Thoughts on Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror

Contains Both Tunnels and Terror

Well, what I wrote in the subtitle explains it all.  The end.

Just kidding.  I’ve been playing Back 4 Blood since…December, I think.  And like similar intense co-op games like this, we blasted through it in like three days.  It was fun, and then that was it.  Back 4 Blood also brings with it unlockable things to keep me coming back: Cards can be unlocked.  You use the cards to make decks and you draw those cards as you play through the levels.  The cards are always in the order you set them in the deck to be, so that’s nice.  It makes playthroughs a little different every time.  You can also unlock skins.  If you know me, I’m definitely a girl who really likes making her characters look the way she wants them to.  And then there are weapon skins, which I also am a great fan of.

The characters are pretty likable..  The variance in their lines is not as diverse as Left 4 Blood, but they’re still fun to hear.  I admit it took me a little bit to like the characters, but by the end of the Recruit difficulty it was all good.  Oh, that’s right.  Then we worked our way through Veteran difficulty with only two players, because by that time most of the group stopped playing.  And then we tried Nightmare and we got slaughtered.  The most recent update made it a little easier, but we still get slaughtered and I am just not going to play with randos.

Alright, let’s get to Tunnels of Terror.

Is it worth it?  Kinda?  Let’s talk about the different things and then you can determine for yourself, because we likely have different interests.

Tunnels/Hives:

So you can go into Ridden Hives that randomly spawn in the levels.  And these hives are actual entire levels you get to play in.  The way they’re attached to the main campaign instead of their own levels reminds me a lot of Path of Exile’s content additions.  And I love that.  I love it in Path of Exile because they keep adding more stuff and that means more chaos and unexpected occurrences.  I love that kind of chaos.  But that also means you will not be choosing hives as levels to play through.  Even when you’re playing through the campaign, they’re not guaranteed to spawn.  …at least from what I’ve seen.

The hives themselves are really fun to play.  Even though their designs are mostly just slimy tunnels, there’s something about venturing through them that makes the gameplay of them really fun, if not better than most of the levels in the campaign.  Sometimes they’re fairly straight forward, and other times they feel like mazes.  In both senses they have been really fun for me and my ally to play in.  We love them.  While in these hives you can open warped chests which drop a bunch of good loot at the expense of some negative effect like everyone in the team taking trauma damage after opening it.  Which leads me to…

Legendary Weapons:

You can find these in warped chests.  I love the legendary weapons.  They are exactly what I want from such things: unique look, flavor text, and some fancy effect.  These are unmoddable weapons that do special effects like adding burning damage to an AA-12 while giving the wielder immunity to fire damage.  I like to open warped chests just to try and find these weapons, because they’re so fun to use.  They’re a very refreshing effect to the usual guns we wield.  You can also find unique, named mods that have crazy effects like 100% recoil reduction, but lose a ton of movement speed while shooting.  Those are also really fun and great.  Also in the hives we can find…

Skull Totems/Skins:

To be clear, skull totems are not skins, but they’re related to them.  In hives you can find up to three skull totems.  They’re a melee weapon that you have to actively hold.  Switching to any other item will make you drop the totem.  Each totem can be combined with the next to make it stronger (and slower in attack speed).  This allows for convenient travel with multiple totems, uh, in one totem!  That way only one person needs to carry it if need be.  If you’re using a melee build, these skull totems are great!  If you’re not, they’re not great!  It’s annoying to have to drop it just to switch to a ranged weapon if there are sleepers on the walls, and then pick them back up again.  But if you manage to escape the hive with the skull totems, you can spend them at the convoy to get other unlockables.  Like skins!

The new outfits are great, but there are not that many new skins.  I honestly expected a little more out of something they deemed an “expansion”.  The character skins are fun, but it’s the weapon skins that I’m kind of disappointed in.  Most of them are the same style on every gun.  A new biohazard skin?  A ton of them have that same yellow-black styling.  A new hot rod skin?  It’s on a lot of them as well.  None of the skins are unique to any type of gun, and I don’t really like that.  I like it when the skins are unique to the guns.  I don’t mind if there are a few repeats, like in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but when it’s always repeated, it doesn’t feel great.  It’s just a mixed bag for me on this one. 

Some of the new talents and cards and stuff are really great though.  I’ve yet to be disappointed in the cards.  Some can seem kind of plain, but are still important for creating variety in decks, and I’m very okay with that.

