Accelerating Rate of Change (Pt. 2)

Changing habits like Infusions on your weapons in Dark Souls III.

Not that I ever really changed my Infusions around. I was originally toying with Chaos for the fact that I wanted to be a sort of Pyromancer, but ultimately decided on Heavy because I was using a broadsword and a shield. Strength was also my primary attribute. So it kind of made sense to lean on Heavy. Not that anything about that build made sense in the end- especially when facing bosses- as the shield was pretty much a hindrance. It did make clearing the majority of the content easier, though. Until I reached the DLC content.

Then my Unkindled was the lone resident of slaughter city.

I’ve mentioned previously how the last few months have been good for creative content, and so, in this post, I’d like to talk about how gaming content could potentially change. I’ve been thinking about focusing on individual aspects of certain titles and writing posts about them. This first occurred to me when I thought about playing through Dark Souls again.

I’ve already got a post that summarises how I felt about Dark Souls, but I’ve never actually experienced the Artorias of the Abyss DLC despite fighting the Hydra and likely having access to it with my first character. I’d also like to go back and experience a different way to play the original. Maybe with Miracles. Or spears. Or a spear with Lightning Spears. In the same way I could look at the different DLC for Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III as well. It was just an idea I had for highlighting content that I may have missed the first time around. It also illustrates how my personal focus is changing back to what it used to be, and how I’d explore certain games more than others or play through them multiple times. Dark Souls as a series is perfect for this, too.

Thinking about this chocobo makes me sad.

I’ve also been playing a lot of the Final Fantasy series in the last couple of years. Most recently I finished the main story for Final Fantasy XV but have yet to start on any of the DLC. Mostly because I’d already been playing for near enough 100hrs and didn’t want to rush through it, which meant it was probably best to return with fresh eyes. I’d also probably enjoy it more if the story wasn’t as vividly present in my mind. It’s like getting to experience it all over again. Which is one of the nice things about having Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age.

I can finally revisit one of my favourite instalments in the series.

This will mean that there will be more gaming content but I’m not going to stop creating other kinds of content as a result. I’ll still be sharing new creative efforts, random updates, and explanations of why I should never go to the local art store. This will just be occasional additional content which highlights things that I find interesting. Or fun.

Or a compilation of how many times it’s feasibly possible to die against the Nameless King while desperately trying to tank him with a greatshield. It’s technically feasibly possible to die infinitely as long as you never stop attempting it. I am known to be stubborn, too. I don’t usually feel this comfortable with whatever this is that I do and so I’m just stretching out a little. Like when you’re laying in a really comfortable bed so you stretch outwards. Only to find that you can’t stretch to the left as there’s a cat on the bed with you, nor can you stretch to the right as there’s another cat on the bed with you, and so you sit quite content with the purring sounds of your furry friends. Who never want to move, either. So making that bed will almost always be impossible.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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The Cure for Insomnia

It’s not safe to travel at night.

Normally I prefer being awake at night, but those pesky bloodthirsty daemons that occupy Eos once the sun goes down make it a little harder to justify. That was until I realised that by not sleeping I could save up (and consequently multiply) experience points at various locations, which ultimately led to not resting for weeks at a time. Which was great for everyone except Ignis who rarely utilised his culinary skills. But at least he cooked more meals than Noctis caught fish. I caught a grand total of two fish and both were for cats.

I later caught a third to talk to a NPC.

Final Fantasy XV is an interesting JRPG that invokes the nostalgia of earlier instalments while standing firmly with its own mechanics. Featuring one of the best open world environments I’ve experienced Eos is overflowing with dangerous enemies, dungeons to explore, secret locations to discover, and hundreds of quests to undertake in one form or another.

