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Returnal [PS5] - latest from Housmarque - Coming April 30th, 2021


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37 minutes ago, Josh said:

 

Okay this is where I have to challenge you. This game has some of the most cliché sci-fi tropes there are, like they just grabbed the free public-domain stock story arcs and pasted them into some really cool level design.


Stock cliches and tropes are inherent in most storytelling mediums and I’ll challenge you back by saying it’s lazy criticism. It’s what a game or film does with those tropes that matter. The inherent mystery as presented is engaging right from the get-go and the way the game presents its information in the form of visual elements and collectibles works well to deepen the mystery. Everything from deciphering an alien language through discovering cyphers, large tableaus the insinuate a larger conflict that have left the world of Atropos in ruins, the very Lovecraftian elements of each House sequence that ties into the enemy design - it all feels interesting. It’s not original or some upper echelon masterpiece of storytelling but it’s absolutely engaging when paired with its superb gameplay and stellar visual design.

 

Of course, you may not agree with that assessment and may find the whole thing rote and forgettable. If so, fair enough. I’m not looking to change hearts and minds here and like you said - no judgement. I will say that the story post Biome 3 takes a really interesting turn that kind of makes you rethink whatever thoughts you might have had about what’s going on.

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Just taking a quick, informal poll here. How many of you who are playing this game right now want to punch Romier in his fucking face? 😃

That's it. I'm never preordering a game again.   Except for Ratchet.   ...and Forbidden West.   ...and Kena.   but other than that NEVER AGAIN

@Starhawk Hey, that’s me!   My early impressions are thus: I love the setting. I love the story. The combat is executed really well. It’s both challenging and fair. Why, oh why, though, does

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4 minutes ago, Romier S said:

Stock cliches and tropes are inherent in most storytelling mediums and I’ll challenge you back by saying it’s lazy criticism.

 

I can't disagree with this hard enough. Maybe if your choices in movies and books are redundant, you'll feel this way based purely on what you're ingesting, but wowee wow just no.

 

With that said, I don't really expect games to break too much ground when it comes to storytelling. I wish that wasn't the case, but that's just how things are and how developers (don't) invest time or money into storytelling. Given that, it's not even a criticism as much as a challenge to the notion that this game is doing anything interesting when it comes to storytelling, at least within the universe of things I am reading and watching.

 

It's a silly thing to be stuck on, though, so I'll concede that some people may find it more innovative on the storytelling side than I do. I do read some really weird shit.

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For sure, if you distill it down to the skeleton of the story (and I only know a small portion of it at the moment), there isn't a lot of meat on those bones, but to me a big part of it is the context, the environment the story is embedded in. And by environment I include the amalgam of gameplay styles, and also the actual environments you run through, which are really beautifully designed IMO. I also like way the 'cycle' gameplay is working with the story.

 

Note that the sentence you quoted, those two things "world building, and storytelling" were the end of a list of things I liked. I would not post (at least not yet) that the story in this game is bowling me over, but I like where it's going, I like the way it unfolds in concert with the gameplay, and as I just said, the way the elements are all working together in the game.

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34 minutes ago, Josh said:

 

I can't disagree with this hard enough. Maybe if your choices in movies and books are redundant, you'll feel this way based purely on what you're ingesting, but wowee wow just no.

 


I read and watch really weird shit, too. I’m hardly one to limit myself. That doesn’t preclude the inclusion of storytelling tropes and/or cliched plot elements in even the most out there works. Inland Empire is an exceptional film and supremely weird (and one of my favorite Lynch movies) but the core storytelling device is about a murdered controlling partner, suicide and very tropey ideas of limbo and alternate realities intersecting. It’s the execution that separates it. That’s my underlying point here and the execution in Returnal is working for me despite the hodge podge of clearly cliched influences.
 

As to your last comment, nowhere did I call it innovative. Those are your words.;)

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21 minutes ago, rustyjaw said:

For sure, if you distill it down to the skeleton of the story (and I only know a small portion of it at the moment), there isn't a lot of meat on those bones, but to me a big part of it is the context, the environment the story is embedded in. And by environment I include the amalgam of gameplay styles, and also the actual environments you run through, which are really beautifully designed IMO. I also like way the 'cycle' gameplay is working with the story.

 

Note that the sentence you quoted, those two things "world building, and storytelling" were the end of a list of things I liked. I would not post (at least not yet) that the story in this game is bowling me over, but I like where it's going, I like the way it unfolds in concert with the gameplay, and as I just said, the way the elements are all working together in the game.

 

Look. I suck at the game and I'm looking for shit to complain about to make me feel better. :)

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How to get a good run going in Returnal from Biome 1

 

1. Take your time and explore. Understand what type of room you are entering before you go in and use your mini-map and standard map to make sense of this. Things to know:

  • Entrances with a blue triangle shape doorway are optional/item paths. These rooms usually include chests and upgrades but come with the risk of tougher enemies but are mostly doable.
  • Entrances in yellow with a star over the door are challenge rooms. They include the toughest of the toughest enemies. High rewards, high risk.
  • Entrances with standard rectangular shapes are progression paths that you need to follow to move the game along.
  • Entrances with a doorway and a circle above them are transportation routes that lead to next biome. Most are locked until the boss in the Biome is dead.

