Episode 16 – WARNING: Social Levels Depleted
April’s always a tough month for me. It tends to hit my wallet rather aggressively and in most cases I end up scraping the barrel at around this time. I’ve got a few big birthday’s during April, namely my Mum’s and my girlfriend’s, nether of which I can really scrimp on. On top of this, Samsung have released their new flagship phone and I’ve just aimlessly thrown money their way to get it.
But it is pretty… fingers crossed it doesn’t spontaneously combust in my pocket.
Not only does April tend to batter my bank account, but because of everything going on I don’t get all that much time to myself. So, it seems like a rather inconvenient time to dip my toes into a game that’s as humongous and as expansive as Elite: Dangerous. If you read last weeks edition of my Weekend Run-Through, you’ll know that, through some crazy bug with Xbox Live, I managed to get the game for free.
I’m still not too sure how it happened, but I can’t really complain.
Elite: Dangerous is one of those awkward games where you can’t really have a quick half-hour on it. There’s a certain need to meticulously plan out everything you’re doing and playing on a whim is a bad move. The game is in real-time, so if you accept a bounty and are told that the target is likely to be in a certain place between 18:00 and 20:00, if you miss that window then you’ll fail the mission. Likewise for delivery contracts, there are timescales and although it adds to the immersive feeling, it can be overwhelming. I’ve been playing on Elite: Dangerous whenever i’ve got chance this week. I’ve managed around 2-3 hours now and I think I’m beginning to get to grips with some of the concepts. Also, I’ve managed to land my ship on a planet and drive around on the surface. I landed in the wrong place to be honest, the nearest settlement was a good 6 hour drive away.
I may have crashed into a planet (I know, how could I NOT see it coming?), and I may have attacked a group of pirates with my basic shield and weapon system, but I view all of theses as valuable lessons. Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually getting the hang of things… even if it’s just the most basic ‘things’.
Best of all, the celebrity-level recognition:
It’s my Mum’s birthday on Friday, and we’re going out for a few drinks as a family. Then we’ll get to Saturday and there’s the boxing on in the evening so I’ll struggle to fit in an all-nighter. I suppose that there’s always Sunday… It’s another bank holiday after all!
Regardless, I’ll be looking at getting some cash in my pocket on Elite: Dangerous so I can upgrade my ship. I need something faster and with a bit more firepower too.
Then there’s poor Aloy, waiting patiently for me on Horizon Zero Dawn. I’m near the end of the game, and things are climaxing at a fair pace so ideally, I need to be looking a wrapping things up. I’ve still got plenty to be doing side-quest and exploration-wise too if I want this to be my first PS4 platinum trophy.
I’m writing this up on a beautiful Tuesday morning. Why is it beautiful? Because I’ve had a long weekend away from work and I’m feeling revitalised. Usually, I upload these around Monday afternoon, but as yesterday was a bank holiday in the UK, I’m including that day as part of the weekend. Go figure!
Friday, like I said, was a write off. As soon as I got in from work, I got ready to meet my parents for some birthday drinks. We had a lovely chilli and didn’t get home until rather late, so there was no time for gaming. Nope, not even on my PS Vita.
Saturday on the other hand was ripe and ready. Keep this one to yourself, but I actually set an alarm to maximise my playtime! I know, I know… sad! I don’t care though, I had an awesome time. I mainly played Elite: Dangerous, actually that’s a lie, Elite: Dangerous was all that I played. Not just short stints either, I’m talking all day like it was a 9 ’til 5 job!
This game is ‘dangerous’. It states it in the name, but it doesn’t give much of an explanation as to why it is. Don’t worry though, I’ll tell you why: you lose yourself. It’s dangerous in the sense that it saps up all of your time. Seriously, I felt like I’d had a good hours worth of trading and couriering, when in fact it had been more like 5 or 6 hours. It was 15:30 before I’d realised that I hadn’t ate all day! What do I have to show for all my time? Literally nothing. I bought a new ship to help ferry even more goods across the galaxy, but it’s still a beaten up junker that cost me next to nothing.
