Destiny 2 Anti-Hype

I tried out the Destiny 2 PC Open Beta Tuesday night. I’ve never played Destiny before or even seen it or read much about it.

It was incredibly easy to install and play through the Battle.net launcher. I just clicked on the “Install” button and less than an hour later it was ready to go.

It was not quite as easy to configure though. It gave me exactly one opportunity to adjust my video settings and then I got a class selection screen. The class descriptions gave very little indication of the kind of mechanics to expect so I randomly picked the first one (I can’t even remember the class name). After picking a class, the game launches right into cut scenes and then into the game. There was no character customization, but that could have been a limitation of the beta.

My first complaint surfaced right away. I was trying to record my play session with OBS Studio and the default video settings did not record. All I got was a black screen in OBS. I fiddled with the OBS settings with no luck. I have no trouble recording most other games, but Destiny 2 decided to make things difficult.

Since I didn’t want to spoil too much of the game before I started recording, I tried to exit out of the cut scenes to get back to the main menu. No such luck. Once it starts, you’re stuck with it. I had to ALT-F4 to exit the game to try again.

When I started the game the second time, it no longer asked if I wanted to adjust the video settings. It went straight into the class selection screen and then on into the cut scenes. I tried again after ALT-F4 a couple of times but there were no menus anywhere to change any settings.

Eventually I gave up and skipped past the two cut scenes until I got to the first playable section, where it drops you on a burning ship or something in the middle of a battle. Then I could bring up a menu and fiddle with the video settings. I tried changing to fullscreen windowed, but still couldn’t record.

As a last resort I setup a new scene in OBS to record the whole display, and it finally worked. This is the first “modern” game that I haven’t been able to record with the standard Game capture plugin. It was very annoying.

I started over again so I could watch all of the cut scenes. I think I was supposed to geek out over Nathan Fillion but when I heard his voice coming out of a robot face I kind of rolled my eyes. Another sarcastic robot doing comic relief in a sci-fi motif. Never seen that before!

I thought I also heard Lance Reddick’s voice as well–the black FBI agent from Fringe with the very distinctive voice. (IMDB research confirms this.) (IMDB research also confirms that the woman’s voice sounded familiar to me because it was none other than Gina Torres, so it’s a big ol’ Firefly reunion.)

I played through the single-player campaign. The story made no impression on me. They made zero attempt to draw the player into it. They just dropped you into a setting and said, “Here, everything’s exploding so go save the day… because … well, that’s what you do in shooters.”

The combat was very smooth but completely ordinary. The only thing I could see to distinguish this game from any other shooter was the double-jumping jet pack thingy. Personally I thought it was a bit too slow and floaty but I could get used to it.

One nitpick: I did not like how the iron sights shifted the gun all the way from the right side to the center of the screen. It felt like an extremely unnatural shift in perspective. In real life, you don’t bring the gun up from your right side to stick it under your chin. You raise the gun up a little and tilt your head to the right.

For comparison, below is Far Cry 4, a very polished shooter. The change from one position to the other is less dramatic, and the change in the basic shape of the gun is far less noticeable. (Yes, these kinds of things matter to me and can have a huge impact on my perception of a game.)

Anyway, I finished the Destiny 2 campaign with very little trouble. I died once in an area that looked like it phased from a single-player area into a multiplayer “public quest” area. I was warned to get inside a protective bubble and then literally one second later I got killed before I could even take a step toward the bubble. It’s always a great feeling in a shooter to get killed without even having a chance to fight back.

The phasing was kind of neat, I have to admit. It was a 100% seamless transition from being by myself to being surrounded by a few other players, defending a checkpoint. And when I left the area the other players disappeared.

The Big Bad at the end made a really dire speech about stealing light that made no sense considering the complete lack of context I had for the story. He sounded like Mr. Burns with his plot to cover up the sun and it was a bit silly.

I didn’t try any of the other PvP or Coop options after finishing the single-player campaign. I spent a total of about 50 minutes playing before logging out with no compelling desire to return.

