Talking To Myself In Cyberspace

Thoughts from TheNinjaD

Tag Archives: FPS

Skyrim : Dawnguard Out Today

Before you get your hopes up (because that could realistically happen, right?), I will let you know that I actually don’t have much of anything to say today. More than a proper post, today is just kind of an announcement day. Dawnguard, the first expansion for Skyrim is out today for Xbox 360. It will be released at a later date, probably still this week, for PC and PS3.

The story of this expansion focuses around an ancient vampire clan and those hunting it. It includes new locations, equipment, and perks. There are two new perk trees; One for Vampire and one for Werewolf. You can become a vampire lord. Unfortunately, you can’t be both a werewolf and a vampire at the same time. Hopefully someone will fix that for PC with a mod very quickly so you can become the most badass thing ever: A rampaging werewolf that turns into a cloud of bats and flies away when threatened.

Soon I will have more to say about this expansion.


My Second Skyrim Character

For my second Skyrim character, I decided to go pure mage. I focused exclusively on Destruction at first, as far as spells were concerned. After a while I started using a lot of Alteration while dabbling in a little bit of everything else. All the while, I was using Enchanting and Alchemy as heavily as possible.

I used Smithing whenever I happened to have materials that I could make use of but it wasn’t anything I was really working at intentionally.

I had a lot of fun early on doing the mage thing but after a while, I just didn’t enjoy it as much. Things got difficult because I could get hurt or killed too easily, even while using Stoneskin with the perk that makes it more effective.

I think I’m going to be done with that character now, at least for the time being.

My First Skyrim Character

My first character in Skyrim was a Nord named Heimdal. He’s based off the first character I ever made in Morrowind. That character was, of course, named for the Norse god.

From the start I knew I wanted my main weapon to be an axe and I wanted to take advantage of the Skyrim ability to equip a different thing to each hand. To round out the feel, I favored the idea of heavy armor to put emphasis on the nordvikingdwarfiness and destruction so he could go all wrath of god on his foes.

Early on, I toyed with mixing things up a bit and tried out some two handed and some block. I even used some light armor because that’s what was more readily available and cheaper. ┬áIt was obvious right away that fire in one hand and an axe in the other is pretty much unstoppable at low levels. I stuck with that tactic for a long time. I always carried a bow, just in case, and even dropped a perk or two into archery.

Pretty quickly I fell into the same thing I did with WoW — Spending most of my time crafting. Alchemy and Enchinting ate a couple of perks but smithing was my bigger focus. I got that to 100 before anything else and got all the perks for it. A lot of my perks went into heavy armor and a few into one handed. Destruction got a couple to make flames cheaper and more powerful. Speech also got a few perks so I could sell anything to anyone and do it at a better price. After leveling up, I found myself using flames less and less. My second hand more often used soul trap or healing or a light spell.

I’ve stopped playing this character for now. Eventually, I may go back to them and take up two weapon fighting.

More on Skyrim

I forgot to mention the menus yesterday. Bethesda was making a big deal about how the menus in Skyrim were supposed to be “optimized for consoles”. The truth is, the new menu system is nothing but a pain in my ass. The new skill screen looks really nice but is the worst to navigate.

Also, the sheer content in Skyrim is amazing. In my first 25 hours of play, I stayed almost entirely around just one of the holds. More than 30 in, I’ve explored a bit but I still have not been to another hold and I haven’t even done everything in Whiterun.

Skyrim Review

I agree that this is what Oblivion should have been. I understand that a lot of extra work goes into coding the first game on a new platform and that a bunch of stuff that was meant to be in Oblivion got scrapped but I see Skyrim as the final, damning evidence that Oblivion was half-assed.

So far, I don’t find the game to be generally visually impressive. It’s a big step up from Oblivion but I’ve seen things drawn with a mouse in MSPaint that could be called a big step up from Oblivion. The night sky is great but that was great even back in Morrowind. If you see things from the top of a mountain or some other great distance, they do look pretty nice. Gettup close, though, and most off it is barely better than Oblivion at times. And there are still those damn lines. Armors look pretty sweet, though. Keep in mind that I’m playing with the game installed on my 360 so I’m stuck with thee glitch that is causing some things to not show up right. I’ll be able to say more once that is patched.

As an RPG, I think Skyrim took another step backwards mechanically. I don’t like the removal of attributes and I really hate some of the consolidation of skills. That said, while I don’t like it becoming more action and less RPG, it plays well so I can’t get too upset about it. The perk system is nice. They seem a bit overpowered right away but balance out very quickly.

With fewer skills and all skills counting toward a level increase, you seem to level really quickly. Maybe that’s what they wanted. I’m averaged at about one level per one hour of play right now. It could be better, it could be worse. It seems to easy to level skills to me. I can go through a single dungeon and see my Heavy Armor, One-Handed (both of which could be explained by my current use of the Warrior standing stone), and Destruction level TWICE. I also had an experience where I disenchanted three items and leveled my Enchant skill twice. Still, Smithing felt like it was also leveling too fast before and now seems to be at a more reasonable pace. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it or maybe it levels out once you get it to a really high level. Hopefully that’s the case and they all do it. I just wished that happened sooner (My Smithing skill is currently over 60.)

Khajiit finally look more than vaguely like abstract representations of cats! Of course, as soon as they manage that they make it so there are hardly in Khajiit in the game. What the hell.

I now suspect that a CBGer may be secretly working for Bethesda. There is is cabbage EVERYWHERE in Skyrim.

Sure, the game isn’t perfect. Nothing IS perfect. So if I’m going to use a numerical rating system, I have to take that into consideration. The upper ceiling is not and will never be perfection. This game could have been improved in any number of ways and every game could use more content. For everything that isn’t perfect in this game, though, it still got me to spend about 25 hours with it in three days and enjoy pretty much every second of it.

5 / 5

Fallout New Vegas

The night before RAGE was released, I decided it had been too long since I had last played games on my 360. I figured I would go back to the last game I had been working on before I stopped playing for a while. That game was Fallout New Vegas.

Really, I’ve been playing the third DLC for the game and it is fantastic.

For anyone who has not played this game, I suggest you pick it up. It expands upon what Fallout 3 started and improves it greatly. It really is a fantastic blending of RPG and shooter, focused on the RPG end.

I haven’t played through all of the DLC yet but I will eventually.

RAGE – First Thoughts

Note: This post was written well after the one that came before it but long before it is to be posted.

I’m currently right between 30 minutes and an hour of play time on RAGE and I decided to pull myself away from it to give my initial thoughts on the game.

This game looks amazing, graphics-wise. It doesn’t look real but I don’t want it to look real. It’s a game. The appearance of the environment is a little cliche but well executed. There seem to be a lot of different assets used in design so I’m not seeing the exact same objects or images or walls or floors everywhere and that’s good.

The opening of the game will leave you a little confused if you don’t know a lot about the setting (I know only a little) but that’s good. It seems designed to leave you a little disoriented right off the bat because you should be; You just woke up from over 100 years of stasis, everyone around you dead, and emerged into a very different world.

A negative point is that you don’t get to create your character. You don’t decide how they look, you don’t name them, you don’t even get to pick your gender. That isn’t terribly important but it’s something that I like games to have, especially if the cut scenes aren’t going to be showing the main character.

The controls are fairly intuitive and easy to pick up if you have any FPS experience. The movement is smooth for the most part, though it handles much better on foot than on a vehicle. Vehicle controll isn’t bad, though. It beats the hell out of trying to drive anything in Halo. This is one of those games where you have the realistic up and down movement as you walk. It takes a little getting used to for some but I think it’s a nice touch and the magnitude of it here is less than in the Riddick games. The controls are very responsive and fast.

The tutorial is worked smoothly into the campaign bet spread out over quite a bit of time. That’s probably a good thing but some people might feel as though they’re being treated like they’re stupid or that it’s stretched out too much.

The crosshairs are not great but they’re not really bad, either. They serve their purpose well enough. The iron sights on the settler pistol are, likewise, not great but they are a bit better then the default crosshair. Collision for bullets seems to be spot on since I made one very impressive shot on an enemy that barely had the side of their arm visible around the side of a machine. I made that shot using the settler pistol iron sights. Crosshair firing using the scatter shot on a double barrel shotgun is a bit messy but it should be. You get a pretty wide spread and that’s nice when you have 5 enemies coming at you at once, wanting to bash your skull in.

A very nice touch is that enemies are very responsive to where they get shot. If you want to slow an enemy down, shoot their legs. It looks like they may even drop weapons if you shoot the arms or hands but I can’t be sure of that. And, of course, head shots will take them down more quickly. You have to be quite good to pull this off, however, and I’m not there (yet).

The first mission is easy and you will know all the basic controls when you are finished with it. Story-wise, the setup for it is really stupid. It’s pretty much like, “Hey, guy, I just happened to be in the right place to save your life and I was there for no reason at all. Saving you also goes against who I am and what I have always done to keep myself, my family, and my friends alive. [Insert hints about the larger setting.] So now you owe me, even though you didn’t ask me to do any of this. Here is a gun, person I do not know, go kill ALL the people that belong to the group that one member of nearly just killed you.” Long winded summary, I know, but it says it all. It was that bad. Fuck that, though. I want to play a game that is fun to play. If I just want a story, I will read a book. A great story is a nice bonus but not needed.

AI, at least on Normal difficulty, is decent. They are a little predictable but at least they take cover and attempt to move to better locations sometimes. Enemies will usually not just stand out in the open for you to shoot them. There may be a couple of bugs, however. I encountered a pair of bandits backpedalling around a corner that didn’t even seem to notice me when I started shooting them. The second one didn’t even turn on me when the first one fell. That left me expecting an even more threatening enemy (the Authority?) around the corner but they weren’t there.

I’ll give you a tip now; You can collect money from some vending machines. You can’t just activate the machine to do it, though, you have to be looking at the part where the money goes in.

In simpler terms, and for points of comparison, I think that RAGE plays a lot like Borderlands (though much lighter on the RPG elements) meets Red Faction Guerilla.

That’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this game before long.