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What are you Playing Now? - Back to the Grind


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Hover is definitely a Blaster's good friend once you get used to it. Lurking just above melee reach and remembering to move around as you snipe and blast them down.

And for the amusement, here we go with the fashion display:

Player_Ehtiar.png?ex=65f39dfd&is=65e128f

(And not in Squid form but...)

Player_Kheldrahk.png?ex=65f39df6&is=65e1

 

While on the villain side of it I have:

Player_Drahken.png?ex=65f39e01&is=65e129

and

Player_Khaldrahk.png?ex=65f39df9&is=65e1

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"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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Im  still busy with the Shadowrun franchise,   I installed  about 4-5 new  campaign  mods and I was  very impressed  with the overall  quality 

 

They not long about 5-10  hours but fun. Then  I  have just finished Dragonfall  which was excellent and my best part so far of  the narrative and now  Im  going to play Hong Kong 🐲

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"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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IMHO the best was Dragonfall. The best combination of combat and narrative. SR felt a little bit short, and HK a little bit long. The HK bonus campaign was a treat as well. Something in between SR and DF.

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Finished Sands of Aura last week and did that one side quest that kept resetting. Basically, you had to defeat a very sturdy mini-boss 7 times without resting and without closing the game while running through the whole area. In the end, it took 2 attempts and about 20 minutes with end-game equipment.
Overall, it was a decent Souls-like, nothing exceptionally bad, though the story was not exactly engaging and the lack of target lock was rather inconvenient. The equipment-based character development system and the setting were unusual.
Review (long):

Spoiler

Sands of Aura is an action-RPG in a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. The story follows a young squire accompanied by a mysterious spirit who are trying to stop the corruption plaguing the world and save the last standing human settlement.

Although the story is not quite engaging and most of the dialogue options are variations of “Continue”, there are some choices and consequences (limited) in the main and side quests, and the setting is rather unique.

The customisation options include the appearance (hairstyle, skin colour, and body type, the latter is not bound to the gender identity) and equipment. The name is always “Player” and the protagonist is usually addressed as a Knight.

The character development system is built around equipment rather than the player's character themselves. The equipment consists of 4 upgradable pieces of armour, each of them can have several runes slotted, 2 weapon sets, and several talismans. The talismans and different weapon parts offer quality improvements, such as poisoning the foe on hit or regenerating on block. While it allows switching between different builds easily, it also requires a lot of resources to keep more than one set upgraded. The upgrade schematics, talismans, and the vendor inventory upgrades have to be discovered and might depend on quests. The materials can be purchased or farmed.

The crucial part of levelling up is runes. They increase the base stats, such health and armour, and are slotted into armour. The upgrade costs increase exponentially, while the power increases linearly, but the number of slots is bound to the level of the armour.

The combat is reasonably engaging, but there is no stamina - it is possible to attack, dodge, and sprint infinitely, though the number of magical and special ones is limited.

The controls are rebindable and comfortable, though the camera inversion kept resetting between sessions. It is possible to bind dodging and sprinting to different keys or keep them together. Additionally, the 5-button mice are supported. On the negative side is the lack of target lock - neither the attack nor the camera direction can follow a target automatically. Considering the occasional poor visibility and some teleportation abilities, it can be challenging to see what is being hit (the optional floating damage numbers do help, however). It should be noted that the camera angle is around 45 degrees and it might make some areas harder to navigate.

The game autosaves upon interacting with “bonfires”, reaching important story points, and quitting the game through the menu at the exact spot. Unfortunately, the number of slots is limited and manual saving can be achieved only through a file explorer.

Bosses are diverse in visual and combat design, with strong backgrounds and connection to the main story, though the challenge varies due to the open progression - it is possible to be severely underlevelled or over-powered. Some of the bosses have rather frustrating mechanics, such as a bullet hell-like sequence or requiring a very specific item from a side quest to avoid the damage received from avoiding an insta-killing attack. There are achievements for fulfilling certain conditions during boss battles, but they have no meaning in-game and can be done easily if one is overpowered enough. Few of the bosses are repeated, but it is not too noticeable. The regular foes are reasonably varied, though in the early areas, they mostly consist of zombies (unarmed, armed, casting, etc.).

The environments are diverse in terms of aesthetics and gameplay systems, though the variety of the latter is lower. There are ruined towers, a gothic city, a volcano prison, and many more. As an example, the volcano prison has a stacking overheating debuff, which can be reset by breaking water vases. In general, the areas are labyrinthine, with some verticality and several dead ends with secrets and shortcuts, ultimately leading to a boss. Frequently, the navigation is complicated by the camera angle - unless on an elevated surface, it is hard to see far ahead, though the same is true for the foes as well.

