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Battlefield 1 Blind Play-Through

By Shamus
on Tuesday Jun 26, 2018
Filed under:
Personal

 
 

“Oh, I haven’t been feeling well lately. I should let my readers know what’s up.” That’s a nice enough sentiment, but it’s easy to use that as an excuse to bitch and moan about your health to the masses. I’m going to try hard not to do that here. I’ll pack all my whining into the next paragraph and then we can Get On With It Already.

It’s my eyes. I have this recurring eye problem that makes them burn and water for days at a time. When this happens I can’t adjust to light and I can barely focus. I had several days of that, and then just as it was clearing up I got something in my eye. I was setting up a fan and turned it on with the fan pointing at my face. It blew some debris in my left eye. It took a lot of blinking and flushing to get it out, and when it was over I’d managed to mildly scratch the dang thing. The result of all this misadventure is that I’ve spent the last 6 days hiding in the dark and squinting at a very blurry world. I didn’t write you any words and I didn’t record a Diecast.

I’m on the mend now and I’m going to see if I can salvage the rest of this week.

I spent a lot of my downtime watching car videos by Doug DeMuro, mostly because it was a way to enjoy my favorite flavor of fussy, knowledgeable nitpicking without needing to read any text. On Sunday the Games Done Quick charity marathon started and I switched over to that. My favorite part so far is the bit where runner jeromegood beat DOOM 2016 in under 40 minutes. (The VOD hasn’t been posted yet, or I’d link it.) That’s down from 54 minutes last year.

EDIT: My new favorite run is the Resident Evil Special Edition HD Remake GOTY Deluxe Remastered+Or whatever. Capcom has been milking this game for so long they qualify for US agricultural dairy subsidies. by the enormously polite speedrunner / death metal vocalist Pessimism. He reminds me a lot of the Adam Driver character from Logan Lucky.

EDIT AGAIN: Nope! New favorite! Dan Olson of Folding Ideas suddenly appeared to run a game I’ve never heard of and did a speedrun. It wasn’t the tightest / most impressive run I’ve ever seen, but he did real-time game analysis. This is what I’d do during my streams if I wasn’t constantly getting distracted by the game.

I mentioned last week that I’ve signed up for Origin Access, which means I have access to a lot of fresh (to me) AAA titles from EA. I tried playing a little Battlefield 1. I’m not very far into the game. The gameplay is so constricted that I can only take it in small doses. Technically the game is just as linear as Half-Life 2, but here you can feel the hand of the designer on your neck, shoving you through the intended experience. It’s always introducing new mechanics, but instead of adding mechanics to your existing options it shunts you from one fixed mode of gameplay to the next. Shoot these guys. Now throw some grenades. Now use this weapon. Now use this mounted gun. Now run down this hallway.

There’s never any illusion of making tactical decisions. There’s no pretense of finding your way through. There’s nothing that could qualify as quiet time. I know everyone makes fun of Valve and their silly fixation on see-saw physics puzzles, but after twenty minutes of Battlefield 1 I was longing for something as intellectually stimulating as stacking cinderblocks on a wooden plank.

On the other hand, the production values are astounding. The cutscenes are gorgeous, wonderfully designed, brilliantly acted, and more or less competently written. I haven’t gotten far enough to draw any conclusions about it beyond, “This looks really expensive,” but it does seem crazy that so much money is spent on something nobody seems to care about.

I haven’t tried Mass Effect Andromeda yet. Party because my eyes aren’t really ready to read dialog text and fussy crafting menus just yet, but also because I suspect the whole thing will just make me feel sad.

Footnotes:

[1] Or whatever. Capcom has been milking this game for so long they qualify for US agricultural dairy subsidies.


 
 
Comments (100)

  1. Alda says:

    Good to have you back! Feel well.

    Will there be more programming posts?

  2. GargamelLeNoir says:

    Your expectations are low enough that you might end up enjoying Mass Effect Andromeda, especially since you were already super disappointed with 2 and 3. Andromeda has nice moments, competent fighting, and most of the bugs are fixed.
    It also has enough glaring flaws left to satiate a professional nitpicker :)

    • Fr33Lanc3r.007 says:

      I’d rate Andromeda above both 2 and 3, partly because the combat finally clicked for me (that might have been because I built Ryder to charge around the battlefield like a maniac, blasting everything in sight with shotguns, I imagine sniper builds are still as uneventful as ever), but mostly because it managed to capture that sense of discovery that had been missing since ME1.
      It’s not without flaws, but it’s a damn sight better than Bioware had been in terms of everything since EA bought them.

      • Redrock says:

        I mean, is there any reason, any reason at all to play any Mass Effect after the first one without using the biotic charge? It’s basically the sole thing that makes the combat really work. Ok, I’m obviously exaggerating here, but not by a lot.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        Sniper build is my go-to in pretty much any modern/SF-themed shooter/RPG that gives me the option–my Shepard was almost always Infiltrator on my ME playthroughs. But I found it almost unplayable for the beginning part of Andromeda. Combat was so frenetic I had no choice but to start playing Vanguard style. I think some point around the 25-33% mark I finally had the skillpoints and gear and skillful enough squadmates to make sniper play viable. So that respec when you want mechanic was pretty handy.

  3. ShivanHunter says:

    As much as I’d love to see you rip into Andromeda, I have to agree. I had hyped the game up in my mind thinking of all the weird, crazy species and political intrigue they could throw the colonists into, and as I played through there was just this sinking realization that the two-and-a-half factions we did see had no more complexity than a paragraph-long stock description.

    Really, it takes a lot of gall to set a Mass Effect game in an entirely new galaxy, and then not do any worldbuilding.

    (I don’t know how much of this you’ve been spoiled on already, so I’ll just say… yes, Cerberus makes an appearance. Because we can’t have nice things.)