Characters:

I’m glad there is another Asian.  I’m super biased about that, but I’m glad.  Heng is a new cleaner who has more utility in accessory items.  There usually isn’t a huge feeling of difference between characters in Back 4 Blood.  Even with other characters abilities and damage buffs, to be honest they tend to feel mostly the same.  I’m honestly okay with that, but so far Heng is just another cleaner to play as.  If you like to combo accessory effects though, he’s definitely someone to try out.  I like trying to make items be reusable or drop/spawn as frequently as possible and he’s just the person for that.

However, Sharice makes the game feel very different.  Sharice makes it so armor plates can be found in the maps.  Armor plates will take a heavy hit for you, and you can equip multiple.  Shooting off armor from enemies will also have a chance of dropping armor plates.  These things can make a huge difference.  Just imagine having any of the accessory items not spawn because one of the team members isn’t using a character.  I mean, that’s how big of a deal she is.  Well, quite literally, that’s the difference.  She also gives increased max temp health for the team, which is also really nice if you like gulping down meds or are using cards to get temp health.

Mutations and Monsters:

The new variations of ridden are really fun to play with.  The tallboy variant Ripper can slam the ground and send spikes through the ground as it does so, making it a ranged tank.  The reeker variant is the Shredder, which pulls people towards it.  Instead of bursting in gross goo, the Shredder’s head just pops and just kinda spews it out in a small area of effect near it.  The stinger variant is the Urchin, which shoots spiky mines.  

Parting Words:

As a last note, only one player needs Tunnels of Terror for everyone to experience hives.  Skull totems and their associated skins can be earned even if you don’t have the expansion.  Characters can be unlocked in PvP by playing PvP, but to use them in PvE you need to have the expansion.  The expansion by itself is $14.99 right now.  If it’s just the hive content you’re wanting to play, it’s not a bad price for the content for a party.  I’m still pretty mixed about how I feel about the package as a whole, but I will not deny that I enjoy my time with Back 4 Blood and the new content is a welcome experience. 

With most co-op games, how fun it is really depends on who you’re playing with, and even though there is only one other person in my party left, we have a really good time with the game.  I hope there can be more improvements at the next expansion.  

I don’t really give number ratings for games, but that was my experience.  Some people express their concern that I am fairly positive about everything in games, but this does not make this thought process for naught.  I’m sure there are things about the game that I said that you might think, “Oh, I don’t really like that,” or maybe, “I don’t think this is enough content for me.”  And if any of my words help clarify any of those thoughts, then I believe myself to have succeeded.  I just want you all to be able to find the fun in games wherever you can, and if you can’t find it here in the Tunnels of Terror expansion, that’s okay!

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time~

Elise

Unsurprise! Why I Hate People Who Spoil Things

And Not Really The Spoilers Themselves

Spoilers are not bad.  There is no “right” path to choosing when it comes to whether or not you want spoilers.  It is merely that someone chooses a path, and you respect that path.  

I am apparently one of those people in the world that don’t enjoy things well when things are spoiled.  According to studies it seems that most people do enjoy things well with them, but I can’t even count any games or films that I actually enjoyed when it was spoiled, even when critically and/or popularly acclaimed.  I don’t care if people want to spoil things for themselves, it’s whether or not they care about spoiling it for others.  It’s not so much a matter of entertainment for me, because it is something I can lose.  It is a matter of gauging people’s respect for others.  The only thing someone can lose for not telling a spoiler is the pride that someone can have of telling someone something they don’t know.  Which, frankly, is a very douchey reason to do it.  Most websites put pretty good spoiler tags, so if you spoil those for yourselves even when it’s obvious like that that’s your own fault.

So it’s mostly the same thing you can realize for how they react to other life decisions, and for this one, it’s really shopping cart-esque.  To put away the cart is of little effort, and there is no consequence for not doing it.   There really is very little loss in not spoiling something, and whether or not someone can hold their tongue in that aspect is quite a tell of someone’s respect.  Accidents happen of course, especially when vocally speaking, and that’s fine.  People make mistakes.

For me it all stems back to what the person is like towards me.  It’s so much more than just the game or the film.  And what worries me the most goes even further.  I am worried for the people who think that, at any level of anonymity, it won’t affect them.  But again, this is a matter of respect, and nobody lives in a vacuum. Sooner or later they will have to learn respect, and I just don’t want their experience to end up being worse than just words.

