The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022)



  • Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    Strategy games have an aspect that some players, especially newcomers, find very difficult to deal with – you may suddenly realize that you’ve lost the game several hours ago and to fix that mistake you’ll have to replay a good chunk of the game (and you’re lucky if you’ve saved in separate slot close enough). You spoke about accessibility of XCOM: Enemy Unknown – how does it deal with that problem?



  • Question for @Capnbobamous about Outer Wilds.

    While time mechanic is crucial to this game’s narrative and design, it can also be frustrating in so many ways. You may run out of time while exploring some location or solving some puzzle, which means that you have to redo everything again. Sometimes this may mean repeating some challenging navigation or trying to remember how exactly you’ve got to where you were. This pushes you to do everything as fast as possible and if you rush at the wrong moment, you’ll miss some important clue. Additionally, there are several locations, including one vital, that can be get into only during extremely short timeframes, so if you weren’t in the right spot at the right time, you will be lost. I believe developers even admitted that clues for getting into that vital location are too faint and lots of players are struggling with it (including me – I’ve got there by lucky accident, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to finish this game without a guide).

    Do you agree that player’s enjoyment of this game is luck-based?



  • Question for @Oscillator about Star Fox 64.

    You’ve mentioned that first few levels are casual, and the back half will result in numerous game overs. How frustrating is it when the game forces you to constantly redo trivial tasks before letting you to attempt the thing you actually want to beat?



  • @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    Question for @Oscillator about Star Fox 64.

    You’ve mentioned that first few levels are casual, and the back half will result in numerous game overs. How frustrating is it when the game forces you to constantly redo trivial tasks before letting you to attempt the thing you actually want to beat?

    On the more casual levels (the first mission plus the next few on the easy/medium routes), the core gameplay is very fun. Dodging enemy fire, braking and taking u-turns to get behind them, dashing for powerups, it's just very consistently fun. The first level, Corneria, gets tiring faster than the rest because it's the one you play every run, but it's bright and colourful, and moves along quickly, so it's not a major annoyance. Some of the boss battles do feel like barriers because of the lack of mobility you typically have during them and their slow patterns, but they also often have the best dialogue.

    The music and crew chatter also livens the mood and helps distracts you from the repetition. It's when you're actually playing the far harder latter levels that frustration rears its head.



  • Question for @bruno_saurus about God of War (2018)

    There's an obvious narrative jump/hole with Atreus having a sudden personality shift that's very decisive for the story. That felt really weird when playing and kind of a big flaw in such a story heavy game, with developers later acknowledging it as cut content due to a somewhat troubled production. How do you feel about it?

    How do you feel about filler worlds like Muspelheim and Niflheim when you know meaningful content was cut out?

    Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown

    My main issue with this proposal is that it becomes difficult to justify its entry when you have the 1994's UFO: Enemy Unknown game and then XCOM 2 improving upon XCOM. I love LOVE XCOM but being a Hall of Greats why pick this title over the others. Or in other words, how will you sell it to me who played the original why this should be the one in. And why XCOM and not XCOM 2.

    Question for @Brannox about DOOM II

    This again is a question tied to the nature of the Hall of Greats and maybe being difficult to justify having both Doom and Doom II featuring in it. If we had an entry for the original Doom here today, considering the enormous relevance it has in gaming's history, do you think DOOM II is enough of an improvement to justify being in the HoG over DOOM?



  • @ffff0 I agree that the narrative of Edith Finch is under the surface while the gameplay segments take center stage, but I truly believe that Edith Finch wants the gameplay to be front and center, because games of its ilk are sneered at for being "walking simulators", containing mild interactions that can bore players. The Finch family curse elements may not be as fleshed out and evident as all of its other beautiful aspects, but I do think every element of Edith Finch is evident of a spectacularly cohesive vision.



  • I just want to say at this point that it might be impossible for me to choose a top 3 because you've all brought amazing games to this Hall of Greats.



  • As always, I'm leaving all questions to all presenters all at once, and because it is early morning as me writing this, I'm unable to answer the questions posed to me for several hours as I'm about to head off to work and I want to make sure I give each, any, and all questions posed to me the time they deserve. Without further ado:

    To @ffff0 regarding Forza Horizon 5:
    1.) I’m someone who likes playing in isolation as opposed to having any multiplayer components. How integrated is the online experience and is it something you can opt out of/turn off? Is it even possible to play offline?

    2.) A major issue with Forza games is the licensing of the cars to the point these games can only be up for sale for only a few years before they’re delisted. Does this make the game (and series/franchise for that matter) having an impending discontinue date limit it’s viability years in the future?

    To @bruno_saurus regarding God of War (2018):
    1.) For as much praise God of War (2018) gets, it does have some flaws. The first criticism I have is having unnecessary tasks that add nothing, or there just to be there. A premium example of this is the Labors. I get all the different ways of taking out enemies incentivizes different play, but they so pointless with little reward. Do you agree or disagree the Labors add to the game and why/why not?

    2.) While I agree combat is very strong, it does suffer from the standard trappings of finding a combination of Runics/Enchantments you enjoy and never feeling incentivized to switch things up. Personally, I have the setup I’ve got and haven’t changed across multiple New Game Plus playthroughs. This includes armor giving me the best stats, despite not being into the look of said armor. Do you think outside of the ice/fire dynamic of your weapons and enemies, which being only binary isn’t all that in-depth in itself, the game provides enough justification for you to switch up tactics/loadouts and fully delve into its systems?

    To @JDINCINERATOR regarding What Remains of Edith Finch:
    1.) In many cases, it’s not really a personal dealbreaker if a game’s replay-ability isn’t great, and with you saying the game’s only a couple hours, it does have me wondering: How well does the game incentivize multiple playthroughs? Is it a one-and-done until you want to go through the story again, or because the minimal time commitment, is it immune to fatigue for repeated playthroughs in a short span of time?

    2.) And on the flip side, you clearly feel, for you, the game does more than enough with the little time it has and not overstay its welcome to leave a lasting impact. However, if someone plays this and doesn’t vibe with the story, well that’s it. There’s nothing else it really offers to people. Do you think it could/should have more aspects to the game (like more family members’ stories, mini-games, etc.) to incentivize players to spend time with it longer?

    To @DIPSET regarding The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay:
    1.) One thing I always think about when it comes to Hall of Greats, be it the Allies’ or ours, is if the presentation does a wonderful job to entice me to play, how simple would it be for me to get a copy. And as you demonstrate right at the end, physical appears to be the way to go with it being delisted. A cursory glance shows its originally for only OG Xbox and Windows, whereas it being bundled with Assault on Dark Athena brought it forward one generation. If one isn’t concerned about it being used, it’s pretty cheap to get, but new copies are much higher in cost. Do you think going through the effort of purchasing a copy (much like your own real world example of not available to rent, purchase only) for older platforms that many probably don’t own anymore is enough for this single game?

    2.) You’ve said a lot of terms that appeal to me: “Stealth based,” “immersive-sim elements,” “simple dialogue trees,” and so on, and the foundational gameplay looks solid, but one thing I’m not able to get past (and yes, it is ENTIRELY subjective) is how it looks. Even with the remaster, everything looks in a way that’s hard to describe, but it clearly shows its age and it’s off putting to me, to the point there are games of the time (and older) that I feel do 3D models a lot better. In your opinion, do you think it graphically holds up, not just in today’s space, but against its contemporaries as well?

    To @Shoulderguy regarding XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
    1.) You briefly touch on it in your presentation, but there appears to be a lot of things you need to manage to stay on top of things, and while you explicitly state a couple times this is one of the most approachable strategy games out there, that doesn’t mean the genre in itself is simple, nor many of the systems can be ignored. So a two parter: A.) Can you please explain the gameplay differences in these systems (to use your listed examples: Battles, new research, launching satellites and Monitoring monthly council reports) and B.) How integral they are to success/failure?

    2.) One of the most notorious things I’ve heard about XCOM (and I think you briefly vaguely reference it in the optional mode you discuss), is how you can have a high percentage chance of a hit at point-blank range and completely miss it due to RNG. How prevalent are these kinds of examples and further, how punishing/forgiving is the RNG overall?

    To @Capnbobamous regarding The Outer Wilds:
    1.) One of the biggest hangups I have regarding this is how, as you state a couple times in your presentation, and Isla as well, to truly talk about the best aspects of the game fundamentally spoils its very nature. Do you think this is a detriment when trying to convince people to play, when the “going in blind” advice needs to be so heavily relied upon?

    2.) Personally speaking, I’m not a fan of almost aimless, “go where you want, do what you want” types of games, insofar as not having at least one concrete marker to guide me when I’m ready to progress to a main objective. With all that happens in The Outer Wilds, do you think the game does a good enough job helping you keep up with all your discoveries without running the risk of forgetting key details while simultaneously implicitly pointing you in the direction you need to go?

    To @Oscillator regarding Star Fox 64:
    1.) To me, on-rails shooter is a genre that on its surface sounds restrictive in that most (but not all) of time you don’t fully have three-dimensional, 360 degree spherical movement, nor do you have the ability to explore outside of shooting targets and enemies. Does Star Fox 64 allow you any freedom to fly around many of the levels and take in the atmosphere?

