State of the Game: Betas are In

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It’s been a while since I did a round-up post, and despite having semi-regular posts on various games I’ve been playing, there’s still a big chunk of time I’ve spent in other titles that I haven’t really discussed. First up, let’s recap what I’ve already written about:

  • Early in the month I took part in the Star Wars Battlefront beta, on both PS4 and PC and posted my impressions.
  • Later, I took part in the Warhammer End Times Vermintide beta week prior to launch, and have played a bunch of it since. More impressions.
  • We talk about Vermintide in-depth on the latest Couch Podtatoes.
  • I also completed the final chapter, and thereby the game, of Tales from the Borderlands. My choices are over here.
  • Finally, I played a whole game of Civilization V, finishing in ~700 turns. Entry one. Entry two. Entry three.

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I also talked about some other games I’ve been playing on that last episode of Couch Podtatoes — ones that were on the console and not my PC. I hung out with a friend of mine who owns both PS4 and XBOne consoles, and tends to get games right as they come out. As a result, I was able to play through several games I wouldn’t normally have access to. Months ago the two of us started playing split screen co-op for multiple games. We began with the Halo Master Chief Edition, and beat the first game. We beat the Gears of War remaster. Just this week we finished Halo 2, and half of Halo 3, along with playing some Halo 5, though that was only multiplayer and split screen is no longer an option (which is stupid). I also finished the original Uncharted, which I had started a while back when he picked up the Nathan Drake Collection. We plan to finish Halo 3 and 4, though we won’t be able to do 5. I also plan to eventually play through Uncharted 2 and 3 again, so that I can be ready and have the story fresh in my mind once Uncharted 4 releases. Overall, Uncharted holds up really well. I can’t say the same for Halo, and I have to say I don’t really see a reason to buy an XB1 ever. Most of the titles that I’d even care about become available on PC, or I can play at my friend’s house. Knowing the release window for No Man’s Sky means I have a deadline to get a PS4 finally, which is mid next year. I did play the PSPlus titles for this month as well, but the only real gem there was Chariot, and it’s not even that fantastic. PSPlus is starting to feel unnecessary until I get a PS4, but I have a year so I’m not going to cancel. I’ll still be accumulating PS4 games for when I finally get the console, so it’s not a complete wash. That’s about all for consoles.

On PC, I’ve spent most of my time playing the games I mentioned earlier, particularly Vermintide. I’ve been playing with Eri quite a bit, and the two of us work well together. I can’t say the same for the random people though, as sometimes they are great and sometimes a liability. I have heard some chatter around the blogosphere about it though, so perhaps once more people we know are playing we can get some full on team work going. I’ve finally earned a trinket so I now know they are just randomly earned, and I have confirmed that there aren’t any new hats for the characters in the game, it just seems that you can get one for each character if you bought the collector’s edition. Apparently there are plans for expansions already in the works, so perhaps some fluff gear will make its way in. I have a video in the works, that will be coming from hours of recording I’ve done of me and Eri playing Vermintide, but I have to cut out all the good bits to make the compilation. More on that soon.

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Unmentioned til now, I have been invited to a couple of betas over the weekend, and I have another title that you might not have heard of that I’d like to talk about. First, I was invited to the Battleborn Closed Technical Beta, but there is an NDA so I can’t talk about it, but I will say that I do enjoy the concept thus far. I was hoping to get into the Overwatch beta so I could report about this anticipated title, but I have yet to get in. This weekend was also a closed beta test for Devilian, the new-ish isometric MMO being imported by Trion. Knowing Trion’s reputation after ArcheAge, I don’t have high hopes for the game. But I love Diablo and isometric RPGs, so I wanted to give it a chance anyway. It mixes up concepts from both Diablo and traditional themepark MMOs pretty flawlessly. The gameplay and animations were smooth and enjoyable. I don’t really care for the anime aesthetic for the characters, but their designs were still well done. The kill ten rats quests are ever present, but for some reason it’s easier to accept when the combat is so damn enjoyable. I don’t really see much of a challenge from the game though, but I imagine it ramps up in later levels. It was pretty cool to see other players running around though, as typically you’re limited to a small group in Action-RPGs. I started up a Shadow Hunter which stylistically reminds me of Dante from Devil May Cry. He’s got a chain whip and shurikens, and various trees to spec different ways. I leveled him to 10 and then rolled a Berserker but haven’t gone beyond that. Basically, if you like Diablo, I think you’d like this game. It’s got that simplistic nature that’s easy to get hooked into. A quick google search should bring you to where you can sign up to beta test as well.

