The "What are you playing now?" Thread

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Jack Brickman

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Went ahead and got myself a Switch earlier this week, along with Breath of the Wild. Hot damn is this game great. I love the way the open world works. Unlike basically every other open world game out there that peppers your map with as much shit as possible, this game does none of that. You'll occasionally have a main objective on the map, but for the most part this game doesn't hold your hand at all.

Instead, it's all about the exploration. The world is so well designed. If you see something interesting or weird, chances are there's something to find there. For example, I came upon a boulder-sized crater in the ground, and about ten feet away was a boulder. I pushed the boulder into the hole and was rewarded with a korok seed, a collectible that I don't yet know the purpose of. Similarly, I've found rocks suspiciously placed right at the top of hills, and these often yield a reward as well.

I wasn't sure that this game was going to be for me, as I'd always loved the progression system in Zelda games where each dungeon yields an item that you'll need to progress in the game. This game gives you basically everything you need in the first few hours, and from there it's on you to figure out how to use them to get to new places and solve puzzles.

The lack of handholding can occasionally be to the game's detriment. I don't believe the game tells you how to cook food at all. You can't simply walk up to a cooking pot and hit a button to open a cook menu. Rather, you have to go into your menu, selection various food items to hold in your hands, and then toss them in the pot. It's an unnecessarily cumbersome approach, especially given how important food seems like it will be in this game, as it can give you a variety of temporary buffs to give you more stamina, extra hearts, damage resistance, etc.

This game is also not easy. You can quickly find yourself getting your ass handed to you if you pick a fight with an enemy you're not strong enough to beat. The game doesn't spell anything out for you, so the only way you know if you're going to be able to beat someone is by trial and error. On the plus side, there's not really a penalty for death. You might lose a minute or two of progress, but from what I've seen the autosaving is frequent, and you can also manually save whenever you want. Some of my personal struggles are additionally due to the fact that I am not used to the Switch controller at all, so I've found myself frequently hitting the wrong button at inopportune times, resulting in a swift and embarrassing death. The first time you encounter an enemy that can kill you with one hit is a fun experience too, and a friendly reminder that this game ain't fucking around. It's sort of akin to Dark Souls, only without the annoying consequences that accompany each death.

Oh, and it's fucking gorgeous too. A testament that art design is more important than extra polygons. The world is so vertical too, and you can pretty much go wherever you want from the moment you finish the isolated "tutorial" plateau you begin the game on. I put tutorial in quotes because, unlike past Zelda games, it's a much looser tutorial. You're not hammered over the head a dozen times about how to do basic actions. You're told once or, often, not at all, leaving you to learn by failure. The opening plateau is really just the vast main map writ small, a relatively safe zone to experiment and figure shit out before you venture out into the unforgiving expanse.

Once you leave that plateau, the world is your oyster. Want to head straight to fight the main boss, Calamity Gannon? You'll almost certainly be unceremoniously annihilated, but go for it. Want to spend five hours hunting and cooking? Do you. The map is also littered with shrines, little mini dungeons that task you with using the various abilities you gain in the game's prologue to solve a series of puzzles to advance to the end.

This is the first game in a long time that I think about when I'm not playing it, and that I want to try to make time in my day to get back to. I want to explore this world. I want to unlock its secrets. Finally playing this game myself, I understand why everyone was raving about it. I'm not far enough to render a full verdict, but it certainly seems to have the makings of a gaming masterpiece. We'll see if it's good enough to finally replace Ocarina of Time as my favorite Zelda game.

Oh, and it's nice to see Nintendo finally ditching the motion detection bullshit. Their games are so much better for it. There are no gimmicks here. Just an amazing game.
 

Chris

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Sooooo. I guess I should give BOTW another go? :chuckle:
 

Jack Brickman

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Sooooo. I guess I should give BOTW another go? :chuckle:

To me, it's the exact type of open world game I've always wanted. It rewards legitimate exploration, not just beelining to icons on your map like basically every other game in the genre. And the world is so beautiful and well-designed that I actually want to explore. It makes me realize how restrictive so many other open world games really are, and how monotonous they can be. I'm thinking of the time I spent with Valhalla that was spent just running in straight lines from point A to point B rather than actually trying to find hidden secrets.