The world map consists of independent locations, which must be first discovered, then it is possible to fast travel between the Bells. The desert is traversed by a sand ship. It is easy to control and cannot be destroyed or customised. The ship can get stuck, though, which might require returning to the last Bell rested at. The other thing to find is loot. It is mostly materials, but there are some manually placed armour pieces as well. Overall, it is enjoyable enough.

The visual style is stylised, expressive, and mostly consistent (the zombie smith does not quite match the other NPC), leaning towards cartoonish, though, it is somehow washed out and the readability of the environment is low - it is hard to tell which objects are interactive. The GUI is mostly comfortable and clear.

The soundtrack and audio effects are fine, if not notable (aside from the Flare Forge music, which is very epic and somehow unfitting for a mid-game dungeon without significant plot progression). The voice acting is present. It definitely could be better, but it also could be worse.

In terms of bugs, there were several and it might be prudent to keep backups. As was mentioned, one of the settings kept resetting between sessions, once my ship got stuck in an island (I had to restart), I got stuck in an infinite fall (rolled back the save - just exiting to the menu did not help), and a quest didn't trigger.

Overall, it was a positive experience, primarily due to the game being LGBTQ-friendly, supporting rebindable controls and 5-button mice, and saving the exact progress on exit. It would have been better with more roleplay options, manual saving, and accessibility (outlines for interactive objects, target lock).

Started the Blackwell series and finished Legacy. The story follows a journalist and a ghost trying to send restless spirits into the afterlife. I can say with certainty that the progress made by the developers in all aspects is very noticeable when compared to their later games. (i.e. the game is short and the first puzzles make no sense). But the ability to combine ideas was rather nice and the pixel art style looks good.

The wisdom of the Internet (PC Gaming Wiki, in particular) allowed me to overcome the EGS DRM on Saints Row and I was able to launch it through Steam. Which means that I do have a DRM-free version. The game runs worse than SR3 and 4, but it was to be expected. I haven't progressed far, but it feels like that the developers might have aimed at a younger audience. Still, the game is fun and I like the MC and the companions. Also there is a cat.

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I liked the intro in Saints Row. I like the player character trying to keep an honest job as a Merc and get a paycheck.

 

Yeah, it aims at a different audience, but I realised I am this audience as well 

 

I found the jailbreak intro of SR2 the most powerful, but the reimagined SR's the most enjoyable.

The bank robbery in SR3 I found annoying and nearly quit playing because of it.

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"Nothing on Steam appeals right now. Maybe I'll play Caesar3, haven't in ages, might feel fresh again."

I had these altered .exes that forced 1080 resolution. They used to work fine on the old Win7 PC. Tried it on current PC. Would load/play ok but would bork my dual-tv/monitor displays to the point of having to reboot, either upon game exit or alt-tab etc.

There appear to be two major mods for the game now. One that does all kinds of setting options including resolution plus alters some game stuff (new buildings, market lady roadblocking, other) more extensively (saves are not compatible with original-non-modded game) and one that mostly adds resolution/windowed mode/hotkeys so is more vanilla/saves are compatible. Thus I am going to install the game on two different drives and try both (should work, game is old, saves are saved in install directory). I have a feeling I'd prefer vanilla. We'll see. Hope they work.

But the download speed from github is molasses for these two files. 😞  *taps foot*

Augustus - non-vanilla
Julius - vanilla
(you need copy of original game, ofc, either GoG or Steam)

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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Finally completed my Solasta: Palace of Ice run. Overall I liked the game very much. The only issue was that because I was using the big UB mod for the game in which I had set allowing the XP cap to go above the game's 16 levels, I ended up being rather over-leveled at the end (level 18), which made the final battles a bit too easy. But that's my bad. The DLC had a very interesting story all the way through to the end, and I actually ended up caring about at least some of the NPCs I interacted with in the game.

Now I have to figure out what to play next. I'm still waiting on a good sale price to buy my new gaming computer (with a 14th-gen i9 processor and the RTX 4090 GPU), so I cannot yet buy the "big" games like CP2077 or Starfield. 😧

