First Impurressions of… Cat Quest II

Tales of a mewsical mewgician.

Who tours the flourishing fields of Felingard strumming their lute, opening gravitational rifts, and summoning lasers from space. Who traded the majority of their health for ranged magical damage, and who now relies on their trusty canine companion to deal physical damage while they frantically skirt around enemies. Cat Quest II is the wonderfully fun and mechanically diverse sequel to Cat Quest, which purrfectly illustrates how cats and dogs can coexist peacefully. Or could if they weren’t embroiled in a meaningless war being fought to prove the superiority of their species.

Magic has been greatly expanded in the sequel, too.

Which affords greater build pawsibilities, but equipping a magical weapon, such as the Bard Lute, drastically reduces your maximum health. So you’ll be trading survivability for heightened damage potential. However, there are a few weapons, such as the Stormbringer, that allow you to have both.

Due to the co-operative mechanics present in the sequel it’s pawsible to build towards both magical and physical damage, as you can easily switch to your canine (or feline) companion to defeat foes unaffected by either damage type. Of which there are quite a few. The individual damage types matter, too. As some enemies are entirely resistant to fire or arcane damage, but are susceptible to ice damage. Which encourages you to keep multiple magical weapons upgraded. While most magical armour will increase a certain damage type by 15% per piece, allowing you to deal 45% more damage if using the appropriate magical weapon as well. But you can also combine different sets for their statistical bonuses. Such as the Bard set which increases mana regeneration, or the Gentle set which reduces the mana cost of spells.

Those who set paw in this tomb will become terriers.

Until I reached Lvl 100 I always had my companion wearing the Dog Soldier set, which is interchangeable with the Cat Soldier set, depending on whether you favour health or armour, and increases experience gained from defeating enemies by 20% per piece. It feels as though equipment has been significantly rebalanced in the sequel, making it harder to choose between raw statistical bonuses and pawerful passive effects. Wearing the Arcane Mage Hat would’ve afforded higher arcane damage, but the Skeleton King Crown granted additional armour and increased survivability.

Which I was in dire need of when using a magical weapon.

Upgrading equipment has been simplified, too. Rather than opening chests and randomly acquiring upgrades, as you would in Cat Quest, you now visit Kit Cat (for armour) or Hotto Doggo (for weapons) to upgrade specific equipment, which costs slightly more but has a guaranteed result.

Cat Quest II is an incredibly impurressive sequel that revisits previously established mechanics and implements more intuitive iterations of them. Everything from equipment choices to enemy variety has more depth and feels more complex, which results in a greatly satisfying experience that’s delightfully fun. It’s also littered with just as many (if not more) cat puns. As is this post. With the release of the Mew World update the experience is at its best, with Mew Game being reintroduced alongside the Meowdifiers which make revisiting the campaign even more fun than it would be otherwise. Or more challenging. Depending on which approach you decide to take. I would highly recommend Cat Quest II to those looking for a light-hearted, enjoyable, feline-themed ARPG experience. Especially if you love cats as much as I do.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Personal Demons

William Carter has them.

He also has the ability to lift aliens into the air and control their minds, which no-one ever finds surprising or suspicious. It’s a perfectly normal ability for someone to have. If only the other agents weren’t slaves to their nicotine cravings, they might be able to make slaves of the Outsiders. But instead they’re only known for their ability to run aimlessly into danger. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is an incredibly interesting and perfectly executed third-person strategy experience, which features exhilarating fast-paced strategic combat and diverse agent classes with unique talents.

I’m particularly fond of Engineers.

Good situational awareness is vital in real time combat, and being able to build turrets or lay mines restricts how freely the opposition can move around. They can also flush enemies out of cover. Which renders aliens that entrench in fortified positions vulnerable, and allows you to eradicate them.

Agents are fully customisable (or can be created to your specifications) but you can only have two of each class. This isn’t a significant restriction, unless your agents are dying in the field with frightening regularity. Not that it costs anything to recruit a new agent should a space become available. However, there are limited opportunities to gain experience, as a finite number of Dispatch Missions and Minor Operations exist, so you can’t endlessly grind to advance rookie agents. I’d advise filling out your roster immediately, and assigning every agent that isn’t on active duty to any available Dispatch Missions. Taking less experienced agents on Minor Operations is viable, but more dangerous as you’re required to participate in those. Experienced agents can also be acquired when completing certain objectives or missions.

Not when they take a surprisingly long time to bleed out.

These missions often appear as a result of completing various investigations between Minor or Major Operations, which makes exploration integral to your continued success. Schematics and alien technology can be found by searching the battlefield. While interacting with your fellow agents often tasks you with everything from deciphering radio transmissions to fixing fuel leaks. You won’t be researching or fabricating new equipment, though. Nor will you be recovering alien corpses for autopsies. Which means that you’ll usually have more to do in the field than when returning to base.

As a result, main campaign progression becomes more fluid.

The only drawback to acquiring new technology sporadically is ammunition. You won’t always be able to acquire enough in the field, which makes utilising some weapons difficult, and often means you’ll run out of ammunition, which was also a prevalent issue with the Hangar 6 R & D DLC content.

Which does make some encounters more frustrating than they would’ve been- especially when dealing with multiple pods of alien reinforcements- but it’s not noteworthy enough to substantially detract from the experience. You can always rely on the other agents to deal the majority of the damage. Doing so even earns you a rather interesting achievement. Which becomes substantially easier once you’ve learned Mind Control, as you won’t directly be dealing damage but the controlled alien will. Not that their damage output is anywhere close to yours. I regret taking six years to return to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified as it’s been an wonderfully engaging experience, and one that I highly recommend if you enjoy action-orientated real time strategic combat. It really is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Imaginary Aliens

None of these aliens are real.

Except the ones that are real which you think are hallucinations but aren’t. It’s all very confusing. But then nothing about recreating memories to invoke the ire of an alien voice isn’t confusing, especially when you try to explain how hallucinations inflicted horrific flesh wounds against living agents. That’s the last time we’re going to believe that someone injected mysterious gas into a hangar for science. Hangar 6 R & D is the post-release DLC for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, that serves as a prequel to the events of the main campaign and explains how the invasion began.

Ideally it should be experienced before the main campaign.

However, be forewarned that this approach can be slightly overwhelming, as the DLC expects you to know what you’re doing, and rapidly presents increasingly complex missions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Mutons and Elite Mutons in one pod before. Nor do I want to see that many again.

You won’t start the campaign with freshly recruited agents, though. So they’ll have a few abilities that’ll help in the first few missions. You also seem to rapidly acquire new technology by exploring the laboratory prior to each mission, and extensive caches of alien technology are awarded for completing later missions. It feels ridiculously accelerated much in the same way that the Tactical Legacy Pack from XCOM 2: War of the Chosen does. But it also feels incredibly satisfying and never particularly unfair. Rarely do encounters feel insurmountable but they remain challenging throughout. I just wish that I had some idea of the opposition for each mission, as that would influence my squad composition, as some agents perform better in certain encounters, but it’s a minor issue that doesn’t drastically affect the experience.

Somehow they’ve managed to make Sectopods even deadlier…

I had similar feelings about XCOM: Chimera Squad. Both opted for a handful of individually talented agents instead of dozens of trained soldiers, which works fine but I felt that it would’ve worked better if you had any indication of which talents you’d want per mission. But not knowing means that you’ll need to be prepared for anything. So you’ll need to adapt to situations as they develop, and assess threats as they present themselves. Making the real time combat of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified fast-paced, which requires quick thinking not usually present in turn-based combat.

You’ll be able to catch your breath when issuing orders, though.

Which allows you to recognise the threats you’re facing instead of wildly flailing as everything happens all at once. You’re also able to issue multiple orders to an agent at a time (that seem to activate in sequence), which makes the order of your actions as important as the actions themselves.

I’ve been greatly enjoying the intensity of combat so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how increasingly dangerous opposition affects the prioritisation of targets. When enemies are able to rapidly close the distance between you and them it certainly makes some a higher priority than others. Which is also true with turn-based combat, but they’re usually only able to move on their turn, so you might not consider them a threat because they’re so far away, but with real time combat you need to consider how (and where) they’ll move. It’s definitely an interesting approach to real time combat, and is (in my opinion) preferable to real time with pause combat. Which tends to make combat slow-paced and twitchy, whereas this proves to be fast-paced and fluid while presenting a consistent challenge.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof) (Pt. 2)

A longer process doesn’t necessarily equate to a better one.

There are countless misconceptions and absurd generalisations that you’ll encounter as an artist. One of the most prevalent is that higher quality materials automatically result in a higher quality piece, which should be true if they’re used correctly, but knowing how to use those materials is important, as is knowing what to use them with. Experience is important. Practice is important. Knowing who you are and what you want to do is important. Some artists are better suited to traditional art, while others are better suited to digital art. There are very few absolutes when creating anything.

Every creative process is as unique as the person creating with it.

That’s why creativity can be so evocative. It doesn’t need to conform, it doesn’t need to appeal to everyone, and it doesn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing. It can be anything that you want it to be. However, having that much freedom is exhausting, as you rarely know how best to proceed.

Or if there even is a best way to proceed. As every artist strives to develop in their own way, but that isn’t easy when you’ve nothing to measure yourself against. Besides that which you’ve created before. But influences and inspirations change as you develop as an artist, and experience affords the confidence to attempt things that you wouldn’t have considered before. Community sites and social media can also skew your progression. Useful as they may be to share your work, user responses aren’t always indicative of how well your work is received. Not that external stimuli is exclusive to the internet. Every second of every day it exists, and being wholly immune to it is impossible. It has affected my progression and it will continue to do so.

One of my most promising attempts.

External stimuli was partly responsible for the lack of creative content on Moggie’s Proclamations in recent months. As I didn’t feel like I was making much progress- if any- with new pieces. Not that completely abandoning every semblance of creativity has helped my progression in the slightest. But I wasn’t enjoying creating traditional pieces, while countless hours with digital pieces had begun to feel stale. Which may seem to contradict what I said in the previous post. But I still feel that extending the creation process for traditional pieces will help, so long as it is extended sensibly.

Not extending it to spend hours on pointless minutiae.

This particular work in progress is the Kulu-Ya-Ku featured in Monster Hunter: World. Originally intended to follow on from the terrifying fluffiness of the Paolumu as part of a series of paintings, which would’ve included other gargantuan creatures from the varied locales of the New World.

That’s still the intention should I ever return to this painting or to Monster Hunter: World. But I doubt that either is likely at this point. I’ve always been particularly fond (and proud) of the attention to detail in the flesh-y skin around the eye, and how the short beige hairs seamlessly grow outwards from their beak. The actual eye (and the tongue) could have been refined, though. They’re not as highly detailed as the rest. But this is a work in progress and it’s likely I was going to address those issues later, as I was in the process of detailing the ridiculous plumage protruding from their head at the time. Those wonderfully colourful feathers swaying in the wind. Ironically, this was one of the few paintings at the time to show actual progression.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Monster Hunter: World, Astera, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Anjanath, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Capcom.

First Impressions of… Operencia: The Stolen Sun

An unending darkness veils the land.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun is an ambitious old-fashioned dungeon crawling experience with modern sensibilities. It features numerous innovative approaches to traditional mechanics, notably when brewing potions, as gathering raw materials won’t be necessary, but you will need to discover and decipher the recipe. Potions replenish each time you rest, too. So you won’t need to repeatedly brew potions as you use them. Resting is accomplished via camping and is limited by the amount of firewood that you have, which encourages planning ahead and utilisation of different resources.

Exploration is generally pleasant while the majority of puzzles are logical enough.

However, party management is crucial, and that’s where this experience feels most flawed. Companions can be incredibly helpful or remarkably mundane, with the only capable healer being the last companion to join your party. Building anything but a Mage also feels extraordinarily ineffective.

As there are few companions that can cast magic, and ironically the most capable is the aforementioned healer. But only with lightning damage. There’s an abundance of companions that deal physical damage, though. But there’s only one companion built for ranged weapons, and his skills are limited in effectiveness. Which was one of my only sources of elemental damage while exploring the first few areas, as I’d opted to build a Warrior. As I (obviously) would. That’s not to say that companions aren’t useful. They are, but they can be confusing as sometimes their attribute points reflect completely different proficiencies than their skills suggest. Jóska has ridiculously high Agility, but doesn’t really seem to benefit from it as he has few skills requiring the use of a bow. I’ve honestly found his Stealth tree to be the most useful.

We’ve not once questioned the legitimacy of their claims, and now we’re just going to open an ancient portal?!

I’ve got mixed feelings about Operencia: The Stolen Sun. It’s definitely an interesting and entertaining dungeon crawler when you’re exploring the world, discovering secrets, and revisiting areas. But combat feels so wildly unpredictable, and certain skills, like those that stun enemies or put them to sleep, seem pointless to even invest in as the majority of enemies are immune to them. Which is absurdly annoying when an enemy spawns other enemies, as you’re unable to interrupt that process. So you quickly become outnumbered as they spawn one new enemy with every turn that they take.

It certainly feels like something went awry at some point.

When customising the difficulty I did set the (strangely named) Betyár setting to hard, which affects combat difficulty, but I doubt that has fundamentally changed how combat feels, as the aggressiveness of enemies (and their damage) is not an issue. It’s how unbalanced most encounters seem to be.

I’ve no issue with criticising something that doesn’t seem to be working as intended, but I don’t like to be inherently negative about something. So I hope that this post doesn’t read that way. As I’ve been enjoying the majority of my time with Operencia: The Stolen Sun, and it has the potential to be something truly wonderful. But certain things significantly detract from the experience. Not that it seems that it was always this way, as earlier information suggested that combat was unpredictable but not to this extent. So this could be the result of balancing which could change again in the future. I can’t really fully recommend Operencia: The Stolen Sun, as while it is an engaging RPG experience, it is unfortunately marred with inconsistencies in combat, but I’m hopeful that the developers will address these issues in a future patch.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie