Monday, October 23, 2017

Mix Me Up, It's Autumn

I'm all over the place right now.

What I really want to do, though, is go home and play more Symphony of the Night. I played maybe an hour over the weekend, and it's still so great. I've got my current save up past the point of where the prior PS3 one was, before I wiped the system out of frustration with some other aspect of its operation. The save file on the Vita copy of the game I have is further along, I think, though maybe not by much.

Another game I've played catch up in recently is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I bought this on PS3 back at release, but never made it very far in. Soon, a PC port was announced, and I resolved to buy and play that instead. Now, I've made good on that resolution, at least partially. I'm now past where I was on PS3, at least. It's a good game. I'll keep it around until I finish it, maybe. No reason to play Bayonetta or Devil May Cry or anything like that while this is unbeaten, I figure.

Last week I decided to check out World of Tanks: Blitz upon learning that one could unlock Warhammer 40,000 tanks in that game. It's surprisingly good for a very F2P mobile game port. I think I'd prefer to play the real PC client, though. Hopefully that is better put together. As for the 40K tanks, there was no way I was going to play it hardcore enough to get that far, much less take advantage of them once I had.

I'm still plinking away at Hexcells Infinite, as well. I'm over halfway to the last achievement, with about 33 or 35 randomly generated puzzles finished. I have my eye on another puzzle game to fill this slot once I'm done with this one.

Talk of Shadow of War has driven me back to Shadow of Mordor once more. I continue to be frustrated with the 50-on-1 structure of it's fights, though. It's a little ridiculous, really. The nemesis system could really be toned down some. I don't need 4 new hopeful captains to chime in with a taunt every time I get into a little scuffle at an orc stronghold. I may as well finish it, at this point, though.

I also spent some more time in Skyrim again this weekend. I might as well get on with playing a lot more of it, too. It seems like there's never a time to be free of the mainline Elder Scrolls games. They're too weirdly compelling.

Lastly, I've finally slowed my Diablo III roll down a bit from the fevered pitch of the last several weeks.I am kind of just waiting for the forthcoming patch, now, to see what changes there. I will continue to run bounties and rifts here and there, in the meantime. I need to improve my gear more to complete the Vyr's set dungeon, and complete the Delsere's and Tal'Rasha's sets to do those ones, as well. At that point I might consider my Wizard done, or press on for a clear of GR70 if that doesn't happen in the meantime, in order to unlock access to primal ancient gear. That would be the play; and from there on to Barbarian and the rest of the classes to do those set dungeons as well.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trapped in the Burning Hells

I can't break free from the grasp of Diablo III's endgame. Or, maybe I just don't want to. I'm to the point where I can handle Torment IX, though I do die some. I will try to push on to Torment X in my next session. It seems like you really should play on the highest difficulty level you can, reasonably. The drop rates for things increase with difficulty. Torment X is another nice increase to drop rates, provided I can survive it well enough. If not, then I'll continue playing Torment IX until I can get some upgrades.

At this point that's tough to do, though. I would need ancient pieces where I don't already have them, as well as synergized and maxed rolls from the mystic. It's no longer as easy as finding a lucky yellow or simple legendary. Now it's all about the legendary affixes and set bonuses and ancient pieces, and of course, paragon levels. Luckily you get more paragon experience points too, with greater difficulty settings. I did manage to get a couple of Unity rings and the Templar relic that makes it impossible for him to die. Thus, my damage received is permanently split among us, effectively mitigating a lot of it. More is mitigated by a legendary gem I have socketed to take the edge of damage spikes, taking the damage and parceling it out evenly over a few seconds, with a chance that the running balance will be wiped with every kill. I should now just make sure I am killing as quickly as possible, which could mean remaining on Torment IX, or even VIII, in order to maximize efficiency.

I finished all of the designed puzzles in Hexcells Infinite, and I'm working on finishing 60 of proceduraly generated ones. I have 20 down, so far. These are much easier and faster than the human-created ones, full of hints and free of consequences for mistakes. As long as you finish the puzzle, you get credit for it. It's up to you if you want to cheat or not. I don't let myself take shots in the dark, but if I make a mistake out of carelessness or haste, I'm not bothered by it. I take the mistake (and free cell) and move on.

