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Always outnumbered. Probably always outgunned, too.

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Joined 01/23/2012
Phantasm 4

373 Posts

I've been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda in basically all my free time over the past couple days. EA has a program called Origin Access (or EA Access on consoles) where you pay $5 a month and you get access to a ton of games. It's like Netflix only for EA games. In addition, you get a 10% discount on any purchase. I had just gotten a new PC and wanted to try some games that I'd missed so I paid for a month.

Little did I know, however, that it also included timed game trials before release. In Mass Effect: Andromeda's case, I was able to play the game for up to 10 hours and up to a certain point in the story. I only got to about the 8:30 mark before I ran out of stuff to do, and I had been really taking my time. And now I have to wait until Tuesday, when it actually releases, to continue. And I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas.

In short: there are issues, but it's great overall... so far. The following are first impressions that may change over the course of the game, and I'm keeping things spoiler-free.

The bad
First, lets get the bad stuff out of the way:

  • The facial animations. Oooooooooohhhh boy, those facial animations. At best they're as bad as the previous entries. Bioware has a bad track record for those. But with the new shiny graphics, the bad facial animations are more pronounced. At worst, they're really distracting and jarring. These have been getting a lot of ridicule and it's clear why. The odd thing is, the aliens have perfectly fine animations, it's the humans who have weird thousand-yard stares and creepy smiles. Bioware/EA has said that there's a bug involved and that it wouldn't be fixed by day 1, so we may get some improvements.

  • The writing for character dialogue is inconsistent. One character can go from seeming real to seeming cliché in two lines. While it isn't bad overall, the bad parts bring it down a bit. Thankfully it seems like only a few characters are affected. Perhaps they just didn't have a solid idea of who these characters should be? I'm hoping this improves as the story moves on.

  • Planet scanning seems to have less of a point. Almost no planets have anything to scan. And while the on-planet vehicle makes a return, at least at this point in the game the only planets you can land on are the ones involved in the main story.

  • Getting around in the galaxy is slower. You have a really pretty cutscene every time you switch from one planet/system to another. It's nice the first few times, not the 20th.

  • The omni-tool scanner slows you down and I felt compelled to pull it out often to make sure I wasn't missing something.

  • The first planet you visit (after the intro planet) isn't a good one to show off for the demo. Or, alternatively, the demo ends just too soon. You can barely go anywhere until you do something (which I won't give away in case people are really wary of spoilers) but the trial stops right before you get to do that thing. So even when you get to the end of where the plot will take you in the demo, you've probably exhausted what you can explore too.

  • There are some sidequests that feel identical to ones I've done before in Mass Effect and other games. It's not something unique to this game, but a couple of times I thought, "Oh THIS again. OK." Not a huge thing, but there are some tropes.

  • I don't care about the enemies. At this point, they're just violent and nothing else. I wish that, by this point in the game, we had learned about them a bit more.

  • This is more nebulous but worth mentioning. I like the characters but none of them seem as memorable as the wonderful cast of characters from the first three games. I could be wrong, there's a lot of game left.

  • Sometimes the new on-planet vehicle is an asshole. I see what they were trying to do with the new controls for it, but it may be overcomplicated at times. And it doesn't have any weapons!

The good

  • The graphics, facial animations aside, are wonderful. I can't say much more about them than that. It's really good stuff.

  • The world-building is fantastic. Er... galaxy building? Andromeda feels alien. Even more than the planets you visit in the previous Mass Effect games. The structures built by the Milky Way crew look like modernized architecture from the previous games. It feels very Mass Effect, and yet separate from the Mass Effect trilogy that came before it.

  • The more open design helps make the worlds feel real. I wouldn't call it open-world, but it benefits from being more open. The addition of jump jets let you explore more of the space, and it feels less restricted.

  • Combat is much improved, largely because of the more open design and the jump jets, but everything just has more weight to it now. Enemies seem smarter, and will actively flank you. You have to pay attention.

