Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Games (Page 1 of 4)

Two Hopes Isn’t Enough Hopes

I know, I know. It’s been a couple of weeks.

To clarify a bit: It’s been a rough couple of weeks, improved mainly by the fact that summer seems to have decided to hold back a bit longer. Too many people near (virtually speaking) (and in one case actually literally speaking) to me coming down with COVID sure isn’t helping my state of mind, and the less said about the state of… nearly everything else in the world… the better.

On the upside, the demo for the new Fire Emblem game arrived. If you know about our household love affair with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, well, you can imagine how ecstatic we were to try out its semi-sequel, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.

I described it to someone recently as sort of a Three Houses self-insert AU (and if that term doesn’t ring any bells, don’t worry about it) where someone’s going, “What if this was different and that was different and my character was even cooler than Byleth (the protagonist & POV character of the previous game)?” Basically it’s a “what if” version where the three young future heads-of-state (the leaders of the titular Three Houses) don’t run into Byleth outside of Remire Village but instead meet some other mercenary entirely, and this changes… lots of things.

Oh, and instead of turn-based strategy combat, it’s a fast-paced hack-and-slash button-mashing experience where you routinely juggle dozens of opponents in the air as you rack up incredible damage numbers. We were apprehensive about the playstyle change. I don’t think we’re ever going to love it, but at least on the lowest difficulty setting we think we’ll be able to get through the story and support conversations and all that, which is what we’re really here for anyway.

Speaking of the story, it seems like Three Hopes is going to both flesh out bits of the lore we’ve all wanted to see and subvert a lot of expectations that fans of the game might be carrying into this follow-up effort. One of the very first missions involves rescuing [spoiler] and you also run into [another spoiler], which is jawdropping because those two characters, ah, don’t exactly coexist the same way in the previous game. It’s a great way for the writers to let us know early on that we shouldn’t count on what we remember from Three Houses to prepare us adequately for Three Hopes.

What’s interesting is that the developers behind Three Hopes were actually responsible for Three Houses as well, which means they have a lot more experience with this game engine and can make it jump through hoops even better than before. They took feedback from fans of the previous game seriously, resulting in potentially interesting gameplay changes. They also reverted to some older-style Fire Emblem tropes, like “tomes” (equipment for magic users) having durability instead of casters simply having a limited number of casts for each spell like in Three Houses.

So far we’re enjoying the demo a lot and look forward to the release of the full game even more than we already were, which is saying something. If you have a Nintendo Switch, I recommend trying the demo out for yourself.

Strata Geez

Fire Emblem: Three Houses ruined me for strategy-ish games on the Switch. Since my two-year run of playing (and replaying, and replaying) that particular game, I’ve tried a few other options:

  • Trails of Cold Steel III – The combat system’s a bit weird, which I could deal with were it not for the fact that the abilities slotting system is a lot weird. If I have to have multiple wiki pages open every time I want to rework my gearing then I’m no longer having fun.
  • Valkyria Chronicles – It has a neat mixed overhead-plus-first-person combat style, great idea, but each mission basically has One Best Way To Complete and if you vary from that at all then you stand a good chance of failing, and you have a near certainty of getting low rewards. Sure, brilliant strategist players could probably dig in on this… I am not one. I’m a filthy casual, remember?
  • Triangle Strategy – The main thing driving me away is that I cannot get into the retro-pixel-art look. I know that sounds petty, and I’m not making a value judgement about the game or its fans, it’s just not for me. (Vyx is playing and enjoying it, and good on her.)

At this point I’m kind of giving up on doing anything on the Switch until the Warriors-like Three Houses spinoff/sequel/whatever arrives late next month. Sigh.

Satisfactory: Solo v Cooperative

I’ve been back on my Satisfactory you-know-what since late last year with no sign of letting up, aided by the kick-off of a co-op savegame with my daughter, who saw me streaming the game one day and expressed some interest. As of last night our multiplayer savegame is at the furthest point along the tech progression I’ve ever been in the game, and today that makes me ponder the differences between the solo Satisfactory game experience and the cooperative.

So let’s talk about co-op play’s pros and cons. (Not to be mistaken for prose and cones.)

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The Things We Do For Nostalgia

I could have played a current game, a new game, or not played a game at all.

But, no. I installed Might & Magic VI, a musty old RPG-type game from the late 1990s. I downloaded the strategy guides and maps from the site I used to rely on way back when (I’m glad it still exists!). And I plowed through the “loot the game developer’s offices” map trick to get a bit of a monetary and gear head-start on things.

Is it every bit as janky as I remember? Oh yes. Is it a game from the days before everyone realized that WASD makes a better keyboard movement setup than the arrow keys? Sadly, yes.

Did I have fun mowing down lizard men and Followers of Baa once my party all had bows equipped? Definitely yes.

I’ve no idea if I’ll keep at this for very long, but hey, it made my evening pass rather pleasantly, all things considered.

Satisfactory – Be Aesthetics

After taking a few months off from the game due to a bug with the part of the game I was most excited to play with (drones had a nasty habit of using far more batteries than they were supposed to unless you stayed close by the drone port at all times), once Coffee Stain (the game studio) started showing off what was coming with the Update 5 milestone release I found myself compelled to start a whole new save game.

(You name your “save” which is basically the name of an ongoing session, and then you name the actual save points within that “save,” and yes that gets confusing sometimes.)

Thus I am, one could say, back on my B.S.

The Space Elevator will probably stay there for the duration of this save, but everything around it is subject to demolition once I get to the point of being able to build things “better.”
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