Favourite computer games of all time. [2]

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:35 am

{{More I muck about in HL:Alyx more I appreciate all the small interactive details and touches.
Some of my favourites include having to put your hand over your mouth to protect against nasty spores. Or head protection against barnacles and their tongues from grabbing you and pulling you up to their gaping maws- if your stick a hat on your head itll end up just snatching it, instead of your head- but and heres the bit I really like, if something looks like it'll fit over your head it probably will- buckets, plant pots, traffic cones etc.
Simialr in the zoo section you can find tiger masks, fully wearable.
But I think my favourite ridiculous small detail, which serves no puprose at all other than to entertain yourself is when you go into the Northern Star hotel lobby and find the piano- which is fully functional. Just astonishing amount of work and detail for something thats just there for the hell of it. They could so easily have had it broken, or smashed or the keys dead- but no Valve made a fully working VR piano! }}


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Post by halfwise Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:59 am

It's even appropriately out of tune!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:38 pm

{{ The small details in this game are astounding at times. Its very weird but cool. When I played HL2 which starts set in the same eastern european city I thought it looked amazing, had an excellent feel and atmosphere- but my memory of it is of sitting in front of a tv playing it.
My memory of City 17 from HL Alyx is just that, I remember being there in exactly the same way I remember going to the shop for milk and bread this morning. Its so immersive, solid and believable when you are in the game that your brain just processes it like it would real life. I genuinely feel like Ive just been in a real scifi movie. Hell at one point when (again in the hotel) you find a pool table, complete with pool balls and appropiate physics, there were no cues, so I improvised and got a sweeping brush and used it, and whilst trying to line up a shot I was so engrossed and caught up in the reality of that world I very nearly fell flat on my face trying to lean on the edge of the (nonexistant in reality) pool table to take the shot! }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:42 am

{{One of my favourite characters in any game, or in fact in scifi for that matter, is Half Lifes very mysterious G-Man.
Its hard to say much about him other than he seems able to manipulate space and time, has 'employers' and arranges certain events according to his 'employers' wishes.
The way throughout all HL games you can spot this smartly dressed suited guy watching you, or up to unknown things and in such a way that often you dont even realise he is there, you have to keep a keen eye out to spot all his appearences only adds to his weirdness.
And in your rare one to one meetings with him he gives this air of utter other wordliness. Like he is wearing his human body as much as a suit as his actual suit. From his movements to his speech pattterns, its all quite unnerving in its own way and plays on notions of the Men in Black (not the films, the supposed actual weird men in black from UFO abductee stories, who also are reported to act oddly, and as if they arent quite comfortable in their human guise).
But he's one of those characters in fiction whose ambigous nature, your uncertainty over his motivations and how he acts all add together to create a hugely memorable character.
He's also one of those characters you desperetly want to know all about, but at the same time hope you never do find out what he's really about, as his mystery is a large part of the fun of him.

Coontains massive spoilers for all HL games including Alyx.}}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:18 pm

{{ Having said that the G-man should remain an unanswered mystery. I do have a theory as to who he is, who his employers are and what he is about.
I think he is an entirely meta 4th wall breaking character.

Put at its most simply, G-Man is Valve, the company who make the games and own Steam (where just about everyone who owns a pc buys there games from and who are therefore the wealthiest games company in existence alongside Rockstar) his employers are us, the gamers, and the contents of his briefcase are the next game in the series.

To break that down a bit we have to start with what we know about G-Man.

First he looks like a smartly dressed businessman wearing a sharp suit and carrying a briefcase.
Secondly he watches over the players actions throughout the game and monitors them.
Thirdly he can move the player about within the game world as he wishes and alter events as he wishes.

Or in my theory he is the business that is Valve.
The game monitors the player to make it work, it has to know where the player is, eneimies, what they are doing, etc.
As a representative of the people who created and coded the game world he can of course change any of it as he wishes, or move the player about, as in the end that's all just code telling the program what to display to the player.