I decided to check out something new last week, and that was the old LucasArts adventure game Loom. It seems like an interesting setting, but I just cannot get along with this genre. Everything is so slow, hard to use, and generally obtuse. I don't have the patience or time for this sort of thing. I gave it a half hour, that's enough.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Look Out! Samus Is Here

I've been playing some Metroid games over the last week or so. Metroid: Samus Returns recently came out on the 3DS, it being a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, the old Game Boy game. I played through that game in its entirety whenever that was, maybe 25 years ago.

The remake is pretty solid. It's fun enough to play, but as is usually the case with polygonal "2.5D" graphics, its pretty ugly. Super Metroid, which I played a little of as well this past weekend, and the fan-made AM2R, which also attempts to remake Metroid II, but with Super Metroid-style 16-bit graphics, both look much nicer.

Another problem with Metroid: Samus Returns is that it forces you to use the circle pad to control Samus, and the d-pad below it as a simple selector of ancillary modules in Samus' suit. 2D action-platforming is never ideal on any sort of analog stick or pad. There is also the somewhat questionable addition of the melee counter move to the game. I find that it makes combat a more reactive prospect. It seems like the best course of action with an enemy is to let it charge you, bat it away, and then put a few energy rounds into it. I'm not decided on whether I feel this harms the flow of the game yet.

I might prefer to continue playing AM2R over the remake, if I'm honest. Maybe there's room for both, though. They don't seem to be exactly the same in terms of map layout, at least.

I'm still working toward completion of Hexcells Infinite, as well. I had some problems with the last couple of puzzles involving misclicks and jumping the gun, so I had to screenshot my progress to those points and painstakingly recreate it to ensure I could get a perfect clear on each.

Otherwise, the last week or so has been all Diablo. I felt the call back again, and decided this time to dust off my Wizard, the first class I played when the game launched, and delve into the real endgame. I've been trying to sort out a solid play loop while also reacquainting myself to the class. I've settled on running bounties enough to keep a stock of materials for use in extracting legendary affixes to save in Kanai's Cube, and then running Nephalem Rifts to keep a stock of Greater Rift keystones in order to run Greater Rifts for upgrades to legendary gems. All while collecting loot along the way, periodically using infernal machines to collect Hellfire jewelry materials, and trying to track down as yet unexperienced events and places to fill out my achievements list. I would also like to collect all the full class sets in the game and run all the associated dungeons, while I'm at it. There is seemingly no end to the things one can get up to in this game.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Emily Kaldwin Retakes the Throne

You can safely assume I'm always dipping into Elite Dangerous, Diablo III, and Spelunky here and there. I may not mention them every time, going forward, but they do seem to be ones I regularly revisit for a top-up. Since the last post I've flown some in Elite, discovering new worlds, and I believe ran some bounties in Diablo III.



I am also still working on Hexcells Infinite, too. I'm getting near the end of the pre-made levels, and maybe the ends of my skill level with the game. Or maybe I just need more sleep before loading it up the next time.


Most of my game time over the last week has been spent finishing up Dishonored 2 ahead of the Death of the Outsider. I maintained a low chaos world state up through the very end of my play through as Emily, and did most or all of the non-lethal and optional 'better' ways of eliminating targets.


Perhaps my favorite was the mission A Crack in the Slab, which involves going back in time to prevent a mining magnate from witnessing the séance that brings the witch Delilah back into the world from the void, a sight which drives him mad and leads to the gradual deterioration of Karnaca and the Dust District in particular. Another good one was replacing in office the Duke of Serkonos with this body double, which seems a little far-fetched, but was also a tidy solution to the problem of his rule. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find a non-combat way of making Delilah unconscious in the final mission, but I probably just wasn't trying hard enough. I was trying to finish the game while wrangling kids.