  • Aside from the tropey quests mentioned above, the quests and sidequests are great. Even in the intro, when you first get control of your character, you can see things happening around you that you can jump into or not. When you first find a certain place (again, being careful of spoilers) you can start a murder mystery that takes you to multiple systems to solve.

  • Even if the lips don't match all the time, the voice acting is solid. I got used to FemShep, so in my mind Mass Effect has female protagonists and I chose Sara Ryder. Her voice actor is no Jennifer Hale, but she does well, and the supporting cast does as well.

  • There are callbacks to the old games. So far, they've been minor ones but it helps to tie the series together.

  • Omni-tool scanning, while not perfect (see above) is fun. I felt like I was in No Man's Sky, running around scanning animals, rocks, plants, and tech. I hope the folks at Hello Games play this and modify the scanner in No Man's Sky a bit, honestly.

  • (This isn't really a spoiler unless you've literally avoided everything about this game, so if you're here I assume you at least know the premise.) You aren't saving the galaxy this time, I don't think. I say "I don't think" because the plot has a long way to go and could significantly change. In the previous games there was a massive threat that needed to be stopped. In this game, it's all about making a new home. The new goal and focus are refreshing.

  • Multiplayer is pretty solid but I suck at it.

  • The Tempest isn't the Normandy but it's pretty sweet. It's that same familiar ship design from the SR-1 and SR-2, but modernized and shinier.

  • The characters are good. I'm pessimistic about them achieving the character development from the first three games, but they are good. I care about them. Natalie Dormer's Lexi T'Perro is a fantastic Asari doctor (who totally isn't into women, a fact I discovered accidentally), Vetra is a Turian who would make Garrus proud, and so on. The characters retain the traits of their races, while also having unique personalities.

  • The on-planet vehicle is much improved over the Mako. Yeah I know I complained about it up top, but in general it's far better. GTA it ain't, but it serves its purpose better than the Mako.

Bottom line
When I was looking for a screenshot to include up top, I found a screenshot from Shepard's apartment in Mass Effect 3, when she throws the party and they take a group photo. That felt like seeing a picture of my absolute best friends that I haven't seen in years. While Mass Effect 3 was a downgrade for the most part, I seriously felt regret and loss at seeing that screenshot. That's how much I loved the original trilogy. The question for many won't just be "Is Mass Effect: Andromeda a good game?" It will be "Does Mass Effect: Andromeda achieve what the previous games did?" And that's not really even something we can answer until there's a trilogy, because the strength of each new game builds because of the history.

For now, I can say Andromeda is really good so far. I'm simultaneously optimistic and hyper-critical because of loving the first trilogy. I have problems with Andromeda, some of which may get fixed, some of them are there for good, and some are my own brain telling me "BUT IT'S NOT SHEPARD!" But the problems don't make it bad, not at all. The facial animations are the biggest issue but, while they're distracting, I'm not playing the game for how people's faces look when they talk.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the game. There's a lot of promise here, and I just want to sleep until Tuesday so I don't have to wait to keep playing.

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Hooooo boy. This is a doozy of an update.

This is a Terraria-level update. I don't know how to prioritize things, so here's a quick overview of the new hotness in the order in which Hello Games presented them.

First up, the graphics have been significantly overhauled, with better textures and lighting effects. The PS4 Pro can take advantage of new features and shinies.

Other players' bases can now be found and explored, and Steam Workshop will let you find them more easily.


Speaking of ships, each ship type has a clear specialization for combat, hauling freight, and exploration.

Multi-tools also have specializations, for mining, combat, and scanning.

Ships and weapons now have classes: A, B, C, or a rare S-Class.

You can now build ground vehicles called Exocraft for getting around on-planet. There are three classes of these for speed, hauling loot, or somewhere in the middle.

You can make Exocraft races and challenge others to beat your time!

There are new traders in space stations, some of which sell blueprints that you can buy with a new currency: nanite clusters.

Base-building now has way more options so you can pimp out your house in style!

Multi-tool and ship weapons have far more variety now, for close-, mid-, and long-range combat.

There's a new game mode: permadeath. If you were ever playing NMS and thought "I wish I could lose all this when I die," then this mode is for you.

