new shows!

I've been listening to a lot of Gamers with Jobs recently. If you're not already familiar with it, GWJ is the tried and tested 'whatcha been playing' style podcast. It's very casual, often a bit scattershot, but good quality. When they put their serious hats on they're very interesting. They've been going since 2006 and just celebrated their 600th episode, so they're all good friends and that really shines through.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by ThirdMan » April 14th, 2018, 2:26 pm

Flabyo wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 5:45 pm
ThirdMan wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 2:39 pm
What did everyone else do?
I didn’t bother much with the korok seeds. I grabbed those that I passed by, but I had no interest in trying to find them all. The upgrades you get for them are worth it a little, but there’s defintely diminshing returns on those.

After beating the divine beasts I completed the ‘where were these photos taken’ quest to unlock all the memory cutscenes, did some of the larger shrines in interesting parts of the map (the labyrinths, for example).

Then I took down Ganon.

Yeah I'm now pretty much ignoring the Korok seeds unless I directly stumble upon one. I'm gonna finish off as many of the shrine quests as I can because they've all been worthwhile so far. I'll also explore some of the more interesting looking things on the map, but then it's onto Ganon and then I'm done, at least with the vanilla game. The side-quests have mostly been disappointing fetch-quests so I've no urge to track all of those down. I've had a fantastic time so far but I think it's important to know when to call it a day. If I spend twenty hours running around box-ticking it will leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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Chopper
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Chopper » April 15th, 2018, 8:20 am

I’ve started Darkest Dungeon now seven or eight times. It’s a wonderful game, but I seem to get stuck in a rut of trying to level everything up as much as possible before facing bosses. When you have 20 heroes this turns everything into a bit of a slog.

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Michiel K
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Michiel K » April 15th, 2018, 11:53 am

ThirdMan wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 2:18 pm
What's this mysterious podcast you've been listening to? I'm always on the look out for new shows!
Seconded.

I played a few matches of Smash 4 against one of our current AirBnB guests last night. 22 year old student from New Jersey. He destroyed me 7-1. I only got him good with my Ryu versus his Toon Link and we ran a couple of matches very close. Lots of fun in any case.

Also, I guess he never really got acquainted with the DLC characters and he had NO idea who Bayonetta was!

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by KSubzero1000 » April 15th, 2018, 8:37 pm

Michiel K wrote:
April 15th, 2018, 11:53 am
ThirdMan wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 2:18 pm
What's this mysterious podcast you've been listening to? I'm always on the look out for new shows!
Seconded.
Ah well, I'm not sure it's gonna be of much interest to anyone around here considering it's not a gaming podcast, but anyway: http://www.talkinbirds.com/. Exactly what it sounds like! :lol:
Michiel K wrote:
April 15th, 2018, 11:53 am
22 year old student [...] had NO idea who Bayonetta was!
Kids these days!

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Michiel K » April 16th, 2018, 9:19 am

KSubzero1000 wrote:
April 15th, 2018, 8:37 pm
Kids these days!
I told him she's from the game Bayonetta. That didn't ring a bell either. ;)

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by kintaris » April 17th, 2018, 7:22 am

My struggles with modern day Naughty Dog continue. Sadly I think I am going to have to add The Last of Us to the sad pile of Uncharteds that I don't have the enthusiasm to finish.

I've been trying to pin down exactly what's wrong. It's tempting to say that I have a problem with third person, cover-based shooters, and while that's probably true as a general rule it doesn't quite fit. Maybe it's the fact that gameplay-wise there's really not a whole lot else going on in these games except to trudge between suspicious looking arenas filled with chest-high walls. But I also think I have an issue with the execution too. I never felt comfortable with the controls or the positioning of the enemies in each encounter.

It's a shame. I get irrationally annoyed when I dislike a supposed "classic" this much because I suspect that there's a problem with my wiring more than anything. But in parallel to my goal of playing more game-of-all-time titles runs the balancing goal of not forcing myself to see something through just because I feel like I should.

So TLOU will be off to the second-hand shop shortly. I probably won't get my teeth into anything else until God of War now, but I did boot up Resogun briefly last night and very much enjoyed the opening level.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by ratsoalbion » April 17th, 2018, 8:34 am

Our James doesn’t get on with Naughty Dog games at all either, so you’re not alone.

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by KSubzero1000 » April 17th, 2018, 9:00 am

kintaris wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 7:22 am
I've been trying to pin down exactly what's wrong. It's tempting to say that I have a problem with third person, cover-based shooters, and while that's probably true as a general rule it doesn't quite fit. Maybe it's the fact that gameplay-wise there's really not a whole lot else going on in these games except to trudge between suspicious looking arenas filled with chest-high walls. But I also think I have an issue with the execution too. I never felt comfortable with the controls or the positioning of the enemies in each encounter.
This is not an uncommon response. Uncharted and TLoU have a very singular approach to gameplay design which is to provide tense and spectacular experiences at the cost of depth and tangibility. They look incredible, but hardly have any substantial mechanical trade-offs and utilize a lot of smoke-and-mirrors tactics to emulate tension and spectacle. Aiming in the early Uncharted games amounts to little more than just moving a dot across the screen. That's why the combat-heavy sections often feel like chores instead of fun and exciting gauntlets. You're just sitting through them instead of actively focusing your efforts towards an ideal outcome. There is almost nothing to actually think about.

