Sunday, 16 February 2020

On three houses (3): Cindered Shadows

DLC 4 is the last scheduled expansion of Three Houses and is also the largest expansion. A completely new side story alongside with new characters, quests and activities that provides further clues about the main story.

Having new characters and activities means you need to play side story plus a complete rundown in the main story to experience everything -- which is too much for a player who have already completed the game 5 times. Below are my thoughts after completing the side story with a taste of main story with the presence of the new contents.

Part I: on game mechanics

Part II: maddening and more

*spoilers alert*

Side story

Did it in hard classic and it does not disappoint me. Enemies have config slightly above the "main story" hard, but with limited resources (though not "lacking resources") and being inaccessible to auxiliary battles it could be pretty hard. The way the game works here is pretty close to that in classic Fire Emblem (like Blazing Blade), so as the difficulty.

The side story consists of 6 unique battles. Enemies are compactly packed that does not allow the slightest bit of excessive training.

I personally like the third battle the most -- the two possible routes gives flexibility on how you can play the stage. Actually I figured that it is the safest to use both of them.

The final boss is also interesting given its gimmicky special attack. I found however, the fight would still be possible without the post-AOE weakening. That would be a lot more interesting as well as pushing the difficulty up to the maddening bar.

Story-wise, there is not a lot that you can do in a 7 chapter span where the second half are all about consecutive battles. Someone data-mined that there will be 13 chapters and a more detailed stories can be delivered in such length.

With the introduction of Abyss, I expect them to focus on interaction among underground students and residents because those residents are reasons the student were there. But with 7 chapters only IS did enough to introduce the students. The interactions are left for support conversations, which are also nicely written.

New classes

Yes that is a great solution to what I pointed out before. The new classes aimed to provide full flexibility between magic accessibility and melee potential of the characters.

Dark fliers is the long awaited class, fliers that can use magic. Even with sacrificed growth the class completely worth it given how overpowered fliers can be in the game.

Valkyries seem to clash with holy/dark knight at the master class, but it bridges well between the mage class and the magic knight classes since the lance requirement is gone. It's range+1 also allows long range magic snipers other than Lorenz.

Tricksters and war monks are adjustments to melee-magical units without the problem of mortal servants where growth were split 50/50 that doesn't really work on characters that fit. These two classes are primarily for melee based (trickster for dex based and war monk for vit/def based) characters who also wants to use heal at times.

Trickster is also a bridge between sword users and mortal servants, if one trains reason and faith simultaneously. However this is really a class taylor made for Yuri with his growth distribution especially with his unique combat art, the foul play. In side story I would made him MVP as he and Edelgard combined are capable to take all physical attacks. And while Edelgard slashes back for 35 damage, Yuri simply goes for 15+45 critical...

In side story, the two magical units are very fragile due to its limited movement (compared to master classes), the abundance of stairs (for valkyries) and team composition that couldn't protect them well. The war monk is kind of balanced -- he can sweep but you do not want to put him up front too often. Yuri of course survives anywhere on the map.

If we are to use these classes in the main story with proper team setup, it is expected that dark fliers will be used as a final form. Valkyrie might be a bridge to magic knight but it may also be used as a final form if one wants to do long range snips. Trickster is probably reserved for Yuri or at most Felix. War still awkward for me.

New region and activities

That I do not have full experience of. But new area's new area. They fill the area with new NPCs and new dialogues that consolidates the story further and this is never a bad thing.

Scraps may be useful for maddening or players who really lack resources. Altar is useful for New Game+ players who wants to get specific item where they didn't get because they skipped some game elements, and that's also good.

The idea of mysterious teacher is nice although I still haven't got a full picture on how it works, but it looks interesting. And for the rest, I am probably won't have the time to explore since it will take me another 15-20 hours to go through the game again...

Cindered Shadows

4 new well-crafted characters and they fit well in Abyss.

Hapi the anti-social who disbeliefs the church. Constance a fallen noble with Schizophrenia. Balthus the bold, the gambler and the alcoholic. Though nothing too surprising you have got to say these settings do work.

And of course Yuri. As a house leader (kind of) he completes the weapon cycle among the leaders, and he also completes the personality quadrants among them. He is charismatic but disbeliefs in the church unlike Claude. His charm and wise fits with his trickster class, but what surrounds him does not give him free will after all. He is the classic Japanese RPG protagonist, and a fitting last piece to this Fire Emblem sequel.

I wish that the support between Yuri and Byleth(s) could have been more romantic -- Yuri can flirt Ingrid without backfiring (just look at Sylvain), but he seems to be so clueless against us...


So, what should I grade Fire Emblem Three Houses for now?

School system that attracts everyone except hardcore classic players. New class system that is pretty much complete upon DLC. Multiple difficulties that can be completed with or without extra battles. Up to 40 characters with thousands of support conversations.

...all in one game. This is Fire Emblem Three Houses.

