Monday, January 14, 2019

Wild Arms 3, Part 11 - Sierra Hotel

Becky Lynch is all about the cha-ching.

RIP Gene Okerland

A random townsperson gets all philosophical with our heroes, and lets them know that there is No Fate But What We least until Terminator 3 when we find out the same thing is doomed to happen no matter what.

 Next I'm taking on a sidequest of sorts that I missed doing earlier. Gunner's Heaven is like the optional trials in Dragon Quest XI where you have to fight several waves of enemies. It has a trio of ascending difficulty levels to take on. It's designed to be challenged throughout the game, and the difficulty levels are designed for level 40, 60, and 80+ respectively. I'm just here to take on the first one, though the second isn't outside of the realm of possibility.

 I've got 25 turns to get through the waves of the Novice difficulty level. Yep, it's exactly like DQXI.

 This is a real challenge because each wave is notably different than the next. Some are melee-resistant, some are spell-resistant...


 The first challenge is finished well under the turn limit (around 13 turns). I tried the second-tier challenge and couldn't get through it at current strength levels. So what did I get for the tier I finished, you ask? A trophy (in the PS4 version) and the Item Scope, which'll be important later.

 Next it's time to get the Teardrop for the bad guys so they'll (cough) let Maya go. This dungeon has some super-obscure things you have to do that are obvious after the fact. For example, here you have to use the Grappling Hook to progress by firing it up at that thing overhead, which you can barely see. It's likely a lot of players ran around in circles during this dungeon trying to figure out what to do.

 Clive with an Action Shot~!

 The next room is even worse, as you're confronted with a locked door and no clue how to open it. You have to use this item...yes, a magazine. An ID Card falls out, which can be used to open the door.

 ...seriously, how many people got stuck on this dungeon? So much stuff in this game is out of left-field.

 Here's the Teardrop, and a poignant moment.

 The bad guys show up, and it's time to make the exchange. The Teardrop for Maya. ...wait, if they could just teleport in here, why didn't they get it themselves? The game probably explained this away already, but if it did I missed it.

 Virginia hands over the Teardrop and they laugh at her because they have no intention of handing over Maya. Well, that's some douche behavior because there's no real reason for them to keep her.

 But wait! Maya's crew blast their way into the room and Leehalt drops the Teardrop. Time for a fight.





 After the fight* who appears but Asgard, who we thought we'd defeated. He's well-spoken now (must be in Perfect form) and makes off with the Teardrop. Oh well.

* - The fight was the same as all of the other fights with them, except it was all of them at once with their gimmicks. Their HP hasn't really gone up much and we're a lot more powerful than the previous fights, so it was over fast.

 The bad guys may have escaped with the Teardrop, and we may not have Maya... but get this. Alfred developed a GPS tracking flake and put it on the Teardrop, so now we can find the new lair of the bad guys and take them out at the source.

But wait! It turns out we can't even go into their base because it has some sort of barrier around it. Our GPS flakes are USELESS! 

 The chief of Ethos gives me some information on the evil base. Turns out there's another way to get to the underworld where the bad guys are.

Unfortunately, while it doesn't have an Everything-Repellent force field, this other route is also sealed. It requires having all 12 Mediums, and we've only got ::checks notes:: ten. Looks like I'm going after the last two before I do anything else.

 First, though, it's time for me to undertake the most ill-advised sidequest. I'm going to take out the 15 Telepath Towers and their UFO overlords, mainly for the heaps of EXP you get for doing that...also because it's missable and if you go much further than where I am now the quest simply stops being available. It's the biggest sidequest in the game, and it's baffling that it just poofs like that towards the end. In any case, you start it by going back to the Ark of Destiny and grappling up to the higher level of the library.

 Read the book about UFOs to get things moving. Once this is done, you can talk to this one dude in Laxisland...

 ...the aptly-named Roswell, who has something super serial to talk to us about.

 He convinces our hero of the dire, imminent threat posed to Filgaia by UFOs and their radio beacons that can be found on the overworld. I'm not sure if I buy his crazy alien stories. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to fighting ancient demons.

 Behold, I've found...

 ...the GOP.

 The Telepath Tower sidequest consists of finding these 15 beacons on the overworld and fighting them. These fights are drawn-out and TEDIOUS.