Realising the time, I decided to have a break and get myself fed. I’d an arrange date with an old buddy on the game, the guy I convinced to buy the game for me rather indirectly. I mentioned it last week, so I’m not going to gloat about it again. Any way, it gave my eyes a good hours worth of rest before my ship was due to depart once more. The time came, and he bought himself an ‘Adder’. It’s a ship that allows additional crew and it’s pretty nimble considering the price and size. We had a courier mission, so we thought we would do that and whilst on the road trip, I’d shoot the hell out of some poor passer-by on my mini-gun. Alas, no-one came and the journey took a good 20 minutes. I shot no-one, there was nothing but dark, empty, boring space between where we came from, and where we were heading.
We arrived at the station, dropped the gear off and got paid. Only I didn’t. My mate, who had flown the ship whilst I basically watched him fly in a straight line for over 20 minutes got paid, but I didn’t. In anger, I shot everything in the station and left the game whilst I listened to his cries of anguish over the microphone. The federal authorities made short work of him and blew his ship up.
Once he had recovered his destroyed vessel (he had it insured, don’t worry), we decided to meet face to face and carry out some missions together as a squad. I checked his location on the map, and he was miles away and by miles I mean millions of mega metres away. Luckily, my ship had the power to jump there but it would take a fair few jumps. Just enough to make it without refuelling according to my navigational computer. Brilliant, “I’ll head straight there” I said. So I did, I made it all the way to his system in around 16 hyperspace jumps, only I didn’t have enough to fly from where my final jump took me to the space station we were going to meet at.
So yeah, I ran out of fuel. But what happens in this scenario? Well, I wondered precisely that. Turns out you lose all functionality and manoeuvrability and then whilst you float through space, your life support system packs in. As you can imagine, the oxygen levels diminish and you start to die with “Oxygen levels depleted” the only illuminating light on the ship’s HUD. Death is neither quick nor painless, it takes around 5 minutes. 5 minutes of listening to your player slowly suffocate to death is pretty grim but I suppose it served me right for being so naive. It was a heavy dose of karma too as my squad mate laughed his socks off whilst I helplessly watched the world darken.
Worst of all? Respawning took me back to the station I started my journey from around 30 minutes prior! Goddamnit.
By Sunday, I’d had enough of my second life as a space pirate. I booted up the Playstation 4 and finished off Horizon Zero Dawn. The game finished in a spectacular fashion. The storyline may be over, but I’m not quite finished yet. There’s plenty of stuff to finish off so I’ll look at completing these when I can this week. If you’re playing the game, I’d highly suggest doing as many side quests as you can before the final… err… lets call it chapter. It’s a point of no return, so you’ll know it when you get there. There are some additional characters that help you out towards the end of the game and you don’t get to see these if you don’t finish their quests.
Just a heads up is all!
Elite: Dangerous drew me back in on Monday. I’ve now drastically upgraded my ship. It can carry loads of cargo, is pretty nippy and has an arsenal of high-grade weaponry. It’s the perfect all-rounder meaning that when I’m not extracting resources from planets, I can be hunting bounties and attacking pirates. I’m hoping it will now open the game up for me. As young Anakin Skywalker once said “This is where the fun begins”.
Proud as Punch!
I’ve mentioned before that I only play games on a harder difficulty. If it’s too tough, I begrudgingly knock it down a tad so that it’s at least fun to play. Thankfully, despite the challenge, Horizon Zero Dawn remained on it’s maximum setting throughout it’s entire play through. The final mission was loads of fun and I’ll probably play it again a couple of times. Even on a setting where it only takes a single hit to kill you, especially from Deathbringers and Stormbirds, I never once felt in danger and it was really enjoyable.
Oh, wait. I had the special armour that makes you practically invincible, Never mind.
Obviously, I played a fair bit of Elite: Dangerous. Now that I’ve got the ship I’ve been saving up for, we’ll see if there’s any more fun to be had, maybe the game will peter out and die as I’ve already bought the thing I was working towards. Who knows, but for now I’m struggling to put my controller down.
There’s a huge tick in the Horizon Zero Dawn box, but I’m not quite finished. I think I’ll try to platinum this before moving onto another game. I’ve got Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Final Fantasy XV ready.
What would you guys suggest playing next?