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TheEldritchGod

The Quonset Manager Reviews Episode 3 (HERE THAR BE SPOILERS!)

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So...

Episode 3.

Hrmmm...

It took a while for me to put my finger on it, but there is something... wrong. I started reviewing it. Was it the writing? No... The changes to the map? No... Maybe it was the quests? Ehhh... no. Over and over I mulled it until finally I figured it while driving back from Rochester.

The episodes are out of order.

Follow my logic.

Let's look at the "boss fights"

Ep 1: You vs the weather and wolves.
Ep 2: You vs 150 year old demon bear.
Ep 3: You vs a pack of timberwolves.

Doesn't it strike you as a bit of a step down?

Now switch the order. Wolves, Timberwolves, Demon bear.

See what I mean?

Let's jump to a few of the scenes. Astrid hears Will's voice on the radio, but can't contact him. Imagine that happened BEFORE ep 2. It's be a whole lot more mysterious. I mean, we left Will at getting jumped by a bear. How'd he get on the radio?

Let's reverse it. If Ep 2 was in ep 3, then when Will is at the Hunting lodge and the phone rings, we KNOW it might be Astrid on the party line. So, if it's your first time through, you are going to be frantic to find that phone!

As it stands, Astrid hearing Will on the radio in the current order is news to Astrid, but not news to the player.

The phone ringing for Will? It's a mere curiosity for the player. If it came later, it'd carry more emotional impact.

Now, I don't blame the creators, this is a work in progress,. But as far as a narrative structure is concerned, reversing the order would do wonders.

On to the episode itself.

Solid. Good. Loved it. A definite strong first act. The problem being it was in the second act slot. If it was episode 2, I wouldn't find the whole, "I won't tell you why I'm going to Perseverance Mills or what's in the case." thing as annoying. You are supposed to start revealing clues to maguffins by act 2. You can't keep blue balling your audience. I understand WHY, because this is an Act 1 Episode, it's just in the wrong order of reveal.

Moving on.

LOVE the changes to the map. It makes PV seem much more... real. Like an actual community, instead of a valley owned by one family. Was about to complain about game balance, but... honestly, PV was always a fly over map for me, so giving it some new structures gives me a reason to want to visit it. 

I am SO selling TV dinners at the Quonset.

The Timberwolf Mechanic: Loved it. Totally love it. I think there needs to be a TW Pack on a few maps at select places. Specifically, locations with BUKU resources. A pack in Milton, for example (but not in story mode). One in Thompson's crossing. That whole area is rich in loot, so it needs a recurring pack.

I'd like one on TWM, for obvious reasons, but... honestly? I don't know where to put it for game balance reasons. TWM is already a 3D maze and a pain in the ass. Adding Timberwolves would be... well... might be too much. Any other maps? Hrmm... I leave that up to the creator's discretion.

As for the main quest line

It was fairly obvious in points. So obvious there would be a fuel and food stocking quest that I was piling crap up in there from the moment I reached the community center. Again, this might not seem as redundant if it was in the episode 2 slot.

The fetch quests to find survivors...

Hrmmm... On one hand, They worked. On the other they seemed sort of... drawn out?

I'm not big fan of fetch quests, so I'm the wrong guy to talk about this, and I did find them to be a rather nice change of pace. I didn't play it on max difficulty, so maybe it gets more interesting at that level. I think Maybe... I'd have liked the survivors to be... ehh... I'm not sure.

Don't get me wrong, I liked it. Wonderful Idea. It's just... something. Can't put my finger on it. Maybe a timer until they die? Or a timer until the blizzard shows up? Dunno. Just seems... off. Storywise, it needed to happen. I just... can't... put my finger... on it. I'll post something later it it occurs to me.

Oh. I didn't think to try, but can we feed the survivors to the wolves to speed up the quest? You know, pick them up, wait for the Timberwolves to show up, drop the guy, maybe shoot him in the head and run? Just a thought. Wondering if there was a "being evil" option. Becaue If I went out, pick up each guy, dropped him as soon as wolves showed up? I bet I could have finished those three survivors in NO TIME!

So... that brings us to Molly.

Damn, Raph, you sure love your greek symbolism.

Really got the Artemis and Actaeon vibe going on. Loved the exploded rifle. REALLY NICE TOUCH. The whole survivor's guilt thing makes SO much more sense with that particular fact thrown in. Very well played.

And the whole Astrid as Persephone thing? The onset of winter, going into the "underworld", substituting Cerberus with three fuses... I liked it. It worked. However, I must say that whole mine thing at the end didn't carry the same "weight" and feeling of accomplishment as when I finally killed that bear in episode 2. Sorry to keep harping on the on that, but it kinda irks me.

Oh. Approve of the new rabbit hit boxes.

Ummm... And the side quests were nice. Liked them. Ghost stag was cool. Was hoping to kill it and make some white boots out of it. Sad didn't get that option.

A suggestion... Maybe add a "permadeath" option for certain hard core players? I would take it much more seriously if I knew death ended the run. Not a requirement, mind you. Just... throwing it out there.

As for the dialogue and animations. Liked both Molly and The Father. There were many nice touches to the animation. Love the glasses. Maybe if you are going to drive the greek themes so hard, remove Molly's right Breast? Don't call attention to it, just animate it that way. It'll drive home the whole "archer/huntress" thing. Especially because Molly was very vengeful.