    • Geebs says:

      Andromeda’s sole new contribution to the Mass Effect universe is a bunch of humanoid bipeds whose only distinguishing characteristic is that they’re really really emotional about stuff. With, like, completely human emotions. This new species from a whole other galaxy.

      The fact that they decided to make them look like penises was also probably a mistake.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        I liked how the angara had different accents depending which of the three main homeworlds they hailed from. E.g. Jaal and his people have East African accents, and then you find the planet where all the angara have Australian and NZ accents, and then the third where (IIRC) they all have regional UK accents. That was a nice bit of worldbuilding. Too bad those are few and far between.

        (You can handwave all the species in the original trilogy having very similar looking and interoperable technology because the Reapers have encouraged all sapient life in the Milky Way to develop along similar lines via the mass effect relay network and the Citadel. But in another galaxy millions of light-years away?)

  4. evileeyore says:

    So… about those blurry eyes and not noticing a distinct lack of cuts…

    You posted the entire post to the main page again. ;)

  5. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I suspect the whole thing will just make me feel sad

    Or possibly physically ill. It’s astounding how terrible it is on its own merits and that they nuked the entire ME setting in order to give us… that. There were rumblings post-E3 from both EA and Bioware that the franchise is not dead, but to be honest I really would prefer it were rather than have them defile the corpse even further.

    Although if Anthem does end up tanking, as many people are predicting, and EA finally drags Bioware out behind the woodshed, I wonder what will happen to the ME (and Dragon Age) IP then? It’s conceivable that EA could produce some new abomination wearing the name using another studio, but would they even bother at that point? Maybe having the IP quietly rot away in an EA bank vault is the best we can hope for.

  6. Jabberwok says:

    After many years of playing many linear and non-linear games, I’ve decided that I don’t really care if a game is linear or not. As long as it lets me *play* the game. And this is what Half-Life 2 (and most classic FPSs) knew that so many modern offerings have never understood.

    • Zekiel says:

      Yes, this. Although sometimes I really like linear games, because they tend to be reasonably short and not waste my time faffing around with crafting, XP grinding or dozens of pointless sidequests.

      Titanfall 2 was the last really great linear game I played. Can’t recall if Shamus has done that one, but if not, I highly recommend it.

    • Asdasd says:

      Well, if by ‘the game’ you’re referring to what feels like 30 minutes of fetch with Robo the Wonder Dog, sure.

      • Jabberwok says:

        I enjoyed that part, actually. It’s a subtle thing, but even when HL2 was forcing you to do things, they weren’t cutting out or inserting game mechanics. It’s certainly more heavily scripted than a lot of my favorite games, but the scripting is in the environment. They weren’t making me mash the X button to do thing-that-writer-thinks-should-happen-next, etc. Instead, when the monster closet pops open, I have an actual choice. Do I cut the zombie in half with a saw blade, shoot it in the head, let it walk into the minefield, ignore it completely, hit it with a crate, build a wall of debris around it and see what happens, you get the idea….?

        I loved the original Halo when it came out. That may have been what really started turning the tide toward cinematic shooters, but the difference was that in between the cinematics, they gave me massive playgrounds to explore.

        Same with the first Deus Ex. I never cared that the story was basically linear, because there were a million interesting micro-decisions along the way.

        • Asdasd says:

          Well, despite my glibness I actually agree. I preferred Half Life 1 over 2, but they do feel like games that get linear ‘right’ in a way that is a little hard to explain, but contrasts sharply with the wash of heavily scripted games that took direct inspiration from them.

          It probably helps that neither of them committed the sins of ‘return to the mission area or die’ or ‘NPCs will fire their weapons at nothing while enemies spawn forever until you walk over the invisible trigger’, which are the twin cryptonites of my vidja immersion.

          • Karma The Alligator says:

            The ‘return to mission area’ thing is the most baffling thing to me. If the devs don’t want you to go somewhere, they could always put actual obstacles there.

          • Jabberwok says:

            Years ago, I tried out a Medal of Honor game (or an early CoD, can’t remember), and found it instantly annoying. Essentially, the designer wanted me to charge a fort. So whenever I tried to take cover to the left or right and pick off enemies, the game would just automatically kill me. Never bothered playing another after that. I love occasionally watching videos of a youtuber completing entire battles in CoD without even firing their weapon.

            One of the small but important choices in Half-Life that I love (and I’m sure has been pointed out a million times) is that they never take control of the camera unless Gordon is actually restricted in some way. Cinematic story, fine, but don’t make me watch it like a movie.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              The funny thing is that it did not used to be like that.The first call of duty(and the original medal of honor,I think),gave you an intro cinematic,then plopped you into the sprawling arena to rush a brazillion of dudes with a brazillion of dudes on your side as well.There were a few more restricted missions(brittish commando ones),but even those gave you some freedom as to how to do it.And it was great.I cant say when that changed.Maybe in 2 when you got health regen instead of regular health?

  7. Lewis Robertson says:

    Yeah the single player in BF1 was not a positive. What I did enjoy from it was the opening “mission” where when you died you switched to another soldier in the battle. First time booting the game up I actually got duped into thinking that was how they would deal with player deaths in the campaign.

    Alas, it was not to be.

    On ME:A I actually enjoyed playing it – granted I bought it only a month or so ago. Gameplay combat wise I had the most fun out of the series, at least as a vanguard. Ryder was good enough and more or less fit in with the tone of the game. Supporting characters were varied enough to keep my interest.

    Everything else, from the story to the worldbuilding to the “choices”, I either disliked or was coming up with headcanon/fanfics to rewrite or explain it as something clearly different while in the middle of playing.

