Tag Archives: Bioware

The games of E3 2017 that have me keyed up

E3 2017 is not technically over yet, but a majority of the big announcements and reveals have come and gone, with Nintendo swooping in yesterday to present a world where a hat can Mario-ize any object, living or not. It’s a fascinating gameplay hook, one that does now have me interested in owning a Switch far down the road. Forget vapor champers and 4K streaming and how good rain looks in your driving game–that hat is where it is at. Still, not a single one of my wishes was granted, and for that I’m a sourpuss. Just kidding, all–I love videogames, even the ones I don’t like, and there’s never been a better time to be playing these digital thingies.

The following is a list of the games announced at E3 this year that have got me all full of excitement and curiosity. They are in no particular order, and no one company “won” E3, especially not Sony, which definitely only won the “Did Not Win” category. Sorry, y’all, if that was confusing, but it’s true. Look into your heart, and you’ll see it’s so.

A Way Out

I enjoyed what Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons did, both thematically and gameplay-wise, and I think I’m going to dig A Way Out‘s focus on cooperatively escaping from prison. This comes from Hazelight Studios and will be published by Electronic Arts. Josef Fares, the game’s creative director, spoke about this project passionately and with excitement, and it is difficult to ignore that and not let yourself stir at the thought about distracting guards and crawling through a tunnel of poop in the middle of a thunderstorm to taste that freedom air.

Anthem

I’m glad there’s not a new Dragon Age game coming from BioWare. I’m still working on that last one, though I hope to complete it this year. No, I must complete it in 2017. For those wondering, I’m around 60 hours in, maybe three-fourths of the way through. Anyways, this, this Anthem, sure looks a lot like Destiny and Dragon Age/Mass Effect, but it’s third-person and seems more focused on exploration that bragging about some sick gun I found in a cave. I’m interested for sure, but if this is the kind of game that requires a full team of peeps all the time to enjoy…well, count me out. Either way, curious to hear more.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

I’ve watched a lot of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds over these last few weeks, fully understanding that I myself might never play this Battle Royale-inspired extravaganza. I don’t believe it requires that big of a machine to run, but now I don’t have to worry about even attempting this on my ASUS laptop because it’s coming, exclusively, to the Xbox One this year. I’m so ready to find a quiet, hidden hole and sit in it until the number of participants left on the island rapidly depletes and then stumble into a firefight unprepared and get killed unceremoniously. You heard it hear first.

Super Mario Odyssey

New Mario is new Mario. And this one keeps on surprising, with the reveal of Mario’s hat friend Cappy able to take over people and items in the environment for Mario to use. It instantly made me think of Brave Fencer Musashi and how you could steal abilities from enemies to help you on your journey. A Nintendo Switch is most likely a long way’s off for me, considering I can still get Breath of the Wild for my little used Wii U, but whenever I do eventually acquire the device, this will be an obvious purchase.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

I’m pretty sure I have a digital copy of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on my Wii U. Let me go check. Yup, definitely do. I think I got it a while back by redeeming some Nintendo Club points before that system vanished. Anyways, naturally, I bought it and have not played it. Looks like I can continue to hold off because an enhanced remake for the 3DS is coming out soon, and that’s probably the better version to play at this point in time.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The turn on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle happened fast. It all started with people scoffing at the inclusion of guns on the hands of Nintendo’s sweet, innocent original characters, the absurdness of Rabbids wearing costumes to look like those characters, and the fact that no one really knew much else about the game other than its title and that Mario was ready to shoot something. Well, now we know–this is XCOM plus Nintendo silliness. I’ve always been intimidated by permadeath-driven strategy games, but this tone seems gentler and more fun, so I’m interested in seeing how it plays.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Sigh. Radiant Historia has long been a game I’ve put on my “I will play this game this year” lists…and have failed to do so. Boo to me. The thing is, I really like it, but it’s a game about time travel and manipulating past events, and at this point I’d be totally lost going back to my years-old save file. Might as well wait for Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, an enhance remake for the Nintendo 3DS. I wonder if it’ll have any StreetPass functionality.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few key names here–there’s been a lot to keep track of these last few days–and don’t be upset that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Days Gone, and that new God of War aren’t here. The hard truth is that I have never been excited for them and never will be.

