What I’m Playing, part 19

The Legend of Zelda:  Breath of the Wild

Editor’s note: previous BotW post was written about the Wii U version of the game.  Since then, I have acquired a Nintendo Switch and started BotW over from the beginning.  This review is about the Switch version of the game, which I personally feel to be the superior version of the two.

So here we are, about 100 hours later and I have finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  I’ve re-read my previous post about the game, and while some of my thoughts from then still stand, I feel that they are worth reiterating here.

Please note that I have in no way completed 100% of this game.  Doing that might take me another 100 hours or more.  These thoughts I am writing are simply from my play through and the limited amount of the game I experienced.

First, The Negatives

I still dislike the Stamina meter as I feel that it was the ultimate barrier between me and going anywhere that I wanted in the game at any time.  In an open world game such as this, that’s a definite point against the overall experience.  I play games to forget about my own real world limitations and be entertained, not be weighed down by them in virtual space.

The Hot/Cold meter I feel was also a nuisance and ultimately useless as it only really came into play when I was in an extreme environment (such as Death Mountain’s lava strewn landscape or the game’s many snow covered mountains.)  As such, I feel that it could have been left out of the game completely and the experience probably wouldn’t have suffered without it.

There is a serious lack of any sort of tutorial in this game on how to do anything.  The player is left to ultimately figure out everything himself as there is absolutely no hand holding of any kind in the game with the exception of one Shrine that teaches you advanced combat techniques.  I spent dozens of hours in the game before I finally figured out how to cook food, that I could use a sledgehammer to break open mineral deposits (instead of bombs), what all these non-food items were for and the list goes on and on.  In my younger years I wouldn’t have minded as much as I had a lot more patience back then.  As I’ve gotten older (now in my late 30’s) my impatience has only gotten worse.  Maybe I’m the asshole here or maybe the game is, either way a bit of in game help would have been nice.

Having to save your own progress.  I realize that this one isn’t really something to bitch about too much as a lot of games don’t do it for you.  In some ways it’s a good thing as you get to determine where you want your save state to be instead of some pre-determined check point.  Still, there were plenty of times in my journey that I would get carried away in what I was doing only to die and lose some progress.  Discipline is the key here, but in such a magnificent world to explore its easy to forget to save.

There were no traditional dungeons in the game!  I was equal parts surprised and disappointed that there were no traditional dungeons of any kind anywhere in the game.  I don’t feel that the Divine Beasts counted as dungeons as all 4 of them were more like giant puzzles to solve than anything else.

Korok Seeds.  Finding these things is a fun little diversion when you don’t want to chase after any of the quest waypoints in the game, but I feel like putting 900 of them in the game is a little excessive.  Finding them is crucial to your success in the game however as you need them to give to an NPC in the Korok Forest to expand your inventory.  My inner OCD gamer is determined to eventually find them all but I’m in no hurry.

Last but not least on the negatives list, the Sheika Slate.  While I do have to admit that I find the thing ingenious in its design and implementation in the game, it really does bug me that they found a way to insert modern technology into a Zelda game.  It doesn’t bother me when they do it in Final Fantasy as that’s been the norm since the beginning (for me anyway) but I’m a bit of a fantasy purist when it comes to Zelda and I don’t think such things belong in a Zelda game.  Which leads me to the next part…

The Positives

While I wasn’t a fan of it’s technological connotations, the Sheika Slate is a seriously slick piece of tech!  You have a handy and slick interface that you can keep track of your quests, view the map and check out your inventory all in one.  It even has a camera for taking pictures of anything and everything in the game that you want.  I also liked the fact that the quest log was rather unobtrusive and quest waypoints could be turned off completely.

The art style in this game is simply beautiful and breathtaking at times.  The world itself feels like it was lovingly and painstakingly hand crafted from the ground up and that everything is placed where it is on purpose and with a lot of care and thought.  I never got tired of looking at the world for 100 hours no matter where I was and there was always something more over the horizon for me to explore.

And there is A LOT to explore in this game!  I never once wanted for something to do as the world itself kept me interested in many ways.  Finding and getting to all the Sheika Towers, hunting Shrines, floating on the glider, there’s just so much to do in this game and sadly not enough time to do it all.

The play controls were, for the most part, very easy and responsive.  The only thing that I didn’t like was that motion controls for aiming the bow were set to ‘on’ by default.  Other than that I felt that everything was buttery smooth and easy to navigate.