  8. Redrock says:

    Did you play the female or male version of Ryder? I have the impression that the female version is comes off as much more interesting, if only because we don’t get many female protagonists who aren’t either impossibly badass or nursing daddy issues or straight-up Elektra complexes. The female Ryder is quirky, funny and a bit awkward pretty much regardless of player choices, which isn’t all that great in terms of the game’s overall design, but is pretty good in terms of character. Ryder is basically the ME version of Nathan Drake, but we already have a Nathan Drake. However, the female counterpart to Drake is the rebooted Lara Croft, who is, frankly, no fun.

    • BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I think that the personality profile you go with makes a difference in quality too.

      In my first playthrough, I played as Scott Ryder and I went with the joke-y/feelings-based dialogue options and the character felt pretty terrible. He was just one jokester in a sea of jokesters.

      On my second playthrough, I played as Sara Ryder and I went with the serious/thought-based dialogue options and the character felt much better to me. I don’t know that it was better-written per se, but it felt like it made way more sense within the context of the story they were trying to tell.

      Honestly though, I’m not sure if it was the voice acting or the different types of lines being delivered that made the second one better over the first.

      And, yes, I played through it twice.

    • PPX14 says:

      I do miss non-boring non-simpering Lara Croft.

      In fact your analysis there makes me want to play the game. That was sort of what I thought when I first saw a picture of the female Ryder – she looks like an actual normal person, not some character type being described by a face. (Then I saw the funny animations later on, but still.)

  9. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Technically the game is just as linear as Half-Life 2, but here you can feel the hand of the designer on your neck, shoving you through the intended experience. It’s always introducing new mechanics, but instead of adding mechanics to your existing options it shunts you from one fixed mode of gameplay to the next. Shoot these guys. Now throw some grenades. Now use this weapon. Now use this mounted gun. Now run down this hallway.

    That’s what I hated about COD: Modern Warfare and it’s sequels. The game never let me actually play it- I was always just following the next prompt, to the point where you actually had to take a specific route through already linear level because you had to reach the hidden spot that would make the enemies stop respawning.

    In fact, that type of design is why I don’t really play FPS very often anymore.

    • BlueHorus says:

      I remember Yahtzee Croshaw calling this gameplay ‘QTEs by a different name.’
      Go here player! Do the thing! Run! Hurry up or you’ll die!
      Most of the time, there’s a collapsing ceiling, or explosions everywhere, or a chasing monster to ensure urgency and kill the player if they stop to think.

      Done well, it’s an epic setpiece; but done badly, it’s like playing one of the old-school point-and-click adventure games, trying to work out what the damn game wants from you so you can just get this thing moving again.

      One particularly memorable example for me was Spec-Ops: The Line, where I was manning a mounted gun next to a giant glass wall:

      Onscreen tip: Shoot the glass to break it and cause a landslide.
      Me: Okay. shoots glass with mounted gun
      NPC: Shoot the glass, Walker!
      Me: Shooting glass continuously. I’m ignoring all the people shooting me as I concentrate on the glass.
      NPC: The glass! Shoot the glass!
      Me: Rapidly losing health from all the bullet wounds I’m taking I’m shooting it, I’m shooting it!
      Repeat for about 40 seconds/a million years
      NPC: Dammit Walker, shoot the glass!
      Me: WHADDYA THINK I’M DOING, YOU JACKA- OH GODDAMN IT!
      Game Over screen. I select ‘reload last checkpoint’.

      Loading screen tip: Try shooting the glass.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I remember that mission. It’s rather easy if you simply shoot the glass.

      • DavidJCobb says:

        You can crouch while using a turret in order to protect yourself,… but that’s easy to forget, and that glass took forever to break. I can see that section being pretty painful.

      • TheJungerLudendorff says:

        Are you sure you shot the right bit of glass that wasn’t coated with invulnerability paint? Which was very obviously marked by nothing at all?

        • BlueHorus says:

          As I said, I had a million years of NPCs and prompts shouting at me – so I shot ALL the glass. Just over and over and over.

          The trick is that the glass is coated in invulnerability paint (the fact that it all cracks when shot notwithstanding)…
          …until you kill the first wave of infinitely spawning mooks. Once you’ve shot the required number of guys*, that glass practically breaks itself.

          So thanks for making that clear, game.

          *Identical to the guys that replace them, naturally.

      • Zekiel says:

        I actually remember that bit. I’ve no idea why that glass was so hard to break. And what I did to actually break it.

    • Exasperation says:

      I remember seeing a good example of this in a let’s play of one of these shooters (don’t remember which one). There’s a scene where the game wants you to kill a couple of enemies with a grenade. The player had been through the mission before, so they knew what was going on and killed the enemies before the tutorial prompt showed up. The game then just stopped the battle until he threw a grenade at the empty plot of ground where the enemies were supposed to be, so that the prompts would advance.

  10. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    I don’t know that playing Andromeda will make you sad. It doesn’t feel like a bad Mass Effect game nearly as often as it feels like an adequate-to-okay generic sci/fi space shooter. It may make you angry once in a while. It’ll definitely have you confused from time to time. But I don’t know that you’ll spend a lot of time feeling sad. Despite this game essentially being a long-form eulogy being performed over the corpse of a great franchise, it doesn’t go out of its way to really bum anyone out.

  11. Misamoto says:

    Andromeda WILL make you sad :) But I would like to read about it :)

  12. Nick says:

    RE the eyes – I use a product from Boots called Irritated Eye Mist, you spray it on your closed eyelids and it keeps out a lot of irritants. Worked wonders for my hayfever reactions – your situation might be worse but I’d give that a shot if you haven’t already.

  13. Feel better soon! And yes, I’d love to hear about Andromeda, and not just because I just reread the Mass Effect post-mortem!

    I’m amazed at people who can cope with eye stuff at all, actually. I’m starting to have some issues, and I can’t even put in eyedrops (you’d think by 37 I’d have that life skill but nope and yes, my eye doc hates me) so I dread them getting worse.

