Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”?

After wrapping up Deathloop I was having a poke around for something a bit loot-y and indeed shoot-y to accompany my regular card games. Darktide is tempting, but ludicrously expensive (i.e. more than a fiver in this world of crazy pricing). There’ve been a few seasons in Destiny 2 since I hung up my warlock’s boots but I couldn’t really get back into it when I got it updated recently, I think that porridge may have cooled. I seem to have got stuck in the ‘D’ section of the library, as the next thing that popped up was The Division 2. I can’t actually remember when I bought it, pretty sure it was a sale rather than at launch; I’d given it a go on a couple of occasions but hadn’t made it past level 10.

It seems to have stuck this time. I don’t know if they’ve made combat a little easier, or if my playing style is better suited coming to it from the cautious and stealthy Deathloop rather than the running-around-shouting-DAKKA-DAKKA-DAKKA Destiny 2. I’ve hit level 30 and am slowly working through the World Tiers, playing solo; I’ve tried occasional matchmaking but without the patience to leave it for more than 30 seconds looking for group members, I presume most of the action is further in to the endgame. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of activities, the map is absolutely littered with caches to uncover, side activities, control points and what-not. It’s ideal for dropping in, plinking a few ne’er-do-wells and wandering off, or settling in for a longer session tackling main missions.

As with similar games, finding a weapon and skill combination that clicks is pretty crucial to its longevity. While levelling I’d equip whatever new guns happened to drop so got a bit of a feel for most types and my favoured primary weapon is the L86 light machine gun, a solid all-rounder. This shouldn’t have been a massive shock, as one of my go-to weapons in The Division was… the L86. There are plenty of little tweaks and enhancements, but The Division 2 hasn’t changed things terribly radically since the first game (fair enough, turning the sequel into a platforming puzzle game with 8-bit sprites would have been a brave/insane choice). The four year old Division 2, not so different from the seven year old Division, hardly feels ancient; I haven’t got a particularly good eye for these things but the graphics seem perfectly comparable to current releases. Things seem have reached something of a plateau; a good game always lasts (I was playing Nethack after Baldur’s Gate came out, though in no small part due to it being less obvious to spot on a monitor in the office at quiet times), and the game-as-a-service model means games now can evolve over numerous updates, but looking at 1993 (e.g. Doom and Myst) there’s not much that would still seem (more or less) current in 2003 (compared to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Star Wars Galaxies), whereas there’s plenty of 2013 still soldiering on today (Grand Theft Auto Online just got an update a week back, I missed out last month on the tenth anniversary of my first War Thunder post).

I was listening to Kermode & Mayo’s Take and they were discussing haptic suits that would allow you to ‘feel’ what characters on screen can feel, gunshots being an example. I think the idea is understandable in games (as long as said gunshots are toned right down) but really quite odd for a film, unless it was in the first person. There was a brief discussion of the frequent agent for technological change (mostly to introduce the word ‘teledildonics’ to a wider audience), and Mark Kermode said that in his opinion cinema technology reached the ideal with widescreen, technicolour and surround sound (I may have the specifics slightly wrong). 3D, 4DX and similar fripperies were, at best, a passing fad to try and get people into cinemas. Perhaps we’re approaching a similar point with games; the underlying technology is, if not perfected then heading that way. Perhaps the next big advancements will come in how games are produced; with all the buzz around AI art and chat games could be next, produce a blockbuster game at the click of a mouse without needing all those pesky (and expensive) humans, if you don’t mind it being a bunch of other games squished together but looking a bit weird around the edges. Perhaps this very post has been produced by AI as a precursor, seeding the idea. Except if that was the case it would never draw attention to itself by making that suggestion, would it? Unless it was some sort of fiendish double bluff. But it couldn’t be, could it? No, it couldn’t. No AI would ever end a post with a poor version of The Red Hat of Patferrick that oh-so-few readers would recognise and still less give a fig about, would it? Or would it? Perhaps it would. Except it hasn’t. Has it?

(no, it hasn’t)

(or has it?)


4 thoughts on “Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”?

  1. Yeebo

    To my, perhaps feeble, perceptions graphics have indeed plateaued out in the last decade. I honestly can’t tell the difference between what my $500 PS5 does on a giant TV and what a $5000 gaming PC can put out any more. Even the transition from PS3 to PS4 was so subtle at first that I just didn’t bother and skipped a whole console generation. Don’t get me wrong, Horizon and Cyberpunk are astounding to behold, but they aren’t orders of magnitude better than a high end game from ten years ago. Games from ten years ago are still pretty mind blowing if your formative years were spent playing games with abstract shapes made out of pixels that you could sort of hallucinate represented something specific.

    I also cannot see the point of a high end gaming PC any more. Any game that really needs a card with 64 gigs of dedicated VRAM to run well is just poorly optimized, unless you are literally running it in a movie theatre for a user in the front row.

    1. Zoso Post author

      Indeed; way back in the day I was upgrading the entire PC every couple of years, then it got to the point that a new graphics card every few years did the trick, the current rig is coming up on five years old now, I haven’t changed a component, and it’s still doing the trick (especially with the games being a similar age…)

  2. ntw

    Always good to see a new post. :)

    There seems to be a significant overlap between your tastes and mine, I’ve tried a few games based on your thoughts and it’s gratifying to see that you occasionally try games I’ve liked and enjoy them too.

    Of late (the last few years) I’m finding that I enjoy gaming most with friends, and Div2 caters for that experience really well (ubi’s launcher tells me I’ve 298h ingame). Playing as a team is a great experience and working together to shoot bads in the face is a blast, bossfights are more interesting and the sense of satisfaction from actually working as a team to flank or stack debuffs, etc is warm and tingly! :) Furthermore on the occasions when nobody else is available and I still fancy some gunplay, Div2 allows for occasional solo runs, whilst still feeling like you’re making progress.

    If you love your L86, you should definitely try out a Stoner – what’s not to love about a 200 round mag on an LMG?!?

    If you’re keen to try grouping up, give me a shout.

    1. Zoso Post author

      Nice; sounds like the groove I got into with Destiny 2. If it continues to stick I might give you a shout, and I’ll have to look out the Stoner, 200 rounds sounds just the ticket!

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