But the crucial information comes in what he says at various times.
And no more so than in HL:Alyx.

We have to step back a moment here to look at the game from the outside,  and its development.

Half Life 2 Episode 2 ended on a huge cliffhanger, 12 years ago.
That cliffhanger was the death of Eli Vance, an important character and the father of Alyx Vance.
And everyone waited in baited breath for the final part in the trilogy- HL3 to complete the story and resolve the cliffhanger.

And we waited.

And waited.

At first Valve said they were working on HL3, it was coming, then slowly but surely news dried up, Valve stopped talking about, and then finally nothing.
HL was destined to remain the greatest game series to never get a conclusion. And that cliffhanger was never to be resolved.

10 years on and no one expected to ever see a new HL game any more.
And in the meantime reports had leaked out of Valve from former employees that the whole thing had ground to a halt years ago. No one was, or had been working on anew HL game for a very long time.
They didn't know how to move it forward in the same ground breaking way the first two games had moved the fps genre and narrative fps forward.
HL was quietly shelved, and Valve stopped even responding to questions about it.

Then out of seemingly nowhere HL: Alyx was announce and then released not long after they announced it.

But it wasn't HL3 as we had expected. This was a prequel, set 5 years before the events of HL2.
And you were no longer playing the titular silent protagonist Gordon Freeman, now you were 19 year old Alyx Vance, who though she featured prominently in HL2, and often accompanied Gordon in that game through his adventures, she was still not the main character and was a computer controlled NPC.
And that HL cliffhanger it seemed would continue to never be solved.


To break all that down to something applying to my theory you have to appreciate Vale works in an odd way, Steam provides so much income to them they can have a very creative led process. This means their programmers choose what they want to work on.
And HL3 was either by now too daunting a task, as expectations for them to create something spectacular and new as they had before was through the roof, or they couldn't work out how to progress the narrative with Gordon and the story where it was in a satisfactory manner.
As a result no one at Valve wanted to make a HL3, and as the programmers can choose their projects it simply didn't happen.


Ok now you have all the necessary background and information to take a look at what the G-Man actually says at the end of HL:Alyx and interpret through this lens of the G-man being Valve themselves, the players his employers who pay Valves wages , and the briefcase representing the next game.


Alyx: What are you?

G-Man: Perhaps what I am, is not as important as what I can offer you in exchange for coming all this way.

So who he is not really relevant, as he's Valve, the folk hiding behind the curtain of the programming, he is the game itself which isn't important to actually playing it- you  dont see reams of code when you play, only what the code represents and presents to us, but as Valve he can offer us something, the next game finally, HL3. And we get it because we bought the game and played it through to the end. As his employers we have employed him again.


G-Man: Some think the fate of our worlds is inflexible, but my employers disagree.

Everyone said there would never be another HL game, including in the end former Valve employees themselves. Valve were inflexible- they werent even going to talk about it. But its fans, the players, the employers, never stopped talking about it, or demanding or asking Valve for it. Its been a steady drumbeat for over a decade. We disagreed with Valve- we wanted HL3.


G-Man: ...they (his employers) authorise me to nudge things in a particular direction, from time to time.

Player demands for more HL and folks willingness to fork out hard cash for it made Valve reconsider, but it took 12 years to come up with the how, 'from time to time.'

G-Man: What would you want nudged?

Alyx: The Combine, I want the Combine off Earth.

G-Man: Ahh, that would be a considerably large nudge, too large. Given the interest of my employers.

Removing the Combine means there is no game to play, they are the bad guys youre fighting and trying to get off earth, they are what make a game. If the G-Man- Valve, just do that there is no game. What are the interests of his employers (us)? More HL of course, its what we've been demanding for 12 years.. So doing as Alyx asks would not be in the interests of the player who want more HL and especially the conclusion to that 12 year old cliffhanger.