I know that I listed it as a negative at first, but I was a little relieved that there were no traditional Zelda style dungeons in this game.  The formula, while it works, is a bit tired at this point and I liked that I had all the abilities that I needed from the start of the game without having to wait until I got to a certain point in the game to get them (like not being able to swim until you got flippers from Zora, or not having a bow and arrows, and so forth.)  The Divine Beast puzzles definitely made up for any traditional dungeon’s absence.

The Divine Beasts were innovative and, for the most part, fun to navigate and complete.  There were snags here and there (like the elephant’s trunk) that really detracted from the experience but overall I enjoyed figuring out how to complete each one of them.  The abilities that you obtain from each beast’s caretaker as a reward for completing them and killing Ganon’s minion were also a pleasant surprise and a nice incentive to keep going.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This time around, instead of blindingly running through the game thinking it was going to be a traditional Zelda hack n slash affair, I took my sweet time and armed myself with a bit of knowledge before diving in.  I knew that in order for me to succeed I was going to have to find armor and learn how to cook and find some decent weapons.  This time, instead of going where the game wanted me to, I turned all quest markers off and decided to take my own route through the game and I’m certainly glad I did.

After the initial “tutorial zone” of the Great Plateau, I decided that my first step on the road to victory was to find and activate every Sheika Tower in the game so I could see where I was going and what was ahead.  A few weeks ago, over the course of a miserably hot Sunday, I woke up and had my coffee and I got to work.  In the span of 24 hours I had activated all but TWO Sheika Towers and had completed enough Shrines to give me the bare minimum number of hearts to obtain the Master Sword.  Armed with a weapon that I knew wouldn’t break (but I could only use for so long before it needed to be recharged) I was determined to succeed.  Side note for those interested, but when you go to obtain the Master Sword, the reason you need at least 13 hearts before you can get it back out of the stone is because as you are trying to pull the sword out it is slowly killing you, taking off a quarter of each heart as you come closer and closer to finally withdrawing the blade and reclaiming it as yours.  Bonus hearts from food don’t help either (I found this out the hard way.)

I also, after several hours of suffering in game, finally figured out how to cook and found a shop that sold armor.  It was definitely a eureka! moment but also one in which I felt pretty stupid as it had been there all along, I was just not paying attention.  This game does a fantastic job of making me feel really stupid but at the same time really hits that ‘you fucking did it!’ button hard.

The day after my 24 hour marathon, I got back up and I did it again (thank you Shirley/Garbage) although not for 24 hours, more like 10 or 12.  I completed the map by reaching the last two Sheika Towers that I needed and then I set off to Zora’s domain where the first Divine Beast awaited.  I knew what to do here as this was as far as I got in the Wii U version of the game, so I blew through it all as quickly as I could.  Then came the moment of truth when I reached the first incarnation of Ganon.  I had read and re-read the guide on how to fight and defeat him here and I used that knowledge along with the Master Sword to finally complete the first beast.  A sense of smug satisfaction filled me as I knew that this time around my quest would be a success.  I realized after the fact that, given I had no armor and very few hearts, I never would have succeeded against Ganon’s minion in the first Divine Beast.

Over the next 100 or so hours (I really don’t know exactly how many as the Switch doesn’t tell you an exact time, but it currently says ‘around 95 hours’) I set out to conquer the other 3 Divine Beasts and managed to beat them in quick succession.  Finishing the bird and lizard were easy tasks (except that part in the lizard where I was in total darkness.)  Getting to the camel was a bit trickier.  I had managed early on to reach Gerudo Town in the faaaaaaaaaaaaaar south west corner of the map only to be turned away as I was a voe (the Gerudo word for male) and voe are not allowed in the city.  Using the power of Google I figured out that I had to get the clothes to dress as a vai (the Gerudo word for female) from a nearby bazaar.  Once that was done, I was on my way to the last beast and victory would soon be mine.  There was just one problem: I got hit with an unseen and very much unwanted stealth mission before I could get to the last Divine Beast.  This was (for me) the only time in the game where I really had to bother paying attention to the noise meter as I was running through the thieve’s hideout to reclaim the Gerudo ruler’s helmet that would get us to the beast.  As soon as I found out it was a stealth mission, I doubled back to Kakariko Village and purchased the set of stealth armor that I had seen many hours earlier.  I suppose it helped me from making too much noise, but ultimately simply staying out of sight of the thieves was what saved the day.  Conquering the last beast was fun and I felt that this version of Ganon was the most fun to fight out of the 4.

I suppose you kinda want to be quiet when approaching a sleeping Hinox before you attack it, but once you know how to fight and kill one (and have the lightning ability from the divine camel) it really is a useless feature of the game to me.