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Another game that I stumbled upon while following #InternetRabbitHoles (yes, I’m making this a thing) is called Indivisible. It’s from the creators of Skullgirls, which was a 2-D fighting game with awesome hand-drawn art. That’s about the only similarity between Skullgirls and Indivisible, their striking hand-drawn art style. Otherwise, Indivisible is a game that successfully mixes the metroidvania style with turn-based JRPG combat that also makes use of fighting game mechanics. As you explore the world, you only see your character, and not the other members of your party. When you come across enemies, you can attack them to get in extra damage (or kill them outright with sufficient power) and then when you do enter the battle screen (pictured above) your other party members come out and it uses an active time battle system. This is where the fighting moves come in. Holding different directions while pressing the button for the appropriate character changes their basic attacks to do different things. The gauge at the top is much like fighting game rage meters, where it can be used for super moves when it’s filled. It’s a great concept and they’re allowing anyone to download and play the prototype for free. They’re asking for 1.5 million on Indiegogo, but the game looks to be fantastic, so I’d recommend supporting it!

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Last but not least, I was gifted a copy of Shadow of Mordor as the GOTY edition was on sale this past week on Steam. Thanks Dad! I haven’t played too much but I have to say I like what I see so far. It mixes elements of the recent Arkham Batman games, Assassin’s Creed or similar open world games, and of course, LOTR. The nemesis system looks intriguing and I haven’t gotten far enough to really know how to comment just yet, but I have to say the controls are wonky as fuck if you don’t use a controller on PC. Outside of that criticism, it looks to be a great game I’m looking forward to spending more time with.

That’s all for this round-up. What have you been playing?

Vault of the Traveler

TaleTell Games’ Tales From the Borderlands series just wrapped up, and I must say it’s one of the biggest and most ambitious of their projects to date. The building anticipation for this final episode was growing exponentially each episode, and the finale didn’t let me down. There were some awesome action sequences while you control Gortys in a semi-Voltron-meets-Power-Rangers type of battle, there was plenty to pull on your heart-strings, and the ending was left wide open for something else to come later… hopefully this means there will be a season 2, even if it focuses on different characters. Finding out who the mysterious stranger that was holding Rhys and Fiona captive through the underlying narrative was a pleasant surprise, and finding Vaughn again was cool as well. Overall the multiple side story lines came together in one epic conclusion and I loved it. Sure, you don’t get to really “play” the game much, it’s more of an interactive story. Sure, there are some optimization issues (particularly on the PS3, where every time the game auto-saves you end up with audio playing, but a frozen screen). But if you can look past the ugly, you’ll find some great features and an even greater story line. I loved it. Fans of the Borderlands IP will love it too. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do yourself a favor and grab it, especially if you can get it on sale. It’s an easy play through with a great payoff. So, hopefully that wasn’t too spoiler-y. Let’s go over my choices for this episode, shall we?

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While playing as Fiona, there’s a portion of the episode where Gortys is engaged with the Vault monster, and you need to get to Vallory to stop her from attacking Gortys with a big-ass rocket launcher. Finch is lying nearby and stops you to gloat about the death of Sasha (which isn’t entirely true). You can either end him, or let him bleed out. I chose the latter, as did the majority of players. This is the last time we’ll see him. Oh yeah, Vallory doesn’t last much longer either.

There’s a portion later on where Fiona and Rhys are questioning the mysterious guy who’s been holding them hostage throughout the game (the rest of the gameplay is actually a story they’re telling to the stranger). Rhys tells her to be the bad cop, and he’ll be the good cop. I went along with this idea, along with the majority of players. He ends up going bad cop too though, and hilarity ensues. Seriously, I don’t usually laugh out loud at video games, but the snappy dialogue in this title had me rolling.

