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Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« Last post by Aeolus on Today at 10:56:08 PM »
Another day, another crash over at SoM camp. Currently taking Jerk's trial. On the plus side, this should be an easy Platinum since there's only two places you need to grind for the 'get every item' and 'get all weapons to Level 9, spells to Level 8' trophies.
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Single-Player RPGs / Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Last post by Aeolus on Today at 10:44:45 PM »
Also, Aeolus, nothing on Xenoblade X? It's just the best RPG with mechs and a strong desire for bigger guns?

Sorry, it takes awhile for these to come out.

But yeah. I don't think you'd like XBCX's plot or characters if XBC2's is giving you this much trouble.

Plotwise, XBCX is basically a hot mess since it starts with the premise of humanity escaping total annihilation and crash landing on a mysterious planet, and ends with jobbing the equivalent of space mobsters for awhile. Humanity is still basically screwed, the guy who betrayed everybody is still kicking around somewhere, there's still no explanation as to what was the specific deal was with that Black Super Mech or if there are more like it around, and even the planet's mystery never really gets solved. That said, it does have the most well written sidequests in the series since a number of them involve adding new civilizations to the suburbs of NLA, the subsequent race wars, the troubles of establishing safe drinking water supplies, and the horrors of fetching Ice Cream Cake, among others.

Characters however are basically a total disappointment. Your party will almost always end up being the MC, Elma, Linn and one other of your choice/whoever's needed, out of the 14+ playable characters in the game, due to plot requirements. Also all PCs are humans excepting the blue skinned humanoid or the female human humanoid. Tatsu the Nopon, nor any member of the other 7+ non-earthican races are playable, and mechanically speaking, they're all more or less cut from the same cloth as everybody uses a mixture of two different Classes out of the game's 28. And which the custom PC gets all 28 anyways, which would ultimately drive players to seek other PCs to fill out roles and builds, if the game were a true multiplayer environment instead of a fake 'recruit this Ally unit to your party instead of a fourth character'.

The ground gameplay itself is an interesting take on XBC1's mechanics by adding dual weapon slots that you could switch between on the fly (one for Melee and another for Ranged, with your chosen class determining what weapons you use and what type you specialize in, though generally every class will give you options for both), double cooldowns (first one lets you use the Art while the second boosts its effects substantially), soul voices (allies give you commands for you to trigger for healing and party wide buffs), TP (reworked tension that replaces XBC1's Tension levels and the Chain Gauge for revival and supermode purposes), and Overclocking (replaces Chain Attacks as the one supermode to rule them all; greatly boosts cooldown speeds, replicates the Art color combo meter for damage/effect boosts, and can be retriggered during the current Overclock to carry over the combo bonus; unlike Chain Attacks though, time doesn't stop so you're still in a damage race, but you did just throw on the Nitrus).

Character customization largely comes from Skills since Arts from one class tree do not carry over to the other trees (though advanced classes can use everything that came from their preceding classes), Equipment is level locked, and Augments (re: XBC1's Gems) are ridiculously specialized and extremely hard to craft until the post game grind due to anything that might seem generally useful requires mountains of rare drops off of late/end/postgame mobs and UMs (on the order of requiring 40 copies of one of the four or five mats for two or three of said mats needed to craft said Augment, the other two generally come from the Global Fights which is its own rigmarole; you'll spend almost all of the main game running about 5 +XX% damage to Machines or Beasts or Humanoids on each character and little else since they're not prohibitively expensive; admittedly there is a method to use an ingame currency to purchase any of the game's Aug crafting mats, but earning the currency requires engaging in the game's sudo multiplayer and you'll still need wheelbarrels full of the stuff to get what you need). Skills on the other hand can be carried over from class to class and can provide general buffs like +20% to Melee or Ranged damage to hyper specific things like +XX% damage increase while fighting in a sandstorm. Generally your PC can equip up to 5 skills along with one other specific ally, Elma, Linn and most of the rest are limited to 4 skills (although they don't have as many to choose from) while there are a few allies who are stuck with 3 slots.

