Divinity Original Sin 2 is RPG Tactics BLISS.

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Gaming, PC Gaming, RPGs on September 19th, 2017 by thelonegamer

Putting the RP back into RPGs, that’s Larian Studios’ Divinity II.

Rivellon needs a new god. Are you up to the task? This is the main storyline of Divinity: Original Sin 2, Larian Studios’ sequel to their critically-acclaimed (and I assume very successful) crowdfunded RPG, Divinity Original Sin. I admit, while I own the original game, I haven’t played it- but I am aware of its quality from reviews and LP’s I’ve seen online. However, something about the sequel just grabbed me. I loved the look, the design and the feel of this new game. The original ‘Original’ sounded great, but I admit I found the look a bit bland, and the story didn’t grab me (still doesn’t). You played as ‘Source Hunters’, adventurers specializing in taking on quests involving ‘The Source’, Rivellon’s answer to The Force, which has been used and abused by ‘Sourcerers’ for generations. That was all I knew about it. But the sequel impressed me with several things- one, the look.

It is GORGEOUS. I love the new graphics, the detailed new world, and the characters- the Elves are TALL, beautiful, more nature-y (yes that’s a word now) and apparently FLESH EATERS. There’s a new Undead class where you play as what appears to be a sentient lich-type being. And, while you can create a custom character all your own from scratch with the excellent Character Creation, the best bits of Original Sin 2 is playing through the several ‘Origins’ stories.

Several fully-voiced characters or heroes are available to be played to see their stories through- Sebylle, the vengeful Elven beauty, hunting down the Master who scarred her face. The Beast is a Dwarf sea captain (or pirate?) looking to overthrow his cousin, an evil queen. The Red Prince is a Lizard seeking to reclaim an Empire. A possessed bard, a ruthless mercenary, an undead scholar round off the cast. All these heroes have their own agendas, and they can do it by themselves or with the help of the other characters- but in the end only one can become the new Divinity.

This game follows the tradition of pen-and-paper-flavored RPGs like the Baldur’s Gate series, but on steroids. Instead of being solely an isometric 2D world, Rivellon is 3D, allowing you to rotate, zoom in and see the world from all angles. As with the original, the beauty is in the gameplay- the actual ‘RP-ing’ aside from just being a story with lots of fighting along the way. You’ll have to work the brain a bit to solve situations or decide how you go about things. How do you treat people and NPCs? Are you haughty and prideful, selfish and pragmatic, or will you be a good-hearted man/woman/undead of the people?

When a crucial NPC needs to be freed from captivity, you can try to do his evil captor a favor. Or you can just KILL EVERYONE. That is, if you can. While roleplay and multiple paths/methods are beautifully implemented, the game is of course firmly solid in combat. Fighting is tactical turn-based through and through, and you will have to exercise your noodle quite a bit to get through the many battles- Explorer mode is the easiest difficulty but even then, the game will often put you into situations that seem heavily weighed against you with punishing ambushes or deadly traps. But often, there always seems to be an alternate route or direction to take… if you have the right tool or talent at the crucial time.

A seemingly-unbeatable boss fight making you tear your hair out? Level up your skills and gear so you can kick butt like hell. OR just freaking find a sneaky way to bypass the fight and make the bastard literally grovel at your feet (HAHAHA). Some boss fights can be defeated by dialogue instead of combat, depending on your character’s persuasiveness. Or a special talent or item you just may have may also turn the tide or change the course of history. It’s awesome.

You start off his game, like many of the best RPGs, as a prisoner bound for an infamous penal colony and interment camp. You are dressed in scant rags, barefooted and armed with little more than primitive weapons or jury-rigged tools. Aside from your skills and abilities, you have to work on getting yourself kitted out to kick ass, both with gear to find, purchase, barter for or craft. Grab stuff you find and craft weapons, armor, clothing or potions. Search high and low and you just might find a magical weapon or suit of armor to bump you up a notch or two in the Rivellon food chain. And, if you’re an Elf- EAT EVERY CARCASS YOU FIND. GROSS BUT AWESOME.

Still, there are some times where I found the game being a bit unfair or weird- you have to be very careful during combat as sometimes you may find your character attacking the floor where you intended to just move. In very detailed situations with tons of fire everywhere (SO MUCH FIRE) it may get a bit hard to see what’s going on. But that doesn’t mar this game’s beauty, both in looks and gameplay, at all.

