Mr Malcolm Playstation Ad

I shared this on Twitter already but wanted to share it here as well.

As an old guy I often feel kind of ‘left out’ when it comes to gaming. People my age (let’s just say “over 60”) appear in ads and marketing campaigns once in a while, but almost always in the company of a child or grandchild. Advertising execs seem to be telling us “It is ok for you to play a game as long as you have a child with you.” Also the old people always look vaguely confused in those ads.

Now Playstation has a new ad (it’s actually for the new Playstation Plus tiers) featuring “Mr. Malcolm” who appears to be my age or slightly older. He’s a well-dressed gentleman who seems to live alone. The only kids in the ad are some children on the street that he walks past.

Mr. Malcolm is a gamer, and based on his trophy collection he plays a wide variety of games. Finally a bit of marketing that acknowledges that we older gamers exist. I love it!

Revisiting Far Cry 6

Far Cry 6 was taking up a big chunk of my PS5’s hard drive space so I decided I’d better play it or uninstall it. I’d purchased it back at launch but for reasons I could not remember, drifted away from it pretty quickly. Time to refresh my memory.

I booted it up, felt really lost and came very close to uninstalling, but then I decided to start a new game so I could re-engage with the story and the game’s systems and that was enough to get me interested, at least for a little while. I’m now further than I got when I first played it back at launch.

One of the challenges for me was getting used to playing a Far Cry where you use some restraint. There is no real reason to fight the random enemies you see wandering around the world and if you do, you’ll find they respawn like crazy. When defeated all they drop is ammo and often you use more killing them than you get back. There is no “xp” from killing random enemies and they don’t drop weapons or anything. This nudges you toward behaving like a real guerilla. If you holster your weapon you can pass these random soldiers without any issue and generally you should. Just blend in with the local populace until you get to your target.

In this video clip my goal was to take over a checkpoint. I’ve included a chunk of my trip to the destination, and if you watch the mini-map anything red indicates an enemy. You see I drive past a lot of them since they weren’t relevant to the task at hand. Heck I almost crash into a truck full of enemies! In other Far Cry games I probably would’ve shot up everything I saw. Doing that in Far Cry 6 means that you’ll probably wind up getting to your destination out of ammo and you won’t really have gained anything from all that combat.

Once my brain accepted this playstyle, I started having a lot more fun with the gameplay itself. In terms of the story though, so far not a fan and I detest like 90% of the characters I’ve met, including the character you play as. I get that they’re going for that edgy & maybe rural vibe, but it just isn’t resonating well with me. I have known people (some of my redneck cousins) who use “shit” as a generic noun, but I don’t need it in my games. Example: An NPC tells you “I need you to go to this crash site and get some shit that was in the chopper. Bring it back and I’ll use it to make some shit to help you blow up shit.” Your character responds: “Oh shit yeah, I’ll do that shit.” [I am exaggerating a TINY bit here.]

Then there’s that thing that happens in so many games where you are playing this super-powerful character who leaves a huge body count in their wake, then they encounter an NPC who starts manipulating and bossing them around as if they have no power. Instead of just killing this (generally evil) NPC, the protagonist becomes their errand person and travels all over the place doing vile tasks for them while the NPC cackles and twirls their mustache. I actually tried to kill the NPC who did this to me in Far Cry 6 but sadly, they wouldn’t die.

I’m getting myself all worked up into a hate-post on Far Cry 6 so I’ll stop. For now. I enjoy the game a lot more when I’m in a mission then when experiencing the story. Let’s just leave it at that.

One pro-tip if you play. Once you get to where you can start building things at camps, build the Hideout Network and upgrade it as much as possible, then buy all the locations from it. This will unlock a bunch of Fast Travel points. Traveling back and forth across the map can get pretty tedious and having a Fast Travel point to get you in the general area of your goal is SUPER helpful.

Writing this post has almost convinced me to stop playing, but there is SOMETHING there that is still calling to me. I should figure out what it is and write a post about that. Maybe it is the gorgeous land and seas-scapes.

