October to November

Well, I wanted to do more gaming…and that’s what I got. And other stuff too!

Last month I talked about maybe starting exercising. Well, maybe I did! Start, at least. Ring Fit finally got restocked, so I got that. I kinda went into it blind, but hearing how people thought it was actually useful. And…it wasn’t what I was hoping for, to be honest. I was hoping the rpg mode would be a little more robust than it is. But the regular exercise portion is pretty good, at least as far as it can go. Really felt those planks.

I also decided to start jogging again. When I was a kid I really enjoyed running; I wasn’t the fastest, nor had the most endurance, but it still gave me time to think (or rather, daydream), and it was something I could do on my own. I fell out of that during high school, and when I got fat it went right out. (When I tried to lose weight wayyy back when Katawa Shoujo came out, I tried running again, and got shin splints so bad I felt them for years.) But now that I’ve lost weight, it shouldn’t be so bad on my joints and bones (and heart and lungs), so I gave it a go a couple weekends ago. Trouble is, I still have all those habits about pacing and suchlike from when I was younger and fitter, and went a bit too hard, and hurt myself. But I got all better after about a week, and decided to try again this past weekend. It went well, no injuries at least. And it didn’t feel like torture, as it has for over a decade. So now that’s a thing I can look forward to, at least until the ice comes back (my timing is always impeccable).

Crazy talk.

And for gaming? I finished Assassins Creed Odyssey, as you might have guessed by now. I think it was only a couple days after the post where I said I wanted to finish it. Expect a review…soon, now that Steam is letting me access my cloud screenshots again. Just finished the main story, didn’t really get into any of the dlc, except for one of the bonus side missions.

More Genshin Impact, as you might remember. At this point I think I’m at AR 37, and have finished the main story and most of the available side quests. At this point it’s just another mobile game, but more fun.

No, I haven’t uploaded any more pictures from this game, yet.

October is the time of Halloween for all those persistent games, even in Japan. ESO had it’s usual stuff, which was boring tbh. STO had its one day F13th mission as normal. The Japanese games were a bit more interesting. The ones I play each had their own, new events, with story and everything. But, they were all in the middle of the month. Very odd. Only Granblue Fantasy had its event extended to the actual day of Halloween, and that was just a Halloween-themed Premium Friday quest. Some day Japan might understand this holiday, but it wasn’t this year.

I also started a couple of games. Craftopia I already talked about. Just last night, wanting to play a not-anime not-fantasy game for once, I started No Man’s Sky. Pretty fun so far. Though I lost the abandoned ship I claimed. Whoops, should have put a base there. (I know what planet it’s on, but not the precise coordinates.)

As for next month…it’s my birthday! Maybe someone will remember. I won’t even get to do something at work, because it’s a Saturday. (I always like mentioning my birthday to my workers when it’s too late for them to do anything about it; makes me fell mysterious and not embarrassed when they try to sing or bring me cake or whatever. Not that I’d have workers this year anyways…) So more games for me, I suppose. I’ll continue in No Man’s Sky and Crusader Kings III, and the rest of the stuff I’m doing right now, since Cyberpunk got delayed again.

Genshin Impact: A Deeper Look

I’m going to be reusing my pictures from the last post, since that’s what I have available.

The first thing to note, is something that I’ve seen from a lot of other people all across the internets. Some people that wouldn’t know better if you hit them over the head with the idea, and others that should have gotten it by now:

“Gacha” isn’t a genre.

Let me repeat that:

Gacha isn’t a genre.

And just so you remember:

Gacha isn’t a genre!

Gacha, as I’ve pointed out multiple times, isn’t a genre (do you get it yet?), it’s a monetization scheme. Gacha is essentially the same as lootboxes, but you don’t call games with lootboxes “lootbox games,” do you? Of course not, that’d be silly. But all the time I’ll see posts or reviews saying something along the lines of “Genshin Impact is a gacha game, but it doesn’t play like a gacha game.” What does a gacha game play like? I know what these folks are talking about, and I’ll get to that later. But it’s not a gacha problem.

To the more important point, everything I said in my first look still holds true. I’ve played a lot more by now, and I stand by my previous statements. Well, except for that last part. I can definitely recommend this game now. This is a good game overall. However, it’s good to know what it’s about going in, what to expect.