 

2. Health upgrades are an absolutely must. You start with 100% suit integrity and in the UI, there are three pips to the left of the integrity meter. Picking up Siphium Resin increases this meter by 1 pip. Get to 3 pips and you will increase the integrity meter. IMPORTANT: Picking up standard small and large Siphium consumables while your health is full will increase the meter by 1 pip. Plan your run as best as you can. See my next point...

 

3. IMPORTANT: You can heal at your ship. The back door in the ship leads to a bunk that Selene can sleep in which will give you a quick cutscene but it will also restore your health. You can do this over and over by exiting and entering your ship. So when you're doing a run, explore the rooms and take out the enemies as much as you can without getting hit (easier said than done). If your health is not full, don't pick up the health consumables unless they are Resin just yet. Keep going until you are relatively low on health and then run back or teleport back to the ship and heal up. Once you are full, go back to each of the cleared rooms where you left the health consumables and eat them up. This will fill up your pips quickly and add a chunk to your health pool. Employ this strategy and by the end of the first Biome you should have close to 150% health.

 

4. Ignore malignant items until you have enough Ether to cleanse or you have items to remove malignancy easily. There is a consumable that will drop that will clear all malignance/malfunctions with one drink. If you get this, praise god and don't use it until you've cleared most of the Biome or until you're pretty low on health at which point refer to point 3. Once you have cleared most of the Biome, run around and grab all malignant items and open all malignant chests you can until you can't anymore (some malignancy will prevent item pick-ups). Then use the consumable. All of the pluses, none of the minuses.

 

5. It's hard but try to hold off on opening up standard chests until you increase your weapon proficiency. If you can get to level 2 or 3 beforehand, you're going to get better weapon drops. This is a bit tough since you're stuck with your starter pistol but its worth the payoff.

 

5. Spend money on artifacts that increase weapon damage, protection and repair rate when you come upon terminals. All go a long way towards survivability.  High protection means less damage. High repair efficiency means healing goes a longer way and weapon damage speaks for itself. If you can find the life leech artifact, pray to the RNG gods. It's one of the best artifacts in the game (damage to an enemy is converted to health!). Only spend this money if you....

 

6. Buy Astronaut Figures immediately. Also buy the Large Siphium Vial immediately. The figure is 250 Obelites and the Vial is 150. Anything above that 350 should go towards the upgrades mentioned in point 5. The figure will give you an extra life upon death and the large vial will fully recover your health. ESSENTIAL.

 

7. Save your Ether! You need at least 6 to use the re-fabricator. What does it do? It gives you another life! If you have extra ether, feel free to use it to cleanse malignancy but always try to keep 6 on you per biome to use the re-fabricator. It looks like a large device in the cutout shape of one of the Xenotype species with horns.  You can't miss it and it has its own map icon in the legend.

 

8. Weigh parasites and other add-ons heavily before grabbing them. Anything that hurts you when you pick up items or prevents you from switching weapons are not good and I avoid them. Same goes for anything that increases your dash cooldown! Stuff like getting damage on long falls is a non-issue since you can dash to prevent it and since I rarely mess with malignant items, anything that increases malignancy rate or how bad malfunctions are? Non-issues. All of the upside with very little downside. 

 

9. Don't ignore your alt-fire or melee! These are usually super powerful shots that rip through even the toughest of enemies. Melee can be beastly, too when used at the right time! You know those tree-like enemies that folks bitch about? Did you know that you can down them with two melee strikes when they are down on one knee? It's pretty easy to rip through three or four of them once you know that. 

 

If you try and follow some of these tips, you could very feasibly get to the first boss with two 1-ups and a full integrity refill. This should provide plenty of ability to take out the first boss and most every boss afterwards. The first boss in particular should be nothing with all of this in your hands.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Graeme said:


Wow. Thanks for those tips. A few I was already going to use the next time I play, but there is a lot of useful stuff there. Nice to have it all in one place too. 
 

What weapons and alt fires have you been liking from Biome 1?


Hollowseeker with serrated rounds is great. Especially if you can find one tipped with poison. A heavy caliber carbine with armor piercing and the Eletro-Pylon driver are both fantastic. It depends on your play style and every weapon type is relevant and useable.

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Credits are rolling for me right now. I have more questions than answers about the story at the moment but god damn the last two Biomes throw everything at you. One challenge room in Biome 5 nearly sapped me of all of my resources and left me limping but I started my run on Biome 4 and explored it completely and then went straight through to 5 and 6 in one big run!

 

I’ll post up a video of the final boss in a bit and then bed time. I’ll have more thoughts tomorrow but honestly, I just want to start it back up and go all over again. If I didn’t have to work in about 7 hours, I would.

 

Edit: ....and the cycle continues post credits. This isn’t over! Awesome.

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So here’s my end game stats. 11 total deaths and 19 hours to roll credits.