Lastly, when all is said and done, Rhys and Fiona enter the vault and are heading to the ultimate prize — the chest inside it. Fiona had been harping on Rhys for a while about being sweet on Sasha, and at this point, finally has the option of telling him to stay away, or giving her blessing. The overwhelming majority of the playerbase gave him the go-ahead, myself included.

As Rhys, there is a point where you are able to finally rid the world of Jack. Despite being his idol, he finally saw how terrible of a person Jack was. Jack does give Rhys props for bringing down Helios and being “way better at killing people” than him, but it needed to be done. Most players agree, Jack had to go. Watching Rhys pull out all of his cybernetics was kinda rough though.

And finally, as I mentioned with the last Fiona choice, she had been ragging on Rhys about liking Sasha, and there was an oportunity to come clean about it. I admitted to it, and that leads to Fiona giving her blessing.

Not too many impactful choices in this episode, but the gameplay and story was worth it nonetheless. I think this is the first time that I was in the majority with all of the choices in an episode, in any of the TellTale games that I’ve played to this point. Nonetheless, the overall rating I’d give the entire series would be a 9/10. It was fantastic, and I’d urge you to try it, particularly if you’re a Borderlands fan. Even if you don’t like TellTale, you’ll probably like this.

Escape Plan Bravo

Episode 4 of TellTale Games’ Tales From The Borderlands series was probably my favorite so far. There was action, intrigue, humorous dialog and plenty of story choices to keep you busy. Keeping with my usual theme of not giving too much away but still discussing my choices through the episode, let’s jump into it:

Starting with Fiona’s choices, there is a point in the episode where the rag-tag group is heading up to the Hyperion Space Station, which most fans of the Borderlands franchise should already know orbits Pandora’s moon of Elpis. Scooter has joined the crew and it comes to a point where he has to play hero and sacrifice himself (don’t worry, I think he’ll end up being fine). There was a short scene prior to that where he explained that he was going to launch a satellite advertisement while they were on their way, but you had convinced him to wait until the return trip. After his sacrifice, you are given a choice of several things to display on the satellite image, and I chose to honor him as “the best mechanic.” This was a fluff choice and as such it just seems that I picked one of the less popular options.

Later, while on Hyperion’s station, Fiona has to play the part of a tour guide in Handsome Jack’s VIP office tour. This is where he ruled the corporation before his untimely death in Borderlands 2, and has since been turned into yet another way for Hyperion to make money off the backs of dead people. There is a group of douchebag tourists who give you a hard time while wining the tour guide thing, and eventually when coming to Jack’s actual office room, you notice a force field barring entry. Most tour guides warned the tourists of this fact. I did not. I’m in the minority there.

Finally, while trying to escape from this VIP area, you are confronted by a guard and have to make the choice of escape plans. It was unclear what the effects of each choice would make, as there was only the images of a mural of Jack and of Butt Stallion, but no real way of knowing what would happen dependent on your choice. I went with Butt Stallion, because earlier I had talked about how it “poops guns” and thought I might make use of those, but instead Fiona shoots at the horse, and it started to bleed! Not sure if Butt Stallion will be ok, but Fiona is whisked away to the prison level at this point. I was with the majority on this choice.

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On to Rhys, there is a scene where Fiona is questioning if you are 100% in going through with the plan to go back to the Hyperion station, and Jack has been talking to you in his holographic form that only you can see. He warns against telling your companions about his presence, and since I’ve been keeping that a secret throughout the previous episodes, I continued to lie. Turns out Jack told Rhys where the next Gortys piece would be, because Jack had it in his office. I told the others, but since Rhys couldn’t possibly know that, it took being quick on my feet to lie and say the information was hidden in my database. Rhys is part machine after all. I was with the majority here.

Later, while disguised as Vasquez (I’ll leave that part spoiler free for you to discover) Rhys is confronted by Yvette who seems to have double crossed him and Vaughn. There’s a point where she starts to call security, and I used Dumpy (the little flying robot from previous episodes) to shock the shit out of her. No security calls today, not for you. It seems mostly every other player to this point took another route, but fuck people who backstab their friends.

