Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Video Games

Hodge-podge by gosh

So. I’ve been trouncing my way through Lordran again, this time on the PS4. I’m doing it so I can help Krupa on his DS III plat run for the very first time ever! Usually, I’m the ‘well, actually’ gal in the chat, asking him if he has a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Vamos. He was a blacksmith in the original game, and he was the one who turned your weapons into fire and chaos. So, we pyros decided he was our god. After the last stream, I decided to try to tone it down a bit because it can be too much. In addition, in an aborted session, he mentioned that this run was mostly just to finish NG. He said if he was about to miss something important to tell him, but not something that can be had on a subsequent run. I think it’s because we were all shouting at him about the Sage Ring last time, but it’s really good for a caster.

But, yeah, I’m marching merrily through the game, and I’m up to the Duke’s, er, Grand Archives–right before the Twin Princes and my beloved Lorian’s Greatsword. I have the stats to wield it, and I have all the base stats I want. Well, maybe I could throw a few more into Dex so I can use Black Knight weapons in the DLCs, if I do the DLCs. I don’t need to do them to help Krupes, but I don’t like skipping. Plus, it’s a good way to beef up my stats.

Krupa is up to the Cleansing Chapel and promises an extra-long session on the Fourth of July. I find it amusing that he’s doing it on America’s Independence Day, but that’s a Brit for you. I was ready to go last time (for the aborted session), but I wasn’t feeling great about it because my character is so damn fragile in the beginning. I have to get 12 levels of Attunement for my spells to start. Then, to use my favorite pyromancy, I need 6 in Intelligence. One in Faith for  Tears of Denial, but if I want to–wait. I’ll get to that in a minute. I like to use the longbow for many things, and that’s 5 in Dex. My base for Vigor and Endurance is 20, and I start with 11 and 10 respectively. My Vitality starts at 8, and I drag it up to 10 to begin with. Ideally, I like it at 15.

Let’s get even more specific. Strength-wise, I need 19 for my beloved Executioner’s Greatsword. By the way, shout-out to an overlooked weapon. It has low necessary requirements for a greatsword, and you get mana back with each kill. Focus Points, yeah, yeah, yeah. My even more beloved Lorian’s Greatsword takes 26 in Strength, and I have that. I was behind in Faith, however, because my favorite chime, Crystal Chime, takes 18 points of Faith. When I found it in the Grand Archives, I eagerly went back to upgrade it and realized to my dismay that I was one point short. I was able to level up one more time, and I’m set.

Here’s the thing. From now on out, I can level whatever I want. This is the point where I finally feel as if I’m swinging in my weight class. To be clear, I haven’t had much trouble with the game. I mean, I’ve played it so much that I can do it in my sleep. Oh! I will say, though, that with the help of a message, I found a chest I’d never known was there before. Or if I had, then I’d forgotten and hadn’t opened it in the last dozen or so times I played the game. That’s one thing I adore about FromSoft games–there are so many secrets, you can go for years without knowing them all.

I’m back to loving the game after my month-long hiatus. The not-plat run nearly broke me, so I’m overjoyed that I can play the game again and with pleasure. Still don’t love the PS4, but I’ve gotten used to it. I still can’t play for more than an hour or so, but that’s because of my outdated TV.

I’ve been trying out games that have caught my eye for one reason or the other. Summer Steam sale is a go, and I’ve been picking up things with abandon.


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Toxic masculinity and the gaming industry

With the news coming out about sexual harassment in comics, it was inevitable that stories of the same would come out in gaming as well. The two  are similar in terms of culture, and both are very laddy at best and a stew of toxic masculinity at worst. Even in the RKG group, I know there’s a base of laddishness that I have to accept. Inappropriate and quite frankly gross sexual jokes at time, tons of booze talk, and all the pop culture being referred to is masculine-heavy. Again, this is a group I willing belong to and have a good time engaging with other people to a certain extent. The only one. And in a very limited fashion.

When the news broke out that there was a lot of sexual harassment going on at IGN a few years ago, it didn’t surprise me in the least. Then, Chloi Rad posted this thread, and it made my blood boil (Ian alerted me to it):

I was furious, but I wasn’t surprised. It was obvious that Chloi wasn’t taken as seriously as they should have when they were at IGN. I was so happy when I first saw them because they were female-presenting (and in the closet at the time) and Asian. I loved their voice for being deep and husky like mine, and I loved that they knew their shit. I loved watching them play Soulsborne games, and I only wanted to watch them. But then, they started fading from the content, and I had a hunch it was because the powers that be didn’t want a woman (or someone who presented as a woman) as the face of the Souls games.

