The Relationship Development Issue in Gaming

You know what I hate – when a series of games allows me to develop relationships, yet it feels like they aren’t complete by the end.  Or there is something flawed in them.  I’m going to be talking about two examples here, but there are more.  Lots more.  See, for whatever reason, game developers have a gift at making games where the relationship is developing really nicely, but then totally botch it later on because you don’t see real development.  For my two examples, I think there are different reasons, but I think it is something worth addressing.  Let me get into my examples.  That will help illuminate what I mean.

Mass Effect

In my initial run of this series, I had Shepherd going after Liara.  They were a totally cute couple.  Femshep was my character of choice, namely because Jennifer Hale had 1000X more personality than the guy who did male Shepard’s voice.  I don’t know why they picked so bland a guy, but he was dull as dirt.  Femshep was an interesting character.  And the romance between these two was cute.  I genuinely like both characters, so I wanted to see them together.  For the first game, the development of their relationship really felt genuine.  Liara doesn’t understand humans, so her bond with Shepard feels very exploratory for both of them.  Her being an alien is addressed as well.  It’s neat stuff.  We get to learn about her species and her character at the same time.

The second game rolls around, and this felt really good.  When you see Liara again, she’s become someone else.  The time apart has had a real effect on your relationship.  There is real distance that you are unable to address.  I like that when you see her again, she wordlessly says something to you and there is intimacy before she has to shut it down.  Then you get the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, and the distance between them is beautifully addressed.  I genuinely loved that.  The way the tension builds and builds until it all blows up and she acknowledges the feelings that were always there is just fantastic.  But they also address the reality that what Shepard is involved in is violent.  He/she could be killed at any moment.  That’s hard when you want to build a future.

Then we get the third game, and here is where my gripes come in.  Shepard has been incarcerated for months, and then are reunited with Liara on Mars.  That should have been a very intense scene.  A lot of emotional outpouring should have happened.  But it’s fine.  I can handle the little gripes.  My biggest gripe is that it really feels like the game is sending you back to square one with their relationship.  Why?  After having been together for years, these two should really be in a place where they are looking at their future and thinking about something more.  Liara talked about it at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.  She wanted to know what Shepard was hoping for with their future.  Now here you are, and she asks if you want to pick up where you left off.  Of course I said yes.

And yet, from that dialogue, it feels like you two are distant again.  Why?  You just said that you wanted to continue where you left off, after having addressed building a romantic future between you.  Shepard even joked about marriage and making babies with her.  So why does it feel like I’m having to win her back?  There should be more closeness between them that was tragically missing in a lot of scenes.

I said that I believe I have an explanation for why.  Here’s what I think happened in this game – they had to leave it open to the player wanting to go another route.  So they give you a chance to set things up with another character.  But see, that makes no goddamn sense.  Because Liara asks you if you want to pick up where things were left.  If you said yes, that should have just locked the player into that arc.  I know it’s cheating player choice, but you gave them the chance to back out.  It’s on them if they chose not to.  To see their relationship grow to something where they are talking about making babies and building a future together, maybe having the last scene be Liara asking Shepard to marry her.  To have that be the culmination of their emotional arc would have been fantastic.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it did have some closure in the Citadel DLC.  I really loved how they treated their relationship there.  Still, in a game all about building a narrative journey across three games, that seems like a no-brainer in developing that to see where it ultimately goes.  Would make Shepard’s passing in the end (if you chose one of the stupider endings like taking over the Reapers or the Synthesis ending which is bafflingly stupid) even more intense.  Seeing Liara in a room sobbing as all the chance to see her girlfriend survive is lost.  Of course, if the ending to the series hadn’t been so fucking stupid, we could have had options to have Shepard live.  I’ve already bitched about that enough.  Wrote a whole post about it.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Now, the original game had its own issues with a lackluster ending.  See, the original game had it where the only time the game would acknowledge Max and Chloe’s relationship is if you pick the ending where you let her die.  That bugs me.  But that’s nothing compared to how annoyed I am at this game.

See, the crux of what made this prequel work is building up the relationship between Rachel and Chloe.  You had to be careful how you set it up.  The wrong things said could derail all the romantic elements you are going for.  I liked that.  Made my investment seem like it was worth something.  Seeing how you go from acquaintances, to how fast these two can fall in love, it wasn’t like some Disney 3-day romance.  Here it feels like two people drawn together by a love that was beyond either of their control.  Which culminated in the second game to them kissing in a scene that was legit wonderful.  Especially after the amazing stage scene I got to have between them where Rachel pretty much says that she has feelings for Chloe in a way where it fits with the play at hand.

But then we get to the last episode.  This bothered me.  These two just made out, and all the momentum is in their relationship.  It felt like they should really be under the spell.  But nope.  The plot got in the way, in all the worst ways.  There were narratives that had to be wrapped up, and this game did it in such a piss-poor way.  It should have ended with Rachel meeting her mother.  Or maybe a plot about Sera being involved in bad things and the game acknowledging that.  Could have left things open for a sequel where the two meet her, and you have to figure out what to do next.  Options are there.

Instead, the game treats them both like they are friends.  The only time they acknowledge what happened in the last episode was via text.  Are you kidding me?!  Young love here, idiots!  Stupid teenager who should be all hormones and passion.  Granted, some serious shit happened with the revelation of Sera’s relationship to Rachel, but this game spent so much time grounding these two’s relationship as the center of the narrative, then totally ditched that.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.

Once again, I think I have an explanation.  See, in the game that this is a prequel to, the relationship between Rachel Amber and Chloe is deliberately ambiguous.  I was at first assuming it is so you can see in this what it was all like.  But since this prequel had to keep to the canon of the original (for reasons I will never understand.  There are so many narrative reasons around that with alternate timelines), it couldn’t let you be definitive about it.  Doesn’t help that I ostensibly set up Chloe to find out that Rachel was cheating on her with Frank.  Ouch.

So what do you think?  Why is it that game devs seem to have an issue bringing resolution to relationships in a game or game series.  Some do it better than others.  The relationship between Chris and Ashley in Until Dawn had some resolution if both of them lived to see the end.  I dug that.  And don’t even get me started about how they fucked the relationship between Femshep and Garrus.  That just bugged me!  Between games should have been nothing for them.  Anyway, that’s my thoughts.  Let me know yours in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

I don’t think you can analyze love. It’s the greatest mystery of all. No one knows why it happens, or doesn’t. Love is a chance combination of elements. Any one thing might be enough to keep it from igniting – a mood, a glance… a remark. And if we could define love, predict it – it would probably lose its power.” -Neelix, Star Trek: Voyager

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 3

Ugh.  I don’t know what it is with game creators and stories with player choice.  For whatever reason, it seems that the vast majority of devs who make them find it difficult to end them in a way that reflects player choice.  But I don’t think that was the problem here.  I think the problem with ending this particular game is the fact that it has a continuity that it has to fit into, because it’s a prequel to another game.  And this game gave you the ability to completely break that continuity if you so chose.  Which I did.  I’m going insanely into spoilers, just a head’s-up.  If you don’t like that, get out now.  This episode had other problems too, which I am going to get into.  Let’s talk about it.

Here is a big issue – the first two acts of this game are done with such a mastery that it really blows my mind.  No joke, I was on the edge of my seat and feeling the feels in a big way.  It goes along with the narrative that it was so perfectly crafting.  Which makes the third act of this game and how far it dies that much more frustrating.  But my frustration with the third act comes from other places as well.

This is where I get into spoilers.  So anyone who doesn’t like that is advised to leave now.  For starters, what is the deal with the confrontation with Eliot?  That was bad!  Some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen.  It comes right the fuck out of nowhere!  So I’m just supposed to believe that he is secretly a crazy stalker who has a domestic violence complex when all the events up to now have told me he’s the sad friendzoned guy, based on the choices I made?  That makes no damn sense.  It was conflict needlessly thrown in there to add tension.  Or maybe to justify him not being in the game that follows this one.  I don’t know.  But that entire scene annoyed me to no end.

Next, why was the relationship I was cultivating with Rachel never acknowledged in the end?  That bugged me.  The previous game had Rachel and Chloe making out by my choices.  Why does it not have any amount of emotional intimacy between them.  It really doesn’t.  You could easily make the argument that they are just good friends based on how their interactions go.  Why?  This episodes goes out of its way to not say anything definitive about how their relationship is.  I know why – because of continuity.

And now we finally get into my biggest gripe with this episode – keeping the continuity.  See, here’s the thing: I broke that.  I broke the continuity of the game that follows it pretty damn hard.  With the choices I made, after a genuinely touching scene of David trying to reach out to Chloe, I had her finally choosing to make peace with him and set up a legitimate relationship for the family.  So they were on the path to becoming a real family, minus all the animosity.  Thus helping to set up a psychological balance with Chloe to help her heal.  Next, I put Nathan on the path to becoming a better person.  He had a real friend who was kind to him and treating him like he wasn’t a piece of shit.  That would set him on the path of becoming a better person and not needing Mr. Jefferson for his twisted fantasies.  Lastly, at the very end, I lied to Rachel about what transpired and the truth about her father being a real piece of shit.  That led her to having a very good relationship with her family that wouldn’t have had her and Chloe desperately looking to escape still.  Not to mention, I had set up in the previous episode that they would be heading to New York and not LA.  Since she wouldn’t have been self-destructive, there would be no reason for Rachel to be in Mr. Jefferson’s Dark Room.  Not to mention, since I had built up the relationship with her and Chloe so strongly (at least I thought I had), she’d have no reason for fooling around with Frank.  Unless she decided to cheat on her.

Do you see the problem?  The developers decided that it was better to keep the continuity intact than to allow player choice to dictate how the game goes.  Because, as I said, they had to keep to the continuity.  That’s bullshit!  If you are going to market a game as having player choice, respect their agency.  Yeah, I retconned the lore of the game that chronologically follows this one.  So what?  The original game, ironically enough, is an iron ball around the ankle of this one.  And that is unfortunate.

What’s even more ironic is that there is such an easy way around this!  Just have the continuity errors be Max in the future changing the past.  One of the bullshit endings to the game has it where Max goes back in time and lets Chloe die, ostensibly stopping all of the rest of the plot from happening.  The idea is that if Chloe had died, Max would never have gotten her powers, and none of the events that followed would have happened.  Even though, Max already fucking did that when she went back in time further than the events of the story and told David about Mr. Jefferson’s fucking Dark Room, which should have caused the same result!  Ugh!  I still hate the ending to the original game.  So yeah, if the idea was to stop the events of what followed after Max saw Chloe die, then anything she would do back in time before then to stop the events should work.  In other words, just have a bit where you see Max in Seattle having gone really far back and changing the timeline.  Then you can fuck around wherever you like.  A game with time travel allows for that.  Or have it be an alternate timeline Max created in time travel.  There are plenty of easy ways for this to work, and it doesn’t.

So, do I hate this episode?  I hate the final act, but just like the one that came before, everything leading up to that was pretty great stuff.  I guess you can make your own judgements on it from there.

Final Verdict
First two acts: 8 out of 10

Last act: 3 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Worst Game of 2017

You know what I hate?  When a good idea is taken and used in something really, really boring.   To have something with so much potential just get flushed down the shitter.  It’s worse when it involves talented people too.  Because when something is boring and made by people you don’t care about, then you can just say that it tried something and failed and maybe they can do better next time.  But when it’s something where all the people involved are very talented, it makes you wonder what went wrong.  My least favorite game this year isn’t especially bad, it’s just inordinately dull.  And I genuinely don’t get how it can be as dull as it is with the elements in it.

Observer

I just can’t get over how a game with this much potential was such a snooze.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world where corporations rule everything and nations are now just corporate zones, where there are special kinds of cops who are able to get inside people’s minds.  That should be a recipe for success.  The potential of that is overwhelming.  We could have it asking some dark ethical questions, like when the main character goes into the minds of people who don’t want to be invaded, or what constitutes invasion of privacy when this guy is uncovering people’s weird secrets and has to live with that.  There is a lot of creepy places that this idea could go.  But nope,  It’s just a boring, bland, by-the-numbers horror game.

Why did they feel the need to have segments where you are hiding from a monster?  Because they’ve done it in all their other games?  This game was supposed to be about fear coming from going into the dark parts of people’s minds.  That’s a freaky concept.  The fear potential there is amazing.  Remember that god-awful movie The Cell?  Imagine if that concept didn’t suck and was done right.  Being able to jack in, with your own mind coloring the mind of the person you are in.  It would make more sense why the observers get so fucked up after a while.  They can’t handle the strain of being in a person’s mind that way.  Plus, you could see all kinds of people and how they process fear in different ways.  Maybe if this game had more budget or more time in the oven with ideas this could have gone a long way.

The game has you investigating crime scenes, and that’s actually fun!  Using your cybernetic implants to look at things in different ways is really cool.  But it’s all done so quickly and doesn’t go much of anywhere.  This game is too short for its own good.  Maybe with a AAA budget they could have really gone deep into this concept.  I don’t know.

But by far the most disappointing thing to me was that they got Rutger Hauer involved in this.  That’s some damn big talent right there!  And to his credit, he was interesting in the performance.  It didn’t sound like he was phoning it in.  I hate that such a talented man wasn’t being given the chance to reach his full potential.  Like seeing into some homely Christian’s head and realizing all the fucked up things there are in there, and then having to go into some deranged lunatic’s mind and seeing all the whacked shit in there.  Getting to hear his reactions to some of that kind of thing would be interesting.

Overall, it’s just boring.  Bad games are one thing.  They can be annoying.  But I don’t go looking for that.  Too poor to spend that kind of time and money.  I look for games I am going to like, and this game was supposed to be one of the.  The trailers had me really interested.  The end product, however, was a game too short to be interesting and with some insane voice talent that goes nowhere.  It’s more annoying than anything.

What was the game you liked the least this year?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“This better be worth it.” – Daniel Lazarski, Observer

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: There is NOTHING Wrong with Child Abuse in a Video Game

My most anticipated game of 2018 (list coming out this month) Detroit: Become Human is coming under fire right now for a trailer in which the first character we got to meet in the debut trailer is serving a drunk asshole, and is party to the beating of a child.  Here’s a link to the trailer so you can see for yourself.  It’s amazing.  It shows how you as the android are in a situation where you have to choose what you do in respect to this old drunk beating a girl that you have bonded with.  It’s a gripping scene.  Just like the last trailer which showed you negotiating with a malfunctioning android to save a little girl from a hostage situation (linked here).  There was also the trailer where you play as an android who is in charge of an android resistance and you have to make hard decisions about how violently or peacefully your revolution goes.  This game is all about making ethical decisions.

That’s what the trailer showcasing a domestic violence situation was trying to convey.  You, as both the character and the player, have to show that you can help this little girl from getting a beating.  You can try and manipulate the father, incapacitate him, or if all else fails, kill him.  I think it’s an amazing trailer and it has me so damn hyped for the game.  The likes to dislikes ratio reflects that other players are eager to see this as well.

But wouldn’t you know it, the moral busy-body squad has decided to make their voices heard.  Techraptor did a video on the affair, here’s a link to that.  See some of the quotes they found to justify this stupid reaction.  My favorite of which is the one where it says that this is never okay in a video game because this sort of thing happens to children all over the world.  No shit!  That’s kind of the point!  This video game is showcasing this in a game because it does happen in real life, and it is terrible.  This game NEVER frames what is potentially happening to that small child as a good thing.  As the robot, you want to protect her and take care of her.  It’s what you are tasked with doing.  That and the old drunk almost certainly forces that robot to do sexual thing.  I get the feeling that’s the kind of dude he is.  Ick.

This idea that we are never supposed to show morally uncomfortable things in entertainment baffles me.  Think of all the films that showcase morally questionable things that are lauded as cultural landmarks.  You have Blade Runner, with a morally questionable protagonist who forces himself on a fellow replicant.  It’s a disturbing scene for a reason.  You have the twisted kind of relationship that develops between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs.  There is a police officer being forced to accept evil because there is no way to stop it and has her own gun held to her head by a man who is supposed to be the good guy in Sicario.  All three of these films are lauded as good pieces of filmmaking with morally uncomfortable things.

Meanwhile, a video game that has shown in three previous trailer that it is tackling some heavy issues has a scene where you have to find a way to protect a child from a drunk man and that’s the problem?  There was that idiot who said that showing it in a video game “normalizes” it.  Are you fucking kidding me?!  Yeah, because finding out that the character Billy in Xenogears was a child prostitute who let other men have their way with him to help his family normalized pedophilia, right?  Wait, Salon magazine is trying to do that.  I’m sorry, I got confused.

Here’s a little fact that I guess the “intellectual” buffoons who wrote these articles don’t seem to understand – art imitates life, not the other way around.  There are plenty of children who are the victims of abusive drunks.  My father’s old man was a severe alcoholic, and it was known that my own man was his favorite punching bag.  It’s why my father has such a huge disdain for people who drink in excess.  His history with alcoholism in his family has caused some tension in mine, but that’s a story you don’t need to know anymore about.

People who espouse this viewpoint are just as stupid as Anita Sarkeesian and Jack Thompson, who thought that video games teach sexism and violence, respectively.  There has never been any, ANY evidence that video games have such an affect on real life.  So now you are going to say that this game where the context (a word that these social justice ninnies hate to no end) shows that this is bad and you are compelled to stop it is going to teach gamers to beat their kids?!  How stupid are these people?!

I just love how a video game is being told to compromise its artistic integrity in order to satisfy the petty hangups of idiots who don’t get how real life works.  I guarantee that the people featured in the article Techraptor mentioned are so happy they got a chance to finally have their worldview featured in media.  Someone can listen to them rant about absolute bullshit that there hasn’t been a single piece of substantive evidence toward in the history of video games.  These are the same assholes who said that people need to accept the ending to Mass Effect 3 because it was that game’s artistic vision.  I swear, one day video game media is going to be self-aware.  It is going to happen.  I don’t know when, but they will someday realize just how far up their own butt-puckers they have buried their heads.

Thankfully, David Cage was taking none of this bullshit and put those idiots in their place.  Let a game creator have their vision.  It’s his to have.  He’s absolutely right.  What matters is context.  But don’t tell the people quoted in the articles that.  They said there is no good context.  Not only that, but it’s funny that we have a scene where a mob of androids can choose to mercilessly kill innocent people, and there’s no problem with that.  We have a scene where you save a little girl’s life and promise to help the girl’s captor, and then are party to that android who trusted you getting murdered.  No outrage there.  It’s only when the little girl is put in a situation that the game makes no secret is morally gray and now it’s wrong.

I have a word for these people – hypocrites.  Violence is only wrong when it’s against this group that I like.  These are the same people who say that women are never victims in games, yet then get outraged when a woman is killed in one.  These people are so two-faced that it hurts.  Might as well give them a coin.  It would be fitting.

Until next time, a quote,

“If these people didn’t have double-standards, they’d have no standards at all.” – TJ Kirk

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Feminists are the Ones Objectifying Women

Listening to feminists talk about women in video games, you get this weird idea about how they see women in them.  All the time it’s about how women are sex objects and viewed as something you can use and throw away.  But you wanna know something I have noticed about that?  The only person calling women in video games sex objects is feminists.  That’s it.  I genuinely haven’t seen any gamers talking about female characters like they are a sex object.

The obvious rebuttal is, “but men talk about their bodies in a sexual way!  How is that not objectifying?!”  If someone talks about sex, that means they see the person as an object?  I am romantically and sexually attracted to a girl I went to have coffee with today.  Does that mean I see her as an object?  I have had fantasies about the two of us being intimate together.  Almost certainly never going to happen, but that’s what it is.  I still see her as a person that I find interesting and enjoy talking to, who I just happen to also find appealing on a sexual level.  There have been plenty such women in my life.  A couple men too.

But I can hear you say “but that’s real people!  They have personalities and aren’t just made to look like a sex toy!”  Plenty of sexy women in games have personalities too.  Let’s take an example Anita Sarkeesian loved to rag on – Bayonetta.  That woman was a kick-ass Umber Witch who killed angels and took shit from no one, and yet she has weaknesses and human flaws.  She has a child following her who calls her “mummy” and almost has her believing that she is the girl’s real mom.