A picturesque seascape

Jedi: Fallen Order Finally Sticks?

We’ve been watching the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which has put me in a Star Wars mood. That led me to firing up Jedi: Fallen Order, a game I have a not-great history with.

I played it at launch on PC thanks to being an EA Pro (?) subscriber at the time. I got a ways into it but I was more or less hate-playing it. When the EA subscription expired I was fine leaving Fallen Order behind. Eventually it made it to Game Pass on the Xbox and I tried it again and quickly bounced off it.

So what bothered me so much about this game?

1) The actor. There’s something about Cameron Monaghan I just don’t like; I think he must remind me of someone from my past that I had a bad relationship with. I didn’t like him in Gotham (where he played the proto-Joker) and I didn’t like him here. Not the game’s fault and for that matter, not his fault. It’s just a thing.

2) The map. Oh that map. It gave me a headache and I constantly felt lost. (See image at the top of this post.)

3) The rewards: Nothing depressed me more than solving a puzzle to get to a chest and having it give me a new super ugly and cosmetic-only poncho or something. And I never saw the point of customizing my light saber either, aside maybe for the color. It’s not like I ever look at it.

4) The Souls-like aspects.

But still I gave it another try because what other Star Wars game did I have handy and… I’m liking it this time! Quite a bit actually. So what has changed?

1) I guess I’m over my dislike of Cameron Monaghan. Maybe I’m just used to him? I still don’t have warm fuzzy feelings towards him, but looking at him no longer makes me angry like it used to.

2) I finally noticed you can toggle between layers of the map. This makes it marginally better tho it still frustrates me.

3) The rewards still suck but I guess now that I know I’m going to be disappointed it doesn’t bother me as much.

4) This is the big one: Bloodborne happened. A while back I played through a good chunk of Bloodborne (which, for those who do not know, is a for-real Souls game from From Software), basically following a video walkthrough to help manage my frustration levels. Doing this kind of made the whole Souls-like environment feel a little less foreign and a little more rewarding. This is by far the biggest reason I’m enjoying Fallen Order this time around. I now expect to have to backtrack and revisit areas and I get excited when I find a good shortcut or something. Also compared to other Souls-likes Fallen Order’s difficulty is much lower. I’m also exploring more (because now I know that’s what you do in a Souls-like) which has led to me having more tools earlier, which also helps with the difficulty curve.

I spent the bulk of last weekend playing Jedi Fallen Order and thinking about it when I wasn’t playing it. This was super surprising to me.

I guess it just goes to show you that you should never write-off a game forever. What you like today and what you like in a year or two can be completely different things.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising Finished

Funny story. Since I’ve been doing my monthly recap posts, I’ve been taking more notes about what I’ve been playing. Basically as soon as I publish one recap I start a post for the next and add notes as the month progresses.

The other day I wrote this:

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was another bounce. This was an ideal game to have in rotation when I was playing things like The Division, Final Fantasy XIV and No Man’s Sky because all of those games kind of demand a chunk of time, mostly due to having to connect to some kind of server/service before you start playing. I could pop into Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising when I had 15 minutes free and spend 14.5 of those minutes actually playing (particularly with Xbox Quick Resume). When I transitioned mostly to Horizon Zero Dawn/Forbidden West, good old single player games with a proper PAUSE feature, EC:R kind of lost its appeal. It was fun for a while, it was on Game Pass so didn’t cost me anything, but it really did get rather repetitive over time. I’m also generally not a fan of 2D platform-style games, which this is. They never hold my interest for very long.

Then I fired up the Xbox to delete the game from my drive but for some reason booted it up one last time and…about a dozen /played hours later I’ve completed the game and even done some Achievement Hunting. I’m not even sure why I became re-hooked but I think I found myself kind of liking the characters. The story itself was fine but not exactly a thrill-ride. The quests tended towards being very pedestrian. The game world was pretty limited.