 They have weak attacks and primarily rely on inflicting all kinds of annoying status effects on your party. The key is to go in with low health (not TOO low though, 400ish HP is advised) and use Valiant on the group to give them the missing health attack power boost. We've been heavily relying on that for most of the second half of the game, and I wonder if that was intentional design.

 The beacons fire back with Kamehameha waves. The main worry is the status effects though. Early Telepath Towers can only use one particular status effect, while later Towers can use multiple status effects. Since it's technically 3 targets, a Tower can attack 3 times per turn at first. The key to winning these fights, besides Valiant-sploiting, is to equip status effect wards on your characters. They're worth a ton in this game since a maxed-out ward ability gives you 100% resistance to that status effect.

 Defeat five of them, and aliens start appearing on the overworld to take you on. These things primarily assault the party with status effects as well, and give large amounts of EXP. It's worth holding off on finishing the sidequest and grinding out some of these fights to bump everyone's levels up. The Tower fights themselves give a lot of EXP too. The whole thing is incredibly time-consuming though, and can easily eat up 3-5 hours. It's a DULL 3-5 hours too, as you spend a lot of time chipping away at high-HP enemies while half the party is asleep or stunned or something.

 ...and there are FIFTEEN of these things. I began regretting my choices around Tower #6. Some of them are in ridiculously out of the way parts of the overworld, too. Places you have to park far away from and run to on foot (while being harassed by status-happy aliens).

 Before Roswell was only super serial. Now he's HYPER serial! Yeah, okay Roswell. Whatever you say dude.

 I've been at this for a couple hours and I'm not even quite halfway through it yet. My God. If I didn't have other things to watch while I grind out these fights I would have turned the game off a while ago.


 Spider-Man for the PS4 is AWESOME. Here I am on top of the (very incorrect-looking in the game) World Trade Center.

 Other parts of New York are a little more accurate. Here's Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink, the most joyous place in NYC in the winter.

 The iconic view from on top of Rockefeller Center. It bears a slight resemblance to the real-world deal, though the Bank of America Tower (center foreground) doesn't have the awesome slant that it does in real life:

Here's the same view for comparison.

 In this game's universe, Avengers Tower is a few blocks north of where it is in the movies (so next to Central Park) and significantly taller.

 Here I am web-slinging across Central Park. My God this game is SO COOL.

 There's a shot of Avengers Tower from the ground. Speaking of the ground, it's teeming with life in this game even though the developers didn't need to make that kind of an effort (since most players will likely stick to the air/roofs 90% of the time). The streets are full of people just milling about and doing stuff. What a great game.

 Meanwhile, back at the ranch! I discover that the Raftina summon I got in the previous episode is actually a full revive/heal on the entire party. That's got to be the best summon in the game by a mile, though I've got two left to get.

 Another trick for the Telepath Tower sidequest: Between fights if you need to rest up (due to too much max HP loss from all of the getting knocked out, most likely), the fastest way to get everyone down to low health again before the next fight is to go back to the Den of Miasma and run into the damaging floors repeatedly.

 Just when I thought I was almost done, it turns out that Telepath Tower 15 requires an item from Millennium Puzzle #13. I've been avoiding these, and it's unfortunate because they're fun to figure out. They're just too time-consuming in a game that's already overly time-consuming. This one was particularly tricky because the platform is narrow and falling off resets the puzzle. After matching same-colored blocks for a little while, I got...

 ...this extremely useful item that lets me warp to previously-visited towns at will, something that would have saved me a lot of trouble earlier. In this case, I'm pretty thankful that the game forced me to go do a puzzle before the final Tower.

 After defeating the 15th Tower* a UFO finally appears, observing our heroes. Time to take the fight directly to the aliens. From here you talk to Roswell again which triggers alien attacks in the Sandcraft and on your flying dragon, and you need to defeat a certain number of them in both situations to cause the Mothership to appear. Defeat the Mothership and the alien menace is gone from the world. However, I'm holding off on spawning/defeating it so I can grind out some levels on the random encounter aliens before they disappear. They give, no joke, 20-60x more exp than other random fights at this stage. Wouldn't mind some more levels to make the endgame smoother.