There are some annoyances, like how fragile weapons are. They break far too easily in my opinion, especially in the very early game when you're getting maybe five hits with a lot of things before they break. I'm assuming later game stuff lasts a lot longer, but I still think more durable items would improve the experience. I am learning to not get attached to my weapons, though, so maybe it just takes some getting used to.

How far did you get before giving up on it? If I recall, you're a fan of the From Software games, and I think Breath of the Wild definitely takes some inspiration from them in the unforgiving nature of the combat. The main difference, as I mentioned above, is that there's not really a penalty for dying, so it therefore rewards trial and error and doesn't harshly punish failure.

Mario Odyssey takes a similar approach to death in a video game. You lose ten coins when you die, which is effectively nothing after about an hour in when you've already got a thousand coins. Thus, you're free to try things to see what works knowing that, while you will be mildly punished for failure, it's not prohibitive. I think it's a welcome approach and makes the game more enjoyable to play and much less frustrating than some previous entries.
 

Chris

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To me, it's the exact type of open world game I've always wanted. It rewards legitimate exploration, not just beelining to icons on your map like basically every other game in the genre. And the world is so beautiful and well-designed that I actually want to explore. It makes me realize how restrictive so many other open world games really are, and how monotonous they can be. I'm thinking of the time I spent with Valhalla that was spent just running in straight lines from point A to point B rather than actually trying to find hidden secrets.

There are some annoyances, like how fragile weapons are. They break far too easily in my opinion, especially in the very early game when you're getting maybe five hits with a lot of things before they break. I'm assuming later game stuff lasts a lot longer, but I still think more durable items would improve the experience. I am learning to not get attached to my weapons, though, so maybe it just takes some getting used to.

How far did you get before giving up on it? If I recall, you're a fan of the From Software games, and I think Breath of the Wild definitely takes some inspiration from them in the unforgiving nature of the combat. The main difference, as I mentioned above, is that there's not really a penalty for dying, so it therefore rewards trial and error and doesn't harshly punish failure.

Mario Odyssey takes a similar approach to death in a video game. You lose ten coins when you die, which is effectively nothing after about an hour in when you've already got a thousand coins. Thus, you're free to try things to see what works knowing that, while you will be mildly punished for failure, it's not prohibitive. I think it's a welcome approach and makes the game more enjoyable to play and much less frustrating than some previous entries.

I’m not super far. I got to that village they send you to a while after leaving the plateau. It just wasn’t hooking me. I loved the N64 Zelda games, and I love open worlds. But I’m not sure if I’ve outgrown some of Nintendo’s first party games or what (can’t get into Mario Odyssey either).

I’ll try them both again and see what’s up. Not much else to play right now anyways.
 

N7RobBob

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I've been waiting to play it at a cheaper price than $60 for a 4 year old game. C'mon Nintendo, make it a $20 select game.

I normally play handheld mode, but know that BotW should be experience on a TV.
 

Jack Brickman

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I've been waiting to play it at a cheaper price than $60 for a 4 year old game. C'mon Nintendo, make it a $20 select game.

I normally play handheld mode, but know that BotW should be experience on a TV.

I got it for forty on Amazon last weekend.
 

Jack Brickman

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I’m not super far. I got to that village they send you to a while after leaving the plateau. It just wasn’t hooking me. I loved the N64 Zelda games, and I love open worlds. But I’m not sure if I’ve outgrown some of Nintendo’s first party games or what (can’t get into Mario Odyssey either).

I’ll try them both again and see what’s up. Not much else to play right now anyways.

I felt similarly that I might have outgrown Nintendo until I played Breath of the Wild. I was underwhelmed by most Wii games and didn’t even bother with a Wii U.
 

N7RobBob

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I got it for forty on Amazon last weekend.
I really want it for 20 at this point and will wait until it does drop since I'm in no rush...
I felt similarly that I might have outgrown Nintendo until I played Breath of the Wild. I was underwhelmed by most Wii games and didn’t even bother with a Wii U.
Fire Emblem and Metroid Dread are awesome as well.
 

Man Called X

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I look at my Switch sitting on the tv stand. I remember that Nintendo refuses to localize Mother 3, and then I turn on my xbox instead.

And yes, for 15 years, I've been pissed off about it.
 

Jack Brickman

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Really digging Mario Odyssey. I wasn't planning to buy it just yet, but I saw it on Amazon yesterday for 36 bucks and said what the hell. They even managed to deliver it late last night, so I got in about an hour before bed and just played it for about two hours more before I head out for a few beers with some friends.

