Fairy Fencer Monday: There’s change in the wind

As I mentioned elsewhere, I’ve decided to devote Monday evenings to playing Fairy Fencer F, Advent Dark Force on the PS4, a turn-based JRPG that doesn’t take itself very seriously, at least so far. (I’m about 13 hours in; howlongtobeat.com says the main game takes 30 hours, which for me means probably 40+ because I’m slow.) BTW the original Fairy Fencer F is available on Steam (and PS3). The Advent Dark Force version, as I understand it, adds an ‘evil’ path to follow. I’m following the Goddess of Light path in this first playthrough which I think is the same game as the Steam version.

OK first some background:
The basic goal of the game is to collect furies. So what’s a Fury? A Fury is a powerful weapon that houses a fairy. They are wielded by fencers, skilled warriors who for some reason can wield these weapons. When a fencer chooses a fury he or she basically binds with the fairy inside.

In game terms each character has a fury, which means he/she has a fairy she is bound to. These fairies are basically NPCs that show up in cut scenes. As your party collects additional furies, the fairies inside them become available to equip on each character, and an equipped fairy will level up and get more powerful. OK that’s enough for the rest of the post to make sense I hope.

The Characters (so far):

The main, or at least first, character you meet is Fang, a young man who is a complete slacker. Through some process I’ve already forgotten, he winds up with a fury inhabited by Eryn. Eryn is a fairy who has lost all her memories and she hopes if she and Fang go in search of other furies then she might meet a fairy who can help restore her memory. Fang is completely uninterested in becoming a fencer (“It sounds like a real hassle.”) but Eryn tempts him with the promise of meat (and food in general). Off they go.

In typical JRPG fashion you start the game alone and quickly add members to your party. The second character you meet is Tiara, a pretentious know-it-all who wants to collect furies in order to release the Goddess of Light because she’s heard that whomever does this will be granted a wish. She (from her point of view) enlists the help of Fang and Eryn. Tiara’s fairy is Cui, a cute little cat-thing that only says “Cui” over and over because every JRPG has to have some kind of cute creature that can’t speak.

One of the more uncomfortable bits about the game is that every so often Fang will be really mean to Tiara and her reaction is to become attracted to him. Kind of a weird message there; that women are attracted to verbally abusive men. I hope at some point this turns around and Tiara punches Fang’s lights out.

Next we meet Harley. Harley is a “fairyologist” (the game is sprinkled with intentionally dumb terms like this) and she wants to find furies to study the fairies inside. She’s always trying to study Eryn which makes Eryn very uncomfortable, and her advances often seem sexual in nature. Harley’s fairy is Bahus, a kind of father-figure who spoils her. Harley is also something of a trope: the bombshell character who is also a complete slob. Her fairy is always scolding her for not bathing or changing her clothes. (At least I think that’s a trope. I can’t give specific examples but I feel like I seen this kind of character before.) Soon after we meet Harley she decides she is too warm and removes her clothes, giving the devs an excuse for a bit of fan-service. Not that she ever wears very much, at least above the waist.

Next we meet Galdo and his fairy Marissa. Galdo speaks with a Canadian accent if Canadians actually spoke like Bob and Doug McKenzie. Marissa is a rather maternal fairy who refers to Galdo as Galdie-kins. I’m still getting to know Galdo but he seems like he’s going to be the heart of the team.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. There’s room for six characters on the combat field and an option to switch out characters, so I expect the cast to continue to grow.

Before tonight the whole game has been kind of a snark-fest (which I didn’t mind too much, I get a chuckle out of fictional characters being snarky to each other) but story-wise, Galdo really stepped up tonight. I think he’s started to wear off on the others and they’re starting to be a little bit nicer to each other. I’m finding myself pretty curious about what’s going to happen next.

The other thing that happened tonight is that gameplay wise, I hit a difficulty spike. I’ve been chewing through enemies pretty much on auto-pilot, just hitting the attack button over and over. I was doing that tonight when all of a sudden I noticed Tiara was KO’d. I didn’t even notice she was low on health. What followed was a frantic re-adjustment as I tried to get her rezzed while keeping the baddies at bay via spells and special skills. I hadn’t saved in quite a while so it was a bit of a panic!

I made it through that fight, healed everyone up then did the sneaky-sneak thing to try to get out of that dungeon without too many more fights (you can only save at Save Points while in the dungeon). Then I headed back to town to visit the shop to stock up on potions and the game’s equivalent of Phoenix Downs. Bought some new gear too. I went back and paid attention and made it through but had some really good, fun fights.

So now I’m looking forward to my next session. I’m interested to see if the group can rise above “Let’s just be asses to each other” and start to behave as a team, and I’m excited to see how hard the next dungeon is.

Next week I’ll talk a bit more about some of the actual game systems. So far I’m liking Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, but at the same time I’m glad I got it for $12 or so on-sale. It’s fun but it’s not game of the year material or anything.

Until then, here’s Galdo fighting in a bath towel:

Juggling games

Today’s my first day back to work since the day before Thanksgiving. It was a ‘staycation’ for me: I just had PTO I had to use up. I played a LOT of games and wound up kind of getting caught up in too many. It was fine while on vacation but now that time is limited, I gotta figure out how to juggle everything.

I’ve been trying to do better about finishing games but I know if I let one of these languish for too long I’ll never get back to it.

So here’s what I’m playing:

Rise of the Tomb Raider. I picked this one up when it launched for the PS4 because if you played the first week, you’d get 100,000 credits. I don’t really know what credits are used for, but as I’ve said, I’m “Easy Mode” when it comes to marketing departments. So I played once, got the 100,000 credits (and I still have no idea what I do with them) then put the game away until the PS4 Pro came out, since everyone was saying how great the game looks on the Pro. Then when I got the Pro I wound up playing Infamous: Second Son and Infamous: First Light before getting around to Tomb Raider. Anyway now I’m playing it and really enjoying it. Great game so far (~40% done).

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. During the PSN Black Friday sale this was something like $12. I was feeling an itch for some old-school turn-based JRPG goodness so I snagged it. It’s oddly soothing so far. I do a lot of grinding which manifests as crunching through easy battles almost as fast as I can click the controller. Sometimes I almost fall asleep playing!! It’s also kind of offensive in that way that Japanese games can be when it comes to gender. Y’know, large breasted female characters not wearing much, female characters reacting positively to being treated badly, that kind of nonsense. Don’t judge me too harshly; I try my best not to be a sexist asshole in real life even if I play one in a JRPG now and then.

Final Fantasy XV. Pre-ordered this one because it came out at the start of my week off. I actually didn’t like it much at first but it’s growing on me. In my heart I’m almost treating this one like an MMO: a game I assume I’ll be playing for a long time. The only downside to this is that the story kind of gets lost when I spend so much time fishing or farming materials.

No Man’s Sky. I’m one of those people who was perfectly happy with No Man’s Sky when it came out. I pumped about 30 hours into it before drifting away in August. When Hello Games surprised us all with The Foundation Update last week I had to jump back in, and I got hooked again. I want to at least complete my base before drifting away again.

So I gotta figure out how to manage all these games. I think I’m going to say Monday night is Fairy Fencer night, and Thursday is No Man’s Sky night, and focus on Tomb Raider and FF XV the rest of the week until I get Tomb Raider finished.

Of course in addition to these are evergreen games like The Elder Scrolls Online, and Destiny has a holiday update coming in a week or so and I’ll want to check that out. Then there’s Stardew Valley launching on consoles about the same time as the Destiny holiday update, and Uncharted 4 Survival mode arrives this month and looks fun…

Oh yeah and I’m kind of hooked on mobile/Facebook game Star Trek: Timelines, too!

Maybe I need to just quit my job so I have more time for gaming! (I haven’t even mentioned my huge backlog…PSN has to stop having all these sales, they’re killing me!)

