Monday, May 25, 2015

Witcher 3, Being The Zombie in Dying Light, Lost Dimension's character videos  

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Welcome back to Coffecola!
Got a couple of quick hits on deck tonight. Let's get to it.

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Witcher 3:  Like many of you, I picked up a copy of The Witcher 3 a couple of days ago, and while I haven't had a lot of time to spend with it, I like what I've seen.

Frame of reference: I played a couple of hours of Witcher 2, and I really couldn't stand it. The combat was bizarre and clunky, I felt like the story didn't bother letting me in on what was going on, and it didn't strike me as something that I wanted to work hard to crack open. That said, I thought the concept of being a Witcher seemed pretty cool and the game certainly had some style, but it just didn't click.


With this new installment, the developers appeared to have taken notice of the criticisms of their last game, and fixed (as far as I can tell) almost everything. The intro does a much better job of introducing the characters and explaining the world, the tutorials are greatly improved and explain the systems at an appropriate pace, and the combat feels much more manageable and intuitive. It's good times!

Speaking of the combat, I've seen quite a few people comment that the fighting is ‘bad’ or not up to the level of a Souls game. Common sentiments seem to be that it gives insufficient feedback for hits, or does not have enough precision. I get that, I do, but it seems a little bizarre to me to criticize a huge open-world game like this for having a level of combat that should more properly be expected from something in the character-action genre. And look at Souls -- Fromsoft clearly spends most of their time and attention on the combat, as that is an absolute core part of any Souls experience. In the Witcher, it seems pretty clear that the experience is about the open world, the story, and role-playing through a scripted adventure. Complaining about lack of precision in combat here  feels a bit like complaining that there's not enough narrative choice in Tetris. It's not what the game is about, so why get hung up on that?

In any event, I'm looking to put more time into it and seeing where it goes. Oddly, it reminds me of Dragon Age 2 in many ways, except that it doesn’t feel like it’s wasting my time and the devs know the proper way to begin a grand adventure… So a win!

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Dying Light: The wife and I just finished the campaign in co-op, and we had a great time with it. While it was a bit of a bummer that the absolute final mission has to be done alone, the previous 99% of playtime was definitely made better with a partner. Not that it’s bad solo (it’s not!) but having someone to watch your back and hold your virtual hand in the skeery parts is always appreciated. If you're looking for a good co-op game, it definitely comes recommended.


Once we wrapped up the game, we still wanted to poke around with it for a bit. We haven’t bought the ‘hardcore difficulty new area’ DLC (I need a lot less hardcore anything in my life these days) and the upcoming arena combat DLC isn’t out yet. However, the “Be The Zombie” DLC was out, and free, so we gave it a whirl.


…And it was AWESOME.

So, in this mode players become a super-powerful "Night Hunter" zombie who's actually pretty analogous to Venom from the Spider-Man comics… He’s really dark, goopy, and has lots of nasty tentacles. He also invades the games of other players.

Now, I'm not usually someone who likes to do PVP come up and I'm definitely not one of those Souls players who get off on ruining someone else’s day, but there are a couple of really cool things about this mode.

First, players have to opt in if they want to be invaded by someone who's playing the zombie. I'm totally on board with that because it means someone has consciously decided to open their game up to this sort of encounter, so I don't have any guilt or bad feeling about crashing in to stab them with tentacles.

The other cool thing is that it's a totally separate game mode, and when I (as the zombie) decide to invade someone, it takes everyone involved to a separate environment so it doesn't interrupt their campaign progress.


Once in this new environment, it's one superpowerful zombie versus up to four human players. The zombie has to kill the humans X number of times, but the humans can win by destroying the zombie’s gross spawn nests. 

1v1means things are pretty heavily weighted towards the zombie, but 1v2 or 1v3 is a lot more tense. While the zombie can drop down from above and has powerful tentacles to strike from long distance (in addition to other powers) the humans have UV lights that cripple the zombie and make him vulnerable to attack. It's a balanced mode and has a lot of exciting back-and-forth, and I really enjoy that the zombie plays and feels so differently than the character from the normal campaign. 

In fact, this mode reminds me quite a bit of Evolve, except that it's a lot more fun and instantly accessible by removing all of the boring parts and getting straight to the action.

If you have Dying Light and haven't tried this mode yet, I absolutely recommend that you give it a shot, especially since the DLC is free. If you’ve never played Dying Light but you’re interested in asymmetrical design or you like the idea of being a powerful predator hunting puny humans, rent the game and try that DLC. It's a pretty wild time, and way more fun than I would've ever expected.

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One final note, Atlus is readying the release of a new turn-based SRPG called Lost Dimension


Don’t know a ton about it, but I dig that genre and these character videos look pretty cool. Seems like it might be a good fit for the Vita… I’ve got my eye on this one.


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That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

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