Jaded's Pub

There’s a lot of fuss and hate over on reddit and YouTube about the amount of microtransactions (MTX) in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Mostly it seems to be coming from people who haven’t played the game. I have played it and wanted to chime in.

First, yes there ARE a lot of MTX available. That’s not up for debate. The question is, do you need to buy this stuff. Should you even buy it? In my experience the answer to both questions is no.

Here’s an example. There’s a gun attachment I decided I wanted to get. I could do it two ways.

Method 1: I could go into the store and spend real money on it.

Method 2: I could take a quest that led me to the same item in-game. I chose this one. Here’s how that played out.

First, I have the game set for Exploration Mode which means I don’t just get a Waypoint on my map to go to. I COULD turn off exploration mode and I’d get one, but that’s not fun to me. In exploration mode I got a few hints about where this item would be.

So I consulted the map, looked around for landmarks mentioned in the clues and figured out where the item was. (To be honest, it wasn’t at all hard to do…I wish it had been harder.) The area in question had a few item caches and I’d have to check them all. It was also over 2 km away. Off I went.

My trip there was hella fun. I rode a motorcycle for some of it, went on foot for other bits. Once I got caught in an open area with an enemy helicopter incoming. I dropped prone and rolled in the mud to camouflage myself. Another time I had to crouch behind some rocks while an enemy vehicle passed by. I thought about taking them out but when a 2nd vehicle followed close behind I knew I’d made the right decision.

It wasn’t all stealth though. I took out quite a few small patrols as I went, and got some upgraded gear drops for my trouble.

One really cool thing I discovered is that going downhill in this game can be tricky. Depending on how fast you’re moving and how steep the hill, you can start to lose your balance. If you fall you’ll take a nasty tumble. Fortunately I was playing a medic and could heal myself (actually I think all classes can heal themselves out of combat). I quickly learned that crouching and/or moving slowly lets you navigate down hills much more safely.

Finally I got to where I thought the item was and the place was crawling with enemies. As I was playing solo this became almost a puzzle. Someone compared solo Breakpoint to Metal Gear Solid 5 and that sounds about right. I started by using a sniper rifle with a suppressor to take out the guards in high towers, then snuck in and started rifling through weapon crates for my part. Got more gear upgrades but no part. The last crate was, of course, at the top of a tower guarded by 2 enemies.

Gear up! And get a damned shave!

Couldn’t figure out how to stealth by them so I engaged them, which alerted a bunch of their friends. I had to flee for my life. I ran up a hill to a tree line and crouched down. I used the sniper rifle to thin out my pursuers and then moved to another location and hid for a bit. When things settled down I entered the camp from another angle and got up into that tower and got my part. Then it was a matter of sneaking back out and making off with the goodies.

By the time I left that camp I was in love with the game; that whole journey had been so much fun. (Although it is far from perfect and could use a lot of polish; hopefully it will get that polish in post-launch support; most Ubi games do.)

So I dunno, maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I should be complaining that I could have skipped actually PLAYING THE GAME and just purchased that weapon part.

This same argument came up when Assassin’s Creed Odyssey came out, too. You could buy outfits and gear, and you could even buy experience boosters. People argued that the game was balanced to ‘force’ you to buy things but I’ve played AC:O twice, on Xbox and on PC, and never felt the need to buy anything. In fact I felt like experience rolled in too quickly; the idea of buying a boost just seems game breaking to me.

I can only assume the people angry about these MTX are the people who need to be the first and the best; they feel compelled to take every shortcut they can to beating the game, or maxing their character, as soon as they possibly can. I guess that kind of person “needs” to buy from the MTX store.

But for those of you who want to buy Breakpoint to, y’know, actually PLAY the game? There’s no issue with MTX. They’re there, sure. But you don’t need them. Please don’t let them dissuade you from buying, if you’re interested in the game.

Addendum: I just want to add a bit based on Azuriel’s comment. I’m not trying to praise Ubisoft for having MTX in this game. (Though I honestly do feel if they are there and players other than me want to funnel a steady stream of revenue into the coffers it’ll increase the chance of long-term support.) This post was in response to the mis-information going around about the game; basically suggesting it was unplayable if you just purchased the game and didn’t spend extra on MTX. That is most definitely not the case.

I just feel like these days EVERY major release is met with some kind of manufactured controversy so that YouTubers can get more views and I’m kind of sick of it.