Side note: I love FromSoft games, obviously. I have written about them countless times. But, there’s something about them that brings out the worst in gaming culture. I think it’s partly the difficulty of the games and the way that gets hyped. I mean, the definitive edition on the PC is called Prepare to Die. This is one of the trailers for Dark Souls III. It’s funny as hell, but it also emphasizes the difficulty (and says ‘a man’ for the player character, when you can be either male or female).


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A potpourri of personal opinions

free to be me!
My ridiculous big hat and my ridiculous big frostbite hammer.

I beat those four goddamn days in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! The ones I was moaning about in last week’s post. Two of them turned out to be not so difficult once I fiddled and cheesed in a different way than I normally would. The last two, however, gave me much agita. I’ve talked before about how there’s a thin line between ‘hard, but fair’ and flat-out ridiculous. Because I’m a FromSoft fan (and we’ll get to them more later), I know all about difficult. That’s pretty much all many people want to talk about when discussing their games. To me, it’s the least-interesting aspect of the games. Yes, they’re difficult. And what? Funnily, I was watching Dan Tack from Game Informer talk about them, and he’s probably one of the biggest FromSoft fans in the business. He even thinks Dark Souls II is a brilliant game. He has stated more than once that he doesn’t enjoy talking about the difficulty of the games, and he leans firmly in the ‘hard, but fair’ camp. Anyway, they were talking about the difficulty (because you have to when it comes to FromSoft games), and Tack mentioned that he felt the last boss of Sekiro was ridiculous. Later, Andrew Reiner asked him if he thought it was too much. He hemmed and hawed, but in the end, he said it was.

That was the first time I’d ever heard him say anything in any FromSoft game was too much. I happened to agree with him, but that wouldn’t be the only boss in that game I thought was OTT. Interestingly enough, it was also his least-favorite FromSoft game while Bloodborne is his favorite. He said it was because you’re restricted in how you can play the game, which is true. There is no RPG element; you play as a set character; you have the same katana throughout the game. No new armor, either. You’re Sekiro, and you’ll like it. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like the game as much, either, but I feel Bloodborne is similar. Yes, there are different ways you can play, but it’s still more limited than in the Souls series.

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Still waiting for the next big thing

I’m in a rut game-wise, and I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s partly because I’m still dealing with sinus/migraine issues, and it’s partly because…well, I’m not sure. Yes, I do know. I’m still burned out from the DS III not-plat run, so I haven’t played a DS game since. Well, I briefly played DS Remastered to make sure Steam wasn’t shitting the bed, and I’ve looked at SotFS on my desktop and installed it on my old laptop to gird my loins for, sigh, not-platting it, but other than that, nothing. I will, say, however, I bought Dark Souls III on steep sale (with the DLC) for the PS4 with the intention of making a character who can help Krupa on his plat run. I bought it during the first stream, in fact. However, I have yet to fire it up because I fucking hate playing on the PS4. I have to sit in a special seat, and my remote is busted so I have to use the TV buttons. In addition, I simply don’t like the DualShock 4 as much as I do my Xboner controller, and I constantly worry about it running out of power.

I may try to get to it today, but we’ll see. I would love to help Krupa, but there were tons of summon signs in the first stream. I actually am probably more useful in the chat, but it’s hard to tell him where to go and what to do. When he did the DS plat, he had already played the game several times at that point, and we joined him at the end of NG. This time, he started a new character and had not played since it came out. The last time he saw the game was when he guided Rory through it. So, he needed much more direction. We were trying to tell him how to get the Sage Ring because it’s shortens casting time, and if I were to give a full description, it would be something like, go to the bonfire by the big crab. Face the swamp and find the small underwater room to the left. Go in, be aware of the crazed guy with the cross on his back to the right. It’s in the far right-handed corner. That’s a lot to relay. I finally ended up telling him it’s by the big crab, which made him laugh. But other people were giving more specific directions without mentioning the general area, so I thought that might help. What it boils down to is that we shout directions at him, and then he Googles it. It works fairly well, and it’s going to be a fun time with so many Dark Souls III aficionados in the chat.

Oh! And, he chose to be a Pyromancer, so I can really be annoying this time! I was pyro all the time during the DS plat run, and I’m going to be even worse this time. He tried pyro on Iudex and didn’t get it off at first. I told him to walk backwards as he’s casting. More to the point, wait for the enemy to do his combo, then cast as you’re walking backwards (but you can’t be too far from him). It works a treat. Watching him, I had forgotten how slow the cast is at first, though, because I’m so used to it by now. Some people were telling him to up his dex in order to have a higher cast speed, but I was against it because I prefer to bump up the strength and just muscle through.


