Monday, December 14, 2015

First Half of December 2015 in Play

Skyrim is on the list I made for 2016. Something about it drew me in very rapidly after having finished up Fallout 4. I think I was done with the latter for now, but not completely done with the way it plays, generally.

I thought I'd dip back in just to get a refresher on where my character was and what the game felt like, and I decided to stick around for a while. I'm currently playing it with a mind to explore the Skyrim civil war from both sides, and with a restriction on fast travel. I'm walking from place to place doing random side quests, trying to get a feel for the lay of the land. Previously, I had built my character to focus on archery, heavy armor, and sneaking. I'm mostly keeping to that, but subbed out the heavy armor for light. I also have a nice two-handed weapon and some light magic for added utility. As a Nord, and being fond of role playing, I'm thinking I may side with Ulfric Stormcloak to pull Skyrim out from under the thumb of the Imperials, but I do want to visit the Imperial stronghold to find out what they're all about before committing.

Curiosity got the better of me this weekend, and I also spent a good deal of time installing and making playable the first Elder Scrolls game, Arena. It's taken a lot of research and tweaking on DosBOX, but I've got it in a satisfactorily playable state now, and I'm getting a feel for the genesis of the series. It seems like a very, very large game, even greater in breadth than the later games, though much more shallow. Out in the overworld, I'm not clear whether it's possible to walk from city to city across all of Tamriel, or the fast travel system is required. I'm thinking it may be the latter, because I began the game on The Summerset Isle, and the first major plot quest has me headed to Hammerfell.

These are the major realms of the world of The Elder Scrolls, which later games are restricted to only one of: Morrowind (actually just the island of Vvardenfell within the greater province), Cyrodiil, and Skyrim. The second game in the series, Daggerfall, is, I believe, set across two of the provinces, Hammerfell and High Rock. It's interesting to me that this series has been so faithful to its initial world concept, created over 20 years ago, now. Many of the city names on the map of Skyrim in the game of the same name are the same as the cities on the map of the province of Skyrim in Arena. The shape of the geographic area is the same, and the cities are right where they were back in 1994. That is the sort of thing that I really appreciate, kind of like the Metal Gear series' long faithfulness to its own canon. I am probably not going to complete Arena or anything, but I do want to play around within it some more before I'm satisfied with having checked it out.

Elsewhere, I just barely popped back in on Mass Effect and STALKER: Clear Sky, so little it's barely worth mentioning them other than to say that they are on my mind.

The other thing I had been meaning to do and finally got around to was to check out Invisible, Inc. This is a very cool tactical stealth game. It's turn-based and plays kind of like an X-Com or Final Fantasy/Ogre Tactics game, but with the emphasis being on avoiding detection and combat as much as possible. I'm not sure combat is really even possible beyond using a taser to neutralize guards for a few turns. There is a strategic layer to the game as well, much more in line with X-Com than anything else I can think of. I really like what I've played so far, but I think I'll have to force myself into continuing, just like X-Com itself. I've just been in a different headspace lately, I guess. I'd like to orient myself more toward strategy games, though, as I've outlined, so I'll have to commit to giving it more time alongside continuing my roleplaying games.

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