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8:20 PM on 09.30.2014  

Batman Arkham Asylum or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Level Design

Batman: Arkham Asylum was released five years ago and I finally got around to playing it. I never bothered because, at a glance, it looked really awful. The combat appeared slow, exploration seemed  limited, upgrades were uninteresting, and there never seemed to be any challenge. Once I decided to finally play it I found that all of these things are actually true! So why does this game get the praise it does? Why am I having so much fun with it? Why is this such a good game!? After playing through the game I can say its an overwhelming amount polish and outstanding level design. So whats so great about the level design?

 

Verticality.

 

Verticality is the most important concept to the level design in Arkham Asylum. Outdoor areas excluded, the player is often confined to a hallway or small room when Batmanning their way from plot point to plot point. Using the grappling hook the player is able to scale a staggering amount of terrain in each level. In most cases this actually doubles the size of the playable area, if not triple it. Allowing the player to navigate multiple vertical layers of any given stage grants an immense feeling of freedom and control, even when progression is almost entirely on rails, and even if the outcome is always predetermined.

 

To me, the single most important part of any game is being able to do whatever I think I can do. If you give me a grappling hook I had better damn well be able to grappling hook myself onto anything I want. Fortunately the team at Rocksteady realized this and executed it with great effect. I have never felt limited in my exploration or mobility in Arkham Asylum. Being able to explore in any direction, even if it takes me nowhere is still a great feeling.

 

The odd thing is that Arkham Asylum is quite literally on rails most of the time. You are led from point A to point B with the ominous helping hand of the waypoint system and tooltips. Unlike a lot games in this genre, the player is almost never left to find their own way. Usually this bugs the-ever-loving-shit out of me and I want to smash my TV when it happens. It is the reason I do not enjoy AAA titles. The aforementioned exploration would not be enough to keep the gameplay feeling fresh for the 7-10 hours it takes to complete it. Thank God  there are a handful of hubs.

 

Hubs are what really tie everything together for me. Large outdoor areas with multiple paths to other hubs and stages, dotted with tons of collectibles, and often a handful of dudes to practice your Batman on. In these areas you are only limited by your current gadgets and your own ability to explore. Generally there isn’t a sense of urgency and doesn’t repeatedly remind the player that they should be doing something. This makes these areas all the more fun to explore and just play around in. Each one acts as a mini-sandbox to test out my new bat-toys and get out of hallways for a while. Its a brilliant way to break up the pace and monotony of constantly following directions. Hubs are also the only areas you ever really backtrack through, which allows the game to reaffirm certain tools and gameplay elements in a free “no consequences” setting while at the same time rewarding the player for using them correctly.

 

Arkham Asylum made me really rethink what level and game design means. As a fledgling game developer, I find this game to be utterly fascinating for being far greater than the sum of its parts. It makes me rethink everything I thought I knew about game design. It makes me realize that letting the player actually play is the most important thing. Do not stand in the players way. A game does not have to be difficult all the time. It doesn’t have to make you think all the time. It just needs to let you play it.


It just needs to let the player have fun.


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4:31 PM on 06.20.2013  

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review



Animal Crossing is a game about diggin holes in your yard and lookin for bones. New Leaf has this plus more features that I don't know about because my girlfriend is the mayor while I remain a lowly ditch digger. Basically I just do random bullshit all day to try to make enough money to pay the proxy slave driving raccoon fucker in his cozy shop. Thanks Obama.

Sometimes you can sell the hole gifts to a pink thing and you can get some bells! Wow! You can use these bells to buy letters so you can mail the frog in your town and call him a cunt. Perrrrrettay immersive! 

There is also fish and bugs if you get bored of holes! You cannot put bugs in the holes so its not a perfect experience. The game also has cool house parts, shirts, hats, glasses, and there is even fruit. Its 35 dollars so thats not so bad.

Pros:
has shovel
dig holes
cool shirts (sometimes)
cunt letters
its not 60 bucks

Cons:
cant bury all things
sometimes there are bees
frog is in my town and i hate him
girlfriend buried a toilet outside of my tent



9/10 would recommend to anybody

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4:28 PM on 06.20.2013  

Why is Titanfall getting so much press?



Everywhere I look I see Titanfall. Every time I turn around some gaming site (this one included) has some article about how its the best in show or some game journalists favorite game of E3.

Why?