There are five new trophies for claiming a base or freighter, building an exocraft, visiting another player's base, and reaching the center of the galaxy in Survival and Permadeath mode. Those last two should take a while.

There's now a dedicated photo mode so you can stop time and line up the perfect shot! You can choose the time of day and lighting effects and add photo filters.

The Discovery menu has gotten some significant updates; it's actually useful! You can find yourself and set waypoints to previous systems.

65daysofstatic has created 8 new soundscapes for that awesome procedurally generated soundtrack.

You can name your ships now.

You can skip those annoying black bar cutscenes.

NPCs are faster at getting to the point when you talk to them.

And various other improvements.

For the full list, check this post from Hello Games: http://no-mans-sky.com/pathfinder-update/

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The folks at NightDive Studios have released a new pre-alpha trailer of their System Shock remake, and it looks beautiful! Successfully Kickstarted last year, the game is a full re-creation of the 1994 cult classic in a modern engine. They had previously decided to use the Unity engine but after wanting a little more out of what the engine could give them, they switched to Unreal.

I appreciate the way they went about it. They switched engines back in October but didn't say anything about it until they had something to show for it. An engine switch is a big prospect-- best to announce it when you can show that you're up to the task!

See the info about it on their Kickstarter news article: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598858095/system-shock/posts/1820162

And if you want a comparison of what could have been in Unity vs. what will come with Unreal, check the main video here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598858095/system-shock/

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If you've been around here for a while, you know we can't stop talking about Terraria. I think most of us got into it with 1.1, when hardmode was added. This trailer is from around the original release in 2011, so it was before our time in it.

Back then, molten armor was the strongest, Skeletron was the last boss. Based on the trailer, the physics were different in many ways, flails worked a bit differently, and tons of sprites and blocks were different (look at those smooth doors and shiny dungeons).

We're coming up on *six years* since the game released, if you can believe that, and updates are still coming. Here's a brief look at the game's history, discounting minor patches (though "minor" is getting hard to define with this game)...

1.1 came late the same year, with almost double the amount of stuff to do and build. Minor-ish changes rolled out, but a few months later Redigit said that development would be stopping on the game due to real-life issues.

BUT things change, and over a year later (September, 2013), 1.2 came giving us the crimson and beefing up what you could do in the jungle. Over 1.2's lifespan new events were added, and more and more items.

Then 1.3 in June 2015 (how has that been nearly two years?) brought us alien invaders, a new final boss, and expert mode, and extended the endgame even further. Tons of updates have come out in the 1.3 line, bringing new and refined mechanics, controller support, Mac and Linux support, new events based on other games, and more.

1.3.5 is coming "soon" and marks the return of Redigit to the development team. More info on that can be found here, but so far that information is sparse: http://terraria.gamepedia.com/Upcoming_features

That's not bad for a game that ended development 5 years ago! The thing is, I loved the game we had at the end of 1.1's update chain. When I found out that no more updates would be released, I was content. But the game we have now makes 1.1 seem quaint!

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This game keeps looking better. The end of next month can't come soon enough! I was a huge fan of the original trilogy and I'm stoked to get out into the new galaxy. The video above is the second in a series of Gameplay videos; this one shows off the character customization and it looks like a major extension to what we've had in the past.

A teaser at the end seems to indicate that the next video will be about planet exploration, one of my favorite and most frustrating parts about the series, so I'm hoping to see them really get it right with Andromeda.

The first one in the series is here, showing off weapons and skills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrWgLMH8yRU

In other news, the system requirements are up on Origin now: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/deluxe-edition#requirements

Aaaaaand it's time for an upgrade. I'll have a new PC at my doorstep in a few days. This is the first game I've wanted to play that I don't think I can. My video card is more than enough but my AMD CPU is way behind. This PC has lasted me almost 5 years exactly, but I tend to get things that are already a generation or two behind to save money. This time I'm getting something more modern but not top-of-the-line. I'm going Intel over AMD because AMD tends to lag in some features. It has a new core i5 CPU (later upgradeable to an i7 if I need it but I won't for a long time, 16gb ram, a Geforce 1060 GPU, a 512gb solid state and a 1tb hard drive. No floppy drive :D

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We’re going through changes. The Cheerful Ghost Roundtable is entering its chrysalis, and when it emerges it will be Cheerful Ghost Radio, the new podcast by members of the Cheerful Ghost community.