I would give 7.8/10 after writing (1). But with DLC the game probably worths a score of 8.5/10. A masterpiece that is for everybody, whether you are hardcore SRPG player or not.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

夢.十夜 (X4) Encore



此刻的我正坐在南4館的攤檔上當吉祥物兼攤主。正確來說,我現在正穿著深藍色軍裝飾演著幻影異聞錄♯FE蒼井樹(Aoi Itsuki),在她的攤檔裡幫忙。攤裡擺著新刊[火紋英雄:利用深度學習量化移位輔助技的價值]、既刊[火紋英雄:亂數機制在回合制棋盤上的優劣]和一本寄賣火紋風花雪月的狼師x青獅班級同人本。


另一方面新刊的人氣好像沒有預期中好。本來我以為遊戲邁進第三年的話老玩家陸續合出自己的+10初代(1st gen)角,在初代角合滿+10在能力(BST)值上也打不過四代(4th gen)角的情況下,移位技能應該變得更重要才對。將移位技能量化一下的話不就能知道自己的+10角色能在主流活多久了嗎?我坐了快半天才想通背後的原因。





















既刊還剩五本、新刊還有十二三本、青獅本剛好賣光。以學術本來說這次的成績也還不錯,就算現在收攤將所有本本帶回家也不會造成太大的負擔。要不乾脆找遠一點的學術攤搭訕順便把多出來的的本本送出去呢?但是這種內容不一定對到純學術攤檔的口味,唯一內容比較接近、出Q(quantum) M(machine) L(learning)本的攤檔也已經打過招呼了。







「沒有呢,這種JK服太常見了。我只是拿舊cos服循環再用一下啦。對了,你要的本本我都幫你買了喔。」她從旁邊接過紙袋,棕色的紙袋上是叼著花朵的白髮少女,旁邊寫有white parabellum的字樣,毫無疑問就是白髮教副教主凪白みと的作品。隨著教主三嶋くろね與副教主凪白みと人氣水漲船高,更多繪師也投入了量產白髮少女的行列。在新晉白髮教徒之中偏向成熟風格的ふーろ應該會成為明日之星吧。




我打開紙袋翻出屬於她的本子:「嗯……[音遊機台現況2019 ver.]。那旁邊的[DDR 上級向段位全攻略]有看到嗎?我看你也卡在十段好一段時間了。」


琪魯諾數學教室⑨週年版之基數(cardinal)……那一檔的新刊似乎是low-dimensional topology評論呢,跟你的興趣很像啊。」「……!」















Thursday, 23 January 2020

拉麵食記2020:拉博、燈花、Due Italian



這次我挑空去了一遍橫濱的拉麵博物館。七家拉麵都相當吸引,但我的胃容量只夠我吃其中三家。其中的沖繩麵比較令人失望,但德國和加拿大拉麵都做得不錯,我對這兩家拉麵的感想會在下面詳述。此外我也試了燈花和老面孔Due Italian,每一家都是值得一試再試的拉麵。希望各位看過以後有空也能試一下 :)





Ryu's noodle bar

從無垢拉麵走出來,旁邊的Ryu's noodle bar裡面只坐了一個橫濱風小混混(?)(看DRB太多了),外面也沒有人在排隊。不過既然是雞白就值得我們進去試一下。

我點了西京風味噌雞白迷你拉麵……結果遞上來的根本是full size拉麵,只能說真不愧是加拿大。以小火熬出的雞白非常柔和,味噌則以甜味噌、白味噌為主,與一般的咸味噌拉麵不同以外亦與雞白非常合襯。整碗拉麵的配料是為了讓食客最大程度感受到湯底的甜味:薄切豬肉均勻地分散在湯底裡,雪耳則吸滿了味噌湯底的甜味。拉麵上撒了幾粒乾辣椒,雖然沒有為湯汁帶來甚麼辣感,但直接吃乾辣椒放進口中也是夠嗆--乾辣椒帶來辣感的同時也將口中的甜膩感橫掃一空,讓人有要再來一碗的感覺。




不知為何我總有一種香港有燈花分店的感覺,不過反正都到日本了那試一下也無妨。心裡假設了燈花是高檔拉麵,實際發現它在food court裡面時難免有種無謂的失望。當然食物好不好吃才是重點,金子半之助不也開了在燈花的旁邊嗎?高檔餐廳開在food court反而更好:附近選擇夠多的話大家反而不一定集中排同一家,這樣我們才有機會嚐到這些「高檔拉麵」。



Due Italian



這個假期我一共去了兩次Due Italian。

第一次為了趕上last order我胡亂點了限定的香菜拉麵(?),對於日本人來說略為新奇,不過對東南亞人來說就比較常見。這香菜拉麵其實就是酸辣湯底配上大量香菜、菠菜和炸蒜的台(?)風拉麵。肥叉燒當然是這種重口味拉麵的絕佳配搭,酸和辣的平衡讓人忍不住一口接一口地直接整碗清掉。我覺得這種酸辣湯底是做得挺成功的,就是不清楚日本人能否接受。



第二次帶朋友去,我選的是正月限定肥肝味噌拉麵。價錢讓人嚇一跳,不過既然是Due Italian那試一下也無妨。