That all said, this game’s difficulty is easily one of its main appeals- its unflinchingly unforgiving, even at the easiest difficulty (Explorer). Simply walking into a boss battle or a trap will surely get you right between the jaws of an ambush or a deadly trap, and in a world where single archers can pack the punch of an airstrike and screw up your party from second one of the fight, you just can’t afford to simply traipse into the bad guys’ den and expect to power your way out of the situation unless you’re really, really strong or really, really good. Often this game will kick your ass the first time, making you try to seriously rethink a situation. The difficulty is two-pronged; if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you go in half-assed and unprepared, you’ll feel like the game is utterly unfair. Try it another way and you’ll be floored by how butter smooth things can go.

In fact, this game is such that you may find yourself restarting your entire game simply to rethink your character’s build, or your party’s composition and try something new. But doing so doesn’t seem to be a chore at all, but a tribute to this game’s amazing depth and replayability.

Divinity 2 is an RPG where RP-ing, and your choices, really matter. And it doesn’t only matter for the big picture or the main quest. Your choices can greatly affect how things go. in one instance, my main character had a flirty little episode with an NPC… when violence suddenly erupted in the area later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was suddenly being aided in the vicious brawl by my new friend (who actually ended up turning the tide quite a bit). Its moments like these that made me realize- this game has got its thing DOWN.

Some easy but super-important tips: TALK to everyone you can. Explore everywhere, twice. DON’T fight every battle by your enemies’ rules. If you find yourself hitting a brick wall- think about how Batman or Superman would tackle the problem.

If you want an engrossing, incredibly playable challenging and incredibly replayable RPG with awesome roleplaying elements, where your choices really matter, with tons of options, both single and multiplayer fun that looks absolutely GORGEOUS, you can’t go wrong with Divinity Original Sin 2. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a city that needs liberating…

Divinity Original Sin 2 (PC): 5 of 5
THIS is how you do an RPG. It’s that good. It’s Final Fantasy Tactics with a far superior (and fare more comprehensible) story and a true playbox where your choices matter. Games like this don’t come every blue moon- this cannot be missed.

Resident Evil 7 Continues in December with ‘Not a Hero’ and ‘End of Zoe’ DLCs

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Gaming, PC Gaming, PS4, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Survival Horror, Xbox One on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

More RE7 is lurking this Christmas Season…

SPOILER WARNING if you haven’t played and finished Resident Evil 7.

It’s been a while since we last saw the Baker Plantation and tussled with Jack, Marguerite and Lucas. While Ethan (and possibly his wife, Mia) managed to survive the frightful night of horror, there are indeed loose ends to tie up yet with two additional DLC expansions coming in December.
‘Not a Hero’ has been known for a while, an image being shown to the player when you finish the main game. Speculation has been going on ever since the reveal of the mystery character named ‘Redfield’ who meets Ethan at the very end. It has recently been confirmed that this character IS indeed series favorite Chris Redfield, albeit looking quite a bit different from his incarnation in previous installments. But it is supposedly Chris, and he’s back to explore the Baker residence to hunt down the as-yet-unaccounted-for Lucas Baker, the maniacal Saw-esque trap master who plagued hapless victims with his lethal games. Chris will not be as unprepared as Ethan was, and will charge into the maze armed with potent weapons and equipment designed to take down bio-weapons. And he’ll need every one of them to deal with new enemies and Lucas himself.

Secondly, and a bit of a surprise is ‘End of Zoe’, which reveals the final fate of the Bakers’ daughter. End of Zoe is set after the events of both RE7 and Not a Hero, so we’ll learn what becomes of the tragic Zoe. What enemies or dangers are left to pursue her? Will she manage to escape or will the swamp ultimately claim her too? I actually really liked Zoe, and knowing that there’s more to her story is really intriguing.

Both of these DLCs got me excited and I can’t wait to see both. These expansions can be bought separately or as part of the upcoming Resident Evil 7 Gold Edition, which combines everything into one scary, but neat, package. It all drops on PS4, XBOne and PC this coming December 12, 2017.

The Witcher Series 10th Anniversary Video Tribute

Posted in Action Adventure, Fan Service, Game Advertising, Gaming, RPGs, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

CD-Projekt Red, you rock.