Why is this on any ones radar? Titanfall is just another shooter that, aside from robots, looks exactly like Call of Duty. The HUD elements are all there, the xp flashing up on screen when you do a thing to a guy, gray and grayish blues all over the place, and did I mention it's just another FPS? Even the pacing looks like CoD! This game is just another random ass shooter that you can drop onto the pile of random ass shooters.

So it has robots that look like dudes. Who cares? Now you're just a taller dude who can do bad shit to smaller dudes. It's the same shit just on a different scale! It has some additional movement options but nothing we haven't seen before. 

Maybe its just me but I couldn't care less about ANY new FPS games probably forever. We have been so overloaded with them in the last two generations that its embarrassing to the industry. Stop perpetuating shit like this. Please let us get out of this fucking rut of shooter after shooter after shooter. How can people still be excited for shooters!?

AAAHHHH!!!!

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8:56 AM on 06.20.2013  

This Game F*cking Sucks: The Last of Us

This post assumes you have played The Last of Us and may contain some spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Like previous Naughty Dog titles The Last of Us suffers from predictable gameplay and progression. Unlike Uncharted, however, it also suffers from the reuse of the same two puzzle mechanics over and over and over again. I'm not going to try to deny that The Last of Us has some of the most exceptional acting I've ever seen in a video game. It does. It also has some of the best graphics, sound design, animation, characters, and combat I have ever experienced. I think we can all agree that it is above and beyond what most games are and it has set the bar so incredibly high for production values that nobody will be vaulting over it for years to come. 

Therein lies the problem. Sort of. The game itself isn't really all there. It feels sort of empty to me like something is just... missing. In between every beautiful cut scene there is a very visible formula at work, and I find that more often than not it takes away some of the games edge and tension. I always know what is coming. I do not fear death. I do not fear the enemies. This is where The Last of Us falls short. This is what I'd like to talk about.



Death

Death is the single most important thing to a survival horror game. I wouldn't call The Last of Us "survival horror" but Wikipedia does, and so do a lot of gaming sites and reviews. Survival implies that death carries some weight. That you are trying your damnedest to survive in a harsh world. Though this may be the theme of the story, its far from the feeling conveyed when playing. 

The problem here is checkpoints and autosaves. Should you fuck up and die you start over just before the conflict that wasted you, effectively losing... 5 minutes of gameplay? Maybe 10? There is no tension here. There is no reason to ever FEAR death. Worst case scenario you just start over no harm done. You don't lose anything except a couple of minutes. 

Since death has no weight, it weakens the stealth aspect considerably. I am not scared of getting caught because I know I can just restart should anything go wrong. I am not scared of the stronger infected and their instant kills. I am not scared of being spotted by a group of bandits. This leaves only implied tension through characters comments, music, and your own belief in your ability to dispatch your would be dispatchers. Don't worry though. You can just try again.

I don't have any idea how this issue could be resolved but this game is no more survival than any other game in which you can be killed. I am fine with the checkpoints in general but I feel as though they are far too frequent. 



Combat

I only have one problem with the combat and its that Joel is almost too much of a hard ass. Aside from early gun play (which is just incredible), Joel is a one man wrecking crew. He can get grabbed and hit with a pipe but for the most part you just beat the ever loving shit out of everyone by hammering on the square button. Combat requires very little finesse. Maybe this is not the case on higher difficulty but that is sort of a cop out in my opinion. At least you take a lot of damage when you get shot.

Everything else about the combat is stunningly perfect.

"Puzzles"

Notice that "puzzles" is in quotations. That is because "find a plank/ladder/floating palette" is not a puzzle and I don't know what else to call it. Less than half way through the game and I had already found 5+ planks/ladders and 3+ palettes. These always serve the same purpose and the characters always announce that you need one of them. Then, the object in question is never more than a few feet away so whats the point? 

Aside from that you have generic push block puzzles where you move a dumpster or other large thing on wheels to a wall so you can climb over it. Now, I totally understand that this is NOT a puzzle game. We aren't running around ancient tombs trying to make fancy shadows on the wall to open a door of some kind. But there is a severe lack of variety and its rather annoying. Even Ellie complains about it at one point.

Predictability

By far the worst part about the game is the overall predictability of the scenarios you encounter and the order in which you encounter them. If you just fought some infected your next encounter will be with humans and vice versa. If you just played through two combat sections, one with each enemy group, you will be given a little area of calm in which you are allowed to explore a bit. Generally these areas are ripe with materials and skill point pick ups. If you are being given a lot of materials you are being prepped for combat. Its just not very organic.