What does this mean for you?

  • Better quality audio. Taking video out of the equation should improve the audio quality since it won’t be compressed like in Google Hangouts.

  • Better visuals. You no longer have to look at our ugly mugs.

  • More options. You are no longer tied to Youtube so you can listen whenever you want, wherever you want.

What does this mean for us?
  • We no longer have to put on clothes to record an episode!

We’d like to hear what you want from Cheerful Ghost Radio. What are your favorite parts of the roundtable that should stick around? What are some things you would like for the new show?

Join us on February 13 for the final episode of the Cheerful Ghost Roundtable where we’ll look back on our five years of history and look toward the next step.

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One of the best games ever made is currently free. If you've never played this game, you owe it to yourself!

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In a ruling posted by the ASA, they found the advertising in compliance with their codes.

In brief:

"We understood that the screenshots and videos in the ad had been created using game footage, and acknowledged that in doing this the advertisers would aim to show the product in the best light. Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration), but did not find it in breach."

Because the ads were in compliance, no formal investigation was required. Their investigation seems to have consisted only of reviewing material and discussing the matter with Valve and Hello Games.

The full ruling can be read here: https://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2016/11/Valve-Corporation/SHP_ADJ_351045.aspx

(image credit: AgeTurnipseed on reddit)

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The Foundation update, which Hello Games is presenting as the "foundation" for things to come, has been released.

This "foundation" provides a lot of content. Most people that I had seen discussing it weren't expecting anywhere near this much, and I definitely wasn't. A Foundation sounds like something that allows them to add more content in the future, but this is a game-changer. In fact, in terms of things to actually do in the game while planet hopping, this update adds more content than the game even started with. No Man's Sky was a wife and vast galaxy that was unfortunately a bit shallow, but this looks like the start to some major depth.

In brief:
* new creative and survival modes
* build your own bases
* buy freighters
* summon your freighter from anywhere
* travel to your base planet from any space station
* leave messages for other players with beacons
* massive fleets in space
* better planet scanning
* new items and tech
* like hundreds of tweaks and fixes

I was going to post the full patch notes but there's no way the site will let me. There are just that many changes. So check those out here: http://www.no-mans-sky.com/foundation-update/

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Ubisoft is giving away a free gift every day for the next thirty days! Just sign in and reap the rewards. Today's is Rayman Classic on mobile.

Thanks to some people digging in the source, we know what's coming up as well.

Day 1 (Today - 24/11) : Rayman Classic on Mobile: Android - iOS
Day 2 (25/11) : 30% off Ubisoft Games
Day 3 (26/11) : Exclusive Collection of E3 2016 Cards
Day 4 (27/11) : Ubi30 Exclusive GIF
Day 5 (28/11) : For Honor GIFs
Day 6 (29/11) : Ubi30 360 Image
Day 7 (30/11) : Just Dance Greeting Card
Day 8 (01/12) : Ubisoft DIY Advent Calendar
Day 9 (02/12) : Steep Wallpaper
Day 10 (03/12) : Exclusive Digital Posters from E3 2016
Day 11 (04/12) : Rabbids Holiday Goodies
Day 12 (05/12) : WWW Wallpaper
Day 13 (06/12) : Ubisoft Cocktail recipes
Day 14 (07/12) : Free Assassin's Creed 3 on PC
Day 15 (08/12) : Ubisoft Wrapping Paper
Day 16 (09/12) : 300 games Giveaway: 300 copies of 3 of the latest Ubisoft titles (1 game per person, first come first serve)
Day 17 (10/12) : Watch_Dogs 2 Wallpaper
Day 18 (11/12) : Ubisoft gift tags
Day 19 (12/12) : Ubisoft Dessert recipes
Day 20 (13/12) : Ghost Recon GIFs
Day 21 (14/12) : Wallpaper for mobile
Day 22 (15/12) : Free Prince of Persia on PC
Day 23 (16/12) : Free Rayman Legends on PC​​
Day 24 (17/12) : Free Splinter Cell on PC​
Day 25 (18/12) : Free The Crew on PC​
Day 26 (19/12) : Rayman GIF
Day 27 (20/12) : Steep GIF
Day 28 (21/12) : Exclusive 2017 Digital Holiday Cards
Day 29 (22/12) : Ubi30 Wallpaper
Day 30 (23/12) : Ubisoft Holiday decorations

Go here to get the free stuff:

Gift list source:

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I normally keep up with these but I missed this one. Jon's post about the new Ocarina world record made me jump down this rabbit hole, and I discovered that, about a month ago, darbian broke the world record for the fastest Super Mario Bros. run at just under 4:56:878. He's the first human to get into the 4:56 range.

The fastest human-capable time is thought to be 4:55.96, if you're able to pull off every trick at the right spot. The fastest tool-assisted speedrun is currently 4:54.03, if you use the same timing methods as the human runs (TAS runs start the clock when the game powers on). Tool-assisted speedruns can make use of glitches that require pixel-perfect accuracy.

Either way, it looks like we're getting very close to the fastest possible run.

A note about the timer in the video-- that's controlled by the streamer, so some human error is involved. After finishing it up, software checks the video frame-by-frame to get the official time. The clock in the video says 4:57.02, even though the official time is 4:56.878.

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Here's that crossover content that was teased a few weeks back!

Some time before the end of the year, Terraria will be getting a new invasion with new enemies and loot, and Dungeon Defenders 2 is getting some new levels and the Dryad as an unlockable hero! And she looks newly angry! I guess she has a corrupt form?

From the article:
"In this rare crossover event, Terraria players will get to experience intense invasion-style action straight from the magical realm of Etheria, while Dungeon Defenders 2 players will enlist the help of an ancient and powerful hero to face down new threats of a distinctly Terrarian nature."

"Terraria fans will get a new Dungeon Defenders 2-themed event with special enemies and loot accessible to new players and engaging for veteran players. Dungeon Defenders 2 will receive new maps, gear, vanity items and more inspired by Terraria, as well as a brand-new hero available for purchase: the Dryad."

This looks interesting! And hey, more Terraria is always good!


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Some Obsidian devs have created Mos Eisley in Unreal Engine 4 just as a fun little project. This is not for any game. Don't want you to get your hopes up! :D

The download clocks in at 7.4 GB, just for one level, which tells you something about the assets. If you've ever wanted to walk around in the most realistic Mos Eisley imaginable, now's your chance!

The project started as a 3DSMax model of the Falcon, and then grew from there. 17 people at Obsidian joined in to provide artwork and other help.

This really pushes graphics hardware, getting about 45fps on a GTX 970/980, so if you have aging hardware you might just get a slideshow.

They are about 90% done with it and plan to add VR support in the future.

More about the dev process and download links here: https://80.lv/articles/star-wars-scene-production-in-ue4/

UPDATE: A review! Can tech demos have reviews? Is this allowed? What's next? Human Sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

There are options you can set to tune this to your hardware, so don't be discouraged by the specs I mentioned above. That was probably with everything on ultra. I got a ton of texture pop-in but otherwise this is gorgeous. The texture pop-in can be minimized by setting the Unreal Engine process to high priority in task manager. Don't do real-time unless you want your system to crash.

Also there's a "hidden weapon" that you can find, but I haven't yet. It's gotta be a lightsaber though right?

This feels like the closest interactive media has ever gotten to real Star Wars. I feel slightly embarrassed to admit that a tech demo made me feel emotions, but this did.

Time for a whole-series rewatch. :D

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This review is only about the game that I played, nothing else. I'm not including the drama surrounding the features that were discussed or shown before release that didn't make the cut. You can read more about those here: http://cheerfulghost.com/Travis/posts/3096/no-man-s-sky-review-supplemental-the-game-we-got-vs-the-game-we-bought

Ah, No Man's Sky. This game was hyped far past the point of over-hyped before release, which is always a bit dangerous. I let myself get taken in by it, drooled over every new trailer and Sean Murray interview, but I've ridden hype trains before and I know the risk of getting overhyped. I managed my expectations. I didn't think it was going to be the god of all games, and the last game I'd ever need. It has problems but not a ton. In short, I really like it. REALLY like it. I might even love it.

It isn't all rosy, though.

The first few days, I couldn't start the game. It would just crash on the "Hello Games" logo. It seems not a lot of QA was done in the final days before release, and tons of AMD users and some Intel users were stuck at the same place. This wasn't the only launch issue either. Luckily, in a week or so, Hello Games had fixed most of the crashes and gotten people playing.

Once I finally got into the game, I was smitten. For a few hours, my mouth may have been stuck open, I was so amazed. This game is beautiful. Some planets are duds, no flora, no fauna, very little other than gray, but you can still find beauty there. I'm not a screenshot-taker, but I have taken about 50 in this game. That's an incredibly small amount when compared to others.

You get thrown into the galaxy with no memory and vague goals. You know you have to travel, and you have a goal to get to the center of the galaxy. A mysterious entity named Atlas wants your help with something and promises to help you as well, but past that you aren't sure what it's all about. You're free to ignore one or both of these goals, you can do whatever you want. You're entirely on your own. You don't know the alien languages and have to learn them, and your friends can't help you. Yes, it's entirely single-player, and I'm actually really glad they took out (or never made) the ability to see other players. It's a more meaningful experience that way, I think.

Plot is intentionally vague, but you can piece things together. That mystery is one of the best parts of the game for me. Having completed both of those paths, however, I'm still not sure of how some of it fits together.

After those first few hours of jaw-dropping amazement, I got hit with a sense of "ok, now what?" I realized I wasn't really playing toward any goal, just riding on the beauty of the game and seeing what I could see, but now I needed something to do. I was hitting a wall in terms of inventory, so I decided to bump that up. This was a nice change. It gave me a few goals on top of the Atlas and Center paths, so I had a clear sense of what I wanted to do while seeing all these amazing planets.

And that was great. The "grind" to get a 48 slot suit, 48 slot ship, and 24 slot multitool didn't feel like a grind at all. I got lucky on my first few jumps and ended up making so much money that I never really had a problem with affording anything I needed, but I almost wish that I hadn't. Gathering resources to sell so that I had enough money to upgrade my suit and buy new multitools would have added some depth to those goals, rather than just finding them and buying them. But finding new awesome looking multitools and especially ships was really fun. Even after finding that perfect 48-slot ship that you decide you'll keep forever, there's always a better ship. I have gone through four forever ships.

But once I had all that, and had built all the tech I wanted, I hit another wall. In terms of goals, all I had left was the two paths. The achievements in the game match up to in-game Journey Milestones, and I had hit level 10 on all of those by this point as well. I finished up the Atlas path quickly, and didn't really have a ton of fun doing it, because I didn't have anything else to fill my time on that path. Then I worked toward the center of the galaxy, jumping from black hole to black hole, and therefore I had to land more often to find resources to repair my ship, and that alone gave me more to do, making the trip to the center a really fun trip.

A note about the ending, with no spoilers. It's another thing people are hating on pretty hard. I didn't mind it, but I thought it could have been better. I suspect that they will add to it in future releases, but even if they don't I'm fine with it.

After the end, I hit yet another wall. I don't even want to give you minor spoilers, so I won't tell you whether you can continue after the center, or if I started up from my last save but I did keep playing. No goals, practically infinite planets to explore, but no further progression to make, really. I still haven't quite gotten over this wall.

The exploration of the game is fun, very fun. And it's breathtaking in places. Every planet I saw was something new, created by the algorithms just for me (generally). But once you see enough planets, you see the same things repeated. You see the same weird bear face on 100 different creatures on planets spread throughout the galaxy. Each planet has the same buildings, with aliens that ask you the same questions. It's a new configuration of very familiar elements, and when you have literally no goals other than collect plutonium and titanium to charge things up, the sightseeing doesn't carry the game. I mentioned in the last Roundtable that I was afraid of this happening, that the content would run out too soon, and that's what happened.

But at the same time, having absolutely no goals also changed the game yet again. I still hop in and play some, just not as much. It's like listening to music or watching your favorite movie. It's relaxing. Just hopping to a planet, getting out and taking in all the sights. After the goals and progression were gone, it became the anti-game for me. More a hobby than a game, if that makes sense.

That said, I hit that point at about 64 hours. Even if I had stopped there, that's a lot of fun for a game. My idea of what to do for fun kept changing throughout the game, and that's a good thing. It provides variety. But the variety isn't deep enough yet. I'm greatly looking forward to the content updates that Hello Games will be releasing.

I have a few specific complaints that don't really fit the narrative above. All but the first are pretty minor:

  • The sentient alien species all feel shallow. You only ever see one at a time, usually sitting or standing behind a desk. There are trading posts where there could (and maybe should) be more activity. After you've learned a few words you've maxed out your reputation with them and it's near impossible to lose it. There aren't really any factions in the game, but you do get a sense that the species don't like each other in some cases. There's just nothing to do with that. Even when you get the rare opportunity to help one species hurt another or warn the other species, you only gain standing with one, you don't lost standing with the other.

  • The UI leaves a lot to be desired:

    • The galaxy waypoint system is easy to break and doesn't allow many waypoints (though Hello Games is working on a new system for this), and there's no easy way to revisit planets.

    • When you get a Journey Milestone it blacks out half your screen and puts text over the other half, and won't let you interact with most things.

    • Uggghhh why do I have to hold E to do anything, just let me press it!

    • When a conversation with an alien starts, you have to wait a crazy long time for all the text to pop in. It's definitely a form-over-function situation. The effect looks nice but after you've done it 100 times you just want it to get out of your way.

    • There's no way to clear on-planet waypoints without actually going to them, and beacons frequently give you the same location multiple times.

  • The combat capabilities of your multitool are rarely needed. Actually this is just a subset of...

  • As a kind of survival-light game, there's very little danger. Even without many multitool upgrades you can easily take out hostile sentinels, and as long as you have one of a few very common elements you can keep your hazard protection going without ever upgrading for specific element protection.

But those are really minor, except for the first one. More robust alien interactions could give the game more content.

Overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives. The Steam rating was at 48% shortly after launch, mostly due to the issues many had in the first few days. I thought it would go up, but it's gone down. It's currently at 37%. I really don't understand that, at all. I certainly understand some of the complaints, I even share many of them. I just don't know how you can use those complaints to say it's a bad game.

It has a hefty price tag for an indie game at $60, but I think it's worth that amount. Some of the vitriol may have been avoided if it were priced lower, but I personally got my money's worth, and will get even more value with more content coming in the future.

I'm not even going to attempt to give this a numerical rating. It's like nothing I've ever played. It scratches an itch that I didn't even know I had before playing it. I just want more of it! There's a wide variety of things to do, just not enough depth to them. "Wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle" is a phrase I've seen a lot, even from people who really enjoy this game. It's hyperbole, sure. It's not THAT shallow, but the sentiment is valid. It has some problems, some major and some minor, but Hello Games is working hard to fix them and to add more things to do and more ways to do them.

It isn't a game for everyone, Hello Games has even said that. It will never have the wide appeal that some games get. But for the right kind of gamer it's fantastic, and should only get better. Even if it stayed the same as it is right now, I would replay it often.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play it for a bit.

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I'm currently working on a full review of No Man's Sky, but this isn't it. It's a hard game to review, for many reasons, but one thing that's hard to ignore is people's disappointment in things that were missing. I decided to only focus my review on the game as it is (as much as I can), but I felt the need to address this a bit.

