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casa

So sorry for not liking it (negativity warning!)

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Okay, I know this will just be filed under another random complaint post, but now after about 10 hours in I can't see myself finishing the game anymore and I simply need to vent. The TL;DR version is that I think the game doesn't live up to the hype and I'm disappointed. You can move on now if you like. Otherwise, CW for boomer mentality.

Now the long version. First the good: If you manage to get the game installed (Gamepass/Windows Store didn't work for me, Epic finally did) it runs beautifully, bug free and seems very well polished. The times of "bug-ridden, unfinished Obsidian games" are obviously over. It also looks better than on the screenshots, it's absolutely no ugly game and I like the art style, not even sure what this 1900's postcard design is called but I like it. I also have no problems with gunplay and all that, it's not what I care for the most but on the technical side there's really not much of an issue dispite some clunkiness in the UI that could've been a little better and minor nitpicks. As for the gameplay... it's handholding to the max, you can't possibly go wrong no matter how hard you try. Yeah, it's a "follow the marker" game... sad, but I can live with that when there's a good story to follow, that's what I play for.

But as a looong long fan of Obsidian and the guys working there, having played so many flawed gems that barely worked but had such good storytelling and potential for more, I can't get over the mediocrity of this game now and how safe, unoffensive, easy and boring it is.


Okay, let me take a step back - After I initially, a few months ago,  tried and failed to get the game with the XBox game pass for PC because I was curios about the reviews, I gave up trying to install it until 2 days ago. I finally played and finished Vampire - Bloodlines for the first time (yeah, that late I know, I had it in my pile of shame since 2010) and frankly thought "come on, Leonard Boyarsky made this, made Fallout with Tim Cain, Arcanum... there MUST be something to my liking in Outer Worlds and I need it NOW! Screw that Epic boycott.
Okay, I know those can't be compared, but I was definitely not looking for the Fallout in space, I wanted something quirky with great writing and that sense of humor and sarcasm I got to know from those games. And I wasn't prepared how flat TOW falls in that regard. It plays everything so safe, maybe in an attempt to offend absolutely nobody, that there's nothing left. The corporate/capitalism critique: Easy to get behind, who wouldn't. But it's getting old after half an hour really, and the only joke that put a slight smile on my face at all was the landing pot's arrival, probably the only time the game hurt someone.

The NPCs and companions are so utterly boring, I'm sorry, but I found myself wanting to avoid dialogues, and this is new to me from this company. None of them are relatable, they all look and feel flat, have nothing interesting to say or I just don't get it.
There was sooo much praise for Parvarti and how cute/lovely she is and her companion quest. I'm a sucker for lovely characters. And I love Ashly Burch's voice acting too, so I looked forward to reaching that point hoping I'd get somewhat emotionally attached to her and the game. Halfway there I even watched that Noclip documentary about writing compelling characters.... boy was I flabbergasted when her whole quest got drama-exposition-dumped on me only minutes after we actually visited the "quest marker", the timing alone was so bad it ruined it completely. And the amount of social media-drama... I never felt so old and disconnected before. That timing was so incredibly bad, there should actually be a patch that makes sure the whole thing takes a little more time, enough at least that it's believable that she spent a few days on her iPhone, but even then, it was so forced, one dimensional, trying so hard to grab me with a problem that really isn't a biggy that it completely fell flat and I was left with "okay, if this was that emotional highlight everyone is talking about I can stop playing now". Because even if I can't connect to Parvarti at all, she's STILL the most unique character/companion, the only likable I met so far.
(Edit: I overthought that next (spoilered) part, I don't want to be the guy who sees "that stuff" everywhere, so after writing I hopped into the game once more to confirm the impression. No, not everyone looks like that, I might've gotten that impression mainly from some very colorful quest NPCs. Maybe my issue is simply that there's only a very small variety, the only stand-out ones that look like that, the rest forgettable? I'll leave it spoilered but in to get flak if necessary.)