And then there are Skells... Which are pretty meh gameplaywise, since they jack up the numbers to a ridiculous degree, but the mechanics are boiled down to Arts coming from equipped weapons, with no double cooldown, no soul voices, and Overdrive goes from a 'flip out and blender everything' mode to temporary invincibility with a full Arts pallet recharge. Flight also turns the game from this massive open world into a significantly smaller sandbox as environmental issues stop becoming a thing. The Skells themselves are basically a linear track from your starting Level 20 unit, to the Level 30 series, with the Level 50 series being the effective cap beyond super Skells (i.e. the Level 60 series and stuff like the Ares 90). And from there its basically crafting 20+ of those +XX% damage to Machines/Beasts/Humanoids/Superbosses for each of your Skells because each weapon has like 3 slots with Skells sporting up to 8 weapons on top of the slots for each Armor piece. Also, fighting in Skells have some of the worst music playing ♪"On a whole different plan~et!"♪ while the flight music isn't bad persay but takes forever to get past the intro, which you won't be doing nine times out of ten because every little hop takes it from the top and every brush with the ground kills it dead.

The rest of the game's music is generally hit or miss. Sadly the misses are generally concentrated in major hubs like NLA ♪"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, oo! Ooo!"♪ while the hits are standard Swano bombastic flair (which does sound amazing, but unfortunately that's basically all he does well, and he got rather prolific on top of that, so it all kinda sounds samey to his other soundtracks).

Environments look really pretty though even if they all boil down to Plains Land, Jungle Land, Desert Land, Ice/Blue Crystal Land, Lava Lava Land.
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Single-Player RPGs / Re: Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom announced!
« Last post by Arvis on Today at 03:21:29 PM »
So, anyone in the US who is looking forward to this, Best Buy just listed the digital preorder in error, at $20.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/ni-no-kuni-ii-revenant-kingdom-premium-edition-playstation-4/6201525.p?skuId=6201525

Enjoy.  Not sure how long this error will be up, but it's an absurdly good deal.  Less than half of what you would pay even as an Amazon Prime member.
The Best Buy website notes it as a Season Pass for DLC, I presume.

It was a listing error and they canceled my order, those jerks.  It was probably meant as a season pass, though, you're right.
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Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« Last post by Arvis on Today at 03:18:53 PM »
I've played roughly 2 or 3 hours of Trails of Cold Steel and I am already absolutely in love.  Familiar, but fresh.  Intuitive, yet deep.  And the characters are bursting with potential!  Love the music, too, despite a bit too much bombast in the battle themes.  And although it looks dated, it's still somehow beautiful in that way that Trails always manages to be.

I can't wait to spend a further 200+ hours in this world.
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General Discussions / Re: Completion List 2018
« Last post by Arvis on Today at 03:09:40 PM »
1. Tales of Xillia 2

That was 90 hours that could have been 60.  While I certainly enjoyed the game, it overstayed its welcome a bit near the end.  In addition, the further into the story I got, the less sense it made, culminating in some well-directed scenes that still fell short of the emotional mark by virtue of making no sense at all.  I get that Tales games always start out at "street level" so to speak and then slowly expand outward until you're facing universal threats, but still.  This was too much jargon and not enough heart.  If I never ever ever hear about chromatus, divergence catalyst, fractured dimensions, miasma, void, Origin, and the like ever again, I'll be happy.

Additionally, I've now spent two whole games with this cast and i still feel like I want to know more about them.  This is good, in that I really liked the characters and felt close to them.  But it's also bad that, even with the best ending, I still felt like they didn't wrap up the character stories sufficiently.  Combine this with the retcons that Xillia 2 did to the end of Xillia 1, and I walk away... mostly whelmed.

