The video game market is weird, yo. Sometimes we get absolutely nothing being released, sometimes stuff is released that we don’t care about, and sometimes a bunch of stuff crams itself through the door like a vaudeville act of old, although with a lot less comedic value if we’ve only got so many hours in the day to play…or find that we’re not all that interested after all.
Baldur’s Gate 3
I was alive to experience the original Baldur’s Gates 1 and 2, although I completed exactly Baldur’s Gate 0 of them. I have purchased BG1 a few times since then, enhanced and mobile editions, none of which helped me overcome my inability to complete it. Naturally, I had to jump on board the BG3 train. That made me remember that I haven’t completed any of the Divinity games, also from Larian Studios.
I had been enticed by the limited early access gameplay I experienced in BG3, enough to stop playing early so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself when the game released. If there’s one thing I cannot stand it’s having to repeat myself…or repeat content. I abhor “the grind” because as I am sure I have written about previously, I thrive on “the new”.
So far my BG3 experience is…different. I started playing on Normal difficulty and stuck to my guns as a generally positive player. This bit me in the ass several times; all of the characters in this game are complete assholes, except Volo who I swear is just confused most of the time. I do not like any character I have encountered, and that includes my party. If I could line them up and smack them across their dumb faces as I run past, I would. Repeatedly. But I need them, especially since my decisions and the difficulty level caused me to rage quit.
I then went back, loaded a very old save point at the Explorer level, and made a change. Originally I was pressed by the urgency of the plot, since everyone seemed hells-bent on telling me how badly I was going to die. I skipped a lot of content and focused only on the mission markers. Then I was told by the system that I was under leveled for the next area, so on the revised play through I decided to spend time looking around, visiting places no one told me I had to be (yet). I learned a few things.
First, this game is too damn packed. Navigating is giving me a headache. Making matters worse, the camera kind of sucks, especially when trying to get in or around buildings. There are too many containers to open, and it’s actually a crap-shoot as to whether or not there will be anything in there, or anything worth the effort. I don’t have OCD, but there’s a low vibration of FOMO running throughout this game.
I am afraid of certain areas. There’s one area I found early on that I want nothing to do with, but as it’s “early on” I wonder if I’m level appropriate. I suspect not.
There’s a LOT to keep track of. Every encounter, I have to review everyone’s hotbar so I make sure I’m not leaving some beneficial spell or ability on the table. I have a terrible memory, and have never been able to internalize class or racial abilities, so this is making matters a lot worse.
I don’t have to rush — I don’t think. I am now taking some time to look around, to stop off and explore. It has been yielding a whole lot of “flavor”, and I am always suspicious that everything that isn’t something I can steal or someone I talk to who has more than one line of dialog isn’t super important somewhere down the line.
I have moved from a buyer’s remorse to a cautious interest in Baldur’s Gate 3. I have to play smarter than I usually do which at my age was something I had been purposefully trending away from, but I think the results are more satisfying as a result.
I loved Free Realms. It was such a feature-rich title that I think bloomed before its actual market was realized (it came and went long before the “cozy” game phenomenon took hold).
Palia looks to capitalize on the cozy game trend by providing a relatively non-violent, community-forward online multiplayer experience. It looks a lot like Free Realms, but also has hints of the fantasy frontier found in Wildstar, which I also liked.
Right now Palia is in closed beta, but the open beta is rapidly approaching…much to its detriment. In truth, there’s nothing going in Palia. The primary taks focus right now is to collect resources in order to build a home. This involves a whole lot of leashed quests to learn how to harvest, hunt, and fish, conversations with NPCs to learn who they are and what they offer, and ultimately the busy work needed to get the house built. Beyond that…there’s not a lot going on for players to do.
For a game that’s “community focused”, there are a lot of people agreeing that there’s very little community interaction going on in the game. Harvesting does allow players to get together to collect resources so that everyone gets a share, which should really be the de facto mode in any only game of this scope, so while it’s welcome, it’s not revolutionary. There’s also a way for players to request and to send one another resources, but word on the street is that no on is using this. Essentially, Palia is being sold as a “community-focused MMO”, but it has no community interaction, and has no content befitting the “MMO” moniker.
I had been in the early alphas, but bailed because the “community” that was had already circled their wagons around the idea of the game even before there was a game, and were violently defending against all comers. The whole “cozy” game genre attracts a certain sort of player, especially those where combat is minimized and sharing and interaction are the name of the game. During alpha, this was taken to the extreme, where many community members would browbeat other players who harvested but didn’t announce the location of an important spawn. Rather than sharing being a feature, these people were forming mobs that would “resource shame” each other for not militantly cleaving to the “community” approach. This wasn’t universal, of course, but it was prevalent enough to make me realize that some people needed this game more than others, and I was most certainly in “the others” camp.
I have logged into the closed beta twice now, and I don’t think I’ll be logging in again, ever, unless or until Palia creates an actual game here. Right now, though, Singularity 6 have been attending to one fire drill after another: servers crashing, progression bugs, and all kinds of login issues have been rolling out non-stop since closed beta started. Open beta, where anyone can sign up and log in, is literally a few days away, and I am not entire sure that S6 are ready for that. If the open beta continues to express the same bugs that closed has, and unless there’s some magical build that offers 10x the content than what’s there now, I think Palia is going to be a colossal air-ball.