But that’s just me. Now I’d like to hear from y’all…what games are you most excited for, whether this year or slated for 2018? And on a scale of 1 to 100, how upset are you that Suikoden VI is still not a thing?

The triumpant return of Dragon Age: Inquisition

gd-da-inquisition-impressions-skyhold_front

I gave up on Dragon Age: Inquisition and Girgna the dwarven warrior pretty quickly after hitting that bug with meeting Blackwall, deciding that this PlayStation 3 version was not the right version for me. It constantly froze at the war room table and other places, and the tiny text made every quest description a guess to my eyes. Basically, every time I turned it on, I knew I was taking a chance, that all my progress could very well be for nothing. That the tears in the sky weren’t the only forces working against my gaming desires to collect herbs and turn in missions. This was back in January 2015.

Let’s zip forward to around now, to the Black Friday hubbub and shower of sales, both at retail and online, and Dragon Age: Inquisition is deeply discounted for $16.00. Keep in mind that this is the Game of the Year edition, which means it is brimming with DLC and pre-order bonuses, but also for the Xbox One, a system that seemed to run the game just fine if reviews and forums were to be trusted. Plus, this is much less than I paid for my original, broken and abandoned-by-Bioware PS3 copy around the time it was originally released. I couldn’t resist, and thus I am back in this bloody, high fantasy world, collecting Elfroot with every step.

Strangely enough, I am now playing as an elven rogue named Felena, but other than the pointy ears and white-ish forehead tattoos, she looks identical to Girgna. I guess I always subconsciously default to a certain style when playing as a female avatar. Oh well. I’m digging using a bow and arrows way more than charging headfirst into the action only to get my health meter depleted in a few swipes. I’ve also made it further than I did on my first go and have pleasantly discovered that there’s a wee bit of Suikoden in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Don’t get too excited–it is, after all, just a wee bit, but I’ll take it over nothing.

Many will urge new players to Dragon Age: Inquisition to not dawdle and waste away in the Hinterlands. Sure, there’s a ton of things to do in that section of the map, but you only need to do so much to move the story forward plot-wise, and I suggest this too. Granted, I still put at least eight hours into the Hinterlands before even visiting the Storm Coast for the first time, but I am stubborn and wanted to recreate my original adventure as much as possible. Anyways, plow forward, and you’ll eventually leave Haven behind for a full-fledged castle called Skyhold, and it is here that you can wander from room to room, seeing where each of your recruited companions are calling home. Sure, you don’t have 108 of them to find, but I still found it more exciting and rewarding to explore than the ship in Mass Effect 2. Plus, you can play decorator, changing the windows, curtains, beds, thrones, and so on to your creative heart’s desire.

I’m going to gently dip into spoiler territory for a moment, meaning this is your chance to run for the hills. Staying? Okay, cool. The quest before you get to Skyhold is about losing Haven, which has been acting as a subpar headquarters for the Inquisition as they figure out where they are going. At one point, you can actually save certain villagers and people in Haven, but must also fight off the waves of demons heading your way simultaneously. Unfortunately, I couldn’t save everyone. Those I did are now in Skyhold, momentarily safe, and those that perished…well, they are no more. This bums me out majorly, as I didn’t realize any of this was possible and naturally didn’t rely on saving and re-loading to keep every sentenced soul alive and well. Every Suikoden playthrough is a single-minded mission to bring all aboard and keep them breathing, especially during the war battle sequences. I want to apply the same mentality here.

All that said, I’m ecstatic to be back in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and that the game is running smoothly on the Xbox One, with the only oddness being a glitch or two where a character will suddenly float up in the air and then land elsewhere. I saw a dragon to this to a giant, too. To me, that’s just magic. I really enjoyed the scope and some of the stories from Dragon Age: Origins and wisely skipped out on the second entry, but this one seems pretty solid, with plenty to do, even if I am growing tired of picking up Elfroot. Just kidding, Elfroot is life. No, literally…I use it to replenish healing potions. I’ll let everyone know if I’m able to revive Gremio right before the final fight.