    2.) In the two videos you’ve provided, something that jumped out to me is the camera is always behind you and in order to look/go behind, you must do a u-turn, but the camera quickly sticks back behind you again. Do you think it’s a hindrance to not have any expansive camera control during gameplay?



  • @brannox
    1). I feel Edith Finch is an experience you play when you want to without the fatigue or demands many games give to incentivize repeated playthroughs. Edith Finch isn't a game to rush, it's a game to savor, think about and process.
    2). I don't believe length is what makes Edith Finch special. The stories are diverse and quirky enough to appeal in its own distinctive way. If people don't vibe with the story, I think Edith Finch's ability to engage with new kinds of stories and gameplay interactions, gives it something special and unique that not many games out there have. If length is an issue regarding Edith Finch, I don't think they will appreciate what the game is trying to achieve-but I do think the looks the game throws at players is enough to satisfy wonderfully.



  • Overall, I want to let everyone know that I'm going to use the entirey of this week of formulate my questions. Some of the games presented are pretty easily available on Game Pass so I've actually started a playthough for two of them so far just to get an idea. So I want to dig in a bit more before I cross-examine.

    I'll still be around to answer.

    --

    The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
    Answer #1 re: Setting / Location diversity

    @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    Question for @DIPSET about The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay.
    You’ve highlighted the environment as a strong point of the game, but all locations in your footage look very similar and almost blend with each other. I understand that similarity of different prison’s corridors makes sense and that games of that era weren’t capable of filling places with lots of tiny details, but I’m still concerned that I’ll get tired of the sameness (and maybe even get lost) if I play this game today.
    Does the game do anything to keep its environments fresh for entire duration?

    I should preface that 90% of the footage I used for the video is not only the beginning of the game, but in or around the tutorial and first level. But even with that said, the prison cell block section does ooze atmosphere.

    The reason it works so well from an immersive standpoint—ironically enough for a game set in a prison—is because the devs just set you free in a cell block. So the beginning section is small and looks a bit similar because it's a few prison corridors, a courtyard, and another prison block held by rival gangs. But what makes it so cool and immersive is that you can just mill around popping into people's cell's, talking to them, learning about the lore, who is whom, etc. You can actually murder the prisoners at will and if you don't get caught, you can get away with it. Or you can opt to just murder everybody in the beginning cell block section and still progress the story (but it'll be way harder). Very few games really just set you loose in a prison and trust the player enough to figure out what's going on and how to escape.

    But that's just the beginning. Escape from Butcher Bay has three core areas throughout the 12-15 hour game:

    1. Intro / Max Security (most of what you saw in the video)
    2. Double Max Security
    3. Cryosleep

    And within each main section, there are smaller bespoke areas like the sewers which are tight and full of weird creatures and important NPCs who you can stumble into.

    Those three main areas are extremely distinct from one another. Double Max for example, has prison cells made from a series of port yard shipping containers hanging above a bottomless black abyss. Escape in this area seems almost impossible and the sense of confinement is extraordinary. However, there is still a prison culture with different NPCs and guards with quests and interests that feel distinct from the first section. Overall, this section is very industrial feeling and more wide open and sneaky.

    Cryosleep is sort of like a white bright sci-fi future with clinical looking walls and glowing technology. It's like a ultra max security sci-fi thriller aesthetic that completely juxtaposes against the rest of the game.

    If I could make a more modern comparison, think of the approach towards the aesthetic in Remedy's Control. That game has a unified aesthetic but there are distinctions in the areas so not everything looks like a brutalist-era office hallway. That said, I much prefer the variety is setting / aesthetic in Escape From Butcher Bay versus Control, but that's just an example to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

    EDIT - I should add, to answer you specifically, you run absolutely no risk of getting lost in this game. It's like open sections with bespoke level design. It's not entirely linear, but their is a clear linear progression. It's more Half Life 2 than Deus Ex.



  • Response to @Brannox question about Forza Horizon 5 offline mode and limited time availability.

    Online component in Forza Horizon 5 is completely optional, and you can go offline anytime you want from the main menu. Additionally, if you are playing online and your connection goes down, you will not be booted out (unless you’re in a multiplayer match) – the game simply repopulate the world with AI cars and let you keep doing whatever you were doing. By the way, presence of other players doesn’t impact you in any way (their cars don’t have collision with yours until you decide to team up) and you don’t run into them every minute. So even for solo players I would recommend playing online, as it bolsters the idea of being at a car festival. But again, if you don’t want to, you don’t need to. The choice is yours.