At this point, armed with the power of all 4 Divine Beasts, the Master Sword and a lot of pent up rage, I decided it was time to take on Ganon’s fat ass and be done with this game.  Little did I know that I was not really ready for what I was about to run into.

Early on, I had learned the hard way that the Guardians were to be avoided at all costs as their eye beams were pretty much a one shot kill.  That was until I gained some decent armor and got my hands on the Master Sword.  I found out, much to my surprise, that even though the Master Sword’s attack is rated a paltry 30 in comparison to other weapons in the game, it really fucks Guardians up.  The stationary ones could be picked off quickly before they even got a hit in as long as I got the drop on them.  The ones that still had legs and could walk proved to be more of a challenge.  I found out that you can cut their legs off, thus stunning them for a short time and giving you more of an opportunity to get more damage in.  Once I found out that cutting their legs off prevented them from running away, I gleefully hunted them down one by one first cutting off their legs then finishing them off as they sat helpless to my attacks.  Revenge is such a sweet thing, isn’t it?  I also learned that if they managed to get a shot off against you, you can use your shield from the divine lizard to reflect the beam back at them every single time (provided you have any uses of the beam left) and thus whittling them down even faster.  At the time of this writing, I’ve killed so many of them that I’m sitting on somewhere over 300 Screws in my inventory.  I really hate these things in case you can’t tell.

Picking off the Guardians and reaching the gate to Hyrule Castle, I was once again greeted with a wire frame map of the area.  I could see a huge red sphere at the top of the castle which I presumed to be my goal and decided to play it safe to a certain degree.  Playing it safe also made me a complete dope as I fell for a heinous trap, not once but twice!  Along the direct and Guardian filled route to the top of the castle are 2 gate houses.  Not thinking that anything was going to happen when I went in them, I foolishly went inside the first one and my heart sank as I was faced with a Lynel.  I had been avoiding them at all costs throughout the game as I had no idea how to fight them, let alone kill one.  But here I was in a locked room with one, the very definition of the word screwed.  Mentally and physically exhausted I went into fuck it mode and decided to give it a shot and I killed it!  Holy fuck, I just killed the hardest enemy in the game.  After that, there was no stopping me.  I picked up my rewards for kicking its ass and went on my merry way.  This time, I purposefully ran into the next gatehouse and found my next Lynel victim waiting on me, and it fell just as its predecessor did, though both of them cost me nearly every cooked meal that I was carrying with me.

I pressed onward to the Sanctum of the castle.  I decided enough was enough and used the jump glide and all my Stamina food and Elixirs to jump and glide my way up the walls and after running away from a couple stationary Guardians I had reached the end.  I walked in not knowing what I was about to face, but was treated with an incredible cut scene.  All the Divine Beasts, once completed, simply sit and wait for you to reach Calamity Ganon so the battle that was lost 100 years ago can be finished.  Once you do get there, however, all 4 of them fire a beam of (what I assume is) holy energy at the ruins of the castle thus knocking him down to half health at the start of the battle!  For once this game decides to give ME and advantage, but it wouldn’t help.  I got as far as his fiery form during this phase of the fight, but ended up getting careless and not paying attention to my hearts, so I lost.

Fuck my life.  Fuck this game.  Why do I keep doing this to myself?  Oh my god.  Whatever, I picked the controller back up and decided it was time for plan B.

Plan B consisted of finding as many Shrines as I could for more hearts and, now that I knew I could kill them, hunting Lynel and Hinox for their parts.  This went on for several more hours, and I decided to start with the first Lynel you meet in Zora’s realm when you’re looking for Lightning Arrows.  After using up the Master Sword and all my Divine Abilites and a good portion of my cooked meals, the bastard was dead.  Unlike his Hyrule Castle brethren, however, the rewards weren’t worth the effort.  I got a measly (read: less than the one I was carrying) shield, a few lightning arrows and one hoof.  Great, thanks game, I hate you too.

There were a few sidetracks to Plan B as well.  For the entirety of the game I’ve been hoarding everything I come across whether it’s gems, food, monster parts, you name it.  One thing that I never found a use for was Luminous Stones.  At this point I was just tired of trying to figure things out on my own, so it was time to turn to my old pal Google for the answers, and I found a lot more than I bargained for.  Googling led me to this article about what I could use the stones for, and what do I find in that article?  A link to another article about buying my own house in the game!  Well, shit, I wish I had known about that about 80 hours ago.  It would have saved me so much trouble (and a lot of cooked meals.)

