Borderlands 3 Complete

Somehow or another it’s been quite a while since Borderlands 3 was released, and I bought it upon release so writing this post several months later feels a little strange. I love the series, and as a fan who has played through the trilogy I can say that this game had the most bells and whistles, while still holding true the standard formula. The animation and gameplay felt smoother, the gun mechanics were on point, and overall the story was still pretty good. It wasn’t as good as the Handsome Jack story from the second game, but I don’t think you’re going to top “butt-stallion” anytime soon. Whatever the case, my friend and I started the playthrough together and also made a pact to not play it outside of when we played together, unless it was on another character. As such, we did get through a good chunk of the game, but for some reason we got distracted by other things, COVID happened, and well the game just sat. I finally brought it up that we needed to get together and finish the damn thing, but at that point he had let his Playstation Plus subscription lapse, and it turns out it’s required for online co-op play. He didn’t seem interested in paying for it again, so I resigned to finishing Borderlands 3 off by myself. During quarantine, it turns out he had the same thoughts and managed to get a bit further into the game and when we touched bases I had to do some work to catch up. So I did.

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I spent an evening rapidly playing through story and side missions, and before I knew it, I was nearing a similar point in the game as him, and I finally convinced him to resubscribe to plus so we could finish the game off together. It took two more sessions to finally beat the main story, but the game technically isn’t over there. As tradition dictates, completing the base game unlocks “true vault hunter” mode, which is essentially new game + and allows you to level up to the cap, though the original cap is 50 and we were like level 42ish when we finished, so I think we’d max out before beating the game a second time. There were a ton of other activities in this game though, mainly having to do with finding claptrap parts, radio logs, hunting rare creatures and then there’s mayhem mode to boot. You can also queue up for dungeon runs and things with people online, so I suppose we could spend a few more hours with the title. This isn’t including DLC, which typically adds new areas, a new story to follow and sometimes level increases. Two of those are already out and I think a third is coming soon. I’m not really thinking that I’ll bother, but if he wants to and time permits, maybe we’ll splurge on the season pass and have some more fun with it.

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I discovered photo mode late into my playthrough so many of my screen shots were less than perfect, but I managed to capture some cool moments. There were plenty of those, my favorite probably being the quest that dealt with “Pain & Terror” who were voiced (well, in Pain’s case) by Penn & Teller. This lead into a Max Max like sequence of following around a huge base on wheels, shooting at parts to disable it, and then boarding the behemoth and killing Pain & Terror. It was great fun and unexpected because I’ve literally not seen any spoilers for the game despite its age. Whatever the case, I had a blast with it and we’re likely to jump into it again before long, but I just wanted to commemorate the occasion. I’ve managed a pretty good streak of completing games as of late, and look to keep it going.

The Outer Worlds: Complete

So it wasn’t something I was expecting to do so soon, but The Outer Worlds was good enough to get its hooks into me so I played it through before I realized it. I didn’t really read reviews about the game so after completing it I had some questions. I should mention that there will be spoilers in this post, including my personal epilogue which vary from your own. With that said, I’ll continue with some generic screens from the end of my playthrough.

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So one of the screenshots in the above gallery shows the system map, which contains a cluster of planets and some other points of interest, and you’ll notice that there are some planets that appear with a lock over them. These never became accessible during my game, and that seemed curious. Why include planets you can’t eventually visit? I understand level gating or time gating things for the sake of story and wanting particular events to occur in a certain order. But having worlds that cannot be accessed, and then not having any sort of time table on DLC that might allow for visiting said planets is a bad look. Why wouldn’t you just leave those off, and instead add them to that map when said DLC released? Is this perhaps the sign of a rushed game? It’s clear that The Outer Worlds took inspiration from the Bethesda formula, but they instead made a fairly linear game with only a small amount of side quests. The story was engaging and I had fun playing it, and I can see the ability to play again in a different way in order to get different story bits but I don’t see how that would much change the overall narrative. As such, the 25 hour mostly complete time combined with places on the map you can’t visit screams to me that the game was pushed out before it was fully done. Or a DLC plan went awry, because you’d think you wouldn’t be able to go back and do the DLC if you already completed the game, as there is a point in the narrative where you can only move forward and aren’t able to do anything else after the epilogue screens. I’ll share my personal epilogue with you now.

Epilogue:

I think I missed a screen or two but you get the gist. I appreciated the fact that the game wasn’t overly open-world, with planets having smaller maps that encompassed some larger areas and smaller ones too, with instanced dungeons and such. I feel like they still could have added a ton of quests and things to do though, that would have given the game more life. I suppose if you’re the completionist type you’ll go for all the trophies which will result in additional playthroughs, plus there are other difficulty levels that could make for more of a challenge (though there were some tricky parts here and there anyway). For me personally, I’m shelving it and will perhaps come back to it given DLC or sufficient passing of time to want to experience a different story in the same world. I’ve already picked Borderlands 3 back up and am trying to push through that one to the end, which will definitely take more time.

