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Deathloop


Mr Do 71
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Played about 10 hours of this on gamepass now and I'm enjoying it, but to echo most people's comments above, the AI really is an issue. I know the game tries to explain it away within the story but it does detract from the experience. 

 

That said I am enjoying the 'puzzle FPS' elements of detective work, where you can investigate best tactics and opportunities on one cycle and then act upon on the next. It reminds me a bit of Hitman in this respect, but I think this is better implemented (or maybe I don't have the patience with Hitman). I do think this Groundhog Day idea is a fantastic basis and idea for a game, I just sort of feel like the execution might be slightly off. Hard to pinpoint how or where - the floaty guns & ropey AI are certainly a big factor though. The combat reminds me a lot of Bioshock (I replayed the trilogy recently), where if things go to shit then it's not only bad news damage wise but also as the combat isn't robust enough to be wholly enjoyable. 

 

It's still good mind, but not quite near the heights of Prey (which I adored) and Dishonoured. 

 

That said I'll still finish it I think. Only done 3 of the targets, 1 diabolically amateurly (where I immediately killed myself with noxious gas seconds later) and the hook of the gameplay as per above - detectiveyness with satisfying stealth ideals, will keep me on the hook for a while longer yet.

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On 27/09/2022 at 13:06, Harsin said:

I am growing to detest the invasion mechanic in this. Before anyone says it, I've already set the game to single player mode which at least stops you having to go up against 12 year olds carrying the best kit in the game with the reflexes of a mongoose. But the main problem isn’t that they're difficult, she's fairly easy to get rid of, it’s that it’s repetitive (especially then having to hack the antenna each sodding time) and crucially stops you playing the game the way you want and blows your sense of immersion. There have been occasions where I've spent time milling around the level just so I can get rid of her before doing what I want. What’s the point in spending ages taking a sneaky approach if chances are it'll turn into a firefight anyway when she blunders in at a crucial point. I get the impression they want you to mix things up, but frankly I think the shooting is bad with floaty loosey goosey controls (on Xbox) and guns that feel like water pistols. While I am enjoying it, having recently replayed Dishonered 1 and 2 and all DLCs and Prey, this is probably my least favourite of their games. Their next project being a straight up shooter doesn’t fill me with confidence.

 

Your thoughts echo mine from a year ago. Judging by how quickly this disappeared from radar despite all the breathless perfect scores I can't see it troubling many GOTY lists. I really want to hear someone who genuinely thinks this is a ten explain why under pressure. Especially if they think this is a better game that any previous Arkane game from either studio. The only agreeable review I could find of it was Skillups review which is well worth a watch.

 

 

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I've played for a few hours now but I think I'm done with it already to be honest. The combat, which it seems to want to encourage you to start often, just isn't very good. The weapons feel weak, the enemies are stupid, the feedback for actually shooting at them is poor...

 

It's a shame, because I like the concept and the ideas, but it's just not that much fun mechanically for what it's trying to do.

 

I'm not really all that sold on the writing or visuals either. And when the epic music starts playing in combat it just comes across weird when it's playing over a train of enemies coming round a corner for you to mow down.

 

Add to that other frustrations: I just had a long battle of trying to mop up all the

 

Spoiler

Wenjie clones, and I was on my last life after a long several hours before this, collecting gear and being careful, and was looking forward to being able to keep it all as the game made it clear that would be possible and I could keep my weapons after finishing the Wenjie's off. Only just as I was dropping down and jumping across a railing to get to the lab I didn't see there was water there and fell in and died. No guns for me, and all that progress lost for no reason.

 

It's not like a rogue like yet (which I'm assuming it will be eventually), as I literally kept nothing. At least in Hades or whatever there would still have been some loot or something to show for it, but as it is it just feels really deflating.

 

I cannot understand the high scores for this everywhere, it's just nowhere near as good as Prey for example, a game which many reviewers slept on and it didn't get the recognition it deserved at the time I think.

 

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I was also surprised that with the time loop concept

 

Spoiler

That it essentially amounts to window dressing, and is just a way to make four levels feel like a pseudo sixteen.