In what is probably the coolest tribute to gamers ever, CD-Projekt Red posted a few days ago the above video- a wonderful cinematic showing Geralt of Rivia, Witcher Extraordinaire, celebrating his birthday (his 10th Birthday?) together with friends and family. It’s a bit spoilery, but the video is set at Geralt’s prosperous retirement home of Corvo Bianco, in the relatively happy and peaceful land of Toussaint. Geralt narrates how things have been since the end of his adventures, mostly kicking back and relaxing, playing Gwent, raiding nearby vineyards and having the occasional Witcher contract to keep the skills sharp. But ultimately, Geralt greets YOU, the player, thanking you for giving him his happy ending.

CD-Projekt Red surely put in a lot of effort into this video- it’s just as high quality as any cinematic shown in the series, and features pretty much every character Geralt can count as family, friend or ally who isn’t canonically dead. It’s a beautiful reward to players who have put many, many hours of playtime into this critically-acclaimed and super popular franchise. For a series rife with steamy sex and gory monsters, it was kinda odd to see it with such a sunny, warm ending… but I have no complaints for that.

To be honest, I haven’t completely played the Witcher 3 through yet- heck, I’ve never played the first game, and only played a bit of the second. But this video makes me want to go and give this series the serious playtime it deserves. THEN I can come back, watch this video again and then have the feels… with a lot more feel behind it.

I do think that while more Witcher games may be in the future, the story of Geralt is over and ends with this happy finale. Enjoy your sunny place, White Wolf. You earned it.

Game of Thrones Season 7, Ep.6 and 7 Reviews, Thoughts!

Posted in Action Adventure, Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

“Beyond the Wall”

The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’ Season 7 opens up with Jon Snow and his posse (AKA the Westeros Avengers…) long into their journey into the hostile reaches of the North. It’s an impressive bunch, made up of most of the series’ most badass fighters- seasoned knight and recent Greyscale survivor Jorah Mormont, resurrected Beric Dondarrion and red priest Thoros of Myr, ginger-haired Wildling warlord Tormund Giantsbane, Baratheon bastard and warhammer warrior Gendry and of course, the chicken-loving Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. Their mission: bring back a wight to convince the Southron lords and ladies that the threat of the Army of the Dead is real.

There’s some glorious exchanges between the characters as they walk on, from Gendry finding out about Wildling survival techniques to him kinda-making peace with the Brotherhood, pep-talk between Sandor and Tormund about Brienne, and of course Jon offering to give back Longclaw to Jorah. It’s all awesome stuff that we’d probably never see elsewhere- some would say fan fiction-y, but I say SHUT THE HELL UP I’M LOVING THIS.

Of course, it’s not all sweet and softiness- back in Winterfell, Littlefinger’s manipulations seem to have Arya wanting to take Sansa’s place as Lady of Winterfell. Of course, its a flimsy conflict which will surely end badly only for one person- whose name rhymes with brittlefinger. Just a matter of how it happens and when- I expect with a Valyrian dagger next episode.

Back to Beyond the Wall, Jon and company ambush a wight patrol, led by a White Walker whom Jon bests in single combat- turns out all but one of the wights was apparently animated by said walker, which is mighty convenient. The bundle up the surviving wight, just in time to hear the rest of the Dead coming. Jon sends off Gendry to run off ahead to The Wall for help (in the form of a raven sent to Dragonstone), while the main party and their undead prisoner make their stand on a frozen lake.

There’s quite a lot of time compression as events shown happen with surely at least a day or so in between. Not sure how long Jon and his mates stand surrounded by the Dead before the raven gets to Dany, then for Dany to fly all the way to the lake (not sure how she actually knew where to find them though). It’s all kinda dumbed down and has holes larger enough for the army of the dead to march through but who cares- we FINALLY see dragons versus undead!

Sadly, while Dany manages to scoop up Jon’s party (wight and all) and Jon is eventually able to escape thanks to a brief return by Benjen ‘Coldhands’ Stark, in the process they lose Vicerion, one of Dany’s dragons, to the Night King’s ice javelin-throwing skills. But the good guys still score (as will Jon, I wager) as Dany is now aware of the threat posed by the Night King, and more importantly, is wanting payback for her slain ‘child’. Meanwhile, the Night King has Vicerion pulled up from the lake with some humongous chains (where did those come from?), and subsequently raises the dead dragon into his service. SHIT.

“The Dragon and the Wolf”

The Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones is the longest episode at about eighty minutes, and most of it deals with Jon, Dany and their forces meeting up in King’s Landing with Cersei to discuss an armistice and possible alliance against the dead. As a precaution against any treachery, Dany has her entire army- Dothraki, Unsullied and both remaining dragons- on hand ready to raze the city to the ground if Cersei tries anything funny. There are once again exchanges between characters we never thought we’d see together- particularly Dany and Cersei- the two most powerful women in Westeros. Still it’s more about the issue at hand- the Army of the Dead.

