“Someone’s slicing our communications?” “Who?” Are you not even paying attention?!
Ha ha. It’s been so long, I don’t remember who all the later additions are.
Oh wow, the game suddenly remembered we were supposed to be romancing Theron.
Theron likes you, but not enough to want to go meet Arcann with you.
This seems like everyone is coming around to say bye. We must be nearing the end.
Great. I’ve been playing the Imperial Agent for the last month and barely remember how Consular fights anymore.
What…Koth has an anti-SCORPIO button? Why have we not used that before?
Man, you really have to get a lot closer to fight as a Jedi than an agent.
Well that was a lot of dying, but the Harry Potter magical shield of need really came in handy.
I’m not so sure I’d count Arcann out until I saw a body.
Vaylin never gets a break.
How did Senya take so long to get here, she missed the whole fight?
Koth better not be right about you, Senya. I’ve already had one betrayal this story.
Oh hi Valkorian. Did you not hear when Arcann was mopping up the floor with me to get your attention?
Nice of you to show up now.
Wow, I really don’t get SCORPIO’s deal. Why couldn’t she have accomplished this working with us?
Why would she give up all the power once she had it? So confused.
This quest with the TC-93 droid is hilarious. “TC = remembers Carina // Carina = obsessive + lonely + creepy”
These poor lonely women and their even poorer droids.
So I guess that’s the end of the “Fallen Empire” storyline.
On the whole, it was pretty entertaining and doable as a solo, which was my main concern when I started this whole thing.
The first nine chapters I thought were really engrossing, but then it seems kind of evident that the subsequent chapters didn’t get the same amount of funding or time and were kind of shallow.
The other thing that you notice is how all the class storyline missions were fully voiced and the worlds fully rendered, while most of the expansions your character was silent and transportation was handled as a “fade to black” and then reappearance at your destination.
Once I caught up with the chapters however, the game really weakened for me, since all the interchapter grinding involved the heroic flashpoints which I proved totally incapable of finishing.
At that point, there wasn’t really anything interesting for the whole month until the new chapter came out.
Additionally, the early entry into the chapters for the subscribers wasn’t a huge advantage, because a) the chapters started out totally buggy and needed patching to be easily playable, and b) the areas were so crowded initially, you could hardly find non-timed out objectives.
Like sometimes you’d have to just stand around in some enemy compound waiting for a Big Bad to respawn and then try not to accidentally poach someone else’s turn who had been waiting for it earlier.
The next segment will evidently deal with Vaylin, who was probably a much more interesting character than Arcann, anyway.
Unfortunately it also deals with SCORPIO who I think was one of the weaker characters–pretty one-note, and one of those who makes your character look like kind of an idiot for constantly helping them even when they flat out say they’ll betray you at the first opportunity.
All the new characters were pretty interesting, but after the first nine chapters they were mostly done talking at length to you.
The chance to romance either Theron, Lana, or Koth was nice, but having to lock it in with one of them right in front of the other two was a little awkward.
Plus it wasn’t like the other person ever mentioned it again until the very end, so it made virtually no difference. I liked how Dragon Age Origins made it so the characters at least changed how they routinely addressed you by how much they liked you.
Although it’s not very supportive of the game, if all you’re interested in is the new stuff, I’d probably hold off subscribing until all the chapters are out, because I found the time between them kind of tedious.
Part of it could also have been the Jedi Consular itself, because after starting an Imperial Agent character, I found that storyline to be much more interesting.
Even though the basic class stories are free, if you suck at combat as I do, it’s a huge advantage to subscribe and be able to have unlimited medical probes. Otherwise, you wind up constantly having to march all the way through a level every time you die in a boss fight.
Ah, Seattle. Home to PAX West (9/2-9/5,) which used to be called PAX Prime, for which I had been trying to get tickets for the last couple of years. I had actually really wanted to go because of all the BioWare content it had in the past, and this was the year I finally scored passes! Unfortunately, it was also the year that BioWare was between games and did almost nothing! Oh well.
Because I waited until the last second to get flights, the only ones that were not exorbitant were at horrific hours, so I wound up getting into SEA at 2am (boo!) and hobo-ing around the airport until the trains started running around 5am (boo!) I had discovered that the metro ran directly from the airport to a station about a block from my hotel (yay!) so I took that uneventfully and they let me check in some ten hours early (YAY!) After heavy napping, I staggered off to check out Pike’s Place Market and the first Starbucks, and the first of many macaroni and cheeses from Beecher’s.
So the next day PAX started, and I’d have to say that PAX is maybe one of the more interestingly run cons that I’ve been to in awhile. For one thing, many of the panels and events are broken up into several hotels and theaters around the convention center, but unlike SDCC where the hotels are generally right next door, these hotels could be some distance away. I think the major…panels? Shows? Took place at a main theater location that looked like it was around ten blocks away from the convention center, so I never actually went there. They did have a shuttle that went around the periphery of the further locations, but it started up about an hour after the con started for the day, and ended about an hour after the floor closed, so it was almost never convenient for me to take it.
As I walked over to the convention center, the first sign that I may have underestimated what would be involved, was all the guys walking over carrying portable camp stools. These were really smart guys, because boy howdy, were there lines for everything. When I first entered, the first location I found was the BioWare Base, which was offering Systems Alliance Recruitment.
The line didn’t look too long, so I got in. After nothing moved for awhile, I asked an “Enforcer” (PAX volunteer) for a rough estimate of how long it would take, and she said maybe 90 minutes. As it turned out, it took around 90 minutes to get to the DOOR, and then there was a line that snaked back and forth inside the door that took about another 60 minutes. By the time I left, it had been over 3 HOURS.
As it turned out, the process involved teams of two people undergoing three tests–Biotics, Combat, and Tech–to see what area you should be placed in. If you passed all three, you got to go on to the fourth test to achieve N7 status. Unfortunately they only had one station per test, and each test took roughly 4 minutes, so it took them something like 20 minutes to finish 8 people, which made this a pretty low-capacity attraction, as we say at Disneyland. While my team rocked pretty hard at Biotics and passed Tech, we were unable to complete Combat, so we did not get to try the N7 test. Your reward for all this? A ribbon for your badge with the designation you tested into.
For the rest of the day, I mostly rambled about the exhibitor’s floor (actually two different non-consecutive floors) buying the occasional pin and Grunt plush, and admiring the various booths.
The most exciting thing for the day was that I lucked into a last-minute VR demo of “Star Trek Bridge Crew,” which was amazing. I don’t know why anyone spends anytime doing anything else. I got to run the helm and aside from some difficulty grabbing onto the levers during moments of duress (those exploding stars are nerve-wracking!) It was terrifically fun. The worst part will be trying to convince three other people to invest in the VR gear, because you can only play it with four.
The next day was the major one for panels for me. Some of the ones I attended: “For Honor Panel and Gameplay” with developers and voice actors, including Jennifer Hale, voice of Commander Shepard…
“Making and Promoting Non-Traditional Characters in Games” with BioWare writer Patrick Weekes…
And “Romance in Games,” with BioWare Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw.
All the panels were pretty entertaining, however it was strange that the super crowded panels generally tended to be in smaller conference rooms, while I attended others that had like thirty people total in the room, and were put in huge ballrooms. I did try to get into a few that I knew would be popular like the Final Fantasy ones, but they filled up pretty fast. The official PAX app had a line estimator part that was pretty handy, as it depicted how the rooms were filling up by an increasing bar graph, but the rooms dropped off the app after the start time of the panel, so it was hard to know if it was worth it to try to get into a room once it started.
I also made it to the “Swag Bag Room” at one of the hotels. This was pretty odd, as it was clearly sponsored by Reese’s Puffs cereal and featured a huge ball pit into which people would dive to find Magical Balls that held prizes they would then play games to win. It seemed like quite an ordeal.
The swag bags were also puzzling–they seemed to be a plastic bag that held about five postcards advertising different things. I actually had to ask someone if that’s what they were, because frankly, it seemed like maybe someone wasn’t really familiar with the concept of “swag” as I know it. At least they gave you free mini boxes of cereal.
For dinner I managed to hike a half-mile over to “Pie Bar” which had some quality pie. It’s a tiny, tiny place where people wait outside for large quantities of time to get their pie from a window, but I lucked out and a table for one happened to open up just as I got there. Would patronize again.
I spent most of the third day investigating more of the booths on the floors and playing demos for Final Fantasy and Phoenix Wright.
I did get to one panel on “Women in Games & Tech” moderated by BioWare producer Melanie Fleming.
This evening, Bethesda threw a “Dishonored 2” party open to anyone at the wharf, around a mile away from the convention center. There was a streetcar that went directly there from my hotel, but it had stopped running early because it was a Sunday. Whomp whomp.
This was pretty interesting–the area was dressed up as an in-game environment, with people roleplaying characters and a mystery you were supposed to solve by running around and playing cards and interrogating different actors. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, I was advised that all the tokens for the winners (dice? Silver cups?) had been given out already so the game effectively had no end for people who came afterwards. Regardless, they showed some new gameplay footage and had some limited food and drinks available, and a cool print-to-order shirt station that was also totally inadequate for the volume of people who showed up wanting shirts. It was really well done, I thought, with the caveat that they probably needed to expect about three times the people they ended up having.
