Archive for November, 2015
A week or so before Hearts of Stone was released, I didn’t play anything else because I didn’t want to start something that I couldn’t finish before then. So when I had the chance to play the DA3 DLC, I took it. Nothing reminds me more why I like Witcher 3 so much than Dragon Age Inquisition. That’s what made it a nice fit. I didn’t expect much of the DLC and it… met my expectations. Of course DLC wouldn’t change anything about the horrible handling (for one) that makes playing DAI feel like a tedious chore that can only be somewhat defused by setting the difficulty setting to “casual” (I still think it’s funny that they actually call it that).
The first one is called Jaws of Hakkon. It’s literally meant as “more of the same”, because it adds one new map that’s like all the other maps in every regard. Go there (=the scout harding scene), collect stuff, collect more stuff, then seriously get your collecting on, play one main quest, kill a dragon, done. So because of the fool me once… thing, this time I didn’t collect anything and only played the main quest in this zone which, I can’t say it without laughing, is killing a dragon. So there’s only one thing to do and you are done right away. :D 90 minutes. Didn’t rush it, just didn’t collect stuff that wasn’t on the way. There is hardly more to say, it’s very forgettable.
The second DLC was “The Descent”. I still remember how confused I was when they first announced it, because I couldn’t figure out why on Earth (or Thedas – funny, right?) they would go back into the deep roads of all things. I’m one of these people who liked Dragon Age Origins a lot, because it had character, but IMHO the deep roads were the most horrible part of it. I was so relieved when I was finally done with these huge maps (and shocked when you had to return once more because of Shale’s quest). Some people say the fade was the worst part of Origins, but I disagree, at least the fade had all these dreams with your companions, always depending on which companions you took into the fade. That was cool and took a lot of work on their part, most players would never see all the various dream sequences after all. But that’s why Origins was so cool, because back then they still did stuff like that. These times are over.
But back to The Descent… IMHO nothing could underline more how extremely done they seem to be with the whole Dragon Age franchise creatively. Why else weren’t they capable of coming up with anything for a DLC, besides repeating the one thing that was already overdone in all previous games? On top of the unappealing scenario, their main focus here was too, to make the player collect as much stuff as possible. There are new dwarven mugs now… I know it sounds like a joke at this point, but I’m serious… Then at the end you fight a boss who is mute and you leave to never hear from any of these characters again. But none of them are as memorable and interesting as the architect was, so it could be worse.
Last one is called Trespasser and this was definitely the one I was interested in the most, because EA did the Dead Space thing again, where they deliver the ending to the game in an extra DLC. Of course I’m not a friend of making the ending to a game as lame as possible, so that players will be more inclined to buying the actual ending as an extra DLC, but since they keep doing it, it must be working.
In Trespasser they married the epilogue with lots of character stuff, which is a good call, because characters are usually the strongest part of BioWare games. The ending even gave some answers, just not to any of the questions I was wondering about. What happened to Flemeth, the perhaps most mysterious and intriguing character of the whole series, and what she was up to, remains a mystery. Exactly what you want to learn after 6 years of buildup. :D
The premise of Trespasser is, that all the kingdoms are basically done with supporting the Inquisition and want it gone, because they won’t tolerate something that could threaten their own power. So far everything seems to make a lot of sense, the DLC starts with negotiations and features all the various types of douchebags you would expect in such a situation. I thought that one of the goals would be, to work towards getting the best arguments necessary, to reach the best possible outcome for the Inquisition. Of course, none of that was the case. In the last scene the Inquisitor just walks in and tells everyone what will happen. That’s it. All the dudes who threatened and postured before, keep their mouths shut and accept what they were told. It was so absurd. Maybe they didn’t hold all the power, but enough to make certain demands. At the very least they never would have accepted some dictation. The writing was all over the place there, they started with one thing, abandoned it and finished with something else, like they forgot everything in the meantime.
If I wouldn’t have enjoyed Origins so much and liked DAII a lot for its potential, I never would have played DAI at all. To me it’s the most bland way, to handle such a game. I weep for all the great art pieces that were wasted here. But throwing in a good thing here and there doesn’t make for a good game overall. People keep forgetting.
It’s like this game was given to another developer, because the dev who worked on the previous titles was busy with something else, or was now defunct. There were more similarities between Fallout 3 (Bethesda) and Fallout New Vegas (Obsidian) or Arkham City (Rocksteady) and Arkham Origins (Warner Bros. Games Montréal), even though there too, you could clearly tell it wasn’t the same. Except this time, there is no original dev left to hand the franchise back to for the next installment, even though they are not technically defunct.
I kind of owe it to this game to add, that I didn’t run into any further trouble after the rocky start. Their patch really fixed everything that disappointed me at first. I don’t regret finishing it once more.
I’m a huge fan of Wasteland 2, finished it thrice and was really looking forward to playing the Director’s Cut. But my experience with the DC, directly at the beginning, was quite sobering.
It started with the fact that the DC crashes all the time for everyone with an AMD graphics card beginning with the HD 7000 series and everything above. At least they pinned a topic on the Steam forums to keep people informed and even offer a workaround by forcing the game to run in DX9 mode. Given that only AMD users are affected and that this was already supposed to be the final edition of the game and they surely have their hands full with Torment and their games beyond, I have little hope that they will still fix this.
I think that the new inventory isn’t an improvement over the old one at all, I was searching for the radiation suits I was wearing and had to give up at some point. So I looked it up and they simply removed the slot and only the stats will tell if you are wearing any and which ones. The water canteen got the same treatment.
They also added lots of new audio for NPCs, while several bigger characters already had audio for some texts in the original. The first big NPC, players will meet, is Angela Deth. While I was wearing headphones, the new audio is impossible to miss. First of, they didn’t get the original voice actress, or so it seems and someone else is suddenly talking. They kept the original files, so her voice will change several times in the same conversation. The new audio was also only audible on the right ear, while the old audio correctly works on both. That’s really not what I expected to experience at this point.
There were also situations, in which the audio was finished faster than the display of the text and it lead to the same audio being played twice in a row, as soon as the text caught up to the audio, which always seems to trigger the associated audio no matter if it was already played or not.
I also noticed that some settings in the main menu were being reset, no matter how many times I tried to switch them to my preferences. I tried to set the audio to “stereo”, but every time I returned to the menu it was reverted to “quad” again.
Their new font is also a lot thinner than in the original, which was easier to read, I think.
While I was browsing through the skills in the character screen, their display seemed to have a glitch at some point, which made it look like some of them vanished, after opening/closing it a few times it was back to normal.
There was also a problem with the camera sometimes. Using the mouse wheel should zoom in/out, but it was stuck at times and I couldn’t figure out what was triggering it, it was just working again all of a sudden.
And all of the above happened before even leaving the Ranger Citadel for the first time, the very beginning of the game… I’m really not eager to find out if the game will keep going like this if I really start to get into it. It’s not a short game after all.
If the DC didn’t have some really nice improvements (I like the new right click menu a lot, that has team members jump in to use their appropriate skills!), I’d still recommend to anyone to keep playing the original, since most of these problems weren’t there before. They fixed this game quite nicely and there were hardly any issues left.
Oh wow, just a day after writing this, they released a patch: