Murderous Mabel

An utterly detestable soul.

No-one would’ve believed that young Mabel could grow into such a cantankerous psychopath. Born in a settlement on the fringes of the Mojave Wasteland, Mabel’s ambitions were to be a courier delivering hope (amongst other things) to those in need. However, after one client demanded her life as payment, she became addicted to a cocktail of chems, and decided that the Mojave could only thrive if it were cleansed of human life. All human life. Barbarism such as this was readily expressed by the odious soldiers of Caesar’s Legion, and thus her journey across the Mojave began.

Her expertise with explosives led her to the Powder Gangers.

But their ambitions to claim Goodsprings for themselves weren’t grandiose enough. Not that she isn’t going to help Joe Cobb and his men, but he, like Caesar, is going to outlive his usefulness sooner or later. Mabel will sow discord and despair across the entire Mojave or die trying.

I’ve found it difficult to revisit Fallout: New Vegas in recent years. I’ve built around Guns, Energy Weapons, Melee Weapons, and even (to a lesser extent) Unarmed. I’ve aligned myself with Mr. House, Yes Man, and the NCR. But I’ve never built around Explosives, nor have I aligned myself with Caesar’s Legion. Hence the birth of this character. It’s an unconventional build that utilises both the Cowboy and Grunt perks, rather than either one individually, allowing me to use numerous weapons, and experience the Mojave Wasteland from a new perspective. An explosive perspective peppered with conventional weaponry. Through this build I’ll also be embracing the zaniness of Wild Wasteland. I’m not entirely sure how much will change as a result, but this is a good opportunity given her (thematic) dependency on chems.

Thanks, Victor. Now I’m envisaging buttery robot cheeks…

I’ve taken a fairly standard approach to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L distribution, though. Favouring high Agility and high Intelligence, while completely ignoring Charisma. As most do. Not that I could justify high Charisma with a character whose sole ambition is murder. I’ve also taken Kamikaze to further increase her action points, while (slightly) lowering her Damage Threshold. Which is easily countered with the Sub-Dermal Armor implant or the Reinforced Spine perk. Or both. Regardless of Damage Threshold, the latter is required to make use of the heaviest weapons affected by the Grunt perk.

I had considered the Weapon Handling perk.

But I’ll be visiting Old World Blues first (for various reasons) and I’m unlikely to require the extra Strength until after its completion. Perks that affect critical hits (such as Better Criticals) may be worth taking, too. But I’m not sure how (or even if) explosive damage is affected by critical hits.

It’s been quite a while since I last experienced the joy of Fallout: New Vegas, so this is going to be a nostalgic trek across the Mojave Wasteland and possibly one of my last. It’s going to be interesting to see how my approach to things has changed in that time, too. I’ve never been known to comb through the sands of the Mojave looking to uncover all of its secrets, but with Wild Wasteland making the wastes wackier than ever I may want to. Or maybe they’ll be painfully obvious differences. Or maybe it’s aliens. It’s probably aliens. It has, however, been such a refreshing experience conceiving this character, as I’m able to consider many different possibilities and outcomes. Possibilities that, despite having played Fallout: New Vegas for nearly three-hundred hours, I’ve not encountered or considered with other characters.

Have a nice week, all!


The Realms of Atlantis

Simulations designed to perfection.

From the golden fields of Elysium, to the haunting desolation of the Underworld, to the sprawling cityscapes of Atlantis there many trials for Kassandra to undertake before she meets the Heir of Memories. By understanding the triumphs (and failings) of the Isu, she will learn to resist the corrupting nature of the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus. Known mostly for its confusing pronunciation. The Fate of Atlantis is a magnificent post-release DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, in which you experience the Isu civilisation at the height of its cultural and technological developments.

Their fondness for humans is endearing if not slightly concerning.

Content is once again delivered (and experienced) in an episodic format and (counting The Lost Tales of Greece) took roughly forty hours to complete. While there are quests aplenty, the majority of content encourages swift character development as Kassandra embraces her role as Keeper.

Destroying Marble Maiden Tributes, sealing Tartaros Rifts, and scanning Isu Data Caches all afford an abundance of ability points. As does uncovering the Keeper’s Insights, which also allow you to fundamentally alter the functionality of certain abilities. Each quest awards an absurd amount of experience, too. Completing any (or all) of the above rapidly accelerates Kassandra’s progression, and exponentially increases her fighting prowess to such an extent that combat becomes somewhat trivial. Upgrading equipment quickly becomes prohibitively expensive, though. But there are numerous legendary equipment sets available if you’d prefer to use those, and one is actually required for progression. Or you could simply engrave that legendary perk onto your boots to continue unimpeded with your existing equipment.

Terrifying beasts roam this desolate landscape.

I was surprised (and impressed) by the diverse means required to progress through the second and third episodes. In the second episode, Tartaros Veils could only be traversed were to you acquire a legendary equipment set. In the third episode, certain locations were only accessible after filling the Isu Knowledge Sequence. New mechanics were continually introduced even as The Fate of Atlantis drew to a close, resulting in an incredibly satisfying conclusion to what had already been an indescribable journey through breathtaking scenery and stout opposition.

