Going back offline for a bit, after two disastrous runs at the second pair of missions. Will post more when I get back online, and will post video(s) of the streams when all’s done. (I haven’t decided yet if I want to post them separately, or see if I can combine them into one.)
I’ll be loading this up in about a half an hour (noon Eastern) for anyone who wants to join. If you need to find me, my PSN is BrennaCeDria!
So I’ve been tied up almost entirely in FFXIV since mid-April, but never got around to posting any of my exploits. I figure I should finally do that.
Meet Ria Hawke.
Look and sound familiar? She should, since she’s a crack take on my DA2 Hawke. Well, almost any take on Ria is a crack take, but that’s not the point this time. I picked Ria to start the game with because when it all comes down to it, she’s the one character of mine that can be adapted to almost any setting. What’s more, she’s such a random-ass goof that I can just play like an idiot and still be kind of role-playing her. For instance, shortly after starting her adventures in Ul’dah, she met a (blond) Handsome Stranger under the Sultantree… who, it turns out, gets a bit of head baggage of his own. Sound familiar? It turns out Ria has a type.
So anyway, Ria spends most of ARR trying to get sempai to notice her. She starts out as a pugilist, then becomes a rogue, then a ninja, all while trying on pretty much every hat she can get her hands on. This one’s probably her favorite:
The game proceeds along it’s designated path through ARR. I have to headcanon a lot of random responses and motivations for the few options given since she’s Ria, but being a JRPG–online or otherwise–means a very scripted, closed plot compared to Bioware’s more open stuff. She continues through the game, fights Lahabrea (spoiler: I couldn’t actually fight him cause I stayed behind to watch all the cutscenes while the others left me behind), is saved by her pet magitek, Maggie, and in turn saves her sempai from the explosions and such in the aftermath. The alliance leaders declare the beginning of the Seventh Astral Era, and everyone’s happy, cause that’s how these things go.
Except Alphinaud has this brilliant idea to start his own private army that later turns on us, the assholes in my beautiful Ul’dah decide to commit regicide, and we’re pushed into hiding in Ishgard. It’s cold in Ishgard. (Also somewhere during the Seventh Astral Era, Ria got bored with Thancred. I guess he just wasn’t as fun post-Lahabrea?)
Around this time, I realized I was having trouble recognizing when people were trying to get my attention in dungeons and trials and stuff, because I’m not used to answering to Ria. So I figured I’d do the name change so I can have Brenna Ce’dria back (omg it kills me not having the D capitalized). I also figure since we’re fugitives now (even though the game handwaves that away) I should get a makeover. So now, I look like this:
Conveniently, Stormblood came out just as I reached the end of the Seventh Astral Era plot; that meant I could switch from ninja to samurai as well as get my make over, so now my “disguise” is complete I guess. (Also, samurai is so much damned fun; it’s like my ninja but I don’t die as often, which is nice.)
Anyway, yeah; that’s most of what I’ve done since April. I have worked my way a little into Heavensward’s plot, but not far; I have the trial to fight Ravana but haven’t done so yet. When I get further into that, I’ll post more about my further adventures through Eorzea.
Fake Edit: Oh! I almost forgot, look at how cozy my apartment is!
I started it when my character was still Ria, to make a Hanged Man kind of tavern, but named the room The Mad Hatter. You know, cause Ria and her hats. There are still some touches I want to add, like more stuff on the walls, a hat stand, some food stuffs that don’t look too fancy for my setting, and some sort of storage in the bedroom (I don’t know if the armoire will fit in the one I made, which is the other side of that wall, though, so I haven’t jumped on that yet). Also, a few more dyes for some of the furniture. When we (Cult of Koolaid) finally can get a Free Company house, I’ll figure out a different theme for my room there, but my little apartment will be exactly as imagined soon!
I’ll be starting this up in just a few minutes over on Twitch, but I have to say, I’m a bit worried. Not just about Prompto, though I mean c’mon, everyone who’s played the main game and has seen the trailers for this already know what’s going to be happening.
Me? I’m worried that there isn’t going to be enough time to cover all the plot hinted at in chapter 13. Either way, I’m heading into it. Join me, and wish me luck!
(Note: As usual, I started this post last night, set it aside for a little while, and fell asleep before finishing it. Since that’s the case, anything after about the halfway point of the list below I’m filling in this morning. Also, OMG the typos, because I was struggling to stay awake while I typed the first part of this to begin with.)
Okay, so first off: Gaemes.
I’m still extremely far down the rabbit hole with FFXIV, so that is delaying a bunch of other plans I’d made. I’ll post a full profile of my character at some point, but the short, short version of it is that she’s an import of my Dragon Age 2 Hawke. As the Champion of Kirkwall, Ria (Marian “Ria” Lousia Hawke) defended the mages and first indirectly (though later more directly) supported Anders’s actions at the end of DA2. She’s an extremely loving and loyal person, but by no means a good one. Loving but selfish and somewhat extreme? Also snarky to a fault and obsessed with hats specifically and dressing up to absurd occasion in general. Yeah… That sounds about right.