The last day was pretty minimal for me–I needed to pack up and check out of the hotel and then store my luggage with the bell desk as my flight didn’t leave until 0730 the next morning (I SAID I had terrible flights.) I ended up watching a table-top RPG game for most of the afternoon (I’ve never played–seems very involved!) and then did a little more shopping before PAX West closed for the year.
In retrospect, although I enjoyed PAX, I’m not sure if it’s an essential part of my con schedule at this point. At least 50% of it is table-top games, of which I know nothing and have little prospects of playing with any regularity, since you need other people for them. Additionally, most of the major draws in terms of panels seemed to be various podcasts and YouTube/Twitch shows which I hadn’t seen. Probably the strongest suit was the many demos and particularly the extensive VR set up, but the lines were pretty extensive–usually over an hour, which isn’t necessarily bad for something like E3, but sometimes over two hours, which is getting up there. The difficult part of getting to some of it was that no one seemed to know the hours of a lot of the off-site installations, so the thought of walking all the way over there to find out that it was closed wasn’t that enticing.
The main thing is that most activities simply didn’t seem to be set up for the kind of traffic they were getting. The Final Fantasy booth offered a different shirt everyday that was only available by playing the demo…but the demo was an hour long, so it was only available through appointment only. This meant that people who wanted in were lining up sometimes around 0700 for a floor opening time of 1000, and that all tickets for the day were given out in the first three minutes. I go to a lot of conventions, and routinely you hear from companies “well, we didn’t know if anyone would show up.” Maybe it’s just what they’re telling people, but if it’s not…Seriously guys: If you Build It, They Will Come. Plan for a lot of people.
So general thumbs up to PAX West, and in particular to the Mayflower Park Hotel who put up with me and my hobo flight hours. If Mass Effect Andromeda decides to make a big showing next year, maybe we’ll be back.
So E3 is this week. Unhappily, a number of my favorite companies such as EA are skipping it this year, and even more unhappily, one of my favorite companies, Disney, is apparently skipping video games altogether. To compensate, EA is holding a just-off-site affair called “EA Play” to give people a shot at their upcoming games.
Waiting to get in, we were visited by a happy PopCap zombie.
Walking in after registering and receiving a swag bag with Battlefield 1 flask and Titanfall 2 miniposter.
The event took place in the “Novo by Microsoft” area of the LA Live complex, adjoining the Convention Center, making it easy to pick up the E3 badge before heading into EA Play.
Four games were available for play: Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, FIFA 17, and Madden NFL 17.
I had an opportunity to play both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, at which time I was able to verify that I’m probably the worst FPS player in the history of FPS. Like, it’s entirely possible that I was the first person ever in Battlefield 1 to sit there and let an enormous flaming Zeppelin fall on them.
There was also a counter selling We Love Fine merch from various EA franchises.
I knew that they wouldn’t be demoing anything from Mass Effect Andromeda or the new Star Wars games, but I had been hoping there would be displays or video or something…but not so much.
After you play Battlefield you can get a dogtag printed up, and after Titanfall you got a pin. I don’t know what you might get from the other two games, because I was too demoralized to try them out.
They also had a concession counter running, for which everyone got a coupon for a free soda/water and sandwich, which was very nice. Their usual video loop ran on the big screen in the theater so you could take your food up to the balcony and watch it while you ate.
On the whole, a nice affair, particularly for free. It would have been more compelling if I actually played any of the games they had available, but I’ll have to try to practice up for next year. Hopefully MEA will be their big push by then.
Ok, back to the Spire mission. Kaliyo and Jorgan screwing up again.
I like the animation on Gault. Lana still looks like an action figure from the 70s.
This is apparently going to be Team-Who-Could-Benefit-From-Minor-Cosmetic-Surgery.
Isn’t it time we got some Cullen look-alikes on board here?
Oh please let our contact be Salacious Crumb.
How did Vaylin get here so fast?
Not sure Senya should expect too much for Mother’s Day.
Well that was a pretty happy ending.
Being BioWare however, that usually means your dog dies in the next scene.
That seemed short, but Gault was a more interesting character than most.
Everybody likes a good heist once in awhile.
Chapter XIV: Mandalore’s Revenge
Androids get so testy when they find copies of themselves.
Scorpio should talk to HK-47 about the droid planet he found in KotOR 2. OH WAIT THEY CUT THAT PART.
The secrecy of who our allies will be would be more effective if this chapter wasn’t essentially called FIGHT WITH THE MANDALORIANS.
Oh man, these emails from Avus Dayne are hilarious. He needs to take poetry lessons from the Blue Rose of Illium Krogan.
OH WAIT, BIOWARE KILLED HIM. Sob.
Ok, rearranged our inventory, like we’ve been forgetting to do for the last few chapters.