    As for being delisted due to licensing – this is unfortunate reality of the industry that isn’t exclusive to racing games. Many games become unavailable at some point (including some among today’s nominees), but it shouldn’t stop us from playing them and loving them. Forza Horizon 5 isn’t a live-service game, it has feature-complete physical release, so I don’t expect it to be lost in time. And given Microsoft commitment to backwards compatibility, I’m sure that you’ll be able to put that disc in 2030’s Xbox and just play the game.



  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
    Answer #2 re: The game being delisted

    @Brannox

    To @DIPSET regarding The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay:
    1.) One thing I always think about when it comes to Hall of Greats, be it the Allies’ or ours, is if the presentation does a wonderful job to entice me to play, how simple would it be for me to get a copy. And as you demonstrate right at the end, physical appears to be the way to go with it being delisted. A cursory glance shows its originally for only OG Xbox and Windows, whereas it being bundled with Assault on Dark Athena brought it forward one generation. If one isn’t concerned about it being used, it’s pretty cheap to get, but new copies are much higher in cost. Do you think going through the effort of purchasing a copy (much like your own real world example of not available to rent, purchase only) for older platforms that many probably don’t own anymore is enough for this single game?

    To be totally fair, I only discovered this game was delisted pretty recently. I thought you could just pop into Steam or GOG and download it. I have to admit, it's a huge shame that you can't easily get it nowadays but what more could I expect from Atari and Starbreeze, two horribly mismanaged corporations with wonderful legacies they've left behind.

    I had to cut it for time, but you can still play the 2004 OG version via Windows PC or Xbox. Then you can play the Assault on Dark Athena remastered version via PC, PS3, or 360. If you can get yourself a used copy, I'd recommend getting Dark Athena because you get two games in one package. Do I think it's worth it—YES!

    I really think Escape From Butcher Bay is a cult classic for a reason. And like I said, Escape From Butcher Bay (along with it's peers) were a part of a strong movement in 2004 that brought us beautiful non-military FPS games for years to come. I bought it full price on a whim in 2009 with no knowledge or expectation of the series, gameplay, nothing, and it became and all-timer for me. Mileage may vary, but like any curious gamer, you won't know until you try it.

    Just don't break the bank. I think it's a shame people would price gouge due to it's delisted status and I don't agree with paying hundreds of dollars for a game that should be experienced by many.

    EDIT - Looks like you can buy the OG Xbox version pretty cheap. $27 CAD here: https://www.ebay.com/p/30047168

    So that's not nearly as bad as I thought. I also just noticed that the OG version is Vivendi (Universal Pictures) so my god Atari, Vivendi, and Starbreeze is a horrible cocktail for business mismanagement. Poor Riddick series and Starbreeze devs getting caught in the cross-fire.

    --

    Answer # 3 re: Do the graphics hold up?

    2.) You’ve said a lot of terms that appeal to me: “Stealth based,” “immersive-sim elements,” “simple dialogue trees,” and so on, and the foundational gameplay looks solid, but one thing I’m not able to get past (and yes, it is ENTIRELY subjective) is how it looks. Even with the remaster, everything looks in a way that’s hard to describe, but it clearly shows its age and it’s off putting to me, to the point there are games of the time (and older) that I feel do 3D models a lot better. In your opinion, do you think it graphically holds up, not just in today’s space, but against its contemporaries as well?

    I think it absolutely holds up! I don't want to get any yellow cards here, but I highly recommend you watch the relatively recent Digital Foundry video on the 2004 PC version of Escape From Butcher Bay. It's pretty clear that it looks like an older game, but the character models having a photorealistic look and high resolution textures coupled with complex lighting (a lot of source lighting/shadows) keeps the mood to this day. They do some really interesting special effects and little tricks in this game to provide a shadowy sci-fi atmosphere.

    I read a retrospective interview with the lead developers once they moved onto Machine Games talking about the development on the remaster and they have a lot of cool little tricks they did like hand painting a lot of the space shots and slightly animating details in After Effects as opposed to making full 3D environments for one-off shots in cutscenes. So some parts of it have this painterly effect.

    Another perfect example of the look/feel holding up is the post-processing on the stealth sections. With no HUD, the game has no issue conveying information to the player. When in stealth, the screen does a blue-ish purple-ish tinge over the screen to convey you are completely hidden. Unlike Spliter-Cell or MGS or Morrowind there is no guess work. You always know. Likewise, keeping ammo exclusively on the gun rather than an icon in the corner keeps your head in the world the whole time.

    In my opinion, both the 2004 version and the remaster hold up. I think the remaster maybe has a bit too much gloss like a lot of 2007-2009 video games do, but the character models, their performances, the animations, the textures, and the lighting hold up a lot better than fellow 2004 games like Half Life 2, GTA San Andreas, FarCry, or Halo 2. I'd argue it's a pretty graphically great game to this day.