Dragon Age: Inquisition’s war table is frozen with fear

dragon age inquisition war table game freezes gd

My favorite quest so far in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the one where you move the cursor across the war table map only to have the game freeze and hard-lock your PlayStation 3, forcing you to manually power it down, turn it back on, report an error to Sony–which I assume goes right into some digital trash bin–and then wait five to ten minutes while the console does a repair fix to ensure nothing got broken. I love this mission so much that I’ve replayed it at least four times now. Sometimes I like to do this mission after playing for a good amount and forgetting to save recently, forcing me to replay parts I already did because I can’t seem to remember just how borked this AAA title from BioWare actually is.

No wonder people are playing Dragon Age: Inquisition for such a high amount of hours. Seems like whatever latest patch that went on did nothing to fix stability, certainly nothing to enlarge the tiny text. Grr. To the Void with that!

Dragon Age: Inquisition is concerned with the fate of the world, not text size

Dragon Age Inquisition GD early thoughts 2

Like many, the millisecond I saw that one of Amazon’s major Cyber Monday bargains was for $15.00 off the very still new Dragon Age: Inquisition, I dropped whatever I was holding/doing and purchased a copy…for the PlayStation 3. It arrived a few days later and sat on my kitchen table, waiting patiently for me to finish up some artwork projects, as well as Suikoden II. Here’s a quick life lesson for y’all that I’ve learned over my thirty-one years of doing this grind called living: don’t start one massive RPG before completing another.

Anyways, over the weekend, I put about an hour and a half into Dragon Age: Inquisition, and all I got to show for it is this t-shirt that says “Leave the Hinterlands” in big, bold, bloody lettering. Nah, that’s not true. What I actually got is a female dwarven warrior named Girgna, who likes to charge right into the thick of things and even taunt enemies as she swings a sword into their necks. This style of fighting is very much the opposite of my usual path, but my friend Tom is also playing the game, walking the good, wholesome path of a nice wizard lady named Dandelion, and I wanted us to have different experiences to talk about.

Dragon Age: Inquisition evidently picks up immediately the events of Dragon Age II, where mages and Templars are finally at ends with each other. However, there are talks of a peace treaty in the works, but those deals and promises are interrupted by a magical explosion, leaving a single survivor. Yup, that’s you, the one with the green-colored hand. Some believe you caused this explosion, while others think you’re a blessing from the prophet Andraste. Either way, demons are now emerging from the rift in the sky, and you are the only one who can do anything about it. Get ready to age a dragon or something.

So far, I’m finding my return to Ferelden…a bit underwhelming. Granted, I’ve not touched the series seriously since Dragon Age: Origins, deciding after trying the demo and listening to the Internet that Dragon Age II was not for me. Now, I really really liked Dragon Age: Origins; it had characters and scope and deeply integrated lore and tough, but rewarding combat. It also had some problems, such as tiny text, glitched Achievements because I know I killed at least 500 darkspawn (though not 1,000), clunky inventory menus, and that whole side quest surrounding the Fade. Still, the good outweighed the bad, and that banter while wandering around towns or the forest really gave me the warmest of warm feelings.

However, in just an hour and a half with Dragon Age: Inquisition, I’m experiencing a ton of issues. The graphics on the PlayStation 3 version are sub-par; I mean, it looks like the first game, which came out four years ago, and I know we can have nicer visuals at this point thanks to Grand Theft Auto V and even Destiny. Many textures are garbled and flat or late to load in when a cutscene starts. Again, graphics are certainly not everything to me, but working graphics is a whole different issue. Audio sync is also off, and there was one moment where characters left the scene, but the camera remained fixed on the forest for a few extra seconds, while nothing happened. And this all brings me to the thorniest of roadblocks: the tiny text. I cannot sit on the couch and read most of the text, which is, y’know, frustrating for a roleplaying game where you make important decisions. I cannot read weapon descriptions or newly added lore blurbs. I cannot see the numbers for my character’s experience bar. Sounds like it doesn’t matter if you have an SD or HD television either, and I’m not the only one upset about this.

I’ll hold out hope (but not much) for a future patch to increase the font size. Until then, I’m relying on other elements to tell me what’s going on. When you examine an item, you’ll see some bars below your character go up in green or down in red, thus telling you if it is helpful or not. That said, I don’t know exactly what each bar is measuring. Some dialogue choices are accompanied by a small graphic, indicating what kind of response you are about to give, even if you can’t read it. Girgna has now finished the prologue section and been told about the Hinterlands, but I’m still hanging around the opening area, trying to find some crafting items to make weapons and armor before I move ahead to the zone everyone says to not linger in. Plus, there’s plenty of hairless nugs running around, begging to be target practice.