Anyway, I’ve finished the main A Realm Reborn main story quests with her and I’m maybe… 1/2 way to entering Heavensward, based on world of mouth. But in spite of not even entering Heavensward, I did jump at the chance to buy the next expansion for the new jobs available–especially Samurai, which I’ve become very fond of. Much of it plays similar to my previous Ninja job, but since monk is the most-related class (not prereq class tho, thank god) the job is much sturdier than ninja. Which… kind of sucks, because Rogue and later Ninja are more true to Ria’s fighting style. But I found an awesome coat for pug/mnk/sam in the Gold Saucer that just looks amazing and that flows quite well with how she always wants to look her best.
As for other games? Brian (@chii_dev) has finally gotten to the point in FFXV where he’s used the boat to get to Altissia, something I’ve been begging him for months do. He also appears to be done with all the Altissia hunts, something I was incapable of doing on my first save. He’s since, however, returned to Lucius using Umbra, so I kind of doubt he’ll be going through the summit or the summoning of Leviathan any time soon. But hey… at least he finally got on the boat after all?
Back to me, though: EPISODE PROMPTO IS OUT TONIGHT/TOMORROW MORNING! (Next-morning continuing-update note: see? This is out of date already thanks to falling asleep before finishing!) I fully expect to be, and will severely disappointed if I’m not, sobbing like a child throughout this episode. All other scheduling things aside, this is going to be my first priority of all game things possible for the next few days. And, yes, I’ll be streaming it on Twitch as I go, then exporting to YouTube later, most likely on easy mode as I did with the main game and Gladio, because I want to see the game, not sit there swearing for 20 minutes at something I can’t kill.
Speaking of my Twitch and YouTube? I’m pretty sure I’m going to erase all or most of my FFXV files on those sites and start fresh when I go into my second NG+ (one without the #PrinceSpaceman save). That way I can skip as many hunts as possible that can take up extra play time that no one is really interested in. Side quests I’ll still do, and any hunts mandatory to them, but not hunts for the sake of hunts.
Finally, the rest of my to-do list so far as games and related media go. I think these might be in order at the moment, but I’m not certain yet so the orders may have changed.
- Continue ARR into Ishgard and beyond
- Finish FFXV as PrinceSpacememan
- I Am Setsua
- DA Re-Everything (though possibly skipping the early books, since those have been hard to focus on).
- Restart as “serious” save of FFXV
- etc, etc, cause I don’t have my usual to-do list with me and while I think I have everything significant here, there’s almost always something I’ve missed. Not that the list is entirely relevant at the moment, since I’m focusing now on very short-term goals.
- Finish The Clone Wars, start Rebels.
- Catch up on Fashion Week(s), which one again I seem to have missed the beginnings of.
- Lose weight, or at least lose enough weight to get my rings off so I can move them to a necklace. Because holy cow my fingers are so swollen I can’t do anything about them–even the string method can’t work at this point.
- I’m on duolingo now doing their new Japanese program. It’s only on mobile, not on browsers yet, but it’s still been a great help for me, as a refresher in and to build upon the little bit of Japanese I’d learned years ago. For someone with no background in Japanese, though, I’d probably suggest using it as a supplement to other lessons instead of an only source. It gives you the whats of what it’s teaching you, and it doesn’t give you any whys as you go. This extends all the way down to hiragana vs katakana existing side by side. You learn that both あ and ア are read as “a” but no one tells you why that is, what situations you do and don’t use each for, etc. There are kanji with multiple readings (specifically, 中) that are pronounced one way in every flashcard, but another way in almost every in context example. And again? No explanation for the different readings and usage. Oh! And in spite of mobile being an excellent opportunity for this, there isn’t any option (yet?) to let us learn to write, however poorly, in Japanese using the touch screen to trace out characters.
Anyway, enough too-late and too-early blathering for now. I’m going to pick up and do at least half of this morning’s lessons then get on FFXIV for a while. As I said, I should be to Heavensward soon, and I have to get to and through that if I’m ever going to get up to Stormblood’s content in the next year.
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that my love for Dragon Age: Origins knows no bounds. The same goes for pretty much all of its spin-off material, such as the books Stolen Throne and The Calling. I waited in line for hours at PAX for a chance to play the Dragon Age II demo, and never once did I regret the time I spent in that line when I could have been playing everything else in the expo hall, or roaming the Secret Level, or going to see panels like Acquisitions, Inc.
Even once I finally received my Signature Edition copy of the game and settled in throughout the first act of three, I felt nothing but love for the game in spite of small observations–they weren’t really severe enough to call complaints–regarding things I felt could have been done differently. The further into the narrative I explored, though, the more and more I felt ill-at-ease with one thing or another in the game.
Don’t get me wrong. Dragon Age II is a fantastic game, even in spite of my concerns. It just wasn’t the game I’d come to expect.
For one thing, I remember two promises from early into the advertising for this game:
- An epic narrative spanning a decade
- The chance to expand our experience beyond Ferelden to the whole of Thedas.
Bioware successfully met half of each claim, but then fell short on the other.
Let’s start with that decade-long narrative. Dragon Age II begins as the Hawkes are fleeing Lothering during the Blight. After completing the Ferelden portion of the introduction, the game skips ahead an unstated amount of time to Hawke’s arrival in Kirkwall and the beginning of a year working off the debt that was incurred gaining the family passage into the city when so many other Ferelden refugees are left in the cold. After skipping again to the end of this year of indentured servitude, together with the time it must have taken to get to Kirkwall, we can guess that up to a year an a half has passed since the first scenes until the true beginning of Act 1 of the game.
I won’t go into too much detail on the actual events of each act at this point as the specific plot isn’t relevant, but if you look at the achievements/trophies for the game one of them is for completing “a full year in Kirkwall without any party member being knocked unconscious” implying that each act spans one year of the narrative. That, in and of itself, leaves me feeling cheated regarding the decade-long narrative promised in the game. The game is only three acts, remember? So in reality, we’re only getting a three year game, not a ten year game as was advertised. Can we say “scale the epic back by about 60%”?
Next comes my disappointment with the physical scale of the game. In Origins the locations we have to explore span Ferelden, from the bitter Korcari Wilds in the South to the warmer coastlines of the Waking Sea. In the sequel, however? We’re given a single city and its outskirts–oh, I’m sorry, we’re given a city by day, the same city by night, or the outskirts. That’s not exactly the whole of Thedas. It’s not even a small portion of Thedas–just one small, independent city-state of the Free Marches. Physically, the epicness of the game is reduced even futher, and that left me very sadface.
True, we don’t have a Blight to quell, or treaties to enforce, or any of the urgency of Origins’ plot, but that doesn’t mean that we have to spend nearly the entire game running errands for random townsfolk. While some of these quests do later relate to significant plot details–especially the one regarding the women going missing from Kirkwall, which I felt was probably one of the best subplots in the entire game–most of them consist of nothing more than delivering random items found while cave diving and the like to their misplaced owners. Tim over at Ctrl+Alt+Del wasn’t exaggerating in the slightest with this comic. At least in the first act running all these random errands made sense in the context of the story: you have to gather the gold needed to become a partner in the Deep Roads expedition Varric’s brother is leading, and these odd jobs are a means to that end. It just makes no sense later in the game for many of these quests to be present, though.
Now then, I’m not nearly has hot over what I perceived as injustices and insults in the game’s final act as I was on Saturday night. My initial, raw reactions that I tweeted that night and the next day:
1. Well, that was a let down. I enjoyed *playing* the game. I have next to no desire to replay it though.
2. Even with various quests here & there that were engaging, the story as a whole did nothing for me.
3. My first impression rating for the game was an 8 or 8.5… After finishing it, though, it’s a 7 at BEST.
4. (In response to a reply I received stating the poster found the game “incredibly underwhelming”): Agreed. Being the 2nd part of a trilogy is one thing. But Empire Strikes Back this ain’t.
5. the locations are dull and repetitive; the mechanics of gameplay are fine. Overall, though?
6. just a plea for the franchise to stay fresh in our minds until they can complete the “real” next installment.
7. being the second of a trilogy is one thing, but you have to actually contribute to the over-arcing story, not just pass the time
I think #4, my final response before going to bed for the night Saturday, is the most efficient assessment I can make for the game overall. I don’t think anyone, anywhere, doubted that there would be a third game. Unlike Empire, though, DA2 falls flat on its face as an individual installment in the larger story. I have a feeling (or at least, I’m hoping) that by the time the final installment is released, whether through DLC and expansions or through the next game itself, we’ll have more context for the events of DA2 that lessens the blow of this particular shortcoming. As of now, however, there just isn’t enough content to justify the game as its own entity.
But wait, you said that in spite of everything, it’s a fantastic game. It sure as hell doesn’t sound like it from what you’ve said so far!
Just because I have complaints about the game–even ones as potentially damning as the ones above–that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. While the locations can be dull and repetitive, the mechanics are smooth and battles are fun. With the exceptions of random system freezes in Act 1, I didn’t experience any of the random bugs I’ve heard about online.
Probably foremost in the pluses for the game is the development of the characters and their relationships, even though I didn’t like how some of that development would later become relevant to the final plot. In my game specifically, I played a femHawke rogue, and was incredibly close to younger sister and apostate mage Bethany. Considering my sympathies for the difficulties that mages faced, my Hawke eventually hooked up with Anders, and their relationship continued through the rest of my game–through and beyond his ultimate acts against the Chantry. On the one hand, I despise Bioware for what they did to Anders in this game.
Honestly, the fact that my character was so closely intwined with Anders and other mage sympathies is probably why the ending of the game left such a bad taste in my mouth. But at the same time, it illustrated what was probably the one shining triumph for the game: even though what I felt when I finished the game sickened me, I nonetheless felt at the end of the game. I hated–no, despised–what the story made me do in order to be true to the character I’d built. The feeling of despair in the epilogue when it’s revealed that not just the Circles in northern Thedas rebelled, but all fourteen Circles followed suit, crushed me, because by association that means all the good I’d done in Ferelden in the last game may as well have been erased by the actions of Hawke, Orsino, and Meredith. I may not like what I felt in the game, but I did feel, and in the end, maybe that’s what matters.