Near the end of the episode, Rhys finally makes it into Jack’s office and gets the next Gortys piece. Knowing what is at stake here, Jack starts to weigh on Rhys. He thinks Rhys has what it takes to rule Hyperion. He wants to stay with Rhys and rule the company together. As much as I like Jack, and as much as I’ve used his help to this point and wanted him to be on my side, I just couldn’t bring myself to be a part of that scummy corporation, so I rejected his offer. He wasn’t happy, but I’ll leave that bit spoiler free as well. I was with the majority of players here too, but I wonder if they went about things the same way I did?

I encourage those of you who have played these TellTale games to let me know your choices so we can compare notes! It’s interesting to see how much or how little the overall story changes with these facets. That’s all for now. There’s only one more episode of this series left, along with only one more of GoT, so we’re nearing the end of this round of adventures.


Another Crystal run, and this ended up being the furthest I’ve gone in a Daily since I started doing this, for lack of a better term, daily.

#talesfromtheborderlands #telltalegames #narrative

Catch A Ride

Episode 3 of Tales From the Borderlands jumps around quite a bit. You still have the same cast of characters, Handsome Jack is still inside Rhys’ head, and the Loader Bot is still following you around. However, a bunch of new (and recurring) characters from the Borderlands universe show up, and you still have the flashback style of play, where the present time is actually where Rhys and Fiona are being led about the wastelands by a masked mercenary. The actually gameplay takes place during the flashbacks where Rhys and Fiona are telling their versions of how things got to this point. Confused? You won’t be if you actually play the game.

The biggest additions to the story are two of the vault hunters from the original Borderlands game (Mordecai and Brick) show up, and they’re actually trying to take you out. They’re working for a new villain named Vallory, whom appears to be one bad ass chick. Reminds me of Cruella DeVil. When we left off in the last episode, the gang were holed up inside of an Atlas facility, attempting to get a vault key, that turns out to be a sentient being called Gortys. I had just given Jack permission to use my Hyperion implants to his benefit, and he in turn hacked all of the Atlas sentry bots and we turned said bots against Hugo and August, who had our group trapped with a bunch of mercenary soldiers.

The bots made short work of the enemy, and as the group escaped from the facility, it was apparent that Jack was being a little homicidal, in that the bots actually shot at our friends as well. However, just outside of the Atlas fort, we ran into Vallory, who had us in a compromising position. Vasquez and August make their way outside, though Vasquez is now missing an arm. Vallory asks who is to blame for the debacle, and Fiona is given the choice to place blame. I picked Vasquez because he seems to be a bigger douche than August, and Vallory kills him off. Oh yeah, by the way, spoilers. My bad. The majority of players (59%) made the same decision.

During the same scene, Fiona had been laid out and Vallory offers to help her up. I declined, knowing that Vallory is the villain of this tale, and fuck it, I like to live on the edge. Apparently most people didn’t feel the same, as only 32% of players made the same choice. In an attempt to avoid further spoilers, we’ll just say that the group manages to get away from Vallory (for now) and also gets separated for a time. Gortys leads them to another Atlas facility in search of other parts needed to gain access to the vault. Athena, another vault hunter that was present in previous episodes (though we never had a chance to interact) shows up and helps Fiona. There comes a point where you interact with a man named Cassius, who is actually the last living Atlas employee, and Athena wants to kill him (I’ll leave the reasoning for you to find out). I allowed this to happen. Only 43% of players made the same choice.

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On to Rhys’ choices. After the debacle at the beginning of the episode, Rhys has words with Jack about shooting at his friends. Jack makes up some nonsense, and it would probably be wise to not trust him ever again, but I love the character so I gave him another chance. It appears most players are also partial to Jack (62%).

At the Atlas facility Gortys leads us to, there is a point where Rhys and Sasha go separately to turn off some security doodads. There’s a point where they find some weird indigenous life, and some flowers that look kinda pretty. Rhys picks a flower and is prompted to choose between giving it to Sasha or keeping it. Of course I give the pretty flower to a pretty good as did most players (78%) but that ends up backfiring, as the flower spits out some sort of pollen that attracts these weird flying creatures. That leads to more problems but I’ll leave it to you to see what’s what.