If you are fundamentally against any game that has MTX, definitely stay away. But just please believe me when I tell you, you can buy this game and have fun with it without spending a dime on MTX.

Oh and one more data point. There are no “lootboxes” here that are purchasable with real money. All the MTX offers are for specific items, not “a change to get…” gambling-style lootboxes. That alone feels like a step in a positive direction.

We’re about six months away from Watch Dogs: Legion, Ubisoft’s 3rd open world hack-a-thon. I loved Watch Dogs and didn’t love Watch Dogs 2, which I think puts me in my usual lunatic fringe position. Given that, none of my hopes for Watch Dogs: Legion will probably come true but I wanted to throw them out into the void just in case.

Most of the Watch Dogs (the original) hate seemed to be about the main character, who many gamers saw as boring or too wooden. I saw him as an excellent anti-hero character. He was motivated by revenge after his enemies caused the death of his niece. He’s like the hacker version of The Punisher. You don’t see Frank Castle cracking jokes and wearing funny hats, and neither does the protagonist of Watch Dogs. He’s not a good guy; he’s a driven guy. Great character, IMO.

But many found him boring, so for Watch Dogs 2 they introduced Marcus, a young hacker who runs around with a crew of colorful characters. When they’re not on missions they’re shopping for clothes and stuff. Their lair is beneath a game store. The world they have to play in is more GTA than in the first game.

That’s all fine to an extent, but thematically things fall apart early on (it might get better later in the game; I’ve never made it too far). The goal of this gang is to get followers (which substitute for experience points) and to do that they need to pull off missions that feel more like hi-jinx than anything too serious. Examples (and to be fair I’m writing all this from memory so I may get some details wrong) are stealing the script from an upcoming movie so they can release it on the web, and stealing a reputed “smart car” being used in that movie so they can drive it around the city while sporting their crew’s logo.

Still all well and good, until the missions begin when the violence turns out to be way out of proportion to the activity. As Marcus sneaks into an office building to get the script, any of the many heavily armed guards who spot him will immediately open fire, shooting to kill. Likewise, Marcus is armed with plenty of hardware to lethally respond to any and all threats.

It just felt wrong for people to be killing each other over a movie script. Also wrong for Marcus to go back to his crew, cracking jokes, after finishing the mission. Show some remorse Marcus; those guards had families!

Now to be fair you CAN try to play non-lethally but IMO that ramps up the difficulty quite a bit. Marcus carries a melee weapon that is a billiard ball in a lanyard; he’ll either swing this and clock someone in the head, or use the lanyard to choke a person until he passes out. I believe there is also a tranq gun or you can use the environment to electrocute guards. Technically non-lethal but still pretty violent.

In the best cases you can hack your way through a mission and remain undetected. That feels thematically most appropriate but, for me at least, these puzzle solutions were pretty tough and I’d often grow impatient, go in guns blazing, then feel remorse for having done so.

So bottom line, some of this is on me for not being more clever and patient, but I’m putting some of it on the devs as well.

Anyway, I hope Watch Dogs: Legion has missions where the objectives and the level of violence sync up better. Make the bad guys feel like they deserve what they get. Don’t ask me to kill a security guard who is guarding a movie script or a record album.

My second issue with Watch Dogs 2 is a much more practical one. The missions tend to have a lot of steps and if you fail one, you have to start the whole mission over (at least, in many cases). Nothing makes me lose interest in a game faster than making me play part of a mission over and over in order to get back to the part that is proving to be a challenge for me. So please, Ubisoft, more check points in missions. If that makes the game too easy, put in a ‘hardcore’ mode that disables the checkpoints or something.

Update 9/11/19: I played for a few hours last night and these issues SEEM to have been rectified. Nothing wonky happened and I was back to having fun. So fingers-crossed, this post is no longer relevant. Original post follows:

I was pretty excited to jump into Gears 5 Thursday evening, and initially I was not disappointed. Friday night I had fun as well, though at one point I had to exit the game when it froze. Saturday, as I moved deeper into Act 2, I start encountering more and more issues. I’m sad to say, I’m putting the game back on the shelf for now.

