Waypoint began as a website for discussing games in a nuanced, thoughtful, and emotional way, bringing in and sharing perspectives about a hobby that had a meaningful impact in the lives of all who partook. In the spirit of those origins…
To some, a video game is a short burst of fun on a long commute. To others, its an exploration of a whole new world hundreds of hours in the making. Whether it’s the latest free game from Epic, a game from that itch.io bundle you’re finally trawling through, or something you picked up on a Steam sale. Whether it’s a new AAA release, an indie darling, or an older game you’re replaying to find that magic again…
Hey folks, what’re you playing?
This is a thread for sharing whatever video games you happen to be playing at the moment, regardless of the platform you might be playing them on. Whether it’s console, mobile, PC or VR, feel free to share your experience with the game here, how you’re feeling about it now, how others have felt about it in the past, and and the impact it’s left you with.
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Started and finished Jade Empire the past week. Right off the bat the combat felt bad - movement is slow and weird when you’re locked-on and most of the attacks don’t move you forward and harder enemies are just damage sponges. Its been a minute since I played the game and this aspect did not age well - I remember it being better. But I thought the world was super rad, the characters were likeable even if some of their designs were unfortunate or personalities one-note and it has the best music in any Bioware game (save for Mass Effect, which came out after this). Such an overlooked Bioware IP. It’s one of the few games that after beating it when it first came out I immediately went back and played through it again and I got that urge this time too. I just enjoyed it so much.
A shame it’s kind of a mess on modern hardware. I didn’t run into huge issues with the Steam version but sometimes people get silly eye where one of them looks off into a weird direction and the alpha levels on fog is inconsistent. Sometimes loading into an area the camera is all screwed up (saving then loading usually fixes this one) and I had some awful stuttering problem at one point but I fixed that by editing the ini file.
A shame I don’t have much faith in Bioware these days or else I’d love for them to revisit the setting. Even a direct sequel since those characters were so good (at least the ones that could be your love interest).
I like Jade Empire as a game, but there’s a whole thing about it being developed by mostly white Canadians appropriating Chinese culture that’s never sat well with me. I doubt Bioware will ever touch the franchise again given that fact.
While I’m generally good about finishing games before I start new ones, I’ve lately found myself with three substantial playthroughs on the go: Yakuza 3, Final Fantasy VII, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I’ve given myself a rule that I have to finish all three before starting anything else, and I just got one step closer to my goal by finally beating Yakuza 3.
So, I went into this knowing that 3 was one of the more divisive of the mainline Yakuza games. And having now played it for myself, I would probably rank it at the bottom of the 4 franchise entries I’ve played, but not for the reasons most other people seem to. I actually really liked the early Okinawa section, with its smaller, more personal stakes. Having now followed Kiryu through several games worth of criminal conspiracy and blood feuds, it was nice to see him given room to breathe as a character; you really get a sense of the new life he’s built and, as a result, whats being threatened when the inevitable violence starts breaking out. In addition, I enjoy Downtown Ryukyu as another well-realized playground in the franchise’s arsenal. Sure, it doesn’t have the depth of Kamorucho, or the pizzazz of Sotenbori, but there’s a feeling of community there that sets it apart from the series’ usual locales.
My main issue, honestly, comes when the plot starts to really escalate. Whereas previous Yakuza games have achieved a fantastic sense of narrative propulsion (while still allowing you the space to go hunt down side-quests and bonus activities), 3’s plot, to me, felt a bit more jumbled, progressing in fits and starts that never quite coalesced into something with real emotional impact. When the villain finally revealed his motives and plan I couldn’t really respond with anything more than a shrug. In fairness, the main story is never my primary motivator for these games, but the lack of momentum here really did impact my feelings on the game as a whole.
Still: it’s Yakuza. It’s fun. I love the characters, the world, the bizarre side stories. And I’m very excited to (eventually, after a break) start up 4 and see what new conspiracy Kiryu somehow ends up in the middle of.
Do people not like the Okinawa parts? My experience with the game lines up similarly to yours, really liked when they focused on Kiryu and really solidifying his identity, really disliked the soap-opera twists at the end.
I still liked it more than Kiwami 2 which really just floundered so much with the ending, but 3 was not as enjoyable as Zero or Kiwami 1
Based on what I’ve seen, the first Okinawa bit seems to be a sticking point for people. With that being said, I’m sure you could find a lot of dissenters on that one.
I’ve posted this elsewhere but I think it’s worth posting here too, if only to keep discussion going!
