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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Multiplayer is Dead and We Killed It

Alright, so this title may be a bit embellished but I think we need to have a discussion about this.
Over Christmas break my brother and I were unwinding the holiday nightmare. Stressing about presents, driving far distances to get to our families, the family drama. Its always a hassle. We both sit down and unwind buy playing some games. A while ago, Xbox made it so you could now play some of your old Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One. Very nice of them, great present to have. As my brother and I were getting our asses handed to us at Alien Hominid, we both had a similar revelation that at the time was just a simple one off discussion. "Man, there really aren't that many local multiplayer games anymore." This simply realization got us talking about some other games. The latest Halo game completely cut out both local multiplayer and the local co-op. When we were younger, we both played Halo 2 quite a bit. Every so often, we would compromise to let the other person play along with us as we only had the one console and rather than get into a fight and then get grounded, we begrudgingly allowed the other person to tag along, and we loved it. Though we always fought, playing Halo 2 we could find some common ground. The epic story, killing aliens and watching each other's backs. It was the ultimate bond of sibling bonding we ever had.
At that moment I had a slow realization. I started to think about the last game we played together and I came up blank. Sure, we are both older now. We've got jobs and both of our choices in games vary. I prefer RPGs and scifi while he likes shooters and a few RPGs. The last game we both bought together and have enjoyed was Fallout 4. While I'm not saying Fallout 4 should have multiplayer, its an RPG and we do need some great single player games, neither of us ever remember when we bought a new game and could play together. I understand that at some point in time the internet became a thing and distance was no longer an issue for both communication and video games, but what happened to the closeness? Why can't my girlfriend and I sit on the same couch, use the same console and play a game together? Why is it that I have to go to Nintendo to get those on the couch multiplayer games I used to enjoy as a kid.
This isn't a nostalgia rip. I enjoy the newer games as well as, if not more than, the other games I used to have as a kid. There will always be a place for me and my friend to play games despite the twenty mile gap between us online and that's great. It gives me a chance to spend time with people in spite of the length between us. But when did we come to a point where we decided that the further gap was more important than just sitting next to someone? Link cables are a thing of the past, and with good reason but there will always be that great connection between me and my friend. I have a Pokemon they want and I'm willing to trade it or I need something evolved via a trade and she's trustworthy enough to give it back.
When did we just let video game companies cut out a piece of our games that we used to have without any flack? What about when I have kids? Am I going to have to buy a separate console just so I can give them the joy and experience of playing games that I took for granted as a kid? Not every game needs this, sure, but why can't we put it in more games? I think there's a certain point where we have to pull the reigns back on innovation. If we forget where it came from to begin with then we can't learn from past mistakes and glories. We'll forget what it was like to be able to plug in another controller and bond with someone without words. To find out who a person really is by their actions in a video game, learning that our friend is a selfless hero who'd sacrifice themselves so you could press on. Or maybe the teacher, holding hands with the new player and showing them the amazing world you've discovered.
I really think there will always be a place in my heart where this type of gaming will live. Where I can show someone how great I think something is and walk side by side with them as we explore something together.

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Beginner's Tips

With no asterisk or parentheses after this sentence, Dragon's Dogma has to be my favorite game. While I do have games I absolutely love, Dragon's Dogma really seems to be my favorite for reasons I could but won't explain. The game is a JRPG, but takes more influences from western games setting it apart from the bubbly, anime style RPGs and even past Final Fantasy in terms of tone and look. I really would like everyone to play this game, and since it's now on Steam a lot more people can get at it... but I will be the first to admit some of it's mechanics and features are daunting at best to a beginner. So I'm going to list off a few tips that will help you enjoy the game, hopefully as much as I do.

-The beginning of the game focuses on a pseudo tutorial, teaching you the basics of combat as well as how enemies and allies (pawns) function. It doesn't cover all of the minute aspects but you'll get a pretty good idea of what to expect. I don't think its much of a stretch to say that 'certain enemies have certain weaknesses' as basically every game with combat is just this in a nutshell from RPGs even to shooters. Throughout the game, you'll be told rather than have a list of what an enemy is weak to. Told in the sense that you must find it first or have another person find it. You pawn, which is your main companion with you through the entire game, will learn how to defeat enemies better and sometimes will tell you how best to do it. However, it goes further beyond simply fire beats ice and holy beats dark. Some enemies are weak on certain points or taking apart certain points will make the fight easier. A cyclops' weakness is it's single eye, however hit it too much and it will become enraged and it's attacks will become sporadic and harder not only to dodge but also predict. A chimera has three points of attack which you'll learn at the end of the tutorial: a snake tail, goat on it's back and a lion's body. Cut off the snake allows you to climb on the creature more easily and attack it's other points as well as keeps it from spewing poison. The goat casts powerful magic while the lion rampages around with quick and deadly physical attacks. Some enemies have easy to discern points of weakness such as a glowing heart or undead being weak to various forms of magic, but it won't always be so easy. Being sensible and wary will often lead to your success and survival.