I was quite impressed with the character progression mechanics, too. Accruing AP will allow you to unlock new abilities and passive bonuses via Ascension, which made a noticeable difference and allowed your party members to act autonomously with variation in their abilities. It’s not quite the tactical system present in Final Fantasy XII, but it’s one that allows the different party members to retain their personalities and become more powerful over time. The attention to detail in their mannerisms and animations was refreshing as well. As was their role in the party matching their role in the story. For instance, Gladiolus, who acts to protect Noctis, has active and passive abilities that quite literally allow him to shield Noctis from damage.

I’m also glad to see that there is variation in the weapon types used by each character. It’s nice to see the return of a classic approach to upgrading equipment, but with the addition of equipment that is specific to Noctis (due to his role in the story) that allows him to fully utilise his Armiger. Not only reinforcing the new mechanics but allowing more variation when dealing with enemies who are resistant to certain weapon types. Or even magic types. Magic being a curious blend of drawing elemental energy from deposits and crafting this time around.

Elemancy is an interesting concept that I scarcely employed.

Having New Game+ as an option definitely invites the possibility to use different weapons and/or magic the second time around. Being able to switch to the other party members makes for an interesting variation, too. Seeing as each has their own unique mechanics which make them different to Noctis. I don’t know how feasible it is to stay consistently switched, though.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Final Fantasy XV but I was very pleasantly surprised. The open world is vast and features actual dungeons which not only include overflowing numbers of daemons but puzzles and rare equipment, too. The hunts are varied and increasingly difficult with many different enemies to encounter. The side quests often form quest chains which have logical conclusions with the characters concerned. It’s an accomplishment that the world feels as alive as it does- which is something the Final Fantasy series has lacked for a while- but something that comes so naturally to this instalment. It’s a living, breathing, ever-evolving world that’s just waiting to be explored. I highly recommend giving it a chance- it may surprise you.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Those Who Travel Alsgard

Neptune is the second Lvl 110 Paladin I’ve played.

Cyberdimension Neptunia 4 Goddesses Online is an ARPG that is heavily influenced by MMORPG mechanics. Mostly because you’re playing an MMORPG with the cast of the Neptunia series. It boasts all of your favourite features, including, but not limited to: crafting, exploring dungeons, group events, loot, bosses, character classes, and character progression systems. It doesn’t boast the overflowing (and overwhelming) number of skills that most MMORPGs have, though. Which makes this a less intense and more enjoyable experience overall.

Not that having options is ever a bad thing in either an MMORPG or an ARPG.

But, in this case, the lack of options doesn’t restrict you. Each skill is generally more useful than several iterations of applying the same effect in a slightly different way. The only exception being the elemental damage skills which each class has limited access to. Naturally, Nepgear, the Mage, has access to all of the elemental damage skills. Including some that the Goddesses have.

The equipment strengthening mechanics also remove much of the busy work usually present in MMORPGs. It’s sort of like a crafting system that isn’t a crafting system. You still need to gather raw materials to strengthen your weapons or armour, but it is handled independently to your characters or their individual expertise. You can easily fully upgrade your starting equipment for quite the boost should you have the money and materials to do so. This is especially important later in the main story when more expensive equipment becomes available. Each upgrade is surprisingly potent, too. I was pleased to discover that some of the equipment I’d upgraded near the beginning of the story was still useful in the later areas. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

We must make haste for there are monsters to loot.

While there are some mechanics which I really enjoyed, there were some which were quite hazy. Like the choice of party tactics. I don’t really know what each of those options mean or what they change about the behaviour of my party members. I would assume that Blanc, a Priest, would default towards healing over damage, but when specifying what I would assume is that option she still seemed more concerned with damage. Then again, I don’t think any healing AI will ever do what I want it to do. But that’s just me being a defensive player.

That said, it’s a minor drawback that doesn’t impact things too greatly.

I’ve been looking forward to Cyberdimension Neptunia 4 Goddesses Online for some time now and it hasn’t disappointed me. It’s not exactly a full length adventure like Megadimension Neptunia VII or other earlier instalments, but it is a greatly enjoyable way to spend thirty hours. There’s definitely potential for regular additional DLC akin to MMO content patches, too.

I wasn’t sure if I’d get around to playing this one as soon as I have due to wanting to play Final Fantasy XV (Windows Edition) at release, but I’m glad that I spent the time on it. I really did enjoy the experience and do wish it were longer. It intentionally feels unfinished (for reasons explained in the story) and that only makes me want to find secret dungeons and/or bosses. I’ll be attempting to get all of the achievements, too. I’m mostly there save for the quests which I still need to finish. I’m hoping that Neptune at Lvl 110+ with an additional roster of Lvl 85-90 characters is enough to beat the final final boss. The most final of bosses. With instant death attacks and several million health. Most likely. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

To Hunt Many Monsters

How else would I make equipment from their remains if I don’t hunt them?

It would seem that some of them would like nothing more than to live in peace, though. They’re quite happy eating at their patch of grass until I come along with a sword and take their body parts. Maybe I’m the real monster. Maybe that’s why they keep sending me out on these quests. I don’t really know. All I do know is that I have a pretty cool sword carved from monster bones, armour crafted from scales and fur, and I’ve finally bought something new-ish for my PS Vita. Well, it’s new to me. I’ve not played Monster Hunter before.

But I might be playing Monster Hunter World as a result.

The Monster Hunter series brings together an interesting albeit clunky set of mechanics. I’m not sure how much Monster Hunter Freedom differs from the original, but I believe it’s a PSP remake of Monster Hunter G. I have no idea what has changed (if anything) and how much it has changed. It’s surprisingly content dense, though. Which is always a good thing for portable titles.

Not that I’ve tried yet but I’m assuming that online functionality will mostly be non-existent now. I don’t know if that changes anything. I get the feeling that the introductory tutorials implied that taking on the toughest monsters is something best done with friends. Then again, it’s not like I’d listen to that advice as I’d still try to fight them. It’s part of the fun. I’d be slightly disappointed to find out that it is literally impossible to fight certain monsters alone. But I guess I’ll find out when I get there. I don’t think it would make too much of a difference, either. Besides missing out on a potentially epic fight or losing the ability to craft certain armour. Or certain weapons. Which may not be that valuable outside of certain encounters anyway.

Monster Hunter Freedom continues the older video game design trend of not really telling you too much about anything. I have several statistics on weapons or armour sets that I don’t fully understand the importance of. If there even is any. I don’t even know what my defensive statistics mean. I’m just assuming that higher numbers are better. But whether those numbers represent a damage reduction percentage, a flat number that translates into a percentage at different Hunter Ranks, or a flat reduction of incoming damage is anyone’s guess

Which is a shame as I love statistics.

I just wish I knew what these ones meant. It is an interesting series, though. I do enjoy how each weapon or armour set has a particular strength and weakness, and how wielding each weapon class feels different to emphasise different ways to approach the same problem. Preparing for hunts is also a vital step in taking down certain monsters. Which is a nice touch.

You really do feel like a monster hunter. You study the monsters, learn their weaknesses, prepare potions and tonics, and can even use that knowledge to capture the monster rather than slay it. There is a certain amount of repetition as you’ll need to grind with certain quests to be able to fully craft armour sets. Or buy a Whetstone for the thousandth time. But, again, these are older video game design trends. I don’t really have a point with this post, either. I just wanted to talk about a rather interesting time I’ve had recently looking at a series I’ve not played before. I’m quite excited for Monster Hunter World but I’m still deciding whether it’s really for me. It does look like it brings together these clunky mechanics in a more cohesive fashion. Which would be great.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Celestial Brushwork

The brush is mightier than the wolf.

Okami HD (as the name would suggest) is a remastered version of the original Okami released in 2006 (which I have never played), and is a rare example of an experience that is complex yet thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It features a large open world and a surprising amount of freedom to go with it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you’re encouraged to explore this open world as soon as you complete the starting experience. As there is so much to see, do, and unlock even with the limited variety of brush techniques you’ll have at that time.