Leaks are a bit different.  Leaks are more like a surprise party.  I find it even more selfish in this situation than spoilers to give away leaks because the creators are withholding information for the sake of our enjoyment.  I just think, “We just wanted to make you happy,”  kind of thing is a sad expression to see broken.  I also don’t like leaks because they create an unwarranted and unexpected level of hype.  The audience may grow an expectation that is much higher than normal because usually only a little bit of information is let out and at too early a time.  Then they are disappointed when it was they themselves that set up the situation.  A good marketing team sets up times for announcements for a reason, and a lot of it is this.  You want a controlled situation when you show your product to the public.  You’re not being a superfan by sabotaging the creators.

So by all means, if you want to know the stories for yourselves, go ahead and look them up.  If you want to feel ahead, just do it.  Leaks can be illegal, so I would discourage that.  But don’t feel bad about spoiling things for yourself if you consent.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been gatekept out of a situation just because I am someone who doesn’t do well with spoilers.  Not because they can’t talk about it, but because I am both actively and passively removed from the group the same way some women won’t work in some places because the atmosphere is just too toxic.  I am always seen as a lesser person in this community because of this, and, let me tell you, as part of a minority group in real life I get enough of that.  So for goodness sake, all I want is some respect.  The fact that I have to actively ask for that in the entertainment community I exist in is such a low standard, and I care enough to actually vouch for it.

Elise

Day 8 of Genshin Impact

This will probably be the last of my Genshin Impact diary things, but not because I won’t play it anymore.  I think I’m just done writing about it.

The longer I play this game, the more it grows its own identity.  I feel like the first prologue area was a nice dedication to all the things that have influenced it so far, but once you start moving out of that area things become more refined into the idea that Genshin Impact is its own thing.

So far, I feel like I’ve gotten enough characters to get myself through most of the stuff with the wishes I have been able to use.  I don’t think I ever directly explained that.  Wishes are gachapon tickets used to get stuff.  Every 10 is a guaranteed four star or better item.  Granted, I have been given a lot of those prismogems, which are one of the cash currencies.  This will not always be the case, as most have been given for an event for starting near launch day.  I’m already satisfied with the current cast I’ve been given. 

However, I am beginning to feel the tugs of lack of resources.  I am now at Adventure Rank 21, and I’m starting to feel the thing where if I don’t play every day I am falling behind.  The strange thing about that is, for most of the content I play, I really don’t need to care that much.  Of course I care a lot about story, that’s one of my favorite aspects of a game, but the combat is fun enough to log in and just fight some monsters and log out.  There will always be monsters to fight.  Some good fights to do for fun are those ley line ones.  They cost resin, which is the energy system, but the resin replenishes every day.  If I just play a little every day, not only am I secretly grinding, but I’m also making good use of that stuff.

Everything levels up.  The characters, the artifacts your characters equip, the weapons, and the adventurer rank, which is like your account level.  The first four can get strained when they need to ascend, because they require looking for certain materials that may only drop during specific days of the week.  So yes, I am beginning to see that, but that doesn’t restrain me from playing for fun.  And when the time comes that all that time playing for fun can pay off for moving forward in the story, I think it will be okay.  My prismogem growth isn’t exactly quick though.  Maybe more events in the future can provide for that.

There is a battle pass.  I hate battle passes.  Although different from gachapon, they force the same pressure where you must spend time on the game within a set period of time or you won’t get the reward.  Even worse, you have to pay.   I suppose if you’re chunky enough in cash you can pay to get the whole thing at once.  I mean, the honest truth is that all online game events are like this, so can I really complain?  Perhaps.  

I still like the writing and the characters.  I like the voice actors, although I don’t know about the English ones.  Sorry about that.

Two more things to note before I stop this diary.  The boss battles are really fun.  I like them a lot.  They’re very fun and they really let me show off the power of each of my people.  I can also get owned when I run into one that’s way too high level for me, but that doesn’t keep me from trying (and sometimes beating) bosses that are ten levels higher than me just through my combos.  I love when RPGs let you wander into areas that are higher level areas, or that there are high level monsters hiding in lower level areas.  It’s like running into a bear in the forest.  It’s a chance high level encounter.  Disclaimer, I don’t like running into bears in the forest in real life.