 Time for a detour through an older dungeon to get to this random cliff, where you find...

 ...the next idol, which is a crucial one for alien-slaying. This one summons the esper Justine when used at the guardian shrine, so we're headed back there.

 You know the drill, we've done this a zillion times already. If I hadn't just spent several hours fighting pillars I'd probably have the game beaten already, so I'm a sour-puss now.

 Justine is basically a giant wolf-man with a Dark Souls greatsword. He has some very useful spells like...

 ...Hyper, which doubles a character's attack power temporarily. It can be Extension'd by Gallows to land on the entire party, too.

 Once Justine is defeated I can add him to the party lineup. Most importantly, summoning Justine results in an insta-kill attack on all enemies, which works on these super high-HP aliens that otherwise take ages to bring down.

 It's also a really cool-looking summon. The effectiveness of the insta-gib relies on the character's FP; I believe the percentage chance of it working directly correlates to the FP of the caster. At this point, with our characters all around level 65, that means it's got about a 65% chance of wiping out every enemy when cast.

 After getting a few more levels one-shotting aliens on the overworld, I head back to Gunner's Heaven to take out the second-tier fights. They're designed for an endgame party (while the third and final tier is basically designed for parties that can fight uberbosses).

 The second tier of fights is REALLY DIFFICULT even at this level. Most of the enemy waves consist of a bunch of foes, and they hit hard.

 The big problem is the final wave, which is full of these little yellow bastards who inflict status effects when they hit you.

 They scuttle all around the battlefield, devastating our heroes with their tiny hands.

 After barely surviving that sidequest, our heroes stagger back to Roswell. We've done well so far, but now we must deal with the greatest threat: A UFO invasion!

 First, they only attack you on the Sandcraft. Luckily the Sandcraft can one-shot them because it can one-shot everything. Defeat five of these UFOs, and...

 ...UFOs now attack you while flying around in the airship!

 These fights take significantly longer because your flying ship can't be upgraded and thus does "normal" damage. This just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

 The strategy here is to build up some FP, cast the attack boost spell, then unleash the all-out beam attack that uses all of your FP. Hopefully it'll defeat the UFO outright, and if not you can follow up with a couple of regular attacks. The UFO is attacking you between EVERY action you make, which means these fights really drag out.

 And of course, because this game has to pad EVERYTHING, you can't just fight one of them or five of them. Noooo. You have to fight TWENTY of these things and every fight is exactly the same (and exactly as drawn-out).

 Hey, the map is almost filled-out just from natural play. At this point I might as well try to fill in the rest on purpose.

 After defeating 20 UFOs, we get this message. That wasn't as tedious as the Telepath Towers, at least.

 The Mothership now randomly attacks as you fly around. This thing has about 10x the HP of the other UFOs, so this fight goes on for a while. There's almost no possibility of losing the fight due to Lombardia's HP, so really it just eats up time.

 For defeating the Mothership, we get a trophy and an EX File Key, which unlocks extras after you finish the game. That was basically an uberboss-tier foe, as only uberbosses drop EX File Keys. Still, I don't know why I spent hours doing this sidequest, but I'm officially done with sidequests in this game. That was the most tedious thing I've done in a game in YEARS. And the worst part was I couldn't stop once I started it since it added aliens and later UFOs to the overworld that made travel a huge hassle until the quest was over.

 The UFOs disperse so I can fly around freely again. Which means it's time to...

 ...finish filling in the world map! The last few squares got pretty difficult to spot.

 Well that's random, why bring up Ann Coulter at a time like this?

 Seriously, is it really necessary to bring up Ann Coulter like this??

 ...oh, she's talking about the Abyss, a many-floored semi-optional dungeon.

This is our next stop. Turns out you have to do the first ten floors of it to get an item that progresses the story (the idol for the final Medium). The ten floors you have to do are EXTREMELY TEDIOUS, and I'm out of patience for today. The other X amount of floors (20? 30? My God...90?) are basically postgame, and lead to a fight with final uberboss Ragu Ragula. In the next episode I'll tackle the Abyss and the evil lair of the villains, as Wild Arms 3 draws to a close.

1 comment:

  1. Sheesh, these aliens are rough.

    20 UFOs?!

    I'm glad there was a trophy for finishing the map.