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Tycho / on Wed, Dec 31 2014 at 11:30 am

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The Means Of Production

In real life, it was not I but Kara who demanded that he keep the fires of Mt. Doom stoked.  But I can be much, much meaner than she can in the strip.  Thus was Grabble made to suffer twice.

Except he’s was already suffering, I suppose; I think his suffering may be approaching saturation.  These other torments are just floating around in there.  They cannot find molecular purchase.  He decided to stop taking the Vicodin, if you were wondering.  He said that it was “too extreme,” which called to mind the hallowed arc of the half-pipe, but things can also be extreme in a bad way.  It was so extreme that he would rather feel his esophagus continually shredded than to take the sacrament and enter the Far Lands.

The path from Halo Heretic to admitting the multiplayer was kind of fun to actually kinda digging it was a long one; feel free to dowse the archive.  So when I say something about Halo, I’m at a very specific juncture that may not have visibility to or from your own deal.  After proving themselves honorable stewards of the franchise with Halo 4, something I called “impossible” according to my very specific definition, they delivered the Master Chief Collection in a state which was similar in some ways to not having launched it.  Maybe it’s fine now, I don’t know.  It’s the Holidays.  There isn’t a game shortage.

I had to run the Master Chief Collection again to gain access to the Guardians Beta, and I tried to sort of look away; it reminds me of when I used to go to Taco Bell while my ex-girlfriend was still working the drive-thru.  It’s actually amazing how much of a fight you can have with someone in fifteen seconds.  Or in ten seconds.  Or five.

I probably should not have eaten any of that food.

As I said in the words which formed the first parenthesis of this construct, I am at an odd Halo coordinate.  I’m bad, but not the worst.  I’m not good.  And nowhere in my handle are the letters M, L, or G.  But for somebody around the middle of this thing, the changes in there seem crazy smart.

They haven’t just put everything from modern shooters in there without thinking about it.  Like Titanfall, they want to make something which is itself first.  So yeah, you can “sprint” now, and it’s where you’d expect.  But regenerating your shields is so core to Halo as to be Halo, it’s the polished marble floor of the multiplayer game.  And you don’t regenerate them when you run.  Which is huge.

The left trigger also does what you expect it to in modern games - namely, it makes you look over the sights.  Except there’s a lot of cool design in here depending on the weapon; the helmet is rendering data around the enhanced reticle that reinforces…  well, everything about Spartans.  But it’s not a freebie: if you get hit, you lose it.  Not only do you lose it, it’s disorienting.  It’s not always the best choice.

If you jump and pull left trigger, you get the same reticle thing except you’re also held in midair.  The same jets can kick in for the quick dashes in any direction that are rapidly becoming a shooter norm, and at the moment the energy that enables this dash is on a pretty fast timer so it’s often there when you want it.  It substantially alters the dueling dynamic; you can sprint and then dash as a melee.

These jets can also be leveraged another way: if you click the right stick while in midair, you get a targeter (I got tired of saying reticle) that appears below you, and when you release it you fly there and kill people.  The angles you can do this from and the valid ranges seem very thoughtfully placed.  Right now, it’s too fun for me to do.  I’m doing it when I shouldn’t.  I’m like the guy who got the little Dalek keychain for Christmas, and I’m always pressing it, so it’s like “Exterminate, Exterminate” and I think it’s awesome and I’m awesome while everybody else is just trying to do their shit.

When I read about all this stuff, I thought it would screw up the game’s characteristic weight, but all the knobs are turned just so.  The additions are scrupulously regulated and must be chosen by the player.  What they mean in the matrix of decisions has all been exhaustively (and from an internal perspective, no doubt exhaustingly) defined.

The things that weird me out aren’t even really gameplay things: they’re franchise choices I’m just not comfortable with.  Spartans talk all the time now during the match.  They’re communicating useful data, but I liked the Announcer handling that and me talking to my friends about the rest of it.  It’s conceptually noisy in one of the cleanest, most pristine bastions in the Last Tall Tower of austere shooter design.

I like the trend in multiplayer shooters (Killzone, Destiny, etc.) to show the team looking rad before and after matches.  But in the beta here, I vastly prefer the “cool” pose at the beginning of a match over the high-five pal around bro-fist phase at the end.  I know that technically speaking, “multiplayer” in Halo is training exercises; they just won, maybe that’s how they really feel.  But it’s not how I think about them.  It’s too familiar, too ordinary.  When the Avengers eat shawarma, it’s funny; they’re humanized by it.  But I don’t want Spartans to eat shawarma.

(CW)TB out.


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