What I’ve Been Playing This Week

Dark Souls III: I may be enjoying the world of Lothric more than Yharnam. There’s more colour, and more variety to the environments. Going from castles to forests to dungeons with lakes and massive gothic cathedrals is pretty great. What I didn’t expect was how beautiful the game can be. The view of Ithyll after exiting the catacombs is just gorgeous. And arriving at Arch Dragon Peak is one of those unforgettable experiences in gaming.

The sense of the scale is something special as well. Just looking down on the valley after defeating Vordt, and the view from the top of Farron Keep when you finally link the bridge is amazing. It’s one of those “I’ve come that far” moments. That’s pretty great.

One of my favourite things about the world in Dark Souls is how it isn’t there to be saved. It’s already dead and I’m just a wanderer trying to understand what happened here. It’s such a great story telling device, and guards against the usual conflict of a villain trying to end the world who also waits around for you to come around to them. I have missed plenty of side quests and lore, so there will be second play through.

Tying into this somewhat, it’s cool with From Software how if you want to dig into the story there’s so much there to go through. Yet if all you want is some hack and slash fun, then you’re free to do that as well. But please don’t play this as an actual hack and slash game. The stamina bar will put paid to all of that very quickly.

In regards to a second play through, whilst I am going to do it there is some sense of trepidation. Compared to Bloodborne there’s far more to stats to keep track of. If I wanted to do say, a skill build in Bloodborne it was easy (skill goes to 50, vitality goes to 50 and somewhere in the region 15 – 25 for stamina). With Dark Souls I have to level carry weight as well and some weapons need magic as well. I like it enough to do it, but I wonder if it may get a little bit tedious as compared to Bloodborne.

The boss fights have been pretty good so far. They haven’t quite managed to scale the heights of Bloodborne though. There’s still time for that to change with the DLC and regular game bosses still waiting for me. I would like to see someone akin to Ludwig at some point (my number one boss fight of all time). Pontiff was pretty awesome though, that fight had some great catharsis at the end of it. And it was great figuring out how to kill Yhorm the Giant.

Yet after killing Yhorm and reading the item descriptions, well, I’m a horrible person. Just a real piece of crap. Yhorm never asked for any of this. Yhorm didn’t deserve his fate. I’m just the worst. I’m just really sorry. Pontiff and Aldrich on the other hand, screw those guys. Pair of assholes.

And I have to mention the dancer. It only took 5 goes or so but damn. The way it moves, the music, its appearance. That’s the good stuff.

All that said I’ve just killed Prince Lothric and well, it all felt more like a gimmick boss than anything else. Honestly it might be the least amount of fun I’ve had with a Souls/Borne boss. The teleporting was annoying, particularly when he teleported mid hit and when going through the fog gate having him teleport right to you was pretty cheap. Still he’s dead and only in a Souls game could killing a child feel good.

My ability to back stab has improved out of sight. So much so I go looking for them now. And I’m really liking the combat in general. I really like shield turtling. There’s a great sense of patience about the whole thing, and the feeling of anxiety as a guard break becomes a possibility is a genuine rush, particularly when it’s averted at the last possible second.

Something I need to do here is profusely declare my love for the Grand Archives. Firstly the Boss fight before the Archives with the Dragon Slayer Amour was pretty great with the fire raining down and the armours imposing presence. One shotting it was just a bonus. And when entering the Archives there is a Crystal Mage who fires on sight. It leads to a chase sequence through book shelves and multiple floors all the while guarding against ambushes and arcane spells. Honestly it’s a strong contender for my favourite gaming moment this year.

Dark Souls III also marks my first proper PVP experience in a From Software game. Right after fighting Pontiff I was invaded twice. One duel was won and the other came out as a draw. Whilst playing Bloodborne I often avoided PVP by simply slipping into offline mode when wandering through the Nightmare Realm and Mensis. I’m a pretty shy guy and it was my single player journey so stop bothering me.

But you know what I had a lot of fun with those two fights. They were both tense and exhilarating, particularly the second one. If someone called qwerty happens upon this I was the dude with a great shield and an axe. Thanks for the great time!

There’s two AI controlled human enemies who come right after the PVP. There difference in intensity was clear. I should PVP more.

I am aware with these From Software write ups they are a bit rambling but I just love the games so much I end up getting a little to stream of consciousness with them. I’ll try and make them more cohesive at some point.

Also at this point since I have killed Prince Lothric I’m open to main game spoilers. How do I get to the top of the Church of Yorshka? I really can’t figure that out. I tried dodge rolling off the rotating platform at Anor Londo. That didn’t go well. Also, just after the first Bonfire in Boreal there’s a locked gate with an Evangelist behind it. No idea how to open that either. There’s also the Dragon in Lothic Castle. No idea how to kill that.

Just Cause 3: Some facts I’ve learned from playing Just Cause 3 –

The average human being is capable of surviving 17 bullets to the head.

You could follow the roads to your next destination. But it’s much easier to simply drive the car off a cliff. At this point you can jump out and wing suit the rest of the way or simply stay in the car because cars are more than capable of surviving rocketing down a cliff side while smashing into trees.

Enemy helicopters are of little concern. Simply wait around for a little while and the pilot will plow head long into a wall or the ground in due course. If not simply hijack the helicopter for a quick get a way. Then use said helicopter to blow up enemy bases as you find them. Two birds with one stone.

