The Hazards of Buying a New Game

As a general rule, I don’t buy new games. I don’t like paying a lot of money for a game that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by hundreds or thousands of people, especially anons. That, and I just plain don’t like paying a lot of money for any single game – a decade of Steam sales and used games that give me just as much enjoyment as if they were new doesn’t help me see the point in paying the full asking price of anything. Plus, add in the usual “Ultimate Editions” these days, that tend to have all the DLC, expansions, bug fixes, etc., it makes me really not want to buy a brand new game.

And that last bit is basically the thrust of it. I really don’t like buying incomplete games, and then being asked to pay for the privilege of having the whole thing. I can get behind using DLC as a way to extend the life of a game – more of a good thing is usually better, particularly after there’s been time to fully appreciate what was already offered. A good example of this DLC usage is The Witcher 3: the base game was a whole and complete experience from day one, and then stuff is added to it (and it doesn’t hurt that what was added were pretty much complete games on their own).

Of course, what set this off is Atelier Ryza (after all, it’s one of the few new games I’ve bought in recent memory, and certainly the first within the time of this blog). As previously chronicled, I got this as soon as it was available. As you might expect of a game these days, there is DLC planned for the future. Unfortunately for me, it’s the sort of thing that should have been in the game in the first place.

Some people think that there are going to be more endings added. I don’t think so. I think this is going to be like Atelier Sophie, which only had one, single ending, in a series where one of the few claims to fame was the varied and sundry endings possible, with often ridiculous requirements.

No, what I’m thinking is that there are going to be character stories and playable characters added. There game just feels kinda incomplete with the amount of characters we get: six total. And they’re all “main characters” too – they’re all significant parts of the story. In games like this, you tend to have other side characters that can be part of the party as well. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s plenty of room in the UI for additional spare party members…

But even worse is that it’s pretty obvious just who these DLC party members would be: Bos is the first one, since he all but joins the party at a point in the story (no spoilers needed for that: it’s obvious from the second or third interaction). Then there’s Pamela, who is dressed like an adventurer this time around. Agatha is next because we need a traditional protector/knight type, which is strangely missing in the cast. Last likely candidate is Kilo, for both story reasons, and because she’s the last one that doesn’t have full-NPC-face (if you’ve played the game you know exactly what I mean) and isn’t an old man. (I’ll discount Lumbar, both because he isn’t involved too much in the story, and because he looks like a regular NPC.) At least it’s not as bad as Atelier Lydie and Suelle: one of the major characters, who definitely should have been in the party (since she goes on all the adventures with everyone else) is only playable as DLC.

(An aside: I like how this game hasn’t tried to be cute with, or pointlessly localize, the character names, like so many Japanese translations do. All the silly names are kept intact (like Lumbar), while the names are not changed to be even more “silly” (like Esty Dee…). So often low-quality translations will change the names, just because the translators didn’t think they “sounded right.” Making names more “realistic” or familiar to the Western audience, when that isn’t necessary. Dragalia Lost does this with almost every name: for an extreme example, Rejina, Rojina, and Rujina are changed to Rena, Ramona, and Renee; but even things like Lucas being changed to Luca, or Najaf(u) to Naveed.

However, one strange thing was having “Moritz-san” and “Lubart-san” being translated as “Mr. Brunnen” and “Mr. Valentz”. Normally, it makes sense to translate “-san” as “Mr./Mrs./Ms.”. However, I think it’s pretty significant that people, even prestigious important people like Moriz, or prestigious, important strangers like Lubart, are refered to by their given names, rather than their family names as is usual in Japanese (and Japanese games). So it wasn’t even an east/west culture clash thing, but a whole thing about translators missing the point.)

Not to say that having extra DLC characters is bad or anything, but just that having obvious story characters excluded, either because of lack of time or intentionally just to make more money, is. It’s selling an incomplete game for full price. Same thing with possible game systems. I can’t think of anything here for this game, fortunately, but I’ve seen other games sell whole mechanics as DLC (like ESO selling whole classes).

Now, remember that I said the problem of buying new games. Well, all these obvious DLC’s aren’t even available yet. They almost certainly won’t be by the time I’m done with the game, considering they aren’t out now even in Japan, which had several months lead time. So, do I come back and play a game again, without so much as an alternate ending? No, don’t think so. I rarely ever replay games, especially long, linear jrpgs. No matter how much I like it, I doubt I’ll be coming back to Atelier Ryza after I beat it. So all that DLC effort, which I want, and am missing, will be wasted. Sad!

This guy at least has a unique face, so maybe he has a chance too.

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