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?
Lately I’ve been playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and while I’m still in the early stages of the game, it’s already reminding me of another massive RPG: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The reason for the comparison is the way these games handle questing in an open-world (or at least partially open-world) environment.
Since finally finishing the main storyline in Dragon Age Inquisition this month, I’ve decided to compare it to another of the greatest video games in recent years, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, to see how each fares. I’ve enjoyed both games a lot, and they have tons in common. Both games are fantasy RPGs, the third in their series — and both try open world for the first time.
That last part is what I really want to discuss. The Witcher 3 goes full open world — you can travel everywhere without loading screens — while Dragon Age goes with a limited open world, where you select a spot on the map and then freely explore that large area.
What’s interesting to me is that these games, so similar in their approach, are very different in their execution. While The Witcher 3 really nails the open world experience, Dragon Age Inquisition’s attempt largely failed for me.