    • modus0 says:

      Is your issue with eye drops not being able to keep the eyelids apart well enough to get the drops in?

      If so, and you’re using your index and middle finger to do so, instead try your middle and ring finger. I’ve found it makes using eye drops much easier.

      • It’s a combo of a) a really strong blink reflex and b) a very strong instinct to move my head if I can’t blink. Even if I’m holding my eye open. Yes, that hurts. Someone further down suggested the corner of the eye, and I think that might work, especially if I moved it in slowly and just let it sit there for a bit.

        And yet I can do mascara and eyeshadow (and eyeliner if my eye’s closed). It’s something about coming straight at my eye rather than just being in proximity…

    • aradinfinity says:

      I have a lot of trouble with eye drops, too= the only way I find I can do it is by dropping them onto my closed eyelids, then blinking rapidly. Some of it wicks away, though, so you usually have to do extra drops, but it works okay enough.

  14. Echo Tango says:

    Does anyone else find that armor in the top picture ridiculous? This appears to be an ostensibly realistic setting, but then there’s somebody wearing what looks like old-timey knight armor, holding a Gatling gun.

    • guy says:

      WWI had people actually wear armor that looked like that, and he’s using a biped-mounted machine gun.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Do you have sources for that? All of the armor pictures I can find for WWI seem to look much different. Much boxier/flatter, and no arm coverings. They look like they’re built out of sheets of metal, not like they were hand-hammered by a smith.

        EDIT:
        You’re collection linked below has one guy in something that looks like the picture in Shamus’ article. Plausible! (Although most of the other stuff looks much cruder. :)

        • TheJungerLudendorff says:

          They did experiment with armour, especially for assault troops and sentries and such. They also experimented with other medieval-ish things like large mobile shields, tunneling under enemy defences, and other things people used during sieges.

          But armour usually didn’t work very well, and was more of a burden than a help (as well as comparatively resource intensive).

          As opposed to the guy in the upper picture, who is basically WW1 Iron Man running around in the mountains with impenetrable armour and hipfiring a machinegun.

    • Droid says:

      This is not like Full Plate or any other medieval-type armour for one simple reason: it’s just protecting the front, so it’s probably thicker than full plate was and still somewhat bearable to wear for long periods of time, while leaving the back completely unprotected. Of course, it probably wouldn’t stand a chance against most modern rifles, but I guess it was pretty good protection against the infantry weapons at the time at trench distance (if only because it would deflect grazing hits).
      And that’s probably a good idea, too, since that gun looks like its main use is suppression, which means you really don’t want that guy sniped from a distance at a critical moment (e.g. while his squadmates are advancing, or while trying to stop an advancing enemy squad) if you can at all avoid it.
      I can’t speak for the effectiveness of this type of protection, but it certainly seems plausible that at least one side of the conflict might have tried to use them.

    • Retsam says:

      One interesting thing about WWI is that a lot of pictures of it look anachronistic. Pictures of the armies marching of to war often look like something out of the mid 1800s because that’s basically what they were, in a lot of cases.

      It was a full year into the war before anyone even issued helmets to their troops: “modern body armor” really wasn’t a thing, so yeah, I’m not surprised to learn that some forces dabbled in the less modern forms of body armor.

      • Viktor says:

        I remember reading once that the first battle of WWI was fought by mounted cavalry, the final battle was fought by tanks. It was very much the war where the old ways of doing battle were tested against the new weapons and the new weapons won.

    • LCF says:

      As said above, old-style steel armours were tried, and found lacking. Lack of protection (!), of maniability, putting a strain on the wearer… (I tried to find some scenes from a movie where soldiers experimented a body-armour charge and got gunned down for their trouble, but I could not find it.)
      Some was used for defensive purpose, in static machine-gun nests, especially by the Germans.
      Now, they would stay in the trenches, defend it and not run around lugging the whole MG and ammo by themselves as good little armoured proto-Rambos. The BF1 picture is gross exageration because Rule of Cool.
      (Please be nice and direct yourself to TVTropes, I don’t have the energy to link directly.)

      “you can feel the hand of the designer on your neck, shoving you through the intended experience. It’s always introducing new mechanics, but instead of adding mechanics to your existing options it shunts you from one fixed mode of gameplay to the next. Shoot these guys.”
      Protip: We should summarily judge them and find them guilty first. That’s what all the cool kids do.

  15. Thomas says:

    Andromeda is a worse Dragon Age Inquisition with a better combat system. I still prefer ME3 combat too – I’m not playing vanguard so maybe that’s why. Andromeda combat is pulled back really far from the player and you’re barely aware of what the rest of your party are doing.

    It does make me wish EA kept the studio open though. There are some glimpses of greatness. The design of the Tempest (and the Nexus) is superb. They have some quite sophisticated characters – female Ryder and Alec Ryder stood out to me in particular. The way female Ryder is enthusiastic but unsure of herself feels fresh and Alec Ryder is a harsh man but also dedicated to inspiring people and it’s interesting seeing the clash.

    The team who were making the EA Star Wars adventure game said that they were expected to make Uncharted 4 before they’d made Uncharted 1.

    Andromeda 2 would have been much better than Andromeda 1.

    • GoStu says:

      Andromeda 2 would have been much better than Andromeda 1

      I’ll dispute that. For me, so much of the wasted potential of Andromeda was pissing away that potentially incredible setting and turning it into something that felt so same-y and generic in the genre. “Oh there’s an evil dude conquering the galaxy” is so previous Mass Effects and feels like it’s stepping over very familiar ground.

      Imagine if they hadn’t had that dumb villain, whose name and motive I can’t really remember. Instead, the conflict here is that four (or more!) giant colony arks showed up and frankly, the planets in that sector just didn’t turn out as good as anyone had hoped. Now resources are limited and the various species are getting ugly with each other. Everyone’s supposed to be collaborating to settle the Heleus cluster but nobody wants to be left out and have their species be the have-nots of the Andromeda Galaxy forever. Are you going to be a good Paragon type who’d try for collaboration or will you be ruthless renegade & be willing to leave the others behind for human advancement?