Dishonored 2 really seems like a game you are meant to play through multiple times. Not only are there two characters you can take through the game, but each has so many different skills that it's probably impossible to see everything without doing two or more runs through each, especially considering the varying world states you might want to see. I might like to do a Corvo run at some point, being a little more lethal, since that kind of seems more in keeping with his character. I never finished my second Corvo run of the original Dishonored, either. I should go back and do that too. Then I'd also want to replay the Daud missions, as well, since they connect to Dishonored 2 much more directly than the first does.


I really like this series, and I have Death of the Outsider queued up and waiting. I'm excited to get into it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Regulars

I finished off Hexcells Plus in the last week, and have gotten into Hexcells Infinite. I've been lucky enough to not mis-click too many times, and I got the achievement for perfecting all of the levels in Plus. I'm looking forward to doing the same for Infinite. I tore through about 5-6 levels pretty quickly the other night.

In Dishonored 2, I played through the Clockwork Mansion level. I'm not sure what I expected, but so much was made of it that I was a little underwhelmed, to be honest. It is a cool design, to be sure, but I think it might have had more impact if I hadn't thought to expect to be blown away. Regardless, I am maintaining my low chaos world state, even if my stealth skills leave much to be desired. I noticed that I had begun this game on Hard difficulty, which I am now thinking was a mistake. For a first time through, especially in a game like this, Normal is probably better. I made the mistake of assuming that because I'd played a lot of the first Dishonored that I would be in tip-top shape to take on the sequel, not taking into account that I might spend months away from the game between levels.

I made a similar over-estimation of my capability in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, insisting on playing on Classic difficulty, and then never yet being able to complete a campaign. Well, I got the urge to play more again (XCOM 2: War of the Chosen just released), and decided to abandon that ongoing campaign and begin another in the expanded game, XCOM: Enemy Within. This time I'm sticking to Normal difficulty, albeit still on Ironman mode and with several of the "Second Encounter" options flagged to make the game more interesting. These seem like they can impact difficulty as well, but in both directions, as opposed to only making it harder.

In Elite, I made my way back to the bubble to pick up a second Auto Field-Maintenance Unit, and while there was able to fairly quickly rank up my Engineer relationship with Felicity Farseer to the point where she would do fifth-level upgrades on my Frame Shift Drive, meaning now I can jump nearly 46 LY at a time from star to star, where before I was only able to jump about 34 LY. Now I'm out exploring again, having dropped by Betelgeuse just last night. I'm angling above the galactic plane now, and directly out to the galactic east, thinking to explore some of the apparently empty regions out there to begin with. Maybe after that I will swing wide around back toward the core and the Colonia region. This would be months' worth of playtime, though. Who knows what might happen in the meantime, especially with a large game update not too far over the horizon. 2.4, which I believe has been dubbed "The Return" is going to be pushed out before too long, according to Frontier Developments.

Monday, August 28, 2017

He Wrote, Fastidiously

I feel the need to include almost everything I play here for some reason.

This weekend I was kind of hopping back and forth between a few things. Quickly, I played a round of Spelunky. One did the trick at the time; I wasn't really feeling in the mood after all.

I also made it through a few more levels of Hexcells Plus, though I'm beginning to get frustrated by the finicky nature of the mistakes and perfect or not status of round completion. I want them all to be perfected, but I don't want to have to redo a long level over a mis-click or careless jumping of the gun. Not that I have a better design solution; I guess maybe I just wish there was no achievement I need to get for doing so. I guess the flaw with the game is that it's possible just to click without any regard for how many mistakes you make to finish levels, though if you did that, you wouldn't earn enough points to continue on to the next level grouping. Maybe just removing the achievement in question would fix this compulsion, after all.