G-Man: What if I could offer you something you don't know you want? (G-Man the releases his briefcase which floats towards the player, taking hold of it ends this scene and transports the player to the 'future' to the final scene of HL2 ep2, back to that cliffhanger of 12 years ago. The briefcase contains what we've (his employers) have been demanding all along, the continuation of HL 2. But not as we expected it. We expected to be playing as Gordon again.

The player is then offered the chance to change events and to save Eli, which you have to do for the game to continue.
This hearkens back to something the G-Man said at the end of Half Life 2 on top of the citadel-

G-Man: Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice I will take the liberty of choosing for you.

Globally thousands of people have played these games, hundreds of thousands if not more, and everyone will go about tackling the game in slightly different ways, when you play you feel like you are making choices, but no matter what you do to get there everyone ends up at the same point in the narrative. The impression of free choice in a game is just that, its never free, the programmers, Valve in this case speaking through the G-Man, choose for you. You always end up where they always intended you to.

Once the player does what they are supposed to and saves Eli the G-man says the following in reference to Gordon Freeman, who the player was for all previous games.

G-Man: A previous higher has been unable or unwilling to perform the tasks laid before him.

We then see Gordon to confirm this is who he is speaking about.

Read through the lense of G-Man being Valve this speaks to the 12 year gap and Valves inability to complete the story or find a way forward to do so, and the fact that staff at Valve can pick and choose what project they want to work on. HL didn't continue because they could not or would not continue it.

G-Man: We have struggled to find a suitable replacement.

This line is as close as Valve talking to us directly. They couldn't find a way to replace Gordon without fan outrage, or to move the narrative forward in an innovative and new way, so we never got HL 3.

He then adds, “Until now.”

Until VR came along and Valve saw a way they could innovate again and continue the stroy through a prequel with Alyx as the main character instead of Gordon.

We are then told that Alyx has now been 'hired' to work for the G-Man, for Valve.

And lastly the game returns us to that cliffhanger ending, only now Eli is still alive, but Alyx has vanished and Eli hands Gordon is famous crowbar, and says 'we have work to do Gordon' as Gordon takes the weapon.
The cliffhanger we've been waiting on being resolved finally has been, but not in a HL3, not playing as Gordon- the G-Man (Valve) did exactly what he said, offered us what we didn't know we wanted. HL can now continue, but not as we thought it would.
}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:06 pm

{{ Modders for Hl Alyx are starting to produce the goods, just played the first of 3 levels based on the clasic N64 Bond game Goldeneye-  well structured, layed out, fun objectives to do and lots of shooting bad guys. Can highly recommend it.
Should add, as often misconception, you dont need a hugely expensive pc and 1000 quid headset to play good quality VR, you can get a Oculus Quest for 400 quid and it doesnt even need a pc- better if you already have a decent pc of course, as you can plug the quest into that and use your pcs extra horsepower and get access to the steam pc library easily- including HL alyx, but ton of good VR stuff on it without need for a pc at all.}}




{{edit add if you do want a VR ready pc these are probabl yminimum specs you'd want it at-

Processor: Core i5-7500 / Ryzen 5 1600
Memory: 12 GB RAM
Graphics: GTX 1060 / RX 580 – 6GB VRAM

Im running it on an 4.00 gigahertz Intel Core i7-6700K with 16gig of RAm and a GTX1070 graphics card. Which wont let me max out every setting but runs it just fine. So if youve a pc meeting the min specs above, Id definetly consider investing in a VR headset which now range for perfectly usuable 2-300 quid headsets right up to all the bells and whistles £1000, so plenty choice now. }}

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Post by Lancebloke Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:24 am

I think i will invest next year. Got some major house work coming up that needs to get out of the way first. I can't remember my PC spec now but it was built with that kind of thing in mind so shouldn't have any issues.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:36 am

{{ Belarc is a handy little program to have for checking exactly whats in your pc specs, as well other useful information about your pc- https://www.belarc.com/products_belarc_advisor

Theres now a whole range of headsets from relatively cheap (couple hundred quid) windows mixed reality sets to the Valve Index at the other end of the spectrum at just under £1000. You do get what you pay for to a certain extent, but the differnces are not perhaps as great as the price difference might suggest. }}


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Post by Lancebloke Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:17 pm

Was just looking for my invoice when I bought it.