Not the best start for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Call me crazy, but I like reading the text in my videogames, even if it is badly translated.

DEMO IMPRESSIONS – Dragon Age II

Sigh. More like Dragon Age II jumps the ogre-shark. Where do I begin?

The demo opens up with a typical RPG choice: who do you want to play as? Dragon Age: Origins offered a solid selection of races (human, dwarf, elf) and classes (warrior, rogue, mage) to pick from. Here, you can either be a male or female warrior/rogue/mage. No more pointy ears or ale-stained beards for you. This is one of the sacrifices BioWare made to streamline the sequel and focus on a tighter narrative.

Anyways, after selecting a female mage, the demo moves into cinematic territory. Varric, a dwarf, is being heatedly questioned by a templar. This woman is trying to hunt down Hawke, the legendary hero of Kirkwall, “the Champion” as she puts it.

Varric is an unreliable narrator, and his retelling of Hawke’s rise to fame is full of embellishing. According to him, Hawke’s story begins with her family fleeing from Lothering, making for Kirkwall. Alas, they are quickly surrounded by Darkspawn, and it’s here that the demo teaches you the basics of combat. The “A” button serves as your primary attack, with the rest of the face buttons designated for assigned abilities, just like in Dragon Age: Origins. Holding the left-trigger brings up a radial menu for more options. However, the most dramatic change has to be combat speed; it’s fast, and when I say fast, I mean Devil May Cry 3 fast. No joke, at one point I thought Hawke was going to knock a Darkspawn into the sky and finish it off with an air combo. So yeah, you fight a couple waves of Darkspawn and feel like you’re playing an entirely different RPG series.

After Hawke rips an ogre apart with her bare hands, Varric is called out for embellishing the story too much. The demo then jumps ahead to a later portion to allow the player to experience combat at a higher level. Here we fight some more Darkspawn and gain new companions. Dialogue is handled via a chat wheel akin to what’s found in the Mass Effect series, and I think it’s a step down. Now it clearly shows when you are being evil or good or sarcastic instead of letting you figure it out for yourself. Let go of my hand, BioWare devs! LET GO!

The demo is more of the same thing over and over again. Fight some Darkspawn, fight some more, talk, fight a boss. The boss ogre at the end killed all my companions fast, and then Hawke fell shortly after. I didn’t bother trying again. In fact, I went and deleted the demo off my Xbox 360, content in knowing that I had seen enough. The changes are too dramatic, and from what I’ve read, party companions are no longer as customizable in terms of armor and weapons. Only Hawke. This is not good. This is basically Dragon Effect II for pigeonholding purposes, and I’m not slamming Mass Effect II here as I know many love it and accept its streamlining as a good thing, but why couldn’t BioWare have the best of both worlds? Y’know, one streamlined sci-fi RPG and one deep, engrossing fantasy RPG for D&D fanatics.

Curse the Maker.

I guess, ultimately, if I want more of what I like about this text-heavy RPG series I’ll have to pick up Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening.

[Intimidate] You will simply love this post about intimidating in Dragon Age: Origins

I’ve been working very hard at Dragon Age: Origins recently. In fact, just the other night, Natia, our hard-as-nails dwarven Grey Warden, preserved the Anvil of the Void, sided with Bhelen to get the steel men on our side, and then had some decent sex with Leliana after listening to the bard prattle on and on for, lack of a better word, ages. That’s all well and good, but what I was more excited to see Natia accomplish was the following:


Menacing (20G): Succeeded at 10 difficult Intimidate attempts

See, Dragon Age: Origins is all about the dialogue options. That’s BioWare’s thingy. Mass Effect allowed you to go down the paragon or renegade path by choosing different ways to answer folks. The same thing exists in Ferelden. Characters can either be persuaded or intimidated, the former being the nicer route and the latter a little more direct and threatening. On my first playthrough, I went with the nice personality, and quickly got the persuasive Achievement. This time around, I knew I wanted to go after the intimidate one, and so I made sure to construct Natia in the right manner. The odd thing was that I’m positive I did well over 10 intimidate options before unlocking this Achievement, which leads me to believe that some are classified as more “difficult” than others.

And here’s where the problem sits: how does one know if it’s a difficult intimidate option or not?

I mean, the dialogue option that helped unlock Menacing was about forcing a scared little boy to give us a key to a treasure chest in his mother’s bedroom. Pretty sure the nicest, sweetest, kindest old man in Orlais could intimidate a youngling like that. However, it was a “difficult” attempt. Guess it has more to do with behind-the-scenes dice rolling than anything story-related, but still, I’d like to know a bit more before trying out anything. Fallout: New Vegas handled it decently if a bit perfunctory for its skill checks, and Dragon Age: Origins could do it in the same vein, with a percentage of success or a visible indication that there’s no way the option will work.

At least going forward on Natia’s quest to save Ferelden from the darkspawn, I won’t feel compelled to immediately select the intimidate option. Sure, I might…because roleplaying her as a cut-your-throat badass dwarf (with a hidden soft side) is a lot of fun. If only I could intimidate Alistair into getting down and funky with a dwarf; I think I missed my chance to woo him as he’s disapproved of a lot of group actions. Wah.

Two videogames beaten, but not over with yet

Over the past couple of days, I beat two videogames. Namely, Dragon Age: Origins and Pokemon HeartGold. Both will be getting full reviews from me in the near future, one most likely here and one most likely over at The First Hour, but I still want to talk a little bit about them at the moment…since their deaths are so fresh in my mind.

Both of these games are now beaten. I have seen the end credits roll. And yet, against my power, both of these games demand I continue playing them. In different manners, of course.

For Pokemon HeartGold, they are asking me to play the same game again. The only difference is a new skin to it with new Pokemon to collect, but the fundamentals are all the same: explore the land, collect pocket monsters, defeat gym leaders, and rise to the top of another league for ultimate bragging rights. I’m going to do it, but considering that I just did exactly that for 49 hours…well, I’m not terribly excited for déjà vu to set in.

For Dragon Age: Origins, it’s all about playing the game as drastically different as possible. Because what’s done is done. My Grey Warden character defeated the darkspawn (I don’t consider this a spoiler as, duh, you knew it was going to happen) and now there’s nothing else to do. Can’t reload and venture about Ferelden to do sidequests until the cows come home. Instead, thanks to the numerous origins and different classes and varied dialogue choices, one can play BioWare’s fantasy RPG a second time and experience the complete opposite of what they did before. That’s nice. And also, I didn’t do that Achievement boosting trick where you save before you make a big decision, unlock the Achievement, reload, and then unlock the other one. So I’ll be heading back in to side with the werewolves and help the mages in the Circle Tower and so on. To be honest, I’m looking forward to experiencing it all over again.

Now…about these games’ endings. They were totally lame, especially considering the hours spent to get there.

Pokemon HeartGold tossed an extremely tough battle in your face unlike anything your Trainer ever fought against, and I suspect a lot of players were in the same boat as me. Meaning…lots of grinding to catch up and be halfway formidable. And once that’s said and done, you’re treated to a short scene stating your awesomeness and then credits with little animated Pokesprites running around and being silly. Fade to black. Reload to discover you basically only “beat” 50% of the actual game. Laaame.

Talking about the ending in Dragon Age: Origins is a bit more challenging. I don’t want to spoil specifics, but I really felt like there was a lack of imagination in the final battle. Honestly, your team just moves from zone to zone, fighting wave after wave of darkspawn until you make it to the archdemon, and then you fight it and it releases wave after wave of support enemies and then you kill it and then you’re done. And treated to–and I’m not kidding here–static paintings with some tiny text boxes telling you about what happened to people and places in the years to come. BioWare couldn’t even shell out for some voice actor here after all the speaking that when down during my 41 hours of gameplay. Sigh. There may or may not be more to the game’s ending though depending on some choices you previously made. Time will tell in that department. Either way, it felt kind of lame. Like, that boss battle with that giant tentacle-wielding woman-thing was much more exciting (and original) than this. Oh well. Maybe my second playthrough will reveal something else.

But yeah, despite the fact I’m still going to be playing these for some time, they’re definitely getting crossed off the backlog list as completed.