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I finished Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth clocking in at a svelte :shifty:150+ hours; probably a good 50 hours of that was on Dondoko Island. I also defeated the final bosses of both the Yokohama dungeon and the Honolulu dungeon. These are extra hard boss fights above the level of the final boss of the game, your Ruby and Emerald Weapons, if you will. Really great game that builds on the foundation of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. They made positioning in combat more important this time around with a whole array of combo attacks and assists. You have a bond level with each of your companions and at certain thresholds (10, 20, 30, 40 , 50) you gain assists with said companion. With that in mind, it's a good idea to get all your companions' bond levels up to 50 ASAP. Ideally, you get them up to 100 to unlock the 6th and final skill inheritance slot which you can use for Essences, but 50 is the big number because it unlocks the full spectrum of assists. You can set up some crazy chain reactions with assists, the enemies can do it too, the system works both ways, but the AI doesn't exploit the system that often, it mainly occurs by happenstance, whereas I'm constantly purposely setting up these chain reactions. I've one-shot groups of enemies using a standard, single-target physical attack by exploiting this system. Standard physical attacks and some skills have the knockback property, it's exactly what it sounds like, the attack knocks the victim back, sending them flying in a direction. This can knock them back into something in the environment, causing more damage to them, into one (or more) of their allies, damaging the ally(ies) in the process, and/or into one of your characters, triggering a free attack on the poor sod, provided you have a high enough bond level. You can ping pong enemies around the battlefield if you set things up correctly, it's pretty great. Battlefield positioning is also important for lining up enemies for AoE skills which hit enemies in a line or a cone, but that was already present in Y:LaD.

The new map, Honolulu, is freakin' awesome. It's definitely RGG's largest map yet, it's significantly larger than Ijincho and absolutely dwarfs both Kamurocho and Sotenbori (no Sotenbori in this game, just Honolulu, Ijincho, and Kamurocho), that said, it's still tiny compared to other games. Honolulu, Ijincho, Kamurocho, and Sotenbori COMBINED would still be much smaller than Night City in Cyberpunk and that's without Dogtown. It's not the size of the map but the quality of its contents, though, and I'm happy to report that Honolulu is just as wonderfully meticulously detailed as all of RGG's previous maps.

Back to Morrowind I go. :biggrin:

Edited by Keyrock
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🇺🇸RFK Jr 2024🇺🇸

"Any organization created out of fear must create fear to survive." - Bill Hicks

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I'm on the last of the Legacy missions for Xcom 2. They do a good job of tying the narrative together, and it is fun playing with both Bradford and Shen. I've also been getting my strategy swagger back and enjoying a few flawless missions. They don't let you save scum in these legacy missions. You can restart but you lose points, so it's a good challenge. 

I did have a sniper bleed out on the last mission. I felt bad, but there was no healer on the squad. It haunts me a little. >_<

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2 hours ago, kanisatha said:

 The DLC had a very interesting story all the way through to the end, and I actually ended up caring about at least some of the NPCs I interacted with in the game 

What choice did you make in the end?

My cleric stayed behind.

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7 minutes ago, melkathi said:

What choice did you make in the end?

My cleric stayed behind.

Haha. I saved and did both to get both achievements. 😄

For someone staying behind I also left my PC behind <sob>

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38 minutes ago, melkathi said:

Saving for both achievements goes without saying :) But my head-canon choice is saving the soul :)

Well, unless the soul happens to be that of Gen. Blunt, for whom I was not too sympathetic. :)

Plus that halfling scholar-woman is going to be researching interplanar travel without gates, so there's my rationalization. 😛

Yeah, I even save-scummed to get the achievements for elevating each of the five clan leaders to Speaker.

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Moar Fire Emblem Engage - Maddening

The main chapters aren't that hard but holy **** the paralogues are brutal. The Ike one has a great "oh ****" moment where Ike just blows up half the map and you get rushed by everything from the top of the map and stupid busted reinforcements (with no xp gain from fighting) that pop up to **** up your backline. If Ike had used Great Ather I'd have had to restart.

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Had a bout of Hero-Barbie and switched up my Blaster's costume look...

Player_Ehtiar_2.png?ex=65f8c02d&is=65e64

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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I completed the entire Shadowrun franchise and its gets a solid 65\100 on the globally respected  " BruceVC game rating system" 

I enjoyed the combat mechanics and there were battles where you really had use strategies to win, I like that

Hong Kong had one frustrating design and that was the freeing of Raymond and the Matrix where you only had 10 rounds, I dont like or enjoy this type of forced timing to complete a quest especially when the expectations  are badly designed. I used save scumming to complete this part of the game 

But apart from that a good overall experience in the Shadowrun universe 

Now Im taking my normal break from playing the same genre and Im going to start on Far Cry 5, it looks good and its set in Montana where your enemy is a doomsday cult 🥂

 

 

Edited by BruceVC
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"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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Void Stranger.

I got a couple of hours into this puzzle game and was like "whew, that sure was a lot of puzzles...just how long is this game, anyways?".

Oh, just somewhere between 20 and 65 hours - you know, depending on just how much you hate yourself and really want to see all the story bits hidden behind having to do everything absolutely perfectly. No, I don't think I will.

Edited by Bartimaeus
75 -> 65
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How I have existed fills me with horror. For I have failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying'. I tried with all my heart.

In my dreams, I am not crippled. In my dreams, I dance.

