Wednesday Action Log 11-15-23

By Issac Young Posted Wednesday Nov 15, 2023

Filed under: Epilogue, Action Log 24 comments

This week I’ve been almost exclusively playing Risk of Rain Returns.

I like it; the changes from the original are mostly improvements, and it has more depth to it. The new characters are engaging and creative, and don’t feel too out of place from the original. It’s more of a challenge than I remember the first one being; then again, it’s been awhile. The Providence Trials are hit or miss, a few of them are annoying because the difficulty scaling is all over the place, but the good is really good.  My one real gripe is the camera magnification, you get two settings; 1x and 2x, that’s it. I really wish there was a 1.5x since neither feel quite right.

Complaints aside, I’ve played 65 active hours with no sign of stopping, so the issues are clearly somewhat negligible.

What are you guys up to?


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24 thoughts on “Wednesday Action Log 11-15-23

  1. Makot says:

    Decided to refresh Smuggler’s storyline in SWtOR

    Chapter One is a continuous hillarious disaster.

    Our protagonist starts by losing their ship in a most silly, childish way imaginable (basically left it unguarded and unlocked with cargo onboard and keys in the ignition) to the Famous Ruthless Space Pirate Nobody Ever Heard About.
    Which isn’t exactly a problem, as we recover it very fast since the FRSPNEHA is apparently full match for our intrepid protagonist so far as the concept of security is concerned.
    We then find out he has new cargo, and the cargo has an agenda and a series of deliveries to make. Obviously Smuggler immediately agrees to fly around half the galaxy for a nebulous promise of untold riches left by a Most Famous King of the Underworld Nobody Ever Heard About – apparently they never made any plans past “delivering some weapon props to Ord Mantell”.

    Unsurprisingly, said cargo is impressively bad at making deals. In every single case the other party is unable to deliver, or has already delivered to someone else, or is no longer interested in the deal. I understand there’s a need for excuse so the protagonist can do a series of fetchquests, but it still looks like Drayen is simply incapable of arranging anything that is not a straight up mechanical repair. At least in the end we get some supposedly great, one-of-the-kind ship upgrades, even though the XS delivery van still flies like a drunk dewback and factotum droid calibrations give her more extra speed than the new engine (0.0004%, iirc). Which isn’t exactly a problem, better parts are readily available in respective stands in every single starport.

    Finally we get to the “treasure”, incidently finding out FRSPNEHA was squatting on our ship for some time now and getting rid of him, kinda curdling both the “nemesis” plotline and the Famous Treasure plotline at the same time, leaving the crew with supposed “riches” that do nothing for them and kinda unsure what to do next – plus Drayen with not a clue about the resolution of her double royal descendancy (yes, went for the “could use a mechanic, I guess” line. I know there’s more of that later, but this is how it looks at the end of the chapter.)

    I mean, if we read Smuggler as a perpetually horny teenager eager to please every single Female Of The Opposite/Same Sex they meet and with mental capacities of about half a brick, then at least immediate signing up for treasure hunt and Taris/Alderaan fetchquests make sense. Especially since both Beryl and lady Teraan are surprisingly honest, open and accomodating to the random teen doing fetchquests for them.
    That being said it does look like the storyline was kinda glued from parts that don’t exactly fit (rejects from other storylines, perhaps?) And, incidentaly, it appears to be the only storyline that does not take protagonist through every PVE location on the visited planet, which strengthens my suspicions Smuggler was added last, when all the ideas have run out. Even things that should build up to something, like “recruiting” Riggs cousin’s drugrunners into our “operation” don’t seem to lead anywhere, just like “recruiting” other gangs later on seem to be just an informed attribute.

    1. It’s weird I always forget how objectively awful the Smuggler storyline actually is compared with other storylines I have problems with in SWtoR. And I don’t think there are any other class stories where the “bigger, more significant” companion story comes with the second companion instead of the first. When you sum it up, it does come of like they just glued various bits together at the last minute.

      1. Daimbert says:

        It’s been a while since I played it, but I seem to recall someone somewhere commenting on it that it is basically a story that’s designed to be an excuse for the smuggler to do smuggler-like things and so fits well when viewed from that perspective. Personally, I kinda like it, probably for that reason, as it’s simple and direct but fits the smuggler well. But we’ll see if that holds up when I get there (after finishing my Consular and doing a Sith Warrior, so in about four to six months [grin]).