You can also safely assume when you are going to be dealing with humans soon based on the abundance of waist high objects in your immediate area. If its infected there are generally more choke points and no cover given that cover is useless when fighting infected. If you aren't sure if there is going to be a fight then you should take note of the number of bricks and bottles available. If there's a lot, shit is about to go down. Uncharted 3 is exactly the same way. Sneak into place, steal a thing, combat your way out. Repeat until the game is done.

Final Thoughts

The Last of Us is not a bad game in general but it has some pretty lame aspects. Is it a perfect game? Not at all. Does it deserve praise? Absolutely! But not necessarily the praise its currently getting. "The Citizen Kane of gaming" is pretty bold for something that would have been given 6-7/10 if it weren't from Naughty Dog and it didn't have outstanding production.

Its a game, and it should be reviewed as such. It has flaws in its gameplay, though nowhere else. Why 10/10 across the board? Couldn't tell you.


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11:41 AM on 04.26.2013  

This Game F*cking Sucks: BioShock Infinite

Maybe I just expect too much from the video game industry. Maybe I'm just a hipster, as many people like to call me whenever I openly dislike newer games. Or maybe my brain is just wracked with syphilis and everything around me is just an elaborate nightmare my subconscious has lashed into existence. Whatever the case may be I am extremely disappointed in BioShock Infinite and for the life of me I can't see why the game gets the kind of praise it does.



Exploration

Infinite has sacrificed one of my favorite things about BioShock, exploration, for reasons unbeknownst to me. Most of the exploration is gone and replaced with locked doors that require x amount lock picks to open. I constantly felt forced down a straight path to make sure I followed the exact steps the game wanted me to take. Ushered from one courtyard gun fight to the other with some hallway shoot outs stuck between just to make sure I haven't fallen asleep. It was missing the freedom of the previous titles.

Most side areas in Infinite are simply locked doors that open once you've found the required number of lock picks. When one of these doors are opened you are usually presented with an office of some sort with a health/shield/mana upgrade inside. The exploration consists of trying to find the lock picks under chairs and trash cans to get your health upgrade. It feels like such an after thought and it has absolutely no flavor.

Compare this to BioShock in which some doors required different plasmids to open, and often led to comparatively huge side areas full of scares and interesting encounters. There were a ton of side paths to wonder through and explore. What happened? I want to explore Columbia. I want to learn as much about this place as I was able to learn about Rapture. Give me that opportunity.

Columbia doesn't feel as fleshed out as Rapture because of this.

Gameplay

Don't get me wrong here. I think Infinite is a solid game that is pretty fun. It does a whole lot of stuff right for what it is, a dumbed down hallway FPS, however it isn't doing anything new or even anything all that interesting.

The game mostly consists of hallway into courtyard shoot outs that sometimes require you to zip around on skylines. With as much hype as the skylines got, you'd think that they would be more important to the overall gameplay, and outside of a few instances of using them to go forward they are almost entirely useless. I never had to use them outside of context and I think I saw enemies use them just to show up to the fight. I also never had any enemies chase me on them which I was really hoping to see.

Shooting dudes in the head its pretty satisfying if nothing else. However what the hell happened to having all kinds of kick ass ammo types that were better for different enemies? Now I just have to pop people in the dome from behind a chest high wall. Enemies also conveniently drop the ammo for the gun you have so there's really no reason to ever use anything other than the rifle and shotgun. None of the enemies actually use vigors themselves so its not like they are going to Bucking Bronco your sorry ass from behind cover. It just doesn't happen.

Speaking of vigors, most of the vigors you acquire are just stuns or disables. There's no reason to use anything other than Bucking Bronco or Murder of Crows because upgraded nothing can touch you and the other vigors are rendered totally useless. On a couple of context sensitive sections you need to zap a door open but other than that you don't need them for anything at all. Remember using Telekensis in BioShock to find all kinds of hidden items and ammo? Remember melting down ice to scavenge for items and explore new areas? Remember zapping open doors all over the place?

On the subject of zapping and burning, what the hell happened to all of the environmental damage?? There are about three or four puddles of water/oil in the game what you have to literally summon in from another plane of existence and hope that one of the enemies in this giant courtyard you're fighting in stumbles over to the three feet of water so you can zap him. Or you can just pop that guy in the skull and call it good.