During the same scene, there comes a part where you have to jump a gap in a broken bridge, and Sasha goes first. She makes it just fine, but after Rhys makes the leap, the bridge continues to break, and they both fall over the edge. Rhys grabs hold of the pieces that are hanging and Sasha grabs his legs. She says she’s going to let go because their combined weight is too much and they’ll both fall anyway. I refused to let her do so, but then she does anyway. Turns out we’re only a few feet off of the ground at this point, but to be fair, Rhys is afraid of heights and Sasha had already told him “don’t look down.” It was pretty humorous.

At the end of this episode, I’m feeling like the story is coming together quite nicely, but these “choices” don’t seem like much. It’s not the typical TellTale really controversial choices. It’s just, kinda goofy and fun to play through, but nothing feels like it has consequence. I’ve already paid for the whole season in advance though, so it’s not as if I’m going to avoid playing through the rest. It’s just a little different than say the Game of Thrones season that is going on right now (though GoT is magnitudes more gritty and violent than BL is as far as IPs go anyway). Anyway, see you again in 6-8 weeks when the next episode comes out!

#talesfromtheborderlands #tftb #narrative #telltalegames #interactivestory

Atlas Mugged

Episode 2 of Tales from the Borderlands picks up where the first left off, and drops you right into the action. I think this one works a little bit better in that you only play as two characters, and they are together through much of the playthrough. GoT is good too in its own ways, but I don’t like having to play as many characters, and having to keep up on the choices you made with all of them. Still, I love both games, and this episode was really fun to play through.

I’ll start with my choices on Fiona this time, and then after the picture, we’ll go through Rhys’ choices. Deal?

There’s a scene where the group is trying to get away from a huge creature in their RV vehicle. Vaughn and Rhys get into a pickle, almost falling out of the back of the vehicle, and you have to choose whether to have Sasha help you or help Rhys. I sent her to help Rhys, as did most players. An aside: Rakk Hives look like vagina monsters. *shudder*

Later you get to one of Scooter’s Catch-A-Ride shops, and he offers to sponsor you for the next time you’re in a deathrace (the big bandit event at the end of the last episode). This amounts to him spotting you for all the repairs. You also get to pick from a variety of paintjobs for the ride (much like you get to do in the Borderlands games). I picked Jakobs. I don’t think the percentages here will be any sort of majority, because there were a bunch of skins to choose from.

The town you’re in is where Fiona and Sasha called home, and their hideout is nearby. Heading inside, you find some clues that lead you to a small box with some money inside, along with gifts left by your mentor for the two of you. You open yours and it adds an elemental affect to your gun. Sasha says she doesn’t want her gift, and I was respectful enough not to peek at it. Fiona keeps it for later. 80% of players were nice about it too.

Being attacked by Finch, you get to choose which type of elemental damage you get to use (the upgrade for your one shot gun). I went with shock damage, and since there were three choices, 30% is about an even spread of the choices.

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On to Rhys. During the vagina beast scene, you and Vaughn are thrown from the RV. Stranded in the desert, and having hit your head, you see a holographic image of Handsome Jack, who is speaking to you. Apparently Vaughn can’t hear or see him, and you figure out it has something to do with the data you shoved into your head in the first episode. I chose to tell Vaughn about it, despite the fact that he now thinks I’m crazy.

The Loaderbot that I chose to self-destruct last time, some how put itself back together and shows up to help us out. We knew that the girls were heading to Hollowpoint, but our ultimate goal was to head to Old Haven. I chose to go to Hollowpoint first. Almost 70% chose the same way.

During the flight on the back of the Loaderbot, Vaughn admits that Vasquez had tried to get him to turn on Rhys. The same deal was presented to Rhys as well, but I didn’t come right out and admit that. I did forgive Vaughn for his part in it, and we ended up bro-fisting. Apparently most people went with this course of action. The Loaderbot refused to fist bump me though :/ Here’s a video with the bro-tastic scene, though you’ll have to skip towards the end to see what I’m talking about.

There’s another scene later when you are forced to choose between saving your friends and giving Vasquez exactly what he wants. Handsome Jack appears and tells you if you let him into your subsystems he can help. I chose to trust him with that power, and he does indeed help (but I’m sure this will be a bad move in a future episode). Only a third of players trusted him. Despite knowing he’s an asshat, I love his character so I rolled with it. So that finishes up Episode 2. See you in a month or so when the next one releases!

#talesfromtheborderlands #telltalegames