Great. This new chapter is so busy, I can’t find a non-destroyed walker to destroy.
Ok, reprogramming the guns.
Man, am I glad for Quick Travel.
Arcann suddenly lost interest in defeating everyone?
He went from “I’ll kill you and everyone remotely associated to you” to “eh. I’ll just watch it all on TV.”
We’re…going to a Mandalorian party?
Oh, pretty much like New Year’s in LA.
Man, there are a lot of droids in this armory.
Lana wants us to sterilize the Krogans, I see.
Every time they stick us with a non-optional new companion, I feel like they couldn’t get the usual voice actors back for another chapter.
Oh ugh. The Mandalorian dude left us. I get into a fight, I’m gonna die.
Thank goodness we didn’t have to drag that thing all the way back to camp.
Khomo is kind of an ass.
Welcome aboard, Torian.
Scorpio is a bit of a creeper.
Well, hard not to think that we’ve been kind of treading water for the last couple of chapters. I don’t feel like we’ve found out anything new or made huge progress–mostly just continuing to try to get a handle on the Eternal Fleet problem.
Hopefully this Genesis droid will actually let us do something, like all the other things we’ve found so far haven’t.
Oh, I guess we don’t have an option of starting it or not. Just straight on into the breach.
Havok Squad sounds familiar.
Major Jorgan apparently likes to gang out in the swamp in his tighty whities.
Oh, and shooting with an imaginary gun. I think there might be a glitch here.
Ok, should that Jorgan guy be with me? Because he is nowhere around while these swamp things are beating on me.
Well I feel like he is supposed to be here, because now it says to talk to him.
Oh look, he has clothes now.
Back through the swamp. At least I get to watch everyone else go through the same thing in the chat window.
They are really not investing too much in the mission descriptions anymore.
The worst part of any game is trying to fiddle with the graphics setting so the resolution is high enough to distinguish something, but low enough so I can walk around without jerking in different directions.
Man, Jorgan is gone again.
You know, I think he fell through the floor, because I can still hear him, and everybody keeps shooting at the ground instead of me.
This chapter maybe needed some more debugging.
Damn it, this battle droid Atherna is kicking my ass.
Part of it seems to be that for all his talk, Jorgan has pretty poor survival instincts.
You would think, if a huge machine is going to plop down in one spot and keep firing at you, you would…I don’t know…MOVE?!
Argh. Still dying.
Took a break for a day. Still dying.
FINALLY killed it. I have no idea what made the difference, besides killing the turrets and knights faster.
Glad these citizens had better firepower than all these military guys.
Again, I don’t know why everyone looks pretty good except Lana who always looks under-rendered.
Oh man, Koth just administered a sick burn to Senya.
Nobody likes Scorpio.
That was kind of weird. We just went to sit in the cantina and watch people get beat up.
Well I guess that was the end? These end kind of abruptly.
This was the first one I did as an early access subscriber, and I’d have to say that it was a little buggy.
Chapter XII: Visions in the Dark
Oh already with the tough decisions. Use the fleet? Or destroy it?
Frankly, I’m not sure either Kaliyo or Jorgan is my top pick.
There must be people who make these decisions on a snap. I usually have to think so long, the game has to check if I’m still alive.
Ok Jorgan. You’re up.
Why is it every time Valkorion wants to talk to me, he can barge in while people are throwing napalm at me, but when I want to talk to him, I have to go camping under a waterfall?
Well that wasn’t that helpful.
Hey, we checked all the exits and they were all no good.
I feel like we didn’t come off too well in that fight.
Oh look, our maybe-future-MIL.
“Don’t take this personally, but you’ve gotten…strange.”
Theron’s Mom has maybe been alone too long.
Oh, I guess she wasn’t alone after all.
Wow, talk about strange bedfellows.
Oh dudes. You can’t just tell me the secrets? There’s a war going on, if you weren’t aware.
Morality is a weakness?
Accumulating all these secrets and I have no idea what they are.
I’m not so sure you guys are helping.
I made a thing! That will probably last about five fights before I have to throw it in the garbage.
Wow, I can’t climb this climbing wall for anything.
There is no way I can make any of these jumps and none of the ledges connect.
Ok, taking a leap and just yelling for help.
OMG. All you had to do was click a rock. Hate you BioWare.
Glad in all the time I was hunting weird crap in the jungle, everyone continued with the same argument as when I left.
Oh, got another mission from the Hutt guy. Reclaimed Treasure.
Sith artifacts are never good news for anyone.
Ok, unlocked the artifact, fixed the amulet, found the Hidden Hallow and…nothing.
Absolutely nothing. This may be a bug.
Yep, a bug. Had to restart the mission. Ugh.
Hm. If we recruit this guy, it will be the first dark side move we’ve made