I’m bummed because I’m loving the game…when it works. But there is something wonky with the saving/loading system and four times now I’ve had to replay chunks of the game because of issues. In some cases the auto-save will just keep running and running and never finish. In some cases I get an error saying “Unable to save game” after which I have to go back to the last checkpoint. And in still others I’ll enter an area and “triggers” (ie doors I need to open, switches I need to throw) will be inoperable and I’ll have to reload a checkpoint.

Even this wouldn’t be so bad except the checkpoints are spread out and reloading can mean re-playing a few battles, including some tough ones. It can also mean going through an area carefully searching for collectibles and “components” that you use to upgrade your robot pal…a second time. Or put another way, your last checkpoint could be 10-20 minutes ago depending on how hard the fights have been. (There seem to be “I just died” checkpoints and “return to the game” checkpoints. The former are fairly frequent but it’s the latter that you have to pick after a glitch happens and they’re farther apart.)

What I’ve learned is that if your character and his/her companion stop talking about what they’re doing, you’re probably glitched and sooner or later you’re going to have to reload an earlier checkpoint.

Hopefully The Coalition can fix this all soon and if they do I would give Gears 5 a hearty recommendation.

What really puzzles me is that the game has gotten rave reviews from the “pros” (I know we hate Metacritic but the score there is 85 currently) and none of them mentioned these glitches, but lest you think I am alone in experiencing them, I’ll direct you to this thread in the forums.

Just another example of how you can’t trust professional reviewers these days.

UPDATE: The Coalition posted an update/acknowledgement of the issue:

Image by Steve Bidmead from Pixabay

I stole my title from @scopique‘s tweet promoting his latest blog post. He sees having too many games on the market as a potential problem, and I kind of agree with him. Games start to feel so disposable when there are so many of them around.

But you know me, I’m Mr Positive! (Ha, I couldn’t get that out with a straight face.) Most years I have a mental checklist of all the games I’m going to be playing in the Fall, but I never got around to doing that this year.

And now I’m suddenly swamped. There are SO MANY games I want to play. Gears 5 launched for some (including me) last night and so far I am LOVING it. The Ghost Recon Breakpoint beta also started yesterday and I loved that. I’ll be there at launch (Oct 4th) to play that one. Tuesday Greedfall comes out and I am cautiously optimistic about that. Destiny 2’s new expansion drops Oct 1 and again, I am cautiously optimistic about that.

Then there’s the Monster Hunter World expansion, the Legend of Zelda remake, Borderlands 3 (which normally isn’t my cuppa but I think if all my friends are playing I won’t be able to resist), The Outer Worlds, the probably too-weird-for-me-to-skip Death Stranding and the new Star Wars game.

Most of these are in September and October, a few are in November. But these are just the ‘off the top of my head’ titles; I’m sure there are more I’m not thinking of.

And let’s not forget the games I’m already playing like No Man’s Sky, Days Gone, Dragon Quest Builders 2 and I’ve recently jumped back into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

I’m going to have to figure out how to clone myself so one “me” can go to work and the other “me” can hang out and play games all day. And even if I could accomplish that, there STILL probably wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to play all of these!

Back to Scopique’s post though: this IS kind of a problem, at least if you’re trying to sell games. If I can’t find the time (and money!) to play all the games I’m really excited about, what are the chances I’ll pick up some random lesser-known title because it seems interesting? I’m going to say, close to zero.

Exacerbating this problem is that so many of these games don’t end. A year after launch AC Odyssey is still getting new content. The Gears 5 team is promising on-going updates and content drops. I’m sure GR Breakpoint will be the same: Ubisoft has doubled-down on games as a service in what I see as a good way. Where will I find the time!?

Oh hell and I just realized I haven’t even thought about the VR games!

Last night I spent an hour or so playing Edge of Nowhere, a VR title from Insomniac that came out a few years ago. The premise of the game is a kind of Saturday matinee adventure tale. It is 1932 and your gal (“gal” since it is 1932, y’see) has gone missing in a remote location, along with the rest of the expedition she was with. You’re on your way to rescue her when the plane you’re in crashes (of course); undaunted you start following the trail left by the expedition.

The premise of the meta-game is, what happens when you try to do a 3rd person action game in VR. The whole game kind of feels like an experiment; one that, for me at least, ultimately failed.

The biggest problem is the way third person is handled. The camera tags along behind the character, maybe 2 meters back. You can’t manually move the camera but of course you can look around. I was playing in a swivel chair which seemed ideal. It all works OK as long as you are moving forward, but if you ever want to backtrack, big issues crop up.