With all that said, I still recommend the game. It was a fun tale in an alternate universe and I enjoyed my time with it. It does have the flaws I’ve mentioned but I’d still say it’s worth the price of entry. It’s currently set to release later this year on PC if you’ve already waited this long, and would prefer that version.

State of the Game: Current Events 2020

I don’t intentionally go so long between my State of the Game posts, but it seems that because I have focused more on just completing a game at a time I don’t have as many bite sized bits to talk about. Although I’ve started and completed several games over the past few months since the last round-up, I’ve somehow managed to start a few that I’ve already written about and wish to give updates on. As it goes, I haven’t actually completed (or really played) the games I talked about last time, but I can touch on some of the stuff I’ve been doing recently. This time around we’ll be talking about the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Wildermyth, Streets of Rage 4, and The Outer Worlds.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

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The Remake continues to impress, but has also begun to frustrate. I will admit that much of my nostalgia for the game weighed heavily on my decision to pick this one up, mainly because I absolutely loved JRPGs in the 1990’s. It turns out that older me is not as invested in the storyline, and honestly I’m not enjoying the combat all that much either. The camera gets itself into janky angles too easily, the AI of your companions is absolute dog shit, unlike older games where you could set the behavior of the AI (ala Dragon Age), and it’s twitchy but unresponsive at times. So basically I spend half of the time enjoying the sites and remembering bits of the original from my long term memory banks, and the other half of the time yelling at the screen with how stupid the combat can be. Sometimes it’s pretty straight forward and satisfying though, so I’m torn between loving and hating this game. I should note that I skipped The Witcher III entirely because of similar irritations with the combat, but I still feel like I need to see this one through. I may be that guy and turn the difficulty all the way down because I may not finish the game otherwise. I absolutely cannot fathom how they will implement things like Emerald and Ruby Weapon. They were impossible enough with turn based combat. Whatever the case, we’re starting to see various parts of the game open up a bit beyond the slums, with mini games like darts showing up, more music to collect, and I’ve even had my first couple of summons since then, though they work so much differently now I was a bit underwhelmed. I met a new character on a motorcycle that I don’t remember from the original, but he was interesting enough and I imagine since he did not die we might see him again. I have a friend playing the game who has been ahead of me and given some vague spoilers and it seems that there is more new here than old, so it’s more of a new experience than a remake, so it does keep me wanting to see what happens next.

Streets of Rage 4

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My original post about Streets of Rage 4 was prior to the game releasing, but my first hearing about it. I have since purchased the game and started playing through it over the course of last weekend. During that first session I discovered that most of the game’s features were progress locked, so you could only start off with Story mode or Battle mode. Playing solo I of course started out with the story. I picked Axel as he is the most recognizable character for me, and powered through almost the whole game in one sitting. I started getting frustrated towards the end and decided to take a break before picking it up again another day and finally completing it. From there I unlocked the ability to play any stage where you can try and increase your ranking as there are trophies for S rank on every stage and other such nonsense that I’ll never shoot for. Other trophies include beating the story with every playable character, and others that come from performing certain actions on various levels. I unlocked Adam (from SOR1) about halfway through the story, and unlocked the original pixel art version of Axel for completing his story. I assume the story will largely play out the same despite who you pick, but I also assume that you’ll unlock all of the playable characters and alternate models by playing through the game multiple times. The trophies seem to be tied to solo play, but you have the option to play through the story in co-op, and apparently up to 4 players can join in, but I’m unsure how that affects difficulty. It was clear to me that some levels would have been much easier as-is with more players, but perhaps more enemies are added if you are playing with more friends. There’s also online options that I haven’t looked into yet, but I assume you’ll be able to co-op or battle just the same as you could locally. Overall the game looks great, I love the new combat system and animations, but it’s still challenging because of timing and stuff that was more of a thing back in the 1990’s that we aren’t used to now, but the devs recreated to the letter. You really have to play it to understand what I mean (also need to be old enough to have played games back then). It’s still something I’d recommend for fans of the series or this style of game, but if you don’t like beat-em-ups you could probably skip it.