Intel core i7-8700k.
32gb DDR4 RAM.
GTX 1080 8gb DDR5X RAM.

Sounds like a little bit higher than the spec you mentioned as minimum so should be able to handle things well and reasonable settings.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:37 pm

{{ Easily Lance, your specs are higher than mine on processor and graphics card and I can play most games on high settings no problem- so youll be fine with that set up

If your going for a pc headset than its probably a choice between Oculus S (400 quid) and Valve Index (1000 quid).  As they by far have the best support in term sof software from the producer (Oculus Home and Steam VR home respectively) one advantage to oculus however is you can use steam home vr for all your steam vr games, but to play oculus exclusives on index you need 3rd party programs like re-vive (so named as originally was for the Vive headset but also supports index now).}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:34 pm

{{ Wasnt sure where to put this but think here is appropriate. Its a docudrama style thing covering the early years of home computing, with Clive Sinclair and his split from and subsequent bitter rivalry with Chris Curry, the founder of Acorn computers. From the BBC so well made and solid cast with Alexander Armstrong as Sir Clive and Martin Freeman as Chris Curry.
Takes a few liberties as it admits at the start, but having seen a few documentaries on the subject over the years in overall beats its suprisingly accurate. A good watch of a fascinating time when the idea of a computrer in every home was still considered sci-fi and a mad idea. And also a sort of tribute to that British tradition of the eccentirc pottering about in his shed that changes the world. }}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:06 pm

{{ If anyone watched the above film you may have noticed the long dark haired chap, who doesnt say much but is clearly a genius, inventing an entire new operating system in their head. Well that prson is now Sophie Wilson, she is the inventor of the ARM processor chip- which you probably havent heard of but which powers our modern world- there is almost certainly one in your phone, your tv, your pc, tablet and just about any other piece of electronic equipment you care to mention.
How on earth this woman has not been honoured yet by the govenrment is a disgrace, a stonewall British genius, and Im willing to bet almost no one has heard of her outside the world of computing. }}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:18 am

{{ Been playing GTAV in VR. Well I say playing its such a rich, detailed and often stunning world to be in Ive taken to just going for long sight-seeing drives out of the cities and into the countryside rather than 'playing' in the traditonal sense, and taking photos. Thing in when you take a screenshot in vr they are a bit different than normal ones and give you some nice effects.
But its the detail that gets me every time, from finding small things like the 'rocket' or the details of a shop front, or just somehting small like all the cracks on the roads, its gobsmacking the work Rockstar put into detailing their worlds.
I honestly parked up in this little town by the coast and spent twenty minutes just walking about it exploring the place.

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And of course this is just one small place in one tiny corner of the map. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:02 pm

I'll have to look around to see if there's some semi-technical description of what makes the ARM chip tick. There must be some key idea behind how it's so energy efficient.

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{ If anyone watched the above film you may have noticed the  long dark haired chap, who doesnt say much but is clearly a genius, inventing an entire new operating system in their head. Well that prson is now Sophie Wilson, she is the inventor of the ARM processor chip- which you probably havent heard of but which powers our modern world- there is almost certainly one in your phone, your tv, your pc, tablet and just about any other piece of electronic equipment you care to mention.
How on earth this woman has not been honoured yet by the govenrment is a disgrace, a stonewall British genius, and Im willing to bet almost no one has heard of her outside the world of computing. }}


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Post by halfwise Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:05 pm

I thought those were photos somebody took of the American West! Shocked

It captures the desolation, the mix of old and new so perfectly - down to the weeds and cracks in the road.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:08 pm


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:11 pm

{{ Arm's co-creator Prof Steve Furber, who along with Sophia Wilson started the ARM project back in the 80's }}



{If you watch the MicroMen film I posted to above youll know who he's taking about when he mentions folk like Hermann. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:44 pm