Speaking of compulsion, I'm back in Elite: Dangerous again, determined to get a good exploration run in. I want to go to Sagittarius A*, and I think I'll swing by the Colonia region on the way. It's (as far as I know) the only inhabited region of the galaxy outside the main bubble around Sol. I'm re-learning the game on 360 pad, now, having tired of breaking out the flight stick every time I wanted a quick session of a few jumps from star to star. I managed to get about a thousand LY (about 30 jumps) outbound before a series of mishaps made me want to return to the bubble. I need a second Auto Field-Maintenance Unit for a real journey out into the black. With that and an SRV, it should be possible to be entirely self-sufficient for a very long journey like the one(s) I want to embark on. I'm also wondering if there's anything else I can do to eke out a little bit of a longer jump range, though I may already be to the point where that's not very feasible in my Asp Explorer. I definitely want to keep a shield unit with me as insurance, and even losing that would probably not add too much to my max jump range.

Lastly, I'm taking it upon myself to finish Dishonored 2. With Death of the Outsider coming in just over two weeks, I want to be caught up and ready for what may be the capstone on the series. I'm not sure how far into the game I am, really. I'm going to what I believe is the fourth main mission, the Clockwork Mansion. I understand there are fewer missions in this game as compared to the first, but that each is longer or at least wider, and may then take more time to get through.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Mixed Bag

Most of the last week of game time has been with Path of Exile. I've made it to Act II. It's very good, but on the whole I still think Diablo III is the best in the genre. Path of Exile seems to stubbornly stick to some things Diablo II did, which over a longer play time, end up being more hassle than they're worth. Things like no easy item comparison, inventory woes, limited town portal and identification scrolls, and the pre-Adventure Mode model of re-running the campaign ad nauseum at endgame. I haven't verified that last one, to be fair, but that seems to be the case from what I gather. At the same time, while I admire that it's doing something original with its skill system, I feel like Diablo III's solution is better for keeping builds coherent and themed to the class you are playing. Path of Exile characters seem like they could kind of mix and match abilities from outside their starting class range. These are small things on the whole, but in the context of the genre and epically long play lifetimes of these games, they end up making a difference. I do plan to continue playing PoE, though, to see if my hunches on all this bear out.

Hexcells Plus is more of the original with a few new rules added in. It fairly quickly ramps up in difficulty from where Hexcells left off, but it's still all completely logical and fun to play. I'm on the 5th of 6 sets of puzzles, now.

I've had Spiral Knights stuff in my Steam inventory for years now, since I first played that game back in 2011, I believe. I came across it on Steam last night and decided what the hell, let me check this out again for a bit. It's a kind of basic action-adventure dungeon crawler sort of thing, somewhat arcade-y, and presented in a very colorful, fun way. Honestly, though, games that cover these same bases for me are very plentiful, so after just a short time I was satisfied I wasn't missing much by not playing the game. And the stuff is still in my Steam inventory, still not showing its icons correctly. I had thought that at least would be fixed.

Kerbal Space Program is a game that's been around for a long time now, that I have always thought I should pick up and play, but have never really felt like doing so. Well, I went through the first tutorial the other night. I guess I'll probably do more.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dragon Quest Who?

I have forgotten about Dragon Quest VII this week, drawn to some things new and shiny.


First, I finally tried out Path of Exile for the weekly GameBytes stream on Monday. It’s really setting a hook in me. The game is very much cast in the mold of Diablo II, though it does do a few pretty original and interesting things, like making your active skills contingent on finding and slotting gems into you gear in various ways. In a very real way, your gear determines how you can play, not just how effectively. I also like the enormity of the passive skill chart, which reminds me more of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid than anything else.


There are a few little quality of life improvements that I miss from Diablo III and the Torchlight series, but it’s nothing that breaks the deal, at least not at this point. I’ve only put a few hours in yet, being maybe halfway through the first act, if that. I’m definitely going to be playing more Path of Exile, though, a lot more, in all likelihood.


On sale for under a dollar on Steam this week was Hexcells, an elegant little puzzle game I’d had wishlisted for years. I could not pass it up, and I’m glad I did not. This game borrows from Minesweeper and Picross to create a very clever and very addicting rule set in which you look at an arrangement of orange hexagons and determine which should be marked blue, and which should be destroyed to reveal numeric and positional clues about the adjacent hexagons. My favorite thing about this game is that so far it seems mathematically impossible to get stuck without a way of working out the next move you can make with certainty that you won’t make a mistake. At times you start to think maybe all that’s left is to blind-click something in the hopes that the odds are in your favor, but in actuality if you start looking at the situation from different angles or toward different ends (I don’t know which one it is… which ones do I know it definitely isn’t?), you can always find a logical toehold.