      2. Makot says:

        And I don’t think there are any other class stories where the “bigger, more significant” companion story comes with the second companion instead of the first.

        Sith Warrior, for example – Jaessa is later, not second companion, but is definitely “bigger” and whether light or darksided more impactfull on the galaxy than Vette, even though personally I agree with common opinion, Vette is written much better.

        As for Smuggler storyline, it lacks any meaningfull impact – from Chapter Two on Smuggler eagerly joins Republic blackops (probably because again, nobody onboard has plans reaching further than the span of next breath). It’s not like other storylines are masterpieces, great as the Agent is (let’s face it, there’s a lot of impact in the “only character actually working for the Empire” story) – but at least they have some visible, often personal goal (especially Inquisitor and to a point Trooper and Warrior), be it via being part of an organisation (Agent, Trooper, to a point Bounty Hunter in later part) or fighting against galaxy-spanning plot (Force sensitives).

        Incidentaly, Jedi Knight even manages to painfully accent the universe’s enormous ethical problem with noone caring about enslaved sentient, sapient beings – were robots given basic rights, Knight’s storyline wouldn’t reach past late tutorial.

        it is basically a story that’s designed to be an excuse for the smuggler to do smuggler-like things and so fits well when viewed from that perspective.

        Except, unfortunately, it isn’t.

        We can generously assume getting blasters to Ord Mantell involved some amount of smuggling, and on Taris we have a “conflict” with overeager customs agent (albeit that’s more of the customman desperately grabbing at straws in order to go after Beryl rather than the Smuggler)… and basically that’s it.
        Not a single job in Chapter One involves smuggling anything (at least not onscreen. One might assume getting the last specimen of a spieces to a planet should involve avoiding customs, even on Nar Shadda, but it’s never even mentioned). Chapter Two starts wetwork for Republic blackops… and the only time Smuggler is involved in actuall smuggling is near the end of Quesh planetary missions, if an option to be smuggled unconcious to the palace is taken.

        Every now and then the line “work for me” is uttered to an NPC, and it’s supposed to show the protagonist building their criminal fiefdom, but once the line is said it (and the gang/individual involved) dissapear from the story forever, leaving merely some questionable darkside points on character sheet.

        Imo Smuggler’s storyline is mostly hampered by that lack of general plan or aim, as it only serves to underscore everything that can be construed as “random glueing in”, rather than moving attention away from the visible seams.

        All that being said, don’t get me wrong – I greatly enjoy this game, warts and all. It’s just some misses are just too visible to ignore them.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Well, maybe using the term “Smuggler” is a bit off there, but it definitely seems like an excuse for the character to do Scoundrel/Rogue-type things. And remember, in the OT Han Solo smuggled himself in a ANH and maybe some troops in RotJ, so it’s not like that sort of character did a lot of smuggling in the Star Wars universe anyway [grin].

          1. “Smuggler” in the Star Wars galaxy does a lot of work covering “mercenary,” “entrepreneur,” “criminal-for-hire,” “free trader,” etc.

  2. sheer_falacy says:

    Finished Talos Principle 2, very much enjoyed it. Definitely never as hard as the hardest parts of the first but that’s kind of okay? Only had to look 2 things up, and hilariously there’s a trophy for taking 20 minutes to solve any puzzle that I never got (it ignores the out of bounds puzzles, which absolutely took me longer than that).

    Now playing Star Ocean The Second Story R, which is an old JRPG to which they have added massive QOL improvements. It has a weird design where it adds the crafting mechanic(s) and suddenly I was in numbers go up forever mode, so very many things to put points into and so many points to put. Felt like it could have used some staggering, rather than adding like 10 crafting menus and 10 toggleable mechanics and 10 more super crafting menus all at once.

    1. PhoenixUltima says:

      Yeah, the original made you buy the crafting skills in sets, and they were spread out enough that you couldn’t get them all before the 2nd continent. It made for a more gradual opening of mechanics, to help ease the player into the game. Now they just all get unlocked automatically fairly early on (after Krosse cave, I think?) and the whole system just hits you right in the face. Granted, you can’t buy all the materials you need to use all of them until Hilton, but it’s still a bit much.