This is what you really want to read to understand what makes ARM work:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_RISC

There seemed to be two key innovations. One was trimming down what a chip would do down to basics, such as the ADD instruction in most chips had two possibilities of where to put the output of an addition of two numbers. RISC trimmed this down to one. Etc. The second innovation was strategically putting memory on the chip so that processes that were one step above basic could use this memory and wouldn't have to store and access it from outside the chip.
Acorn did a good job of packaging this concept with hardware.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:42 pm

{{ Thats not ARM, so much as the principles which led to it using RISC.
For ARM you want this-  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture  
}}

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Post by halfwise Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:54 pm

I had looked there and didn't feel it explained anything: all the explanations I wanted were in RISC. ARM was just a well done implementation of RISC.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:25 am

{{ The latest Microsoft flight sim is really looking quite something else- squint at times at youd think it was real. }}


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Post by Forest Shepherd Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:00 am

Neat-o, the weather manipulation was the coolest part for sure.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:01 pm

{{ Real life as seen from Bing maps -

Favourite computer games of all time. [2] - Page 23 1

More or less same view, as it appears in Microsoft Flight Sim-

Favourite computer games of all time. [2] - Page 23 2

And closer to ground iin real life-

Favourite computer games of all time. [2] - Page 23 3

and same place in game-

Favourite computer games of all time. [2] - Page 23 4

What they have pulled off graphically with this is gobsmacking. And they've included the entire planet! Shocked }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:29 pm



{{Be getting this once they add the VR- quite amazing to fly over say the African savannah in a 1 to 1 recreation of the earth. }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:00 am

{{ Petty Reviews

The Forest VR.

I should first say that The Forest is playable in flat-screen mode, its not a VR only game, its just I have only ever played it in VR so can only really review it as a VR game.

On the surface the Forest sounds like a hundred other survival/crafting games out there.
The plot is pretty straight forward, you and your son are on a plane flying somewhere when it crashes onto an island, before passing out after the crash you witness some native types taking your son. When you come to in the wreckage of the aircraft all the other passengers are missing and you have to worry first about surviving, then working out what happened to everyone else, your son included, and mainly you have to worry about those natives.

In terms of gameplay there is much here familiar to anyone who has played a survival/crafting game- you kill things for food, chop trees for wood and otherwise scavenge off the land and with what you gather you can start to build structures- a camp, a whole fort eventually. You will need to find and maintain regular food and fresh water.
But what makes this one stand out for me, why I keep going back to it, is very simple- atmosphere. Ive never quite played a game that feels like this one does, and that's only partly  down to the VR aspect.

There are three stand out features of the Forest which elevate it above the normal. First is the Forest itself. Although the island you find yourself on has different regions including snowy mountain regions, most of it has a forest covering it and its wonderfully realised, both looking the part and sounding it. The sound design is critical in this one and the noises of the Forest, especially if you find yourself in it at night is simply marvellous at creating the atmosphere. And the sound design is the second best thing in the Forest, bringing everything to life from the wind in the branches to the calls of natives. It all keeps you very much on edge as you keep an ear peeled for audio clues to anything creeping up on you.

Which brings me to the 3rd best thing about the Forest- the natives. They come in a variety of tribes and types, they are all horrible, all cannibals. But what makes them unique is how they act.
You see these aren't just bad guys that will attack you on sight, oh if only they were, that would be so much less unnerving.
No rather you are never sure what they are up to or planning, and thats way worse. Sometimes they will prowl about an invisible perimeter near you, sometimes they will simply stand and stare you out. Warrior types might run right at you then stop short and stare you out just to see how you react and what you will do. Approach them you might get attacked, but just as likely they will turn and run off a short distnace only to take up watching you again. And you can never be certain what they are thinking, are those two prowling around near your camp just curious? Or are they scouting you and your defences out and will return later with a large party of warriors, or are they just going about their own business? Often they will build effigies of human body parts and similar totems and place them around your camp. Why? What do they mean? You are never certain and have to try to fathom their motives from available evidence. And the noises they make! They are in short terrifying because they are so unpredictable and because you are always trying to work out what they will do next and what they are planning (personally Ive taken to stacking their dead warriors against the outside walls of my fort in the hopes it discourages them!)

