I’m back at it after a week in New York! This week I played Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect, and Monster Hunter World.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4 Pro)
After leaving for a week and coming back to this game I’m beginning to remember why I dropped off of it so hard the first time. There is a great deal to enjoy about this game, but so much of it is locked behind uninspired tedium. I also don’t think the combat feels particularly good, partially because I don’t really enjoy the tactical aspect but also because when I’m not using the tactical mode I constantly feel like all of my teammates are dying and leaving me, a squishy, defenseless mage, to fend for myself. I understand that this likely means I’m under leveled but, so far as I can ascertain, the only way to increase my level to get to the good stuff involves wading through boring, menial fetch quests. The result is that, despite many of the locales being fantastical and interesting visually, from a gameplay perspective everything feels roughly the same. It gives me little incentive to explore the rich world they crafted, which is a real bummer, because the world itself is something I would like to experience more of.
I’m going to keep chipping away at it because, well, I own it, and there’s clearly something here that I engage with. We’ll see if I can start enjoying it completely, because if not I will probably drop it.
Mass Effect (PC)
The first Mass Effect is one of my favorite games ever made. I made the decision recently to play through the original trilogy again, partly to see how the three games hold up next to each other, how they’ve aged, but partly because I have been looking for an excuse to jump back into that rich universe and experience it again.
It’s both phenomenal and incredibly frustrating. The shooting on PC is better because of the inherent accuracy of a mouse setup, but activating your powers is delegated to the number keys at the top of your keyboard and, well, it’s cumbersome at best. It’s also a surprisingly punishing game, at least at the start; I constantly find myself caught off guard by a surprise encounter, having to repeat it two or three times. I did choose a Biotic-heavy character, meaning that most of my damage is dealt with abilities that I find cumbersome to use, meaning that I find myself relying on my pistol far too much.
Still, it’s a blast to play it again. There’s something bare bones and janky about the game that I absolutely adore. All of the environments seem like they’re sort of copy-pasted from the same basic stock, giving everything a clean and sterile feel. That sounds bad, but to me it actually adds a great deal to the atmosphere of the game. That clean, sterile feel is part of that universe, a world where mankind has recently conquered the stars.
The writing and acting are excellent and are the true draw of this game in my mind. The universe they created is compelling, mysterious and complex, filled with cool alien races each with their own culture and distinctive look. The Turians, a birdlike race, are sharp and mercantile, and are often security officers or higher-ups in whatever job they choose. Krogans are a militaristic and aggressive race. They come from a harsh planet, and grow up fighting each other, quick to anger. They have multiples of every organ and thick skin, meaning they’re incredibly hard to kill and, before the introduction of a devastating virus that makes up an intriguing subplot, they reproduced at an alarming rate, meaning that they quickly began to dominate the galaxy. There’s a rich lore to the universe and, on top of that, the characters that you encounter each have compelling and well-written motivations for coming along on the galaxy-spanning journey.
The PC version has a bug where the textures default to the lowest setting across the board. I had to go in and manually rewrite a part of the game’s INI file so that it would load the textures properly, but it didn’t fix poor Garrus’ face and, upon a Google or two, I learned that that is a bug that has no fix. That coupled with the clumsyness of the combat is making me consider just buying the trilogy for Xbox 360 and playing it on my Xbox ONE. Still, it’s one of the best trilogies ever made, flaws and all, and I can’t wait to continue my adventure.
Monster Hunter World
Here we go. This is what I have been waiting for.
Monster Hunter World is fantastic. I definitely can’t say its for everybody, but I definitely think that everybody should try it out. Here are my thoughts about the beta, which largely reflect how I feel about the game now.
There is a bit of jank in the release of the game, unfortunately. Monsters clip through ledges with some regularity, and one monster, Jyuratados, who likes to dive under water, will occasionally dive under and breach through land, acting as though it were water, bubbles and all. One quest, which called for me to hunt a specific monster, bugged out and the monster kept leaving and a new one would spawn. I didn’t notice it until the third time, at which point I had already wasted about an hour or so on the quest. That’s time I could have spent killing monsters to upgrade my gear, dammit.
Still, I can’t recommend this game enough. The loop of hunting challenging monsters, either alone or with your friends, and then collecting their parts to make cool weapons and armor so that you can hunt even bigger and more challenging monsters, is incredibly fun and addictive. The game looks beautiful, too. It’s a wonderful package, either for solo play or if you have a group of friends to play it with, and I itch to get back in as much as possible. I will get 60-100 hours of enjoyment out of this game, and with free monsters being released as DLC down the line I think this has real legs to it.