So quickie review. You play CJ, a scavenger who has come to a struggling town to find treasure in the dungeons nearby. Before you can explore you need a license which you can’t afford, but if you fill out a ‘stamp book’ you can get one for free. You collect stamps from villagers for doing chores for them. A lot of the chores (quests) are along the lines of “Go find my kid” or “Ask X about Y” and you do these by constantly running around the town talking to people.

Other quests come from merchants and tend towards “gather materials from the dungeons”. Once you do that, the merchant’s shop will upgrade and they start selling better stuff. Going into dungeons (there’s a forest, a quarry, and then a ‘barrows’ which has 3 biomes, cold, fire and electric) is a mix of smacking rocks and trees for stone and wood, and smacking monsters for xp and monster parts.

Combat is action-based and everything is 2D. You’ve got a jump button, an attack button and a special button. Eventually you’ll add two more members to your party and each is assigned an attack button. So the face buttons on your controller are Jump and character 1, 2, & 3. I never did learn the muscle memory for this: I’d tap Y (on the Xbox controller) to switch to Garoo, my beefy melee dude (he’s a kangaroo-man) then, intending to attack, I’d instinctively hit X which would switch back to CJ, my main character. What I was supposed to do is hit Y to switch to Garoo, then Y again for him to attack. Asha the mage was B, which my brain knows as “CANCEL” so I didn’t use her too much. CJ gets X which is a standard ‘attack’ button on the controller so I leaned heavily on her. Well, she IS the main character after all.

I realize I explained that poorly. Here’s a random couple minutes of gameplay that might help. Might not.

There’s a little more to it but basically gameplay is simple and the game is not particularly difficult until the very last battle, and that difficulty was overcome by over-leveling a bit. I think it was actually the lack of challenge that kept me around. As CJ & Crew re-entered the same dungeons over and over again I started to memorize them and would just fly through them smacking things as soon as they appeared. It became this kind of ‘turn off the brain and just blast through baddies and get tons of loot’ experience that I maybe needed.

The game is on Game Pass or you can buy it for $15 on most (all?) platforms. I’m not sure if I’d recommend it or not. I think if you’re in the mood to play something pretty light-hearted and easy (but also quite repetitive) then maybe check it out. I’ve put about 25 hours into it at this point but I’m well past the closing credits and have just been grinding to knock out Achievements. How Long to Beat has the average play time at 17 hours. It was kind of nice to have a game that didn’t take me 6 weeks to play through.

I’ve still got 10 Achievements to go but one of them is to get to level 50 and I’m level 44 but the XP is coming in pretty slow. Then there are some for beating bosses on Hard mode (unlocked after you complete the story) and I dunno about doing those. I got the achievement for earning all 160 of the stamps (in other words, doing 160 side quests) but now they’ve all come back again, I guess this is a way to help you continue to earn XP, but it’s all kind of discouraging. It was bad enough getting through them all once!

Yeah, I just talked myself out of continuing the Achievement Hunt. I don’t want to totally sour myself on the game. Let’s set it aside while I still have pleasant thoughts about it. 🙂

May 2022

Goodbye May, hello June, only 4 more months of hellish summer heat to get through.

I was saying just the other day, one of the things I hate about living in the south is that summer is no longer a season to be anticipated. We basically live for Halloween-New Years and the other 9 months of the year is about waiting around for the good quarter to return. Compare that to when I lived places where summer meant swimming and sailing and biking and stuff.

Anyway, been a crummy couple of weeks out in the real world anyway. Who needs it? I’ll stay inside in the A/C playing games. Speaking of which…

Games

For the first week of May I was still subbed to Final Fantasy XIV. I was having fun while at the same time missing playing other things, so when the subscription came up for renewal I let it expire. That really opened the flood gates because I’ve dipped into so many games this month.

A lot of my time was spent revisiting games I’ve played and enjoyed in the past. I started a new Division 2 agent, started a new save in No Man’s Sky, spent some time in Elder Scrolls Online & got back to my Horizon Zero Dawn replay. Good times across the board in these games; there’s something so relaxing and fun about revisiting a game you enjoy.