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Video games: the mundane and the profound

I had to go to the post office to mail something (have had a check stolen from my mailbox, so I don’t mail out from here), and it was really weird. In the past three months, I’ve gone to the pharmacy twice (once before lockdown started and twice since), and that’s it. The post office isn’t far, maybe a mile, but it might as well have been in Timbuktu. I had the windows rolled down, and I was singing along to the radio. In other words, it was like the before times, and it felt strange. There were people jogging with or without their dogs. The sun was shining. I had to remind myself that there was a pandemic raging on.

Side Note: Even before the protests, it was getting hard to hold onto the idea that there’s a pandemic. Intellectually, I know it’s true. Emotionally, it’s hard to accept that it’s still going on. I don’t know anyone close to me who has been affected by it. If I expand that circle, then, yes, I do. But it’s remote enough to not really kick me in the teeth with it. I keep up with the news, but I’m not checking daily. And, right now, it’s been pushed to the back burner, obviously, because of the protests and the awful behavior of the president.

Pivoting swiftly to video games, I’m still keeping it light. I haven’t played any more BL3, and I’ve stayed away from the Souls games as well. I will say I’m proud of myself for figuring out why I couldn’t get Good Pizza, Great Pizza to work (something about Microsoft redistributables being missing) and fixing it. I still don’t know how it went missing or what exactly I did to fix it, but it works now! It’s funny because it’s not a good game, but there’s something addictive about it. It started as a mobile game, and it shows. That doesn’t stop me from compulsively clicking, though.

Anyway, I picked up Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor–Martyr (what’s up with the name, by the way?) because it was on steep sale and because Ian had gotten it. I’m interested in the Warhammer universe to a degree, but more the fantasy lands than the space ones. Still. I was looking for a Diablo-esque hack-and-slash because sometimes, all you want is meaningless fun. Does this scratch that itch? Yes…and no.


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Lost my game

I’m still dealing with some sinus issues even as I’m getting better every day. One of the side effects of being sick is that I just can’t play anything too intense. I don’t even mean intense in the way of Dark Souls intense. I just mean anything that I have to engage a lot in, which actually doesn’t include Dark Souls. Which, by the way, I still haven’t played since the twin not-plat runs. I was worried this would happen, and it makes me sad because I could do with some comfort Soulsing night now. Instead, I’ve played Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!!, which sounds like a contradiction to the no-intensity thing, I know. But, however, there are ways to make the game more or less intense, and I’m doing it as easily as possible. There was a recent update with a new area, which was a little more stressful. However, once I finished that (one of the new achievements was really frustrating because I couldn’t figure out how to actually do it. Once I read about it in the forums, however, actually doing it was simple, and it was worth it. It was so funny), I went back to cruising through each day as easily as possible.

I’ve also gone back to my roots and playing Hidden Object games. It’s mindless especially when I play ones I’ve played a million times before, and it’s something about the repetitiveness that soothes me. I still find comfort in the games, but I can acknowledge that most of the games are just lazy reskins of previous games. Most companies just crank out a game per series a year with the smallest tweaks to the story. I’m all about fantasy settings and the paranormal, but if I have to play one more game where my husband/wife/daughter/son/other relative  is snatched away by some shadowy figure that may or may not be aliens, and then you have to go to some mysterious world in order to save them, I may just scream.

In addition, they still do the thing where you can’t mess with any of your options before the opening cutscene, which means I will skip it rather than mute it every time. I play with the sound off for casual games because that’s just the way I do, and all the intro scenes are the same, anyway. I saw a remake/remaster of a HOG for the first time, and I laughed my ass off because it was so clearly a cash grab.

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Like a petulant teenager, Borderlands 3 refuses to grow up

I think I’m done with Borderlands 3. Which is too bad because the gameplay is solid–it’s just everything else that sucks. OK, that’s not fair. The graphics are better than ever. I have always loved the cell-shaded look, and that hasn’t changed. I didn’t dig Amara when I first started because while she’s a siren, she’s a brawler. She felt very underpowered in the first couple hours. I tried all the characters as I like to do knowing I’d probably go with Amara. I had played as the siren in both of the first two games, and I was dedicated to the class. Still. Two of the other classes looked interesting, and I touched on this in my last post. I did eventually try Moze and the other guy. Zero? No, that was from the last game. Zane! That’s his name. I was definitely unimpressed by him. Moze and her Iron Bear are badass, but since Ian is playing that character, not for this go around. I may go back to Fl4k, but Amara has gotten better now that I’m Level 10 or so.