The battle cry of people on various gaming forums is "Sean Murray lied!" or "No Man's Lie" or some other variation on that. But were we lied to? People are using the words "promise" and "lie" quite a bit when talking about this game, but those words carry a lot of weight.

There are features missing from the game that were shown or discussed before launch. I chose the video above because it shows portals, something that people were looking forward to, but didn't make the cut. You can find portals in the game, but they don't do anything at all. People have pored over the game files, and there are still references to what might have happened, but as it currently stands they don't function. This, along with many other features, were cut for some reason, including but not limited to: true ship class differentiation (instead of just a bit of a speed/health difference), different resources and climates depending on the distance from the sun, highly varied alien structures, and of course, multiplayer.

For some reason, multiplayer is the one people focus on the most, so I'll go more in depth. Yes, Sean Murray said multiple times in multiple interviews that you could run into other players, but the chances of it were incredibly low because of the size of the galaxy, and in one instance said that if you saw someone you wouldn't know if they were an NPC or another player. But as we know now, two people who happened to be streaming on Twitch ended up in the same place at the same time, and couldn't see each other. An examination of the game files shows no capability for that kind of thing at all-- the only network communications are for uploading your discoveries and seeing other people's discoveries.

Now, I don't understand the hate over this one specifically. Maybe it's just my taste in games. But if you would have no way of knowing if it was another player or an NPC then I don't see it as being a huge issue that it was cut. (However, the current state of NPCs wouldn't allow that either, because they're always behind a desk or manning a trading post, so that's another thing that was cut back.)

So yes, plenty of things were discussed that didn't make the cut. But that happens regularly in game development. We've had years of build-up, so things are expected to change. The question is, what was promised, and were we lied to?

If I make plans to come over to your house for dinner, is that a promise? If I have to cancel because of a flat tire or something unavoidable came up, did I lie about those plans to begin with? I would answer no to both. Planning something isn't a promise, and breaking those plans isn't retroactively lying. It's not a lie if you believe it to be true. However, I would definitely give you a heads up that I wasn't coming so you wouldn't expect me and I never show up.

I think that's the big failing of Hello Games here. It's not that things were cut, it's just that there wasn't enough notification about the changes. Sean Murray dialed back multiplayer expectations in more recent interviews, but didn't come out and say that running into other players was cut. There are still videos on Steam's page for No Man's Sky that at least exaggerate the scale of the game.

I imagine what happened is that they were against a wall. They lost a ton of work in a flood that took out their offices, and that alone may have led to some things getting cut. Even after announcing a release date, they had to push it back some, and in order to prevent another major delay things had to be scaled back in some places. Multiplayer (such as it was) was a great candidate for that because it would require a lot of work to implement something that would barely be seen. Portal functionality may or may not have been replaced with black holes. Some features may have just been time sinks that they could scale back and implement later, after the launch. They had a flood over a year ago that set them back, Sony was probably putting pressure on them to get the game out (Murray has said there are things about that agreement that he wasn't allowed to talk about) so they took a calculated approach to what they could dial back. The game was also originally going to be a PC exclusive, but the deal with Sony involved a PS4 version, so some cuts may have been necessary for that as well (though console limitations are becoming less of an issue). I imagine at least some of these things will be added later on.

And as I said in the last Roundtable, I think Sean Murray was as much of a fanboy in interviews as players can be. I think he was super excited about some things that weren't finalized and may have spoken about things when he shouldn't have.

I used the phrases "I imagine" and "I think" a few times in the two paragraphs above, because I can't know for sure. However, if we got some info about this stuff pre-release, I wouldn't have to imagine.

Ultimately, I like what we have (more on that in the full review). It's missing some things that people were expecting, but I don't think we were lied to at all. Plans had to change for whatever reason, and that happens in game development, but when the game is as much of a media darling as No Man's Sky (even a Stephen Colbert interview), they could have mitigated the backlash by managing expectations better.

EDIT: The full review: http://cheerfulghost.com/Travis/posts/3100/no-man-s-sky-review-procedurally-generated-everything

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