Newer (to me that is) titles played include Final Fantasy XIII-2, though honestly I didn’t get too far into that one. I wasn’t really feeling the new characters and…I dunno, it took a long time for FF XIII to get good (though in my opinion it never got great) and FF XIII-2 felt like it was resetting the stage and was going to be dull for another long swathe before improving. I decided life is too short.

(It’s worth noting that I’m at a point where I have SO many games in my backlog and so many new games coming out that I want to play, that I’m getting more & more picky about the games I stick with. I almost look for an excuse to cross a game off the list, at least for now. It isn’t like I’m throwing these games away, I can always come back and give them another chance if I ever run out of things to play.)

I also put a good chunk of time into Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. This game really toyed with me. I enjoyed the fiction of a bunch of Borderlands characters playing a not-quite-D&D campaign, but the gameplay never really hooked me. What made this tricky is that it constantly felt like it could and maybe soon would (hook me). At one point I rage quit and uninstalled the game when stuck on a boss, but eventually re-downloaded it to try again (I hate letting the game win). I did beat that boss & started moving forward again but it just wasn’t quite fun. I felt like the enemies were very bullet-spongy, and a common issue I have with Borderlands games is the excess of loot. There’s so much loot that you either start ignoring it or spend all your time sorting through it, neither of which feels satisfying to me. Most fights were more about resource (ammo) management than actually hitting the enemy, and eventually I decided it just wasn’t for me.

Floating somewhere between old game and new-to-me game is I Am Setsuna, which it seems I played in 2016 based on when I earned a few trophies for it. This title has been sitting on the Playstation hard drive for 6 years (apparently) so I figured it was time to play it or delete it.

In terms of actual new games, I spent a decent amount of time in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, which popped up on Game Pass with a lot of hype accompanying it. It’s an enjoyable game in small doses and really lends itself to those “I have 20 minutes before dinner, what can I play?” sessions. Some reviews have faulted it for being repetitive or boring and I totally agree: it isn’t strong enough to be a ‘primary game’. But just as something to pop into now and again, it’s fun. Really fast and easy to jump in, mechanics are simple enough that you don’t have to go through that “OK now do I remember how to play this?” phase after a long break.

Currently I’m into Horizon Forbidden West but with just 10 hours into it so far I don’t have much to say beyond SQUEEEE! Loving it so far.

TV

Let’s see, for ‘family viewing’ we finished Picard, Upload, Halo, Moon Knight & Raised by Wolves. Of those I think I liked Upload the best, with Halo a close second. Picard was losing me then won me back in the last 2 episodes. Moon Knight and Wolves were both weird.

We’re enjoying the hell out of Strange New Worlds though we’ve set it aside to binge through Stranger Things S4.

And at lunch we’re still working through our rewatch of Deep Space 9. Just started season 5 of, I think, 7.

My solo late night viewing has been All Creatures Great & Small (the newest version, and it is a great ‘feel good’ series) and The Last Kingdom. I’m happy to report that the show version of The Last Kingdom is different enough from the books that it is enjoyable as its own thing.

Books

None! I haven’t been reading much, partly because it is so hot. I tend to do a lot of reading while out and about with Lola. While she wallows in the grass, I read. But it’s been too hot to spend much time outside so…not much reading time.

And that’s May. June should be an exciting time for gamers with lots of announcements (tho not a lot of new releases) so I’m looking forward to that. And to surviving the heat…

Horizon Zero Dawn Replay: Now I’m REALLY Done (I Think)

Quick addendum to my last post. I did end up playing through The Frozen Wilds (which I was calling the Frozen North in my last post). It had a better story than I remember, dealing with a project that actually pre-dates Zero Dawn. I know I played through it back in 2017 but I had completely forgotten about it.

I also then discovered a bunch of quests I had never played, and these introduced me to some of the characters that, in Horizon Forbidden West, spurred me to do a replay of HZD: I didn’t remember these characters because I’d never met them because I’d left quests unfinished!