Been playing Baldur’s Gate 3 with a friend the past week. We had to lower the difficulty because we kept on missing our attacks and were getting bananas frustrated by it. The lower difficulty gives you a little extra on your proficiency rolls too, so you’re not spending 90% of your combat missing or failing your checks for skills you chosen - it’s nice. The game’s alright. It made me realize that I don’t like D&D at all and the concept of per rest resources is an antiquated and trash design paradigm. It also reaffirmed that I don’t like how Larian does combat encounters - everything is do or die. There’s no such thing as a casual combat encounter. Some people burst a gasket at the mention of “trash” encounters but I think they’re a fun and necessary part of the power creep. You can’t do them with the awful per rest resource mechanic, unfortunately, but sometimes you want to try out your arsenal of fun spells and get a feel for them without having to rest or worry about resources and turning a character into a cantrip bot because the next fight might be really hard and you have to conserve those two spell casts (because you start out with next to nothing in low level D&D)!
It just leads to save scumming and meta gaming. I don’t like macro decision-making. These games are better suited for micro decision-making: where you have a limited amount of resources for that battle and you have to decide when to do them instead of thinking about the battles you maybe do before the next long rest. These designers keep coming up with ways of trying discourage spamming long rests with camp supplies and other nonsense instead of taking a look at the root cause of why people do that and addressing it. Having it be relatively consequence free in previous D&D games is what made this per rest junk tolerable (that consequence being you might get waylayed by enemies).
All that said, the out of combat stuff is real good. It’s fun mucking around in the world and chatting with NPCs with class or background specific dialogue options, which tend to be humorous. The companions seem to be pretty good too, even if a few of them start off as grumps who hate having fun. It also accounted for some clever outside-the-box thinking players can come up with but also sometimes it overlooks some brain dead stuff that doesn’t make sense (like you can’t throw a bucket of water on acid to spill water on the ground, you just throw the bucket and it lands like you just threw a rock and attacking the bucket to break it to spill the water does nothing).
Overall it’s fun with my friend. She’s playing a paladin and me a rogue/monk so all the underhanded shit I take care of and all the vengeance oath and persuasion things she takes care of. However, if you don’t like D&D this game will do nothing to change your mind and if you’re curious and want to see what the hubbub is about I recommend waiting until the mods come out that mod out the D&D out of the game. Personally, I wait with baited breath that changes all spells to per encounter. Pillars of Eternity 2 did this and it was absolutely glorious for it (though the more powerful ones required a rest) and it just gave me a taste of something I found to my liking.
As a Bioware fan from KotOR-onward, I think your analysis is spot on. 90s BioWare with its tabletop-first ethos was just too unforgiving for me to get into. I don’t begrudge Larian for following this design thread, but in its pursuit of a faithful electronic recreation of D&D, it misses the crucial aspect that makes the tabletop game work. Namely, a GM that knows when the group is getting bored of rule book ephemera or a difficult combat encounter and deus ex machina’s a solution to get on with things. Like you, I’ve been save scumming like no tomorrow to get through things, and that has been my least favorite aspect of the game. But, it still gives me that good role playing in between do-or-die combat encounters that I can’t get enough of.
I’ve been enjoying my time with Baldur’s Gate 3, but I understand being frustrated by or just not liking the DND approach. I’m not frustrated by the combat being hard. That’s just kind of the loop in a game like this. Losing progress due to lack of autosaves is annoying though.
My biggest complaint about the game so far is the lack of tutorialization. Even having played DND and being roughly familiar with the rules of 5e, there are still plenty of moments where I’ve had to reload because I know what I want to do, but the input required is not clear. There was a moment I had where I wanted to cast charm person on somebody who was giving a real time countdown and I had to reload 3 or 4 times because it was not clear that I had to click multiple times through to cast that spell. It wound up not being useful to me anyway, but it’s still annoying that basic stuff like how to cast a spell on an enemy isn’t clarified in the tutorials. In this case, it was because I had unlocked being able to select multiple targets and didn’t realize that I either had to select two targets to cast or click the accept arrow in the bottom right of the screen. Maybe if there wasn’t a real time countdown, I would have noticed that quicker. These are also the kinds of things that in person you could just ask the DM if you could do, but obviously a video game can’t work in the same way.
Additionally, I just found out that, the solution to something I found through exploring early on was really as simple as clicking and dragging the rock on beach. My character noticed something was there because of a passive roll success, but I had no clue how to use the information I got. I tried a bunch of different items and what not, but I guess I hadn’t thought to do the one thing that would work because there’s nothing else in the game that I had encountered that functioned in that way.