Their main draw is the stuff you look at, not the stuff you actually do.

People often give these games a free pass on account of their impeccable storytelling, presentation and technological strengths, but these issues have been there from day one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your wiring!

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by kintaris » April 17th, 2018, 9:24 am

KSubzero1000 wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 9:00 am
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your wiring!
Good to know! [laugh]

Thanks for that. I think I'm more of a stickler for robust gameplay than I thought, or at least it matters more to me as I get older.

Growing up on point-and-clicks always made me think of myself as a story-first sort of guy. But I suppose even there I only played the ones that actually handled well, within the conventions of their genre.

The problem with a lot of these technically pretty games is that the point becomes moot by the time I get to them! Especially if the beauty really is about technical detail and prowess rather than an innovative art style.

I recently had this issue when I played Ryse: Son of Rome for a podcast. A lot of the community feedback we received championed the game for its beauty, which I simply couldn't see. Sure, I can see sweaty stubble on this grunting soldier's face, but is that pretty or just finely detailed? What is it doing artistically that we haven't seen before, or is everything just more sharply defined? The latter has never been enough to win me over.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by KSubzero1000 » April 17th, 2018, 10:24 am

kintaris wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 9:24 am
Growing up on point-and-clicks always made me think of myself as a story-first sort of guy. But I suppose even there I only played the ones that actually handled well, within the conventions of their genre.
I would argue it's less about the controls and more about the mental aspect. Adventure games usually expect you to find the (often obscure) puzzle solutions through deduction and observation. Activating the problem-solving part of the player's brain is almost always a good thing, and that holds true for shooters and other action games as well.

kintaris wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 9:24 am
I think I'm more of a stickler for robust gameplay than I thought, or at least it matters more to me as I get older.
Well, have you played the newer Tomb Raider games? They have their faults as well, but are widely considered to be the counterpart of the Uncharted games within the same genre, i.e. more mechanical substance but less reliance on spectacular setpieces. The combat alone certainly feels more robust and rewarding. The first one is regularly sold for peanuts nowadays, just in case you want to try another type of AAA third-person shooter at some point.

kintaris wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 9:24 am
What is it doing artistically that we haven't seen before, or is everything just more sharply defined? The latter has never been enough to win me over.
Yes, art style will always trump raw graphical prowess for me as well. I find Õkami more pleasing to the eyes than Ryse or Uncharted 4, despite the massive age and technological difference.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Chopper » April 17th, 2018, 11:37 am

I wouldn't worry about not getting TLOU. A lot of people I know (including myself) disliked it.

It improves marginally when you get the shotgun but that doesn't say much. What are the best things in gaming?

1. Getting the shotgun
2. Adding fire to your sword/ammunition
3. ....?

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Flabyo » April 17th, 2018, 12:55 pm

I like the things The Last of Us does with plot, character and environmental story telling. (as derivative as some of it is), but actually playing it? It’s pretty middle of the road for a third person action title. It’s way clunkier than, say Horizon or Gears of War.

(It also has some really dodgy AI workarounds, but that’s the kind of thing that only sticks out to me cause I’ve written game AI, it’s not actually bad just not how I’d do it. For example, rather than write systems to have your companions act stealthy when you are, they’re basically just invisible to the enemies).

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by ratsoalbion » April 17th, 2018, 1:23 pm

I would say that would be pretty obvious to anyone who’s played it. You really don’t need to be an AI coder to spot that!

I always have a cracking good time with the combat in ND’s games, their drama and the speed and dynamism of movement.

The sound in particular tends to be tremendous, even if the feel of actually hitting things can be a little ‘off’ - although the more recent titles have got better with this for my money.

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Alex79uk » April 17th, 2018, 3:48 pm

Shadow Of The Collossus - third Collossus, you have to jump in the water and navigate your way up a ramp that's broken and you need to jump to the next platform to reach the monster. I failed that jump five times before rage quitting last night!!

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » April 18th, 2018, 1:23 am

kintaris wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 7:22 am
It's a shame. I get irrationally annoyed when I dislike a supposed "classic" this much because I suspect that there's a problem with my wiring more than anything. But in parallel to my goal of playing more game-of-all-time titles runs the balancing goal of not forcing myself to see something through just because I feel like I should.
This is a pretty common feeling for myself too. I'm seeing all the hyperbole recently regarding the new God of War, and my initial response was not "I really neeeeeeeeeed to play this game!!! NOW!", but "hmm... what if I play it and merely find it... alright?". There's a lot of weird, inherent pressure to agree with the hype, lest there be something wrong with you!

But then that's been the draw of the podcast and the community: digging deeper, beneath the hype and marketing, and actually experiencing the games for what they are, and having genuine reactions and conversations spring out of that. :)

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Re: Whatcha Been Playing?

Post by ratsoalbion » April 18th, 2018, 9:31 am

Exactly, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with anyone’s wiring when it comes to the subjective matter of taste and enjoyment.

As we are striving to emphasise with the podcast, one’s own experience will be different to everyone else’s based on an infinite number of factors.

We don’t expect to like every single music album based on its reviews do we? What if you hate thrash metal or jazz? No matter how ‘great’ an example of it might be, it’s possible one particular example might change your mind to a genre but it’s far from guaranteed.

Other people’s experiences are interesting though, even if we had different ones - perhaps even more so.

The difference round here, compared to too many other places on the internet, is that you don’t get criticised for having a different experience.

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