I know I’m going to regret this, but: What’s all the hype about? I didn’t hate it, but Destiny 2 looked and played like every other shooter. You run around, you shoot things, and numbers fly out instead of blood. I found myself thinking more than once, “The Division open beta was better than this.” And I didn’t really care for The Division that much. (It wasn’t terrible either, it was just … average.)

I actually missed having cover mechanics. The last shooter-ish game I played was Mass Effect Andromeda, which had completely seamless, natural cover mechanics, and I liked that better. It doesn’t feel very comfortable anymore to stand out in the open while people are shooting at me. :)

I get the impression from Twitter and other blog posts that this open beta is only showing a fraction of what will actually be in the game. Okay, well, what is the point of that? Isn’t this open beta supposed to sell me on the game? (We all know open betas aren’t for testing.) Isn’t it supposed to show me what’s new and unique about this particular shooter, to convince me to shell out $60+ as opposed to playing any of the perfectly good shooters that I already own?

I guess this speaks to the points that Scopique and Belghast both made in their posts: This was not a very good sales demo for me. I was interested in seeing why everyone is so hyped for this game, but after playing the demo, I have no interest in buying it. Not unless it goes on sale. (I said that about Overwatch, too, and to this day there have been no sales that I know of and I still don’t own it.)

Lockbox Expectations

While the rest of the world is probably posting about the Destiny 2 open beta today, I’m going to post about lockboxes, because I wrote this yesterday. I think it was Roger that said we bloggers could get a lot of good topics out of MassivelyOP’s Daily Grinds, so here’s another one:

What Do You Actually Expect To Get Out Of MMORPG Lockboxes? This particular Grind was inspired by Bhagpuss boldly claiming to like lockboxes (in a way).

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never purchased a lockbox in any game in my entire life, so I may not be the best person to ask.

But some games give out lockboxes as game rewards anyway. The most notable example that I can think of is WildStar’s Boom Boxes which they gave out like candy during open beta, but I think you could only open one a day after launch. I still have 63 Boom Boxes left to open. They sometimes have fun stuff in them but most of the time I was disappointed after opening them. They may not technically qualify as “lockboxes” though since I don’t think you can buy them anymore.

In GW2, I have a stack of Black Lion boxes and keys, but I gave up opening them years ago. I just drop them in the bank or ignore them entirely. I have no idea what might be in them, but I have a reflexively negative view of all boxes and bags in GW2 and I try to avoid them as long as possible. They explode into useless loot that fills up inventory slots and forces me to work to get rid of them. Bhagpuss’s description of spending a half hour clearing out inventory before and after any kind of event is very familiar to me, and one of the many things I could cite that drives me away from the game.

As for what I would expect to get from a lockbox: If such things existed in, for example, FFXIV, I would expect a (good) chance at receiving a reward similar to what I might receive as a drop from a dungeon or raid boss. I would also expect to see the odds of getting that reward before I bought the lockbox.

By the way, I think that it’s implied when we talk about “lockboxes” that we are referring to lockboxes bought with real money, directly or indirectly. I certainly don’t mind opening them if they are acquired through in-game means (subject to the above inventory management woes).

But I don’t buy lockboxes (or keys) and have no plans to ever buy one.

Subnautica

Last night I tried out an early access survival game called Subnautica. I bought it for $9.99 in the last Steam sale.

The premise of this game is unlike other survival games in that you play a big part of it underwater. The game begins with you scrambling into a “rescue pod” while your ship blows up around you. (I assume it’s some kind of spaceship.) The rescue pod lands in a big alien ocean and then it’s your job to survive, while your ship looms in the distance, burning and giving off radiation.

You start with something like SCUBA gear, so you dive underwater to locate resource nodes to build things, just like other survival games. Initially you can only stay underwater for about 45 seconds before you have to come back up for air. (The starting area is very shallow so it’s fairly easy to get back to the surface anytime.) You can build bigger air tanks so you can stay underwater for longer periods. In the few hours I played I upgraded my air supply twice and got up to something like 135 seconds, which is a fairly long time, at least in the shallow areas.