Thinking about blogging again

My blog has been gathering dust for a long time. Nothing new really. Since I started writing it in 2002 it has gone through many cycles both in terms of posting frequency and in subject matter. A few years back I was fortunate enough to get a job blogging professionally. It wasn’t my main job, I still had a 9-5 gig, so I had to write the paid stuff in the evening. That really hurt Dragonchasers because I only had so many words in me (and only so much time) per day.

About a year ago that blogging job vanished when the publisher realized scabs would blog for free “for the exposure.” I could go on a long tangent about that but for once I’ll restrain myself.

For the past year I’ve been bopping around not-quite-blogging on Google Plus, Facebook and lately Imzy…or in the comments section of someone else’s blog. Yesterday it dawned on me that as long as I’m writing blog-length posts anyway, I may as well write them here. I might not get as much exposure but I’m no longer too concerned about that. I gave up any interest in becoming an Internet celebrity long ago. Even if I had the ambition and talent to become one (and I don’t), Internet celebs are exposed to far too much hate. I couldn’t deal with it.

I’ve also accepted the fact that I don’t have any Truths to share (at least none that the rest of you don’t already know). But I like talking about the stuff I like and who knows, maybe there’re a handful of people out there interested in hearing what I have to say. If nothing else it’s good for me to write stuff now and then.

For the next year or so, I’m primarily a Playstation gamer. I’ve lost interest in PC gaming; I work out of a home office and at the end of a work day I need to go be somewhere other than in front of a computer. I’ve tried PC gaming on the TV but it always winds up being too much of a headache. I own an Xbox One but once Microsoft announced Project Scorpio I stopped playing Xbox One games because I know all the good ones will get updated for Scorpio (which I plan to buy). So why play, say, Gears of War 4 now when I can get the 4K Game of the Year edition for Scorpio next year? I picked up a Playstation 4 Pro last month so that’s where I’m spending most of my time and what I’ll be talking about for the most part. Of course the majority of console games come out for both systems anyway. If I blog about Destiny or Final Fantasy XV it doesn’t matter much if I’m on PS4 or XB1 (unless I’m talking about technical details I guess).

So that’s the plan. I figured I’d better post something before I jumped in, just so that friends don’t think my blog had been hacked or something. (“Hey, there’s new posts at Dragonchasers… Pete never blogs so it must be those dreaded hackers who get into your blog and start posting boring stuffs!”) 🙂

The Playstation Experience is making me a happy gamer

This weekend Sony is having their now-annual Playstation Experience, an event for fans of the Playstation. In other words, this isn’t a press event, it’s a thing for the gaming public.

I’m not at the event and I wasn’t even around to watch the keynote live stream, so I’m still catching up but already two games have really caught my eye. The first is The Last of Us, Part II. I enjoyed the first game so much and while in some ways I liked that it stood alone and felt like a complete story, I can’t help but be happy to learn we’re going to see more of Joel and Ellie. Also that Ashley Johnson (who’s been awesome in Blindspot on TV, btw) and Troy Baker are back to reprise their roles. It’s a long ways out yet, but here’s the trailer. I expect holiday 2018 might be the target launch date but we’ll see.

Before then we’re getting another Uncharted game, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This one is a kind of stand-alone ‘side story’ and features Chloe and Nadine. (Claudia Black and Laura Bailey). You remember Chloe from Uncharted 2 and 3, and Nadine was in Uncharted 4. This one is supposed to be out in 2017:

So those two I’m super-jazzed about but there’ve been other announcements, including Knack 2. Go on and laugh if you want but I played through all of Knack and it was fun. It wasn’t a game I pine for a sequel to, but I can see myself picking up Knack 2 when it’s on sale or something. I mean yeah, it’s kind of odd that a game that was so disliked is getting a sequel but I assume it’s another pet project of Mark Cerny. I bet it’ll look amazing on the PS4 Pro at least!

There was also a new trailer for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and a confirmation of a 2017 launch date. Here again I am odd man out. While Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a very pretty game, I found the actual gameplay was pretty dull and I never finished it. But I’ll include the trailer for all you Ni no Kuni fans.