So that was good. At the same time, I feel like the actual gameplay of Frozen Wilds isn’t as good as the main game. The machines are tougher but in a way that, for me at least, feels tedious and annoying. They have a lot of hit points and some really cheap attacks. For example one of the apex machines can cause the ground under your feet to erupt with fire and will do so even while facing away from you or even being on the other side of a hill and out of line of sight.

Still, I’m glad I got through it. At this point I have 100% of the trophies for the main game, 100% of the quest trophies for Frozen Wilds. I’m missing a handful of other trophies though. One is a “Kill X beasties” which would mean finding that kind of beastie & killing them. I could this fairly easily I suppose. Another is repairing 5 different types of machine. Again I guess I could do this but I’ve never repaired a machine. And last it to kill X machines by launching off a mount: that’s a skill I never unlocked even though I am at level cap (60). I did not 100% the main story this time around and I guess I missed some Cauldrons that give skill points. So I would have to go find & solve the Cauldrons, unlock the skill, then tame a mount, then kill enemies by launching off it. As I’ve already put 73 hours into this replay I don’t think it’s worth it for a Trophy.

Additionally there are 2 New Game+ Trophies, one just for completing a New Game+ game, and the other is for completing New Game+ on Ultra Difficulty. That is definitely NOT my jam so I’m never going to get 100% trophies in this game, which makes skipping the handful of others a lot easier.

So I think I’m FINALLY ready to re-start Horizon Forbidden West. I cannot wait to see what happens now that I am fresh from the amazing lore of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Horizon Zero Dawn Replay Finished?

When Horizon Zero Dawn released in the winter of 2017 I was obsessed with it. I played through it, then got the Platinum Trophy, then told everyone who would listen that they had to play it. It is one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences and one of my favorite sci-fi stories across any medium.

When the Frozen North expansion came out I played through it, too, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. In fact as of right now I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember a lot of fights against powerful machines. Challenging but not as fun as what I’d experienced in the main game.

After Frozen North, I left Horizon Zero Dawn behind.

Five years later Horizon Forbidden West released and I jumped straight into it, but something was missing. Not something in the game itself, but something in my experience. It was that after 5 years I’d forgotten so much about the story from the first game that I didn’t feel like I was getting all I could out of Forbidden West.

I decided to set Forbidden West aside and replay Zero Dawn. Three months later, I’ve finished that replay. And it was wonderful.

Not that it took 3 months to play it. I kind of dipped in and out of it for like 11 weeks, then hit the part where the story really ramps up and finished the second half in about a week. I had worried that, knowing all the twists to the story, I wouldn’t find it as good the 2nd time around but in fact it was like re-watching The Expanse or any other great sci-fi show. Knowing what you know, the 2nd time through, you pick up on all kinds of foreshadowing and details that you missed the first time.

The only catch with Horizon Zero Dawn is that a LOT of the story is told via audio journals, text files you recover, and holographic projections and many of these can be missed or skipped. I am a fairly fastidious gamer and tend to move slowly and explore everywhere and read everything but there are still some missing entries in the log files. For gamers who are more about getting back to the action as quickly as possible I wonder how much of the richness of the story comes through. (There were times I spent over an hour exploring and reading and never fighting.)

So now I have to decide, do I want to replay The Frozen North or should I just restart Forbidden West. I think I’ll putter around in Zero Dawn until the long weekend starts, then switch to Forbidden West. There’s nothing like a 3-day weekend to kickstart playing through a new and much anticipated game.

Finished with Final Fantasy Fourteen For Now

I’m never one to pass on an alliterative title.

So as it says above, my 1 month Final Fantasy XIV sub ends in a couple of days and for once I timed things right. For the past week or so I’ve been logging in less and less so it’s the right time for a break.

I do plan on returning, probably when they release the next chunk of solo-able Main Story Quest dungeons. Not that I’ve gone through all the ones that are available now: the last one I did was Brayflox’s Longstop which crops up in the long (and to me, annoying) quest chain that happens before you fight Titan. Do you remember it? You’re sent all over hell & back getting food for a feast?

Generally I think I like the early levels of A Realm Reborn best, before you are expected to teleport all over the world to pick up a package or talk to an NPC. I am not really a fan of fast travel because, for me, it robs the world of a sense of scale and of being real. Of course I COULD just travel between these places on my Chocobo, and I might actually do that if I wasn’t paying a subscription fee which means there’s always a little clock ticking in the back of my brain. I don’t want to waste that much time when my time is limited to what I’m willing to pay for.

Anyway back to this quest chain. I had forgotten that when I was sent to get the wine it became a whole sub-branch of fetch quests and I just couldn’t face it, so I stopped logging in. I will try to power through these before my time runs out so they’re not the first thing I encounter when I inevitably come back.

And coming back should be easy because I’m playing a Paladin and at level 40 (I have managed to get way over-leveled without trying – Brayflox is a level 32 instance) I have only 5 skills that I regularly use. I have more than 5 slotted of course, but I rarely have need to use them. Turns out playing a Tank solo is kind of dull, at least so far. I’ve considered starting to level a healer or dps job but again…the clock is ticking and by the time it occurred to me to start a new job I only had a week of time left. Tt seemed wasteful to start over again. Maybe when I return.

Hmm, so far this post has sounded like a bunch of griping, but in general I’ve been having fun in FF XIV. I’m just grumpy because of this one quest chain.

Concerning Solo Dungeons

Doing the dungeons solo has been really enjoyable for a few reasons.

First, there’s obviously no social anxiety issues when your party buddies are all npcs.

Second, I get to really explore all the nooks and crannies and I have a better sense of the layout of these dungeons now. Dungeons that in the past were just a blur of rooms dashed through while trying to keep up with an experienced party hell-bent on finishing as quickly as possible now feel like fully-formed places. Haukke Manor is actually creepy when you have a minute to look around!

Third, you get to keep all the loot! I know that comes off as very selfish but it’s nice to go into a dungeon and come out the other side having replaced several pieces of gear with upgrades. Bonus: You have time to stop and put that gear on while you’re still in the dungeon!

Outside of the dungeons, the game has been pleasant enough though experience flows in so quickly that, as mentioned, I’m over-level everywhere. There’s not much challenge in overland content right now, which is another reason I thought I might start a new job. Easy-mode gets boring. If I wasn’t focused on the Main Story quest I’d mix things up by re-running Dungeons or grinding Fates (both of which level sync you) but again…the clock is ticking.

I still love the visuals and the vibe of the game. It would be great to be able to own a house and just kind of widen the experience beyond just questing all the time.

Sometimes when I’m done playing I stay logged in and turn on the “Idle Camera” and leave it running on the TV just to watch what folks are doing, see what they are wearing. That kind of thing.

So better to leave while I’m still basically feeling good about the game. I’ve got other things I want to play and FFXIV will be there waiting for me for the foreseeable future.

Weirdly, the thing I’ve been playing most when I’ve not been in FFXIV is Elder Scrolls Online. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. But that’s a different post.

April 2022

Disclaimer: I’m not in the mood to write a post but I just want to keep a list of what is going on so…

April is already over. The oppressive heat of May-September is right around the corner. Here on the Internet folks (well, some folks) are quite concerned over Elon Musk buying Twitter. I have thoughts on that I keep meaning to write down but never do. I’m hedging my bets. No plans to leave twitter but it did spur me to check out the “Fediverse” which I’m finding to be an amusing experience so far. The Mastadon instance I’m on (https://mstdn.social) feels a little like Twitter in the old days (not that it is a new instance..it just has an influx of new people) where FollowFriday is still a thing and I’m finding lots of science and tech folks to follow and learn from. Have to say though, my favorite account is from someone in northern England who is a stonemason and who posts pics from their job sites. I have nothing but respect and envy for people who build things with their hands.