The second thing I wanted to note is the Spiral Abyss, which is a rotating dungeon that is simply chambers with enemies.  Each floor has three chambers.  You have to try and beat them as fast as you can for rewards.  The twist is that you can choose buffs that affect the chamber or floor.  I really like this rotating dungeon and it almost feels rogue-lite in the manner that you can choose the buffs and that the dungeon rotates every few weeks or so.  It’s kind of like a remixed version of those floor trials like in The Legend of Zelda or Paper Mario.  I love it.

And this is where we part ways concerning the writing of Genshin Impact.  I will continue playing a little bit here and there.  It’s a good experience, and I think it’s a game worth trying out.  It’s possible if it keeps it up (and maaaaybe make it easier to not have to grind too much later) that Mihoyo pulled off a good gacha game.  I will probably write more about this in the next few months or so, but that’s it for the diaries for now.

If you’ve tried it, what are your thoughts?  


Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all next time!

Day 4 of Genshin Impact

I think there are a couple of things to note about Genshin Impact.  It looks like Breath of the Wild.  We’ve established that already, but it definitely doesn’t feel like Breath of the Wild.  Even with the climbing and gliding it feels like a very different game.  And that’s a good thing!

I said it before, but I’m saying it again, the gameplay is very good.  The flashy strikes, switching of characters, and elemental combinations make it very fun.  Regular combat is actually fun and worth playing.  It reminds me of Black Desert, but I think I like Genshin Impact’s combat a little more.  I like being able to combine elements.  The differences between characters can range greatly.  Sometimes things are very small, like how Kaeya actually takes a step back when he performs his charged normal attack, but the protagonist takes a step forward.  And of course, the big things are their actual elemental skills and stuff. I want more of that variance, in both sizes.  It’s great.

Your elemental combos actually feel like they have a punch.  You could go through fights with just one character, but you can definitely see the difference when you combine the elements to cause status effects.  Mixing both the regular and ultimate (or whatever that move is called that is on Q) combat elemental skills with the different characters is not too difficult but has high skill potential.  I especially like characters like Xingqiu.  His ultimate provides bonus wet damage even after you switch the character out.  Other characters that likewise create fields or effects that last long after you’re done with the move help create some cool combos.

The other thing I wanted to note is the writing.  I am playing the game with the audio in Chinese and the type in English.  I’m very impressed with the way they’ve translated the stuff.  A lot of the things to read are amusing or interesting.  I think it’s funny that there are some really far out dialogue choices you can make.  I mean, most of the time the only thing you’ll change is a different reaction, but it’s still fun that I can say stuff that is weird or almost meta.  I also like the things the NPCs say.  Again, they did a great job translating it to feel good.  I like it when MMOs have NPCs that wonder about life or other random things.  I ran into Ross the Quick, and he’s talking about how he feels like he shouldn’t run from things in life anymore.  He also talks about taking a break from missions, which almost feels like he knows the UI.  

A lot of MMOs from China, Japan, and Korea has great music, and I think Genshin Impact follows suit.  There are some melodies that may sound a bit familiar, but it’s still got good songs otherwise.  

So far, the cash stuff still is not demanding at all.  If I played the game a bit more intensely, maybe they will, especially later.  For now, I don’t see it as a problem.  The game has already provided me with characters that do well enough on their own.  More characters would just mean more fighting styles, which hopefully aren’t strict on their necessity.  As annoying as it would be, if that kind of content isn’t too far out of reach and I can still do all missions with the normal characters I happen to get, I think I would be okay to keep playing this game.

If I have more impressions, I will continue to post them.  Thanks for reading!~

Initial Thoughts: Genshin Impact

Any Impact?

Genshin Impact is an action RPG featuring anime characters.  The graphical style is like Breath of the Wild, because it’s kind of…from Breath of the Wild.  Luckily, it seems they’ve veered off into less Breath of the Wild-ish stuff for most of the other things like story.  I hate plagiarism.  So, we’re going to state what IS like Breath of the Wild first.

The graphics could be said to be inspired by Breath of the Wild, but some effects almost look pulled from it, the grass and fire combo especially.  The layout of enemy encampments and the first small enemies in those encampments.  The music in the shrines.  The death animation for animals dying and turning into meat.  I’m not going to say cooking because cooking has been implemented as a normal thing in RPGs for a while now.  The climbing and gliding system.

So, that’s quite a lot for the short few hours I’ve played so far.  After that, it splits off into its own thing.  Obviously the anime character’s style is pretty different from Breath of the Wild, and the story and gameplay elements are pretty different.  It is fun to play, and the ability to switch between characters in your party makes the fighting more energetic and intense.  Every character feels at least a little different so it’s nice to collect them and level them up.  I noticed that they seem to have their own story arcs you can play as well, which would be very nice if they developed that well.