All of the good stuff is still good, even after tens of hours. I’ve heard it staid that the combat is more comparable to Nier: Automata, rather than Breath of the Wild; I don’t know if that’s true or not, having never played Nier, but still, it’s good stuff. (And it gives me hope for Nier: I’ve heard it said that the combat is kinda lacking in that game; but if it’s like Genshin, I’ll love it.) Once you actually get a good party going, the combat and flow starts getting quite natural. It’s fun, even taking out the same enemies over and over (another area the game is similar to Breath of the Wild…).

The story is actually pretty decent. I wasn’t expecting much going in – the beginning is yet another “oh noes a dragon?!!”, but it picks up from there. There’s a bit of nuance to the various situations the Traveler finds themselves in, especially in the second area. Not a lot of nuance, mind, but it’s not an obvious case of black-and-white, like it might seem from the prologue (even in the first area, after you beat the prologue, you see some of that nuance come in). The story isn’t great literature, but it’s nice for a rpg like this.

It seems the various characters that you’ll see in the gacha will get their own character stories that you can play through at various points. To be honest, I’d rather these be tied to actually having the character (like using the friendship system, instead of the few paragraphs they get per friendship level), as an added incentive/bonus for pulling said character. But I suppose this is another way to advertise the character – I didn’t care about Klee after they nerfed her animations (her alpha/beta animations were far more…animated), and certain folks said she sucked; but after playing her missions, she’s actually pretty good. Maybe I’ll get her eventually.

The writing is pretty snappy, at least in the English translation. I’ve noticed some liberties taken here and there, at least compared to the Japanese translation; I’ll believe that they’re the invention of the English localizers, since this is the kind of stuff that English localizers are notorious for (I have another post on that issue brewing). But it isn’t too bad, as far as I can tell. It’s not too distracting, at least, except for some of the memes used for achievements.

One thing of note is that the daily random quests actually advance the world and story, sometimes. Most of them are just “go here, wipe out the enemies”, but occasionally there will be one that involves npc’s and areas you’ve already visited, and either advance a little story in themselves, or somewhat change the world. For example, there is an inn in the second area that has broken stairs; one of the random mission sequences has you help repair those stairs, and they are repaired. Those little details and care are really what make this game special.

Which is good, because there are a couple of big problems. The gacha problem that I talked about in my last post on this game still applies. It’s the worst rates I’ve ever seen, outside of maybe STO’s lock boxes. But that’s not the main complaint people have, which have folks up in arms. No, they don’t like the fact that this game is indeed a mobile game.

This is what most people are talking about when they have complaints about the energy system (called “resin” in this game). They put the blame on the “gacha game” nature of this game, but that has nothing to do with the gacha. No, this is just your standard mobile game tactic. It’s a perfectly valid complaint, but we need to understand what it is: the fault is that this is a mobile game. For some reason folks got the impression that this was a mmo, or something along those lines. But it’s your standard mobile game, just with a nice coat of paint that’s worthy of a pc. But you need energy to do all the grindy stuff – get resources for leveling and advancing characters and gear. You only get so much, which regenerates over time. Pretty standard stuff, but I guess people weren’t really expecting it, so they are mad (well, more mad than they would have been with the correct mindset – it’s not a particularly good implementation of an energy system).

And I think, as a bit of meta commentary, is a big problem. People aren’t coming in with that right mindset. They expect a “main game” – something they can play for hours and hours, and stay entertained throughout. Frankly, I’m surprised it had as much ready going in as it did – most games of this sort would be envious of just that first area’s worth of content. As it is, the game gives 30-40 hours of good content, before getting terribly grindy – very good, actually. But still, mobile games like this have this trouble at launch, and early on – good start, but then an incomplete, unsatisfying “mid”-game, with no real end-game yet. I’m sure these problems will be addressed in the future – they tend to be, in successful games. But we’re going to have to wait.

One thing that does really concern me, with that mobile-game mindset, is the frequency of updates and events. Six weeks is a good amount of time for major updates. But there should be events and the like between those updates, to keep players going. New characters should come at a good pace, and I’m not really seeing it here. Significant events should come at a decent clip (at least once a month, if not slightly more often at first), but again, not seeing it here. Personally, I’d like to see story events, but even events without stories would be something. We have had one event so far in the game, and it wasn’t much (and again, takes energy to get rewards – though the rewards definitely weren’t worth the energy here). This can be a problem with immature games (and make no mistake: despite the high level of polish, this is a very immature game right now), but it doesn’t make it not a problem.