I was originally going to complain about Molly, as her archetype is overplayed, but I can forgive it because of the lie at the end. It worked. Interested in if she comes up in Episode 4.

Otherwise... I'm good with it. Better than 1, but less than 2. Consider rearranging the order... that's about it. Nothing else really stood out. It fits in well with the narrative, protects your protagonist, gives her a few vulnerable points. Maybe could have gone without the flashback? I see your point in including it, but I think the point was already made. A bit of a sledgehammer, frankly.

Yes, I'm bringing it up again.

You see, in episode 1, you can be forgiven for focusing on Will. But one thing that nagged me from the beginning was, what EXACTLY does Will see in Astrid? The flashback made it clear. It's hard not to love a determinator. So if I knew about this flashback in episode 2 (moving episode 2 to the 3 slot), I'd understand why Will is so motivated to find her, as well as why he's so certain she's still alive. 

Ah well. Those are my stream of consciousness thoughts on the episode. Hope you find this useful feedback.

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A lot of text here, my apologies:

I really liked your observation with the Greek mythology! While I understand your stance on flipping episode 2 and 3 since it works well for film, I think its up to writing style when in games. I'd like to play devil's advocate and suggest that maybe it was written in a way to make characters go, "oh!" when looking back. If we knew about the phones when playing as Mackenzie, and we knew Astrid was on that radio, it doesn't put the player truly in the player character's perspective. The phone in the lodge starts as a curiosity, then becomes cathartic on the second play-through. Actually, a lot of the stuff in TLD's story mode carries much more weight when playing through it a second time. Molly's whole conversation about Astrid's "Friend" tells you everything once you've figured out the context by playing beforehand. Molly was disappointed when she learned Astrid's friend was a male but also simultaneously concerned she might have already killed him and made enemies with the doctor...

14 minutes ago, TheEldritchGod said:

"I won't tell you why I'm going to Perseverance Mills or what's in the case." thing as annoying. You are supposed to start revealing clues to maguffins by act 2. You can't keep blue balling your audience. I understand WHY, because this is an Act 1 Episode, it's just in the wrong order of reveal.

There's a cutscene with Astrid in the research facility on a phone with an unknown woman at Perseverance Mills. There's some clues it reveals: It suggests whatever is in that case was stolen by Astrid, someone on Great Bear knows about it, and maybe people on the island alive might not take her stealing it and bringing it there too kindly... If she stole it, that also completely explains why Astrid was so desperate to meet up with Will after so many years instead of hiring any other pilot, and was impatient with him when he wanted to talk things out and wait out the storm before flying. Perseverance Mills suggests the town runs on logging, or used to, and it may just be the "castle" our forest talker friends wanted to siege before things went to frozen hell. She might be in some trouble when she gets there... Or maybe its just a CSGO hunting knife lootbox she really wants to open!

I'd also like to add that every episode doesn't have to raise in stakes every time, this is what causes so many series to make weird jumps into outer space/the future etc. I thought the stakes were pretty high with the plane crash victims and timber wolves combined, the survivors had a condition that I was too afraid to get to zero (although it was terribly easy to keep them alive since none had any real injuries to impede your progress). 

The whole survivor thing was a terrific idea but I agree it felt off, kind of half implemented and repetitive.  Only two of the survivors I had to move were memorable (the closest one and the furthest one) one was a multi day struggle to keep both of us alive, and the other was in constant view of the community hall chimney smoke so it was really cool walking towards that glowing hall at night getting ever closer while being chased by wolves. 

I also like your stance on Timberwolves in survival mode being specific to locations or regions. Not every region would work well for them, and not every place inside those regions really needs them either. I'd also like them to be much more rare than in story mode. 

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On 10/24/2019 at 4:34 PM, TheEldritchGod said:

I was originally going to complain about Molly, as her archetype is overplayed, but I can forgive it because of the lie at the end

What lie are you referring to? Did I miss something?

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Interesting thoughts on reversing EP 2 & 3. I tend to see the blizzard as the climactic challenge of EP 3, not the timberwolves. They are definitely a central element, but both bringing survivors to the community centre and making sure it is well stocked sets up the incoming blizzard that the player is then forced to contend with through the final objectives. 

The blizzard is also a reason to retain the player indicator on the map. PV blizzards have always been deadly. As soon as you lose visibility, it is easy to become disoriented. The rivers and roads are almost always the longest route between destinations, but the direct paths are nearly featureless. I can't imagine expecting a player without intimate knowledge of PV to navigate to the radio tower and the coal mine (both locations the story does not direct the player to beforehand, one of which has no road to it) in a blizzard without the benefit of the map indicator. 

I'm not up on my Greek mythology, but there are some interesting thoughts here. Off to do some reading and pondering!  

 

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On 10/25/2019 at 5:36 AM, MarrowStone said:

I thought the stakes were pretty high with the plane crash victims and timber wolves combined, the survivors had a condition that I was too afraid to get to zero (although it was terribly easy to keep them alive since none had any real injuries to impede your progress). 

I really wished hinterland had played more with the idea of Astrid being a doctor, and making the survivor's injuries more dire rather than some mild dehydration. Having to make choices on how important the survivor's lives were would be a really cool idea. 

Also just a little nitpick but a timer on the survivor's fire starting when you approached them would be good, because an infinite fire made by an unconscious survivor is unrealistic and can be exploited.

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