 

But unfortunately it doesn't seem to add any depth with that, you are basically driving your experience through the menus rather than within the world. And those menus are more convoluted than they need to be. It keeps trying to rip your immersion away to direct you towards something, or to tell you a thing to do, at least in the first few hours. But then even when it stops holding your hand as much it's like a series of selectable objectives where you just have to go there and kill whatever or flip a switch etc.

 

It's really pared back from anything else in the genre. And that's no good when combat is this dull.

 

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1 hour ago, DualSense said:


its best to play this as a bite sized chunks…get into a level, complete the assigned tasks and out. There’s plenty of opportunity to collect stuff.  I can’t imagine spending hours in a single level, you’ll be revisiting over and over anyway. Though I hardly think the games at fault for you jumping of a balcony without looking….

 

That's the thing though - either way it adds up to several hours of "progression" on that run with nothing to show for it. You don't even get the chance to claw something back a la Dark Souls.

 

Yeah I mean the jumping over the railing was obviously a bit of player error there, but honestly I found it hard to tell which bits were above water in that level at times. And my only deaths in the game were mostly from that kind of stuff rather than from enemies, which never presented any challenge at all.

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One thing that really helped me is realising there's basically no penalty for leaving a level and coming back. You can just loop and wait until that time of day, and start again. Once you know what to do, you can whizz through a level pretty quickly.

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22 minutes ago, K said:

One thing that really helped me is realising there's basically no penalty for leaving a level and coming back. You can just loop and wait until that time of day, and start again. Once you know what to do, you can whizz through a level pretty quickly.


Yeah I’m pretty much just blasting through levels getting better weapons, slabs, etc and infusing things I like at the moment. I’m a latecomer to mouse/keyboard on PC so it’s also becoming a bit of a training ground for playing with those. Makes those headshots really easy, but I’m still fucking useless at actually moving around a level gracefully. 

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Yeah I mean, in this instance I didn't really have to retreat as I'd "won". It was the pratfall that sealed me giving up and turning it off for the evening once I lost everything.

 

I think it's just not for me. It doesn't do the immersive sim stuff very well at all compared to Arkane's previous work, and coming off games like Ultrakill and Prodeus the combat is genuinely soporific which doesn't help maintain my interest.

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Also: gun jamming. Fine maybe in an immersive sim game like Prey or System Shock 2 where you have limited resources and where you might not actually be firing weapons very often, and where combat is more of a difficult choice whether to engage in. But in Deathloop, where combat is more readily encouraged, and guns and ammo are plentiful from the off: it's just extremely annoying. And all it does is break up the flow of that combat and makes the initial enjoyment of actually using those guns soured for me. Of course you can get better guns, but you have to get used to a lot of random jams until then. It just seemed more annoying than necessary in the kind of game they've made.

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15 minutes ago, DualSense said:


once you unlock some of the better upgrades you’ll be moving through the levels like a ninja.  
 

You can go from the start of a level to a visionary kill,set up another, and out in less than a minute should you want to.


It’s more my ineptitude with mouse and keyboard. I do much prefer the accuracy though, so it’s a matter of getting comfortable with movement 

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AI aside, I am having a tremendous time with this. At lunch today, I had an incredibly tense stealth run where I stalked Fia and her goons round the reactor. When you use Shift and Aether, it's like you're the Predator - slipping in and out of your camouflage and nailgunning your way through a whole army of henchmen. And last night I re-did Egor, and had a pretty cool sniper battle using the ability suppressor things.

 

Some of the visionaries seem a bit boring. I don't quite get what's supposed to be interesting about Harriet's boss fight. And it needs more enemy variety - Dishonored 2 had the clockwork soldiers, the envisioned, the dogs, the witches, etc to mix things up, whereas the Eternalists in this are mostly drunk people with shotguns. I sort of feel like two slabs isn't enough to carry at any time, as I always seem to choose something that isn't especially useful for the current level. But the process of mapping the levels out in your mind, both physically and temporally, is fascinating.

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I've got an ambivalent realtionship with this game. I can start the game, have loads of fun and I'm really enjoying it but just as I die or switch region my momentum is lost and all of a sudden I feel the game is a chore, only to get fun again later. 