  • Hey just a little PSA.

    As I stated before, a lot of the games we brought (except for mine sigh) are actually pretty accessible on Game Pass. I just checked Steam and What Remains of Edith Finch is suddenly -70% off! No idea where the sale came from or why today because it wasn't there yesterday, but I'm going to pick it up for $7 CAD to just get an idea of the gameplay like I've attempted for a few other nominees.

    God of War 2018 comes with every PS5 if you are subscribed to PS+.

    I think XCom Enemy Unknown was both a PS+ game AND a freebie on the Epic Games Store at various times so check your downloads because you might've already claimed it but never played.



  • @brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    To @Oscillator regarding Star Fox 64:
    1.) To me, on-rails shooter is a genre that on its surface sounds restrictive in that most (but not all) of time you don’t fully have three-dimensional, 360 degree spherical movement, nor do you have the ability to explore outside of shooting targets and enemies. Does Star Fox 64 allow you any freedom to fly around many of the levels and take in the atmosphere?

    2.) In the two videos you’ve provided, something that jumped out to me is the camera is always behind you and in order to look/go behind, you must do a u-turn, but the camera quickly sticks back behind you again. Do you think it’s a hindrance to not have any expansive camera control during gameplay?

    1. Four of the levels are all-range mode arenas. One of them, Sector Z, is in the second video. These levels are sparser than the on-rails levels, with not much to explore, and have an objective to complete rather than an end boss. I feel the best of them is Fortuna, which is level 3 on the easy route. A few minutes into the level, the central base has a bomb planted in it, and you have to take out the enemy team Star Wolf before the bomb's timer runs out. There are a couple instances of on-rails levels having a fork you can take for some different enemy waves or a secret warp. Compared to overhead "shmups", Star Fox 64's levels move at a much gentler pace, giving you time to soak in the sounds and sights. Two space-based levels on the easy route, Sector X (from the first video) and Meteo, are especially slow paced and atmospheric.

    2. The limited camera movement in all-range mode does make it tough to spot enemies right next to or behind you, but it's part of the challenge, their ability to sneak up on you. You can brake, boost, and somersault to help negate their advantage. There is a cockpit view, though it makes things even harder to see, and is kind of a novelty.



  • @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
    Strategy games have an aspect that some players, especially newcomers, find very difficult to deal with – you may suddenly realize that you’ve lost the game several hours ago and to fix that mistake you’ll have to replay a good chunk of the game (and you’re lucky if you’ve saved in separate slot close enough). You spoke about accessibility of XCOM: Enemy Unknown – how does it deal with that problem?

    That is a problem with some strategy games but I've played multiple playthroughs and never had any problems. You could reload a save if a battle doesn't go your way but even if you fail a mission, it's not the end of the game. You can make plenty of mistakes in XCOM Enemy Unknown and still overcome them. That's the big advantage it has over other strategy games.

    What your saying is true with Ironman mode but that's for people who want more of a rogue-like experience, where each playthrough is an opportunity to see how far you can make it before having to start over. I enjoy Ironman mode but I completely get why it's not for everybody. I wouldn't recommend it for first time players.


    @phbz said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    My main issue with this proposal is that it becomes difficult to justify its entry when you have the 1994's UFO: Enemy Unknown game and then XCOM 2 improving upon XCOM. I love LOVE XCOM but being a Hall of Greats why pick this title over the others. Or in other words, how will you sell it to me who played the original why this should be the one in. And why XCOM and not XCOM 2.

    Unfortunately, I've never touched the 1994 game. I've heard good things about that game but looking at videos of it now, it's just not something I want to play. I did consider XCOM 2 for the Hall of Greats but I decided to go with XCOM Enemy Unknown because I believe it had a bigger impact on the strategy genre.

    When XCOM Enemy Unknown released on PC and consoles in 2012, it was a huge success and brought in many new fans. The smart UI elements and great controller support on console allowed more people to experience the series. It won GOTY from 21 different media outlets including GameTrailers, and that's impressive for a strategy game. https://www.gameawards.net/2020/09/2012.html


    @brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    To @Shoulderguy regarding XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
    1.) You briefly touch on it in your presentation, but there appears to be a lot of things you need to manage to stay on top of things, and while you explicitly state a couple times this is one of the most approachable strategy games out there, that doesn’t mean the genre in itself is simple, nor many of the systems can be ignored. So a two parter: A.) Can you please explain the gameplay differences in these systems (to use your listed examples: Battles, new research, launching satellites and Monitoring monthly council reports) and B.) How integral they are to success/failure?
    2.) One of the most notorious things I’ve heard about XCOM (and I think you briefly vaguely reference it in the optional mode you discuss), is how you can have a high percentage chance of a hit at point-blank range and completely miss it due to RNG. How prevalent are these kinds of examples and further, how punishing/forgiving is the RNG overall?