I pretty quickly finished and perfected every level (there are only 29, I believe) in the first game, and bought the rest of the series. I’m playing Hexcells Plus, now.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Phases

After a good week and a half or so, I decided to shelve Elite once again. I made some pretty good money pretty quickly, at least by the standards I'm used to. The problem with Elite is that it's too easy for me to pour a whole evening in, to the detriment of other hobby and leisure activities. As much as I like the game and would like to wander the galaxy, I do have other aims for my free time.

Arguably first among my gaming concerns over the last week or two has been Dragon Quest VII. For someone with minimal experience with the series, having played some the first on NES, and otherwise only having played DQVIII on PS2, albeit to completion, I have felt oddly compelled to collect as much of it as I could, across the Super Famicom and DS and 3DS platforms. VII was previously a PSX game, but last year got a nice remake for the 3DS. It's known for being very long, around 100 hours, having a slow pace, and having allegedly bad graphics and releasing so late in the life of the PSX that the PS2 was already solidly in the market and about to enter its prime.

The 3DS remake seems to have fixed those issues, or addressed them as well as you might assume possible with the limited horsepower available to it. Random battles are gone, replaced with a compromise in the vein of Earthbound or Chrono Trigger, where the enemies are visible on the map and if you actually run into them, you fight. The graphics have had a total overhaul as well, but I suspect I might actually prefer the PSX's when I get the chance to finally play it, having never picked it up in its original incarnation. I just ordered a copy from eBay. As far as playing the game, it's a solid RPG in the classic Japanese sense, being one of that genre's cornerstone series. I've long been a fan of the genre, of course. This game feels very comfortable.

Something brought me back to Torchlight II this week. An unexpected, inexplicable urge to play more of the game I only got perhaps a quarter into when it first released, if that. Maybe it was being effectively done with Diablo III's content without being rid of the siren's call of that type of game. Whatever the actual reason, I have it re-installed and I've picked up my Engineer at level 28 and begun the experience and gear climb once more. It's fun.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Elite: Moderately Dangerous

I felt the siren's call of the great unknown expanse call me last week, and I had to head back out into the black.

Elite: Dangerous is once again ensconced on my hard drive, and CMDR Count Elmdor again flies the entirely disinterested skies. I came back from some time away to find that it is now possible to make a decent amount of money relatively quickly by running transport missions for goods and passengers. I had been thinking to outfit a trader vessel to make money for the eventual purchase of an Anaconda, but as it turns out, I'm reluctant to give up my Asp Explorer, as Exploring is my real calling to this game.

Having discovered a solid new way of making money, I ground out a bunch of missions and credits that way before deciding it was time, once again, to roam the vast emptiness outside the bubble. I had to turn back before long, though, realizing I had forgotten an important piece of equipment. I had made the conscious decision to forego the SRV or any cargo bays this trip (which now that I think about it might be a mistake), but I did need to go back and get a repair module in case anything breaks down while I'm out on my own.

It was here that I discovered that the selling of exploration data has also apparently gotten a buff. So, I'm in a pretty good place right now. I already have one of the top ships in the game for exploration, based of max jump capacity. My favorite occupation in the game pays well, so after some time out exploring, if I'm lucky I might come back with enough saved up to make the big upgrade. Time will tell.

I might end up ranging a ways out and then coming back for another ship or loadout. Right now, though, I'm putting Elite back on a back burner and focusing efforts elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

And Just Like That, The Spell Was Broken

Just today on Twitter I remarked how deep into Diablo III I was once again in the wake of the release of the Necromancer class. And it was very true right up until this afternoon when I decided to wrap up this short fling with the game and move on, once again.