Just Cause 3 is still a fun game. But I’m somewhat concerned how long that fun is going to last. I really think the open world is far too big for its own good. I think it’s going to lead to the fun game play loop just burning out. What doesn’t help is the open world looking similar no matter where I am on the map. Horizon Zero Dawn had deserts, forests, snowy mountains, abandoned towns and a great many other things. Just Cause has forests, lots of similar looking villages and cities…and not much else. And the NPC characters don’t really know how to act. It’s either blatant panic or just enjoying the sun as if their homes aren’t exploding around them. There’s one other thing that really bothers me. Certain villages have police stations that need to be taken. This is done by filling a havoc meter by causing havoc. For one of these, apparently hijacking a tank and spending ten minutes shooting everything in sight didn’t count as enough havoc. That was ever so slightly annoying.

In an attempt to break up the regular game play, there are challenges to complete that unlock various perks. I honestly forget they are there half the time. They range from how much stuff can you blow up in so many seconds to how quickly can you complete this course (with cars, planes, wing suits and the like) to gun ranges. They can get pretty samey. I honestly think the game would benefit far more by cutting the map by a third and just having more variety in the environments.

There are collectables to find, but they are pretty meh. Thoroughly okay at best. It’s not the sort of world where I’m going to find out everything. Nothing in the way of great reveals. Going back to Dark Souls III and Yhorm (I’m so sorry) finding out that back story was great. There’s nothing like that in Just Cause. Well nothing that good.

There is a story here, done through missions. I ignored the second one for the longest time and liberated the entire island it was on. And still upon doing the story mission enemy tanks rolled in to level a village. An island completely liberated of the enemy. There’s a bit of ludo-narrative dissonance here. Just a little.

It’s also has something of a glitch problem. Nothing major, but things that seem to suggest the PS4 (Pro) can’t handle this game fully.

Nice camera there.

They are playing musical instruments. No really, they are.

She’s picking or farming something. Just what I’m not quite sure.

That’s one way to wash a car.

Still, the candle that burns twice as long burns twice as bright. In the middle of planting C4 charges before grappling hooking out and watching the carnage from 3 exploding fuel tanks. Or the joy that is hacking all the SAM missiles on a big base and seeing all the air support get greeted with a wall of missiles. Or the sheer thrill of grabbing a tank and just bombing through a base at full speed shooting at anything and anyone who moves or looks explosive.

I have however been trying to play Just Cause 3 in a different way lately, just to try and get some variety into the game. Sneakily grappling hooking through a village (sneakily in a Just Cause sense may be different to real world sneaking) and planting explosive charges without being seen and detonating them from a distance away is pretty cool.

What is a benefit to the game are random happenings around the map. There are rebels that need rescuing; the public need help with various matters (cars dragged to gas stations, boats put back in the ocean). It helps to break up the pace. My favourite ones are “Make it look like an accident” where you have to hijack a limo and pick up a government informant. After that, kill them in a way that, well, looks like an accident. It’s pretty great purposefully hurtling a car of a cliff side as Rico parachutes to safety. I’m also rather fond of Rico now. He’s funny in that 80’s action hero way. He is a living breathing Commando, or Tango and Cash.

You know, perhaps I’m overthinking all of this. Perhaps I’m getting away from what Just Cause is. Just Cause 3 is an absurd amount of fun. Guess I’ll just enjoy the ride while it lasts. And when it stops being fun, I’ll get off the ride.

Wheels of Aurelia: This, this is an odd one. Not stylistically, just in other ways which I will try to explain here. It takes place in Italy during 1978 and is part visual novel, part driving game. The game has 16 endings. The twist (if you can call it that) is that each play through is only 15 minutes long.

Now that is cool for re-plays, but it has the unintended effect of the plot just rocketing along. A spoiler warning is in effect starting now. In my first play through (it turns out this plot point remains consistent) I found out one of the main characters (Olga) is pregnant. There’s not much warning that’s coming. That’s right near the beginning of the game by the by. And she wants an abortion so we are heading off to France. The main character (also female, called Lella) is going to France to meet a former kidnapper. I learned this half way through the first play through. And then I was challenged to a street race. I bailed on that, and then lost my car (street race man took my car as a trophy or something) only for a hippy lady to offer me her van. We (Lella and Olga) then settled down in a small Italian town and raised the child together. That abortion in France was soon forgotten.

In 15 minutes of gameplay. There are intermissions in the game (like staying overnight in a town) that mark passing of time but still, in 15 minutes that’s a lot of plot. It’s different, I’ll give it that. But I have some quibbles. The dialogue is a bit on the nose and lacking in subtly but given the setting it may be accurate and the main character (Lella) is a rather direct person so it works. Also, there’s a timer on the dialogue but when you’ve selected what you want to say that timer can’t be cancelled. After Oxenfree that’s annoying. With Oxenfree you can say things on the spot and interrupt other characters leading to dialogue that feels real. Not dialogue with 30 second pauses between every sentence. You can leave the car to drive on rails, or try and drive and talk at the same time. There is a reason I don’t drive in real life. The characters have ranged from pretty good to okay. I think this is a product of the game going by so quick. There isn’t much investment time.

Still, it has its charms. The visuals are pretty good, the soundtrack (you get the soundtrack with the game which is nice) is by turns full of energy and lulls and there are various hitchhikers to be picked up and they bring unique elements to the story. It’s an enjoyable experience set in a unique time period but I’m happy I got it on sale for (I think) £2.49. For £7.99 I would have been a little put out. Truthfully it’s unfortunate for Wheels of Aurelia that it came after Oxenfree. Everything it attempts (driving aside) Oxenfree just does better.

What I’m Looking to Play

Hellblade, Senua’s Sacrifice: I want to give this a go, but with Dark Souls III ongoing it isn’t going to get a fair shake. But the subject matter intrigues me and it looks really good so at some point it’s going to get a play.

Undertale: Again, I’m waiting until Dark Souls III has at least one completion. But this one’s been on the list for a while and now it’s arrived on PS4 I can give it go. I’m looking forward to it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s