Spoiler

And now I'm stepping into the biggest minefield and I know I can shut down my account after just mentioning it, I'm not even sure if it's only perceived or real, this is the optics only. But my super subjective impression is that playing this game I stepped into the most boring LGBTQ+ club... not the flamboyant, cool one... no, the one where drugs and smoking isn't allowed. This is NOT about opposing the inclusion and yes, I talk about the optics, nothing more, because I haven't been far enough into the game. But the NPCs, everyone with neon colored millenial sidecuts and all, and again we have a game that seems to force this look instead of including it. Where's the variety, edginess, the non-comformity, the sexiness, the flamboyance and uniqueness? Everyone's sooo bland and unoffensive, and at the same time flashing that all-the-same neon millenial haircut (unless old, then it's something ugly)?

Yeah, sorry, optics and individualism play a part in games for me. It's not about making or including some sexy Skyrim-modded supermodel clichées, it's about a believable variety of different characters, I miss that here.

As for the writing, there's a good example for what I think in the Noclip documentary about characters at minute 11.10 onwards, about Celia and how her script was changed, which left me speechless - and I think that script change is exactly my problem: Why wasn't she kept creepy and the story actually addresses that creepiness instead of making it all cute and nice? There is creepiness in the world, and that's how you write excellent stories - not by avoiding but by addressing it, giving players something to think. Games like FO and VtMB are full of creepiness and hard hitting topics, from thought provoking to gut wrenching. Putting a creep in the game doesn't equal supporting creepiness, but to create an opportunity for deep storytelling - like a... likable creep? So far I haven't seen anything like that, besides something outlandish like

Spoiler

cannibalism

. I've experienced the same in the last Bioware games (I played), the absolutely non-offensive content, the bland, boring, avoid-pretty, life-and soulless characters with their tumblr-problems(*), an avoidance of any real social commentary, controversial topics or stuff to think about. I repeat again, including these topics doesn't mean supporting them. But leaving out everything that could possibly offend someone somewhere in a game means that there's really nothing left anymore, and this is exactly what happened to TOW I'm afraid. Despite that, I'm all for "woke" (maybe I'm even misinterpreting that word) content, if it's packed in great writing that's actually thought provoking and sometimes hurts a bit. But the no offense/just pretend it's normal route I think is the death of storytelling. Sorry for that rant, I know that's the point where people usually stop listening because I'm outed as a boomer or something.

Anyway, as I said I'm only 10 hours in and this is my impression - if someone tells me now "hey, you got it all wrong, wait until XY!", I might play on and change my mind, but otherwise I'm afraid I can't finish the game because I'm so disappointed in it's writing. 😕

(*)I know this kind of language sounds like the typical hate-Youtubers, believe me I don't like them either, but at least everyone knows the meaning.

Edited by casa

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I didn't read the wall of text, but I did skim it. Here's the part that stuck out to me:

"Anyway, as I said I'm only 10 hours in and this is my impression - if someone tells me now "hey, you got it all wrong, wait until XY!", I might play on and change my mind, but otherwise I'm afraid I can't finish the game because I'm so disappointed in it's writing."

The story and its tone have an arc. It's ultimately up to you to decide whether or not where it ends up are to your liking, but I'll remind everyone that Obsidian is known for their writing. I would encourage you to play to the end and identify the themes of the game before passing judgment on it.

My 2 cents.

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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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While I understand that not everyone (most) won't read the wall of text, it explains pretty much how and why I'm so disappointed with the writing, and I agree that Obsidian is known for excellent writing - that's exactly why I'm so disappointed. And honestly, if the game's storytelling doesn't grab me within the first 10 hours of playing it, I think that's already a good indicator.
Also, if I wasn't such a huge fan of Obsidian's past work I wouldn't have written such a wall of text, and wouldn't still think if I should better delete it again. I'm sure I will at least start up the game a few more times and try to get into it, after all I paid good money for it and had high hopes, but my current feeling is that it won't grab me anymore.