      That’d be a good way to bring up (ymmv) a meaningful question that Cerberus was really shit at exploring – would you value your species, your survival, and the success of all your descendants over the (maybe) gratitude of another species? What if they’d do the same to you? Is this the ‘new beginning’ for everyone who came, or just a great start for humanity?

      I was also pretty disappointed in the lack of Quarians, or Volus and Elcor. Frankly, the nomadic ship-dwelling Quarians in search of a home seem like a natural choice for people who’d set sail for Andromeda. Maybe they’ve given up on ever having Rannoch back, and think the Council will never make space for them. Maybe they launched an illicit ark somewhere and decided to get a head start on the others. As to the Volus and Elcor, from an in-universe perspective it’d make some sense for them to come – they can inhabit worlds that nobody else possibly can. If there’s a methane-soaked world that’s useless to everyone else, but it’s Volus heaven: a point that was made in-universe several times in previous games! Similarly, the Elcor can inhabit high-G planets that’d turn other species to paste. In the conflicts above, the Volus and Elcor could serve as neutral powers unconcerned with the strife between the others in a “forget you, got mine” way. The Volus are even natural merchants. Finally, all three of those species are unique and helped create more interesting diversity among the aliens.

      A sequel would struggle to do anything like this. It’d basically have to continue the story of toilet-seat-head and the crap he started, and the earliest stages of colonization have largely been glossed over – everyone seems to have settled in and terraformed these crappy planets trivially thanks to halo-esque “big vaults of alien tech in the ground”. Super, great, wonderful – those plot devices neatly avoid one of the most meaningful conflicts that could come of a ‘new galaxy’ setting.

      I know my take on Andromeda might have been darker than some other versions, but come on – games and media in general LOVE the Darker and Grittier sequel.

      Maybe they can try my ideas in Mass Effect: Magellan (set in the Magellanic clouds). After all, they went to one other galaxy, why not try for two.

    • djw says:

      Better combat system than Inquisition is a really low bar.

      That said, I actually enjoyed the combat in Andromeda, so it cleared that low bar, and then some.

  16. Soldierhawk says:

    I loved the IDEA of Andromeda so much. In many ways (except, you know, leaving the whole universe full of awesome characters and planets and species I loved behind) it’s exactly what I wanted from a “new” Mass Effect game–you aren’t military, you’re purely an explorer, finding new places and helping people establish a foothold on hostile alien worlds. It’s AWESOME!

    But I can’t get past the combat :( . Nothing about it feels fun to me. The cover mechanics feel sloppy, and the shooting feels unsatisfying (to me.)

    I may give it another shot at some point…I’ve never met a game I wanted to love so much that I just…don’t.

    • BlueBlazeSpear says:

      It’s weird how divisive the combat in Andromeda has been. I remember even far back as when the earliest reviews started rolling in that some people were praising the combat while others thought it was awful. It always puzzled me that people could be experiencing the same game, yet having vastly different experiences with the same mechanics.

      The combat is the one thing that I’ve always really enjoyed about Andromeda and it always surprises me to hear that it’s the thing that put someone else off. But I think you’ve hinted at what may fuel the divisiveness: I think the game is more rewarding to certain playstyles.

      I’m one of the few people who doesn’t care for the vanguard charge myself, but I still do very much have a playstyle that’s mostly powers-based, and weapons are just a fallback in those short times wherein my powers are recharging. I suspect that for people that tend to have a more gun-based combat style, the game might feel a little bit sloppy and loose.

      But boy do I love those jump jets.

      • guy says:

        It probably also depends on what powers you’re using; I never have finished it, but I liked the combat system, while having pretty much zero use for cover. My primary power was Aegis; I am the cover!

      • Soldierhawk says:

        Okay super granted–the jump jets are AWESOME!

        And playstyle may well be a huge factor. I’ve always been a sniper in ME games, so that’s what I went for in Andromeda: infiltrator with engineer secondary. Perhaps if I tried another combat style I’d enjoy it more, but…I wanna snipe dammit, and it feels so…meh, when compared to the OT.

        • BlueBlazeSpear says:

          Yeah – it’s not a very sniper-friendly game. In my first playthrough, I actually started out with a sniper rifle, but quickly abandoned it. I imagine it gets better as you unlock the various associated powers, but you have to get pretty far into the game to reach that point.

          In the original trilogy, the M-97 Viper sniper rifle was my favorite weapon. I generally played as a sentinel or technician, so I didn’t get the time-slowing effect, but it was still extremely viable to be a sniper with any class from the time you unlock it in ME2 all through ME3. Sniping was still a bit sketchy in ME1. But I came into Andromeda thinking that I could pick back up the sniper rifle and maintain my playstyle, but that was a short-lived dream. The battlefield is just so frenetic that there’s no real way to line up shots.

          I think the trick to smooth, fun combat in Andromeda is to set yourself up with a Priming power and a Detonation power so that you can wreck bad guys with combos and then just pick a third power that you enjoy using. Some people like setting up the various power sets and switching between them, but that whole process is just cumbersome enough that I find that it subtracts more than it adds.

          • Soldierhawk says:

            Yeah, I can see how that’s totally the case. Maybe I’m just being way too stubborn about the whole thing.

            But it’s an RPG (ostensibly) dammit, and my Pathfinder is a sniper! I shouldn’t have to compromise that because sniping is terribly implemented and unsatisfying! REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

            /s (mostly)

  17. The Nick says:

    “Party because my eyes aren’t really ready to read dialog text and fussy crafting menus just yet…”

    Probably a typo…

    …but I like to imagine Shamus is just looking for any excuse to party.