Gameplay-wise, this was fine.  A fun, quick, responsive Tales battle system that never felt old.  While nothing in Xillia 2 really reached the adrenaline-fueled heights of Xillia's solo colosseum battles, it never felt boring.  And achieving Leia and Ludger's Dual Mystic Art and renaming it "The Ludgernaut" was hilariously awesome.  Never got tired of doing that move and blowing away bosses and Elite Monsters with it.

Another strength was the use of the villains.  While the Final Boss had some cringey lines and just plain dopey plans at the end, there were still some cool ideas surrounding his story and its execution.  All of the interesting sci-fi details surrounding Elle's backstory were all refreshingly cool and engaging as well, even if it was difficult to really keep track of.

Finally, I just want to mention a detail I enjoyed: the wealth of costumes and accessories available to dress up the characters.  That never got old and a lot of RPGs could stand to learn a little from how generous Xillia 2 is in this area.

Final Score: 7/10

Up Next: Trails of Cold Steel
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General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« Last post by Arvis on Today at 02:56:54 PM »
I like curling because the girls teams are pretty!

Beat me to it.
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General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« Last post by Dincrest on Yesterday at 09:39:41 AM »
Cutest girl this Olympics is Esmee Visser. She was a true underdog (well, relatively speaking anyway), couldn't believe she qualified for the games in the first place and is probably still surprised she won a gold medal. And how she's both modest and so incredibly genuinely happy about her victory is adorable.

I feel the same about Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic after she won gold in super G.  She was in such utter disbelief, even standing on the podium, it was adorable.  And what put her over the top was when she did a news conference in her ski goggles after her upset win saying that she didn't even expect to be at the ceremony and hadn't even put on makeup.  She's primarily a snowboarder, so she definitely seems to have that more proverbial "laid-back" snowboarder personality. 

This has been an Olympics of surprises.  Chris Mazdzer winning the first men's singles luge medal in US history was pretty sick (dude seems to have a great personality).  And the overwhelming favorite, Felix Loch of Germany, didn't even medal. 
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General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« Last post by Tomara on Yesterday at 06:25:20 AM »
Cutest girl this Olympics is Esmee Visser. She was a true underdog (well, relatively speaking anyway), couldn't believe she qualified for the games in the first place and is probably still surprised she won a gold medal. And how she's both modest and so incredibly genuinely happy about her victory is adorable.
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Single-Player RPGs / Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Last post by Grainofariver on Yesterday at 04:58:15 AM »
I feel like this game is proof that I'm a masochist. I just passed the 70 hour mark, and I have no clue what keeps me going. I mean, it must be a good game, right? Why else would I sink so much time into something that's not good? And yet, multiple times I find myself frustrated at the game. I wouldn't even recommend this game to anyone just to save them the inevitable headache. Nevermind the story, there's so many little problems that, had the studio not been so busy with Zelda, I'm SURE would have been caught. Stuff like:

Why do items disappear so quickly after killing an enemy? If there's more than one enemy, you're bound to have at least something disappear.
Similarly, with how many enemies hover over a cliff or abyss, why aren't items that fall off automatically grabbed and put in your inventory?
Why doesn't the gather symbol change to indicate the type of material you're gathering (mineral, fish, tree, etc.)?
Why, in a game with so much verticality, does the map not have layers?
Why does the game have to stop every time a blade uses its ability? (I've actually stopped gathering because of this)
WHY CAN'T I VIEW OLD TUTORIAL MESSAGES?
And much, much more!

This, of course, is all without getting into some of the bigger gameplay problems, such as the lack of any control over AI behaviour or positioning removing any kind of tactical depth from combat and occasionally turning easily winnable fights into nearly-impossible slogs. Or, the constant shuffling through menus to set up the right composition of blades to clear a field check, only to have to go back in and revert everything to normal (and often times, change it up again two steps later for an entirely different field check). Etcetra, etcetera.