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No reason to be sorry if the setting and game elements aren't working for you that is a matter of taste so move on to something you like better life is to short to force yourself to do something for entertainment you don't like.  Maybe if you come back later at some point it will click for you.  I don't rate TOW as a bad game but it is definitely not a game I will play every few years, I might start a new play though for a DLC but more likely I will use one that is already developed. 

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2 hours ago, casa said:

While I understand that not everyone (most) won't read the wall of text, it explains pretty much how and why I'm so disappointed with the writing, and I agree that Obsidian is known for excellent writing - that's exactly why I'm so disappointed. And honestly, if the game's storytelling doesn't grab me within the first 10 hours of playing it, I think that's already a good indicator.
Also, if I wasn't such a huge fan of Obsidian's past work I wouldn't have written such a wall of text, and wouldn't still think if I should better delete it again. I'm sure I will at least start up the game a few more times and try to get into it, after all I paid good money for it and had high hopes, but my current feeling is that it won't grab me anymore.

All I can do is repeat what I tried to say above; it ends in a very different place than it begins. IMO, the writing does a great job of supporting the themes, but if you're only a few hours in and pointedly NOT talking to the companions, then you might have some difficulty identifying them.


"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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19 minutes ago, Achilles said:

All I can do is repeat what I tried to say above; it ends in a very different place than it begins. IMO, the writing does a great job of supporting the themes, but if you're only a few hours in and pointedly NOT talking to the companions, then you might have some difficulty identifying them.

Hmm, I think 10 hours is already a lot. And either you misunderstood or I misspoke, I surely talked to NPCs and of course companions, but felt like I'd rather avoid it because I found the dialogues so uninteresting. Every time I think "man, I don't want to hear all this but I have to". I normally wouldn't play a game actively avoiding dialogues because it's usually the meat of the game for me. But I logged out in the Unpredictable standing in front of Felix, knowing my next step must be talking to him, but I can't force myself to do it.
Instead I just went into another VtMB playthrough last night only to get the Malkavian dialogue, and I'm having so much fun with it - even though the Gameplay around it is so utterly broken and I couldn't care less about doing all the fights and running around again. Who cares when you can't wait to talk to the next NPC. Maybe an unfair comparison, I might play Pillars again to find some middle ground.

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I agree, this isn't an Obsidian game, or even a Troika game, it's more like a Bioware game. The companions aren't relatable or even likeable. The gameplay short comings can all be blamed on budget, small team, and time constraints, there's little meaningful choice and the game is repetitive in a lot of ways. The story telling, characters, and dialogue on the other hand are atrocious. The people who made Fallout, Arcanum, VtMB, and Pillars of Eternity made this? The reality is that they didn't, there's key people missing from the formula and there's plenty of new people that I would think wouldn't even like or recommend the games I listed, they'd recommend Bioware games.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot

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40 minutes ago, AwesomeOcelot said:

The reality is that they didn't, there's key people missing from the formula and there's plenty of new people that I would think wouldn't even like or recommend the games I listed, they'd recommend Bioware games.

That was my impression too. Not that I'm against new people, not at all - but ever since Bioware's storytelling went so far downhill after... hmm... DA:O or ME2 or so, I found Obsidian to be my safe haven, so I really hope you're wrong with this. I blamed Bioware's mediocrity mostly on EA, large size, metrics and all that, not on the talents themselves.

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2 hours ago, AwesomeOcelot said:

I agree, this isn't an Obsidian game, or even a Troika game, it's more like a Bioware game. The companions aren't relatable or even likeable. The gameplay short comings can all be blamed on budget, small team, and time constraints, there's little meaningful choice and the game is repetitive in a lot of ways. The story telling, characters, and dialogue on the other hand are atrocious. The people who made Fallout, Arcanum, VtMB, and Pillars of Eternity made this? The reality is that they didn't, there's key people missing from the formula and there's plenty of new people that I would think wouldn't even like or recommend the games I listed, they'd recommend Bioware games.

To each their own, I suppose. It could also be the themes of time wasted and dealing with regret might be lost on younger players.


"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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6 hours ago, Achilles said:

To each their own, I suppose. It could also be the themes of time wasted and dealing with regret might be lost on younger players.

