Saturday, July 15, 2017

FFXV DLC: F MINUS and other stuff

HREEEE

Downloadable content is a wonderful theory. Who doesn't want more of their favorite games? How about an expansion on some great IP? More levels, more equipment, how does that sound?

Your favorite studio might release an extra episode to your best game, adding an additional 10 hours of engaging storyline, maybe with a new character and some new items. I feel like Blizzard is the perfect example. The hefty expansions usually cost half the cost of the game, but they're generally a massive overhaul that both adds content and usually a extra mechanics to that combine with the basic game and adds depth. Brood War was an expansion to Starcraft that gave all 3 races more units, introduced the burrow mechanic, and added a 4th chapter in the campaign, complete with more cinematics. And new music tracks.

What could be as sweet as one of these? I thought that Final Fantasy XV, one of my most enjoyed games in the last 10 years, would follow this pattern. Sadly, Episodes Gladiolus and Prompto both suck. Both of these cost $5, and offer a total of 2.5 hours of story content that fills in two very intentional gaps in the main game's storyline. Now, my FFXV playthrough was over 100 hours, so the ratio is underwhelming. The next slight comes from both modes having a one-on-one boss fight that showcases that the game's battle system was designed for facing mobs and large bosses, not for dueling. These two 3-minute battles will take hours to master, and only half the challenge is in intentional design. You'll spend the other half of your stress battling the terrible camera, and the random stumbles and shit your character makes in timing-sensitive fighting. The result is a crappy experience that detracted seriously from my opinion of the game. If the same dev team that made the base game put this junk out, I would be surprised. Also, Gladiolus's music sucks. The original FFXV score is a masterpiece; the one new heavy metal track you get isn't.

Prompto's playthrough is a little more fun, but if you're hunting trophies, it's ruined by this racing course on a ski-mobile. This piece of junk randomly flips over, and the camera is your worst enemy. I can't recommend either one of these DLCs unless you really want a crappy experience. I really hope Episode Ignus is better than Prompto, but who knows. Anyhoo, in completing as much as I could of this, I got the keys to the kingdom; access to my friend's digital library. Sony totally allows sharing digital games, as long as you activate the profile you want's account as the Home system and download it. Then, you log in as your own profile and you have access to it. Find a friend and agree on a few games you both like. Then, take turns paying for them and sharing them.

That said, this week was super productive: Battle Knockout Trivia, Infamous: First Light and Strider. The first game is a half-hour trophy list to get 100%, and has some decent highschool-level trivia, with a Japanese-accented English-speaking host. I didn't check the credits to see if it's actually a Japanese guy or if the game just thinks accents are funny.






Infamous was great. The game has a gorgeous aesthetic, with your character controlling neon at night, and takes place in Seattle (what-what!). The controls are super responsive, and the 4-hour playthrough of this standalone expansion is a little less than half that of the original game. You're then rewarded with some battle arenas to just let loose with all your powers and beat as many waves as you can. This is a stark contrast to how dreadful FFXV's DLC was.


Gravity orb-jumpin'

Strider is a slick 2d action game with platforming and hype music. This is a sweet update to an old Sega Genesis favorite.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gaming Goals in 2017: Mid-year Checkin

I'm sure you do, Akash.
We are a week past being halfway done with 2017, which has been the absolute worst year for employment, but great for personal health and gaming. The biggest change, while not the most frugal of options, is that I joined a gym. Simply walking long distances just wasn't quite enough, and Seattle's handful of 90-degree days just make that a lot harder. The frugal part is that I've consistently gone at least 5 days a week, making the most of the $1/day that this costs me, compared to $4 per visit at the city gym. So, while that does compete for free time, I've still gotten quite a bit of time to mash the controller for dopamine.

Breath of the Wild is losing me. Between uncustomizable controls, way too many obscure puzzles, and the stupid survival element, it's just the wrong combination of game for me. I've put at least 25 hours into it and still have 4 heart containers, and die in 2 hits. But before I journey, I have to cook, but before I cook, I have to get ingredients. I personally despise survival games like Minecraft, Terraria, and this major component of Zelda: BotW. The game's got another 5 hours of my attention before I play something more fulfilling. I really want to like it!

Other than that, I've been hammering away at June's free Killing Floor 2 (on PS+), and spent a week or so knocking out a few added-on trophies for Gems of War, which is still free-to-play and still awesome. I think I harped on the graphics of Killing Floor 2 in a post, and I take it back. I had had gore turned down, and the monsters didn't dismember quite as much as they do on FULL GORE mode.

With all that out of the way, let's get to the Gaming Goals update: I've played five of the games on the list, acquired 2 on PSN Flash Sales, and am one week away from Final Fantasy XII, meaning I'll have covered 7 of the 10 games I wanted to in the first half.

Antipode? I smell Chrono Trigger...
One of those is called I am Setsuna, a classic-style JRPG released by SquareEnix. I feel like this game had almost no promotion on the PSN, which is a shame. The writing is a pretty standard Japanese story: Setsuna is going to be sacrificed and gathers members to protect her on her final journey. What makes it super Japanese is that the whole story is laden with sadness, and Setsuna constantly questions members if they'd really do that for her. She's surprised by people's dedication, and so overly emotes herself to being positive and innocent that it ends up being quite sappy. Also, the entire soundtrack is piano, adding to the melodrama, though it's pretty unique and amazing how distinct the tracks sound with one instrument.

Dual Tech? Sick!
The battle system is pretty much Chrono Trigger, with Techs (magic attacks) that can be combined to make crazy combos. The game is also super linear and doesn't have a whole lot of challenge, save 2 particular boss battles that eat your party alive. Other than that, nothing gives you too much trouble until you hit the final boss and the game world unlocks completely. At that point, you can return to the world, where there are hidden nasties all over the world map that require some massive grinding. Classic. JRPG. For me, this was a welcome change to FPS games and Zelda, and I am pretty damn pleased to have completed I am Setsuna.


Since we've crossed the halfway point of 2017, I'd like to add some more games I want to complete this year: Steamworld Heist, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Shadow Complex Remastered, Tearaway Unfolded, The Walking Dead 2, Pyre and Abzu. as well as finish Titanfall 2. The only one of these I don't have yet is SuperGiant Games' (Bastion, Transistor) Pyre. The majority of these were free PS+ downloads, but putting them here means I will commit to them and hack away at the stack. Remember, for the perfect marriage of anti-hoarding frugality and trophy hunting, I'm trying my damnest to stick to 3-games-out, 1-game-in. Also, I realized I've been applying this incorrectly for a year! Somewhere along the way, I simplified 1 disc-based game and 2 downloaded games into 2 games. Silly me! The best on my wallet would of course be to simplify to 3 games completed before paying for another.

I'll keep you posted! With my massive disappointment in the game of the year, Breath of the Wild, what was your huge gaming disappointment?

FFXV DLC: F MINUS and other stuff