The music is quite obviously inspired by Breath of the Wild with some of the music sounding like it was inspired, and some of it sounding…a little too familiar.  Overall though, I think it could possibly be good enough on its own.  The sound effects of the different characters swooshing and slicing are fun and satisfying to produce.  The menu sounds are nice as well.  

Oh, that’s something that I’m quite pleased with.  The UI and menu are pretty well done.  There’s a lot of stuff to cover, as it is a mobile-style game, but they actually present it all very clearly and I think it’s pretty concise for all the stuff it has to cover.  

So, of course we have to bring up the last two things that make any gamer worried.  The gacha system, and the energy/real life money system.  If the gacha ends up being something where cheap, powerful copies of the normal characters are a thing and only available for like, two months, that is something I am not going to be happy with.  I am pretty sure this will happen for real life events, similar to how Fire Emblem: Heroes does this.  This “you must grind or feel left out” system sucks.  It’s a little different if you are not set to have to grind within a short period of time, like just added content.  Of course, the company wants to make you play their game more, but it’s in a seriously bad way.  We’ll have to see how they handle that.

And then the energy system.  A lot of mobile games have this thing where after you use up all your energy you are either highly restricted in what you can do (efficiently) or you can’t do anything at all.  And most of the time the energy returns slowly enough that you are brought to the idea of spending money just to get your energy back.  These are both systems that are in typical mobile games, and I frown upon both.  Again, how they handle it will depend on how things go from here on out.  If it turns out to be a cash-time eating monster, then I will probably just finish the main story and then go, because otherwise I don’t think it’s worth my time.  

If it ends up being a pretty easy-going game concerning this stuff, then I will keep playing it.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Genshin Impact.

The graphics could be said to be inspired by Breath of the Wild, but some effects almost look pulled from it, the grass and fire combo especially.  The layout of enemy encampments and the first small enemies in those encampments.  The music in the shrines.  The death animation for animals dying and turning into meat.  I’m not going to say cooking because cooking has been implemented as a normal thing in RPGs for a while now.  The climbing and gliding system.

So, that’s quite a lot for the short few hours I’ve played so far.  After that, it splits off into its own thing.  Obviously the anime character’s style is pretty different from Breath of the Wild, and the story and gameplay elements are pretty different.  It is fun to play, and the ability to switch between characters in your party makes the fighting more energetic and intense.  Every character feels at least a little different so it’s nice to collect them and level them up.  I noticed that they seem to have their own story arcs you can play as well, which would be very nice if they developed that well.

The music is quite obviously inspired by Breath of the Wild with some of the music sounding like it was inspired, and some of it sounding…a little too familiar.  Overall though, I think it could possibly be good enough on its own.  The sound effects of the different characters swooshing and slicing are fun and satisfying to produce.  The menu sounds are nice as well.  

Oh, that’s something that I’m quite pleased with.  The UI and menu are pretty well done.  There’s a lot of stuff to cover, as it is a mobile-style game, but they actually present it all very clearly and I think it’s pretty concise for all the stuff it has to cover.  

So, of course we have to bring up the last two things that make any gamer worried.  The gacha system, and the energy/real life money system.  If the gacha ends up being something where cheap, powerful copies of the normal characters are a thing and only available for like, two months, that is something I am not going to be happy with.  I am pretty sure this will happen for real life events, similar to how Fire Emblem: Heroes does this.  This “you must grind or feel left out” system sucks.  It’s a little different if you are not set to have to grind within a short period of time, like just added content.  Of course, the company wants to make you play their game more, but it’s in a seriously bad way.  We’ll have to see how they handle that.

And then the energy system.  A lot of mobile games have this thing where after you use up all your energy you are either highly restricted in what you can do (efficiently) or you can’t do anything at all.  And most of the time the energy returns slowly enough that you are brought to the idea of spending money just to get your energy back.  These are both systems that are in typical mobile games, and I frown upon both.  Again, how they handle it will depend on how things go from here on out.  If it turns out to be a cash-time eating monster, then I will probably just finish the main story and then go, because otherwise I don’t think it’s worth my time.  

If it ends up being a pretty easy-going game concerning this stuff, then I will keep playing it.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Genshin Impact.