    1.) I didn't go deep into any of the systems in my presentation because the game gradually teaches you everything and it's not overwhelming. All of your tasks are in their own separate part of the base and you'll be prompted to go there when a decision needs to be made. Also, you're not on a time limit so you can carefully plan out everything. This was my first ever XCOM game and after a few hours you know exactly what to do to have success thanks to the games early tutorials.

    2.) There is RNG but it's not surprise RNG. Before you take a shot at an enemy, you know what the percentage chance is to hit. It's your choice if you want to roll the dice on a low percentage shot or make a different action with your soldier. The enemies are also subject to the same RNG, so it all evens out in the end.

    There are plenty of weapons and abilities that are not RNG based. One of those weapons, the rocket launcher, comes standard with every heavy class soldier and it does a set amount of AOE damage.



  • @ffff0 regarding FORZA HORIZON 5

    1. I love FORZA HORIZON 5, but honestly I do feel as though it’s playing to the same tunes as its predecessors much of the time. I felt FORZA Horizon 4 was the peak of the series. What does FORZA HORIZON 5 do better than FORZA HORIZON 4 or any other racing game you’d played?

    2. Do you think the Mexican setting provides the same level of diversity as FORZA HORIZON 4’ Great Britain or FORZA HORIZON 3’s Australian outback?

    @Brannox regarding DOOM II

    1. You say every level is loaded with secrets and that they give (and I’m paraphrasing here) a badass alternative to running through the game normally. Are these secrets in level design the only big destructive string to Doom II’s bow?

    2. Do you think anything is missing from modern Doom games that Doom II specifically nails?

    @bruno_saurus regarding God of War 2018

    1. God of War has been heralded as one of the greatest games of the last generation. I think its praise is rather overblown in certain regards, especially the gameplay. What do you feel makes God of War stand above all other big hitters on the PS4?

    2. Do you feel that giving Kratos a modern facelift was the right move for the franchise?

    @DIPSET regarding The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

    1. Do you think Escape From Butcher Bay languishes in the past two much to be any significant to the here and now?

    2. Is there anything from Butcher Bay that you feel today’s shooters could do with implementing?

    @Shoulderguy regarding X-COM: Enemy Unknown

    1. I suck at strategy games and I find many of them difficult to grasp and enjoy. How could you ease me into X-COM: Enemy Unknown without tuning out?

    2. Do you think X-COM: Enemy Unknown is largely overlooked for a great game?

    @Capnbobamous regarding The Outer Wilds

    1. Outer Wilds is a fascinating and enchanting experience, however I personally find it difficult to sink into. What do you think can ease players into experiencing it without any sense of obligation?

    2. Would you say Outer Wilds has a No Man’s Sky allure to it and do you feel it distinguishes itself enough to stand on its own?

    @Oscillator regarding Star Fox 64

    1. Do you feel that Star Fox 64 deserves more credit for what it has achieved considering your personal experiences with it?

    2. Looking at the footage, is it accurate to assume there’s too much going on at one time visuals that you could be distracted momentarily and your ship could careen into an obstruction?



  • Alright, home from work and now I'm able to answer what was posed to me:

    From @ffff0 regarding if a first-time new player today would highlight level design as a strength:

    In my opinion, yes, for two reasons:

    One - In terms of layout, both regarding the physical space and the art design. The physical space is never too cramped, giving you flexibility to move around at your pace to dodge enemy attacks and many levels (though not all, and I'll get to The Chasm [a.k.a. Level 24] in a moment), are able to guide you without simultaneously holding your hand. Since most are corridors with branching paths (and each branch holding something of value, be it health, armor, weapons, ammo, switch/keycard to progress, etc. without going to far before coming to an end, if not circling back to the main path), it's never too confusing because of the art design. Machinery, demonic carvings, doors, lights and the like are able to paint each area with a unique flair and it's through these unique icons which simultaneously serve as clear indicators of the game's secrets. You are correct there are no sound cues, but visually there are TONS, to which here are some examples:

    • A portion of the wall being a slightly different shade than the rest of said wall
    • The brick (or pattern) on the wall isn't lining up with the rest of said pattern
    • A weird eye/face/symbol/machinery that isn't present elsewhere on the wall or room.
    • An exploding barrel conspicuously by itself in an open area (and shooting it causing an explosion allows you to interact with the secret it was guarding).
    • The aforementioned light pressure pad I mention in my presentation is just one example of falling/running off a higher plane onto something that triggers a wall opening.