Hacking! Hacking in BioShock was a pretty terrible minigame but at least hacking was there and it served a nice purpose. Lowered prices, permanent control over mechanical units, and security systems (which are completely absent in Infinite) . Now I realize that we have possession but its temporary and doesn't have the same effect on vendors. I'll admit that hacking needed a make over but it didn't need to be removed entirely. Then again, there's no sneaking or carefulness to Infinite so... how often would we even have the chance to use it?



Elizabeth

Nothing ruins a gun fight like a little girl throwing quarters at you in the middle of it. And nothing makes what little exploration we get more fun than... a little girl throwing quarters at you every fifteen feet! Why is this necessary? Just say "I found money" and add it to the money pool. Stop throwing shit at me and interrupting me.

As for her powers in combat, its also essentially useless. Summon in a turret that dies immediately, or a flying turret that dies immediately! The choice is yours! The only time this power is ever useful is when you can call up cover in the middle of the courtyard you're in. No reason to call up health because she throws it at you almost constantly and you cant really die in the first place so why bother?

All of that aside she is an interesting character in her own right, but is insanely daft and multiple times I found myself rolling my eyes at her dialogue and character progression. That's just me though.

Story

The story is rad. Its full of plot holes but its rad. You can't really avoid plot holes with multiverse stuff so what are you gonna do? The twins are by far the best characters and are absolutely outstanding in their performance.

That's all I have to say about the story. Its good. But its not "forgive the short comings of the game and give it a perfect score" good.

Conclusion

After playing through the game a couple of times I do find myself enjoying it. Zipping around and kicking guys in their dumb faces, or lifting a group of folks into the air before nailing them with a rocket is only fun for so long. Its a solid game with a great story and great characters. Its interesting enough to play through and I think everybody SHOULD play it, but it still sort of fuckin' sucks. It's missing so much that it needs to be a BioShock game. It feels so stripped down and straight forward. I just can't get over that.

How can this game be given the scores its given when its as flat as it is? It's just so much less than what we as gamers should expect and I am a little insulted that it has been dumbed down as much as it has been. I'll admit that when I finished the game I was raving about how great it was. I thought it was phenomenal! However, with each exploration and study of the game I come up wanting more and more, realizing I was wrong.

But hey. That never happens with reviews right?



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6:02 PM on 04.17.2013  

Dark Souls: The Holy Texts Pt 2



Humility

Another wonderful life lesson that Dark Souls teaches us by shoving sharp, flaming instruments into our soft bodies is the concept of humility.

The thing about Dark Souls (specifically the PVP) is that regardless of how much of a hard ass you think you have become, the slightest fuck up can leave your corpse in a bloody heap on the ground. More often than not this is apparent in PVP. I find that no matter how many hours I may spend crafting the "perfect" build for PVP some guy will stroll up in my game and gut my character faster than I can say "Indicted". It is easy to disregard this as cheap or broken, but in reality you have just as many options as anyone else. There is no best build, strategy, or gear. You have to roll those dice and live with the outcome.

Dark Souls will never miss a chance to press its boots deeper into your throat just to remind you that you are not in charge. It is simply allowing you to play in its world until it has had enough of you. These are the terms you agree to when picking up your controller. You may be the best, but not always.

It's important to remember this in all aspects of life. It's okay to fail, it's okay to not be the best and it's perfectly acceptable to not be perfect.

Your effort and willingness to overcome far outweigh your mistakes.

Perception

Every detail in the Dark Souls world has been placed with care. Each item placement, each enemy, each environmental hazard tells a story as long as you take the time to read it.

For example you are able to find a weapon, a mace, just before you stumble into an area full of blood letting skeletons that will decimate you if you stumble into their domain too early. Which is very likely because its two feet from the "Hub" area of the game.

Why is this important? Crushing weapons such as maces, and clubs will knock the skeletons to pieces with certain attacks! Swords and piercing weapons do not have this effect. The game never tells you this. A tutorial never pops up to tell you "Hey that mace you got is good for smacking skeletons!". Instead it just provides you with tools and leaves you to use them as you see fit.

This is even more apparent when trying to decipher the story Dark Souls has hidden in its world. Item descriptions, item placement, and everything else mentioned above describes every happening in the twisting plot.

Never take things for face value. Examine everything. Question everything. Experience everything.

Pursue all options and views. Then act.

Praise the sun. \[ T]/

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5:13 PM on 04.13.2013  

Dark Souls: The Holy Texts Pt 1




Introduction

Dark Souls is a holy relic. An interactive bible for the modern age. It speaks directly to the human condition in a soft, but stern voice. I'd like to explore this beautiful experience in depth over a couple of blog posts that will fully explain why I believe that everyone should experience this game, and why I believe that Dark Souls is the perfect game.

For those of you who have not played Dark Souls these posts may be a bit over your head. Some things will go unexplained, but should be fully understandable to those of you who have played. I highly recommend playing, or at least attempting to play, before continuing to read. If you have played and felt the need to give up, I hope this blog convinces you to try again. It is well worth it.

An Exercise in Patience

For those of you familiar with it, Dark Souls continually presents you with well thought out challenges. This is achieved with clever level design, varied enemy types, outstanding balance, pacing, and level progression (your characters level). Never are these challenges so difficult that you can not proceed without careful planning and knowledge of the situation. For example, the game can be beaten at Soul Level 1. You never need to directly overpower the situation to progress. Each new challenge is executed fairly, and is entirely dependent on your preparation and actions.

My father used to tell me "If you use your head, you don't have to use your back".

I've never seen this more perfectly illustrated in any game before this. Each situation can be overcome by examination and careful planning. On top of this, it also teaches us that it is okay to fail.

"It does not matter how slowly you go- as long as you do not stop."

Those of us that have played, we have all been in this situation. We are continually being killed at one point and we are unable to progress. After each death we come back and try again. Testing the fence. With each death we learn what doesn't work and ideally we learn from our mistakes when we return. Though we are punished for our failure, we are allowed to return indefinitely and try again and again and again. Upon conquering the challenge, we now proceed with the knowledge we have gained from this experience. We have learned how these things all interact together and how to work with them. We now know more than we ever have about these variables.

The same concept can be applied to anything you do in life. You may have been told before that you can do anything you set your mind to, and as cheesy as that sounds it is completely true. Make as many mistakes as necessary to proceed. Learn from each mistake you make. If you truly want to progress, then you can not give up. You will succeed. You will progress. You will gain more than you ever lost from these experiences. You will reach your goals.

If you take nothing else from Dark Souls, take this. Our Father Dark Souls teaches us patience, discipline, and solidifies our determination with only its core mechanics.

Praise the Sun.\o/

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1:07 PM on 07.19.2012  

Choice? You never had a choice.

A lot of games this gen, and even a lot last gen, boast giving you a lot of "choice" or "choices" to progress through the game. They offer expansive "dynamic" dialogue trees, multiple endings, "good" and "evil", and a whole slew of other clever terms to get you to buy their elaborately created titles. In reality these "choices" never amount to much more then a little bit of affirming dialogue from an NPC, or maybe your bad guy meter fills up a little bit more. I'd like to take a moment to discuss the difference between "choices" and "options" in video games.

Options: A series of specific possibilities in a given situation.

Choice: Free will to determine your own possibilities in a given situation.

Sounds similar, I know. Let's examine some familiar titles that boast offering a wide range of "choices".


Pictured: Total Bullshit

The Bioshock Series

Bioshock boasts a huge amount of choice, be it through combat or "deep moral decisions". Neither of which are actually true. You are given options in combat, most of which really don't amount to much and aren't as good as most of the guns, or telekinesis plasmid. When you come up to a splicer, its almost always faster to shotgun them in the grill than it is to light them on fire, and chase them around shooting bees at them until they die. You are given tools to dispatch your enemies, the most effective of which are context sensitive like using electricity on the water, or fire on oil. In the end, you can choose what tools to bring with you, but how those tools are put to use is largely based on circumstances out of your control. This creates an illusion of choice. You can choose to light a guy on fire, or throw an exploding barrel. The end result is the same, and your "choice" didn't matter at all.

The only real reason to ever switch away from a plasmid in Bioshock is your EVE reserves. Deplete that, and you have to use your gun, at which point it turns into "do direct damage to enemy instead of environmental damage". Those are your only two choices in combat. Direct, and indirect damage through the environment. Neither of which effect anything in the game in any way other than how many enemies are coming at you at any given time. It is effectively no different than any other FPS in that regard.

As for the choice of harvesting or saving the Little Sisters, well, come on. That REALLY means nothing. This is a counter that indicates what ending you get, veiled in a lot of marketing and attention that makes it seem so much more robust and important than it is. You gain +1 to good ending when you save one, +1 to bad ending when you harvest. Simple as that. The only time these options (and they are options because you don't have a choice) come into play is when you're hurting for an upgrade or when the ending rolls around.