The beginning of which is barely recognisable now.

While Legacy of the First Blade was spectacular in its own way, The Fate of Atlantis featured the best iterations of existing mechanics in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and focused solely on exploring its vast simulations. It also featured no mercenaries whatsoever. Or naval warfare of any kind.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey may not be the most loved entry in the Assassin’s Creed series, but it is an extraordinarily enjoyable and delightfully engaging one-of-a-kind RPG experience. I have nothing but the highest praise for its mechanics. For allowing me to build (and develop) Kassandra as I saw fit. For the meticulous attention to detail present throughout its vast ever-evolving open world. And for the many other things that it does so incredibly well. I was never really sure what to expect from it, and while it may have felt insurmountable at times, there are few RPGs that have nearly two-hundred hours of content, and that makes it an experience that I won’t soon forget. Having concluded my adventures with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I can’t recommend it highly enough to those enjoy expansive RPG experiences.

Have a nice week, all!


Origins of the Order

They’re out for blood.

Specifically the blood of the Tainted Ones, of which the storied Eagle Bearer, Kassandra, is one. It really wouldn’t be the same if she wasn’t. How else would she find herself embroiled in the nefarious scheming of a secretive organisation? Besides accidentally assassinating one of them in a cave somewhere in Messenia. Not that they noticed nor (seemingly) cared about that. Legacy of the First Blade is an exhilarating post-release DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which tasks Kassandra with uncovering the true reason behind the Order of the Ancients’ sudden appearance in Greece.

Sadly, it has nothing to do with the lovely weather.

Content is delivered (and experienced) in an episodic format and took roughly twelve hours to complete. Unlike the main campaign, there are less reasons to diverge from the story, while most quests are fairly linear, and hunting down the Order of the Ancients’ operatives is greatly simplified.

There are only a handful to discover in each region compared to the impressive numbers in the Cult of Kosmos, with most being discovered while undertaking quests. Others can be discovered by exploring and/or searching for clues. However, unlike the Cult of Kosmos, where defeating cultists resulted in a Sage being revealed, there are no such requirements with the Order of the Ancients. Magi are revealed at the conclusion of an episode. But that’s not to suggest that you shouldn’t mercilessly hunt their operatives, as doing so often results in the acquisition of legendary equipment. The perks on which can be utilised (albeit at a lesser potency) via engraving, or invested in through the Mastery mechanics, affording the opportunity to make use of their unique benefits regardless of existing equipment choices.

It’s always the ones we love we hurt the most.

Despite the obvious flaw with legendary equipment, which is that it has only two inherent bonuses, while epic equipment has three, it’s still surprisingly useful and definitely worth pursuing. Due to the equipment customisation mechanics, you can effortlessly combine the unique benefits of countless pieces of legendary equipment into one heavily augmented set. Having legendary equipment perks that affect mechanics (rather than just abilities) certainly helps, too. Allowing you to build the character that best suits you, rather than the one that best suits your equipment choices.

It’s a simple concept but one often absent from modern RPGs.

Following the completion of Legacy of the First Blade it was finally time to begin my journey through The Lost Tales of Greece. I won’t be attempting to complete them all before The Fate of Atlantis, though. As I’d previously decided to distribute them between the two major post-release DLCs.

Doing so will balance the remaining content, while allowing me to do everything there is to do without it becoming stagnant. Which doesn’t mean that I haven’t been enjoying The Lost Tales of Greece. It’s just that there are dozen of quests to undertake across numerous regions, and I don’t want to rush through them to reach Atlantis. I’ve been looking forward to exploring that sunken city since I first discovered it. I’m just so curious about what exists there. Being an entirely separate map makes it difficult to guess which locations other than Atlantis (if any) that you’ll be able to explore, and whether there will be more mythical beasts to defeat. I’m hoping that there will be. I’d also be appreciative of new legendary equipment. Not that I’m likely to equip it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hoard it to sate my irrational hoarding tendencies.

Have a nice week, all!


Haunted by the Ghost

One who seeks to destabilise the entire world.

Kassandra only seeks to destabilise the political leadership of a region for fortune and glory, which means that she has the moral high ground. She also doesn’t abduct and indoctrinate children into a twisted cult. She tends to solve more problems than she creates, too. Even if the events surrounding Supideo’s parents suggest otherwise. But that was mostly his fault. Mostly. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a delightfully engaging narrative-driven RPG in which you explore the breathtaking scenery of ancient Greece through a vast ever-evolving open world, while sometimes following the main campaign.

The title isn’t an exaggeration, either- it’s a literal odyssey.

In my folly I had believed that after exploring countless regions, upgrading the Adrestia to legendary status, hiring legendary lieutenants, conquering mythical beasts, defeating hundreds of mercenaries, and dismantling the Cult of Kosmos that the content (and mechanics) would be exhausted.

