Valheim Boss Report: Moder

After hitting full sets of silver, me and the better half decided it was time to visit the mother of dragons. Or at least I thought I had a full set, only later did I realize my pants were still of the iron persuasion. Nevermind all that, Moder is not a particularly physical fight in Valheim so it doesn’t matter much if you’re in silver or not!

I’ll preface this entry by stating my mild disappointment with the Moder fight which is a bit sad for a dragon fan. It felt anticlimactic, the worst being the preparations preceding it. We took maybe 2.5 hours from start to finish, with the final 10 minutes on the actual boss kill. The journey there was tedious and clearing the area wasn’t fun. At all.

Prepwork Shlepwork

The boss prep in Valheim is always the same: once you have a marker, you max out the current level of gear and ready recommended weapons and potions. For Moder that means stronger arrows than usual, or if we were to believe internet guides, LOTS and LOTS of obsidian and poison arrows!! One person went as far as saying they required 800 arrows on the fight which, if true, is testimony to their failure as an archer. Bonemass was already a lot easier than many reports claimed and well, Moder is another three steps down from there.

Anyway, we figured the boss being airborne, arrows made sense. We also brought a couple of medium healing meads along in case dragon guano hit the fan. Then our never-ending sea voyage began…It must have been over an hour until we finally landed on shore and built our small base at the foot of the mountain. It’s obviously random where the bosses are located, Moder was far off to the east for us with no previously discovered route.

Moder location

Base, beds and portal built, we slept over night and started our climb in the morning. We settled on carrying a dragon egg each, relying on finding a third one on our way up. This at least went smoothly with a dragon nest sitting right beside Moder’s summoning circle, as if to say “in case you forgot one!”. That’s when we started to clear a large perimeter around the boss, as you usually do.

Naturally the area was a golem-infested suck fest. Two of them appeared right away, another one following soon after with blue drakes bombarding us (and them) from above. The flying pests fell quickly to obsidian arrows, the golems however I still deeply detest! Pick-axing them around uneven terrain is annoying as hell, so we took quite some time killing everything off to be on the safe side. That’s when a fourth golem spawned, at which point the weather had turned so abominably there was no way we would summon Moder into that dark blizzard.

Valheim blizzard

Waiting out the weather, night settled in. I started getting a bit cranky as I was already running out of food and our 24-minute rested buff (which we had gotten through the portal just before journeying up) was gone too. Might as well build another make-shift hut with a fireplace now that we were already stuck. Another 10 minutes or so later, which felt more like 30 minutes, we finally got to summon the boss.

Defeating Moder

The dragon appeared with a bang, looking much cuddlier than I expected. In fact I was reminded of the Dragonheart movie where Draco is too goofy to be taken seriously. Moder doesn’t look very ferocious but she has a large health pool and bad breath. We dodged her aerial attacks easily, shooting arrows and awaiting the landing phase. The fight has no particular rush to it – Moder flies, Moder lands, and if you just stay at max range nothing will hit you at all.

Valheim Moder fight

Naturally we did get too close a couple of times, kiting the dragon for a bit while also trying to get a couple of sword strikes in. Same as in the previous bossfight, Moder takes a lot more damage from the right melee weapons but it’s also the riskier tactic. It took us maybe 10 minutes and 200 arrows altogether to kill her.

She drops a very nice trophy, the nicest thus far, so I’m thinking of going back sometime for another one. The dragon tear unlocks the next tier of crafting stations, tuned towards the Plains biome. Best of all, Moder’s buff is the seafarer’s boon, so my thalassophile partner was very happy to unlock that one.

Valheim Moder trophy

I have mixed feelings about Valheim’s fourth boss. I think the unexpectedly long and tedious prologue soured me to the experience. That is the other side of the coin of randomness: sometimes everything clicks and feels smooth and epic, sometimes not so much. I’m okay with that as it’s the price you pay for more unique gaming experiences.

I don’t want to put Moder down too much, either – it’s not a bad fight. It probably echoes my overall mountain impressions which leave room for improvement. I do want to give the dev team props for making each boss fight feel truly unique in Valheim at least. There’s been no repetitions or stupid lazy fights the way you have them in other MMOs where it barely registers that you just killed a special opponent. And again, that dragon trophy is damn fine!