Once you manage to survive a few nights and have built yourself somewhere safe(ish) to stay you will be forced to go exploring to scavenge for new supplies as you use up nearby resources, and some resources, such as ropes you will have to brave native villages and the like to discover.
And then there are the caves. There is a network of caves, some connected some separate all over, and you can find yourself in them one of two ways- you can get knocked out and captured by the natives- in which case you will awake hanging upside down in a cave, or you can deliberately go into one exploring. Its probably necessary but personally I have avoided them so far save the one occasion I got clobbered and taken there. And the reason I avoid them is a very simple one- they are pant shittingly scary places to be. Dark, full of bits of previous victims and gore, and all sorts of horrible monstrosities you really don't want coming up at you out the dark. Did I mention the caves are dark, like proper cave dark? You have a lighter, and you can craft better later ( I haven't yet) but its bloody dark down there and terrifying.

As you explore however you will discover clues, previous victims of the island, camp sites, luggage, even half sunk boats all will give small clues as to what is going on and where the other passengers ended up ( though from my experience a lot of them seemed to have ended up as furniture in native villages when not on the fire or in the cooking pot!). But it all adds to that unnerving and unsettling atmosphere the game produces so very well.

When your behind your defensive walls at night, unable to see beyind them outside but you can hear them creeping around, occasionally calling out to others and scuttling around you unseen in the dark, its really chilling in a way no other game Ive played has quite achieved. And it all hinges on not being able to easily predict their behaviour or thinking.

Ive no idea how well this would translate to playing on flat-screen, fairly well I suspect, but its just not going to compare to facing off against a 6ft cannibal warrior who is just standing there staring you out daring you to make a move in VR. Its surprisingly daunting and that word again, unnerving to eyeball them eye to eye this way.
Ive played about ten hours so far, only scraping the surface, but its ten hours I wont forget in a hurry.

In terms of the mechanics I found the crafting much more intuitive than say something like No Mans Sky which seems to have menus within menus. Here its pretty straightforward and surprisingly versatile. You have a 'survival guide' you just go to what you want to construct- a wall or a fire or whatever it might be, and pick where you want to construct it- this makes a 'ghost' image of the thing you're making with a little marker telling you what you need to build it. Its then just a matter of gathering the necessary resources and bringing them to your building spot and viola you've made a thing. With walls and the like you pick a starting point and can drag them out to be as long or short as you wish, and there is plenty to build.

Food and water can be gathered in a number ways, berries can be harvested, animals killed, or you can construct traps for them, food can be dried on racks you can make, or cooked on fires, water can be gathered from pools (but might make you sick) or better if you find a pot somewhere on the island you can boil it first to purify it. You can make spears and go fishing, craft bows to take down deer, skin animals for their pelts all that sort of stuff.

Combat is equally straightforward in VR at least with simply swinging your weapon about doing the job in most one on one fights, but once you encounter groups and they are working together you will have little chance in a stand up fight in the open, so strategy is required and knowing when to run like buggery too. Which can lead to some utter moments of sheer panic, as recently happened to me as I fled a pack of angry cannibals through the forest at night in a thunder storm with lighting tearing the sky and illuminating my pursuers in the gloom as the wind howled and the rain lashed down. It was bloody frightening to be short, and so exhilarating.

And its moments with the natives, whether its just eyeballing each other ten foot apart to see who will do what first, or being chased down through the trees by a pack of them, they make the experience.
So overall as a VR game at least I can heartily recommend the Forest as a terrifying but ultimately memorable experience.

Oh you can also play it coop and multiplayer, though it does somewhat lessen the tension and fear factor in a group. But as a single player VR experience it's pretty unique, and its atmosphere second to none.

8 out of 10.  }}

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