I played three games this past week. First off a quick Mass Effect 2 update. After last week’s interactive tutorials, we all piled in to our latest Bluesmobile and headed to Mos Eisley to begin our quest to get the band back together. After some absolutely ridiculous vaulting segments (glares at Gears of War), we finally managed to recruit Archangel. The fact that the various weapons: Sniper Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun, etc. feel like distinct weapons suited to different combat scenarios is a welcome change from the first game. There were a few battles where I switched weapons 3 times or more as I engaged enemies at various distances. The combat really is a lot more engaging and dynamic – as long as you don’t have to run hurdles in the middle of it. We then went in to the quarantine sector, where Kristin made some “Renegade” decisions, where her choices and the writing that followed really surprised me. As a long-term gamer who associates the “down-red-surly” option as not being on the “heroic” path, I was absolutely shocked when Kristin’s decision to “affix her mask, before helping the person next to her”, rather than “be a giant tool and have both of you suffocate” was rewarded as the better answer. It absolutely floored me – both the decision being made as well as the maturity of the game’s response.
The second game I’ve already written a little bit about in Monday’s post – Edge of Space. Not much in the way of progress has been made since by last play session. I walled off a bit of a base and built a defense drone that floats along behind me and gives me a passive bonus to my defense. I also upgraded my mining laser, my rifle, and built an aluminum helmet. You should absolutely wait until the last-minute to refine any of your materials, as each stack you refine, doesn’t necessarily have the same name, which fills your backpack up in a hurry. Refined items can’t really be used in very many starting tier items. You will quit the game if you try to craft an Aluminum Jetpack (yes you have a jetpack) when your backpack is full – it just disappears. I did manage to locate a spinning vortex thing in the middle of one of the islands which was surrounded by plaster a new kind of “natural” matter, but I don’t know what to do with it. The dreaded rocket drone guys have started dropping P1 chips, which makes the 3 minutes you spend pounding them a little more worthwhile, but It’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle to gather 10+ of them to make a piece of top-tier equipment. Probably the most frustrating part of the game is if you turn to the internet for help, the name “Edge of Space” is so ubiquitous that any search returns results from Felix Baumgartner’s world record skydiving jump to aerospace engineering blogs. The fragmentation of the community into 3 or 4 different barely completed wikis doesn’t help new players find their feet either, but that might be due to gameplay tweaks that gives wiki editing a sense of futility – I know that one firsthand. So yeah, it’s getting better, but it’s fun for about 20 minutes before something happens that makes me step away from the computer.
The third game I’ve been playing a lot of is Cube World. It’s been in development for two years by a husband and wife team. They’ve had a bit of a spotty alpha launch, with a few initial problems followed by a fairly massive DDoS attack being directed at their site. But if you put your VSync on and just stop complaining about an alpha game crashing (who’d have thunk?) you can actually have a pretty good time. So far I’ve had a blast trying out both the Wizard and Warrior classes – It’s taken a few minutes to learn what I can and can’t beat in a fight and just generally get my bearings, but after that it’s been a blast. I’ve been exploring the voxel countryside finding dungeons and catacombs, mesas and ziggurats. I’ve really been enjoying taming all the various pets that you can get by waving assorted desserts in front of them – I think I’m up to 7-8 of them at the moment. Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of your opponents like when you ride into battle on your attack sheep! I just figured out how to name your pets this evening, so I expect to spend a little time doing that on my next play session.
I’ve had reasonable success working my way through most dungeons if I bring a good amount of food and healing potions, but the one thing that I’ve found to be damn near impossible are the final bosses of a dungeon. So far if the guy is melee-based he flattens me quickly in one or two hits. The only one I’ve managed to beat so far was a roguish skeleton who makes copies of himself to attack you so he can stab you from the side. That victory gave me a “fire spirit” voxel, that when attached to a weapon, will add fire effects. Two things I have yet to try are you the hang gliding and sailing skills, as I put most of my skill points into my deadly menagerie. One minor criticism, some creatures will drop items called “leftovers”, which to my mind looked like magical meatloaf instead of the unidentified “left over” magical item that dropped as loot. Even though the game is early in development, you can see the core mechanics, and can extrapolate the glimpse of potential the alpha shows into a fully realized game.
That’s it for this week, feel free to drop me a note in the comments to let me know what games you’re playing. Also, there’s still time to suggest a paper in the comments here. I hope to have my suggestion up a little later tonight.