Now I look forward to reading how fellow Valheim adventurers Wilhelm and Bhagpuss were faring on this one, it must be any minute now!

Valheim Mountain Report

Valheim’s mountains are probably the best realization of the theme I have ever seen in a game, period. I live next to some of the most famous mountains on earth, so I think I should know. The entire biome IS basically one big climb between different levels of high altitude with peaks in between. The terrain is often treacherous and descent can be tricky. Some parts are so steep you literally feel like a mountain climber, hopping from ledge to ledge with stamina breaks in between. Then there’s the weather, the fantastic snow storms and high fog that blind you. And the beautiful light around the campfire at night.

Valheim mountain side

The mountains are deadly at first until you get that wolf cape sorted and don’t have to rely on frost resistance potions. The golems hit very hard and the fenrings make your blood freeze when first you face them. But everything gets much easier once you’ve tracked down that elusive silver for better gear.

Valheim mountain snow

Silver is very hard and heavy to transport which was annoying until we figured out this neat trick: pack your bags as full as you can and just relog to another seed where your character has logged out in a safe hub standing besides a couple of chests. Unload there and return to raiding the mountain. Rinse and repeat. Once you feel you’ve collected enough resources, get home to your main base where your storage and smelter stand. Do the relog game one more time and transfer the silver from chest to chest. May feel a little cheaty but not really. Traveling between worlds is an intentional Valheim feature.

Valheim mountain campfire

If I have one complaint it’s that the mountains, unlike the previous biomes, don’t really feel like a full zone. Going there feels like a trip with the primary purpose of finding silver. Maybe it’s the whole climbing aspect and the lack of crypt-like content that shortens the experience somewhat. That’s not to say that the design and atmosphere aren’t great but there’s not much else to explore after you find Moder’s marker which is the stage we’re at now. I’ve not read much about Valheim’s fourth boss but I look forward to a fun dragon fight!

Fishing in Valheim

Fishing is Valheim is rather fun. I am not usually a piscator in MMOs but basking in the morning sun at the shore of our home base is one of the most pleasant, relaxing things to do in the game. The large fishing pole looks great and feels like a proper mechanical tool rather than the cosmetic item it often is in other games. Fishing is also easy and cooked fish makes for solid health and stamina food early in the game. I hear you can make fish wraps later on too but our progress is nowhere near farming barley just yet.

Valheim fishing

How to catch a lot of fish

Once I learned that fishing was a) all about stamina and b) about catching physically visible fish in Valheim, my hauls have improved in efficiency. I usually pick a spot at the shore that is busy with different fish and cast my pole in the same spot until it’s more or less empty, varying slightly with throwing angles and line distance. Reeling them in is simple as long as you ensure your stamina pool is reasonably high (I fish with a pool of 100-120hp to be on the safe side). I don’t reel in my fish in one go but long-press the right mouse-button several times in a steady rhythm which feels better to me personally.

After getting the basics down, I started upping my fishing game a little. I discovered there’s no need to fully reel in a fish as you can already target and store it with ‘E’ when it’s still 3-4 meters away. This makes the process faster and requires less stamina which can be helpful when you find yourself running short. I’ve never lost a fish, not sure if it’s even a thing or not as long as your stamina holds.

Then there’s of course the 2-star fish which yield 4x meat when you catch them. The large silver tuna are easily spotted in the water and swim much faster than other fish. They also seem to enjoy company, at least I often seem to catch 3-4 in a row which can lead to a stack per 5 minutes easily.

Another thing that happens quite often is the double catch: this seems weird to me but occurs frequently when I catch fish at the shore. The moment I reel in my catch, a second fish starts pursuing it. It will swim halfway up the slope at my feet before I store the hooked fish, so it’s possible to make a double catch by pressing ‘E’ twice in a row (the second time targeting the fish at my feet). Am not sure if these suicidal fish are meant to behave this way but as long as you’re standing close to the water line, you can benefit from crazy fish sacrifice.

