Wednesday Action Log 4-17-24

By Issac Young Posted Wednesday Apr 17, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Action Log 9 comments

This week I’ve not done very much. I’ve played Roblox and helped my siblings with their various Minecraft projects. I also intend to play the Half-Life 2: Episode 2 VR mod now that I’ve got a slightly better GPU.

What are you guys playing?


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9 thoughts on “Wednesday Action Log 4-17-24

  1. Lars says:

    I’m playing Outcast: A New Beginning. Beautiful, fantastic music, good humor, clunky controls, some awkward cutscenes, generic evil doers. But it is hard to stop playing if you started.
    Co-op: Satisfactory. Finally in the Aluminum age.
    Analog: Sky Team a co-op limited communication co-op game where you and your co-pilot land a plane. It’s fun. I need to try the different modules. And I soked my Pandemic: Iberia copy in beer. Stupid cheap Alu-cans, stupid me.

  2. Daimbert says:

    I’m still a bit boring, because as usual I just managed to get in another planet in The Old Republic. It’s a busy time for me so I had to put aside Pool of Radiance and Dark Age of Camelot for at least another couple of weeks.

  3. Syal says:

    One-hand games continue. Replaying Trails In The Sky 1, a game I only completed once seven years ago. Never wanted to revisit it due to the sheer number of cutscenes, but having restarted it I’m reminded just how utterly charming it is. The characters are fun, the music is vibrant, the mechanics and artstyle play into the theme of growing up, it’s just a really good game. And it’s a full RPG you can play with just the mouse, how cool is that.

    Replaying Fell Seal; Arbiter’s Mark, which I played to completion a long time back and never could get back into. It’s pretty heavily based on Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, but there’s something about the mechanics that doesn’t quite gel. Part of it is the unlocks require you to send characters through disparate class paths; to make your Tank immune to death penalties you have to send them through Healer and Debuffer, two of the least tanky classes available. FFT didn’t make you do that nearly as much, and FFT also didn’t have important stat gains you’d be giving up like this one. Also the plot collapses for the second half. Still, it’s challenging and fun enough, and can be played with just the mouse. Let’s see if I make it past Chapter 2 this time.

    Dabbled in Dream Tactics, released in a bundle with Dark Deity and other games I already owned. They seem to make “Shining Force with a gimmick”-style games, and this one’s gimmick is a Slay The Spire card system. It actually comes off a bit like original X-Com, where you get multiple actions with each of your squad members per round. I don’t think I’m even past the tutorial yet, but it’s… alright. Not really captivating, but it’s fun. Can be played keyboard only, which isn’t as good as mouse-only but whattayagonnado.

    Balatro is a cruel game, heavily dependent on what Jokers come up for you. I got a really cool Joker in a run that just copies whatever Joker’s next to it, and then couldn’t find a single Joker to put next to it that wouldn’t self-destruct. Horrible. Infuriating. One more try.

    Chess, more specifically King Of The Hill Chess where a king in the center of the board also wins. I really like that variant, means some winning strategies become losing because you can just blitz the center in response.

  4. Alarion says:

    I’m trying to play Dishonored again. I gave it a try last year and it didn’t grab me, but I’m not sure why. It seems like a game I should really like. I’m going to do at least the first two missions this time before putting it down and see if it gets its hooks in me by then

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    Very busy week with work, so I’ve stuck to casual games like Bloons TD 6 and Picross; stuff I can just pick up for a few minutes and be done with. Though I did play a bit more Superliminal, but didn’t get to advance much. Mostly tired all the time, though.

  6. Sartharina says:

    I have been playing No Man’s Sky

    I have been sidetracked by building up my settlement. There’s so much to do in the game! I’ve been spending a LOT of time building up a Uranium Base on the same planet as my settlement – it has three Exocraft bays and two landing pads.

    Unfortunately, base lighting in NMS is really awful :(

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Another game that I kind of want to restart playing for all the updates, especially since they’ve added to the main narrative (I won’t really call it a “story”) but I feel decidedly “meh” on replaying parts of the early mechanics…

  7. Fizban says:

    Finally got around to trying Exoprimal, and it’s been fun. Definitely trying to bully you into buying the “premium season pass” if you actually want any cosmetics (your other sources are free lootbox drops that pull from the entire roster, most of which you have to grind for ages to unlock without paying, or paying from the same currency you need for upgrades and unlocks at ridiculous prices), but gameplay and story are good.

    Yes, story, in a “competitive PvE” multiplayer game. This was one of the reasons I wanted to check it out, and it does deliver with a fairly boilerplate and sometimes trying too hard but generally decent sci-fi framework for its ridiculous power armor vs dinosaur hordes game. In fact, almost too much- between calibrating, troubleshooting, and opening cutscenes and “tutorials”, it took me an hour to get to actual normal gameplay, and every game or two it dumps two or more new bits to watch through which can be rather exhausting if you just want to play (normal games are around 15 min), and if you don’t then you’ll trigger the next story cutscene and/or bot+npc story mission without knowing what’s supposed to be happening. So that’s kindof annoying. And for grind time, it’s taken me about 10 hours of gametime (including short but not instant queing, reading lore and custcenes, and deciphering mechanics) to unlock my first alternate “suit”, more accurately alternate primary for a suit. All suit variants must be unlocked in order, so if you actually like the sound of the third option, well have fun grinding all the way through the two you don’t like to get there. And of course there’s one suit of each class that you’re not allowed to have until your overall player level is X high. The very long grind means there’s all sorts of stuff I haven’t even been able to try yet (and probably plenty of people using X are thus just trying it out rather than maining it), but you can check the player screen after a match to see what builds people are using, so that’s handy.

    The gameplay is quite class based. Three classes (assault, tank, and support) with five person teams mean that duplicates are required, but this is no Deeprock Galactic where a team of competent players can go mono-class and do just fine.. . Or is it? Maps are fixed, but each map has several variations on how you zig zag through it, with different spawns and finales: you’ll eventually recognize them, but the way the action never lets up it doesn’t lull like repeated maps usually would start to feel. You’re “competing” with the other team in the sense of needing to finish objectives faster, usually either killing dinos or having your defend point take less damage. But even if you’re slower it doesn’t seem to really matter until the finale, you get to keep playing anyway, which is very good for not wasting your time (it’s only a 30% xp bonus for winning). There’s a whole invade the other team with a dino thing, but this also leaves your team short a player and you often get insta-killed by ultimate moves as soon as you invade- because indeed, the main benefit of “completing objectives faster” seems to be that by killing dinos faster, you charge your Ult faster, which means you can kill big dinos or invading player big dinos faster when needed. There are also finales where direct PvP happens, which I basically write off as even bots will just crush me so if I’m carried then yay and if I don’t then whatever (you can choose to only do PvP or PvE finales, but you get a 20% bonus for random, so even losing on random is nearly as good as winning on choice, again well designed there).

    The game starts you on default with “Deadeye”, the assault class with an assault rifle, which you’ll eventually learn is not actually that useful. Sure it’s your primary and can drill on big dino heads, but against swarms ie: most of the combat, it’s not very good, and you’ll be slowing the team down if you’re just shooting. The key is the grenade, which is on a fairly long cooldown so you can’t just spam it: you have to wait for the right moment when there are multiple swarms converging on the right spot where you can blast them all at once. And when you do so it can very often conclusively end the wave, making it clear you either made a good shot, or if you were slower that maybe you needed to find a better shot faster.

    And so it goes for the rest of the classes: different basic roles (other assaults have more AoE and probably higher damage, tanks have different shields or taunts, supports have varying heals and abilities, etc) with specials that need to be deployed at the right moment to function as a team. This start works quite well at letting you participate while figuring things out: one tank and one support is usually fine, so joining as one of three assault where playing like a normal shooter will clue you in to how you’re not being effective while also not entirely dragging the team down is nice. I recently had a game where for once I wasn’t just barely keeping up, but instead we actually had an assault rifle who was just terrible: a newbie I had finally eclipsed. Though I also expect a large part of the score differences is also that those melee/AoE classes get far more damage constantly spread over everything, plus burst damage against big dinos.

    But also, as you progress through the story (or possibly overall player level), new maps start to show up, and new “dinos”. And suddenly the game seems to have gone from lots of defeating raptor swarms, to the raptors are now basically infinite and you’re just expected to handle it while you’re doing the real stuff, and you’ve got what we called Special Infected back in the L4D days that need to be prioritized. In particular for example, there’s a finale which is just a giant waterfall (literally, a constant vortex in the background just pouring, very cool) of raptors to defend against. No specials, no big dinos, just survive constant raptors for X time. And if I’ve survived that it’s only once, getting carried by the rest of the team.

    This is where the no mono-class. . . or is it? comes back. Because I have a suspicion that this is where the tooltps constantly saying “prepare correctly for the mission” and whatnot actually come in. You’re allowed to switch suits not just pre but also *during* the mission, which means instead of being useless on assault rifle, I could switch. And having tried a melee tank for a bit now, I’m pretty sure 5 melee and a healer should do that no problem.

    I’ll also say that the game is very visually busy and poorly signed: It took me ages to realize that maps with multiple control points *do* tell you where they are, it’s just with teeny tiny icons that are hard to see against all the everything else. For a class based game to not actually tell you the roles the rest of your team is playing is baffling (meanwhile there’s great big Capcom C and Steam icons, as if that matters in the slightest), and it takes quite a bit of familiarity to pick out the differences between this melee assault and that tank etc, especially when there’s cosmetics and crossover costumes and how your “rig” equipment slot appears as a big chunky thing muddying the profiles. I’ve also more than once unloaded an Ult on what turned out to be an ally summoning a dino for invasion, or wasted abilities at the end of a wave- some waves tell you the progress, some don’t.

    So yeah, that’s my review so far. Very restrictive grind but otherwise pretty fun, possibly even too much story, probably a whole ‘nother tier of missions I haven’t got to yet, lots of sussing out how the game actually works going on. For all that it’s clearly very important, I still don’t actually know how people keep knocking down dinos, for example- I know the frost freeze and gravity freeze are Ults, but I’m not sure where the knockdown is coming from, for example.

  8. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I’m playing Chronicles of Myrtana: Archolos which is a Polish fanmade prequel to the Gothic series made as essentially a total conversion megamod for Gothic 2. It has most of the faults of Gothic 2: some stability issues when trying to run it on a modern machine, somewhat clunky combat that manages to be both skill based and stat gated, levelling mechanics that will let you build yourself into a corner (or at least make your life much harder) unless you have at least a vague idea of what you’re doing, a decently sized landmass to explore where trying to optimize your play means going around most of it over and over again which takes time and can be somewhat tedious. It also seems to have the merits of Gothic 2: a low fantasy “grey on gray” morality world made by people who genuinely cared about it, there is a bunch of nooks and crannies to explore which can feel very rewarding in and of itself, there is some decent humour although I feel like it benefits strongly from knowing Polish as the original text is much more characterful than the English subtitles (the original Gothic games are made by a German studio but were wildly popular with Polish players in the 90s and maintain a following with that demographic), although I will say the voice acting varies wildly in quality including one voice that sounds like it was recorded on an old phone in a toilet… Can’t say much about the story yet as I’m still relatively early on, mostly on account of being busy depopulating the island of most of its fauna. Overall I cannot in clear conscience recommend it unless you’re into the particular style of eurojank RPG that Piranha Bytes specialises in, and if you are than absolutely do try it out as it’s essentially a whole original game for free.

    I’ve snuck in some shorter games as well. I’ve played Islets, a cartoony metroidvania that was free on Epic some weeks ago. It is fun, colourful, doesn’t treat itself too seriously and isn’t very hard for the genre.

    Vane, which is a “journeylike” exploration/puzzle/mild platforming game. It starts fairly strong in terms of atmosphere but I feel like the occasional bugs and particularly the clunky controls make for a bit of frustrating experience. It’s also one of those games that have decided they don’t need to explain themselves to you, which I know some people don’t like as an approach to storytelling. I’m generally okay with it although Vane in particular kinda left me with a bit of a shrug.

    The Forgotten City, a game that, much like Chronicles I’ve talked about above started as a game made by modding another game, in this case Skyrim, but has since been remade and released entirely standalone in Unreal. The premise is that the protagonist is trapped, both physically but also in a time loop, in an ancient Roman commune where everybody dies should any of the citizens commit a sin. I was expecting it was going to aim for something in the style of Deathloop where the player needs to perform a set of actions in just the right order to resolve the whole groundhog day aspect of it and it certainly has bits of that but it’s also not quite it. I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the majority of the game but I feel like the finale twist (which I won’t talk to here for the sake of spoilers) does not deliver on the promises that majority sets up. Still a bloody impressive project particularly considering it was made by effectively three people.

    In multiplayer Destiny 2 is still like two months away from its delayed “our big story finale” expansion but they’ve decided to fill our time by dropping a semi-season with a new activity to grind and motivate us by both putting highly desirable weapons in the reward pool as well as the fancy “all black” shader (effectively palette swap for weapons, armour and vehicles) for what is effectively a 100% completion. I kind of want that shader but I’m still on the fence about it as I’ve been playing the game rather casually for a while and the time investment to get it would be definitely on the big side.

    And in co-op we’re progressing through Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. It remains fun, the humour is not refined and I swear the joke of “Tina can’t explain something so SUDDEN AMBUSH” has been done at least five times so far but if you’re expecting refined humour Borderlands probably wasn’t your cup of tea in the first place (although I do think Assault on Dragonkeep, the DLC that resulted in the Wonderlands spinoff was some very, very solid writing). Someone in these comments has mentioned they had problem with bulletsponge enemies and for a while it felt like we were having that issue but I don’t know if it’s something that happens midway through the levelling process or if the game is better balance for two players with characters that synergize okay with each other but it feels like we’ve gotten past that hump sometime before reaching the level cap.

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