Revisiting Games Gone By
I’ve been on a bit of a spin around the tracks with some games from the past. Three different games with three different motivations why. And it occurred to me this might be something I want to do more often as it was actually… You know… Pretty fun. Three games. Three motivations. And three almost entirely different responses.
It might even be that there is a series in this whole whacky idea of going back to revisit old games, be it that I once enjoyed them or even that I didn’t. I certainly know from previous experience, that sometimes a game just doesn’t land the first time through. But then… all of a sudden… It does.
I think also though, that I won’t attempt to cover three games in one going forward.
Who knows- this might even end up just being a one-off. But I’m going to tag it just in case. ;)
I started this blog for Anthem. When I kicked this blog off two years ago, we were just approaching the first demos of the game awaiting incredibly impatiently for the February 15th early access launch date.
Despite the general critical reception to the game, I had a lot of fun with what was on offer. The real killer wasn’t that the game was fundamentally bad but instead that it lacked in content and none of the promises of the post-launch roadmap came to be.
So I ended up putting the game down mid-March, barely a month later.
I think I logged in maybe a time or two after that post, but I never saw any of the more substantial patches. (Well… What passed for substantial for Anthem, at least). I didn’t see the cataclysm events, or the seasons, or any of the eventual changes to the loot drops.
So! I was curious. Two years. Two years they’ve had to work on the game. I know there will be a portion of the team working on Anthem Next, but surely something has to have been done since launch? With the two-year anniversary coming up, I figured it was time to jump back in and take a look for myself.
While Origin downloaded the game, I jumped over to take a look at the patch notes. The last entry on that page is (at the time of writing this post) 1.7.0. Dated Feb 25th. 2020. No updates in almost a year.
I assumed that simply whoever had the job of updating this page had been let go or quit and no-one stepped else stepped in.
Or maybe that the patch notes were all ingame now.
It didn’t even occur to me that there wouldn’t have been even a single hotfix or point release in a year.
You can imagine my surprise then when I booted into game and was greeted with a 1.7.0 version number.
To get it out of the way now: My return stay with Anthem was brief. I perhaps put in a little over an hour spread across two play sessions.
In those play sessions, I jumped into a few different freeplay runs in order to come to terms with the controls again. Muscle memory kicked in quickly though, and in no time I was flying and jumping around the map like I’d never left. I’d started in Grand Master 1 difficulty, but quickly left and rejoined on GM3.
And here’s the first positive change I can talk to: The difficulty of the game has been rebalanced such that GM3 is worth doing. At launch? This was not the case. This time around, GM3 felt challenging but extremely achievable in my old (now outdated) Ranger with a mix of Masterwork and Legendary items.
Second positive change: Someone at BioWare finally listened to the players and/or came to a separate epiphany that actually.. loot is fun. Getting loot is fun. Patching for more loot instead of less will make their remaining players happy.
Over the course of the hour I played, I saw 2 legendary drops and a good number of masterwork items. It could just be incredibly lucky RNG, sure. But it seemed consistent enough of an improvement that I can only imagine this was an intentional change made somewhere along the way.
Better still — unlike at launch; you can view the forge (aka, your inventory screen) from anywhere. Including while out on an expedition already.
But for all that… I wasn’t grabbed. I didn’t feel any particular desire to continue playing or to chase the new gear power cap. Yes. There has been one new stronghold (dungeon / strike) since the game launched. Yeah; there are a two (count ’em) seasonal game modes that swap between themselves on a loop.
It isn’t enough for me though, not right now with so much else I could be doing. I’m still holding out hope for Anthem Next and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be playing it when it gets here. Until then though, I’m content to let this one rest.
(As a side note though: Each of my freeplay sessions match-made into maps with people actually playing. There does seem to be enough of a player base around to support play, at least at max level. So that’s something.)
Black Desert Online
Perhaps ironic given the names — but if Anthem was the desert of post-launch content, Black Desert Online was the flood.
There has been so. Much. Added.
The world space has to be at least two times the size it was when I left. And that’s just counting the stuff on the mainland. I don’t even know how much more space has been added out to sea. But I know it’s a lot. When the game launched, one of my early adventures was to build myself a raft (that I titled ‘DunDrown’) and then sail around exploring the islands available at the time.