Fishing improvements

Right now fishing is a cheap source of food in Valheim once you acquire the fishing rod at the trader and have cleared plenty of crypts for coin. Coin soon becomes abundant, so 10 gold for a stack of 50x bait is fair. What I’d like to see is more applications for fish as in more recipes. Another cool addition would be ocean fishing, with further type of fish added to the game. Checking the roadmap ahead, especially the ‘Hearth and Homes’ as well as ‘Ships and Sea’ announcements, that seems likely to be in the books.

Valheim Boss Report: Bonemass

So yesterday I mentioned we were slowly moving towards Valheim’s third, notorious boss encounter. Bhagpuss has a funny post up about getting ready for Bonemass, including a meticulous list of fool-proof preparations. He does not like enforced boss encounters very much in MMOs. After sharing it with my better half, I had this spontaneous idea of giving the boss a go last night, now that we have some level 2 iron gear and weapons. Am kinda getting tired of the swamp.

I don’t use blunt weapons in Valheim, so crafting frost arrows was a great tip for me. I spent an hour on mats for 200 arrows and went to build a base with a portal next to Bonemass’ location which is on another continent from our base. Turns out the boss was awfully placed too, in the middle of a large pool of water right next to a Plains biome with a goblin town at the border. Doing recon on Bonemass, I had both a Fuling soldier as well as one of their large commanders aggroing on me several times while trying to clear the swamp of other nuisances. Fun times!

Valheim Bonemass

Next, I built the much suggested mini-tower up one of the trees close to Bonemass’ summoning skull. I hadn’t heard anyone mentioning stone or anything fancy, so I went with several ladders leading up to a shooting platform way above the boss. As far as on site prep went, that seemed to be all that’s required. Thus armed with frost arrows and a few poison resistance potions, what could possibly go wrong?

We came, we saw, we yoloed

The pretty platform tower held exactly ten seconds after spawning Bonemass. As the three heroes fell through the bursting tree and ladders, chaos and hilarity ensued. The boss moved up on our friend who died instantly after also taking the fall damage from before. We spread out desperately trying to heal up while shooting arrows, realizing Bonemass had a lot of health and the shared frost arrows weren’t going to be nearly enough. Then the adds came.

When the second party member died, I decided to pull back and reset but resetting wasn’t an option. Bonemass kept pursuing me, never resetting his HP bar or despawning. While kiting, both of my party members managed their corpseruns and rejoined the action – that’s when we knew, we were going to show this sucker!

Bonemass Trophy

Sharing aggro between the three of us and kiting the boss around, the fight quickly became easy. Bonemass isn’t particularly fast and as long as you avoid the puke of doom, you can handle both him and the adds fine while minding your potion ticker. We also learned that the blunt weapons do considerably more damage than frost arrows, so we combined both, slowly wearing the boss down. For a small party of three, this certainly seems to be a feasible tactic.

Bonemass succumbed with a shudder and a moan after approximately 20 minutes. It’s been the greatest fun and laugh we’ve had together in a game in a long time! Mountain biome here we come – be very afraid!

Valheim Progress and Multiplay

Valheim has been pretty much all we’ve been playing in this household for the past two weeks and the home base is coming along nicely. We created a harbor base for all the ships and my personal forest cabin has seen the addition of a proper smithy the moment we discovered stone building. Progressing slowly through the swamp biome now, the game is just becoming better and deeper which I did not expect as much. I am still finding out new things about this world and I love how the developers have snuck in little secrets and surprises that keep coming at us. Just to name a few without giving away too much: Thor, Odin, that turtle!

The progress towards Bonemass has been slow which is how I like it. I’ve only just acquired some iron gear and weapons and the tradeoff towards weight is noticeable. That’s when Haldor’s belt really comes in handy and I’m also frequently wearing the trader’s headlamp which has saved my ass many times at night. Speaking of trader items, fishing has been fun too once I figured out I really needed to go where the fish are visibly plentiful because you only catch what’s physically there. That’s rather cool, I don’ think I’ve ever played an MMO where you actually see the fish you’re catching?

Once Bonemass is down we’ll make our way to the mountains. I really look forward to the snowy biome but I’m reluctant to invite even harder events to our base. Once a new boss is down you get visits of waves from the upper next biome it appears, so our defenses better be ready!