So imagine you are the camera and you’re looking at a character 2 meters in front of you but facing away. That’s the default situation. Now the character turns around. You can see his face. He starts walking forward. You, the camera, start floating backwards to maintain a fixed distance. But you can’t see where the character is going, so you turn around. Now you can see where the character is going, but you can no longer see the character. Big problem. If you could move the camera even a quarter circle around the character it would’ve helped a lot.

If that was sorted it would help, but really there doesn’t seem to be much reason for this to be a VR game. You can play it with Rift controllers but it is designed to be played with a gamepad. The only motion controls are your character’s head, which strangely turns as you turn your head. So turning your head means both you look to the side and so does the character, which really only matters when you’re in a dark place using a headlamp. Then you have to swivel your head around to shine the light everywhere.

There is a LOT of climbing using pick-axes (the environment, at least at the start, is all ice and snow). I think the intent was to have these segments be harrowing but the 3rd person perspective reduces that. I’ve played plenty of VR games where looking over a cliff almost produces vertigo, but those were all 1st person. Here you can gaze down into an abyss and not feel anything more than you’d feel in a flatscreen game. It doesn’t help that at times the camera floats out over a cliff edge, reinforcing the fact that you can’t fall. In fact, if the character does fall, you just watch him. The camera doesn’t follow him down or anything.

Anyway I could go on and on. If this wasn’t a VR game, it would be a pretty shallow experience. LOTS of climbing sequences. then some sneaking past/fighting creatures. A tiny bit of exploration but mostly you just follow a path. There’ve been plenty of simple games that are made special by the addition of VR (eg Job Simulator) but here the VR doesn’t add very much.

Edge of Nowhere came out in 2016 and VR is advancing so quickly that what was probably new and innovative then just seems “OK” today. I bought it on sale for $10 and I’m not sure I’ll bother playing more than that initial hour. Word on the Internet says it is only about 4 hours long so I’m guessing I’ve seen about a quarter of it.

Update: I got stubborn and finished playing it. I had some issue with rock throwing and the controller near the end (rock throwing is a big part of the game…you use it to distract monsters so you can sneak past them) so had to finish using the Oculus controllers. So that’s another strike against the game.

In the end, nothing changed my “meh” opinion. I’m really glad I only spent $10 on it. Finished, deleted, moving on.

I blame Heart1lly for this post!

In my Twitter timeline it is full-on WoW Classic Mania this week. While it’s fun to see everyone taking delight in retro-gaming, I haven’t joined in.

Part of the reason is that while I played and enjoyed WoW, it wasn’t, y’know, life-changing for me from a gameplay point of view. MMOs that were life-changing for me personally: MegaWars III (my 1st MMO) and Ultima Online (the one MMO that I played to a point where it started having a negative impact on my real life). WoW was just another in a LONG line of MMOs that I played and enjoyed.

It did happen to land in a weird time in my life. I had gotten laid off and decided to chill for a few months; do some freelancing and live off savings for a bit. Because of that I could devote massive amounts of time to WoW. I joined a guild, became friends with a lot of those people and often spent upwards of 8 hours a day online with them. I knew them, knew their partners and kids, new about their real lives. We were very much a family.

But once I started working again I couldn’t maintain that lifestyle and I drifted away. By the time The Burning Crusade came out, I was ready to move on from WoW. I’ve re-subbed a few times since but without my “family” it just felt kind of empty. Which is strange since I mostly solo in MMOs and am not much of a guild joiner. But in my head, WoW = these friends I’ve lost touch with.

My favorite WoW memories have little to do with gameplay. One thing I love about WoW is how time mirrors real life and, back then, people sought out servers in their time zone. It would be 3 am, the world would be pretty quiet as most players would’ve gone to bed. A friend and I would head out to Westfall and sit near the lighthouse and watch the light play across the sea and talk about life and troubles and whatever and just enjoy the night.

Other fond memories involve silly roleplay in Stormwind, or the time friends stuck with me for 6 hours helping me get a rare pet for my hunter.

Going back to WoW, visiting those zones… it would just be sad for me. Those friends are gone and even if I could find them, it’d be like that awkwardness you feel at a school reunion. People change over time.

