Anubisath and Whiterun


In all honesty, my world lately has been a sequence of fairly shit days.  Yesterday was no difference, so by the time I got home I just wanted to chill out quietly for the evening.  I started off over in World of Warcraft, completing the daily emmisary quest, capturing a new falcosaur orphan… and then on a strange whim I decided to poke my head into AQ40.  The original goal was simple, for me to attempt getting an Anubisath Idol for the purpose of doing some actual pet battles.  I had both Sol and Grace suggest Xu-Fu’s pet battle strategy guides, because at some point I would actually like to learn how to do pet battles in World of Warcraft.  Unfortunately this is like the advanced guide… because I need something far more dumbed down to ease me into the process.  Of note while I play Pokemon games… I never really “play them” properly because for me it becomes entirely about capturing new and interesting critters.  In Warcraft battle pets are largely the same thing for me… I simply want to catch one of every pet.  However to get very far at all…  it feels like the game is expecting me to properly do the content as expected.  As a result I really should spend some time to figure out exactly what the hell I am doing.  I watched a few videos yesterday on pet battles, but most of them were very centered around “exploit this weakness to power level”, which is all well and good but I still feel like I am flailing helplessly.  I like knowing WHY I am doing something, rather than simply knowing a gimmick that works.  This is a big part of why I have never been a fan of exploiting glitches in boss fights… because once said gimmick gets fixed you are back at square one.


So while I set foot in AQ40 with a very clear purpose… I went a little nuts while inside collecting scarab coffer keys and by the time I finished a single run I was able to purchase all but one piece of gear from the raid.  So I can look like the unmade bed that everyone looked like during AQ40, wearing some really bizarre looking bug themed gear.  From there while I was nearby I also stomped AQ20, but didn’t get much of anything to right home about.  After a bunch of false starts in Division and Destiny… I finally settled into playing some more Skyrim Enhanced Edition.  This is the point where I left the path once more and am officially in “ineligible for achievement” territory because I installed a slew of mods through the official interface.  I am not a big achievement hunter, but it does frustrate me a bit when doing the thing that a game is well known for… shuts off achievement tracking entirely.  The achievements that I am running are largely quality of life changes, like the unofficial bug patch and the additional of lamps and sign posts to trails making it easier to navigate the world without having to constantly pop your map up.  Last night I finally made my way to Whiterun to start the game in its proper, defeating my first dragon and getting the summon to High Hrothgar to hang with the Greybeards.


The interesting thing about this game is that while I have beaten various elements of it countless times… it feels no less fresh than the day I first played it…  especially with this fresh coat of paint.  The only problem with playing Skyrim and starting it relatively late in the evening… is that you pretty much lose the entire night.  The next thing I realized is that it was after midnight and I really should be going to bed.  I am honestly probably going to be playing quite a bit more of Skyrim, largely because it feels like right now I need an offline game without other people in it.  Right now my job is filling my threshold of human interaction, and while I want to be doing stuff…  I also need to distance myself from people to try and empty out my buffers.  I mean I am looking forward to Karazhan on Sunday, and hopefully getting a Xavius kill tonight in Emerald Nightmare…  but I also need some quiet time and few games handle that better than Skyrim.


Wandering Skyrim



Last night was a bit of a strange night for me.  Originally I had plans to get together with some of my friends and work on Karazhan attunements…  of which I have not even started running the dungeons.  However I had apparently forgotten that last night was the RiffTrax live show.  By “live” I mean streamed to theaters around the country as the original show is going on in Nashville.  This time around we got to see two shorts and the really bizarre feature film “Carnival of Souls”(which is apparently up on youtube in its entirety).  The film is apparently by the same guy that did another RiffTrax classic… the “Shake Hands with Danger” PSA from Caterpillar.  This literally is probably one of the more bizarre movies I have watched because really from the entire moment it started… it felt like this strange meandering film about nothing.  The RiffTrax send-up however was great, the movie itself just ended with what was supposed to be a shocking reveal…  but largely felt like maybe the director was the only one not in on the secret?  In any case by the time I got out of there, and drove home I was a little out of it.  I existed in that state of too tired to do anything serious, but not tired enough to actually head on to bed.


Instead I decided to install the Skyrim Special Edition and check it out.  I have to give Bethesda a lot of credit for giving it out for free to anyone who already owned the original game and all of the expansions.  The install was roughly 9 gig so I am guessing that the improvements were more or on the processing side of the equation rather than just pushing a lot of upgraded textures.  Whatever the case the game looks gorgeous, if I had been thinking I would have installed the base game on this newer machine and done some side by side comparisons.  It is enough of an upgrade to make me happy, and I am always willing to have a new excuse to roam around Skyrim being a murder hobo.  Once again however I am torn between sword and shield and bow… ending up mixing between the two quite a bit based on the fight.  As is always the case I had trouble staying to the actual missing and instead have already cleared out the first barrow while retrieving the golden claw.  In theory I think I probably should have gone to Whiterun, but whatever the case I am wandering down my own path once again.  The game doesn’t really feel that changed, more like you installed a graphical upgrade mod.  Whatever the case it looks pretty, and runs well so that pretty much ticks off the boxes I needed.  At some point I might check out the mods available, but for the time being I am largely running vanilla.