Another side track was hunting down those blasted Korok Seeds.  At first, I decided to buy the DLC for the game just so I could get my hands on the mask that helps you locate the seeds.  At first, it was pretty cool in helping me look for them and I came to notice that the seeds were in out of the way places or sometimes they were in landmarks that were incomplete.  I came to notice just about every pattern or location in the game that might house one on the world map and I managed to find quite a few of them on my own after that, without using the mask.  Finding all 900 however is going to take patience and a map (like this one.)

I also decided to Google the locations of all the fairy fountains in the game as well.  I had only discovered the one in Kakariko Village and she could only upgrade my armor so much since she was the only one I had found.  That was when another nasty surprise waited for me: the cost to activate each fountain.  The first fountain was 100 Rupees, and I thought ‘yeah, no problem!’  The second one was 500 and I was like ‘ouch’ then the third and fourth wanted 1,000 and 10,000 respectively and I was like ‘this shit better be worth it.’  At the time of this writing, I have 3 activated and I’m still struggling to scrape together 10,000 for the last one out in Gerudo desert.

After many hours of grinding for materials for armor, hunting Hinox and Lynel, hunting Shrines for more hearts, buying a house and fully upgrading it, helping to build Tarry Town (it’s the cutest thing ever, look it up!), and hunting Korok Seeds for not enough inventory space, I decided yesterday that Ganon was going to be my bitch.

I made my way back to Hyrule Castle, murdering Guardians as I went (in my mind, this and this are playing on repeat) but this time I decided to bypass both gatehouses since I didn’t think the Lynel in them were worth my time this time around.  I made my way to the Sanctum, waited for my Divine Abilities to recharge, saved my progress and then the fight was on!

The fight with Calamity Ganon is a boss battle done right!  Everything about the fight is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp.  The only time I had any trouble was during the part where he glows red and is impenetrable to your sword attacks.  I can’t imagine trying to do this fight without doing all 4 Divine Beasts and the Master Sword, though it does seem possible since the game doesn’t stop you from running straight to Hyrule Castle after you get off the opening plateau.  After waiting a painfully long time for my reflective shield to recharge (and a Google search to make sure I was doing this correctly), I was met with Ganon’s final form:  Beast Ganon.  I felt like this part of the battle could have been left out of the game entirely not only because I suck at trying to aim and hit things while I’m moving (or the target is moving, or both) and not only because I didn’t care about riding horses in this game (that’s right, I spent almost 100 hours exploring the entirety of Hyrule on foot) but because it just felt like an excuse to shoot Ganon with arrows.  At first I didn’t get that I had to hit all 3 targets on one side of him in order for it to count, but once I got it I began to panic because I was running out of arrows.  Not once in this entire game had I had need of the Ancient Arrows, so I was pretty much just sitting on them this whole time, but once I found out that they were super effective against Beast Ganon I used them all up.  Once I ran out of those, I started grasping at straws and used all my other arrows.  Once I had finished the one side, I ran around to the other then got off the stupid horse so I could aim better.  I hit the first 2 targets no problem and when I went to hit the 3rd, guess what?  That stupid fucking horse was standing in my way, so the camera zooms in on it’s flank while I’m trying to aim at Ganon.  I nearly lost because this stupid, stupid horse was just standing there.  God forbid it should, you know, run the fuck away from this gargantuan monster that’s standing here.  Once I got a clear shot, I whistled for the horse so I could ride around to Ganon’s head but guess what?  When I needed it, it was gone.  As far as I was concerned I guess Ganon killed it so I made a run for him on foot.  I was suddenly glad I took my friend’s advice and used enough Spirit Orbs for a 2nd circle on my Stamina Meter.  Running to face the thing, I waited for his beam attack then jumped into the updraft and took aim at his last weak point on his head and BAM! I had finally defeated Ganon.  Afterwards I was treated to a cut scene of Zelda going all Super Saiyan on Ganon and using the Triforce to kill him.  Nice touch!  I was a bit disappointed though that after the credits were over, I was simply brought back to the moment before I fought Ganon as though nothing had happened.  I was hoping that it was over and I’d be able to freely explore the ruins of Hyrule Castle without Ganon or his goons parading around the place.

Since I hadn’t collected all the memories of Link and Zelda together (ain’t nobody got time for that) I’m sure I got the lesser ending but it just gives me something to strive for later on, should I feel the need to.

All in all I’d say that it was a very enjoyable, though at times very frustrating, experience.  Myself and others all wonder where and how Nintendo can take the franchise from here, but we’re definitely looking forward to our next adventure in Hyrule.

Mass Effect: A Conspectus

In the wake of the release (an in my opinion, subsequent disappointment) of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I feel like it’s time to go back, and replay the franchise in its entirety and examine exactly what this series does right and wrong.  I’ll be playing and writing about each game from the original trilogy, plus Andromeda and cataloging my thoughts along the way.  Stay tuned!

Missing Persons

Destiny, part 18

After playing the beta, I decided to compile a list of all the NPCs from Destiny that I will update as I play Destiny 2 once we are aware of their whereabouts.  Until we know, I will consider them missing or killed:

The Tower

  • Master Rahool
  • Banshee-44
  • Xander 99-40
  • Tess Everis
  • Eris Morn
  • Lord Shaxx
  • Arcite 99-40
  • Ikora Rey
  • Cayde-6
  • Commander Zavala
  • Roni 55-30
  • Arach Jalaal
  • Amanda Holliday
  • Lakshmi-2
  • Eva Levante
  • Executor Hideo
  • The Speaker

The Reef

  • Petra Venj
  • Variks, the Loyal
  • Master Ives
  • Brother Vance
  • Sentha 55-30
  • Berg 99-40
  • Mora Sov

The Iron Temple

  • Micha 99-40
  • Shiro-4
  • Gabi 55-30
  • Lord Saladin
  • Tyra Karn
  • Lady Efrideet

Destiny 2 Beta

Destiny, part 17

So today is the first day of the Destiny 2 beta for those of us that pre-ordered the game for PS4.  I've been chomping at the bit all day at work to get home and give it a go and after being lucky enough to leave 30 minutes early, I've finally had a chance to sit down and play.

After watching the opening cinematic that was shown back at the Destiny 2 reveal, it was finally revealed that our guardians weren't even at the tower when the Cabal hit us: we were out on patrol.  Playing through the opening mission – Homecoming – was both a joyous moment and one filled with sorrow as I witnessed firsthand my home of the last 3 years reduced to ruins at the hands of these bastards.  It was also very much a shock to witness the trap the Cabal set for us when they put up their shield around the Traveler thus cutting us off from his Light.  My only hope is that my Ghost isn't dead…watching it fall from Gary's ship was a definite punch in the gut.

I'm definitely loving the new user interface, it seems very slick.  I like that I can get to the sub screen much faster by simply pressing down.  Switching weapons and sub classes and class abilities works like it did before, only it feels a lot smoother.

Each class has 2 sub classes that I plan on trying out before the beta ends.  I've tried Dawnblade first, then Arcstrider and then Sentinel last.  This time around I might actually play a Hunter because they seem pretty fast and the Arcstrider super is definitely overpowered (I'm sure those assholes will nerf it once the Crucible babies start complaining about it.)  The Dawnblade super is a lot of fun and is very powerful, but it only seems to last about 3-5 seconds but it sure feels good to rain down fiery swords on the Cabal.  I felt pretty dumb trying to figure out how to use my 3rd ability (the healing circle.) When random button pressing didn't work, I finally thought to go into my sub class menu and actually read the instructions. You know, like a smart person would. I can see that the healing circle is going to get used a lot when we finally start raiding and running strikes frequently. The Sentinel I'm not sure about.  I tried to use its super a couple of times and I guess I fucked it up trying to throw the shield because all I was ever able to do was use it like a melee weapon (or the way you use the relics as a melee weapon in the Vault of Glass).  I'll give the other sub classes a try tomorrow after work.

The Inverted Spire

The only other thing (for me) to do in the beta is the new Inverted Spire strike.  Set on the Vex controlled planet of Nessus, the Cabal have been digging around for stuff when they stumbled upon a very powerful Vex that is reminiscent of Atheon from the Vault of Glass.  We like to refer to him as Atheon on crack.  I love the new environment!  It's so lush and there's so much to see and do and find.  I can't wait to start my new journey in this land.  Anyway, back to the strike.  You're basically tasked with going down a very deep cavern and fighting off a lot of Cabal and even more Vex.  We also saw some Fallen and I gotta say that everyone's updated character models are amazing!

After falling down into the caves for what seemed like forever, we finally stumbled upon the infamous drill we all saw in the preview trailers. I managed to jump glide around the perimeter of the pit, narrowly avoiding the drill…until I fell into a small alcove and was ambushed by Vex and a few of the Cabal "dogs" though I managed to fight them off. After that it was another careful jump glide to the exit and we were at the boss's chamber.

We were barely prepared for this fight.

I was not pleased to see the return of the Vex Harpies (though they do look cooler now) at the start of the fight. The fight had 3 phases. The first was fairly straightforward, just deal damage to the boss and do add control as necessary. Phase 2 was a bit scarier. This time the boss would energize the floor and if he did you either had to jump and float or stand atop pillars in the room. Phase 3 was where shit really hit the fan. In the last area, the boss moved around a central platform surrounded by Vex goo and would occasionally blind us. As he neared death, he would send in Vex Fanatics like the ones from the Vault of Glass. It was pretty terrifying seeing them rise from the liquid and approach us. In the end we were successful.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no end screen as there was in Destiny with additional loot; what we picked up from killing the boss was all we got. Maybe the finished product will be different but I'm not going to hold my breath, I'll just wait and see when the time comes.

A World Without Light

I'm pretty angry about what the Cabal have wrought. They've killed our friends, destroyed our city, and scattered the rest of us to the four winds. But we'll come back and we'll come back hard for these fuckers. We may be without our light and powers from The Traveler for now, but that's not going to stop us. I'm excited to enter this World Without Light and see what new mysteries it holds.

What I’m Playing, part 18

Guardians: Royal Journey

What does this game do right? What does it do wrong? Let’s examine…

You keep pestering me to write a review.  Well, to quote Bianca del Rio, here’s your fucking moment!

Towers and Enemies

At first glance, Guardians Royal Journey is deceptively cute with cartoony enemies and cartoony towers.

The three towers in the first row (Cannon, Trident and Shuriken) along with the big blue crystal in the middle of the second row (Electric Gem) are the only ones that can be upgraded with Vermarine.  More on that later.

None of these can be upgraded with Vermarine except the Boomerang (third tower on the second row) and the Battery (middle tower on the third row, just above the spider)

At the beginning of the game, you are slowly introduced to the different tower types and what they do and how they can be used.  You are also introduced to the enemies that you’ll be defending Mogo against.

Fuck these guys.  All the regular enemies in the game are basically miniature versions of these minus the crowns.

And fuck these bitches with something hard and sandpapery.  They sit on the track and spit out the little one eyed rocks continuously until killed.

And then there’s this asshole.  In certain levels not only do you have to defend Mogo, but you have to kill this fucker in order to complete the level because the waves of enemies just keep coming (and get progressively harder) until he is dead.

The World

The over world map is divided into 15 level segments with an overall theme for that segment. There are exceptions to this, however. The first and second world are only 9 levels, the third and fourth is 11 and worlds 5 and 6 are 13. After that every world has 15 levels.

Oddly enough, this is the only section of the world with this theme.  Perhaps because this was the tutorial zone?  Who knows.

The first 12 worlds also have a “secret” 3 level map (as depicted by the gold mushroom in the screen shot above) that you can reach once you get to the end of the world. However, even after unlocking the “secret” map, you must possess the required fruit to play the level (apples, bananas or coconuts) and to get pieces of fruit, you have to win levels.

99 fucking stems and NO seeds, because that’s fair.

After the first 12 worlds, this feature no longer appears and I don’t know why.  I’m guessing the developers realized that requiring you to earn so many stars before being able to unlock the next world was not a good idea and can be off putting for some players. This was a wall that I struggled to get around in the first few months of play but I have not encountered this problem since the last big update. I hope to not have to deal with this bullshit ever again.

Either that or the developers couldn’t come up with anymore fucking bullshit maps that are insanely hard to win let alone get 3 gold stars.  Or it could be that I suck so bad at this game that they’ve locked the “secret” maps away.  Honestly I don’t care either way, but this game seriously lacks any kind of consistency and the missing “secret” level maps are just the tip of the ice berg.

Also, after passing the first 8 worlds, the developer’s solution was to endlessly recycle the same backgrounds for the rest of the game. That world 8/9/10 stretch of looking at nothing but Sky was very tiresome.

The border between worlds 8 and 9…

…and the border between worlds 9 and 10.  Boooooriiiiiing.

Gameplay

Each level consists of a varying number of waves (anywhere from 4 to 25 is the highest I’ve encountered) and you can usually tell how hard a time you’re going to have based on how many waves are displayed in the box at the bottom of the screen.  Fewer numbers of waves usually mean that you’re going to have to build up your defenses in a hurry because the waves are going to be long.

Like this fucking horse shit for example.  I may have quite a few level 3 towers on the field but I had to build them in a damn hurry.

You start the first wave with some gold (how much depends on the level) and usually zero magic and you can either immediately pause the game to formulate your strategy or just wing it and hope for the best.  Protip: winging it is usually not a good idea.  You build up a stash of magic over time (you gain 2 points every few seconds) but gold is usually going to be what you use to build your defenses.

In early stages of the game, you are given plenty of space to build your towers where ever you’d like, but as the game progresses you must clear away obstacles in order to build where you want.