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Caesar 3 -

Didn't like the Augustus mod changes. Mostly seemed to add buildings which didn't seem to impact the actual mission stuff at all (new goods weren't included in Market inventories?), so it's just ... bonus ways to suck up unemployment/decorate? It's not bad, just pointless/don't care and the saves not being backward compatible is a minus if I don't care.

Thus, using Julius/more vanilla mod. Started my usual "I've played this game many times already" cheese where at the first early Trade-opens mission, I'd prevent population-win condition from triggering and let the game run unattended for hours to build up trade route money to carry over into the next mission (and therefore every mission after). Then I remembered I had an ancient save of that level with 65k. Saved me hours. See, hoarding save games for decades sometimes has benefits!

Part of the fun for me is some old games relative simplicity. I should reinstall Lords of the Realms 2 again later, too. Talk about a relatively simple game. But it was so fun back then.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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More CoH. I got better. It turns out that I should read what the game is telling me. Actually slotting enhancements and upgrading them made a metric bushel of a difference.

Does power set matter that much? I've been looking but I'm not really seeing anything that breaks down the differences and tradeoffs.

Free games updated 3/4/21

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I grew to really like Midnight Suns. I played for 120 hours before I finished it. It felt like living with a bunch of superheroes. The combat became more varied when I switched up my team every fight, and the advice I got here helped. I found the writing to be very good and appreciated the depth in the characters from the comics.

I also finished Brutal Legend for the first time. Amazing art, design, and music. I got stuck in the same RTS battle as 15 years ago, but this time I looked up what I was doing wrong. I did not know that I could upgrade my soldiers 😆  Also, needed to find more guitar solos, so I turned my hotrod around and played all the map missions. Combat driving through Heavy Metal world with headphones is an adrenaline rush!

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I did a perilous trek south from Nivalis in extreme northeastern Morrowind south to Necrom. I was saving frequently along the way because there are some NASTY customers out in that part of the countryside, both in terms of bandits and beasts. The trip got me thinking about how this compares to the Morrowind in TESO, given that the Tamriel Rebuilt project got started before Oblivion released and long before TESO was a thing, so I looked up a map of the current TESO:

ESO-World-Map-Tamriel-2024-02.webp

Turns out the area I went through isn't even in TESO yet, it's the grey part north of Necrom, I cut a line south along the eastern half of that peninsula.

P94nUyt.jpeg

That map actually goes a little bit further north, you can't zoom out far enough to show the entirety of what's in the game at once, even in openMW, but that's almost all of it. It's a little hard to see because they don't exactly use contrasting colors on this map, but there is the path I took south to Necrom, more or less along the eastern coast of the continent (I was always close to the shore but rarely on the actual shore itself), plus the parts of Vvardenfell and mainland Morrowind I explored previously. I'm currently in Akamora.

I am consistently pleased with the content in the Tamriel Rebuilt mod. I was hoping this was simply more Morrowind and that's exactly what this is. I don't feel that this is a step down in quality compared to the vanilla Morrowind content. There are settlements, caverns, ruins, quest chains, encounters, etc. It's all been overall enjoyable and just feels like a natural extension of Morrowind. As you can see on the map, I have A LOT more to explore, plus there's more coming. There's no ETA AFAIK, but the next update to the mod promises to be the biggest ever and will be adding a big chunk of southern Morrowind.

pr_2024-02_01_map.png

Eventually, I'll be able to go to Narsis.

200w.gif?cid=6c09b952brmquafhg8p8khcapjk

Edited by Keyrock
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"Any organization created out of fear must create fear to survive." - Bill Hicks

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Continuing my current plunge into nostalgia gaming with CoH: Homecoming.

It's interesting to go back to an MMO that was made before WoW become the cookie-cutter imprint for all others.

The other point that appeals to me is that it's not about the end-game, but all the stories going through. There are so many little story arcs and in-game stuff about heroes and villains, and groups and characters that you will completely miss in a single play through (unless you use the time-travel stuff later) because it's designed to have you pick up contacts depending on how you play and you'll outlevel some by doing others. So it does encourage you to try new characters to explore different parts and history of the world.

But then with the Homecoming version (I can't remember this being on the original game) but you can literally turn off XP and it gets converted into the in-game influence money instead so you don't level up and just roam and do stuff without worrying about getting too high-level for it. Which makes an interesting balance.

 

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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That may be something they added late in the game's life.

Homecoming is a bit wacky though, as a lot of events throughout the game's life are active at the same time. You have the council attacking the fifth column in the streets of Atlas Park, while Faultline has already been flooded by Arachnos.

 

I am not sure if all stories are still accessible. At least some early arcs may have gone when the meteor crashed into Galaxy City, destroying the second hero starting area, to have the players concentrated in one busier zone.

 

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