I’d rather keep these fond memories as they are. I don’t remember any of the pain points that there must have been. I just have wonderful memories of a good time in my life, and going back could only taint them. So no WoW Classic for me.

But I hope everyone else has a blast!

In my last post I talked about my dreams of VR and worries that if I waited too long to invest, I’d be too old to really enjoy the technology.

Mind you, I own Playstation VR so I had an inkling of what I was missing out on. PSVR is a solid enough system for what it costs but it has some technical limitations, and it’s not super convenient for me. (If you have a dedicated gaming room or live alone you won’t have the same issues.)

So I was thinking about this waiting game I’ve been playing when I set up the PSVR to sample No Man’s Sky in VR. I was a fan of No Man’s Sky when everyone was losing their shit over ‘broken promises’ and so forth, and I’m still a fan today. I was excited about the VR mode.

I wasn’t disappointed by the VR patch, but it does really stress PSVR. It’s like there’s a fog on your space helmet’s visor and anything more than 10 yards or so away appears as a blurry blob of pixels. The PS4 just isn’t powerful enough to support the game the way it should be supported. Still, it was enough to show me how well NMS works in VR.

That’s when I pulled the trigger. Is it crazy to spend $400 to play one game? I guess it depends on how much you love the game. Plus I knew it wouldn’t be the ONLY VR game I played.

So I ordered the Oculus Rift S in spite of reading a lot of posts about issues with MSI laptops (which I have). My superstitious side doesn’t even want to write these words, but so far I’ve had no significant problems.

There is a huge jump in quality going from PSVR to the Rift S (as you’d expect, given the price and age of the two systems). The inside-out tracking (instead of external cameras/sensors pointing at the visor, the visor has cameras looking out at the environment) is about 1000 times easier to deal with than the PSVR’s fussy camera.

So far I’ve found VR using this system very comfortable. I can wear the visor for long periods of time without any hint of simulation sickness, though physically I don’t find the Rift S as comfortable as PSVR (I’m still playing around with the proper way to wear it, though).

I still struggle to clear enough room to be really comfortable with “room sized” VR (Rift needs a 3′ by 3′ clear area and we need a larger apartment) but I played No Man’s Sky sitting in a swivel chair for quite some time and it was amazing. Hello Games has done a great job.

It’s early days yet (I got the system on Friday) but so far no regrets. I know the technology will get better and the Rift S will be obsolete soon enough, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now I’m really happy I took the plunge. I’m not getting any younger, y’know.

My first VR experience was Dactyl Nightmare, somewhere around 1991. I went into an arcade and a technician was just setting the machine up. Since he was still tweaking things he let me play around in it for longer than my $5 or $10 was supposed to get me. I was astounded. I was swept away. It was like the best acid trip ever. I wanted more.

Over the years I’ve dabbled. At one point I cobbled together a home VR system using a Mattel Power Glove and Sega 3D glasses from… the Saturn maybe? I played handball in my bedroom. It was pretty neat but also pretty damned low-res/laggy. I think I was running this on a 386sx PC, if that dates it for you. Y’know that might have even been before Dactyl Nightmare.

Since those days I’ve mostly been waiting for VR to arrive. Last year I took the plunge and got a Playstation VR system and that has been pretty fun, but let’s face it, it’s a bit limited in terms of resolution, given the power of the PS4 driving it. Plus it’s a bit of a chore to set up since the PS4 is in the living room. There are cables that get in the way, and the camera needs to be just so which means perching it on a stool in the middle of the room. I enjoy it and don’t regret the purchase but honestly I don’t use it as much as I would like just because there is so much ‘prep’ that has to happen before I turn it on, and because of how intrusive it is (for Angela and the doggo) to have cables strung across the room.

Lately I’ve been looking to upgrade. Right now there seem to be three ‘active’ options: Oculus Rift, the HP Vive and Valve’s Index. Both the Vive and Index require setting up sensors around the room; this makes them less than ideal for our current living space. That leaves the Rift S or the wireless Rift Quest. The former would connect to my PC tucked away in a corner of the kitchen, out of everyone’s way. The latter is wireless and seems to be pretty much “pick up and play.”

Problem is, both these systems still have limitations and flaws. I keep thinking “I should wait for the next iteration.” The tech will improve and/or get cheaper, support will become more prevalent. If anyone were to ask me, I’d say keep on waiting for VR to ‘arrive.’