Yet, for all my complaints, here I am at 70 hours, and unless the remainder of chapter 8, 9 and 10 are all super short, I'll likely hit 80 before the credits roll. Why? Am I insane? Is it the video-game form of Stockholm Syndrome? Are the environments just THAT freaking good? When it works, there's a wonderful sense to exploration, and the environments are a little bit more fantastical/alien than something like BotW (which otherwise beats out Xenoblade in every open-world aspect). Even the characters have moments where they show signs of something engaging. Rex's comments on first seeing the refugees in Arcadia/Indol* are actually quite mature, and come from a character I'd like to learn more about. Too bad it only takes a few steps before the shounen-boy trope re-asserts its control, and the 'words won't fix everything' comment comes off like a bad joke.

I think, maybe, a lot of my frustration stems for the feeling that, if they'd just taken a bit more time to really test and reflect on the systems, this could be a really amazing game. It feels close, like a jigsaw that you can see clearly in your head, but the pieces just aren't quite coming together right. The result is something where I get a sense of what it could be -- and am really enchanted by it -- but am constantly tripped up by what it actually is. I'm glad I don't have to put a number to this game. Despite what I said earlier, I don't really buy into numbers as an accurate summation of an opinion (feel free to think of me as a hypocrite, I deserve it for trying to simplify my opinion). I would be at an utter loss for what to assign this game. Nonetheless, I'm curious what we'll see next. I see so much potential here, and I'd love to see it actualised.

Also, Aeolus, nothing on Xenoblade X? It's just the best RPG with mechs and a strong desire for bigger guns?

*I will never understand changing proper nouns in localisations. Playing with the Japanese voices, some names are just ingrained in my head from hearing them so many times. It's so jarring when I go to talk to other people about it, and I can't see what is gained from the changes.
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Single-Player RPGs / Re: Secret of Mana: The Remake!
« Last post by Aeolus on Yesterday at 02:23:37 AM »
I take back anything nice I've said about this remake/port/bare naked nostalgia cashgrab. It takes an almost dedicated level of phoned-in effort to make a notoriously buggy game even more busted and unstable. Christ almighty, the goddamn overworld music cuts out when you go to take a screengrab of the face and it has yet to come back for me. Not that I'm missing much as the remixed music has been far more miss than hit (I'll admit to liking the redux'd Desert music, but buttrock Matango, "no we are going to include the roars when using Angel's Fears and thus not actually get a chance to listen to the damn song" White Dragon legend bit, the lighthouse theme abortion, and about a dozen other overdone tracks (like Scorpion Army's theme), really drag the whole experience down; thankfully Crystal Forest and Ice Palace managed to break even, but it really doesn't salvage the rest of the experience). And that's on top of the five crashes I've experienced so far, shit like spell animations getting so queried up that I step back into a room I had left earlier only to have said spell fire off out of loving nowhere, both enemies and AI allies getting pushed out of bounds on a regular basis, casting a Fire Bouquet and having Analyzer come out, and hilariously awful (if at all) voice direction at times.

The added scenes or the ninja'd in Pukka reference (hell, I've been hitting references that I don't even recognize like the doll in Todo or the picture Mandala) do not make up for all of the instability I've seen thus far. This is just a really lazy port and I'd advise people to stay away from this or any other Squeenix 'remake' in the future.

Also, I love how much nicer the weapon redesigns are, except for the poor whip which only got pallet swaps even though we're in Flail territory dammit. The Axes aren't getting much love either, but at least there's actual visual differences between them versus the three different Black Leather Whips.




...okay. I'll admit it. I kinda do like how much easier it is to grind Weapon/Spell Skill levels are in this game. Especially since the changes made are both simple and utterly mindbogglingly obvious these changes are. The first is the obvious change to the Girl and Sprite's weapon level growth not being half of the Boy's rate, while the second is simply allow MP to also be restored upon leveling up (even if it makes getting to those added scenes even stupider since there's almost no reason to ever stay at an Inn or even revisit the Wind/Water Palaces for their free healing).
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