It was a mentality change. She’s a brawler, which means she’s meant to be played melee. Melee is not my forte. Oh, and apparently she’s good with elements. Which makes sense, but I haven’t been pumping that tree because I’m all about the health regen, I don’t love any of her ults, but I’ve been mostly using the ground pound. In the last game, I used the hold the enemy in the air and shoot them to death, but it’s just not as useful when there a a million enemies swarming you. For the first few hours, I played by hanging back and shooting, which is my usual M.O. That’s not how she’s meant to be played. She’s a get in there and smash them in the face kind of gal. I was already meleeing more than I ever have, but it wasn’t enough. By the way, I did switch melee to C instead of V. It’s better, but it’s still awkward.

I’m blathering about all this other stuff because I don’t want to talk about what I knew was going to happen, but I had hoped against hope that it wouldn’t. In fact, let’s talk about Scholar of the First Sin so I don’t have to talk about it for a few more minutes. I plugged in the old laptop the other day just to see what characters I had rolled up in SotFS. Imagine my chagrin when I realized that I didn’t have it installed on that machine. I can reinstall it, of course, but it’ll be tricky. First, I have almost no memory left. Second, I’m switching the power cord from my new machine back and forth every time I want to use the old machine. I can probably find the old power cord, but will it work? I don’t know. I’m really hard on my power cords.

I went to my desktop, did all the updating it needed, and checked out my characters there. I have several, and three of them are in NG+ and beyond. I was specifically looking at the gestures I had because I should have gotten the gestures achievement. Sure enough, I had all the gestures on the first character I checked, but not the achievement. This one is easy. There are 20 of them, and there are three ways  to get them. The first are the default ones. Had those, of course. All but one of the rest are given by NPCs. The final one is Praise The Sun, which you get at the Altar of Sunlight. I was pretty sure I had all the gestures on more than one character, so what the fuck? I Googled it, of course, and the best explanation is that if you get the last gesture while offline, it doesn’t count. Steam offline, I mean. I play most of the games offline most of the time, so that’s probably what happened to me.


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Bordering on lands for the third time

is it real or am i dreaming?
Look at my hair. Look. At. It!

Still have not played a Souls game since I platted the third game a few weeks ago (yes, I’m finally calling it platting and not not-platting as I’ve been doing). I’m getting the itch, though, to play…Scholar of the First Sin. I’m holding off because I know if I do, I’ll start wandering into the not-plat. It’s another game with no cloud sync, which would mean doing it on my current character (only one on this computer) or hooking up the old laptop again. It’s supposedly the easiest of the three Souls games to plat, but no! I do not want to get into that mentality again.

I did crack and try Code Vein. I imported my character from the demo because I love her so much. It’s the first time I’ve been able to have a character with hair LONGER than my own, and I spent over an hour in the character creation. The hair is even thin and fine like mine! Two negatives with the character creator–the heaviest set is still skinny with big boobs and all the female clothing is skimpy at best. The one outfit I chose covers the most skin possible, but is tight as fuck and the leggings have holes in them. It’s Japanese, though, so there’s not much to be done there.

I immediately had issues with stuttering in the proper game that I did not have in the demo. I jiggered my settings, but I couldn’t get rid of it completely. I also had loading issues, and my game froze every time I exited the game. It was irritating, and I felt as if it was a bait-and-switch situation since I did not have that issue with the demo (the first part of the game). There were fog walls where the game wasn’t loading properly, and it was a mess. I knew there was jank in the game, but this wasn’t something I had read about in the forums. Then again, I don’t read forums very much because they’re pretty toxic in general.

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Recovering from not-platting…still

pestilent mist to the tree balls!
Cheesy fun on the way to the not-plat!

I’m feeling the urge. The urge to purge. Er, no, not that. The urge to play Dark Souls III again. It’s just a whisper, and I am not going to do it, but the fact that it’s in the back of my head less than a week after platting the game demonstrates how much I love the game. I’m relieved that I don’t completely hate the game any longer, but it’s still going to take some time before I want to dive back into it. I did break and buy Code Vein on sale at Steam, but I probably won’t be playing it any time soon, either. It’s very good–at least from what I’ve played in the demo (though I’ve seen on the internet that there’s plenty of jank and frustration–and the DLCs are trash), but it’s anime Souls. That’s not a knock–I just don’t know if I can deal with it right now. I’m still exhausted from not-platting, and I’ve been thinking about it lately. Dark Souls not-plat was tedious. Believe me, very much tedious. Very grindy, and it was mitigated because I could do it over several characters. That really helped do the upgrading to the fullest every kind of weapon–meaning, crystal, lightning, magic, etc. I have mentioned this before, but I’m so glad that the upgrading paths have streamlined over the sequels. Having different material for each upgrade path was a pain in the ass. I know it was even more convoluted in Demon’s Souls.