Disclaimer: I love Bioshock.


Pictured: More Bullshit

The Mass Effect Series

A massive universe to explore, full of wild alien races, space cowboy shootouts, and man on man action. Mass Effect claims to have what pretty much all Bioware games have these days. Expansive dialogue options. All of which are completely stupid and lie right to your face.

The problem with Mass Effect is the problem a lot of games suffer from. It gives you a series of dialogue options that are clearly good, neutral, bad, or informative, all of which are extremely vague shadows of what Shepard actually says, which further solidifies that you have no choice in what is being said. You are presented with options that help you reach the logical end of the dialogue between Shepard and whatever character you're speaking to. Depending on your good, or bad responses, you gain a point in your "rad dude" or "fuck face" meters. Regardless of your choice, often you are still able to fully explore all dialogue options presented in the current conversation, and you still get to complete whatever quest/mission is involved within. Sometimes this isn't the case, but then you just leave and come back later to talk to that character again. No harm done.

The game is almost making fun of you when you choose to say something based on a small preview of what might be said. Its almost like it isn't even trying to hide the fact that its ripping choice out from under you, to shoehorn you into the extremely linear path it wants you to take. Outside of conversation, your "choices" don't amount to anything more than the lack or abundance of glowing scars on your face. Which everybody conveniently ignores.

The big decisions you make outside of dialogue don't amount to anything other than... you guessed it, some shitty affirmation via dialogue that you did or did not kill the giant bug queen. Nothing really changes. Nobody dies except people that have to die according to the story. The game doesn't change. Minor dialogue options change, and sometimes, somebody different will take their pants off.

Disclaimer: I love Mass Effect. Mass Effect 2 is an insult to everyone who paid for it. I refuse to play Mass Effect 3.



Pictured: People who just don't seem to get it.

Bethesda Games

If you have never played Fallout, or Fallout 2, please go do that and come back. I will wait.

Awesome right? Legitimate choice! Lots of gray area. Nobody tells you what is good or bad, you have no idea what your choices effect most of the time, and the game doesn't make you follow any certain path. Truly outstanding games.

Jump ahead to Fallout 3, and Fallout New Vegas. Then cut your own head off.

Fallout 3, New Vegas, Oblivion, and Skyrim all suffer from the same thing. Everything is an illusion of choice. They say you can choose to wander the wasteland using whatever weaponry you want, wearing a dress, and a hockey mask. You can roam the wilds of Skyrim wearing whatever dress and mask you want, slapping wolves in the head with whatever weapon you want. This is true, sure. Is it choice? No. Again, these are options.

It doesn't really matter what game we are talking about here. They are all the same thing. Other than the setting, and the percentage of the NPCs armor that is made of tires, they are the same game. Make your ugly character, talk to ugly NPCs about their dumb worthless shit, steal worthless junk that you can do nothing with, and fight off poorly animated enemies. Sweet. But hey, you can choose to go to replicated cave a, b, or c! You can even kill replicated bandits 12-16 in replicated camp f if you really wanted to! You have the option to do so.

For a company that makes games based on choice, you really don't have a lot of choice. A weird culmination of both topics discussed above, your combat options are full of stuff that is just dumb and worthless, and dialogue is an endurance trial rivaled only by six straight days of intense Canadian logging while fist fighting a drunk Gary Busey in his prime. Its fucking mania.

They have even taken out the ability to kill any NPC. You can't mess up your extremely linear path to the end of the game. Just because you have the option to do side quests for 27 hours (that mean nothing) doesn't make the game any less linear. You still have to follow very specific guidelines in each situation. Go here, do this, come back. Go here, do that, go there, complete quest. All of which is conveniently marked on your compass just to make sure you stay on track.

Do I have a solution for this trickery? This illusion of choice? Maybe. Maybe stop treating the players like we are children. Treat us like we can handle a situation. Don't highlight the good stuff in blue, the bad stuff in red, and let me make some real choices. At the very least, just don't lie to me. Don't tell me I have all of this freedom when I really don't. Don't give me a sand box full of baubles that do nothing. Don't tell me there is expansive, expressive dialogue when every interaction breaks down to hug, shrug, stab a guy. I have a choice not to play your game. I have a choice not to buy it, and you have a choice to not treat me like a number on a spread sheet.

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