      Oh yeah, I’ve been playing SO2:R myself, obviously. It’s a cool remake for the most part, but I have to admit I’m disappointed in the post-game superbosses. They’re so broken and OP that the only reasonable way to beat them is to abuse bloody armor (makes you invincible, but your HP drains rapidly) + HP draining weapons. Which then makes it literally impossible to lose, which is boring. Granted, they were kind of that way in the original as well, but between the lower framerate and generally slower pace of battle in the original, they were at least kind of manageable if you wanted to fight them legit. Now that the framerate is silky smooth and the battles move faster, it’s just too much.

  3. Daimbert says:

    Managed to get in another run with my Consular in The Old Republic. I’m past Coruscant and with the Rest XP, the Esselles, and Major XP boost active doing the story and planet missions I left Coruscant a couple of levels above the planet cap, which is what I really, really like to see.

    Also managed to finish Witch Hunt from Dragon Age Origins. I was worried about finding the time to play it, but it only took me a little over an hour to finish. And it also reminded me of what I like about that game, because Ariadne and Finn are really interesting characters, and interact really well with each other and with the Dog. The combat can be repetitive and excessive, but the character interactions are generally really good. Now I need to figure out the Dragon Age Keep — after the fun I had with it last time — and then start Inquisition, although playing it in earnest will definitely wait until I go on vacation in a couple of weeks.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Obviously an opinion but I’ll be honest, I think the Witch Hunt was scandalous on release. Like, by now I believe anybody would be buying a version of the game that comes bundled with all the DLC, and I assume at a steep discount seeing how we’re talking about a 14 year old title, but on release it cost 7$. That’s seven American dollars in 2010 for a DLC that takes maybe two hours if you’re taking your extremely sweet time, is built of almost exclusively reused assets, and storywise offers almost nothing in terms of the promised progression of Morrigan’s post-game storyline.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Yeah, it was a little dull that way, and while I didn’t talk about it the ending was incredibly abrupt, as Morrigan says that she’s going to give you something that might be useful and it looks like she left a book and another, bigger book? You don’t even get to pick it up and see what it is and your companions don’t get to comment on what they’ve seen and how that relates to the reason they came with you in the first place, and it’s clear that seeing it is supposed to trigger something in you but I have NO idea what that’s supposed to be.

        And yeah, I got it with the full game bundle on GOG, which I bought for Shale and for the Darkspawn Chronicles … which I found far more disappointing.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          As in Darkspawn Chronicles or both? Shale is imho pretty entertaining and ties into the main story* with the whole golem thing. Darkspawn Chronicles is pretty meh but I don’t remember if I was going into it with foreknowledge or just expecting it to be a silly thing similar to removing essential flags from everyone in Skyrim and going on a rampage through a town.

          *It is generally believed that Shale was meant to be part of the original release. The (semi-)official version is that she had to be cut from the game because her larger (particularly broader) model was getting stuck on obstacles. This is supposedly referenced in her dialogue where she actually mentions that this was a problem and her owner chipped her down to size. The less generous theory is that she was cut primarily to be sold as DLC for purely financial reasons.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Darkspawn Chronicles. I liked Shale even though due to how my character was created I couldn’t take her to meet her maker, but the Darkspawn Chronicles were both shorter than I expected and didn’t really have all that many significant changes. And the final battle was very tough because the dragon that caused so much trouble for me in the regular game went down pretty easily there if I didn’t do things just right.

  4. BlueHorus says:

    Baldur’s Gate 3 decided it wanted to update 2 weeks ago. And between my unreliable internet connection, Steam’s habit of forgetting how much it’s downloaded and the sheer size of the patch*, I’ve never been anywhere near completing it.
    Now, in total, I’ve downloaded far more data than is contained in the patch. It’s just that Steam forgets what it’s downloaded periodically, and starts again from scratch. I estimate that there’s been about 150 GB of data just left lying around in the downloads folder.
    The whole experience leaves me wondering what it’d be like if the system a) worked right, and b) were to…I don’t know…ASK ME IF I WANTED THE FUCKING PATCH before locking me out of the game.

    Remember when you paid for a game and that meant you owned it?

    So I installed Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters again.
    (Wait, an entire game for only 18 GB? What madness!)
    It’s still good, with the same flaws. Desperately needs a way to increase your squad size. Grossly overdesigned Grey Knights, made far worse because I have the Assassins DLC and their design is so much better. Story that focusses on one of Games Workshop’s worst characters.
    But the gameplay is solid, the tactical/strategic gameplay is engaging, the enemies are interesting (before they get too bullet-spongy in the late game) and it keeps me entertained while waiting for that goddamned patch to finally download.