Problem for me is, I’m old. I recently had my eyes checked and the doc wants to bump up my prescription (which happens every year). Recently had my ears checked and confirmed that my hearing is going. It’s age-related so there’s nothing to be done to fix it. My body seems to get stiffer every day. My hands hurt if I manipulate things for too long. Getting old sucks, make no mistake.

So I’m wondering how much time I realistically have to enjoy VR since it is kind of an ‘activity.’ Can I afford to wait another 5 or 10 years for the next jump in VR technology? How much blinder and deafer will I be by then? How much worse will my arthritis be? Plus I don’t want to end up on a “funny” YouTube video titled “Elders Try VR.” I mean, I’m already as old as a lot of those “elders” are. /fistshake

I’ve been having these internal discussions with myself more and more as the fact that life is most definitely finite gets in my face again and again. Yeah its depressing but hey, this is my life. If I have things I want to experience, it’s time to set about experiencing them. But…what if VR tech leaps ahead two years from now? I won’t be much worse in two years than I am now. I can wait for that, right?

Hmmm. If anyone finds the fountain of youth, give me a call. OK?

I’m trying to get in good with the old woman who runs this camp I’ve been hanging around. She has a job for me: a drifter had come into the camp to do some business, then had gotten drunk and beaten a few of her people to death. She wants revenge, and she wants me to get it.

This guy sounds like bad news so I say I’ll do it. I leave just after dawn but the world is nothing if not full of distractions and it’s afternoon by the time I get near the drifter’s camp. Turns out he’s got a gang of his own, and a well fenced compound with a 2 story tower. I’ll have to be careful.

And I think I am being careful until the sniper’s laser sight sweeps past me; I hadn’t even seen the sniper in the second, smaller tower. I duck behind some rocks but between a guard patrolling and the sniper sweeping back and forth I know it won’t be long before I’m found. So I peer out, take a deep breath to enhance my focus, and squeeze the trigger.

The sniper drops from a clean head shot but of course the gunfire alerts the entire camp. I should’ve spent the credits for a suppressor. The patrolling guard comes running over and I leap out from cover, my machete blade flashing in the late afternoon sunshine. One less guard.

I spot my mark; he’s in the second tower checking the sniper. I take a shot, miss, and he flees, heading for the bigger tower. I guess he thinks he is safe up there because he stops. Another head shot and he is down, but I need a trophy for the old lady. Dude carries a crowbar and she wants it, but there’s an angry gang between me and it.

I fall back, skirt around the camp and sneak in through a gap in the wall. I drop down off a ledge; risky because I can’t climb back up. There’s some tall grass to take cover in and…SNAP! Bastards have left a leg trap in the grass and now I’m trapped in it. It doesn’t hurt too much but I’m a sitting duck. Rather than panic I get ready for the enemy and I take out a couple as they come rushing around a rock face. Now I have time to get free.

Low and slow, I make my way across the compound taking out the rest of the gang. Or at least that’s what I thought. Climb the tower and, oh hell, there’s a couple more up here and they’re making a last stand. I duck behind a wall, so do they. We exchange shots and soon they’re dead and I’m bandaging my wounds and checking my ammo supply, which is starting to be a concern.

Stupid me, rather than grab that crowbar and get out, I start looting the place. I’m still up in the tower when a few bikes roll up; reinforcements and me trapped at the top of the tower. They know I’m up there somewhere and are yelling for me to come out. One gets brave, comes up to my level and pays for his boldness with his life.

During my looting I’d found some pipe-bombs; too many for me to carry them all. So I get cute. I light a fuse, chuck it down by their bikes. I miss, but one of the idiots runs over to see what he’d heard, and gets there just in time for the bomb to go off. Another down.

Then I hear it, and so do they: the screeching and shrieking. A horde comes flowing into the far end of the camp; I guess the pipe bomb was a bad idea. I hadn’t even noticed that it had gotten dark. The gang members are screaming and shooting but there’s no hope for them. Soon the shouting stops. I’m cowering at the top of this tower, only one way down. Afraid to breathe. I hear the freakers howling and scrabbling and I’m praying they haven’t noticed me. Apparently they haven’t. They move through the camp and funnel out the entrance and towards my bike. Aw hell.