849EF5E7-BAA2-4224-A2F6-27B86AEAC336.jpeg

 

It does appear that the game has 3 acts and I just finished Act 2. Act 3 is a new game plus of sorts from what I’m reading here your hunting for certain items in each Biome to unlock the true ending. I know what I’ll be doing the next few days.:D

 

In the interim, here’s the final boss fight in all of this glory. As I said, more thoughts tomorrow.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Romier S said:

So here’s my end game stats. 11 total deaths and 19 hours to roll credits.

 

Holy shit those stats are depressing for me. I don’t know off the top of my head how many times I’ve died, but it’s way more than 11. I also have around 10 hours or play time sunk into it and I’ve only made it to the Crimson Wastes (biome 2). At this rate — and based on what you’ve said about the later levels, it should take me roughly 10,000 deaths and 100 hours of total play time to actually beat the game.

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49 minutes ago, Graeme said:

I don’t want to watch this because…. spoiler, but I also know realistically I’m never going to see this. 

 

On the plus side, I think we all have an answer as to why this game isn't frustrating Romier as much as the rest of us. If I only die 11 times in a 20 hour period, I wouldn't be too bothered by it either.

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This is funny. Nearly the exact same thing happened to me at the end of my second (and final) run of the evening last night. I was in the Crimson Wastes with low health. I wanted to use my healthy pack thingy. Instead, I accidentally used one of those spheres that teleports you to a random location (forgetting that I now had two inventory slots). I ended up in this exact chamber, and before I could do anything, I was dead.

 

 

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49 minutes ago, JFo said:

 

On the plus side, I think we all have an answer as to why this game isn't frustrating Romier as much as the rest of us. If I only die 11 times in a 20 hour period, I wouldn't be too bothered by it either.


I understand the frustration though. I really do and it’s why I’m not shitting on anyone having a tough time. This isn’t an easy game but I also don’t think its as insurmountable as some make it sound. I understand that the overton window for gauging difficulty is shifted in a very different direction for me than your average player but the game is trying to teach you at every turn. It’s also why I try to post some tips/tricks to hopefully make the game more palpable but in the end, Returnal is very much down to “twitch” skills, reaction times and understanding how to leverage the rogue elements to your advantage. It asks a lot of you with its seemingly complex systems on top of the need to “git gud” on the “twitch” side. Some just will not have the patience for that and I think @Joshsaid it best earlier - for those people it will seem like work. No shame if that doesn’t appeal. I get it.

 

The challenge room I mentioned in Biome 5 had three waves of enemies including drones that launch rockets at high speeds alongside four malformed tentacle monsters (the dog like ones but three times bigger) and eventually, three Malformed Severed (the Xenotype humanoids introduced in Biome 2 but again...harder) and a Malformed Titan. It took me to my limit and I nearly lost my run there which would have sucked....but had I died? I would have been better armed to deal with it the next time even with the randomization because RNG pulled me the nastiest room I could get there. I think that’s the core “engine” that drove my falling in love with this game. Each run is an opportunity to learn and improve skill. It’s another opportunity to understand the game systems even more and change strategy. It’s another chance to get more story elements in new logs, ciphers and house sequences. Its very much the reason I adore the Souls games except with this one, I get a bullet hell third person shooter with heavy Lovecraftian influences which is just an orgasmic combination for me!

 

I want more games like this. This isn’t work for me, it’s comfort food for my senses and for my brain. I only wish more of you were getting out of it what I am because while I expected to like this (it’s Housemarque), I never expected it to click for me the way that it has. When I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about playing it. Even now after completing it, that hasn’t changed.

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This game has found its way into my current rotation: I play one run. If it lasts 10 minutes, fine. If it lasts 2 hours (like it did last night), great. One and done, and then off to whatever long-term game I'm playing (right now that's The Show ... when the servers are working).

 

I find that this reduces the stress of starting over, and relieves the pressure because I know it'll all be over soon. 

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6 minutes ago, Graeme said:


Is this the enemy you have to use the melee blade on? Or something else? I think red shield = melee. 

 

Yeah, just looked that up. Weird thing is it was a lockdown room and I don't have the sword yet. Maybe there was a sideroom I was missing - but it did that "LOCKDOWN" thing with the doors getting locked animation - but I couldn't make it from one end of the area to the other without getting shredded and eventually died.

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13 minutes ago, Josh said:

 

Yeah, just looked that up. Weird thing is it was a lockdown room and I don't have the sword yet. Maybe there was a sideroom I was missing - but it did that "LOCKDOWN" thing with the doors getting locked animation - but I couldn't make it from one end of the area to the other without getting shredded and eventually died.


Did the door have the star above it on the map? Just curious.

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Yeah, I got into a few lockdowns with shielded turrets before I got the sword. I'm not sure how the game decides to give you the sword, but I don't think I had to do anything special. You stumble on it in a room with an alien corpse, a lot like that first parasite that fits between your shoulders.

 

I almost beat Phrikie last night (2nd try). I had good suit integrity and a large Silphum booster, but it wasn't enough. Got it down to about halfway into the 3rd stage. It's funny how this boss feels like being thrown into Nex Machina, so many of the fire patters, death rings, etc are almost lifted from that game. Only in 3rd person it's way more intense.

 

 

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