    *96 GB?! What, did they rewrite the entire game?!

    1. sheer_falacy says:

      Have they improved the AI in Daemonhunters? I did overall enjoy the game, but I remember the standard plague marine turn being “armor up, run away, overwatch somewhere irrelevant”, even if they had a clean shot on your troops. The starting cultists were some of the most dangerous enemies in the game because they didn’t have any unusual actions so they just… attacked you.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        They have, I think! I’me certainly noticing that I’m having to work harder – the enemies seem to know what their abilites are and how to use them.
        The heavy weapons guys try and supress you at long range, the specialist ‘apothecary’ enemies go out of their way to heal their allies, and everyone loves sticking to cover.
        Even the basic zombie enemies seem to be working in groups to surround my knights.

        Definitely making me work harder.

  5. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I’m watching the Desert Bus for Hope charity marathon which means I am not playing a lot of stuff I normally would be because it occupies a part of my consciousness.

    Having said that I am playing some stuff, started another Stellaris playthrough that is going to inevitably get aborted when I fail to finish it before the next major feature update on the 16th (this time it’s “rifts” little pocket universes with small narratives of their own) that will inevitably break 99% of the mods I use.

    I’m also trying a bit of Palia which is a “Stardew Valley but MMO”, so far I haven’t really interacted with the multiplayer component much other than seeing other people run around the world and getting a couple friend requests from complete strangers which I promptly ignored. Visually it’s definitely closer to the My Time At series because of the 3D graphics, it doesn’t have combat outside of hunting though and the exploration is fairly limited, the game is in beta though so if it keeps afloat I imagine they’ll add more areas as time goes on. To be clear on how the game works, there are two (that I know of) “big” openworld maps, everybody gets their own instanced homestead map (that you can let friends visit) and there are additional tiny maps related to the story. Didn’t interact much with the multiplayer component so far other than seeing other players in the gameworld going about their business and occasionally calling each other in chat for some kind of global events that can be done with multiple people. The money seems to be coming exclusively from extra clothing sets (there is a kickass dragon t-shirt that is free though) and pets that I think are purely cosmetic, you’d think you’d be able to pay for speeding up processing resources or building of the house, which initially takes 8 hours, but that either doesn’t seem to be the case or at least it wasn’t in my face enough to notice though to be fair I wasn’t looking too hard. Overall the game is a bit grindy in that Stardew/My Time At sense, you need to chop down trees, mine for rocks and metals, fish, plant and harvest crops all of which may take time to obtain and/or process, you can then use them for various higher tier stuff, sell them, use them in quests or give them to villagers as gifts. Speaking of villagers it’s generally all very wholesome, the “worst” person I’ve encountered so far could be described as “stuck-up”, also, if you want to romance a purple skinned, pointy eared, friendly humanoid than you are absolutely spoiled for choice (for the record I have not actually tried romancing anybody and am judging based on which of the NPCs have hearts on their relationship trackers).

    AC:Origins rant is still building up. This game is just so ridiculously stupid on so many levels…

  6. Syal says:

    Well, after three endings, I think I’m finally done with this porn game.

    I guess it’s a 4x game? Enemies don’t do much unless you activate their scripts; you can declare war on people, and one will be scripted to declare war on you, and if you eliminate that one another will be scripted to declare war. Regions usually have between two and four towns, and you have to take all of them to take a region, so there’s buffer room to let opponents win. Once you’ve conquered half their territory they usually have a scripted event where they gain new unique characters to fight with, and once they’re conquered those uniques are in the pool for everyone.

    Anyone can go to any region every turn. But they only get one action; if you use six troops in an attack (or an action like Searching for Treasure), none of them are available for defense anymore. Higher difficulties let enemies attack more often in the same turn. There’s something of a Fallout 1-style time limit; if you don’t conquer a nation before the main villain shows up, they’ll take it over instead.

    I really dig the combat mechanics in it; battles are 6vs6, and every character gets an individual number of actions; generics almost always have two, uniques get up to 6. But the battle itself has a set number of actions, so if all 12 characters remain alive, no one’s getting more than two or three actions per combat. At the end of actions whoever has the most morale wins, with defenders having a starting bonus, so attacks require overwhelming force while defense involves stalling people out. There’s also random permadeath for characters who are knocked out, both the unique ones and the generics can be captured or killed, both in victory and defeat. If the main character is ever knocked out they die guaranteed and it’s Game Over.