Multiplay lag issues

There have now been up to 5 players simultaneously playing and building on the dedicated server we use. The lag has increased considerably ever since the fourth person built a mini base and it’s worst when everyone is online at once. There are times when you cannot even open doors and gates and the birds are immobilized figurines in the sky. The lag spikes even happen when we’re far apart venturing on the world map somewhere, so we’ve looked into solutions which don’t yet exist. The game isn’t optimized yet, it’s early access after all.

As a consequence, we’re keeping things small from now on and going easy on the decoration and light sources especially. It’s tempting to have torches and campfires everywhere for atmosphere but it seriously impinges on server performance. I’ve seen many reddit threads complaining about lag in multiplayer so we just have to wait it out for now, I guess.

Following the updates of the official Valheim twitter account, it also appears that we will have to re-start on a fresh server for future biome additions (while keeping your current world with less biomes). So there might be a time when we’re rebuilding from scratch anyway which will be an opportunity to plan and spread out things a bit better. First time bases are always fun but much improvement is made the second and third time, or so it has been in similar games for me before. Having a lot of fun with Valheim and the building tools right now, I don’t see this becoming an issue any time soon.

Valheim is good

Valheim by unknown Swedish developer Iron Gate Studio has landed on the ‘open world sandbox builder’ scene with a bang and while it’s still in early access, more and more MMO bloggers have started writing about the title. I had no intention on getting this game – first and foremost because it’s early access and I’ve been burnt by titles like ARK and many of its kind before. Sandbox builders / survival / crafting games are a generic dime a dozen and I’ve completely shut off to new releases appearing on my Steam queue. So when bloggers like Bhagpuss began posting more and more reviews with some praise recently, I stayed skeptical despite knowing myself to be closely aligned with Bhag’s idea of exploration greatness.

Then there were also the absolutely hideous character models and character animations, which I couldn’t stand watching Valheim footage. Your character’s walking and running animation is the single most important animation in the entire game; there is nothing you watch more than this one. Uhhh.

So, why would I possibly end up playing Valheim, anyway? Well, for one I was gifted the title because I kept refusing to buy it (the peer pressure was great with this one). From there, it didn’t take long however for me to enjoy myself to the point of clocking in at 35 hours of playtime and looking forward to seeing a lot more. I obviously owe it to the game now to leave my much improved impressions, so here we go!

Valheim second impressions

To get straight to the point: Valheim’s world is gorgeous. I’m not talking about highend resolution here, in fact the game takes only 1GB of disk space and is doing some masterful trickery with low res textures under shrubbery, the way WoW has been doing for some years. Where Valheim excels is how everything works together in harmony, the color changes of the light, the dramatic weather changes, the impressive water effects, the immersive sounds. In short, it’s the overall atmosphere and design of the world that is beautiful. The transition of weather and the day-night cycle are probably the best I have seen to date in comparable games while never putting a strain on my average PC setup. When there is a wall of fog coming up in Valheim, it’s actually FOG and navigating becomes hard and scary (especially at night on sea).

The world map is huge and procedurally generated like in Minecraft but there’s ways to pick particular seeds if you’re looking for that sort of optimization. There is also the handy fact that in Valheim, your character is not world-bound; this means you can always go visit another seed or find resources there and then carry them back to your home world. This is just one of the many things this developer is doing right. Playing together, my partner and I kept commenting on how this studio is clearly made up of actual gamers; many mechanics and details are just done right here that tend to be grating in big money titles. That’s not to say that Valheim doesn’t require further polish, it does – but much of the important ground work is done and bugs are absolutely minor.

Valheim’s exploration is very rewarding. I am obviously biased because I am an explorer at heart and can spend hours just walking through beautiful forest scenery and watch the sunlight change through the trees. If that is your thing, look no further than Valheim! Still, exploration has much more to offer already at this early stage of the game. Quite often you will find abandoned farms or small enemy footholds which can hold particular crafting materials and can be marked down on your map. Many small dungeons and caves can be found from the second biome onward. There’s a few rarer, stronger enemies too as well as a questline that leads to named bosses in linear progression. Fairly early into the game, you can sail a boat anywhere you like, ever so slowly on that vast world map. Fair warning though: stuff is going to kill you dead fast!

Generally, there is a slower pace in Valheim that feels just right. Progressing to the challenges of the second biome (where I am still at) takes time, wandering off where you should not is punishing. The boat takes ages to get anywhere which makes it all the more rewarding when you find a place of interest. Upgrading your gear isn’t quick and some gathering resources, such as certain minerals or portal components, are rare and do not respawn. At the same time, the game handles sustenance in a manner that isn’t overwhelming: plain food is easily gathered and needs to be mixed up for best effect.

Crafting is of course its own chapter in Valheim. Learning new recipes happens by discovering new materials. Generally, everything is learning by doing in this game which goes for all your skills. Progressing the crafting stations with various cosmetic enhancements is rather fun and despite the limited set of building tools and components right now, players are already creating the most amazing Viking structures and forts. Trophy hunting is another great thing that goes with the theme and adorns many a cabin or mead hall. Since this topic is always big with players, the next Hearth and Homes update is already set to deal with home improvements. I would love to see livestock added to the game too, such as chicken, sheep or pigs. Right now, my chicken pen looks rather sad and lonely!

That leaves the topic of combat, as far as beginner reviews go. Even in this department, I have no complaints for now. So many early access games fail in this regard but Valheim’s combat feels good and varied, with noticeable differences between weapons and a distinct learning curve for each (bows for example depend on factors like wind, direction etc.). What I appreciate especially is enemy AI which can be very clever with types of mobs engaging in different ways. Packs of strafing Greydwarves attacking you from all sides can be a pest and wild boars charging and then chasing off again is challenging when you’re trying to skill up archery. Hilarious moments are guaranteed.

And that’s it for now, my Valheim early access review! I will definitely keep playing and look forward to additional content and progressing to the next two biomes that are currently in the game. Iron Gate Studio have started off really well, fingers crossed their quick and early success will not prove overwhelming and detrimental in the longer run.

Screenshot Longings

One of the safest ways to make me miss an MMORPG and make me want to jump back in, is when I see beautiful screenshots by active players. I love taking screenshots myself and browsing through old albums makes me feel very much like looking back on events that have happened in real life. I think that’s when games are at their most powerful: when you live the in-game experience and are fully immersed in the environment. The same is true when you get fully engaged in guilds and other social groups of course, although the single-player experience still has a lot to offer in MMOs that allow you to go solo.

Coming across a new twitter account by fledgling LOTRO player Burcwyn, I was reminded of the power of screenshots this weekend. Burcwyn has a great eye for capturing atmosphere and story, and LOTRO remaining my favorite MMO that I’m not playing, his screenshots sent a pang of nostalgia for Middle Earth through my system. I have written before on the magic of this particular game so it’s wonderful watching new players discover it for the first time. I hope he keeps up his Flickr gallery in the coming weeks and months!

LOTRO peace

While I’m still playing FFXIV and am woefully behind my own screenshot documentation there, I have been thinking of returning to LOTRO myself lately. It so happens that I was even gifted a co-workers lifetime account a year ago but have never found the willpower to start over with a new character on there. It was bad enough leveling my Loremaster past Moria the first time, I really don’t think I can start from scratch. The much bigger issue I have however is that nobody I know is really playing LOTRO regularly anymore.

The game is so many expansions ahead of me that it’s really overwhelming and I’ve never warmed to the slow, static combat. The only thing that would get me to play again would be a steady, committed group of another 2-3 like-minded players which can keep the same playtimes as me and remain serious about it. Which is essentially why I’m not playing LOTRO and never will be playing it for more than a split-second maybe, which I would likely spend in the Prancing Pony playing my lute.

PPI peace

It is what it is. Nobody I know of keeps up regular MMORPG commitments anymore, let alone appointment gaming. Some groups start off with enthusiasm and dwindle away within a fortnight. They fall apart because of playstyle differences and different advancement speeds, or whenever another title happens to release an expansion that needs to be played desperately. MMORPGs are at best a regular vacation resort for those of us who still love them. We return every now and then but it’s rare that somebody we used to meet is vacationing there at the same time.

Alas, the screenshots and memories persist. Middle Earth remains beautiful and whoever gets to dip into its magic for the very first time is in for a treat. Enjoy it while it lasts, I say.

FFXIV Endwalker Reveal

There was a lot of hype regarding a big reveal for FFXIV this week and some 10 hours ago Square-Enix finally answered the community’s most pressing questions:

  • Yes, there’s going to be a new expansion and it’s called Endwalker
  • The approximate release date is Fall 2021
  • The story will be taking the Warrior of Light to the Moon and Garlemald
  • Yes, they’re finally adding a fourth healer to the game: the Sage
  • Another new class will be melee dps (to be revealed in May)
  • Level cap will be raised to 90

While the teaser trailer didn’t particularly blow me away, the over two hours long announcement showcase covered a lot of ground as to what to expect for Endwalker. As final as the title of the next expansion sounds, Yoshi-P was quick to point out that it marks both a ‘New Dawn’ while simultaneously ending the long story arch of Hydaelyn and Zodiark in 6.0. He was also very clear that he had no intentions personally to go anywhere and was going to remain at FFXIV’s steering wheel for the foreseeable future. Good news.

Thavnair Zone

As for the Garlemald Empire, nothing concrete was revealed other than that it will be part of the Endwalker storyline. A final showdown between Zenos and the Warrior of Light was hinted at while Yoshi-P mentioned it was all going to get complicated (again). Considering how great an expansion Shadowbringers has been, I really look forward to finding out where the story is going!

The design approach, or ‘cultural flair’ if you will, of some of the Endwalker zones scream sub-tropical (some commenters have said latin American) and are very colorful. I’m not much into the whole Dancer class vibe so I’m steeling myself for another experience à la Stormblood rather than Heavensward. Us high fantasy, renfair dragonslayer types can’t always win.

Thoughts about Sage

So the fourth healer class in FFXIV is going to be Sage which came as a surprise to me personally. Yoshi-P has pointed out many times in the past how difficult it is to balance the healing meta in FFXIV while keeping the gameplay fresh and different for each class. Playing a WHM myself when I’m not melting faces, I prefer the pure and powerful healer type (why play anything weaker than the best healer?). For this reason I’ve never been much into SCH or AST.

The Sage has been introduced as another ‘varied healer’ in the showcase which means a mixture of healing, mitigation and dps. What I’ve seen of the play style so far with the 4 Noulith weapons performing different actions, it’s not gonna be my cup of coffee.

Sage FFXIV

Maybe the most exciting reveal about Sage for me personally is the fact they will be revamping AST to become the second pure healer next to WHM in Endwalker. SCH and Sage will occupy the varied healer role and thus become more distinct from the other two, registering differently in the duty finder as well. AST has always had fabulous class design so maybe I’ll be able to enjoy it more after the changes.

No words as of yet on glamour overhaul

One area the announcement showcase sadly didn’t touch upon was the glamour system and glamour inventory issue. While the system has been improved over the years, it is still leaps and bounds behind many other MMORPGs, forcing players to deal with physical items (and physical single-use dyes) that occupy a fairly restrictive inventory space. Considering FFXIV has the one-character-for-all-classes approach, keeps adding 2-3 classes per expansion and is piling on gear sets like no other game does, this is an increasingly pressing and frustrating matter for FFXIV players.

Gear is the true endgame and we all know it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see great changes in this department for Endwalker. Keep your varied healers, gief more shinies space!

Games I’ve Played: Cloudpunk

Cloudpunk is a more recent title that I acquired on Steam and that got some glowing reviews for its retro design and cyberpunk world building. Not similar in any other way to Cyberpunk 2077, it’s basically a chill Fedex game where you’re delivering parcels of more or less dubious origin across the city of Nivalis. Every now and then you get to make a choice none of which ever feel particularly meaningful.

I really enjoyed exploring in Cloudpunk for the first two or so hours. The vertical city is superbly made and oozes cyberpunk atmosphere in a dark yet glam way which reminded me of a darker version of the 5th Element. Exploring the different maps is interesting at first and gets better once your HOVA vehicle is somewhat upgraded for smoother navigation. The HOVA is capable of landing on different parking hubs from which you get to continue on foot in either 1st or 3rd person. Besides the fetch and delivery quests, there’s a ton of talking to NPCs and looting involved too. Every now and then a side quest is triggered but they seem rare and mostly repetitive. Nothing really stands out in a good way.

Putting another 4 hours into the game, things started to go downhill fast. You keep delivering parcels to different city blocks and listening to the often unnatural or inconsequential dialogues that are peppered across the city. At some point you unlock a companion AI that insists on presenting and acting like a dog who is an old friend of your character Rania. He is called Camus which is almost insulting considering what a dull character he turns out to be. The dialogue and jokes between them are horribly written at times and the twist of an AI acting like a pet isn’t nearly half as clever as it sounds. The fact that Rania’s voice acting is fairly bad too doesn’t improve matters. There’s an underlying background story to her character that gets unfolded ever so slowly and made me care exactly zero about her for this reason.

After almost 8 hours of monotonous delivery quests, the final nail in the coffin were dialogues between Rania and various NPCs which insisted on randomly introducing politics. There’s a quest in which you escort a male prostitute android to his next client. The game makes clear to point out that androids are lesser citizens and property of the real humans despite their sentient capacity. On the road, the android insists on educating you that he has chosen to become somebody’s sex property out of his own free will and that sex work is work, as you go through a series of cringey dialogue choices which feel like the game is trying to trap you on some non-existent bias.

Another random quest has Rania talking to a singer/songwriter who really likes the style of a family heirloom (a flower) she’s carrying. When he proposes to purchase it off her, she starts lecturing him about cultural appropriation and then scams him out of a bit of cash, selling him a fake version of the heirloom.

Why these topics needed to be awkwardly thrown into random side-quests in a game that otherwise has no narrative ambition beats me. They felt disconnected and poorly executed like so many things in Cloudpunk once you take the time to dig a little deeper. It’s a crying shame because from the outset, the game had the potential to become a 10/10 indie title thanks to the immersive city and atmosphere. The synthwave soundtrack is pretty good too, although you end up listening to the same tame themes for most of it.

There’s much that could’ve been done with the gameplay, had there been any stakes to it and an existing, engaging story. Alas, it’s repetitive gameplay, poor writing and unlikable characters that bring the game down so much I decided to quit. Cloudpunk is boring and that is really one of the worst verdicts I could give a game such as this!

Games for 2021

I haven’t played many different games in 2020 despite having been under soft lockdown for most of it. My three games of 2020 were probably Spiritfarer, A Short Hike and FFXIV, the latter still being my go-to MMORPG. I’ve had a good time with FFXIV last year for about three months but then my motivation plunged again as I hit the classic endgame token-gear grind. It is always the same with that game. But yes, it DOES still have lots of shiny armor!

I don’t know why 2020 proved to be rather uneventful for me gaming wise but 2021 is shaping up to be a better year if some previews (and release dates…) can be believed. I came across this Youtube compilation for the Top 20 Open World Games in 2021 in December and was actually surprised to find myself excited for quite a few of them, namely (in order of appearance):

  • Towers
  • Little Devil Inside
  • Fable 4 (highly doubt that it’s 2021)
  • Everwild

Another title that I am absolutely waiting for is Crimson Desert. I adored Black Desert’s world building and graphics, so a single-player experience would be very welcome. There are still rumors that the game might feature co-op play too which would be awesome and way better than trying to make it another MMORPG. I mean, just look at it – it’s glorious!

I was also very happy to learn about a new upcoming Fable last year. I never fully got over the discontinuation of Fable Legends, so it’s exciting that Microsoft agreed to give an open world title a chance. That said, I have my reservations about Playground Games pulling it off, given the only games they’ve worked on before were the Forza series. Speaking of games without certain release dates, what on earth happened to Hollow Knight: Silksong and Hytale? Both of these were supposed to get a releases or at least release dates long time ago yet seem to have fallen into obscurity.

As far as new MMORPGs go, I have not the faintest idea what to look forward to in 2021. I’m not even sure there will be any that deserve the title MMORPG, most lineups I’ve checked just seem to talk about survival or pvp-centric multi-player online games. I guess, I’ll just have to wait and see!