Let’s look at another example – Jack from Mass Effect 2.  She’s damn-near naked from the waist up.  The only thing covering her nipples are belts.  But she has a dark and twisted history of horrific abuse which had led her to become a violent monster.  The vast number of tattoos on her body each have a story, all of which you never know.  She’s a badass fighter and it kind of pissed me off that I couldn’t get her back on my team in the last game.  I’m talking about Mass Effect 3, by the way, not Andromeda.  So far as I’m concerned, that game doesn’t exist.

Okay, perhaps that is too gray for all of you.  After all, it’s pretty clear that her nakedness is part of her character.  Let’s go into a character who is all about being sexy – Tina Armstrong.  She’s is the stereotypical big-breasted and skimpy outfit blonde character.  And yet, I still don’t see her as nothing but an object.  I see her as badass fighter who can and will fuck you up, all while having a sexy body to boot.  I guarantee that if she was a real person, not one guy who thinks she is sexy in the series she is in would have the balls to hit on her in real life.  Turns out, sexy women who have confidence in their bodies tend to have most men being too scared to talk with them.  Confidence is powerful and nobody could say Tina isn’t powerful.

But then I see Twitter posts like this one (linked here) saying that when women are sexy in video games, that makes me think less of women in general, it really does rub me as these people inserting their own biases into their posts.  See, I don’t think less of women as a whole in any way because of sexy women in gaming.  I haven’t met a single gamer who isn’t a MGTOW who has.  I can jerk off to B Jenet in King of Fighters and still think nothing less of my incredibly capable female coworkers or supervisor who is the Momma Bear of our office.  She’s tough, and more than a little distant, but her knowledge has made all of us know that when we don’t have an answer, she does.

I’m starting to think that feminists are the ones who are really seeing women as lesser because of what they see in media.  It’s already clear that sex negative feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are terrified of sexuality and can’t handle women who aren’t scared to death of their womanhood.  She goes out of her way to insult all the fictional examples of women who aren’t afraid of their boobs or vaginas.  Makes one wonder what they think of real women too.  But I wonder what the chick who wrote that Twitter posts thinks of them too.

We’ve been getting more and more stories coming out recently of male feminists who are actually perverted pigs who used feminism to try and get in women’s pants.  Makes you wonder if they are actually the same people that women like this think of.  But then you have to wonder if the woman who wrote that post is just the same.  If she sees women in sexy outfits and does nothing but reduce them down to their clothes.  Would make her very female.  After all, it isn’t men who are constantly critical of women because of their clothes or makeup.  Not typically.  The vast majority of shit-talkers of how people look are women.  Men don’t care about the dress so-and-so celebrity wore.  Women do.  Men don’t care about what brand of handbag such-and-such had.  Women do.  Nowhere does the average man care about this stuff.  Women do.

So maybe it isn’t the sexist gamers who are really doing the objectifying.  Maybe it’s the feminists who say that they are the ones looking to fight for equality.  I think Syetenatheist made a song about this.

Until next time, a quote,

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” – H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds DLC

This game was such a marvel.  For the studio that made it to have never done anything like this, and build everything about this game straight up from scratch, from the combat to the visuals to the world, it is a masterpiece of the medium.  It loses out to my favorite game of this year by the slimmest margin you can imagine.  I love it.  And to all the feminists who say that we don’t like games with female protagonists, suck on Aloy’s non-existent balls!  She is badass and doesn’t need you losers to defend her.  When I heard that they were making DLC for this game, I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad that I didn’t let that stop me from making the jump.  This DLC is everything that DLC is supposed to be.  It’s what I look for in it.  For $20, I got so much more than my money’s worth.  The ONLY detraction I have is that this is the only DLC this game is getting, so far as I know, and that kind of pisses me off now that I’ve seen what potential there is.  Let’s talk about it.