There are plenty of secrets hidden in this vast world, too.

The focal mechanic of Okami is the use of the Celestial Brush. This allows you to draw onto the environment for a number of different effects, which are directly linked to the number of brush techniques you currently have access to and will be invaluable in unearthing secrets or making progress. It’s an expertly implemented and meticulously utilised mechanic.

Alongside this there is a rather interesting levelling mechanic which is vital to your success. While you can collect three Sun Fragments and increase your health, the primary way to increase your various attributes will be through the acquisition of Praise. Which is something you can find anywhere and everywhere in the world. Mostly acquired from restoring nature to corrupted lands or feeding animals (which is a whole mechanic of its own), you’ll also acquire praise for defeating certain enemies. Praise can then be spent to increase your health, the number of ink wells you have, how many Astral Pouches you can carry, or even how much currency you can hold. It’s an oddly refreshing system that doesn’t promote grinding out battles for experience.

Such a colourful and diverse creature you are.

You’ll also find (and hopefully equip) various weapons in the course of your adventure. Each class of weapon promotes a different advantage be it speed, strength, or combo potential. Visiting the Dojo will allow you to unlock new techniques or bonuses related to each class of weapon, too. While you can also earn rare Demon Fangs which can be used to buy various Holy Artifacts. These are not required for completing the story, but they do have unique bonuses for Amaterasu that you can’t find elsewhere. Especially if you collect all of the Stray Beads.

New Game+ helps greatly in acquiring them all.

One of the other focal mechanics of Okami is the unique storytelling approach. The story itself is an enjoyably awesome tale of epic heroes and ancient demons, but it is presented with such a gorgeous illustration style and brings together the visual style of the title quite well. It’s also rather light-hearted, comical, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously at any time.

There were many things that I enjoyed but the freedom to explore was most enjoyable of all. It’s rare to be allowed to wander around the map as and when you want to, while it’s equally as rare to be allowed to return to earlier areas to use your new brush techniques. You’d usually expect that to be hidden behind New Game+ or the like. In fact, New Game+ is rather well implemented as it isn’t required to access anything. It only really makes it easier to earn the resources required to collect anything you missed the first time around. In either case, I’ve greatly enjoyed this title and can easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys having fun while gaming. Which, in my opinion, is the only reason you should be gaming in the first place.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Return of the Wang

The Way of the Wang is long, and hard, and ribbed for her pleasure.

Shadow Warrior 2 is an excellent example of everything you would want from a sequel. You’ve got deeper character development mechanics, a greater selection of upgrades, numerous skills to unlock, a greater selection of weapons (with new weapon types), and an extensive story that offers more freedom. The swordplay might even be better in the sequel, too. But, if that’s not enough, they’ve even thrown in free DLC, which will not only add new missions as you progress through the story but offer greater customisation of weapons and upgrade gems.

It’s also ridiculously fun in the silliest way possible.

The close combat options are just as enjoyable as they were in Shadow Warrior. I’m particularly keen on the dual wielding options that allow me to slice, dice, and observe giblets as my foes fall to literal pieces. You also get more chances to burn, freeze, electrocute, and poison foes when swinging these. I’m not sure what that calculated murderous intent says about me.

Upgrading weapons is a particularly important mechanic for unlocking their full potential in combat. Upgrading Wang is pretty important, too. Both of these sets of mechanics will allow you to specialise in the things you want to do best and give you the ability to handle different situations. Likewise, investing in certain skills will give you better results with certain techniques or styles of combat. Sting, Vortex, and Force Slash comprise your active weapon techniques. While Healing Flame, Chi-Blast, Grip of Darkness, and Vanish comprise your active chi techniques. Each has a specific situation in which it will perform at its best, but they’re all equally useful in helping you survive the countless demons you’ll need to slay on your lengthier adventure.

It’s a lovely day to go to the video store.