To sum it up, this is a good game. Just keep in mind that it’s a mobile game, with all the normal mobile game issues, and you can be happy with it.

September to October

Too lazy to turn this; I thought google drive had an editing option, but I guess not.

As far as this month goes, it’s been pretty boring, at least to talk about. I’ve been playing basically the same games the entire time. Not much has happened in my life. Though there are a couple things to discuss, at least in brief, so I’m making this post.

First, an update on a post from wayy back in April. Thus, the picture of the scale above. As of yesterday, I hit my weight goal! I haven’t been this light since I was 20, if not earlier. Feels good, man. Sure, it took the better part of six months to make the half of progress, but I’ve lost 40-45 lbs with basically no exercise. Now, to be fair, I look it – my arms and legs might as well be those of a child, if it weren’t for the excessive hair on them. And I’ve still got too much of a gut. But my face looks good (well…not fat, at least), and I’m just chubbster now. Of course I celebrated by going out to eat (with a milkshake!).

So, what next? Well, the diet shall mostly continue. I see no reason to change much now; it works for me. I will change the “no snacking” rule to “no buying snacks from the store.” Meaning, I can snack, if I make them myself (or if I go to an actual baker and something really stands out). Which I don’t see myself doing much. I don’t even have the cooking implements to do so. I looked at a stand mixer a couple of weeks ago (kinda want to get into baking), and yah, that’s not happening right now.

Also, I need to exercise more. I know that’s not a goal, it’s an idea. But I’m too lazy to set up something concrete. I have weights in my office now, presumably to use while I’m watching videos on my lunch break, but I barely use them. (Doesn’t help that I hurt my right arm, and am in pain doing much of anything – it almost certainly wan’t caused by me using my mouse at an 80-90-degree angle to the right instead of in front of me; no sir, couldn’t be that.) Could also, like walk or whatever before work instead of grazing Twitter. But yah, that’s something to be doing.

I’m pretty sure the voiceover said “you look cuter without your glasses,” which is absolutely correct.

In game news, I’ve been keeping up with the usual daily stuff. Granblue had its X-million accounts celebration, which meant more things to do. That’s over now, so I mostly just do some daily things. Dragalia Lost is having its second anniversary, just after a major gameplay update. It’s pretty good stuff. The even added sparking, right before a big limited rush. Very nice. Getting better at Bandori, to the point where I can clear almost any Hard song on first try without heals. ESO and STO are back on the backburner, though I’m still doing their events too.

The big one is Assassins Creed Odyssey. I’ve been playing that basically every day, yet still am not close to done. I’ve played well over 100 hours at this point. At this point I want it to be done, just so I can play other games! But this one is too fun to just drop, and the story is surprisingly compelling too (at least the Greek parts – the Assassin’s Creed stuff is lame, though barely there at this point so whatever). I haven’t discussed it much, because I want to make one big review post. But who knows when I’ll actually finish, so that might be in a while.

HOWEVER, there is a new contender: Genshin Impact. This is another really fun one. I finally got out of reroll hell, on account 8. Got two SSR at once, though they were both Jean. Also got Fish, so that’s a really good account. As I was breezing through for rerolling, last night I just went to play for a few minutes before getting on other games, going over those areas I ran through. Ended up playing for over an hour. Fun, fun game.

As for next month…I basically want to do what I was going to do last month before ACO took way longer than I expected: finish ACO, get into Craftopia and Genshin Impact. Play more vidya!

Genshin Impact: Initial Impressions

Another week, another new gacha game. But this time, people are actually anticipating it. I’ve never seen initial hype for a new mobile game so high, or a new Chinese game. But there’s good reason for it: it looks good. And not just graphically, but actual gameplay. This game looks like it has soul.

Now granted, a lot of that soul comes from the very obvious Breath of the Wild inspiration in graphics and gameplay. But that’s what people want apparently. BotW is hugely popular, so why not go with a more anime version of that game?

I’ve been able to play this game for a bit, about the first hour or so. Of course, I’ve played that first hour several times now. I’ll give my first impressions in terms of the good and the bad.

