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Zombie Pursuits

Though I intended to be a bit more productive this week, the holidays have a tendency to interfere.  At least I diversified my digital procrastination a bit, breaking up re-running the same early game Fallout 4 content for the 3rd or 4th time with a bit of Elite: Dangerous and Dying Light.

Revisiting Elite: Dangerous felt strange, bittersweet, yet not all that surprising.

Yes, Frontier has definitely been improving things, and I was happy to see that the materials have been changed to be a bit more manageable, you can even trade more common components for rarer ones now.

I spent some of the credits I had been saving for an Imperial Cutter for the newly-released Krait Mk II, and found the new ship to be a strangely generic choice.  Thanks to the inclusion of a fighter bay, even more than the Python, it can do a little of everything in the game.  The Krait also features a cockpit with a huge field of few, including two class-2 hardpoints located on both sides of the pilot's canopy, perfect to marvel over the size of weapons with your VR headset on.
Yet, there's only a small collection of the same old activities to do in it.  Log stellar bodies, run cargo, blow things up, maybe drive around an SRV on a planet.  The missions might have mixed things up a bit, or perhaps investigating anomalous sensor readings, but why bother?  I can earn more credits just popping endless pirate waves in the local asteroid belts.  Alternately, mining those belts.

Perhaps the problem is the endless availability of pirates and minerals; if those easily accessible sources of raw credits dried up, or did not reward reputation, then you would actually need to move around a bit.

Would moving around really make much difference?  Elite: Dangerous has an expansive universe, but oddly little to do in it.  Every new solar system reminds me of a town in America: the location may have changed, but it's still just a string of the same big box stores and fast food chains I can find everywhere else.

Is this what civilization would do if it claimed the stars?  You might as well just stay home.  It's not the universe that's too small for mankind, it's that mankind that's too small-minded to make proper use of the universe.

I still have hopes for Elite: Dangerous, as it's a fantastic joyride, but it's no virtual universe sandbox game quite yet.

Over in Dying Light, we revel mostly in disaster.  If you want a game about exploding human heads like an endless chain of rotten pumpkins, look no further.  It's an open world of constant exploding heads and looting.  
Me and a buddy played Dying Light for most of the Bizarro weekend, and were quite proud when we started efficiently taking down zombies with environmental traps.  Little did we know that this is 90% of the game.

Oh, and parkour: constantly running, jumping, and climbing; it's no mean trick to allow the player that much first person movement freedom, and the developers never let you forget it: a full third of your character progression trees are tied to your "agility," and there's parkour challenge nodes scattered throughout the city.  Fast travel options are pretty much disabled out of multiplayer, so you'll be doing a lot of parkour.

Also, crafting.  It's not much to write home about: make usable doodads like medkits and throwing stars, or else upgrade your weapons.  Constantly upgrading weapons.  A shame the weapons are kind of useless compared to simply making a zombie take a header into some spikes.  Fallen foes' heads can easily be popped by the most dangerous weapon in the game: your boot.
Finally, bad acting.  Well, it's not like video games set that bar very high.  Frankly, even if they did, what passes for daytime television these days just insults my intelligence.  But I think me and my buddy would have been happier with the game as a whole if the characters had half the dialogue.

As a Dead Rising played from a first person perspective, Dying Light is pretty good overall.  Elaborately well-designed environments, plenty to do.  It could stand to be deeper; a Rocksteady Studios Batman game, it is not.  But boy, does it ever have heads to explode.


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