Like this crap for example.  Your only options are to build to the right of the tree stump or to the left of the boss monster.  Oh and Mogo’s little heart with the amount of health he has left?  That always takes up prime real estate next to his stupid face making trying to defend him that much harder.

Beyond this, it’s your standard tower defense affair with each successive wave having harder and harder (read: enemies with more health) enemies to deal with, after which you get an arbitrary grade based on your performance.  If you happen to lose a level – which for me is often because the difficulty spikes as I said before are all over the place – you are met with a 10 second countdown and a choice: restart the level from the beginning OR pay 9 gems to continue from the point where you fail.  If you decide to pay the gems however, that’s the only continue that you get even if you have enough gems to pay the cost a second time.  I think that’s a load of bull because this is one of the ways in which the game tries to gouge you for real world money – paying real world money for in game money.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves with mobile gaming (and gaming as a whole as of late, but that’s a rant for another post) because I know there are people out there that will simply pay to win if they are able to.

Also, every single time you lose a level you’re met with an advertisement. What the fuck? Sometimes it’s ones you can just X out of but sometimes it’s bandwidth eating videos that are unskippable. At first I just let it go but lately I’ve just closed the app and restarted it to get around such bullshit.  I don’t know what kind of advertising deal these bastards have going on, but if you’re going to force me to watch an ad in your poorly designed game then I think you should help pay my damn phone bill.

As the game has progressed (at the time of this writing I’m up to level 386) I’ve noticed that the developers have begun to reuse maps that I’ve previously played on before.  I guess they’re so desperate to keep the game going that they’ve done nothing but rehash several previous levels and change which towers you can build, and most of the time it’s towers that you can’t upgrade through the enhance menu.

It also seems the developers fell into the trap of making a “theme” out of each 15 level segment. For example, there was a 15 level segment that had indestructible obstacles on every single map.  That’s not good game design and it’s not fun.  It really makes me want to just delete the app and never be bothered with it again.

This is a level type that I’m pretty neutral about.  You are given a small amount of currency at the beginning to uncover “cards” on the map that may or may not have a tower underneath for you to use, or more currency or in most cases nothing at all.  I managed to get through all the waves without Mogo losing a single hit point…

Only to be given 3 silver stars.  What the fuck?  (I also got 1 piece to make another fruit.  One.  How generous.)

Back to this level that I posted before.  As you can see, I have several towers all over the map – ranging from level 1 to level 3 which is the highest level you can go – and Mogo didn’t lose a single hit point again.  This was my result:

I don’t get the grading scale in this game at all.  I use as few towers as possible and I get silver.  I use enough towers to nearly fill the map and I get gold.  It doesn’t make any sense.  This game has no consistency what so ever.

The Social Network

One of the biggest issues I have with this game is it’s social aspect. If you want to have stronger towers, you have to upgrade them with a resource known as Vermarine. Vermarine can only be gained either by completing tasks from your daily task list or by requesting it from people on your friends list. The weird thing is, giving it to people doesn’t deplete the amount you have AND you can only get so much of it from people in a 24 hour period. What I don’t understand is, why the limit? I have issues with getting Vermarine from other players because it seems the majority of my friends list has abandoned the game. As of late, only the same 6 people are responding to my requests. I don’t really blame the others for quitting because the difficulty spikes in this game are all over the place.

My other issue with the social aspect is being pestered every 24 hours to share my invitation code (QR code) on all my social media accounts. The options listed are Facebook and Twitter and 2 others that are only applicable in Asian countries: WeChat and QQ, so there again your ability to get resources is halved if you don’t live in those areas. In an effort to not have have a Facebook feed filled with this irritation, after getting my daily resources from sharing the code, I immediately delete the post thereby circumventing their bullshit.

That’ll teach you to give me a code that spells “to be late” bitches

Achievement Unlocked

At the time of this writing, I’ve finished all the in game achievements except 1.  There haven’t been any new achievements added in several updates.  At this point it feels like they’ve run out of fucks to give about their own game, which is sad.  Achievements are how you are able to get the majority of the pieces that make up your fruit along with how you get pieces that make up the modifiers that you can enable before beginning a level.  So without these achievements, getting these pieces takes a ridiculously long time because you’re totally at the mercy of RNGeezus when you finish a level.  Oh, and forget replaying a level you’ve already completed in an effort to try to get these items, the only thing you’ll get is energy to play another level, if that.

Final Verdict

It started out as a fun game but at this point I’m not playing it for enjoyment on any conceivable level, I’m coming back every day out of stubbornness to try to reach the end so I can call it quits and move on to the next thing.  What started out as a fun, quirky and seemingly different type of tower defense game quickly gives way to endless frustration, nagging, unfair punishment and very little in the way of a sense of accomplishment.

