Finished Greedfall yesterday. In the end, an enjoyable game, but not one that was particularly innovative or unique. While it plays up the idea of factions and diplomacy, it seemed too easy to actually get along with everyone. Someone how I managed to stay on everyone's good side, except for one time towards where I made a choice that I knew would make one of the factions angry but seemed like the right choice. Had I not done that I probably would have managed to gather all five factions for the big fight at the end (though I am not clear what difference it actually makes in gameplay). I appreciated that there were always ways to handle most quests with different methods: fighting, sneaking, talking. But I also feel like those options were never very hard to pick. Unless I were just like "bah, I'm going to fight everyone" I don't see how there it was really that hard a choice. The end of the game offered some narration showing all the various companions and factions along with some line or two of denouement. It's a strike against the writing that for each companion they work in something about going back to visit their friend (i.e. your character) in a way that was just too simplistic and pandering. I'm actually curious what you would have to do to get a bad ending in the game, besides just willfully making bad decisions. One thing Dragon Age (and Mass Effect too actually) did well was having decision points where it was hard to choose between options, where you wanted to take all the options but couldn't. I don't feel this game every managed to get me in that type of tough quandary.
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Still coding, still playing Greedfall as my week of vacation comes to an end. I was thinking to myself about the nice absence of lots of fetch quests, when of course I ended up taking on this quest that involved a lot of running back and forth to get an object and then talk to a person somewhere, none of which involved going anywhere new or facing any sort of challenge, so in the end it was just a lot of stupid busy work.
Like many of these sorts of games it also suffers from the constant inventory/equipment management both to keep encumbrance below max (so you can run) and to keep upgrading so you can face the challenges of the game. You keep having to swap around equipment or upgrade it, and so even if you find something you like visually, you can't end up using it for long without falling behind. One thing Assassin's Creed Odyssey ended up doing well was when they added a way to change the look your armor/clothes to match any set you had previously discovered. That way you could keep upgrading in different ways, but you could also choose what your character looked like. Greedfall does have the extra element of faction clothing, so that you can put on the armor/clothes of a faction as a disguise and then be able to more freely walk around specific areas. Of course that does then end up meaning you have to carry a bunch of extra armor around for when you need it.
Narratively, I am enjoying the slowly unfolding mysteries and the handling of the colonizer/native dynamic, though I'm finding it hard to be sympathetic at all to the colonizers, which may be a failing of the game (it makes a lot of the choices easy) or maybe just an indication of my sympathies. I also think they have, so far as I've gotten, missed an opportunity in regard to the protagonist. And some spoilers here... You learn that your character is actually a native, born on a ship back to what they have thought is their home. I don't feel like the cut scenes and dialog are adequately representing what should be a fairly major questioning of the character's position in regards to the colonizer/native dynamic. Perhaps that is partially a limitation of the order one does quests and the game just not accounting in various side quests for changes wrought by the main quest discoveries. Curious to see how it plays out further along the main quest lines.
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Also more playing of Greedfall which is a decent game with a few shortcomings, some clearly because it is a lower budget game with high aspirations, partly just because of conventions of this type of game.
The game is narratively and partially mechanically based around choices. Your character is a diplomate dealing with a variety of factions that have varying levels of conflict with each other, so the story often puts you into a place where you have to choose sides or try to create some kind of compromise. This creates a sense that the choices matter, but like all games like this, it's hard to know if they really do, unless you play the games multiple times (trying variations). Many times, when playing games like Dragon Age or The Witcher I'll go to an online wiki about the game to lookup alternate paths, to see if the decisions I made really were making a difference or, if like a bad rpg module, you always end up with the same result. Greedfall is so new there is no suh source yet, so I'm quite curious about this.
I did discover one of the pivot points around a specific NPC the other day when I advanced through a main mission without completing a side mission. I ended up reloading a previous save and trying a different order to the missions, and that did, to a small extent make some different in the narrative.
The longer I play the game, the more I notice some of the limitations caused by a smaller studio budget. All the cities in the game have certain locations that are almost exactly the same (governor's mansion, barracks, tavern). There is also a sameness to wilderness encounters, where the majority of creatures you run into fall into about three species (with some ranked variations), unless you are in some kind of boss fight. These encounters end up a being a sort of busy work of the game, where you have to succeed in fights to continue the story, but the fights themselves are not particularly engaging on their own.
For me there is always this push and pull between wanting a challenge but not wanting to have to also be restarting from a previous save because my character died in combat. I quickly ended up setting this game on easy mode. For me these sorts of video rpgs are more interesting for the exploration of a narrative (and a narrative world) than they are about strategy and challenge. While I have in the past enjoyed playing strategy games in person, like tabletop miniatures games, the fun there is in playing against a live opponent. It seems less interesting when the opponent is a rather simple combat AI.
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And I've been spending probably too much time on Greedfall on my playstation. It's Dragon Age influence is pretty clear in how it handles party members and a less open world that is made up of large zones to wander around in. Some of the UI is not totally clear, but play has been pretty smooth. The most annoying thing so far is how conversations are handled, particular with party members. The game tracks a metric of your relationship with party members and various factions. Actions you take positively or negatively effect the relationship. Much of the time this is fairly clear: help an npc or faction with a mission, the relationship improves, but sometimes just picking a conversation option will negatively effect the relationship and every time that's happened I've found it completely unclear or unexpected. It feels like there's no way to even gauge how the npcs will react. Another weird thing was a plot point that happened, when I progressed on one of the main missions that caused me to lose a bunch of side missions and one of my party members. The order I should do missions and if there is any time restrictions on them isn't clear (an issue Dragon's Dogma had too).
Otherwise, I am finding the story interesting and the world building is detailed enough to be engaging. The 18th century-esque colonial setting is also effectively done, and the conflict between the colonizers and the natives is so far handled in a suitably complex manner, with a good story twist fairly early on that adds mixed motivation for the main character in how to deal with it.
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Also started a new video game yesterday called Greedfall. As I said to
███ in a text, it's not a AAA game, more like calling a tow truck for yourself... Coming out of Assassin's Creed Odyssey which was AAA and spectacular visually and very smooth in gameplay, this game is a step down in both, but I'm also intrigued in what it is trying to do, setting up a world and various factions you must interact with. I read an interview with the game's main... director? producer? not totally sure what you call it, and she (yes, a woman even!) was talking about the influence of Dragon Age on the game, which is what really sold me on trying it out. I'm hoping it pays off in the end, but I did play a few hours yesterday and enjoy myself and I still really only in the prologue.
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