As open world video games take off, exploration is becoming a huge part of gameplay. The trouble is that it can be hard to pinpoint where the action is happening when there’s such a vast world in front of you. It’s interesting to see how different games handle this via the use of tracking — whether that’s scanning the environment (Mass Effect Andromeda), using special senses to follow a trail (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt), or utilizing technology that reveals more about what’s around you (Horizon Zero Dawn).
Well, March turned out to be a pretty amazing month for me, and now I’m hoping April will top it. =)
Last month I played Horizon Zero Dawn. It was easily one of the best video games I’ve ever played. The story, the lead character Aloy, the graphics, the scenery, the structure to the open-world questing… everything was near perfect. I’ll post something about it soon, because I’d like to discuss how it approaches an open world format and compare it to other open-world games like The Witcher 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Skyrim.
Aside from that, I started re-reading one of my favorite books ever, the science fiction classic Dune by Frank Herbert. I’m actually listening to the audiobook on my commute, downloaded from Audible, so if anyone is interested in what it’s like to listen to I can review that aspect of it. You can read about my history with Dune here — it’s kind of the book that got me into sci-fi in the first place!
I also started playing Mass Effect: Andromeda last month, and I must say, it is so much better than I expected. While I tried to avoid reviews before starting, I was hearing a lot of complaints — not just about the facial animations (which honestly doesn’t phase me, that’s not why I play Mass Effect), but also about the writing not being great and the story not being very captivating. Fortunately, I disagree with those complaints. I am loving the game so far. I feel really connected to my Ryder, the protagonist of the game, because Andromeda features four tone options that really shape a unique personality for her. It’s much deeper than what I’ve seen in previous BioWare games.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll review the game when I’m done with it. In the meantime, you can read my game diary as I play it here.
In other news, baseball season is back! I went to my first game (pre-season) a couple of days ago, and I can’t wait to start watching games again. If you’re into baseball, you can read this post I wrote about the baseball team roster I would create out of Mass Effect trilogy characters. I totally want to do that again for Andromeda now!
I’ve also been working on fitness goals a lot lately. Originally I was going to train for a 10K this month, but I decided to postpone running goals to focus more on strength training and flexibility. I took my first lyra class last week — it’s an aerial sport where you perform transitions and poses in a hoop suspended from the ceiling — and am so sore and bruised, I have some work to do to get in shape for it! I’m excited to start training more heavily as I continue to take beginner’s classes.
As for writing… I haven’t done anything all month. I want to change that in April. I have been thinking about my novel a lot lately, and I miss writing it. I think I just needed a breather to focus on other things (new job, fitness, and video games!) and gain a little perspective on my story. I feel I have that now, so it’s time to dive back in.
I also attended a Game of Thrones concert last week which was extremely fun. You can check out my mini-review here.
This month is also my birthday, and as always, I’ll be honoring my tradition of playing Dragon Age: Origins again. I hope to complete a playthrough this year, since I didn’t last year. I think I’ll go with a male character this time, which is something I just never do…
What are you guys up to this month? What games are you playing?
Role-playing video games are how I got into games in the first place. The ability to create a character is a liberating experience. It’s starts with how the character looks, then goes on to how the character acts in their world through my in-game decisions.
It’ll be a while before I can comment in detail about Horizon Zero Dawn (except I can say that so far, I love it!), but this week I got my hands on the Collector’s Edition of the game which has a few physical goodies I was excited about.
I’m a sucker for a pretty case for a video game, and the Steelbook case included in the Collector’s Edition features some gorgeous artwork, focusing on Aloy in action. Here’s a look at the outside of the case!
The whole reason I pre-ordered this edition of the game was the inclusion of the amazing statue of the main character, Aloy. Created by Gentle Giant, the figure has tons of detail that I love.
Aloy stands over a downed watcher, and you can place arrows in slots near the machine’s head to make it clear Aloy shot this mechanical creature down.
While Aloy’s face doesn’t have the same detail as her outfit or the watcher, you can see her freckles. I love her hair and the way it blends from red to blonde, but you can definitely see the paint strokes and some brown coming through where there shouldn’t be any. But her clothing and the watcher itself are so detailed, they make up for the rest. Just looking at the fur on her arms and shoulders can trick you into thinking that if you touch it, it’ll be soft. The colors are also bright and true to the vividness of the Horizon‘s in-game world.
I’d deem this statue one of my all-time favorites, though it’s actually one of the first non-action figures I have!
The art book is a fascinating history lesson diving into how Horizon Zero Dawn was designed. I’ll admit I was expecting a big, 100+ page art book like I have for video games like Mass Effect, but this one is short and wide (shorter than my hand), with about 50 pages of art. It’s more of a bite-sized addition to the Collector’s Edition of the game than a rich art book, which you’d probably need to go out and purchase.
It’s fun to see Aloy’s concept art, as well as the outfits worn by various tribes (the most interesting and unexpected thing in the book, for me!). There is also a ton of art dedicated to the lush landscapes and ruins that make up this world. The only thing missing was much art focused on the mechanical creatures, which is a shame as they are such an important part of the world’s aesthetic and history. Still, I enjoyed seeing the rough concept art that was the foundation for so much of this game!