I've gotten my Necromancer to the level cap, done some endgame stuff, got a respectable gear set, and tried out just about every new mode and zone put into the game since the last time I played much. It's been a blast, actually, and I'm hoping Blizzard continues to add stuff to bring me back from time to time.

It's just that there are a lot of games out there yet unplayed, and no time to grind out the same content ad infinitum. And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Vacay Plays 3

The last couple of weeks, wrapping up our Japan trip and a few days back in the US, have mostly been about Breath of the Wild.

I'm to the point now where I'm probably ready to go and face Ganon, having won back the four Divine Beasts to the side of good and acquired the Master Sword. However, I want to go do some more shrines beforehand, and perhaps some of the other side quests and content added by the first bunch of DLC to have come out recently. I want to do some of the shrine quests I have, at least, if not scour the world for hidden shrines. I might also like to collect some of those memories out and about. So far I've only happened upon one in my time playing, of twelve.

I revisited Shin Megami Tensei IV in the last few days in Japan, but hit a roadblock that would require grinding to clear, so I think that game is on hold now. There's a Minotaur boss blocking me from accessing Apocalyptic Tokyo who is weak to Bufu (ice) magic. I've gone all out with press turns and good luck rolls, but it still wasn't enough to skate by him, so the next step is actually just to grind out levels for the main character and various demons, and probably to do some demon fusion, as well. I just don't think I want to invest the time at the moment.

My Tactics Ogre save is in a similar spot, hemmed in by fights too tough to take on and blocked from further plot progression. I love RPGs, and have for many years, but this sort of thing is a real drag. It's much easier these days to be distracted, as well, with so many games to choose from, and so little free time.

This weekend I focused entirely on playing the new Necromancer class in Diablo III, since it was a double XP weekend. I managed to get up to level fifty-something. The class is a lot of fun to play, with a lot of cool abilities that feel incredibly powerful. I'm only a little bit into Act II of the campaign. I should be able to easily hit 70 and grind out some Paragon levels by the time I were to take down Malthael. I want both to have this additional class at the level cap and to have finished the campaign with it. I'm at 6/7 classes done now, and I won't not have 7/7 or */* whatever the number ends up being.

The kids have continued to enjoy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch, and I finally got around to finishing world 3 of Super Mario 3D Land.

I am actually on a bit of a 3DS platform kick at the moment, having pre-ordered a New 2DS XL, and hitting ebay for some of the good games (mostly RPGs) from the system library that I've missed. There are still a few games on the horizon for the system that I want, as well. An odd fact to consider, at this point.

Book-wise, I'm about 3 stories into Shattered Legions now. I've got to keep going if I want to catch up to the publishing schedule of the Horus Heresy. It's very close, now.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vacation Plays 2

The playlist and reading list mostly remains the same, as we head into the final week or so of vacation.

I wrapped up Garro today, bringing the Knight Errant more or less up to speed with other happenings in the Heresy. I had last seen the former Death Knight after his flight from Isstvan III back to Terra in Flight of the Eienstein, which was only the fourth title I read in the series. It's been a while since those days. Garro is the 42nd numbered book I've read in the series, but there are others non-numbered I've read, as well.

Garro also brought an end to Esteride Kell's thread, which began in the novel Nemesis, and featured Kyril Sindermann and Euphrati Keeler, two characters also from much earlier in the series.

Next up will be Shattered Legions, oddly enough another narrative that will pick up from the kick-off of Horus's rebellion, specifically Isstvan V, the dropsite massacre. There, three loyal legions were all but wiped out, left broken and scattered. Shattered Legions collects several stories of the Iron Hands, Salamanders, and Raven Guard, but I would bet Astartes of other legions show up, as well.

Game-wise, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to see regular play with the kiddies, mine as well as their cousins.

The Necromancer pack for Diablo III released, but I've not had great luck getting the game to maintain a connection long enough to get any real playtime in. I may table this endeavor for now and focus more on Zelda.

Breath of the Wild is also continuing along apace. I have unlocked most of the world map at this point, done about 35 shrines, and have 9 heart containers. I've located the Master Sword, but am not yet ready to pull it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Vacation Plays 1

Since leaving for the trip to Japan we are on now, I've played a lot of Mario Kart, both 7 on the 3DS's and 8 Deluxe on the Switch. The guided play options of the latter make it especially kid-friendly, which is appreciated. The games are pretty fun, as well.

I've also been playing a little more of Breath of the Wild, it being my focus for the trip, as far as progress. I've got all my quests from Kakariko and Hateno, and I've made my way to Zora's Domain to see about this first Divine Beast. I'm thinking I'm probably under-leveled as it goes in this game, having only five hearts and one stamina upgrade so far. I'm one shrine away from the next of either, though.

Since my last booklog entry, I finished up Corax and also read The Master of Mankind, and am now beginning Garro.

Corax took the titular primarch basically to his end as far as his heresy-era deeds. By the end, he's bloodied the traitors' efforts to push to Terra, realized some hard truths, and set off on what amounts to a suicide mission, presumably within the Eye of Terror.

Garro picks up Battle-captian Nathaniel Garro's story after his return from Isstvan III to warn the Emperor of Horus and the others' betrayal there. From other books I've read, I know enough to know he goes on to work for Malcador the Sigillite to form the Knights Errant, who are a force of legionaries plucked from their former legions, both loyalist and traitor, to be Terran Regent's hand among the various theaters of the galactic civil war.

The Master of Mankind is a pretty interesting and important novel in the series. It chronicles the actual conflict of import, to the Emperor, of the Horus Heresy--the war for the Webway. Nothing, not the space marine legions, the primarchs, or even the worlds of the Imperium matter as much to the Emperor's dreams for humanity as the Webway, which offers the possibility to travel across the galaxy without need of the Warp. Without that, humanity can never be free of its corrupting influence. What abhorrent lengths the man will go to toward that end are explored here. The book is interesting in the wider context of the Horus Heresy series and all of Warhammer 40,000 because this is the closest we are ever likely to be to seeing the Emperor's own point of view, and apparent fallibility. It also sets up one hell of a Chekov's Gun that will no doubt come into play sometime in the far, far future of the setting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

I had unfinished business in the French Revolution with Arno Dorian. It is now finished. I cleaned up the Templar problems of Paris and Franciade, recovering a couple of pieces of Eden in the process.


Overall, Unity is probably one of the least interesting games in the series. It's not bad, just not particularly exciting, considering the potential of the setting. A lot has been made of the open world, icons-on-the-map overload of this game, but there's also the fact that Paris is a big, flat sprawl that mostly looks pretty same-y from one end to the other. There are a lot more interiors in Unity, and I did always appreciate the scale of the world. Big places feel big.


There have been a lot of young men with a lot of typical young men's problems in this series. Arno's is basically star-crossed lovers; he's the son of an Assassin raised by a Templar, her father, whose murder he's been framed for. He falls in with the Assassins after breaking out of the Bastille alongside one, and he's off to the races to clear his name and find the real killers, and reconnect with her along the way. The big bad in Unity is a Templar leader who is also a Sage, someone who is essentially a reincarnated soul of one of the First Civilization, and who apparently has some access to their genetic memory, from what I can tell.


This game has some more in-depth stealth sections and elaborate mission structures, but the controls are as clumsy as ever, which led to some frustration in later parts of the game. Enemies in Unity are tougher, as well, since they level up as you do, as you progress through the story.


I also played through the Dead Kings DLC for the game, which was a more self-contained story with a clear villain and arc for Arno. It wasn't bad, either, and featured a connection out to the broader series through Arno sending an Apple of Eden he found to the new Al Mualim in Cairo.


I guess I'm not done with the series, I just needed a break in the middle of this one. I'll get Syndicate sometime later this year maybe and play through that. Hopefully it'll have a bit of that Peaky Blinders feel, at least. Also, it's E3 time now, and Assassin's Creed Origins has just been revealed. I'll be playing that, certainly. I just hope mechanics will have changed.