Opinion and News Roundup

I’ve got several things I’ve been sort of loosely following and keeping tabs on. I could probably write an entire post about each one, but that would be a slog and some of it is already old news and/or unsurprising news.

Starbreeze

This one is a moving target. It originally got my attention when they filed for reconstruction and their former CEO, well, “resigned.” I actually couldn’t remember why I knew the studio name till I looked it up and saw Payday 2, which is the only title of theirs I’ve played, though I recognize many others.

This was done due to a “shortage of liquidity.” Certainly not a good sign.

As of now authorities in Sweden have raided their headquarters and someone has been arrested, just two days after the other news dropped. I’m curious to see how this develops, but my guess is someone inside the company probably had a suspiciously timed stock transaction.

Since the Payday developer Overkill is a direct subsidiary of Starbreeze I have pretty much assumed that Payday 3 is unlikely to happen. In fact, my expectations for continuing support of Payday 2 are pretty much zero as well.

Bless Online

Bless is still continuing to struggle for relevance. I’m not surprised that there was a consolidation announcement a week ago that goes live in a couple of weeks. Population is fairly low and, at least on Steam, in a steady decline.

It’s a shame, this is a game that I really want to like. I log in once every month or so and poke around, but it doesn’t take long to remember why it isn’t popular. It’s poorly optimized, the controls are weird, the localization is likewise strange, skill binding has a strange interface and is poorly explained, etc.

I think they could have been overcome, if some had been addressed maybe a month ago, but I suspect the damage is done.

Epic Games Store

Epic, the creator of the Unreal Engine and Fortnite are opening their own digital distribution platform. You know, I was just complaining about this the other day. Their main feature is their 12/88 revenue split vs the standard 30/70. This is actually a huge move and one that I welcome. They stand a decent chance of luring new and current developers with this type of program, provided it’s cost effective for them to operate.

Like Steam or GoG it’s an open platform and non publisher-specific, which is good. That’s the area we need actual competition in. Unfortunately it’s yet another launcher to keep around.

I look forward to poking around once they get it up and running.

Fallout 76

So, Bethesda is walking back their crazy nylon bag shenanigans and giving everyone the chance to submit a ticket in the next two months to receive a replacement canvas bag. I realize it’s all damage control at this point, but I think this is a good move on their part.

On the other hand, they left a bunch of changes out of their patch notes after promising better communication, so the dumpster fire continues to burn unabated.

If it goes on sale again this month I’ll at least entertain the idea of trying it myself so I can form my own opinion.

Something New – Bless Online

All aboard! Honestly I had written Bless off due to the negative comments. I shouldn’t have done that. Not because Bless is some awesome hidden gem, but because I don’t really believe in writing something off without experiencing it myself.

I saw some posts over on The MMOist(1, 2) and Inventory Full(1, 2) and thought it looked better than I’d heard, so I decided to take a look and see. Judge it for myself, properly.

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I wasn’t immediately thrilled right out of the gate. I was locked into a specific faction because everyone apparently likes the other one? Then I wanted to make a Paladin, but it wasn’t available to my chosen race, the Leonid. I didn’t feel like being a human or an elf, so I made one of the cute little animal people.

The tutorial was blessedly short, though instructions for some tasks, like equipping a second stance, were not very clear. It said something like “add X to the stances hotbar” but it’s a submenu accessed by clicking on an “equip” button not a drag and drop sort of situation.

Once I got past that I was on a blimp/airship thing which I quite liked. I think I have a soft spot for airships. I assumed it was just an opening cutscene that would result in us landing in town right? Nope, we get attacked. I think in my head I was expecting attack planes piloted by orcs or something.

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Nope, it was beetles. It kind of makes sense I guess, but I was kinda like “really? beetles?” Between that and me not really having been pleased with my character choices I just logged once we were done with the beetles. I just wasn’t feeling it.

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When I came back I decided to try something different. I figured I liked my Charr Warrior from GW2, so I’d try the same thing here. Went with Leonid Berserker. So far, I have found this to be more to my liking.

The quest line is sort of odd and tribal in the beginning. Some human poachers attacked me and I killed them in return. This made me go through wolf-man puberty early and I had to do a coming of age ritual only for the humans to end up stealing the soul of the forest or something? It’s okay, not super enthralled but it provides some direction to the experience.

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Yeah, this tunic disguise is totally fooling those humans into thinking I belong here!

Now, I can see why many people aren’t super thrilled with this game. Optimization is an issue. I’m constantly tweaking settings trying to get it to run smoothly. I suspect it may be more a resource loading issue, as it seems to develop a stutter randomly and for no apparent reason.

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Translation seems to come up a lot as well. I honestly haven’t run into to many issues. It’s way better than some of the other games I’ve tried, and usually shows up as odd choices like “check attendance” above. Another I can think of is since the login bonus is sent to you via mail, the remove attachment button simply says “gift.”

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I haven’t really got a good handle on the combat yet. It has a combo system that so far seems to be things like 1->R->R->R, where the number is a hotbar slot and R, T, or Y right behind it to select the… tree… and again for the final hit. The tiers in this tree from top to bottom are:

Stance – You can have two equipped? Switch with ~ key

Hotbar Skill – 1, 2, and I presume 3

Subskill? – R, T, and Y from left to right. One press for top, second press for bottom.

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I did enjoy the little taming minigame. I quickly found myself using all my scrolls to tame every random critter I came across, including this wolf mount. That… doesn’t look like it’s good for the wolf. He’s gonna have some back problems.

offbrand chocobo
Off-brand Chocobo?

I really only have a few hours in this, and I feel like half of that is load time. I’m sure it’s not quite that bad, but some of the loading feels like it’s excessive.

If I catch it on sale again I might grab a copy for some friends, but other than that I don’t know that I’ll be playing much more of this one. I feel like my time would be better spent elsewhere.