My luck holds, though, as they leave the road before they reach the bike, and wander down a hill. I wait until I can no longer see them, then creep down the stairs and back to the bike. I don’t want to risk drawing the horde back so I just roll down the road a bit before firing up the engine and getting the hell out of there.

The old woman is sweet as pie to me now; last week I was just a pain in her ass, now I’m her most reliable guy. Really all I want is a safe place to sleep at this point; that, at least, I get.

Gameplay Notes

It’s hard to say how much of this was “emergent” gameplay and what was scripted. I’m fairly certain the bikers coming back were triggered when I picked up the crowbar. The horde though: I don’t see how that was scripted though it might have triggered when I’d killed X defenders? It really seemed like the pipe bomb drew them in; I’m going with that. There were a LOT of them and it was creepy as hell, even for me the player. You can only save your game at your bike so if the horde had got me I would’ve had to re-start the entire fight. I really was holding my breath.

And I tell you, watching those things shamble off into the darkness… sheesh it gives me the shivers just thinking about it!

The trip back was a story in itself as freakers [aka zombies; the fast moving variety] were everywhere and at one point one leapt at me and knocked me off my bike. I had to fight half a dozen of them using the machete (didn’t want guns to draw in even more) which of course broke on me. I had to stab the last two with my boot knife; a method I wouldn’t recommend. Took forever.

Really enjoying this game. Sorry for lake of screenshots; they’re just so cumbersome to deal with on the PS4 and the colors are always mucked up because I play with HDR on.

The last time I wrote a proper post here was June 10th and at that point I’d been playing FFXIV for about 10 days. And until about a week or two ago, I’d been playing it every day, pretty much exclusively.

Then I skipped a day for some reason. And another day. Then I logged in for about 10 minutes and that was that. I may be done with FFXIV for now.

This always happens to me; it’s my cycle of Discovery, Ridiculous Enthusiasm (accompanied with “gonna play this 4-ever!” giddiness), The Routine and finally, the big DROP happens. I think I need to learn to acknowledge when playing has just become due to habit rather than desire, and maybe step back at that point. If I play a few times a week rather than every day maybe I can keep the enthusiasm up. Makes sense, but y’know, at my age I’m not sure I can learn new tricks.

They don’t look like trolls but believe me, they are.

What really killed FFXIV for me was the Horrible Hundred; the huge swathe of quests that happen after you finish A Realm Reborn and before you start Heavensward. During these (which took me a few weeks to get through) there is almost no multiplayer content. A few raids and dungeons, but mostly you run around doing fetch quests.

Back when these were new people were probably mixing them up with doing dungeons for fun, but with the “Road to 70” buff I was already so over-leveled that I didn’t want the XP that would come with doing anything extra. I just wanted to get to Heavensward so every night I’d log in, feeling vaguely irritated by how much these quests sucked, but determined to get through them.

And I did, finally. And then Heavensward began and it was more of the same. Heavensward, at launch, was meant to take characters from level 50 to level 60. I was level 60 before I started it, meaning now the Heavensward quests are trivial. The ‘correct’ course for me would be to level a 2nd job, and I thought about leveling a healer but now it’s been so long since I’ve done MP content that I’m facing my natural resistance to doing it. I was a social gamer for a while, though!

Plus as soon as I stopped logging into FFXIV I started remembering the 5,000 other games in my backlog, frontlog and sidelog. (OK I exaggerate a little.) I’ve been bouncing around from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Dragon Quest Builders 2 and then to Days Gone (among others.).

The best thing about playing an MMO is that you save money on other games, but the worst thing about playing an MMO is that you miss out on so many other games.

My only real regret is that I bought TWO 60-day time cards in order to get two Fat Chocobo mounts for 2 characters and so my sub is paid through to something like October.

The good news for everyone else is that in patch 5.3 (which is out sometime later this year I believe) the developers are going to streamline this early content to make it faster to get through. There are no real details of that, but if you’re considering picking up FFXIV, I’d urge you to wait until 5.3. Right now the grind is really depressing. And despite what some will tell you, the story does NOT make it worth it. (Well obviously that’s my opinion.)

I had a good run, though. Hopefully before too long I’ll be ready to jump back in for a while. I do come out of it with some fond memories….

I don’t know these people but they invited me to their wedding, which was ADORABLE!
I joined a guild and lasted like 6 weeks before my inner introvert drove me to leave.
Of course eventually I gave in and created a Viera.