You have the standard food, water, and health indicators. Food and water is a bit trickier than other survival games because you have to catch fish and then “craft” the consumables. Catching fish can be a little frustrating because you actually have to swim after the fish and left-click on them to get them into your inventory, and they don’t sit still to make this easy. Once they’re in your inventory you have to swim back to your rescue pod and use the “Fabricator” (a crafting station) to convert them into things you can eat and drink. Catching “bladder fish” allows you to make water bottles to drink from. Other kinds of fish can be cooked up into a tasty meals. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it can be a bit tedious but it’s at least a different mechanic from every other game.

I haven’t done much with combat because I haven’t yet crafted a knife, so I can only run away from hostile encounters. There are a few fish that launch themselves at you from pods attached to cave walls, and I saw another big, hungry-looking fish swimming around at night, but so far I haven’t encountered anything that outright killed me. Presumably the farther you get from your rescue pod, the more difficult the game gets.

Once you repair the radio in your rescue pod, you get radio signals that give you “quests” to do. The first one I got marked a location to investigate. I haven’t yet seen what happens when you get there because it’s in a location near the wrecked ship that’s inside a radiation zone. Apparently I need to craft a radiation suit before I can go there. (The wrecked ship is deceptively far away, too. It takes a long time to swim there and the water gets very deep and menacing around it.)

There is also a scanning mechanic where you can build a hand scanner and scan the underwater plant life and fish for information. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this is yet but it’s kind of fun to try to scan fish while they swim around.

The biggest problem I’ve seen so far is–of course–inventory management. Every game ever has problems with inventory management so this shouldn’t be a surprise. You don’t get a lot of space to gather resources, and it quickly becomes apparent that you can’t just grab everything you see and stuff it in your backpack. You can make floating storage boxes but they don’t hold much either.

The second biggest problem is having to return to your rescue pod to craft things. Most survival games you can craft the basic, starting items on the run without the need for a crafting station. Not so in this game. You have to return to the fabricator and work through it’s somewhat tedious interface every time. It’s neat to see it working the first few times, but after that you don’t want to wait through the animations anymore.

I’ve played for only a few hours, but I have to say I’m intrigued by it. I like that they’ve put a different spin on the survival genre, and this seems to be the most evolved of the handful of underwater games I’ve seen. The game is very pretty, and it runs fairly well. It’s more polished than a typical early access game, and it’s obvious that it’s been in development for some time. I don’t know how much depth is here over the long haul, and I have some issues with the inventory management and the fabricator, but at least initially it’s worth checking out for $10.

Ashes of Creation Combat

I was looking around for something to write about today and stumbled on this MassivelyOP post about Ashes of Creation combat. I clicked on the video and started watching with no real interest until this one combat mechanic caught my attention.

But first, I don’t know who that Ziz guy is, but if he’s not a paid content creator for Ashes of Creation, I’ll eat my hat. He’s way too excited about this game not to be getting paid. It’s a huge turn-off.

The “combat” shown in the video is only combat by the thinnest of definitions: It’s the blonde woman in red we’ve seen before–apparently the only character model they’ve made to date–blasting a statue. While Ziz raves about how it’s the smoothest combat animations he’s ever seen, I’m thinking, “I guess it’s not bad but it’s hard to tell since there’s only like two animations.” Is it the greatest I’ve ever seen? No. Am I ready to throw my money at this game yet? Hell no. The fact that they got someone like Ziz to rave about completely ordinary features is a huge red flag to stay away, to be honest.

What really drew my attention was the casting bar at the bottom of the screen during combat.

Instead of a standard casting bar that fills in, it was more of an interactive minigame. There’s a section of the bar colored in red, and it was very obvious that the player was trying to hit their ability key when a moving mark got to the red section. (The red section moved with every cast.)

I thought, “Surely that’s just an experiment and they’ll patch that out before anyone actually plays this game.” Just as I completed that thought, Ziz starts raving about this “combo” mechanic as if it’s the greatest combat feature of Ashes of Creation! Apparently they are doing this on purpose. Apparently if you hit your ability with the right timing (inside that red zone), it activates an additional combo or something.