    And to be clear, not every secret has an indicator, but most do, if you're looking closely enough after you kill everything in whatever room you're in.

    Two - The themes of where you are as part of the campaign. After every boss level, you're given a brief text screen explaining where you're going, and it's pretty clear some levels are bases, some are in hell (both in a wasteland or demonic castles), there's one that's literally a city on earth with multiple story buildings, one that's an apartment that opens up and doubles back on itself, and of course the Wolfenstein secret levels. These different hooks stand out for both being memorable and engaging with what each tasks you to do.

    Which brings me to The Chasm. Often (and even with your question), the Chasm is often derided as the "worst" of the 30 levels in the game. As I said above in this post, most of the levels afford you the space to move around, so I get for this level being high atop the acid/lava floor on super thin walls is the anthesis of that playstyle, but why it works for me is that if you play to what the Chasm is asking of you (To carefully traverse the top of this wall to the other side), you find the exit soon after, and you're not playing the level for long. However, as is often the case for most (myself included), it's really easily to fall off, causing you to move FAST as you take damage looking for the teleporter (or a biosuit). This opens up the level to hold various secrets holding an assortment of goodies, if you're willing to pay the pound of flesh to reach them. There's also several teleporters in the level that put you back atop the level, so once you find just one of these, you can just sprint to that spot if you don't want to explore and/or minimize damage.

    The final thing regarding The Chasm is it's only one level AND towards the end. You'll play about 26-27 without looking for the other three-four secret levels, so this level might get its criticisms (and most rightfully deserved in addition to being so late in the campaign) but it isn't indicative to the rest of the time it takes to get there. Lastly, while I know I'm in the minority (as you say, with yourself and your family members all calling it quits at that moment), but this level never presented problems to me on where to go; just on getting to the end.

    To close, one thing I didn't touch on is the in-game map you can pull up if you do get lost. Since enemies don't respawn, if you clear out most of the level, you can open the vector graphic map, see your little icon and run around to portions of the map you haven't filled in (indicated by disconnected yellow lines signifying walls) without fear of something attacking you (Unless you run into an environmental hazard).


    From @Phbz regarding if DOOM II is enough of an improvement on having it in the Hall over the first DOOM:

    Yes, and while I tried to make my presentation a reflection of this very question, allow me to go a little more in-depth on some aspects I touched on that I elected not to for the focus on level design (To which, please see my above answer to @ffff0 why I think it's an improvement in that aspect). Let's talk Boss encounters, twice as many demons, and getting you weapons and quickly:

    • Boss Encounters - Bosses feel more like an event in DOOM II because in the original, it's pretty clear when you reach the "Boss Level" at the end of the campaigns. You know what to expect, the levels are short, and when you best them, you go to the exit and that's end. Congratulations. Campaign over. But in DOOM II, you don't know until you walk into a courtyard with four Mancubi (and other enemies as well) all simultaneously firing rockets at you, forcing you to think on your feet FAST, or perhaps opening many doors in a small circular room until you enter one, turn right, and see 20 Barons of Hell in front of a massive CyberDemon and if you don't have the BFG (which this example DOES give you in a different room), it's the fight of (and for) your life. Even when you start in a room with ALL the weapons and ammo with a teleporter taking you to a giant mechanized goat's head with a glowing weakspot as it yells at you is incredibly unique and memorable.

    • Demons - As I touched on, DOOM II introduces twice as many demons as in the original without sacrificing any of the enemies of old. Spider Masterminds, Mancubi, Archviles, Pain Elementals, Revenants and more all have their own strategies, both to kill you and for you to take them down. In addition, they're tougher the their DOOM 1 counterparts, so combat is livened up greatly (which is the core mechanic of DOOM), especially when you have the aforementioned BFG or Super Shotgun.

    • Getting you weapons quickly - As I tried to highlight in my first level example, the game WANTS you to have as many weapons as possible, as early as possible. In the first DOOM, the famous E1M1, the only additional weapon you can find in the first level is just the Shotgun to go with your pistol. In DOOM II, you not only can find the Shotgun, but the Chainsaw and Rocket Launcher as well. As I also state, it does a much easier job getting you the BFG. As long as you don't die and play smartly, you have these weapons permanently. To me, the original DOOM only sparsely awards you weapons as you complete levels, whereas by level 3 or 4 in DOOM II, with the exception of the BFG, you should be fully armed (especially if you go hunting for secrets).


    From @JDINCINERATOR regarding if the secrets are the "only big destructive string to DOOM II's bow:"

    Please forgive the brevity of this answer, because I feel as if I've actually answered this particular question above: It's not JUST the secrets that are so rewarding, but the diversity of demons, memorable and periodic boss fights, level themes, and other equipment as well all come together to make you feel awesome, no matter what you're doing.