 

What I’m Playing, part 17

GAMES!

Since I’ve played quite a bit this weekend, I decided to cram all the things I’ve played into one post, so let’s get started:

Little Nightmares

This game is, so far, pretty eerie.  It’s like what would happen if Tim Burton decided to make a side scrolling video game.  So far I’m a huge fan of the art style (it looks like Nightmare Before Christmas) and how well the game plays, but I’m not a fan of how the game doesn’t tell you how to control the character.  I personally hate it when any game does that to be honest.  Don’t want me to play your game?  Don’t tell me the controls and that will be that.

RiME

Think The Witness meets Journey meets ICO in this graphically beautiful, yet somewhat frustrating, puzzler.  The number one rule about this game is that your perception of things is not what it appears at first.  The game is highly dependent on it’s visual and audio cues, making for a memorable experience if not a bit frustrating (in terms of not being able to jump high enough)

Blade & Bones

Imagine what it would be like if the Souls games and Rouge likes had a kid.  At least that’s the vibe I’m getting so far from Blade & Bones.  This is yet another game that does not explain controls to you in a good way, it took me several minutes and random button presses to figure out how to get in my inventory to change weapons (pro tip: it’s not even a button press, you have to click in the left thumb stick and go from there.  So annoying.)  The story is a bit cheesy, but lays out your objective in order to beat the game – find the 7 swords.  There’s a day/night cycle that you can manipulate which is cool.  Here’s where the Rogue like aspect comes into play: you start the game with 7 Purity and when you die you lose one.  After you re-spawn, you get a pop up that tells you that if you lose all your Purity, you lose your save file.  I can tell this is going to be a very frustrating game for me to try to complete.

Friday the 13th: The Game

Friday-The-13th-The-Game-Logo

Definitely a game better suited to playing with friends instead of a pick up group.  It’s both fun and a little scary at the same time since it’s so campy but it’s hugely entertaining and has a decent replay value, but those trophies…ugh.

 Killing Floor 2

Another game that’s a lot of fun and best with friends (and a full compliment of 6) I’m definitely looking forward to more nights of making fun of the French weapon vendor and being the only German guy in the Motorhead reunion tour.

Polarity:  Ultimate Edition

Managed to finish this one in one sitting!  It’s a satisfyingly short first person puzzle game that does collectibles the way I like:  there’s only 3 in each level and you can see them all in plain sight, you just have to figure out how to get to them.  The bare bones story here is that you’re a hacker working for a mysterious benefactor and the levels represent the computers that you’re hacking (similar to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s intense Breach mode, only without any stealth elements).  The only thing left for me to do in this game is get the co-op trophies and I’m finished!

Destiny 2

Destiny, part 16

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since the gameplay reveal of Destiny 2, and I figured it was time to put in my 2 cents on what we’ve seen so far.

I am freaking excited to play this game!

It was a little soul crushing to see the Tower in ruins, my home for the last 3 years, gone.  It was exciting to see the Vanguard in action;  Ikora blasting the Cabal ship with her Nova Bomb, Cayde firing the Golden Gun and Zavala using his Ward of Dawn to try to save everyone in the Vanguard room when the Cabal attack.

I’m excited to see what is (or was) in the north part of the Tower when I get my hands on the game and to explore what’s left of the Tower before we leave it behind.

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Definitely going to main one of these guys first!

I’m also excited to play the new classes and learn how their abilities work and interact with each other.  I’m a little bummed that Warlocks can’t self resurrect anymore, but I’ll trade it for being able to rain swords of fire from the air.  It’s definitely going to make things interesting trying to raid without the usual linchpins of self rezzing Warlocks, bubble Titans and tether Hunters.

I also can’t wait to explore the new planets and zones.  I’m happy that public events will have on screen timers now instead of having to rely on 3rd party apps that may or may not be accurate.  I’m looking forward to exploring the places and seeing what I can find.

Like this lovely place for example.

I’m happy that the director got a face lift and looks pretty snazzy now.

Slick!

And I’m so happy that we don’t have to go to orbit anymore to go to a new location.  We can just pick a new place and BAM! off we go.

A new raid, new strikes, new locations, new classes.  I can’t wait for September to get here.

In spite of all the negativity floating around the internet about the game, I can’t wait.  All the haters and trolls can suck it.  If they don’t like what they see then they can play something else (like the next Call of Dudebro)

IMG_2373

I can’t wait to play one of these guys either!