Dragon Age II Redux

Considering that I only just re-completed Dragon Age: Origins, it feels a little strange to already be writing about my retake on Dragon Age II. But thanks to a little scheduling magic that I was able to take advantage of at the end of last month, I managed to get all the way from beginning to end with a brand new Hawke. Granted, DAII is a shorter game overall, but I still feel very accomplished. And I didn’t have to put off laundry or grocery shopping or showers/food/sleep to get it done. Ha!

Now then, let’s go back to 2013.

Continue reading “Dragon Age II Redux”

Tricks, Treats, and Feats: Gifting in Dragon Age: Origins

When it comes to the idea of making “friends” in a game, BioWare outdid itself with the gifting system in Dragon Age: Origins. Alright, maybe that’s me being a little fannish, but it was something different in what is, essentially, a straightforward RPG. (Actually, the game is anything but “straightforward,” but you get the idea.) In this Virtual Bastion post, I looked at this at this little trick to getting people to like you (even more) in the game.


If you’ve played even just a few hours of a recent BioWare game, you know that one of the developer’s hallmarks is personal interaction. As a character in one of its games, players are given opportunities to interact with NPCs and teammates to varying degrees, from skin deep to much deeper. The ability to personally interact with the game world around your character turns the game into more than just a matter of winning, or getting from point A to point B to point C in one piece. These interactions can change the way a game is played, inasmuch as they can alter the outcome of the game itself. And with each game or game series, BioWare has provided different means of interaction. In this post, I’ll be looking at of the interactive tricks the team included in Dragon Age: Origins – gift-giving.

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Dragon Age: Origins Redux

When I first played Dragon Age: Origins sometime in 2010, I was… distracted. I realize that now, as I’ve just completed my second romp through the game. That was a strange year, because in just a matter just a matter of months straddling 2009 and 2010, my husband lost his job, we briefly moved in with my folks to help with the finances, my husband got a new job, and we moved out on our own again in a neighboring state. It wasn’t an unhappy or unstable time, but for awhile there, things felt rather hazy. It was during that glassy, glossy period that I played Dragon Age: Origins. And, for better or worse, I ended up having only a couple goals in mind with the game:

Goal 1: Bone Alistair.

Goal 2: See Goal 1.

Continue reading “Dragon Age: Origins Redux”

I could not be less excited for Bioware’s new game, Anthem

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This year’s E3 press conferences have come and gone, and my big takeaway from it all — from the X.B.O.X. to nothingness from Bethesda to “looks like Nintendo isn’t dead after all” – is that I couldn’t care less about Anthem.

After watching EA’s presser on last Saturday, the looming question was “what the hell is Anthem??” was the only one that remained. Both my husband and I rightly assumed that it could be something very cool from the mere few seconds that were shown. It was at least enough to get the speculation gears churning, and it was enough for us to sit through the orgy of teasers and trailers shown off at the Microsoft, aka “You REALLY need an Xbox One X, right??” press conference the next day.

The reveal of Anthem was…ick. It was just icky.

That’s pretty much what I said after the reveal. “Ick.”

Okay, not everything seemed icky. The graphics were really pretty and impressive. Everything else was icky. From it feeling like a Destiny clone to a rather lackluster narrative to…oh my god…those three dreaded words:




Mark my words, people, I cannot and will not invest in another open world game from Bioware. I’m sorry, but it simply will not happen.

“But wait!” you cry. “You were one of the jerks who gave into Mass Effect: Andromeda after professing that you weren’t interested! That’s…that’s just a dick move, you evil…jerky….flip-flopper!”

That’s true. So much can change in the course of a year. (Anthem is due out in 2018.) I’m only speaking from my gut here, and that’s really only after seeing the smallest sliver of what’s to come.

Honestly, though, what’s promoting these feelings is open-world fatigue. I mean, really do love open-world games. I swear. But when it came time to search for something else to play after completing Mass Effect: Andromeda, I realized that I had spent most of the first half of 2017 (and a little bit near the end of 2016) playing nothing but open-world games. I just finished Borderlands 2 (check out Virtual Bastion tomorrow for my run-down about its insane brilliance), and before that, I was all about Andromeda. Prior to that, there was Fable Anniversary, Fallout: New Vegas, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Assassin’s Creed II, all of which fall within the spectrum of open-worldness. Sure, I played through a couple outliers, but I’ve pretty much been open-world, all-the-time, and…I’m tired of it.

Seeing Anthem only reinforced that self-imposed exhaustion. As such, I remain fully uninterested in investing…or rather, planning to invest…any more of my personal resources into this particular title.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (am)

Confused? Why the dates? Well, I started writing this post last night after reading more non-news about Anthem. I was so un-buzzed about the general buzz that’s still surrounding this game, that I felt compelled to put a directive into words: DO NOT BUY ANTHEM (*at release). Because today, while I feel less jazzed up about the whole thing, I feel that, given time and how weak-willed I’ve been about giving into Bioware titles in the past, I may more than likely curl once Anthem is on the market.

But, I can’t! I just…can’t. {sob} I’ve no interest in returning to Dragon Age: Inquisition! I can barely bring myself to play Mass Effect: Andromeda again despite that fact that it is a good game! It’s not that I hate Bioware, but I just haven’t truly, madly, or deeply loved their recent open-world games!!

… … …

Damn. This is all quite silly, isn’t it? Me getting worked up over a game that won’t even see the light of day for some time. I’ve got to have better things to do with my time. Like, Shadow of the Colossus, which I just started. I’m not even sure what to make of it yet, except that I’m having trouble with the control scheme. But boy oh boy, it is ever pretty.

I’m currently feeling like this is a pretty worthless post, but I’m not going to delete it. It may really be that I’m not particularly mad at Anthem itself, but rather at the fact that E3 was simply blah. (Though seeing a bit more of Detroit: Become Human was a high point.) I’m much more excited about Shadow of the Colossus and playing/replaying games in my current collection over just about anything that was shown during this year’s E3 press conferences or otherwise. Mass Effect: Andromeda also reminded me that release dates are overrated. If I had known that I’d be picking up a somewhat incomplete and broken (for some) game at the start, then I surely would have waited on purchasing it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (pm)

Well, this turned into a rather jumbly post. As I’m re-reading it now, I’ve no clue how to turn it into anything cohesive. So I won’t. It’s not a good post, but it does reflect some of the most in-the-moment writing that I’ve ever done…which is probably why I’ve refrained from a lot of in-the-moment writing before. Haha. I’m still sour about Anthem and E3, but those feelings are quickly fading. There are simply better thing to do/play/worry about, like figuring how to take down more colossi! It is a damn pretty, pretty game.

77 Hours Later, and Mass Effect: Andromeda is in the Bag

ICYMI, I barreled through Mass Effect: Andromeda all the way to the very end. And by “barreled through,” I mean that if I had had two actual free week to complete the game, then maybe my description would be more accurate. Still, me getting through a single game in less than three months is nothing short of a miracle, so my words stand. To see those words, which involve lots of spoiler-free thoughts on the game itself, just click below to see them on Virtual Bastion.


Actually, 77 and one-half to be precise, but who’s counting? Me, that’s who, because I really can’t believe that I spent anywhere near that time in the world of Mass Effect: Andromeda. But there it is, and now it’s time to talk about it. Where to even begin?! There’s so much to unpack here, but I’m going to keep things streamlined and spoiler-free (but no less opinionated) by exploring the game through five topics: story, missions, characters, gameplay, and graphics. I’m also going to aim to keep the previous Mass Effect games out of the picture. As bound in that universe as Mass Effect: Andromeda is, it’s a different animal from the original trilogy.

TL;DRMass Effect: Andromeda is a solid and enjoyable game with its own set of issues and quirks, none of which significantly detract from the overall experience.

Now, if you want to read, continue at…

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Initial Impressions of Mass Effect: Andromeda

ICYMI: I’m playing Mass Effect: Andromeda! Had a bit of a rough start, but I think we’re all good now. Click on to read my first impressions of the game as posted to United We Game.


Despite having a wholly exhausting Tuesday (the 21st – release day), I was determined to enjoy all that Mass Effect:Andromeda could offer that evening. The game downloaded in just a couple hours (score one for the new PC!).  After all my nighttime chores, I settled in, only to be met by…uh…sputtering? Well, not immediate sputtering. The game loaded up fine, and I created a new female Ryder. After that is when the sputtering started. The initial opening scenes cut in and out like a buffering video. It happened intermittently every handful of seconds or so, but then things smoothed out after the title card appeared. Once the story began, it looked like I was good to go. No sputtering, no “buffering.”

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Okay Mass Effect: Andromeda, You Got Me

It was only a mere 18 days ago that I decided to give in to Mass Effect: Andromeda. For whatever it was worth, I was on the fence about it for awhile, being excited, then not excited, then totally meh, and then excited enough to place my pre-order. The “me” of years past probably wouldn’t have been so flip-floppy about it, but what can I say? It just took a little more convincing this time around. What drove me into the positive about Andromeda? In large part, it was thanks to new gameplay videos and news stories like the one I riffed off in this United We Game post.


Image (©Bioware) by Flickr user inforumatik (CC)Image (©Bioware) by Flickr user inforumatik (CC)

Regular readers might have caught a post I wrote a c ouple months ago in which I was a little down on Mass Effect: Andromeda. Unfortunately, I was harboring some bad thoughts about what Andromeda was purported to be back in early December, and that something was, as I perceived it, a mere shade of what I had hoped from a new Mass Effect adventure.

Well, here we are now, just twenty days away from Andromeda’s release, and…yep, I have to admit that I’ve changed my tune. I am now, fully and without exception, all aboard the Andromeda train. Woo woo!

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Thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda as an Open World Game

Since first publishing this post on Mass Effect: Andromeda over on United We Game, there hasn’t been much in the way of new news about it. Could it be that Bioware is waiting until E3 next month to offer up some more reveals? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Till then, here are my own scintillating (haha) thoughts on what could be and shouldn’t be in the new Mass Effect adventure.


Image by Flickr user Beautiful Games (CC)Image by Flickr user Beautiful Games (CC)

It’s recently come to light that Mass Effect: Andromeda might be an open world game, one with a “seamless, open world galaxy,” as the headlines state. Seeing has how I’m currently knee-deep in the vivacious world of the original Mass Effect trilogy (on ME2 now, and loving it more than before), I couldn’t help but wonder what the games would have been like if they had been open world games, a la GTA IV and V instead of the mission-based games that they are.  Does the gaming landscape need an open world Mass Effect game? Would it be good for the series? Are we talking, like, No Man’s Sky meets Dragon Age: Inquisition or something else? And what would that mean for players? Would it have to be connected to the Internet to play? How…?  Why…?

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