Last night I had every intention of playing the Mass Effect Andromeda trial, however that did not actually happen. It of course needed to install, and one of the things about Final Fantasy XIV is that when something is thrashing the hard drive… like a game download it becomes nigh unplayable. I’ve seen many games that are cpu bound, and even more than a graphics card bound… but FFXIV is the first game I have played ever that was truly hard drive bound. In theory I am guessing this is a side effect of needing to run on systems like the PS3 where there are simply not that many system resources, so instead of loading a bunch of stuff in memory the game is constantly caching bite sized chunks of the world. The end result works extremely well, and is probably why the game seems to be able to run on literally anything. However it also means that last night while Mass Effect was installing I could not partake of my most common PC diversion… chain running Palace of the Dead. So instead I decided to filter off to the bedroom to “play a little Zelda while the game installed” and wound up playing until midnight. I said this over twitter the other day and I will repeat it again… that I feel like it is a testament to just how damned good this game is that I have very serious issues with certain aspects of it and still find myself constantly playing it.
The thing that I find absolutely amazing about it is how well it supports my “oooh a piece of candy” approach to most games. I am not following any semblance of a pattern in exploring this world and the game seems completely fine with that. I feel like I have barely scratched the first three areas… and then found myself wandering into Zora’s Domain last night and following that chain of events. A good chunk of the night was spent trying to unlock towers…. only to find out that several of them are at least theoretically blocked by Guardians. As of yet I really do not have a good answer for them… and they are sort of a dalek-esc death force as they try and EXTERMINATE! There is nothing quite like the change in music when a Guardian has locked onto you, because you know that any minute you are going to see the target on your back and you are frantically looking for anything that could serve as cover. The other thing I really don’t have an answer to is spike traps, because I found a shrine in my extremely sporadic travels that was completely blocked by spikes… and the earlier answer was to get up high enough and glide down. The problem this time is there really was nothing to actually glide down from… so I am guessing that is simply not a puzzle I can solve at the moment. The core of my gaming focus seems to be on finding shrines, beating shrines… and then going to find more shrines. I literally was caught in this loop until midnight when I realized I probably should get some sleep considering I am driving to Dallas today.
Based on the results of last weekends podcast… there really is no way I can put into words why this game works for me. Any time I attempt to explain it I get bogged down in the grindy aspects of it, and the constant hunt for new weapons. However there is a core game here that is really damned amazing. Once you remove the durability problems and the wonky gyro puzzles… you are left with the core Zelda game I always wanted. I feel about this world the same way as I felt about the original Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo. It was this big open space with all sorts of mysteries to unlock. Its the little things… like when you lift up a boulder and see an insect or frog scurry out from under it… that you can then catch and use to make potions. The world feels vast and empty at times… but it really isn’t. Every copse of trees is placed there with purpose and reason… and many hold puzzles that unlock one of the around 900 korok seeds that are available. This is if nothing else a game about exploration and trying things until you can figure out how to make something work. The shrines are essentially the ultimate form of this expression, and as I have gotten deeper into the game… they are no longer the “use this one effect” style and more “chain everything you know how to do in different ways” effect. There was a puzzle last night where I had to use ice blocks to get objects out of the water… and throw them into a metal basket that I could then lift in the air with my magnetic ability and use the wall to tip the basket over and dump them onto a target. It took me quite a bit to realize that was my end goal and how to maneuver all of the elements into place to get it to work… and I found it an overall awesome experience. The part that I find interesting is how much I don’t mind the constant “Game Over” screen, because there is almost always a save just around the corner from wherever you happened to die… and you can get right back into the action almost immediately.
Functionally this month has not gone at all like planned… I expected to be spending all of my time in Horizon Zero Dawn… and instead I seem to be logging way more hours in Zelda at the moment. I also did not expect to be feverishly searching for a switch… with the realization that if I find one I will ultimately start over from scratch again. In any case I need to wrap this up and get on the road. Just a heads up to my loyal readers, I will not be doing a morning post tomorrow and instead be doing some sort of an evening post when I finally get home. Until then I would love to hear your thoughts on Zelda and if it is nearly as sticky for you as it seems to be for me.