Games

This will be quick. I started the month still playing Guild Wars 2, then munged up my shoulder so using a keyboard was really painful. That led to me subscribing to Final Fantasy XIV and starting a new character (playing on the PS5 via controller). Both the good and the bad part of paying a sub (for me) is that it means I feel obliged to play that game pretty exclusively. Which is mostly what I’ve been playing this month, though just the other night I started a character in Godfall, which I found was pretty fun. So maybe more of that in the days to come.

Bloodborn, Code Vein, Horizon Zero Dawn & LOTRO have all fallen by the wayside.

Godfall with HUD

Books

I finished the 2nd Expanse Novel, Caliban’s War. I’m still not sure who Caliban is. I enjoyed it, but with the same caveat as book 1: the TV show is such an authentic recreation of the books that this all feels really familiar given it hasn’t been very long since I watched the show. Characters look different in the books, and yeah there’s a lot of details that are different, but the big picture feels very familiar. This didn’t prevent me from rolling right into book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, though. [To put Caliban’s War in context for TV show viewers, this is the book where Avasarala, Bobbie and Prax are introduced…hopefully that’s not much of a spoiler.]

TV

I dunno. Nothing that feels exciting to write about. As a family we’re keeping up with Moon Knight, Picard and Halo, as well as rewatching Upload (which I find both hilarious and depressing…the latter because it all seems so plausible). Oh and trying to get through season 2 of Raised by Wolves, a show we watch mostly to see how much more weird it can get. I’m not sure either of us really cares about the story or the characters any more. Oh and we’re still wading through Star Trek: Deep Space 9 at lunch.

For my solo viewing, I bit off another chunk of The Sopranos. I’m not sure why I am forcing myself to plow through it. Everyone made such a fuss about it back in the day that I keep thinking “It has to get really great!” but I think I’m in season 4 and it is still mostly just “OK.” When I burned out on The Sopranos I bounced around a bit before landing on All Creatures Great & Small which I’m finding very soothing. It’s a PBS Masterpiece show. Also been watching random documentary-ish shows from The Smithsonian Channel and PBS.

And that’s April. We’re 2/3rds of the way to the summer equinox. We’re halfway to Halloween! One third of the way to Christmas. I’m bracing myself for the long, hot, humid, miserable summer weather and am already looking forward to when it gets cool in November.

FFXIV: Satasha Solo

Well it took me a week but I finally got a chance to check out the new solo dungeon system in Final Fantasy XIV. It took me a while to get there both because work has been kind of brutal requiring me to put in hours every evening, and because I was just really taking my time while playing. It’s going to be a while before more dungeons get added to the system, so why hurry?

Anyway, this is going to be a super short post. For Satasha, the party was made up of generic NPCs. I’m not sure if that holds true later or not, but at this point in the game you’re not talking to the Scions (??) yet, other than having one show up in the middle of some early game Duties to help out. But you don’t really know them yet.

But even though I was fighting with, y’know “Eager Lancer” and “Optimistic Conjurer” or whatever, it worked well. We sailed through Satasha with no issues, and I saw parts of the dungeon I’ve never seen before since most groups go through it in the fastest and most efficient way possible. For the first time I was able to go slow enough to understand the layout and see what switches needed to be switched and so forth (though that is all really simple in Satasha — I seem to remember there being more choices in the old days).

Bonus side effect: Doing the dungeon with NPCs has been thinking more about doing it again with people now that I understand it better. Maybe even as a tank. We’ll see.

The only thing my NPC friends didn’t do is shut down the grates in the final boss room. There’s a mechanic where 4 grates in the corners of the room start leaking water and if no one activates them, eventually Adds will spawn from them. My NPC chums ignored those grates, though to be fair most human players do as well since it tends to be faster/easier to just burn down the boss and semi-ignore the adds.

Oh and one thing I hadn’t been clear on: you can re-run the dungeons with an NPC party, too. I wasn’t sure if Square Enix was going to allow that or just let you do them once with NPCs in order to push the story forward. But nope, you can replay them with NPCs whenever you want, so that’s nice.

With only one run and my lack of experience, I can’t comment on whether the quality of loot was the same as running with human players. I can tell you I got to keep it all! 🙂