Funny, and here I thought I was too old for this game.

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I'm not sure what the point of your question is or what you hope to show by asking it. Is it intended to contest that those are themes in the game or the proposition that they might be lost on younger players?

The former is there for anyone to see and the latter doesn't require that the devs were specifically targeting older players. I'm simply suggesting that selecting those themes comes with the apparent downside of being confused for poor writing by people for whom they don't resonate.

I have a feeling that as veteran game developers continue to creep toward middle-age, they will want to use their medium to explore the things that are interesting to them in that stage of their life. I suppose that will come with a risk of alienating some segment of a potential audience. It may have an appeal for another. I guess we'll all find out together.

 

Edited by Achilles

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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I guess I haven't been able to find the overarching theme yet, but the writing I've seen so far is all but for older players and not as if by veterans if you ask me. Sorry, but as I said e.g. Parvati's plot is lost on me because it's teenage drama as far as I can tell, I feel it's targeted at a much younger audience than I am. By the way, if you thought I'm a "younger player", I'm not - I've left the 40 behind me. That doesn't mean I don't care for presentation and immersion though.

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Apologies if I wasn't specific enough above. I was referring to veteran game developers. People who have been making video games for a long time and are using the artistic medium of storytelling to explore the things that are relevant to them now.

Pavarti's plot might be lost on you because you're dismissing it as teenage drama rather than a young woman who is developmentally arrested by the loss of her parents. Or put another way: a young woman who is unable to engage with her life now because of things that have happened to her in the past. You, as the player,  now have the opportunity to help her move past all that and live in the present. You'll be able to do that with each of the companions, except their traumas and reconciliations will look different because the writers are all exploring variations on that theme rather than copy/pasting like bad/lazy writers would.

As someone over the age of 40, I imagine that you may have had a time in your life where you let a child-like fear of rejection and/or vulnerability prevent you from "shooting your shot". I imagine you may have looked back on that time with some amount of regret. You may have even used it as a newfound source of confidence. I imagine the writers were hoping to engage your empathy here and maybe give you some sort of emotional kinship with this character and her place in the story.

But clearly they failed.

Edited by Achilles
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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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11 hours ago, Achilles said:

Apologies if I wasn't specific enough above. I was referring to veteran game developers. People who have been making video games for a long time and are using the artistic medium of storytelling to explore the things that are relevant to them now.

Pavarti's plot might be lost on you because you're dismissing it as teenage drama rather than a young woman who is developmentally arrested by the loss of her parents. Or put another way: a young woman who is unable to engage with her life now because of things that have happened to her in the past. You, as the player,  now have the opportunity to help her move past all that and live in the present. You'll be able to do that with each of the companions, except their traumas and reconciliations will look different because the writers are all exploring variations on that theme rather than copy/pasting like bad/lazy writers would.

As someone over the age of 40, I imagine that you may have had a time in your life where you let a child-like fear of rejection and/or vulnerability prevent you from "shooting your shot". I imagine you may have looked back on that time with some amount of regret. You may have even used it as a newfound source of confidence. I imagine the writers were hoping to engage your empathy here and maybe give you some sort of emotional kinship with this character and her place in the story.

But clearly they failed.

Your post made me want to finish the game, after dropping it months ago in boredom. It's less than I expected (mechanically) but maybe the story redeems it. I guess I'll have to find out.

Edited by dukeisaac
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12 minutes ago, dukeisaac said:

Your post made me want to finish the game, after dropping it months ago in boredom. It's less than I expected (mechanically) but maybe the story redeems it. I guess I'll have to find out.

You really should. I think its nomination for Best Narrative was well deserved. :)

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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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People ten hours into a ~50-hour game shouldn't conclude the game is no good--because they've only seen 20% of the content--if even that much.  Generally, people don't like games which do not match their initial expectations.  I'm that way myself at times.  Often the solution is to put the game down and come back to it much later, after forgetting what expectations I had entirely...;)  It's amazing what  flushing out pre-purchase expectations can do for a game.  Some of the best games in memory were games I disliked at first, put down, but came back to a couple of months later--or longer.  I like this game just fine--it's actually exceeded my initial expectations.