The Good:

  • Gameplay: It’s basically Breath of the Wild. You run around an open world, climbing on things, jumping off things, gliding to places, beating up enemies, and so on. The big difference here is that, instead of Link, you use one of several characters. Each character has an elemental affinity, which you use as you’d expect, and which also give different elemental status effects. The main gimmick here is switching out characters on the fly to synergize those status and elemental effects. It’s pretty cool making a fire tornado, or freezing a wet enemy.
  • Art: The art is pretty good. Even on mobile this game just looks good, and from what I’ve seen from actual systems, it looks fantastic with some power behind it. This is the first game that I’ve played that has felt like an anime come to life. Which is weird, because it’s Chinese, not Japanese. But whatever, it’s cool. The character designs are also pretty cool. This might not be the game for you if you’re into big buff manly men, because I haven’t seen any, but if you like any other character archetype, there’s something for you.
  • Translation: There are no translation issues that I can see. I’m honestly shocked. I don’t know Chinese, but I do know a little bit of Japanese, and the English translations match that at least. The English dub is pretty bad, but the Japanese dub is fine. You can also listen in Korean or Chinese, depending on your preference. (And you don’t need to download additional data to do so, which is nice.)

The Bad

  • Gacha System: The gacha system was going to rub people the wrong way regardless, since they’re all kinda predatory. But this is the worst gacha system I’ve ever seen. First, the rates are terrible: 0.6% for 5*, the highest rarity. That’s not for rate-ups; no, that’s for ANY 5*. Next, the 5* are the best characters and weapons. This is mostly normal, but from what the Chinese testers have reported, it’s rather insane in this game: whales won’t even play higher-difficulty content with f2p’ers, it’s that bad. And to make matters worse, you need multiple copies of characters to make them stronger. Oh, and as you see above, you get equipment from the same pool, which dilutes things insanely. No one wants to draw weapons, they want characters, and this just adds insult to injury. At 0.6%, you need to roll about 120 times to get better than even odds of getting at least one 5*. But you’d better pull out your wallet for that, because the game is very stingy with free currency. For this reason, and this reason alone, no matter how good the rest of the game is, I can’t recommend it to normal people. And if you’re into gachas, I still can only recommend it with reservations.
  • Rerolling: Given the above, you’ll want to re-roll so you can at least get a decent start. Most of these gacha games give you a big up-front currency bonus to get you excited, and this game is no exception. At first glance, rerolling is easy: you just make a new account at game load, which is super easy. No registry edits, diving into files, or even having to salt emails for new accounts. However, that’s the only easy part. You have to sit through the entire opening sequence, which is full of unskippable cutscenes and dialog. It takes quite a bit of time to get to the first point you can roll – about a half-hour on mobile, but a lot less on PC (load times and control issues). That gets you your first ten rolls. But, play for another half-hour or so (again, significantly shorter on PC, if you know what you’re doing), and you can get 20 more rolls when you hit account level 7. So, either ten or thirty rolls, for either a half-hour or hour, depending on load times and how much you know what you’re doing. And, considering what I said above about how much you’re going to be rolling for a 5* (ANY 5*, not even a specific one you want), you’re going to be doing this a bunch. I’ve done four so far, and want to throw my tablet all the way to China.
  • Controls: This is mostly a mobile thing, but the controls suck. The menus and stuff are fine, obviously crafted for mobile, but, as is the case with all 3D games, it doesn’t do well with mobile. It’s obviously made for console first (it would be almost perfect on Switch, using the touch screen for menus and such, while having the sticks for movement), and even the PC controls are a bit wonky. But controlling this game with the virtual stick is most un-fun.
  • China: This is a Chinese game. That goes on your PC, potentially. That should be enough, which tells you why I’m playing on my tablet. Every piece of Chinese software is suspect: if not from the devs, or the publisher, then from the government. It doesn’t help that this comes on PC with anti-cheat at the kernel level that doesn’t turn off when the game does, nor goes away when you uninstall the game (sounds like some other (non-Chinese) game that had a lot of controversy recently). The publisher says this is “unintended behavior” and says they will fix it, but don’t worry for now it’s perfectly fine. Yah, I sure believe that.

So yah, fun game with some really bad, glaring flaws that don’t have much to do with gameplay itself. I can’t really recommend it, but I want to play it more myself. I just hope I can actually get to playing before I claw out my eyes rerolling. Time for account #5…