Witcher 3 Impressions

Losing Time

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-43-32-94 Last night I had these plans of coming home, and hopping into Final Fantasy XIV and working on crafting once again while chatting away with my Free Company folk.  However when I got home absolutely none of that actually happened.  I had left the GOG Galaxy client up on my screen during the day, and when I sat down at my machine it was the first thing I saw.  I had fixed myself a sandwich and chips and I thought to myself…  I will just play Witcher for a bit while I eat dinner, and before my wife gets home.  It seems like moments later she had gotten home and was hollering up at me.  When I say it seems like moments, it quite literally feels like I had just sat down at the screen.  In reality about an hour passed between starting Witcher and taking a quick pause to see my wife off to church before returning to playing again.  Then next thing I know it…  my wife is back home and heading to bed and I have managed to lose another several hours.

To say the game is immersive is a bit of an understatement.  The last game that I can remember losing entire nights to was probably Skyim, and that is a fairly apt comparison at least on a few levels.    The funny thing is I have just now moved to the “second” area of the game.  I say area because while the game has open world aspects it is not exactly completely open world.  The first “zone” is called White Orchard and it is made up of this huge sprawling seamless area with lots of villages and locations to explore.  This gives it a traditional open world Elder Scrolls feel, the problem being that the entire location has a bounding border drawn around it.  While I have not pushed my luck when the game starts telling me to turn around…  I am imagining that there is some sort of “slaughterfish” like mechanic that you encounter.

Gorgeous Environment

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-07-30-38 The real triumph of the game is the environment, and just how real it feels to be roaming through.  What makes the game world so compelling is the fact that everywhere you look there is action going on.  Nothing is static, and the weather patterns effect every last blade of grass it feels.  The only problem with this is at times you feel like you are suffering from a bit of sensory overload.  Like I said yesterday once I started playing I pretty much hopped off the path immediately and this is very easy to do, and at the same time rewarding.  When they were pitching this game I remember them saying that it would take either 20 hours or 200 hours depending on your gameplay style and after finishing White Orchard I can see why this is.  The main storyline in the zone was relatively straight forward and only actually required me to complete a few quests to get through it.  However I spent the next four hours working on various treasure hunts and exploring the world.

The map system works very similar to Skyrim except that you have missions of interest that you have yet to explore marked as question marks.  Now these are not ALL the locations in the world, and there are a number of other “hidden” things that you can find wandering the countryside, however if you explore each question mark it seems like you will get most of the content you would care about.  That is ultimately what I spent my night doing was wandering around completing these question marks.  The game has a waypoint travel system that allows you to pop from road sign to road sign, and I used the hell out of this functionality allowing me to get close to the destination that I was looking for and either taking my horse the rest of the way or just wandering of foot.  Pretty much anytime I saw monsters on my minimap hud I dismounted and took them on.  After some gear and some levels things like the Drowners and packs of Wolves became trivial, but the big monsters were still insane especially anything that spawned near a “guarded treasure”.

The Story Is Good

witcher3 2015-05-20 21-52-48-37 The thing that I find most interesting is that the game manages to make the narrative just as interesting as the free form exploration.  There is some crazy shit going on in the world of the Witcher, and as this game is my first experience of that world I am trying to soak it all in.  The game does an awesome job of giving you just enough of a primer in the setting for things to make sense, but also is unapologetic at times for talking about things that you have NO clue what is going on.  There was a point in the game where I had to answer a series of questions, each of which I think represent choices that were made in earlier games.  Knowing nothing about the setting I made my choices and it was interesting to see just how they played out in that discussion.  I have a feeling that those choices will ultimately color what the final results of the game end up being.

There was talk at one point of them rebooting the earlier Witcher games using the Witcher 3 engine… and I really hope this happens.  The engine itself is extremely robust and I can see the modder community is going to have a ball with this game.  This might dethrone Skyrim in that department, pending the game itself is that extensible.  The best review that I can give the game is the fact that I had to pry myself away from it last night to go to sleep.  I alt tabbed and noticed it was 10:30 and realized that if I did not stop then… I would likely end up playing until after one in the morning.  The funny thing about this game is that it literally came out of left field for me.  I had no intent to purchase it, and am only now playing it because I got a free copy with my video card.  Now I am looking forward to playing through everything the game has to offer and will more than likely purchase the season pass so that I can play the DLC as it releases.  I keep harkening back to this, but I think if the game keeps up at this pace and level of quality that it might very well be that go to game like Skyrim for losing myself in the world.  The only fear I have is that since this is so narrative focused, I am not sure if it will have the same sort of universal replay-ability that the Elder Scrolls games have had for me.