-Every single weapon and piece of clothing can be upgraded to increase it's resistance and attack. While this sword may be slightly more powerful than this other one, you may like the stats better or simply the look on another. Upgrading costs materials, money and you have to go to special vendors to upgrade. Basically, you have to put work into being as lethal as possible. If that's too much of a hassle for you, the game offers an alternative approach. Killing dragons and dragon-like creatures offers the chance for your weapons to be 'Dragon Forged'. The game's official Wiki page (http://dragonsdogma.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon%27s_Dogma_Wiki) offers greater insight into the minute details of how weapons can be Dragon Forged as well as other useful information. You can find a drake early on in the game. If you can brave it's challenge and kill it, you may find a great surprise after the battle.

-There's fast travel... kind of. The world you're plopped into may not be the most expansive compared to the other RPGs out there, but its still a large world in it's own right. While you may be used to fast traveling around Skyrim as you please from simply finding the points on your map, you may be disappointed here. Sure, you can but you'll need an item first and your choices on where to jump to are limited to say the least. You'll need these things called Ferrystones. They are limited to a single use and will take you to your destination. When the game was on consoles, these items were expensive and you weren't going to find them (often) when defeating an enemy or after a mission. They are also expensive. Now that the game is on Steam, you can find an unlimited use one in the main city of the game once you get there. Simply go through the story as normal to get inside the city and go to the Pawn Guild. To the right of it are these stones in a pentagon. In the center is the unlimited use Ferrystone you're looking for. Now those stones are actually how you can fast travel. Those are Portcrystals and they are even more scarce and even more expensive. You'll find about two of these through the game, both are in main quest missions but can be easily over looked if you're not vigilant or perceptive enough. The Wiki should have a better explanation on them but the gist of it is that you pick one up and through your inventory use it and it will be placed. You can travel to that point however often you like and pick it up to move it if you'd like as well. Playing through the game, you might find that missions tend to make you travel far so these can be a blessing if you remember to put them down before hand. My two personal favorite places to put these are right in front of the Shadow Fort and in front of the Blue Moon tower. Again, Wiki if you need the location. This can save you a lot of time and a lot less stress. Side note, there are escort quests in the game which will give you some nice loot at the cost of pulling your hair out because you have to protect someone who can be killed easily. You can fast travel to these Portcrystals if you've placed them before hand and your escort will be transported with you. Keep in mind that you'll encounter massive monsters who will attack you on sight and take a long time to kill so, ya, this is a great thing to have.

-The 'Dark Arisen' title was not from the original game. Dragon's Dogma was the original title of the game when it first came out. Some time later, a separate expansion was added called 'Dark Arisen'. This new expansion is standard with the game and allows you to travel to a new location. This new location has a greater challenges than the main world you'll be in as well as greater rewards you can't find elsewhere. Fight through the horrors and more powerful monsters and you'll find some incredible loot.

-Finally, and unfortunately, you can only have one non manipulable save file. Personally I only have one Skyrim save file... apart from my other save that allows me to restart the game from the character creation screen and my autosaves, but that's besides the point. In Dragon's Dogma, you get one character, one save and that's it. Did you screw up something but the game saved it? You've got two choices. You can either start a new character from scratch or beat the game and continue in New Game Plus to fix your mistake. This sucks and I have no tips for it. Just remember this is a thing. You can save practically anywhere provided you aren't in battle just from the start screen. Sleeping via an inn keeper or rest stop will also save the game. Defeating certain monsters such as the final boss or completing some missions will also do this. I recently screwed up on one quest and lost the most valuable (for me anyways) vendor in the game who sells an arrow that can just about one shot anything in the game if not cut down it's health severely and who also has an extremely important quest for me. The game saved it for me so I'm kind of out of luck. The game is lengthy and I really don't want to start a new character, so I'm just going to have to live with it.

-As a final tip, I suggest you decide what type of character you want your's to be... and then choose Warrior. I know that sounds kind of weird but the Warrior has one skill that I find invaluable. Stick with the class for a while until you get to a certain level in the vocation. The skill allows you to carry more stuff in your inventory without being encumbered. Its about around the sixth level so it may take some time but it is insanely worth it in my perspective. The same goes for just about every other class, or as the game calls them 'vocations'. Some skills can only be gained and used by certain vocations but really it boils down into three categories: Magic, Rouge and Strength characters. Each class has their own intersecting 'hybrid' class. You can be a Magic Archer, a Magic Warrior or an Assassin which can use shields, bows, daggers and swords at any given time. Your main pawn can also be outfitted with a vocation of your choice at will so long as you can purchase it.
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