    “My eye is sore. PARTY TIME!”

  18. Liessa says:

    Genuinely interested to hear what you think of Mass Effect Andromeda. All the bugs and memes aside, what I’ve seen and heard of it so far just looks like a tremendous amount of wasted potential.

    • BlueBlazeSpear says:

      If I had to use two words to describe it, “wasted potential” would be the words. There was a lot going for this game, but they just couldn’t quite execute it.

      They managed to do this all on a new engine, they had to do it while adopting a new open-world philosophy, a new way of doing combat, etc. They were trying to make a lot of new things happen all at once to varying degrees of success. And if the stories are to be believed, they did a significant portion of this in an 18 month window. I’m impressed that they got the code to a point where it would compile, much less that they were able to make a functional game out of it.

      But so much time and effort got squandered in unfortunate ways and I think some people got a bit too complacent thinking that the Mass Effect franchise was too big to fail. It’s just this confluence of circumstances that took something that could’ve been great and made it into something mediocre.

      But it’s definitely worthy of a critical, deep-dive exploration. It’s a corpse begging for an autopsy.

      • Liessa says:

        What struck me most (watching videos of the first few hours) was the scene where Ryder & co touch down on an alien planet countless light years away… and immediately get into a gunfight with a bunch of generic humanoid aliens. Like, what was the point of taking us to a new galaxy if we’re just going to be doing the exact same thing as we would back home? There are so many interesting things the writers could have done with the new setting, especially considering that we are technically the ‘alien invaders’ in this scenario.

        The other thing that bothered me – and it took me quite a while to put my finger on this – is that none of the characters seemed to be taking the story seriously. Obviously I’m fine with the odd humorous line, but these guys were constantly snarking at each other in the most inappropriate situations, like a poorly-written sitcom. It felt like they were going for Joss Whedon-style dialogue or something, but didn’t have the talent to pull it off. How is the audience supposed to be concerned about the characters’ situation when they’re constantly undermining the tension with that kind of forced ‘witty’ dialogue?

        • BlueHorus says:

          It took me quite a while to put my finger on this – is that none of the characters seemed to be taking the story seriously…these guys were constantly snarking at each other in the most inappropriate situations, like a poorly-written sitcom. It felt like they were going for Joss Whedon-style dialogue but didn’t have the talent to pull it off.

          Yeah, that type of dialogue isn’t easy to write at all – and even when it’s done well it can still detract from the story. I remember a couple of times in Firefly or Buffy wherein a dramatic moment was fatally undercut by a witty line. Ach, you ruined it. I cared, but it’s gone now.

          I haven’t played Andromeda, but the combination of bland-story-that-still-wants-to-be taken-seriously and characters snarking at inappropriate moments does not sound like a winner to me.

  19. John says:

    I’ve been listening recently to the new Designer Notes podcast, in which Brian Reynolds, lead designer of Colonization, Civilization II, Alpha Centauri, Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends, and also for some reason the Facebook game Frontierville, talked about designing for a niche audience versus designing for the “mass market”. He said something along the lines of “in a mass market game you don’t want to make anything complicated, you just need to give players something to click on.” Now, he was talking about the mass market as in Facebook, compared to which Battlefield, Call of Duty, and what have you are niche as niche can be, but it makes me wonder. What is (or, if you prefer, who are) the intended audience for the Battlefield 1 singleplayer campaign? Is there an audience for whom the design of the campaign makes sense? I have no idea. My best and only guess is People Who Don’t Play Many Games (And Maybe Haven’t Been Gaming Very Long). They might appreciate the structure and clear directions instead of feeling chafed or insulted by all the restrictions. I’m curious as to what other people can come up with.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      EA put Singleplayer campaigns in these games so that if somebody doesn’t have access to multiplayer then buys the game, they cannot complain because there is content they can access.

      So, whereas Xbox 360 2006 + era games (CoD 4 Modern Warfare 1 Non-Remastered) were mostly Singleplayer experiences with a tacked-on multiplayer mode, EA did the opposite approach, and created a multiplayer game with tacked-on Singleplayer, because they wanted to beat the Halo and the CoDs in the multiplayer scene, but have yet to live up to the legacy of SEGA Bass Fishing.

      I think there is an aspect of EA/DICE wanting to show-off a bit, like Crytek with Crysis – the single player aspect acts as like a glorified tech ‘pizazz’ demo for their engine.

      Also, imagine you bought a game for $60 and after two-three years it is completely out of date because a new version comes out and steals its own userbase. Well, EA/DICE can argue that this isn’t the case, and that the game has a long lasting and important legacy due to that single player mode.

      And, they can react quickly to whatever is trending in the single player or military/political scene, and create a facsimile of that in their single player modes… with varying results.

      • John says:

        That’s very cynical. I’m not saying you’re wrong, mind you, but I want to believe that EA, Activision, or whoever would be spending a lot less time and effort on these singleplayer campaigns if that were the case.

        • Preciousgollum says:

          I want to believe that EA, Activision, or whoever would be spending a lot less time and effort on these singleplayer campaigns if that were the case.

          Activision’s answer to that question is that they are spending ZERO amounts of time on a singleplayer for Call of Duty Black Ops 4, by not having one, because they don’t want to embarrass themselves (apparently the last couple have been a bit lacklustre), and because they don’t think people play them, since multiplayer has taken over.

          EA had the benefit of seeing Multiplayer modes taking over from the start, which is why their revival of the Battlefield series was what it was in 2011. They haven’t needed to focus on good campaigns so much, because they know it isn’t the priority.

          The irony is that Battlefield wants to try to distinguish itself from Call of Duty, while also trying to copy it. So if the next CoD does well, and if EA game pass also does well, those two factors will probably coalesce into a Battlefield game without a singleplayer, OR EA will say that their game features a single-player mode unlike CoD; or CoD will probably have a SP mode next year and things will resume.