That rectangular box I explored is nothing compared to the area that now has islands and points of interest scattered around it. And it took me hours to explore it! (Albeit, yes, at raft speeds).
Honestly, it’s overwhelming.
Black Desert Online has so much going on just in general, wrapping my head around everything after several years away is proving to be quite challenging. My bags are full (always a tough mental challenge to get around, I find). I have things in warehouses across the map. I have wagons and horses at various stables from here to kingdom come.
I don’t remember how to operate my workers. Or what the resource nodes really even do, but when I was playing last, I used my CP (the resource for marking out nodes) to extend essentially from where the Mediah zone starts all the way back around to the western side towns and hunting grounds.
Why though? I have no idea. Did I have a trade route running? Was I still hunting in some of those older zones? Do my still currently missing workers hideout somewhere on this path?
But you know what?
It’s actually kind of exhilarating, and has refreshed the entire experience for me.
One of my biggest issues with BDO, when it launched, was the frankly insane degree of RNG required to upgrade gear. Upgrades could fail. And when they did, it was exceptionally punitive. You could end up with a downgrade. Or if attempting to upgrade accessories — they could simply cease to exist.
In fact, that outcome was more likely than a positive one.
I have no idea what I want to do ingame yet. Every system it has at first (well.. first in a while) glance seems fairly complicated. I do remember I’d started down the track of learning ‘life skills’ (aka, crafting) but then again, when I was playing I had about a month or so after hitting max level (well… soft cap max level) before the first expansion came out.
I think this time around with so much more content available now, I’d put that on the backburner and start experiencing that.
The main question would be… On one of the many new classes that launched since I played?
Or on the ranger I levelled up to 51 (and a bit) at launch?
Whatever the answer to that ends up being, I think I’m interested. Unlike my experience with Anthem, I’ve been left wanting more.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
For this one, the motivation to try was external. Belghast has been writing recently about trying Dragon Age: Inquisition again after bouncing off it a number of times in the past.
I bounced off it for different reasons to Bel, but bounce off it I did. Unlike Anthem and BDO, I just simply didn’t like this one in the past.
And that was after really trying to really just push through and find some fun in it after all. My save games (thanks to the power of saves in the clooouuuud!) told me I’d put almost 17 hours into the game but that I hadn’t touched them in any serious way since 2014 when it came out.
The power of autosaves tell me I’d jumped back in for perhaps 10-15 minutes in 2017, and then left again.
My issues with the game were less philosophical than Bel’s. There were two that I could recall- probably the biggest one was technical in nature. My PC of 2014 did not get on well with DA:I. It would be fair to say it struggled and so the game was incredibly choppy.
Still- I persevered though that and ran into the second issue. Everything not directly on the main story path seemed to be about as deep as a puddle. The side-quests reminded me greatly of quests in an MMO. And to remove any doubt: No, I did not mean that in any way that could be considered a positive.
I probably wouldn’t have touched it again if not for Bel’s recent interest and then actually enjoying it when he did. But I loved Dragon Age: Origins. If you’ve spent any time here at all on Time to Loot; you might be aware of the fact I rarely finish games. I finished Dragon Age: Origins start to finish no less than three times. At roughly 100 hours per run.
Dragon Age 2 I was far less impressed with — particularly the shoehorning of the ending — but it did little to damper my appreciation for the IP. And as hinted there: I reached the ending. I finished DA2, although just the once.
Anyway… I jumped back into Dragon Age: Inquisition, really not expecting much.
I figured I’d be done with it again in no time.
I wasn’t though. Despite the years away, the lore of the world came back to me in no time. I remembered where I’d left off the story as the last events before unlocking Skyhold as your new fortress and base of operations had stuck with me through the years.
The main story? I had no issue with that — but it didn’t seem possible to keep pace and do only the main story. The padding was one worse than shallow. It was also mandatory.
But as noted on the screenshot above — those impressions were largely from the initial zone of the game.
When I jumped in to check out DA:I again, I jumped into the second major zone — the wastes near Orlais. And the quests seemed much better, even while wandering off the beaten track.
I’m currently on a mission to find dragons. My experience with the series to date tells me this is a very bad, no good, not smart idea. … But I’m going to do it anyway.
It might just end up being that Dragon Age: Inquisition covers me on the RPG front while I await further patches to Cyberpunk 2077. :)