When you buy this DLC, it can be a little weird.  You wouldn’t know it was added on to the game unless you look at the map and see a mission marking.  A new area has been unlocked.  A banuk territory call The Cut.  And you are able to go in there and look around.  Take it from me, do NOT go into this place unless you have reached the end of the game.  Challenge is the word, but we’ll get there when we do.  Aloy reaches The Cut and realizes that not all is well.  There is a different demon in this place, and it is up to her to find out the problem and set things right.

Where do I begin in talking about this DLC?  First, let me say that this place opens up a whole new stomping ground.  And it is awesome!  My biggest problem with the actual game is that there are all these tribes and all of them have this neat cultural perspective, but we don’t get to see much of them.  We still haven’t gotten to see Ban Ur, or the Claim, or much of anything from this weird jungle tribe that you hear about but never see.  I want to!  You’ve shown all the potential for creating narratives and building culture just with environmental story-telling, so show me more!  I wanna see more!

In addition to have a ton of area to explore and a plethora of side-quests to do in addition to a fascinating main quest, you have a vast array of characters to meet and get to know as well.  It offers perspective on virtually every tribe.  But the banuk are the center, and I am glad of it.  Seeing so much about their culture is fascinating.  And the voice acting is phenomenal across the board.  Ashly Burch is quickly rising the ranks of my favorite voice actresses, and her role as Aloy is awesome.  Even for the smaller roles, no matter how briefly we get to know them, they are memorable.  It makes the fact that we never really get to follow up with characters later that much more frustrating.  That is one thing this game needed.  It got the action and RPG elements done well, but some of the world-building and character interaction could have been improved.  But that’s just splitting hairs.

We also get some new weapons to play with!  Each one is focused on an element, and that’s just super.  I legit cannot wait to put them to work on some of the monsters I’ve fought in New Game Plus.  A fantastic addition in an update, though I am kind of annoyed that the face paint is something you have to unlock.  I was hoping we’d get that as something you can buy and play around with.

The missions are all unique as well.  This game seemed to know that it was telling a 100% banuk story, and all of the story missions help you learn about their culture in some way or another.  I dig that.  Sure, there are a lot of hunting missions, but there was one mission where you get to track down killers and learn about crime and punishment that was fun.  The Witcher 3 had a lot of gamers seeing side-quests in a new way, and this game ran with that very well.  They are hinting at a sequel, so they better not lose sight of that.  This studio has proven themselves beyond anything I expected, so let’s see more!

Oh, and there are new monsters as well.  That was something I was also annoyed at in the original game.  The machine variety got pretty stale, pretty quick.  That’s not to say that it’s bad, I just really wanted to see more.  This game seems to realize that, and gives me what I want.  We have two new machine varieties that are tough as nails and fun to fight.  We also have legit boss battles!  Your first foray into The Cut has you fighting a boss that is a brand new machine variety.  It shows you that this DLC isn’t fucking around.  These things are tough, and are not messing around.  You either bring your A-game to the fight, or you are going to die.  A lot.

Which does bring me to being sad that this seems to be the only story DLC for this game.  Come on!  You’ve shown you can do this kind of narrative to show us a whole new section of the game’s world.  Let’s see more!  Show us some of the Claim!  Let’s take a look at how the osram live.  Or what about this mysterious jungle tribe?  When you talk about new enemy variety, that has potential in spades!  How about a snake machine!  Or insect machines!  Lets fuck with my arachnophobia and make a giant spider machine!  There’s an idea!  There is so much potential in this world, and I am loving this DLC so much.  It was a fantastic foray back into this world, and my genuine sadness is that it may be the only one before the sequel.

All-in-all, this is a masterpiece of a DLC.  It does everything good DLC should do, and I loved every minute of it.  If you loved this game and haven’t downloaded this, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Check it out, and fall in love all over again.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: Video Games Should be More Expensive

This actually is an unpopular opinion among gamers.  But here is where I am coming from on this perspective – games should only be more expensive if it stops microtransactions.  Recent leaked info from EA has it that they are going to start pursuing more and more microtransactions.  After the fiasco with Battlefront II, some people are speculating if Disney is going to pull the license from them.  It took a literal phone call from Disney to get them to take the loot boxes (temporarily) out of the game.  They will be coming back later, it’s almost a guarantee.  Leaked audio from a former EA CEO showed that this is the path they want to follow.  To Hell with the consumer, let’s make video games a money factory that can push their consumers until they squeeze every dime out of them.

I am never buying another EA game.  That’s a fact.  You vote with your wallet, and my wallet is saying that I will NOT give this company my capital when all their games are multiplayer games that can integrate microtransactions.  Nope.  Anyone who gives this company, or Ubisoft, or Capcom your money, this is the mentality that you’re endorsing.  I won’t. I refuse.  For the same reason that I am not spending $60 per episode of an episodic release of the Final Fantasy VII remake.  Nope.  If they won’t sell a game in a complete version and will make me pay a total of $180 to get the entire package, then I’m just not going to buy it.  I’ll wait until a cheap complete version is out that I can get on Amazon.

So some of you may be wondering why I don’t have a problem with games costing more.  All of what is happening right now is indicative of gaming having an issue – it’s too expensive to make games anymore.  Clearly, the market is such that games are now so expensive to make that if there is not some massive influx of capital, the market crashes.  Some people are saying that that’s fine.  Part of me wants to agree.  But I see another option.  The whole deal with microtransactions evolved because the gaming industry has gotten so massive, budgets so bloated, and the hardware so expensive to make.  Everything points to gaming just having gotten too big.  Maybe it’s a sign that we need more AA games that have cheaper budgets, skimp on some of the bells and whistles, and can stand to not be major hits.  That’s another thing.

But I think that we all need to accept that gaming is going to get more and more expensive as time goes on.  Since that’s the case, for a AAA game, I think we need to accept that they need to get more expensive.  If we don’t want microtransactions, which I most authoritatively don’t, then there needs to be something that gives to offset the cost.  To me, that would be a hike on prices of AAA games.  I honestly don’t mind spending an extra $10 or $20 if it means no more of this microtransaction bullshit.  If DLC that isn’t major story expansions can be free.

Look, I get it that people aren’t made of money.  I’m not either.  I have to make hard choices about getting games.  I only get a couple new games a year.  If that.  This year has been pretty quiet, so the only games that I got brand new were Horizon: Zero Dawn and Persona 5.  Both of which were absolutely amazing and showed that AAA games can be single-player only without all the bullshit and still be massively successful.  One of those games is going to be my game of the year.  It’s been pretty cool.  Next year looks to have a lot of major hits, and I am curious to see where it goes from there.

Modern gamers are people in their late-20’s to early-30’s.  We have thin budgets and have to be frugal.  I am not unsympathetic to this.  But AAA gaming is getting more and more expensive.  That’s a fact.  If we are going to avoid all the microtransaction nonsense, then we have to find a way to offset that cost.  Some gamers and game critics argue that the $60 price tag alone is enough.  I know that’s not true.  With the true cost of developing, marketing, and porting games to various platforms, at the end of the day the cost just keeps going up and up.

Now this isn’t a fool-proof solution.  All of this microtransaction stuff also does reek of corporations seeing a new medium to exploit.  There’s no arguing that.  But where you all see anger, I see anger and decisions that have to be made, if gaming is to survive.  There is a crash coming.  It won’t be as bad as some people think.  Gaming is too big for that to happen.  But there will be a crash.  If nothing else of at least the AAA market with companies who are hedging all of their bets on stuff like microtransactions.  These companies all seem to think that they can bilk their consumers more and more of this sort of thing and it won’t have any consequences.  The reality is that gamers are starting to have enough.  EA just had what was supposed to be their high-end release of the winter blow up in their face.  Their stocks took a major hit.  It hurt them.  Disney is now tightening their leash on them because their business and the Star Wars brand could potentially be damaged by their greed.

A lot of things need to happen, and I would love to have a discussion about whether or not the path I am on is the right one.  However, if we can get companies like EA to stop with this nonsense by being willing to pay a little more for AAA games, I don’t think that is too dear a price to pay.  And maybe this can have Square Enix not wanting to sell their most-anticipated remake ever as a stupid episodic game where each episode is sixty fucking dollars.  That’s madness.

Until next time, a quote,

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” – Edward Abbey

Peace out,

Maverick