Also, you are probably letting your horrible experience with X-Box game pass for PC color your perceptions--I did the same thing.  Was delighted to discover that the Draconian copy protection--even after I purchased the game from the MSFT Store!--was something Microsoft laid on entirely.  I got a refund from MSFT and bought the game at the Epic Store, myself!   the Epic version can be modded--the MSFT store version was the worst copy protection I have ever seen, actually--by that I mean the most user-unfriendly.  It was downright hostile to the player, I thought.  Anyway--come back to it later after you've had time to get over what you thought the game would be versus what it is...;)  I've found this approach also works with books and movies, too...!


It's very well known that I don't make mistakes, so if you should stumble across the odd error here and there in what I have written, you may immediately deduce--quite correctly--that I did not write it... :biggrin:

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Guys, of course I can't judge the whole overarching theme and story before finishing the game, and afterwards it's easy to discuss all those interesting thoughts brought up in those 50 hours. However, if a game's writing or rather the delivery of it absolutely fails to grab the player within a timespan as long as some other games take to finish, I think it's very fair to say there IS something wrong with it, even without finishing. A good game grabs you by the collar and pulls you into it's story, any game that fails to do so after an hour or so should be called a failure when it comes to presentation. Of course that's subjective, and of course I've played games that took longer to warm up to, but I don't think I ever finished one that took this long.
I mean, you can read up absolutely fascinating pieces of history on Wikipedia too, that doesn't mean it's great writing though. To me the game is so far filled with absolutely boring characters who I think are a chore to talk to - they might have interesting things to say in theory, but so have many people you're still not interested in chatting to because they leave you totally cold.
As for waltc's point, I think I'm over the initial game pass issues, that was back in November, installing from Epic was easy and painless and I was very much looking forward to playing.

Edited by casa

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17 hours ago, AwesomeOcelot said:

The game isn't anywhere near 50 hours.

Agreed. My first playthrough was 80 hours.

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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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18 hours ago, waltc said:

People ten hours into a ~50-hour game shouldn't conclude the game is no good--because they've only seen 20% of the content--if even that much.  Generally, people don't like games which do not match their initial expectations. 

I think you're right to call out expectations here.


"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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I max leveled and did the vast majority of quests in 18 hours. If you're spending 80 hours in a single playthrough, you're role playing outside of the game play, perhaps as a one legged blind man.

It kind of calls into doubt all you say about this game. Why be so dishonest about something very verifiable?

Edited by AwesomeOcelot

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2 hours ago, AwesomeOcelot said:

I powergamed and did the quests I felt like doing in 18 hours. If you're spending 80 hours in a single playthrough, you're not clicking through the dialogs as quickly as possible while not actually reading them or sprinting from Point A to Point B and ignoring exploration like I am.

I don't like the way you play, so I'm going to behave like a clown now.

FTFY

EDIT: This is my 3rd playthrough, where I started skipping content that didn't align with my character, knew my way around certain maps a little better, and could comfortably cut some of the exploration, etc. Just shy of 58 hours. Is that sufficiently "verified" for you or would you like to gatekeep some more?

https://imgur.com/a/vzrUnqb

Edited by Achilles

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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I maxed leveled, I did most of the quests. I listened to all the dialogue. I went to most of the side areas. Stop lying. The game doesn't take 80 hours to complete, even if you do every single quest, explore every inch. Don't be ridiculous. That didn't happen.

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2 minutes ago, AwesomeOcelot said:

I maxed leveled, I did most of the quests. I listened to all the dialogue. I went to most of the side areas. Stop lying. The game doesn't take 80 hours to complete, even if you do every single quest, explore every inch. Don't be ridiculous. That didn't happen.

Sadly, I don't hoard save files, so you'll just have to trust me. If it helps, I posted these in another thread during my first run:

 

You'll forgive me if I don't give a **** what you do or don't believe, I hope.


"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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