The Outer Worlds

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In my original post I had only spent a couple of sessions with The Outer Worlds but I already loved what I had seen. I actually haven’t played it much since then only because I’ve been distracted by the other games I’ve mentioned here, along with a couple of others that I have dedicated posts planned for. Whatever the case, I have enjoyed how the game has expanded beyond the early portion. Getting a spaceship has allowed my crew (and I say crew because I’ve recruited a couple of new bodies outside of the original girl that joined the squad while I was leaving the first planet. Different companions bring different skills to the crew, and some of their own quests as well. Some quests will also mention a crew member’s skillset needed for that particular mission so it’s advised to bring them along when needed. As such, you’ll want to keep them equipped with new gear. This differs from older games in this genre where you’d only have one companion and they were likely just a mule to carry your shit. Now you need to pay attention to the different members a little bit more, and you’ll have two of them with you at all times. Another nice feature is the ability to control their special moves which can turn the tide of fights single-handedly. Rather than being a big open world, the devs had designed this one as more of a Borderlands style setup, where you have some planet areas that are large, but they are bordered and you can fast travel while on them, but otherwise have to return to the ship to visit other planets. It’s also clear that sometimes you’re on the same planet but in a different region, and you can’t really travel between them without returning to the ship either. So it’s a hybrid open-world but it seems to work pretty well. You’ll be able to focus on the tasks at hand and then move on. I’ve visited several of the planets and completed quite a few missions. I believe I’m nearly level 20, I know I’m in the teens at least. I’m not sure the amount of content I have still left to go but I look forward to enjoying the ride.

Wildermyth

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I have less to say about Wildermyth only because I have only just started my second session with the game. In my first post I talked about the mechanics and gameplay, but also notated that I only played the beginner 3 chapter session. I have since started up a new game with the normal mode 5 chapter story. I was under the impression initially that characters would transfer between games, but it appears that your legacy is generated in different ways. When you have heroes die and you memorialize them, those memorials will remain in the game. Other characters who survived a story can reappear in new games, so I guess eventually you might see those characters again or perhaps their offspring. It’s not overly clear to me, and though I only played through one chapter before quitting that session, I didn’t seen any legacy stuff, so I guess I’ll write more about it when I figure it out. Whatever the case I have enjoyed starting a new story and getting to know some new characters. Having a new main enemy makes a difference in gameplay a bit as well. This time around I have a group of five, with 2 warriors, 2 mystics and a ranger, so I’ve switched up the configuration a little bit. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this one sooner than later because I really enjoy the story telling here.

So there you have it. Some progress on all accounts. As I mentioned I have a couple other posts in the works for a couple other games I haven’t yet introduced on the blog, so stay tuned for that.

Journey to The Outer Worlds

So Fallout is a thing. If we go back in time a bit, the third game in the series made the jump to the 3D space and turned the series into a first person affair, much like The Elder Scrolls series. This is partially due to the fact that at this time Bethesda bought the IP from Interplay, so it was their first game and they obviously used the TES architecture to design it. I played Fallout 3 but didn’t really enjoy the fact that you relied heavily on the VATS system to do well in combat so the game couldn’t be played in a fast paced style. Stealth didn’t make as much sense to me then either, though these issues were rectified for me come the fourth game in the series. Somewhere in between there, another Fallout game was made, but by a different company. This game was Fallout: New Vegas, and though it appeared at the time to be using the same engine as Fallout 3, it’s almost fair to say that Fallout: New Vegas was the “real” Fallout 3. 

Long ago a company named Black Isle Studios made some amazing cRPGs that I played and enjoyed. These games were distributed by Interplay, who would later go under and sell off IPs, hence the tidbit above. The studio itself would close down but was famous for developing the first two Fallout games along with Planescape: Torment. Later, a new company would emerge from the ashes, and Obsidian Entertainment would go on to work on similar titles like Neverwinter Nights 2, and Knights of the Old Republic 2. They came back around to Fallout with New Vegas and then I assume that they were no longer allowed (or interested) in pursuing more games in that world. Instead, we’ve gotten The Outer Worlds, which in itself is much like a Fallout game, but is set in its own world. I should also note that Obsidian went back to their roots for a few years developing the Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny games.

The Outer Worlds was on my radar early on, but I was skeptical after buying Fallout 76 on day one and being mostly disappointed with it. I wanted another Fallout experience but that wasn’t it, and I wasn’t sure that Obsidian would deliver something I wanted. The other issue was that while it was releasing on consoles and PC on day one, the PC version could only be picked up on the Epic Games store and I have whole-heartedly boycotted that platform. Later it was said that the release would come to Steam, but that it would be one year later. The Outer Worlds has been out since October of 2019, and here were are smack dab in the middle of that year. I saw the game on sale on the Playstation Store and decided I didn’t want to wait until October 2020 to pay full price for a year old game. That might not be the case, but I simply didn’t want to wait. So I picked it up, downloaded and started playing last night.