Now obviously I haven’t experienced this feature first-hand, but I just can’t see this as anything but a train wreck for combat and game repellent for casual MMORPG players. Can you imagine if you have to dodge ground AoEs and watch that stupid casting bar at the same time? What happens if you miss the timing? Does the spell fizzle? Or does it simply do less damage? What’s the difference in damage between hitting the combo and missing the combo? How is this going to work for melee classes? Or tanks? Or healers? What about lag? Bots? My brain just explodes with potential problems here. How are they not thinking of these things?

Anyway, I’ll be very surprised if that particular feature survives contact with large numbers of players and makes it through to launch day.

FFXIV – The Rising Event

Hard to believe it’s been four years since The Calamity.

I don’t normally care that much about these anniversary or holiday events, but when I saw the wind-up Gosetsu I knew that I had to have him. Not that I ever take out minions in the game or anything. It’s just the principle of the thing.

I had it in my head that The Rising wouldn’t be starting until after the Tuesday patch, but this morning (Sunday) I logged in and everybody was talking about it, so I went to Ul’dah and sure enough there was the NPC. It was a brief event, as all FFXIV events are, and the word jumble password thing was fairly annoying, but at the end I got my precious Gosetsu wind-up!

Apparently Square Enix will also be doing a 14-hour live stream event. I might have watched it if they had committed to a 16-hour event, but I just can’t be bothered for a pitiful little 14-hour thing. It’s like they aren’t even trying!

I am still doing very little in FFXIV, by the way. My main activity is running Retainer missions, then Adventure Squadron missions. I have no idea what the purpose of Squadrons are (other than burning excess Company Seals), but it’s fun to make them do pushups in the barracks. :)

The Mist (2017)

When I heard that there was a new version of Stephen King’s The Mist available to watch, I ran to my nearest cable box and found the ten episodes of season one buried in Spike TV’s video on demand on FIOS.

The Mist has always been one of my favorite Stephen King stories. It was a novella at the beginning of the collection Skeleton Crew. (Survivor Type is the other memorable story from that book.)

Anyway, The Mist was made into a mediocre movie in 2007. I don’t have any specific memory of hating it, so I’m assuming it was “okay”—not terrible, but not fantastic. I recall that the movie took liberties with the book, but it followed roughly the same plot: A group of people become stuck in a supermarket or something when a supernatural mist surrounds them. It’s the classic stuck-in-an-elevator story, with a Stephen King survival horror spin.

Fast forward to 2017, and now we have The Mist in a television series. The first season contains 10 one-hour episodes.

The first episode is terrible. Just mind-bogglingly awful. The script is terrible and the acting is terrible. It’s an absolute train wreck of exposition as they try to setup the backstory for the characters before they get trapped in the mist. Everything is forced and stilted and incredibly unbelievable. It’s very clear that they made no attempt to adhere to anything from the novella.

It was so bad that I couldn’t stop watching it.

The metallic shrieking catastrophe continued through the second, third, and fourth episode.

Then something happened. In the fifth episode, suddenly the actors started to act. Dramatic tension developed. The tone of the show shifted from a Lifetime special back to where it belonged: Horror. Instead of listening to the show in the background while I went about my Internet browsing, I suddenly found myself watching scenes all the way through from start to finish.

The characters finally morphed from robots delivering terrible dialog into people that I could care about. In the initial episodes, we were supposed to care about them because of the artificial backstory they tried to jam down our throats, and it was hilariously ineffective. But as the series went on, we started to care about them because of the terrible situation they were in, and that is the entire point of The Mist in the first place.

They should have started the show at episode 5, and filled in the Lifetime drama backstory in flashbacks.

Toward the end of the series, the tone shifts from a tense psychological horror into more of a straight-up survival horror, which is what we were expecting all along. By the time it gets to this point, around episode eight, the show is not that bad, all things considered. The actors are better at portraying characters on the edge of sanity than they are at portraying regular people on a normal day.

But it’s asking a lot to make people sit through four terrible episodes and another three or four mediocre episodes, before you get to a good part. I can’t imagine very many people sticking around to see it through that far.

