jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

A week or three ago, Bungie, the makers of Halo, opened their upcoming MMO first-person shooter, Destiny, to PS3 / PS4 players, for an open beta and stress test. I played it for a few hours, the night before the beta ended.

A day or three ago, Trion Worlds made their MMO third-person shooter, Defiance (sponsored by Dodge!), free-to-play for people on PS3 consoles. It's based on a SyFy TV series that I've never watched. I downloaded it a few days ago, and have played it every day since, partly because a PSN friend invited me to her clan.

Here's what I make of the two.

Defiance

A few minutes into Defiance, I thought "This game is awfully silly." That impression has yet to leave me.

It tries very hard to be "hardcore" with its characters and world design, from the square-jawed colonel in charge of the Not A Spaceship at the beginning to the wise-cracking, alien Bad Girl, who largely pushes the main plot forward. She loves chargin' in and killin' her some post-apocalyptic mutants, and the whole game is based on the premise that you do, too.

Which leaves my "survivalist" character up shtako creek without a paddle, because so far she's run into:

  • Men who can take a direct shot to the face from a bolt-action rifle,

  • Hills that can't be climbed even with a backpack full of survival gear,

  • Wildlife that runs after her as soon as it sees her,

  • Trucks that just sit in one place and disgorge wave after wave of enemy soldiers without resupply,

  • Quests that can't be completed until I run up close to a target with no cover,

  • "Friendly" soldiers that shout at her to "Get over here and HELP!" while she's finding a position to snipe from,

And more cheesy one-liners than you can shake a hellbug at.

In a way, it's kind of a letdown. Because they let me create, as my character, a woman of colour who's a "survivalist" and a "professional" and who actually dresses the part, right down to the beat-up propane tank attached to her pack. And instead of Don't Starve in 3D, I ended up having to bro it up in the bro-iest bro shooter ever.

So why the jekk am I playing it?

Because I haven't played pretty much any shooters since DUST 514, minus brief excursions into Uncharted and Bioshock, and it's ... actually kind of fun. In a cheesy, ridiculous way, but fun nonetheless. The premise (an alien colonization of Earth gone wrong) is interesting, despite how the game handles it, and I feel invested in my character. This is one of the few games that feels like it lets me inhabit a world as myself, so I figure I might as well make the best of it, especially as long as I have a few friends here.

I just get the impression that it was made by a bunch of TV execs, based on a stereotype of "what gamers like."

Destiny

Other than that it was made by the people behind Halo, and that it involved a big sphere floating over a city for some reason, I had no idea what to expect when I logged in to the Destiny beta. But enough people were talking about it online, with what seemed to be wonder and awe, that I started it up with my headset on and the overhead light switched off.

It pulled me in right away, with graphics that seemed almost PS4-quality and ... a reverence I rarely see, for the power of myth and the people who want to be part of it. Just the way they use words, like Titan and Ghost, that makes it seem like these are the names for something sacred. I didn't feel like I was "playing a game" so much as that I was physically there, helping act out a story, like when I went on the Star Trek: The Experience "ride" years ago.

I didn't know what was shooting at me, or why I was able to shoot back. I just knew these things were somehow responsible for the destruction that I'd woken up in, and that my revival was supposed to somehow bring back ... what?

Transhuman civilization, apparently, including both living machines and mysterious "Awoken." "These worlds were once ours," says the poster in the limited edition set, depicting the solar system. But what was that civilization like, besides grand and ancient? It felt kind of like playing Journey, and having to use your imagination to fill in the intentional gaps in the myth. This was no dystopia I was fighting for; it was whatever I thought was ideal. The best impressions I'd gotten from living on Earth.

I'm sure there's story material that fills in the gaps, somewhere. But they don't give it to you up front, and there aren't all the silly, ridiculous things in the gameplay that jarred me out of Defiance. Granted, I haven't played Destiny as long. But it left a strong impression, and I am tempted to preorder it.

Oh, and the gameplay was fun, too.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
I realize EVE Online caters to the griefer crowd, the paranoid scheming and infighting crowd, the "internet spaceships are serious business" crowd that sees themselves as Loki-esque trickster gods. When what they really do is choose the easiest targets available and press their biggest, most obvious buttons, in a game that uses its lore and its atmosphere to lure in the suckers for them without their even having to do any work.

I realize FPSes cater to the douchebag crowd, the "cry moar" crowd, the "your tears are delicious to me" crowd that sees themselves as professional e-sports athletes. When what they actually do is find games that let them grief their competition mercilessly while they're still newbs, so that they never have to face them at full power and have their precious e-peen shrunk down.

I realize the likely response to this all is HTFU, which I've learned is EVEspeak for "I can't be arsed to inconvenience myself."

And I realize that griefing and playing for dominance are seen not as extraneous, but as a vital part of the game most people here signed up for.

But I personally don't enjoy being spawn-camped. I don't enjoy spawning next to players from the opposing team and instantly dying to them. I don't enjoy being sniped out of nowhere. I don't enjoy running around trying to figure out what's going on and running into a vastly superior force. I don't enjoy spending 90 percent of a Skirmish mission trying to claw my team's way back from the grave and dying a million times. I don't enjoy losing to a team that seems to have bought its way to victory, and having to figure out how to spend my fake moneys. And I especially don't enjoy being humped by the guy whose armour I just repaired, or cringing the whole time I'm on the war barge and hoping some guy doesn't invade my personal space.

Improving my skills would fix some, but not all, of the above problems, for a value of "fix" which means "shoddy hack that should not have had to be implemented." Most of them I see as the consequences of extremely poor game design. I have more fun playing a generic-brand Modern Warfare I picked up for $0.99 than DUST 514 most days, even though I like the atmosphere and the lore of DUST better.

I'm trying to play a fun, heavily thematic first person shooter which is one of the few that will let me play a female character. And I'm getting a steaming pile of crap where the FPS part's only part of the game, and the rest of it is getting bullied and ganked in between reading a spreadsheet.

I'd already figured out that the only two kinds of EVE players are sadists and suckers. I think that applies to this game as well, I think that's intentional, and I think the design reinforces that. I'm not enjoying the time that I spend in-game, and I'm not going to recommend it to friends.

But hey, I got the voucher for it in my new PS3 box, and I sound obviously hurt and upset. So I guess both the developers and the players are happy with that. Glad I could make your lives better.

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~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

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