I love the combination of open world hubs, 2D platforming segments, and puzzle/platforming rooms. It makes for a nice and varied experience that feels like something new is around every corner. Apparently there are a bajillion stars (or whatever the fuck they're called now) in this game. I've already found around fifty of them and have nowhere near cleared the second and third areas of the game.

But just a quick PSA to Nintendo: STOP PUTTING MOTION CONTROLS IN YOUR FUCKING GAMES. Seriously. Stop it. They don't make this game more enjoyable. They're a fucking chore, and there's literally no way to do certain moves without them, which is frustrating. This is doubly true considering the best way to play this game is with a regular controller, not with the joycons detached like the game recommends. I tried playing like that and it just wasn't as fun.

If Nintendo wants to do games like Wii Bowling, fine, by all means use those motion controls. But keep them out of our goddamn Mario games. You know what no one ever said about Mario Galaxy? "Man, I really loved having to aim the fucking controller at the screen to collect shit." This is a great game that requires no extra gimmicks, and it doesn't even use all the buttons on the controller. Map some of that shit to B and Y.

Rant over. Other than that, this game is great so far. There's just so much shit to do and see and I haven't even scratched the surface yet. The hat possession mechanic adds an entirely new gameplay layer, and much of the puzzles in the game require it. Where it be possessing a stack of goombas and adding to it to get progressively taller, taking over a T-Rex and rampaging through enemies, controlling a Bullet Bill to cross an otherwise impassable gap, or using a frog to access platforms that Mario is too heavy to use himself, there's no shortage of innovation here.

This being a Mario game, there are some occasional frustrating segments that require multiple tries to get right. You'll be tasked at times to complete some pretty difficult platforming segments, after all, but thankfully there's no real punishment for failure. You lose ten coins, which after an hour in the game is a drop in the bucket. I think you max out at 9999 coins, but I'm still in the low 1000s, so I'm a while away from that sort of bank.

The boss fights so far have been a little too easy, especially compared to some of the much more difficult side content, but I suppose that makes sense. The game is meant to be accessible to everyone, so you need the main path to not be overly difficult, whereas you can really put the screws to the hardcore completionists and give them an actual challenge.

Between this and Breath of the Wild, it seems like Nintendo has finally gotten back to the days when they were on top of the gaming world after spending the past two console generations focused more on gimmicks than quality game design. Both of these games are fantastic, and for entirely different reasons. Just wish I hadn't waited four years to get into them, but I was understandably skeptical after the disappointment that was the Wii (Wii Bowling aside...that shit was fire).
 

Sir'Dom Pointer

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since my first Hades clear, I have been clearing each run every time..it's become too easy. I'm advancing the heat marks and currently on heat 8. But once you know the patterns, it's kinda easy...

I still have like 34 titan bloods that I have yet to spend, so i'm not even playing on maxed weapons.

Am I a god?
 

Jack Brickman

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I will say, one thing I find absolutely infuriating in Breath of the Wild is that you can't climb when it's raining. This wouldn't be a problem, except it rains all the goddamn fucking time in this game and you need to climb basically everywhere. Climbing a cliff to get somewhere specific and it starts raining? Welp, you're fucked. Guess you've gotta wait several minutes until it stops.

What an asinine game mechanic. All it does is impede progress and fun.
 

Jack Brickman

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Managed to make some progress in Breath of the Wild over the long weekend.

Most notably, I climbed Death Mountain tonight, and holy shit the nostalgia was strong there. It reminded me of being a kid playing Ocarina of Time all over again. The production values were a lot higher this time around, and the scale has increased exponentially, but it really called back to that feeling of climbing this dangerous, hostile mountain where death was around every corner. The rivers of lava, the tumbling boulders, volcanic debris raining down fire on you...just an overall fantastic, atmospheric experience.

If you're unfamiliar with Breath of the Wild, one of the central quests is to track down four Divine Beasts, which are essentially Shadow of the Colossus sized giant robots that function as the game's dungeons. I'd already taken down one of them before heading to Death Mountain to take on the second, but one of the coolest moments in the game was when I finally got close enough to the summit of Death Mountain to see the beast, a giant robotic lizard, slowly crawling around the volcano high above me. The scale was staggering.

I'll have to wait until tomorrow to actually take the thing down, though.
 

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