    This game is really fun, and if it weren’t for the porn I would highly recommend it. I wonder why I haven’t seen these systems elsewhere.

  7. Lars says:

    A bunch of different stuff. The usual are Genshin Impact, Scythe, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel/Duel Links.
    Then I started a Coop-Playthrough in Saints Row: The Third – It crashed now twice at the end of a story-mission. And the Traffic spawn in Coop is off, so Rampages and insurance fraud are harder to outright impossible.
    There is a Coop-Session running of Space Engineers. I don’t know how long that will last. This game has a bunch of (usability)-problems and we lost two sessions in a row. In the first I crashed the expensive Mining-Ship hard. Loading the last save meant loading a save from 1 1/2 hours ago. The very next session the hosts cat jumped from the table onto the tower hitting the shut-off button of the PC. One hour of the same work was gone.
    Also playing Slaps & Beans 2 a sidescroller Beat-M-Up with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill as main characters brawling through a bunch of their movies (Banana Joe, I’m for the Hippopotamus an Go for it until now). Simple fun and the music is still great.
    And for something different I’m playing XCOM: Chimera Squad. One of the few titles I don’t mind the Iso-Perspective.

  8. Henson says:

    Would you believe Warcraft III?

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    Well, due to massive amounts of work I have yet to finish my playthrough of the Dead Space Remake, but I’m still enjoying my way through it in relatively short bursts. So far the changes I’ve encountered are either nonexistent or for the better. I should be done by this weekend and then I’ll see what new large game I’ll pick up.

    I also bought, played and finished the story mode of Logic Town. As the title suggests, it’s a game about doing logic puzzles, trying to figure out where to put certain items based on given clues. It’s simple to learn but gets harder the more items there are. It’s hopelessly addictive and it even has a free play mode with randomly generated puzzles, which basically gives it infinite replay value. Great stuff.

  10. Glide says:

    Yakuza 5, which so far has been one of the better entries in the series in my view. It’s a perfect distillation of how a sidequest-heavy game like all the Yakuza games can be best organized, with an intriguing main storyline, a throughline of one major B-story per section of the game (that can go for hours and hours if you want to see it through), and a number of short encounters throughout the world. It being my sixth Yakuza game of the year, the combat is getting a little stale, but it’s generally well-designed.

    One of my big pet peeves in gaming is that I wish designers were a little more willing to explore activities that aren’t combat. Considering I spend 0% of my real life getting into fights, it’s weird to me that 60% of my gaming time is spent fighting. It’s to my great delight, then, that I discovered after lots of fighting, Yakuza 5’s third section abruptly shifts to the tale of Yakuza 1’s resident morality pet/MacGuffin child Haruka becoming a pop idol, with 100% of the gameplay being singing, dancing and socializing minigames. Yakuza 5 had been good but it wasn’t in “I think about it while I’m at work” territory yet, but with the Haruka section it is now.

    1. Manlobbi the shopkeeper says:

      Well…. games aren’t necessarily meant to reflect real life are they? I don’t spend 60% of my life getting into fights, but I do spend some of my life thinking about how much better my job would be if I could fight that asshole from accounting who sends out all those damn mass emails to everyone in the company.

      And probably that jag-off in traffic. Couple people I saw last week at Walmart who thought everyone in the store needed to be brought in the loop about their interpersonal relationship problems by talking loud AF. Yeah… I think about fighting those people. Not so much about singing and dancing.

      Point is, most games are designed to be what we wished we could do, not what we can do.

    2. Lars says:

      Yakuza 5 is – in my opinion – the worst entry, because the main story is infuriating nonsensical and confusing. Especially the Sajima part. The thing that the characters [very light spoiler] moan the death of one of the biggest assholes in this story is off to me and the effect of bullets varies a lot on whoever gets hit (again).
      Ten hours away from the end I lost it and considered just quitting. But then I realized, that I already lost 130 hours to this game and joylessly grinded through.

      And I’m still gonna play all the Ryo Ga Gotoku games that will come out. Zero, Kiwami, 3, 6, Like a Dragon and Judgement 2 were very good games after all.

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