As much as I want to compare The Outer Worlds to Fallout, I’m going to try and leave the comparisons behind outside of those I’ve already mentioned. Yes, they are both first person RPGs that take place in the future, and have plenty of retro and futuristic elements but that’s about where it stops. Here, the story revolves around corporations that serve as factions throughout the universe. There’s also much more than just one world to explore, so I imagine if you put all of the maps together you’d get a similarly sized world. Travel on foot takes some time but there is a lot of detail put into each point of interest and the world feels alive.

As with most RPGs, you’ll start out by creating your character, which seemed pretty straight forward. I’m not sure how well I chose to spend my skill and attribute points, but I pulled from my knowledge of these style of games and assumed that dialog options along with hacking/lockpicking skills would be a good way to go. I’ve also focused on being able to use long guns so that I can take enemies out before they get to me. Overall it feels pretty much the same as most RPGs, but I see some little nuances that were interesting.

The story goes that you were frozen on a ship that was bound for a corporate owned colony somewhere in space, but something on the ship failed and so you (along with others) were frozen for 70 years. Apparently a lot has happened since then, but it seems that corporations control various parts of space and your faction standings will fluctuate as you participate in the story. A fugitive helps you escape, but then his ship is damaged so he sends you planet side to meet with a smuggler who is going to help you help the guy who saved you but then he gets squashed by your landing pod and you’re sort of on your own. I’ve only played through the first area and just got access to a ship, so now I’m able to travel the stars. But just the first portion of the game successfully introduces you to a number of characters, gets you some gear and experience (I believe I’m level 7 already) and even gets you your first companion. Apparently you can have up to two companions at a time in this game, so that’s something new.

Like most of these types of RPGs, you have an overarching story line and then a bunch of little side quests. At this point I believe my priority is to help get the rest of the frozen colonists free, but first I have to help the fugitive that freed me. From there I assume more will happen, but along the way a bunch of little stories will unfold. I love this style of game so I know that I’m going to have fun with this one, I just don’t really know what to expect.

Finally seeing the ship’s navigation makes the game appear that it will be huge. There are a lot of planets there to explore, however we didn’t do a whole lot on Terra 2, so I’m not sure that each place we visit will be that expansive. Whatever the case, I’m anxious to get back to it, so I’m gonna hit publish and play some more!

Hype Train: Streets of Rage 4

I was reading various blog posts and otherwise trolling the Internet yesterday and came across a game I had no idea coming. Series as old as this one rarely get direct sequels, rather reimaginings or reboots or even remakes. But 26 years ago, the last entry in the Streets of Rage franchise released. That is, until Thursday. Seriously, I think perhaps the lack of an E3 this year or simply the fact that I haven’t paid as much attention to gaming news sources lately let this one slip by. I was a huge fan of this style of side-scrolling beat-em-up game in the 1990’s. Back then I was fully a SEGA kid, and I played all three games in the series religiously, along with others like it — the Golden Axe series and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist for example. We can’t say that these games were revolutionary, mainly because there are so many of them and so many that did different things in different ways. I largely left the side-scrolling and platforming genre behind in the 90’s, until a few years back when I started playing some rogue-likes and metrodvanias that started making a comeback with current technology. It turns out I still enjoy the play pattern, though these games tend to hold my interest a little less than they once did. Still, this seems like the perfect couch co-op game, and also has some online functionality that could make it even better. I’m not sure if they’re going to take things to Dragon’s Crown levels of replay-ability, but it still seems to have enough features to feel like a worth while purchase, if nothing else for nostalgia alone. Take a look at the reveal trailer and you’ll see what there is to like.

The game looks pretty damn beautiful, yet captures the spirit of the originals. I can tell this by just looking at it, but it also seems to have improved the combat mechanics to a point where there are more things to do than just mash a button (though I’m sure there’s still a lot of that). Another selling point they revealed is the ability to play with all of the playable characters through the original trilogy, but also included a couple of new characters, so I imagine there’s a lot of different combinations there to play with, and I’m sure achievements could be bound to completing things with each. Also noted is the ability to play as retro versions of the characters inside of the new engine, which is a nice touch, though I think I’m more inclined to stick to new artwork for a new game.

It’s an interesting idea that also attempts to pull on the heart strings, but since I own copies of the originals I can get that experience anytime and would prefer looking at the new stuff. The final selling point is “battle mode” which I guess was something you could do with the old games? I honestly don’t remember. Anyway, here’s that:

It’s a thing. It looks like it could be pretty fun, it’s obviously up to 4 player brawls, but I also don’t see a lot of room for strategy either. I guess it’s sort of a mini Street Fighter game within a game. Whatever the case I think the package as a whole looks pretty damn sweet, and with a $25 price point I can’t help but pick it up. I’m hoping to rope the family into playing it with me, as a last feature I can note is that there is now 4 player local co-op for the game. I’ll likely have more to say about this one come the weekend as release is in just a couple of days.