The best surprise in Shadow Warrior 2 would have to be the final boss fight music. It was one of those perfect moments in video game history, where you’re trying to take this particularly important fight seriously but you’re somewhere between smiling and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I loved it, though. Which is, in my opinion, what makes Shadow Warrior (as a series) so great, as it never takes itself too seriously but is always enjoyable. There might be more grinding in the sequel but it’s enjoyable grinding.

Even the randomised loot was handled well.

Weapons (and some upgrade gems) will have specific statistics, while everything else will have randomised combinations of affixes which can create some truly unique (and powerful) bonuses for certain weapons. I’m not sure if it works from a set of prefixes and suffixes as an ARPG would but it does work quite well. You rarely find something that is completely useless.

That said, even if you do, you can easily reforge it with two other upgrade gems and have another chance to roll something usable. There is so much more to Shadow Warrior 2 than the previous instalment and it really helps to deliver a more enjoyable adventure. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m also starting to wonder when other first person action titles will start to employ as enjoyable close combat mechanics, rather than the repetitive left click spam. I’m particularly fond of swords in the first place but I’m more fond of them when you can do awesome things with them. Such as twirling around until you get motion sickness and your vision is clouded with blood and viscera. I’m also not sure what enjoying that sensation says about me.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 2)

Giblets! Glorious giblets!

If there’s one thing I can always find time to do it’s hack, slash, and smash various once living organisms into glorious now deceased giblets. That’s a sentence that could be taken out of context by future employers- so I sure hope that none of them ever find this blog. I could probably explain the original context articulately enough, though. Not that admitting you play video games is any better or worse than explaining you’re a psychopath when it comes to most employers. It’s not like I spend the majority of my free time at the moment playing video games.

Not at all. I’m… uh, being productive…?

It’s been an oddly good year for all things video games. I’ve finally finished Dark Souls II which has been looming over me for quite some time, I had great fun with Dark Souls III, and as a result I’ve been really excited for the recently released (for PC via Steam) Nioh. I can’t wait to see what brutal visceral combat combined with an ARPG loot system is like.

SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist have also provided hours of good ol’ fashioned fun. You know that warm, fuzzy, content feeling you get when playing video games? That. Which is prevalent in Shadow Warrior 2 as well. Something that I’ve been playing recently and will be writing about shortly. My absolute favourite experience this year would have to go to NieR: Automata, which was an exhilarating and exceptionally enjoyable adventure. I’ve not had this much fun with gaming for quite some time. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy Dark Souls III as much as I did but I really do want to go back through it. Maybe without a greatshield this time. Those are useful for most enemies but some bosses are much harder if you rely on a shield.

I’ve also finally replaced my 1tb HDD that held my game libraries with a 4tb HDD that now holds even more gaming goodness. It’s mostly an upgrade for convenience, as I could shuffle my existing HDD around and install things when I want to play them. But have you seen the size of video games these days? They’re huge! They’re getting even bigger, too! I don’t really envisage sitting there waiting for things to download before I can play them as enjoyable. What is this? The early 2000s where downloading MMORPGs cost you subscription time?

Now there’s a funny story for another time.

I’ve greatly enjoyed much of what I’ve played this year, which is good for a number of reasons but mostly because that’s why you play video games. To have fun. To enjoy them. To create ridiculously stupidly underpowered character builds and try to clear the toughest content. Or at least those are the reasons I play them. So it’s nice to be enjoying things again.

This is much more of an update than an explanation like the previous post, but it’s still relevant information. Especially if you enjoy my gaming content. There will likely be less of it in the future, as I’m playing less new things, but what content there is should be of higher quality, so I feel it’s a worthwhile trade. If you’re interested in any recommendations I might have you can always follow my Steam Curator store page. I may also be creating content about things I’ve played before (the blog was created) such as Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the like. But I’m going to be focused on clearing things I’ve not played before returning to those I have. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy then you’re in luck.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie