Interim Report Fall – Part 2

And here it is – the second part of my report on what I have played since this summer. Once more I have to acknowledge to quite a number of stalled / paused / incompleted games.

  • Black Desert – stalled
  • Sword Art Online – Re: Hollow Fragment – stalled (and a bit creeped out)
  • Pillars of Eternity – paused
  • Cyberpunk 2077 – paused
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – still playing.

Black Desert (stalled)

Well, meet the Guardian.

Black Desert Online (BDO) is a Korean sandbox MMO with probably the most beautiful game world and most impactful action combat system I know so far. And it’s a life simulator, that you can play 24/7 with AFK activities like fishing, farming, cooking and what not (called life skilling).

I have played already a quite substantial amount of hours several years ago, then being purely fascinated by the stunning visuals and fighting styles, and triggered by BDOs’ many many progress bars. This game wants your time, this game demands your time and attention 24/7, and it gets your time. Just playing casually is maybe a nice-try-resolution at the beginning, but the longer you play, the more time you will invest into it. Every minute you are not training your horse, your stamina, your whatever XP-bar, is a lost minute.

After watching TheLazyPeons return to BDO video on YouTube, I recognized, that they have changed a lot in the grind and overall feel of the game. “Well, why not give it a try again!”, I thought. “Why not try that drug again? Just for a bit!” is what I really said.
So there are ‘Seasons’ now and ‘fast-level catch-up servers’. And to be fair, they have reduced the level-grind and sped up several core level mechanics. Even the story progression, that I completely lost track of in my first time I played, was more straightened out and consistent (but still not a good story). I also re-rolled on the new Guardian class and was again blown away by the combat.

After several hours the true core gameplay-loop started to shine through once more and luckily I was realizing that early on; my motivation to play was quelled and I uninstalled the game as fast as I possibly could.

Time played: approx. 9-10h.

Sword Art Online – Re: Hollow Fragment (stalled)

Let’s talk and talk and talk and talk. Cutscenes can be pretty long once in a while.

First things first: I am a Kirito. This means I am a fan of the anime Sword Art Online; Kirito being the main protagonist. And no, within the anime community, this is not a nice attribute to attach to someone.

The overall story is based on a Japanese light-novel about 10.000 people being locked in a VR-MMORPG, accessed via a device called NerveGear, designed and build by a Akihiko Kayaba. In order to ‘finish’ the game, all players would have to defeat the final boss on the final stage (level 100, and guess who that could be?) of a Tower-based dungeon. If you die in the game, your body in the real world will also die; the NerveGear helmet will simply fry your brain.

The game was originally released on the PS-Vita in 2014 and ported to PC in 2018; so graphics are rather dated, and the interface is a shabby mess, although close to the anime. The games’ story is set in a parallel timeline to the novel/anime, introducing the main cast and some new characters (girls) alongside. There is kind of an Open World to explore, but basically it is about grinding and becoming stronger, as well as about grinding to unlock the 100 additional characters in the game. You do that to form a raid group and proceed to the final tower level stages.

What really turned me off, was the built in dating sim to unlock all those girls (and some boys). Kirito has of course a girlfriend (Asuna), but can meet and flirt with all the other girls (and bro-talk with the boys) in the game. There is of course a sort of romance-progress bar for certain characters. So while you play, you take a partner with you. The girls will suddendly start a conversation and you can quickly press a button and start a mini-game with a time-gated selection of answers to “say the correct/expected answers”. If you do that often enough and choose wisely, hearts will appear, everybody will adore you, and later you can even ‘lie down’ with some girls in your inn together in the bed and … TALK. Of course.

Okay, what actually turned me off is not that you can / should / have to do that, but that you have to do that with so many characters. And even that would have been okay, but the activity itself is just plain dumb and boring. Or probably I am just too old and life has sucked all romantic feelings out of my dry, realist and soulless body. Oh, that tragic disconnect from the young generations full of love and butterflies.

Stalled for good and creeped out by pure romantic sociableness.

Time played: 3h | Achievements: 1%.

Pillars of Eternity (paused)

Welcome to Gilded Vale – a bright future awaits!

What went wrong here I do not know. This game should pull all my riggers and play a symphony of pure epic cRPG’ness.

It never really came to be and I am still wondering why and what and when I will re-enter the game. Maybe there is a right time for every game, like for me playing AC:Origins a second time and go for total completion.

Then, why not just give it more time.

Time played: 6h

Cyberpunk 2077 (paused)

The Photo-mode in the game is just great. Vroom vroooom!

Oh, how I have waited for this. How I silently hoped, that this will be a great game.

I did not read any reports for almost two years. No trailers, no reveals, no information (besides the delayed releases) at all. The setting seemed perfect, because I love William Gibsons Neuromancer and the Blade Runner movies. I love CD Project RED for their storytelling and care for details. I wanted this so much.

When it was finally out I jacked right in and holy crap, until the end of Act I this was probably one of the best story-driven and immersive experiences I have ever played. Purely. Awesome.

I had almost no bugs at all, despite some flying cigarettes and mobile phones, so I could really enjoy the story and how well my character was placed within the game world through the first-person view.

But when the world then opens up, all the little and larger compromises started to show; and that more time would have done the game a lot more good. The AI from traffic and opponents is straight dumb, driving with keyboard is not cool, the open world is crowded and empty, you cannot upgrade or change your safe-house, the police is spawning behind you (always) and honestly – overall there is not much to do.

BUT when you do(!) side quests and of course the main story quests, the game truly shines and is just plain awesome again.

So while I savor this feelings of awesomeness deep within, I will give Cyberpunk 2077 more time and some patches to stabilize and become more of the game it should have been.

Wake me up, when you are ready, Samurai.

Time played: 18h | Achievements: 3%.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (playing)

The Ancient Greek world is so beautiful.

‘Diocles… sounds Greek. Well, maybe one day I should travel to Greece… .’

Wait, hold that thought! In my review of Assassin’s Creed: Origins I already hinted a little peak into the vast Ancient Greek game world. Well, when this little peak became a mindless stare, you know you are hooked.

In a short review, AC: Odyssey is truly that – an Odyssey. This game is way larger than Origins and has even more stuff to do in the game world. I play as Kassandra this time and I have to say I really got used and to love her blunt and charming character, slicing, hacking and bashing my way through Greece and its islands.

So far I have followed a similar path as in Origins, but this time they have not included an achievement for total map completion (Praise the gods!). So after again completing every question mark and killing every poor captain I could spot, I finally switched gears and aim now to proceed more in the story. I just completed Episode 5 and I already hit level 48, so I guess I am a tiny bit ahead. Not a big deal, as I play on hard difficulty and all the world is leveling with me anyway.

The main story is quite ok so far, and as with Origins, when the story is becoming dense, it’s always becomes quite good and entertaining. Unfortunately I have yet to find a good side-story quest. There have hardly been any worthy of note; I cannot remember even one at all right now.

I will definitely write on my journey through Greece at a later stage, so please look forward to it.

Time played: 64h | Achievements: 27%.

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