I will say that the ‘have one weapon of all kinds’ achievement in the third game was, in theory, better than it was in the first game. You just had to have one of each infusion–and you didn’t have to upgrade the weapons at all. I think it’s partly because upgrading is so much more expensive in the third game than in the first, but for whatever reason, it was a welcome change. The achievement being bugged was fucking irritating, though. I’m just lucky that I had several characters on my old laptop (and could still get the laptop to work) in NG+ many with a plethora of all the material needed to try and try again.

I have complex feelings about the not-plat of the third game. Still. I understand that they want to make it difficult to obtain the plats, and it makes perfect sense. However, the way a lot of games seem to go about it is to just make you grind for an insane amount of time. I suppose you could technically say that skill is involved because you have to kill many of the bosses twice for boss souls (and three times for *sob* Sif), and with the same character. That means going into NG++. Technically, you only need to kill Sif on NG+, but in order to get to the Giant Blacksmith to make the weapon (and that of Gwyn’s soul), you have to get to Anor Londo which is halfway through the game (if you go the normal way). So, you have to play half the game and kill one boss for the plat, which means killing all the non-optional bosses on the way.

In the third game, you have to make it to the last area save the final boss’s boss arena in order to get one of the rings you need. On NG++, I mean. So you pretty much have to play the game three times through on one character to get the rings achievement. It took me roughly two hours to get to the Giant Blacksmith in Anor Londo on NG++. It took me six or seven hours to beat the Nameless King in NG++. Not to beat him himself but to get through him as the final obstacle to the not-plat. The emotional toll that the DS III not-plat took on me made me question why the fuck I was doing it. The first game was tedious and boring  in many parts, but it never warped my brain the way the third game did.

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Dark Souls III plat is like giving birth

*Bonus Post*

hellraiser up in this bitch!
Delicious bow cheese!

Completing the Dark Souls plat made me feel relieved, but still wearied. I didn’t feel that much joy or accomplishment, and it was definitely muted. Yesterday (Thursday), I buckled down to plow through the rest of the plat requirements for DS III. I didn’t want to do it; I seriously thought about taking a break. But, I know myself. I know that if I stepped away, I would just obsess about it more until I did it. So. Four bosses. Four rings. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. I went after Oceiros with the help of Hawkwood, and it was no thing; he never is. Champion Gundyr, on the other hand….First of all, I’d like to note that I was playing offline because I did not want to deal with invasions–human or NPC. I can’t get a human summon for the life of me, but I have been invaded. There’s an NPC invasion in this area as well, and I simply did not want to deal with her.

I biffed it in my first attempt on Champion Gundyr, even with the Sword Master by my side.  I was too hesitant and allowed Champion Gundyr to dictate the fight, and he pushed my shit in over and over again. I was already irritated, and, let’s face it, that did not help. Fighting a boss while in a heightened emotion in a FromSoft game means certain death. This time, I resolved to be more deliberately forceful, and I got all up in Champion Gundyr’s face–By the way, Champion Gundyr is so goddamn aggressive, but I managed to get him solo with not too much difficulty the first time I met him. Being a caster is helpful with certain bosses, including this one. That’s what I did this time around, and it wasn’t hard at all once I settled the fuck down.

I stealthed my way through the Black Knights though I normally kill them because I just didn’t care about anything that didn’t help my run progress. I made it to the Dark Firelink Shrine and beelined it for Lothric’s throne. Behind it was the Life Ring +3, one of the four rings I needed. I briefly chatted with the Shrine Handmaid then warped myself back to ‘my’ Firelink Shrine. I set myself up for the next part of my run–which was Lothric Castle. It’s pretty big, and it can take some time to explore the whole castle. There are dragons with black slooge that breathe fire as you try to get into the castle, so you have to go the back way, and there’s oodles of other shit you can do as well. I ignored the other stuff and went straight to the level to open the front gate. I died to the scrubs in the castle twice because I was rushing and not doing the area as I normally would. Plus, I was getting more and more worried about the last thing I had to do, but I’ll get to that later.

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