But there were new mechanics and content aplenty. Besides Legacy of the First Blade and The Fate of Atlantis, two sizeable post-release DLCs, there are also the Lost Tales of Greece, and Mastery mechanics which became available after reaching Lvl 50. Not to mention the fabled Forge of Hephaistos, which I’ve yet to significantly invest in but probably should. I’m also reasonably certain that there’s another cult waiting to be discovered. I knew that it was going to be incredibly content-dense, but I hadn’t anticipated that the density would grow exponentially as the main campaign unfolded. It’s certainly a one-of-a-kind experience. Exhibiting an unparalleled attention to detail which manifests as an absurdly enrapturing single player RPG, strengthening my positive opinion of the Assassin’s Creed series as a whole.

We’re still not sure who calls her that besides Barnabas.

My only criticism is how monotonous the mercenaries become. They’re not necessarily difficult to defeat, especially once you’ve invested heavily in your chosen combat style, and they’re not particularly interesting, but they’re everywhere. You could defeat hundreds (as I have) and there will always be more. I’d hoped that they would be as significant as the Phylakitai from Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but instead they’re little more than a nuisance. Lacklustre at best and frustrating at worst. The rewards for defeating them are worth pursuing, though. I just wish that they were better implemented.

Thankfully, it doesn’t detract from the experience.

But it doesn’t really add to it, either. It’s just there. Much like the abundance of quest items that I’ve yet to find a use for. I’m assuming that the majority will be required for the Lost Tales of Greece, as I’m rapidly running out of quests to complete and yet the items remain in my inventory.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is such a complex experience that it seems insurmountable at times, which is brilliant, but it can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t prepared. Not in the slightest. I was hoping that my time with Assassin’s Creed: Origins would afford enough insight, but Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the gift that keeps on giving. Incredibly satisfying combat mechanics, meaningful character progression, impressive equipment customisation mechanics, challenging boss encounters, and much more. Due to its ridiculous content density, I’ve decided to write about Legacy of the First Blade and The Fate of Atlantis in separate posts. I’ll be covering The Lost Tales of Greece in those, too. Regardless, I highly recommend Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey to those who enjoy complex RPG experiences.

Have a nice week, all!


Amorphous Experiences

Exploration is at the heart of every great adventure.

Whether you’re exploring the irradiated ruins of post-apocalyptic societies, the vast expanse of space, or the vibrancy of ancient Greece there’s always something new to see or do. I seem to be drawn to these experiences nowadays. I don’t really know why, though. Whether it was a conscious decision wrought from previous experience, such as the hours spent scavenging the desolate landscape of the Capital Wasteland, or whether it was the various MMORPGs that encouraged me, is hard to say. But it’s been an interesting transition from the countless JRPGs of my formative years.

Not that I’ve abandoned JRPGs entirely.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom were both excellent JRPGs. I’ve just decided to invest hundreds of hours into the most recent releases of the Assassin’s Creed series, too. Mostly because of those pesky question marks. Oh, how they haunt me.

Prior to Assassin’s Creed: Origins I’d never experienced anything from the Assassin’s Creed series. While that entry (and those that follow it) are considered the black sheep of the Assassin’s Creed family, I found myself wholly absorbed by the sheer breadth of content available. It’s an incredibly competent RPG with an enthralling main campaign story. I feel the same way about Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, too. Not that I’m anywhere near finishing its main campaign. It’s like a towering chocolate gateaux, where each layer of sponge is a new task to complete and each chocolate curl playfully dusted atop its peaks is a new mechanic. While it may be incredibly alluring- and undoubtedly satisfying- it is best consumed in smaller portions. It would be unwise to attempt to eat a chocolate gateaux of such magnitude in one sitting.

Some doors are better left closed.

Not that I’m complaining. I couldn’t be happier with these purchases, not only have they exceeded every prior expectation but they exhibit complexity often woefully absent from modern RPGs. Divinity: Original Sin has similar immensity, as does its sequel, Divinity: Original Sin 2, both featuring noteworthy character development mechanics. I’d always considered statistical development to be the staple of any RPG but I’ve found many RPGs to be sorely lacking. Offering no attributes (or abilities) to invest in, or affording insignificant progression for doing so.

Which is why the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has inspired me.

The original release, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, is an outstanding RPG, and one that I’d like to revisit. Naturally, the remaster would (arguably) be the best way to do this. But I’ve still got a handful of achievements to unlock in the original release, and I’d like to attempt to unlock those first.

As a result, I’ll (eventually) have two character builds. I’m considering a Finesse/Sorcery hybrid build for the original release, while I’ll probably settle on a Might build for the remaster. I’ve not actually done one of those before. I’ve built a Might/Sorcery hybrid before but never solely Might. I’ll be focusing on various quests in the original release, as many of the achievements I’ve yet to unlock are related to certain quest lines. While I’m greatly interested in the post-release DLC, Fatesworn, in the remaster, as that promises new content. I’ve been intending to revisit Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for some time, but much like Dark Souls or Fallout 3, which I’d also like to revisit, I’ve not set aside the time to do it. I’m always busy with something else. But I’m going to try to make time for these (and my creative pursuits) in the future.

Have a nice week, all!