On multiplayer in Bloodborne, and why no one cares about your whining.

Okay, one more post about Bloodborne, for now.

Multiplayer in the Souls series has always been kind of an odd duck. It’s there, and it works, but it’s not the thing that attracts most people to the experience. The idea is certainly novel, in theory; your “world” is open to anyone from another world, be they hostile or helpful, and while you can choose to summon in helpful people whenever you wish, hostile invaders can enter whenever they wish and make your life hell. This has always been an evolving process, of course; in Demon’s Souls invaders could only invade you when you were “whole,” and killing you meant they could become whole, thus putting them at risk in turn, while in Dark Souls, invasion was simply a matter of being in human form, but there were also a whole lot of covenant options available to players who wanted to customize their invasions or even act as spirits of vengeance. Dark Souls 2 took this concept even further, creating covenants and entire zones where invasion was basically a thing that was always going to happen, though it also implemented a concept called “Soul Memory” which retained your total accumulated souls, thus limiting invasion options, which hasn’t been very popular with online players.

Bloodborne takes this a step further, by not only prompting the player at launch of the game if they even want to be online in the first place, but also by limiting the availability of invasions to specific set zones in the game (two “nightmare” zones and some Chalice dungeons), unless you’re summoning help (or invasions) in which case bets are off, which has players up in arms on various posting boards. The general argument seems to b, on the pro side, that the online in Bloodborne is not very good, due to the extensive limitations placed on it because of the “whining” of the “casuals”* and how it’s a huge cop-out and so on, and on the con side, that they’re fine with this, but would prefer alternate options. For the most part, this argument isn’t generally compelling to me, for various reasons, but I wasn’t really sure why I wasn’t really on-board for either side. The fact that I don’t particularly like the online component in Souls games makes sense as to why I didn’t care about the pro online side, but the anti-online side isn’t especially compelling either, frankly, because… well honestly, they don’t really understand the situation, I don’t think.

Let’s start with the pro online side, which can be summed up by the following completely real quote I extracted from GameFAQs that sums up a lot of the arguments in favor of the invasion system in one easily digested sentence:

“I want to be able to invade your game and halt your progress whether you wanted me there or not.”

Continue reading

Random Song of the Day – 4/14/15

Today, Die Antwoord:

Music from other countries is really interesting to me, because it’s either completely different from anything that’s ever been popular in the US, or because it’s exactly like what’s been popular in the US, but several years after the fact. Die Antwoord is basically a crossbreed of those two concepts, marrying a musical style and aesthetic that stopped being popular years ago, but in a way that’s wholly different from anything the US ever made popular, which has helped them become surprisingly popular in the US. In a lot of respects, they represent everything that’s right with the music scene, as they’ve made themselves popular through hard work and talent rather than marketing and appearance, because really, exactly how much do you expect a US label would’ve marketed a South African rave hip-hop act that looks, well, like they do?

Also Flea and Marilyn Manson make cameos in this video for some reason, so there’s that.

Random Song of the Day – 4/13/15

Today, Circa Survive:

Fun fact: this song is apparently about jumping out of a burning building because death by fall is better than burning to death. So that’s something.

Circa Survive is one of those bands that sounds interesting, but rarely makes that into something I want to listen to or enjoy. It’s weird; I think the overall sound of the band is fine, and aspects of it work well, but for the most part the band is mostly just there to me. Every so often they put together something like the above, though, and the sound works well enough to make something that almost sounds like music instead of something experimental, not sonically, but in terms of execution and composition.

On ranking the Souls games, or, which one is YOUR favorite?

I spent a decent amount of time banging out a piece on why Bloodborne isn’t a perfect game over at Diehard GameFAN, during which I made the observation that yes, Bloodborne is probably the third best game in the Souls series*, without really offering any context for that observation. Since I don’t really know how I’d turn that into a full DHGF column, I thought I’d just explain the point here, for those who are interested in this thing. The basic concept isn’t hard to understand, obviously: taking Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2**, and Bloodborne, order them from worst to best, and explain why they rank in those spots. It’s the why of that explanation that’s a bit more complicated, if only because people are going to rank their lists different ways for different reasons, which is the fun part (relative to your definition of fun). So, since I wrote three thousand plus words on why Bloodborne is essentially the third best game in the series, let’s take some time to explain how the other games stack up, and why.

Continue reading

Random Song of the Day – 4/10/15

Today, Mr. B. the Gentleman Rhymer:

For those who don’t really get this, it’s part of a specific sub-genre of nerdcore music dubbed “chap-hop,” which is basically what it sounds like: dudes who rap like they’re posh British types, dress like they fell out of the 1800’s and, occasionally, evoke a Steampunk motif. The two biggest players in this thing are Professor Elemental (who leans more toward being thematically correct and adds a bit of Steampunk here and there) and the above rapper, Mr. B. (who leans toward using modern conventions on occasion). There are others who… aren’t so great, but these two are generally pretty good, and I felt like it was about time I introduced you to them if you hadn’t seen them yet.

Random Song of the Day – 4/9/15

Today we get to what I wanted to post yesterday, Daft Punk:

I have an odd opinion of Daft Punk, in that I thought Homework was a good start, Discovery was a transcendent piece of work, and everything after that was aggressively mediocre at best. Don’t get me wrong, the Tron: Legacy soundtrack had bits of greatness buried in it, but those bits of greatness were two minutes long as often as not, and the actual studio records from the band weren’t great. Human After All is borderline industrial and repetitive as hell as often as not, and while I don’t need everything to sound like disco-techno, I do need for the band to LEARN from past records, not go back to Homework again, especially not when your visual aesthetic is “robots playing guitar,” except in one case, where it’s “the media fat-shames people into killing themselves,” for some fucking reason.* Their current record is a little better, at least, mostly because they brought in some extra talent to shore up the heavy lifting and seem to be getting back to trying to build on the concepts they made successful with Discovery, but it’s still a step backwards.

Anyway, the point is, Discovery is still an amazing record, to my mind, for a lot of reasons, and the song above, “Something About Us,” is one of my favorite tracks from it. It’s an amazing piece of work all around, and it’s not hard to love, frankly. It doesn’t hurt that the piece is set to an animated video from Toei Animation in the style of Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999, because it was supervised by their creator, Leiji Matsumoto, either. I don’t know what to tell you man, it just works.

* Not that this isn’t true, of course, but when you’re making this statement by way of a music video for a song that basically repeats the lyrics “Do it now, live it, the prime time of your life,” for four fucking minutes, you’re not doing a great job of getting that message across. Honestly, the video is one of those rare cases where the actual video itself is powerful stuff (especially the ending), but the song it’s set to is complete crap.