 

Overall the game is fun and unique but it's as if I'm not finding the true magic I suspect might be in there somewhere, especially as it reviewed so well. 

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After actually getting the ability to infuse weapons and abilities the game improved a fair bit - I also started enjoying exploration a bit more. The flaws are still very apparent though, but like a lot of games "making your own fun" goes a long way. It's a shame these abilities and fun stuff take such a long time to get permanent access to unlike in the Dishonored games.

 

I'm really not sold on the invasion mechanic. It just doesn't work for this kind of game, and it's more of an annoyance than anything else as sometimes when I'm enjoying making my own fun with the sandbox, that invasion just happens and rudely interrupts whatever I was enjoying doing. Even in the Souls games, you could choose to play with invasions entirely turned off apart from specific scripted encounters in specific areas. The fact it's forced in this for me doesn't benefit the game, as even getting the loot from Juliana is just a clone of what items you get through normal progression with the Visionaries.

 

I tried doing the online mode where you invade others - other than letting you be an absolute prick to other players and interrupting their game in a way that I know must be annoying, it was obviously very one-note and doesn't in itself add much to the main game other than a bit of a diversion.

 

I'll probably finish the game now as I did feel like I progressed a fair bit and would like to see other parts, but those invasions really put the fly in the ointment of my enjoyment getting there, no matter how dumb the single player invader is.

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2 hours ago, Rayn said:

 I'm really enjoying it but just as I die or switch region my momentum is lost and all of a sudden I feel the game is a chore, only to get fun again later. 

 

I think for me this is the main issue with the game*: the "rhythm" of play just feels off a lot of the time. It all starts and stops in different contexts very abruptly, whether it's being invaded stopping whatever you were doing, dying then forcing a loop to start again, finishing a mission and then stopping to do your infusion admin, or even restarting a new branch of leads at a different time period. It's very "bitty".

 

 

*as well as the AI obviously

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My take on it is that it’s loads of fun and very compelling, but hugely flawed. There is a big element of “*deep sigh*, I’ve got to do this again, do I?” even though the thing you’ve got to do again can be banged out in five minutes. It feels quite small as a game because there are just the four levels, all of which feel quite claustrophobic. Objectively speaking, it’s a pretty big game as each area is intricately designed and is present in four variations, but it feels smaller than it is. It’s interesting psychological quirk that I can quite happily grind out levels in RPGs and shooters, but sometimes chafe at redoing stuff in a game specifically set up to encourage replays and to incentivise you to do it in a different way.

 

It feels like you don’t have quite enough tools to play with. In an ideal world, going loud in a level would be like the way you could endlessly replay Goldeneye or Perfect Dark levels with the all guns cheat on – running through a level with dual magnums felt very different to doing it with shotguns or grenade launchers or laptop guns. The same goes for the stealth – Dishonored gave you so many options, like possessing a rat and running through the drains or blinking from rooftop to rooftop or stealing someone’s face and walking in through the front door. I would hazard a guess that in Deathloop, they had to streamline the game a lot to stop the player (or the developers) from being overwhelmed – the time loop structure must enormously complicate the game from a design point of view, and having twelve different stealth options and ten different weapon classes must complicate it even further.

 

I have to confess I quite like the invasions. It’s annoying when Juliana uses Havoc because you can’t damage her and she kills you almost instantly, and it feels like you need some way of at least hinting which direction she’s coming from, but I’ve had some very satisfying running battles with her across the rooftops of Upraam.

 

Fundamentally, the structure is there, but the mechanics just need to be a bit tighter. The shooting needs to be up there with actual FPS games; at the moment, it feels like the shooting in an RPG. I keep banging on about Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, but I had hours and hours of fun tormenting the guards in those games by turning invisible and attaching remote mines to an entire garrison of people, and this badly needs to support that kind of evil sandbox activity.

 

But for all that, it is a lot of fun. Combining a blinged-out high-powered, rapid-reload sniper rifle with the invisibility powerup is absolutely fucking hilarious, as you clip someone, turn invisible, zip to a different structure, and repeat. Kicking people off a roof with Shift is equally piss funny. I haven’t even gotten all the different slabs yet. It’s great fun, but it’s not quite there.