          There is also the possibility that both series will ditch SP modes under some developers (Treyarch, DICE – SW Battlefront 1 didn’t have one, but BF2 did because audience expecations), and Activision’s half of Infinity Ward will be making SP modes, while EA’s half of Infinity Ward (Now Respawn – makers of Titanfall) will also make SP. Remember that under EA, Respawn are now making a Star Wars game.

          Oh, and Battlefield V will have some single player content because I think it is going to initially launch with limited content overall, hence this focus on ‘Theaters of War’ that is apparently going to be introduced or updated over the coming months or something. Unless I am mistaken, I think they were saying that the BFV will initially launch with only the Brits + Germans. So perhaps they’re only releasing the Norwegian Theater to begin with.

          It seems that instead of having season passes, the game itself may be a season pass of sorts.

          • Christopher says:

            Patrick Klepek was on the Bombcast a while back and talked about how the reason there is no Black Ops campaign is almost certainly because they couldn’t finish one in time. I’m willing to trust his sources on that since he’s the journalist that broke the story about the leads leaving Infinity Ward and Xbox One reversing its policy on the always online stuff. They can spin it in a positive direction, natch, and if this game does just as well for them with one less thing to spenf money on maybe that’s a way to go. But I don’t get the impression this was their plan.

          • Redrock says:

            Don’t most people buy those games for the multiplayer? Furthermore, do people really want longer campaigns in those games given that there’s very little you can actually do with those campaigns with this particular style of gameplay? Titanfall 2 had a decent campaign, better than most shooters like this, but it was still pretty short. I dunno, I don’t really bother with those shooters these days. I also have Origin Access, but I’ll have to be pretty short on stuff to do to actually boot up Battlefield 1.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      As much as we like to harp on EA for being badly run (and it is), if you believe in an even slightly efficient market, I think you have to see something in the fact that nearly all of these multiplayer-focused shooters have singleplayer campaigns. Titanfall 1 didn’t, and they must have decided that was a mistake given that they added one for Titanfall 2. That many companies don’t all spend that much money making singleplayer campaigns if the only reason is “The exec has a hunch we should”. Maybe they’re mistaken, but if they are I bet their mistakes are at least based on misinterpreting market research data.

      My theory: Game reviews. Reviews and coverage matter a lot, and the big reviewers often feel like they’re going down a checklist to certify that your game is an Authentic AAA Experience™, so you damn well better tick the “Singleplayer campaign with expensive cutscenes” box.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        A counterpoint:Overwatch.So maybe the point is that multiplayer games need to be marketed differently as well having a different gameplay.

      • Preciousgollum says:

        The singleplayer element of a Battlefield game is a way for the developer to inject a narrative or ‘meaning’ aka purpose into their otherwise boring and CoD-style multiplayer games.
        Single Player is the filter by which EA can pertain to treating war seriously and therefore score points with audiences and charities… however…

        The problem that I have with Battlefield as a Single player experience, other than that their design is at odds with functioning gameplay (see the “you die in 5 seconds re-enter combat zone” nonsense), is that they’re tonally all over the place, and there is very little appeal, other than that they act as tech demo.

        So, I remember that in order to out-do Call of Duty 4 MW use of a Nuke and other first person death scenes, as well as the MW2 Airport level, Battlefield 3 had a part where your US soldier player-character gets kidnapped by Iranian Insurgents in Iran, in a CoD-stye interactive cut-scene, and is beheaded as part of propaganda… in first person. So, you see a knife essentially roll across the camera and then it fades to black. I saw someone else play it, and, while it looks stupid upon repeat viewing, I thought it was in very poor taste for 2011 – those types of counter-insurgent Afghanistan dramas were ‘all the rage’ on TV, and I didn’t like them because they were actors engaging in extraordinary tense forms of what usually ended in a fake-out…but Battlefield 3 of course had to one up it by presenting this very sensitive material, and actually going through with it, in a ‘fictional’ conflict between multiple existing countries – USA, Iran, and Russia – it was politically charged, and it basically presents the stereotype that all middle-eastern fighters must be savage barbarian terrorists who do beheadings, and that the Russians are always terrorist syndicates obsessed with procuring black market nuclear weapons or other such doomsday tech. It also presents a level of verisimilitude that I do not find befitting of a supposedly fictional conflict yet one which is rhetorically prevalent. Battlefield is constantly hopping over the line of being a power fantasy, while not being one.

        Look, I freaked out for days about how a fox had bit-off the head of on of the rabbits in my garden (I didn’t see it, so it was worse) while at the same time the news papers were littered with stories about terrorist-decapitation tactics against domestic citizens in foreign countries like Afghanistan, and how the perpetrators were ‘scum of the earth’. It was like being hit by Combo into dizzy.

        Should I have hunted down and taken revenge against this barbaric and savage fox for upsetting my sister? Well, I didn’t, because that’s not my job.

        The media didn’t have to make me and everyone else vicariously suffer uncomfortable feelings of revenge over the subjects of news stories at every opportunity, and neither do video games. Battlefield 3 had NOTHING INTELLIGENT TO SAY on the matter, but still had to torment people with its desire to shock in a gratuitous manner, because it could then pretend to have an important message (or that ‘virtue-signalling’ in the pejorative sense).

        CoD and Tom Clancy have usually tried to be a few steps back from being too ‘on the nose’… or they’ve been so dry and boring (‘technical’ thrillers) that nobody cares. CoD is ironically the more restrained mass-appealing middle-ground between BF3 and Clancy extremes. CoD, however, has now become a shadow of its former self.