Jon makes a fine presentation, convincing Cersei that the threat is real, however botches it all by refusing to recognize her as queen since he’s already bent the knee to Dany (the guy only has one knee, apparently). It takes Tyrion talking to his most hated sibling to apparently convince her to play nice. However, ultimately its all a sham- The Queen of the Seven Kingdoms has no plans of sending aid to the war against the dead, instead revealing to an aghast Jaime that the Lannister armies are staying out of the fight, while Euron Greyjoy brings over the Golden Company from Essos to bolster their numbers. Aside from his sister’s dishonorable course of action, Jaime is understandably dismayed that Cersei didn’t trust him enough to let him in on the plans, and this is the final straw that breaks the lion’s back. A lone warrior now, with only his sword, armor and horse, Jaime heads off to the North to lend his aid to Jon and Dany, even as the first snowflakes start to fall on King’s Landing…

Meanwhile, in Winterfell there’s a trial held- ostensibly with Arya being held for treason against her sister. But SURPRISE- it turns out that the whole thing is for Littlefinger. Sansa reveals that know everything he’s done- from the murder of Lysa Tully and Jon Arryn, to his betrayal of Ned Stark. Baelish is abandoned by the Knights of the Vale, and is finally put down- his throat slashed by Arya with his own Valyrian dagger. Turns out Bran had seen everything, and has been telling. The sisters make peace, recalling their father’s lesson- ‘The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.’
Theon meets with Jon, and Jon finally forgives Theon for what he’s done (kind of), and Theon finally finds the balls (or finds strength in his lack of said balls) to go off and rescue Yara from Euron.
Oh, and somewhere along the way Sam arrives in Winterfell, meets up with Bran and they figure out that Jon is not Ned’s bastard but the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen- making him Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. At the same time, Jon is making love to Dany as they sail north.

The episode ends with the Army of the Dead arriving at Eastwatch by the Sea, and the wall being breached by the Night King riding Vicerion, now an ice-breathing undead dragon. Tormund and Beric seem to narrowly escape even as the castle and a huge part of the Wall crumbles, leaving the way open to a calmly marching Army of the Dead…

HOLY CLIFFHANGERS, BATMAN!

Well, what else can be said but, darn… it’s going to be a long wait. The eight and final season of GoT is supposedly coming in late 2018 or could be as late as sometime in 2019. There will only be six episodes but each chapter will be ‘feature-length’. Which means- SIX Game of Thrones movies coming one after the other?
Game of Thrones has pretty much made itself THE top fantasy series on TV or movies with what its shown and will show- no other fantasy franchise yet put to screen, big or small, comes close (hell, even the LOTR movies pale in comparison to GoT, far and away). I hope they really put their best feet forward into these final episodes- this is where it all pays off.

Some thoughts…

• The producers and directors must know that the Dornish side story was really, really, really hated by a lot of people, which explains why there was no appearance, mention or even a hint of Ellara Sand, who should still be alive in the dungeon next to her daughter’s rotting corpse- I guess Cersei would not release her since that would mean Dorne would be back in the war. Oh well.

• Good to see Tyrion getting awesome scenes and making his presence felt in the finale, although once again it seems he’s played into his sister’s plans once again. Plus why does it seem that he still has ‘loyalty’ to his family? His ‘family’? I do hope he doesn’t do anything royally stupid in the near future.

• Looks like the Greyjoy storyline will be dealt with by Theon alone- my take is, he’ll have to kill Euron to rescue Yara AND gain back the loyalty of the Ironborn.

• A great part of Season 8 will surely be set in The North, with the defense of Westeros being joined by Dany’s armies alongside the Northerners. How effective will the Dothraki and Unsullied be in extreme cold? Perhaps the Horselords are best saved for when the Army of the Dead reach the plains, where the 40,000++ riders can fight best.

• The key is killing the White Walkers, and the Night King, to get rid of their army. Give archers a lot of dragonglass arrows, and this may prove a winning strategy.

• Jon may be the rightful heir, but does he really want to be King? What will this mean to his and Dany’s relationship? Surely a lot of drama, but hey… among Targaryens, incest is best, right? Heheh…

Our watch has begun. Season eight, here we come…