And that’s still not all but I guess 4 videos is enough for one blog post. I’m hoping Sony makes an archive of the keynote available for those of us who were aoubt and about while it was going on.

Update: Ack, one more. Ys Origin trailer:

Why I (finally) canceled my Playstation VR pre-order

I pre-ordered Playstation VR (PSVR) as soon as I was able to do so. I guess that was back in June. On Sunday, just days before it shipped, I decided to cancel that pre-order.

There are a lot of ‘satellite’ reasons why I canceled it: the HDR pass-through issue I mentioned in my last post and the amount of money I’ve spent and am spending on other things this fall (a new TV and a PS4 Pro) being two of them.

But what finally changed my mind was stopping to consider how much of an impact PSVR would have on our living room. Setting it up would mean digging out the Move controllers and a charging stand for them and re-positioning the Playstation Camera which is currently mounted on the wall above the TV. I’d have to free up a power outlet for the Processing Unit (the PS4 is on a UPS and I’m out of battery-backed up slots, but if the PU isn’t on battery then the PS4 may as well not be either), and I’d have to find a place to store the rather large visor and its 10′ of cable when I wasn’t using it. It’s just a lot of ‘stuff’ to integrate into the room.

And that would be fine if I thought I’d be using it a lot, but considering I’d probably have to move the furniture to use it (definitely would for standing experiences, probably would for sitting and using a dual shock…might not for sitting and using the Move controllers which you’d probably hold up higher) and considering that most of the software offerings in this first batch seem more like “Things it would be cool to try” rather than “Things I’d want to play every day.”

Driveclub VR was the one game that seemed like something I’d want to play on a consistent basis and to really get the full experience I’d have to buy a Wheel to go with it.

So $400 and a re-configuration of the living room all became too much of a barrier to entry for me. I’m not really much of a PC gamer but I think VR kind of belongs in the office with the PC, not in the living room. At least not until they can offer a wireless experiences. Oculus has announced a new headset that has half the PC processing requirements of the current Oculus so maybe that’ll be the way to go (my current PC isn’t beefy enough for VR).

Or maybe PSVR will grow into something with a library of games I really want to play, and if so I can always revisit my decision then. Don’t really need to be there day 1. I’ve more than done my fair share of “early adoptering” over the years!

It didn’t help to see a video of the 3 guys from Digital Foundry talking about PSVR. While they were all pretty impressed with how well it works given the limitations of the hardware and the relatively low cost, none of them said they’d actually buy it with their own cash, and one pointed out he had a Rift and after the novelty wore off he didn’t use it much. Then there was the EP.Net review where Victor Lucas laid all the parts on the table; that really illustrated how many pieces there are to this rig. (I’ll embed these videos below.)

So while I hope PSVR does well and that I come to regret my decision, I’ll spend this fall playing conventional games at higher-than-1080-but-less-than-true-4K resolutions on my PS4 Pro. Next spring I’ll take another look at PSVR and see if early adopters are still using it and if we’re still seeing good support for it. Then I’ll re-evaluate my decision.

New Playstation hardware revs

While the Great BlogWAR of Aught-8 was raging, the Leipzeig Game Conference was ignored here at Dragonchasers. Shame on me.

A couple Playstation-related hardware announcements cropped up. First is the PSP-3000, another rev of the familiar PSP, this one with a built-in microphone (for Skype or voice chat in games) and a screen that is supposed to have double the refresh rate of the old screen, a “color gamut” twice as wide (honestly not sure exactly what that means but I figure it boils down to twice as many potential colors) and 5 times the contrast ratio. Also the Home button is gone, replaced my a Playstation button.

An incremental improvement, for sure, but still welcomed.

Also, a new PS3 bundle. 160 gig PS2, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, DualShock Controller and a coupon for PSN game Pain, all for $500. Uncharted is pretty f’ing great, so its a nice pack-in choice. The downside is that, from everything I’ve read, this new 160 gig PS3 has no Backwards Compatibility. So presumably the MGS4 80 gig bundle now on store shelves is your last chance to get limited BC.