        Now, I remember for example in Splinter Cell they had the slaughterhouse level, and I thought that was chilling idea, but this is a Tom Clancy form of dry storytelling where the ex-Georgian president who is not a real person, becomes a terrorist figure against USA. These were not ‘state-actors’.
        – the level was more like Sam Fisher infiltrates a haunted house and rescues people, and it didn’t try to stir up obvious undue controversy or stereotypes against any real people… too much.
        It presents itself as a stealth-procedural, instead of ‘real artistic statement’.

        Again, when I actually tried to play the single player mode of BF3, it was bleugh poorly structured CoD clone tech demo. In my view, it didn’t earn its right to shock people, because it is a poor singleplayer game that didn’t respect the player.

        CoD is schlock military Clancy-esque thriller, that at time’s is obviously debatable whether they should do ‘controversial scenes’. A lot of those scenes were discussed in media ahead of time, so people had warning going in. Battlefield 3 cared more about trying to ape that style, while getting it so wrong in the process. If CoD is military slick Michael Bay/Clancy action, then Battlefield singleplayer is the gaming equivalent of soft-core porn parody.

        So, the problem with Battlefield as a Single Player game is that is is both played completely serious, in a realistic world that ostensibly a stand-in for our own world, while using “oh it is a game” in order to get away with being over the top or campy. It is ‘Theme-parking’. It packages its singleplayer campaigns as these ‘realistic and important narrative looks at real or pseudo-real conflicts’ by way of an impressionist art gallery, but ends up more like a 4chan thread.

        So, for Battlefield V to now come out and declare itself as ‘authentic’ World War 2 about the under-explored real ‘Norwegian conflict’ while also giving themselves a mission statement of being ‘Fantasy World War 2 where the game can break the the conventions haha’ and ‘hey, you people are dumb for thinking it’s real because it is just a game, dummy’ is like if a porn parody of The Witcher 3 declared itself to be as important as The Witcher 3, while also declaring The Witcher books to be an example of fantasy trash literature, based on interesting Polish culture. It’s like a Post-modernist absurdist statement.

        … or like somebody played Metal Gear Solid and believed that “War as a video game” was supposed to be funny.

  20. Preciousgollum says:

    Battlefield 3 Single player had the same problems. After I hid on the other side of a wall and the game said “Return to the combat zone in 5 seconds”, and then I died because I wanted to use this wall as cover, I was so annoyed that I never played the single player mode again.

    I mean, It was an effing WALL! Why did the level designer put it there, allow me to reach the other side, then and not permit me to stand behind it!?

    That is one glaring issue of Singleplayer Battlefield design that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a CoD game.

  21. GoStu says:

    I’m torn.

    Part of me wants you not to play Mass Effect: Andromeda because it could make you very sad. I don’t want you to be sad. I want you to be happy and for good things to happen to you.

    Part of me wants you to play Mass Effect: Andromeda, because from that sadness/disappointment/frustration comes some very good writing and criticism, that I will enjoy.

  22. tmtvl says:

    ME:A will hurt you, and I don’t think it’s bad enough to be worth a laugh. You’d probably be best off just leaving it alone and playing something you enjoy or something that’s the fun kind of bad.

  23. Nick Powell says:

    If you do try Andromeda, can I just make one recommendation: Ignore most of the sidequests and don’t even bother looking at the ‘additional tasks’. The main missions are a lot of fun and some of the crew side missions are really good but most of the rest of the game is pointless timewasting bullshit.

    Or play them if you want. I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not your dad.

  24. Jason says:

    I think Andromeda has its good parts, but it does seem like a lot of wasted potential, and a lot of it was either confusing or frustrating.
    This is supposed to be this unexplored place, and you are the “pathfinder,” but everywhere you go there are already humans (and others) living there. Is it really so impressive that you are setting up a Nexus colony when there are already colonies and settlements all over the planet?
    Meeting the Angara for the first time really felt like a “first contact” kind of thing, like you’re the first humans to ever meet them.
    Then you go to the next 2 planets and there are Angara and humans together and they all know each other and have histories.
    The galaxy already seemed settled and explored by the time you arrive.
    Also, the crafting was pointless. I crafted a few things, but I felt so overpowered, that it just felt like a waste of time. So many choices of weapons and armor and they all felt both overwhelming and meaningless at the same time.

  25. fasdfwefrsadf says:

    IIRC one of the missions in the arabian campaign did allow you freedom of action.

  26. D-Frame says:

    Doug DeMuro. So this is where the Terrible Car Analogies come from.

  27. Cinebeast says:

    I didn’t know Dan Olson did speedruns! That guy’s just a bundle of talent, isn’t he?

  28. Preciousgollum says:

    In summary, if you thought Call of Duty and Spec-Ops: The Line were crude and distasteful, then Battlefield 3 single player was WORSE than those two.

    While people read Spec-Ops as being an antidote to MMS (Modern Military Shooter)… Battlefield 3 single player was like the ANTI-Spec Ops. It was exactly the type of game story that Spec Ops was trying to lampoon.

  29. Zak McKracken says:

    Not sure if you like getting health advice this way, and obviously I am probably completely missing the point, but I started feeling more and more eye strain over the years (decades…), and these things have helped me:

    Sitting in the dark and looking at a monitor is not good for eyes. It makes at least my eyes burn and itch and water after some time. The eyes (forgot which part… not a doctor, and really not good at eye anatomy, even in my native language) can deal with UV light (and blue light, too) okay in the center, but not around the edges. That’s because natural UV light only happens when the sun shines and your pupils are tiny. But watching monitors at night subverts that and gives you UV radiation when your eyes don’t expect it and your pupils are expanded.
    I always keep some indirect light in the room, usually behind me, but not reflecting in the monitor, just enough to be able to read okay. Since I do that, my eyes are a lot more relaxed about late-night computer sessions.

    Using an indirect, diffuse light source also generally reduces the amount of contrast my eyes have to deal with. Much better than the direct halogen beam I used to have — just the light/shadow contrast from that has become hard to bear, even without a monitor in the room.

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