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Random question: what are those things that look like electric hobs? They're red circular grill things that you see around the complex. They occasionally have sentry turrets and slab suppressors on them.

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I think also one of my problems with the game atmospherically as well as mechanically, is that the player's actual relationship with time is entirely menu driven. It keeps making a big thing about Time being your plaything in all the

 

Spoiler

overlay messages in the world

 

But in practice that's really not the case. It just acts as a level select by changing what's accessible rather than any actual direct gameplay consequence. Outer Wilds is a good example of actually interacting with and exploiting a time loop in gameplay terms - you can see time shaping the world in, well, real-time. This just uses it more for window dressing for a very traditional objective based experience.

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7 minutes ago, K said:

Random question: what are those things that look like electric hobs? They're red circular grill things that you see around the complex. They occasionally have sentry turrets and slab suppressors on them.

 

These cause turrets to suddenly manifest in response if you trip the alarms or destroy nearby security cameras.

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Apologies for being one of those people who gives their view on a game in real time, but this has really picked up. Once you have a good selection of guns and some interesting powers, the combat becomes a lot more fun. I have a silenced pistol, an SMG that turns into dual-wielded pistols and a sniper rifle, which are good for pretty much any situation, and there are some really interesting trinkets that let you set up really distinct builds - i.e. someone who can hack and subvert a turret from across the map, or someone who is an absolute whizz with dual-wielded guns. The AI is still bad, but the combat seems better balanced than I thought it was - you can rinse through people but can also easily take a lot of damage if you get careless.

 

Using the upgraded Nexus power, the one that propagates to nearby people, on the party level in the evening is incredible. One of the best "hang on... what if I...?" moments I've ever had in a game. 

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The party level + the Fugue slab + that upgrade that makes Eternalists turn on each other when affected by Fugue + that upgrade that infects someone with Fugue when they kill someone affected by it =

 

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Sorry to be a Debbie Downer then, but after a few hours I’m bored out of my mind with this. It started picking up but after a few days away tried getting in to it again today and it’s just frustrating and dull for me. Another one deleted from the backlog. 

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Unfortunately I'm starting to lose interest in this too. There is a "sweet spot" with it, when you first get decent abilities and weapons and still have a lot of exploring to do, but now a few more hours in and the gameplay "loop" is basically selecting a goal you need to complete to finish the game, warping in, having to fight Juliana often even though you don't want or need any upgrades, go though an area you've now had to traverse a dozen times with the same enemies, find the clue, go back the way you came, spend a while in menus fiddling with what upgrades to keep, rinse and repeat.

 

It feels like you're going through the motions generally towards what I assume is the end of the game, as unfortunately it doesn't really evolve in gameplay terms.

 

I think I'm close to finishing it now so I will, but overall I think it's Arkane's weakest game and a bit mediocre (in a collection of good to great ones), with a few flashes of brilliance. I wasn't really sold on some of the writing either or even the tone of it.

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Comparisons to the number of options in Dishonored feel strange to me. Dishonored by its nature you only ever do a level twice at most, so it needs set up for about three options. You notice the feeling of a lack of options here because:

- you’re touching each level tens of times

- at some point you naturally start to go “efficient”, and therefore stop experimenting.

 

but I think there’s at least^ as many options, they’re just not all as efficient given the structure of the game.
 

^ except 

Spoiler

For killing some of the visionaries: you only kill frank if you do a, and therefore you only really have one way of killing a couple of others, etc.

And that’s the biggest disappointment to me.

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Welp, finished now. Rather unsatisfying ending I thought.

 

Spoiler

Any of them. And the big "twist" about Juliana is rather icky as well considering where the dialogue had gone, and basically nothing gets resolved or particularly explained or elaborated on.

 

The end text screen says congratulations for discovering the mystery at the heart of deathloop... Which would be great if they could tell me what that mystery I've now discovered actually was.

 

Enjoyable doing the last loop well though. But I'm quite glad it's done now.

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