    From @JDINCINERATOR regarding if DOOM II has something the modern DOOM reboots lack:

    Simply: No. This may be a detriment to DOOM II, but the modern DOOMs have the capacity (through both technological advancements and gameplay mechanics [see: Flamethrower generating armor, glory kills giving health, different types of grenades]) that something from the 90s just could never have. It's been said often by id that Eternal was to DOOM 2016 as DOOM II was to the first DOOM: Bigger, badder, more demons, more of a narrative, more weapons, more, More, MORE. But I do think it's incredibly awesome you can play both DOOM AND DOOM II in the Fortress (a hub being something else early games didn't really have) in Eternal. But honestly? DOOM II doesn't need all of that. It's nice to have, sure, and DOOM: Eternal is all the better for it, but there is something to the phrase "Beauty in the simplicity."



  • Response to @JDINCINERATOR questions about Forza Horizon 5’s differences from 4, location diversity and comparison to other racing games.

    Forza Horizon 4 is a great game and 5 doesn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken, so the sense of familiarity is not unwarranted. But at the same time, there’s more to Forza Horizon 5 than repletion of the same formula. Events Lab (custom tracks creator) is a brand-new feature, and if you’re interested in user-generated content, that’s a huge deal. Expeditions are also new, and I find this form of single-player progression much more engaging than accumulation of points to buy new festival’s location in prior games. There’s much more variety in missions and much more unique events, like driving a parade float. While the map in Forza Horizon 4 looked very similar throughout, in Forza Horizon 5 you don’t need to wait a week for season’s change to get new environments as raining forest is just 1-minute away from scorching desert. And this entry was developed for current gen, so visuals were improved significantly. On its own each of these additions may sound insignificant, but they all add up to much smoother and welcoming experience. Also, I feel like Forza Horizon 5 managed to capture completely new audiences (biggest Forza game launch ever sales wise despite being on Game Pass), which is another reason why I’m nomination this game over other entries in the series.

    As for comparison with other racing games, it’s a bit of “apples and oranges” since every series is doing its own thing. But I can highlight one advantage of Forza Horizon 5 – it doesn’t create a feeling of “playing wrong” even if you tuned the difficulty and assists to easily win every race. I mean, when I’m skipping qualification in F1 games and then get from last to first on the first lap, it doesn’t feel like a proper F1 experience. While in Forza Horizon 5 whatever and however I chose to do feels like intended way to play.



  • @jdincinerator said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    @Oscillator regarding Star Fox 64

    1. Do you feel that Star Fox 64 deserves more credit for what it has achieved considering your personal experiences with it?

    2. Looking at the footage, is it accurate to assume there’s too much going on at one time visuals that you could be distracted momentarily and your ship could careen into an obstruction?

    1. I think it's gotten all the credit it can, considering when it released, where it released, and where the series went. It released in close proximity to Super Mario 64 and Wave Race 64, which revolutionized 3D platforming and water physics respectively, then the next year Ocarina of Time became the platform's killer app by a country mile. It's similar to how Perfect Dark did so much, but not only struggled underneath Goldeneye's huge shadow, it was then overshadowed again by Halo a year-and-a-half later. And both Star Fox 64 and Perfect Dark then received total flops for sequels in Star Fox Adventures and Perfect Dark Zero, helping people forget even more easily. Still, Star Fox 64 is considered the definitive 3D on-rails shooter, easily a top 10 Nintendo 64 game, and a distinguished member of Nintendo's canon of classics. Its lack of broader notoriety is no knock whatsoever against its sheer level of quality and incredibly distinctive presentation.

    2. Star Fox 64 isn't really an obstacle course game. Things are occasionally put in your way, but there's almost always plenty of room to move. I recall hitting passing enemies way more often than parts of the map. The art style is also very clean and well defined, making both enemies and obstacles very prominent.



  • Question for @Capnbobamous

    How do you feel about the ships’ controls when the game asks you to be as stealthily moving as possible? One area that I had trouble with was one where you need to make as little sound as possible, but if you do make noise you basically need to restart the whole day over.

    Question for @Oscillator

    How do you feel Star Fox 64 stands against its predecessor (official) in Star Fox on the SNES besides the better graphics of course?

    Question for @ffff0
    Do you think the core tenants of Forza Horizon 5 are the best, as a whole, in the series?

    Question for @Brannox
    How do you feel about the level of difficulty ramping up through the game? Do you think it paces out well in that regard?

    Question for @DIPSET
    Does the gameplay evolve enough throughout the game in the way it handles stealth, or is it just sort of the same way to handle each situation?