Still, it’s nothing like the novella. They tried to give the mist a personality or an evil spirit quality and to me that falls completely flat. There isn’t supposed to be any kind of intelligence to the mist. It’s just supposed to be a plot device to force strangers together into a survival situation, so we can watch them fall apart or rise to the occasion.

In conclusion, read the book. :)

Comfort MMORPGs

Here’s another post based on a MassivelyOP’s Daily Grind:

What’s Your Comfort MMO?

I find this to be a somewhat odd question, because I generally like to have a constantly-changing game experience, as opposed to an experience that is always the same. I am the kind of person who likes to learn and try new things all the time (within the boundaries of crippling anxieties, of course). This is why I try out most new MMORPGs if I can.

Still, there are a number of long-running MMORPGs that I keep coming back to after long absences, around once a year. One of them is WoW. I usually drop back in and subscribe for a month, then leave again. It takes me about that long to run into the edges of the game–that point where I find myself mindlessly repeating the same mechanics over and over and over again.

I used to return to Rift a lot but I’ve soured on it lately. I just feel like I’ve done everything that matters and now the only way to advance is to join a guild and I just don’t want to make that kind of commitment. Rift still has a somewhat complex set of abilities you need to use to be effective, which makes it increasingly harder to return. I think they over-extended themselves a bit after Storm Legion.

LotRO is one that I’ve started returning to more frequently. Particularly in the past year, of course, when there was some concern that the game might disappear. I liked that they simplified the classes, because it made the game a lot easier to return to. Previous to that, it was a massive chore to get back into the game each time.

SWTOR is another that I return to often. It’s a very easy game to get back into because combat is easy. I find myself mesmorized from watching the cool lightsaber animations and listening to the cool lightsaber sounds more than anything else. I don’t play it as much though because they make it really difficult to enjoy playing for free, and I don’t want to subscribe to more than one game at a time.

Other runners up might be GW2 or TERA. Possibly even Mortal Online. I’ve always wished I had more time and/or ambition to play Mortal Online actually.

I can’t list ESO or WildStar or some others because I haven’t yet been able to return to them repeatedly.

I don’t go back to any of those MMORPGs for “comfort” though. I go back when I haven’t played them in a sufficiently long enough time that the game feels “fresh” again.

I should also mention FFXIV, because in terms of what I would call a “comfort” game it would probably be whatever I happen to be playing at the moment, which is FFXIV. Though I am drifting away from it as I wait for the next content patch. I’m at a point where most of what I do in the game is wait in a queue, and I don’t have much patience for that.

FFXIV – Stormblood Story Deep Dive

Here’s another post I wrote a long time ago but never published because I forgot that I wrote it.

Previously I gave a high-level summary of the Stormblood story, but now I want to dive deeper into more detail. There will be huge, massive, unbelievable, mind-shattering spoilers here that go far beyond anything that was in the previous post, so you’ve been warned.

The biggest plot problem I remember: There was one point in the story when our heroes had to watch while Yotsuyu terrorized some villagers. Gosetsu was going to charge into the fray to help the villagers, but of course Lyse and Alisaie objected because it would be suicide (allegedly). That made sense. But then a minute later Alisaie said, “Wait, no that sounds like a great plan, Gosetsu, you go get captured and try not to die as a diversion.” That was a terrible plan! The worst plan ever! How does it help anyone to let Gosetsu be captured or killed? It would have been far better to keep him with the group! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing there.

Another thing I chuckled about over and over (which I’m sure is just a technical limitation of the game engine): This was a story about nations at war, but we never actually saw more than about ten or twelve people on-screen fighting at a time for these nations. There was one scene when the Alliance fought it out with the Garlean Empire over I think Castrum Abanyia, and you saw like ten people charging at each other with swords. There was never anything like the Helm’s Deep scene in Two Towers, is what I’m saying. Every nation’s army apparently has no more than a dozen people in it.

You also never see more than like ten people in a town or village, even counting the NPCs you can’t click on. It seems like that would be an unsustainable population. One day I’d love to see an MMORPG with more realistic town populations as big as what you see in a typical Assassin’s Creed game, where you have to push your way through the crowds.

Okay let’s talk about the principle characters.

Lyse: As I said before, I liked her, and often found her dialog quite funny. The biggest problem I had with her is that I never felt like she was necessary to the plot. Even when she became the leader of the resistence, I felt like that position should have gone to M’naago, who had seemingly done more to earn it. (I always viewed M’naago as second-in-command after Conrad.) Lyse apparently had a rich history with the Ala Mhigan resistence but I never saw it developed “on screen” so to speak, so it was hard to buy into it.

Alphinaud and Alisaie: Not much to say. Alphinaud is still Alphinaud, and had no character development. What is going on with Alisaie and Lyse, though? There were some … hints. I also did not miss Krile whispering, “I knew you’d come for me,” when Alphinaud rescued her. (That started back in Heavensward. I can’t let that go without saying that anything involving lalfells is ultra-creepy to me.)

Krile: Her kidnapping turned out to be a big old nothing-burger, to use the political vernacular. Just a way to increase the stakes a little bit. It worked for a short time, when they first brought her before Zenos, but then they quickly shoved her onto the back burner in the story so I figured she would be fine. (I don’t think it would have raised any stakes for anyone who skipped over Heavensward, because Krile wasn’t seen much at the start of Stormblood.)

Thancred: Offscreen for most of the expansion, except when we conveniently needed him to tell us where to find Krile. I feel like they started to set up some kind of personal crisis for him somwhere in Heavensward, but seemingly abandoned it.

Y’shtola: Also offscreen for most of the expansion. Her dramatic life-threatening injury near the beginning turned out to be meaningless. At first I worried it was going to turn out that Lyse’s voiceovers were directed at Y’shtola’s grave. Then I realized she was probably talking to Papalymo. Then when Krile was kidnapped I briefly wondered if maybe Lyse was talking to Krile’s grave. Then I reverted back to Papalymo again. I expected to see a scene of Lyse standing over Papalymo’s grave, though. :) Anyway … not much else to say about Y’shtola. I would have bet money Y’shtola and Suda were the same voice actor, but it turned out not to be the case.

Scions: Is it my imagination, or are the Scions of the Seventh Dawn still leader-less? I recall some talk about selecting a new leader back in Heavensward but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Alphinaud acts like the leader, but sometimes Y’shtola does, too.

Estinien: I expected to see more from him. When I saw him standing over Nidhogg’s eyes after the credits I fully expected him to take them and turn into a bad guy again. I was like, “Nooooooooooooo!” Huge relief that he destroyed them instead. It would be nice to see him again in the patches but we don’t really need him anymore.

Raubahn and Pipin: Just out of curiosity, are we not supposed to notice that Raubahn’s kid is a lalafell? Did they ever explain that? Anyway I suspect Raubahn might be leaving for the great hereafter in one of the patches. I mean, he gave his prized sword to Pipin. That seems like a major red flag, and a big warning sign for someone about to commit suicide.

F’lhaminn: That’s Minfilia’s mother, if you don’t recognize the name (I wouldn’t have). Why did she leave her place behind the Rising Stones’ bar where she’s been forever?? I noticed that right away at the beginning of the expansion. I found her sitting quietly at a table upstairs over Rowena’s place at the back of Revenant’s Toll. Also, again, are we just not supposed to notice that she’s a Miqo’te and Minfilia is (was) human? [I now know this was explained in FFXIV 1.0.]

Conrad: I wasn’t surprised at his death at all, considering how much they made of him asking Lyse to be leader.

M’naago: Fun character, and I thought she was more deserving to take over leadership of the resistence.

Meffrid: The first casualty of the expansion, I was surprised that he died. He was a minor character, but we followed him around doing quests for quite a while so it stung a little.

Yugiri: Overall I felt like her character didn’t get enough attention, except around the one part when she went out to rescue those captured townspeople. I thought that scene was brilliant, and the following scene with her on the beach. The realization that the townsfolk might not want to be rescued was a powerful moment for her, but I don’t think they followed up on it. Sadly Yugiri largely disappeared from the story after that, replaced by Hein.

Gosetsu: One of my favorite characters, I was devastated when he died. Though I suspected he was going to die, considering he talked about wanting to die to balance things out. Shortly after his death, there was a passing mention of a possibility that the floor had collapsed into a river, so I figured we would see him again, along with Yotsuyu. I thought it would be in a later patch, though.

Hein: I never really liked him. I never felt he was a good leader, and I would have prefered to see Yugiri in that position. Other than a few moments here and there, Hein seemed to have a kind of flippant attitude toward the whole thing, as if he wasn’t taking it seriously. (Sort of like a Brett Favre kind of quarterback, instead of a Troy Aikman kind of quarterback, if you know what I mean.) It seemed very strange that both Yugiri and Gosetsu deferred to him. I did find his voice fascinating, though. I could never figure out what kind of accent it was. I think it was perhaps a native Japanese/Asian speaker affecting a British accent?

Isse: I thought this kid from Namai did a great job of conveying the plight of the oppressed Doma population under the Garlean Empire rule. Wish I could remember the exact quotes but it was something like, “When you [Yugiri] come in here telling us we can overthrow the Empire it … it doesn’t help.” And then later that old man among the captured villagers explained it even better. “It is as salt in our wounds.” That was one of the best scenes in the whole expansion for me.

Cirina: The woman whose name I continuously mispronounced as Serena. She was a docile little flower, even when she talked about entrails and butchering meat and bloodthirsty combat. Her reaction to Magnai’s advances was hilarious.

Sadu: The leader of the Undying Ones, and probably the most memorable character of the Azim Steppe for me. If she is not Magnai’s “moon” I will eat my hat. Great voice acting for this character, especially when she was flying around blasting the Garlean floaty sky laser thingys.

Magnai: I didn’t really like him. It seemed like he was spouting some kind of sexist nonsense at every turn, which was a little surprising to see in a Final Fantasy title. Of course it was all a big setup for the audience because it was pretty clear to me that he learned Sadu was his “moon” when he saw her in action, and she is the complete opposite of what he was expecting from his moon. Seems like there should be more to that story.

Zenos: Good riddance. Never liked him. As I mentioned before, they didn’t develop this character at all, and he was just a generic cardboard cut-out crazy evil villian.

Yotsuyu: At first I thought she was a generic villian as well, but I applaud them for at least trying to give her a backstory, unlike Zenos. At least we got a little insight into how she got to be the person she is. I thought she was a far better villian than Zenos. Even the voice acting was better. Still, she’s a horrible person who has done horrible things, and I’m not convinced she is redeemable, but we’ll see. I had a feeling she would survive, but I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams to see her and Gosetsu stuck on a deserted island together. I cackled when the camera pulled back. I’m a big fan of “put people into the worst possible situations and see what happens” and I can’t think of any worse situation for either Yotsuyu or Gosetsu.

Big Empire Bad Guy And Ascian At The End: I didn’t understand that scene at all. The Ascian revealed himself to be … somebody. I could’t even guess who. At first I assumed the Ascians had infiltrated the Scions yet again, but how would Big Empire Bad Guy know any of the Scions? Aywren seems to think the Ascian revealed himself to be Zenos. Apparently Zenos’s body disappeared? I missed that. I hope that’s not the case because we don’t need to see him again.

People I thought they were setting up to die at various times but didn’t: Yugiri, Y’shtolla, Krile, Alisaie, and Lyse.

Alisaie often said something like: “Don’t go doing any noble sacrifices or anything,” so I thought for sure she would end up doing a noble sacrifice herself during the story. In fact she
unintentionally did so during that fight against Fordola, but they did another “fake character death” where someone gets hit and falls down looking dead, only to come back a scene later with the explanation, “Oh it was just a small wound.”

Yugiri also tried to make a noble sacrifice, but failed (with another fake character death). I suppose it’s possible the noble sacrifices could come later in the patches.

With Lyse I wondered the whole time if at the end they were going to show her delivering her monologue to somebody’s grave, then show her charging into some battle and dying. (A classic misdirection, because we the audience would think, “Oh she can’t die because of that running flash-forward monologue thing.”)

By the way, if I didn’t mention someone you knew from before Stormblood.. it’s probably because they died a long time ago. I warned you about spoilers!