I was wondering how long it would take for this thread to fill up with BG3 chat
In contrast, having been (politely) lambasted for never having actually played the original 2 Baldur’s Gate games back in the day (at the time my experience with D&D in RPGs was owning Eye of the Beholder and Champions of Krynn on the Amiga and… never managing to get even slightly far into them - in particular, I remember that I basically tended to die on the second random encounter in Krynn, every single time), I took advantage of the Humble Bundle that’s bundling many of the old late-90s D&D games together to acquire them for a low low price.
Ironically, Humble have actually run out of original BG steam keys, so I actually installed Baldur’s Gate 2 (Enhanced Edition) first…
So far, after 2 hours of play, I’ve:
- just about worked out how the weirdly awkward interface works,
- been annoyed by character creation (… why have rolling for stats if you’re going to let me reroll as many times as I want and then also let me move points around? Just give me 95 points or whatever to allocate and stop wasting my time!.. why are all the character portraits a bit weird? Why are all the female voices a bit off? On top of the usual 2e class selection awkwardness - oh, well, see you can be this class or this class but only this split class if your race is this or this, or you have an “S” in your name),
- had some brief voice acting by an unmistakable David Warner, acting everyone else off the screen in about 4 voice lines
- discovered to my shock that the memetically famous Minsc is a ranger of all classes (he’s not at all intelligent, and hot-headed enough that you get him to free himself from his cage by making him angry enough to bend the bars… and whilst Barbarian is not a stock 2e class, he’s actually below the stat requirements to be a Ranger - he only has 6 WIS!)
- kinda survived combat encounters by sort of hopefully clicking and then setting things to “pause at the end of a round”, but to be honest I really have no idea what’s going on in the mass confusing melee that they all devolve into
- vaguely developed a sneaking suspicion that I’ve totally picked the wrong class options but I’ll only know this 10 hours in.
Oh, and I’m no-where near finishing the actual “escape the dungeon you started in” bit.
More updates if anything changes…
After a long-gestating move to our new apartment, I was able to settle down to finish Evil West. As part of the move, we treated ourselves to a new TV after 10 years with the most basic LED we could find.
Evil West was looking a bit cross-gen on the old box, but now we have a TV with all the acronyms (HDR, VRR, 4K etc.) it has been looking incredible.
What a game! I genuinely haven’t had this much fun with an action game since DMC5, and I’d rather play this than that game any day of the week. It’s such a clever amalgam of ideas and mechanics: not quite a cooldown manager like new God of War or FFXVI, not quite a combo-stringer like Bayonetta. It’s a brawler, but one that’s about cleverly utilising your bag of tricks as aggressively inventively as possible to even the odds against overwhelming number and combinations of enemies.
It’s the platonic ideal of the Van Helsing/monster hunter game. I still die quite frequently but since the game is so arena-based, they checkpoint you right back to the start of that encounter for you to try again. While each encounter doesn’t have a “solution”, it reminds me a lot of Halo at its best. What could you do differently this time? Have you used everything at your disposal?
There’s also an really sharp script and set of journal entries to accompany everything. I am NOT a reader of notes, but these nail the arch tone that I associate with the best vampire fiction. Also the old-timey West speak is just Deadwood enough to make some of the punchlines hit harder than they probably should.
It’s probably a perfect game?? Can’t think of a thing I’d change about it.
Has anybody played BG3 on Deck and how did it run? I need something to play that doesn’t involve me getting out of bed.
I would have a primary source answer if the game install weren’t like a third of the hard drive size (haven’t got an SD for my deck yet).
Reports from others I know is that it runs, and it’s seems there was a patch to get it running with some default settings on deck. Seems like it caps the frame rate at 30 fwiw, but that’s likely not a huge issue for a turn based rpg
I’m not a big framerate guy as long as it runs
Last night I finished Final Fantasy X-2, which was excellent! So many sequels to great stories fall into the trap upping the stakes, even when it doesn’t make sense for the characters or world. X-2 sidesteps that completely and instead asks interesting questions about the ramifications of the ending of X. What would replace a religious oligopoly when its teachings have been proven definitively false? How does a society constantly menaced by the end of the world handle an “eternal calm”? What does the savior of the world do when she’s no longer needed? How does she cope with what she’s lost? What’s more? All of those questions are answered satisfactorily. FFX2 is a narrative feat!
Mechanically it’s a little less successful. The dress sphere system is really fun in theory, but there are rarely battles long enough to take advantage of it. The animations to change them are pretty long too, which discouraged me from using them. That said, the game’s narrative is more than enough to make up for it!
After 80+ hours, that’s Tears of the Kingdom done and dusted! I’m gonna keep this brief, because I’m sure everyone’s read more than their fill of Zelda discourse over the last few months, but: what a game. After Breath of the Wild lost me somewhat, TotK grabbed me in a way I truly wasn’t expecting. Might end up as my second favourite Zelda, overall (Majora’s Mask remains the GOAT, for my tastes), and that’s saying something. Just a spectacular achievement.
With that being said: I do think the end is a bit of a slog. The final portion of that quest goes on for a while, and this game really needed difficulty options cause that ending gauntlet was far too much of a spike in challenge. The finale, however, did solidify this as one of the best Nintendo games from a pure narrative standpoint, so at least it went out on a high.
Closing in on the final boss of Remnant 2. Such a good game. This a team that really understood what they had with the first one, everything here is a clear evolution on the original that keeps the good and amplifies it. Archetypes are a great addition to the formula; I think armour needed just a little bit of something to compensate for losing set bonuses, but overall I think shifting them to the new system was a net positive. I also think the plot didn’t have to be quite this thin. Yes, these games are more about vibes and lore – both of which are impeccable here – but the plot we get is just a little too obvious about being just an excuse to do world-hopping shenanigans.
Still, though, awesome game. Even though I’m at the “end”, I’m almost certainly going to be doing Adventure runs to see the halves of the world stories I missed and try out some alternative builds.
I’ve been bouncing around a few games until I listened to the 3MA on Aliens Dark Descent and I had to give it a go. It’s a true XCOM-like in that it completely consumed my brain for a week.
I don’t think I’ve ever played something that so captures the vibe of Aliens (specifically, Cameron’s sequel - I know a lot of folks will go to bat for Alien Isolation). The rainy colony exteriors, claustrophobic corridors, the flashlights of the marines lighting up the dark, the sound of the pulse rifles and sentry guns. The last thing I played that even touched this was probably Rebellion’s Aliens vs Predator in 1999.
The real-time tactics take on an XCOM-like works really well even on console, where I worried a controller would make everything too fiddly if it wasn’t turn-based. The mission design is (mostly) very good with a few standout levels, often structured around an exploration phase followed by finding and securing some objective and holding off a big wave of aliens, which always evokes the holdout at Hadley’s Hope in the film (speaking of which: I was staggered to realise upon rewatching Aliens that sentry guns aren’t even in the theatrical cut).
Beyond the franchise set dressing the key feature is the way missions aren’t one-and-done affairs: you send in your squad, try to explore as much of the map as possible before running low on ammunition or riling up the hive too much or getting too badly hurt, and then pull back to your ship. Then the next campaign day you can send in a fresh squad and pick up where you left off. Very occasionally this can feel narratively weird (e.g. you’ll punch through a particularly tough objective and then pull back, but the next day nothing has moved in to make your return more difficult), but mostly it’s a fantastic feature for distinguishing it from XCOM or Battletech and giving the flow of the campaign a very different feel. There’s something really special about gambling how long you can keep your squad in the field, especially where you’re trying to open up shortcuts for the next squad to use before retreating.
The actual story is probably the weakest part - it’s a budget-priced game and some of the voice acting is a little wonky, though I grew to like several of the main characters by the end. There’s some good worldbuilding (seeing the return of the Working Joe-style synths from Alien Isolation that were also used in Fireteam Elite) and some less good (much of the plot itself revolves around an alien-worshipping cult and it just didn’t land for me at all; I got the vibe some of it might have been pulling from or inspired by old comics or tie-in novels that I’d never read, but I’m pretty much a “just the movies” fan).
Anyway, this was such a good first attempt at this style of game in this setting, I’d love to see Tindalos come back for a DLC campaign or a sequel.
An interview with Evil West:
DT: So you’re a third-person shooter.
EW: And punchin’. Very important, the punchin’.
DT: Shooting and punching…train robbers? Varmints?
DT: So is there some kinda cover system?
EW: Cover ‘em in bullets.
DT: Upgrade currencies?
EW: Sure. Bucks.
EW: Smackers. Dollars. Good ol’ US currency.
DT: So, how do you get bucks? Side quests? Mini-bosses? Dialogue choices?
EW: cocks an eyebrow You…play the game.
DT: There’s no massive open world to traipse through?
EW: Takes away from the punchin’.
DT: No side quests?
EW: We’ll stick some bucks on the side of the fightin’ areas if it makes you feel better.
I have been in the market for a big glorious piece of cheese for a few weeks now and Evil West delivers.
I’m bangin’ the drum, hootin-and-hollerin about Evil West.
While I tend to roll my eyes when fans of games demand I take Vampire Puncher Xtreme seriously on an intellectual level, I am also exactly that person for this game.
Trains? The closing frontier? The era of Victoria science that ushered in the anthropocene? Well-meaning but questionable use of Native American folklore? This game has It All.