Part 17: Slot Machine - geri_khanI'd like to show you guys a short CoV arc that I'm pretty fond of. It's not the most innovative, or even the most fun, and certainly not the most villainous. But it still sticks in my mind, especially right now.
High Roller's Last Gamble
Off the southern coast of St Martial lies the Golden Giza casino, a huge complex that completely covers the island it's built on and then some. Rumor says that those who hate the Marcone mafia Family can find unexpected fortune in there.
To be specific, back when CoV first launched there were a number of hidden contacts that could only be talked to if you had gained certain badges. The Gangbuster badge, for example, required the player to kill 200 Marcone bosses.
This was quite the Dick Move, since most players would probably have less than 20 Marcone bosses defeated by the time they got this far. The level range for encountering them is quite narrow, and not every kind of Family boss counted towards the badge - only ones in specific spawns who were marked as Marcone in their bios. In short, even if you knew about the secret contact, you were possibly looking forward to a few hours of farming enemies. And did I mention you could outlevel this secret contact? Once you passed level 35, that was it.
Thankfully, the level range problem was solved when Flashbacking was introduced, allowing higher level characters to get the badge at their leisure and play the arc after outlevelling it. Then, the rules for what counted as a Marcone Boss were relaxed a bit in issue 18.
In any case, once you have the badge, the contact is yours.
This is Victik.
No, not the zombie girl. The Lich, on the left. Tall guy, robe, nice teeth. He's an ancient necromancer who's dragging around the corpse of a girl he murdered to keep him tethered to the corporeal plane.
To be more exact Victik is a Necromancy/Dark miasma Mastermind, a combination so potent and clichéd it boggles the mind. Hey, some things just go well with each other thematically. And yes, the girl is the playable part of the team, making it that it's the Lich possessing her and in control is just part of the concept.
Masterminds were a perfect example of the excess that ruled CoX's archetype design. A level 50 Mastermind has no less than six pets available all at once, and Victik could have EIGHT. That's a great wall of rotting human flesh between you and your enemies.
The Zombies - Unknown, Unremarked and Unsung, the corpses of warriors who tried to storm Victik's castle and barely even got past the front gate.
You get one of them as you start out. Best known for dying quickly, running up to enemies and lightly slapping them, and wave after wave of projectile vomit at range.
The Grave Knights - Artura and Lancell, who actually made it far enough into the castle to see Victik himself.
The main purpose of these guys is getting in close to the enemy and busting out some of the best high-damage moves available to Broadsword users. They also have Dark ranged attacks that lower the to-hit of their targets, but that's far from their main draw.
Finally, the Lich - Soul of Victik. He brings a bunch of control powers - AOE immobilise, AOE fear, and a single target hold as well. The one thing you need to be careful with is his AOE knockback, which can sometimes cause a problem. Everything he does reduces the enemy's to-hit as well.
As for the girl, most of her Necromancy powers involve summoning and buffing her pets. It's Dark Miasma she'll get the most use out of - it has an AOE heal - perfect for her pets - and massive AOE -tohit and slow patches, in addition to AOE stealth, an AOE Fear and a Hold. I also grabbed Flight and Leadership powers for her. I love fighting from Hover. No other game I've played has got fighting while flying so right.
... I admit this isn't the ideal character for playing this particular arc, thematically, but all my other high-level villains went over to blueside.
Anyway, the zombie went into the casino, and inside it found...
... a slot machine that seems to stand out somehow.
An older-style slot machine with a pull-arm and an orange video screen
You don't know why exactly, but something seems slightly wrong with this gambling device. Maybe it's the fact that no one else ever goes near the machine, or how the glowing orange light of it's screen sometimes turns blood-red, or that the cigarette burns on the front of the machine almost seem to spell something out, but something definitely feels like it isn't right. As you look at the machine, the dials begin to spin on their own, and as its lights flash and its bells ring, you could swear that you hear something that sounds like a voice buried amid the cacophony.
Well, what else would you expect to find in a casino?
The Slot Machine has two arcs available. Unfortunately in my opinion the first - Miss Fortune's Wheel - is not that interesting so I'll be skipping it. On to the second!
Unfortunately I've already done this arc, which is why the next image will be the flashback menu instead...
Council eh? I like those odds.
The council base is directly under the Giza itself, accessible though a drain.
Inside, it seems pretty normal. For a base belonging to a fascist army. Of course, I'm a villain, and don't really care if they're fascists or not.
The Council is one of those groups that is always just "there." No particular gameplay gimmick, but they're available from 1-50. They do tend to have more robots, vampires and werewolves as the levels increase though, instead of regular soldiers.
Pictured: Artura enjoying robot-punting.
That fantastic heal - Twilight Grasp - in action.
I pretty much immediately come across one of the weapons caches I'm looking for, but...
They're pretty much junk. What gives, Slot Machine? This was supposed to be some great haul!
Some of the level layouts here can get pretty complex. This place is a maze, which will be a shame since this is a kill-all mission. I found another weapons cache (more crap) and keep exploring to find...
The guy in charge, a Galaxy Archon boss.
He melted pretty quickly under a flood of steel and vomit. Between my two big -tohit AOEs, it's pretty easy for me to make it so that he has no way of hitting my pets. Any hit he does land is easily healed.
The two remaining weapons caches were found here, but I had not yet killed EVERYTHING, so back the way I came...
On the way back I checked an area I hadn't spotted before, and saw...
... green plaid man?
Hm, whoever this old fool is, I have the feeling I'll like him better than I do the Council.
Fine, I'll be nice. This one time. Because a slot machine asked me to.
Also because that is a pretty sweet monocle. If it went with the rest of your costume at all you'd be set.
At this point I need to lead High Roller back out of the base. Unfortunately...
One of the minor annoyances with this game is that hostages and rescuees cannot see though your stealth, so as soon as you get any reasonable distance from them they lose you and stop following. It's especially annoying because you'll frequently encounter several ambushes on your way out while towing a NPC.
It's bearable on a mastermind. I just need to disactivate my Shadow Fall (AOE stealth and Defence) and Hover (because I put an enhancement in it to give me stealth when I use hover. Stealth+stealth is as good as invisibility) It's a much bigger problem on something like a Stalker, which depends on stealth as its primary combat mechanic.
Still, we made it back to the entrance OK.
You did me a real good turn, there, pal. I won't forget it.
Huh. I guess I gotta respect his perseverance. You can't let someone take something away from you like that, especially not a man's superpowers. That ain't right, and this is a villain saying that. Gotta keep fighting for yourself until the end. And who the fuck would want a crazy alien thing in them anyway? Possession is much more natural.
Still, we didn't get shit for that mission. Back to see the slot machine and find out what's wrong.
Again? Well, I do kinda need to win back what I lost on my last try... it's bound to pay out eventually, right?
Gemstones, you say?
Damn right I can handle it.
The mission is in a cave all the way over on the opposite side of St Martial, and...
There's Devouring Earth here.
Weird rock, tree, gem and mushroom men eco-terrorists. This Sentry rockman drops a Cairn, which greatly increases the resistances of all DE nearby. The zombies aren't smart enough to prioritise it themselves, so I have to bark orders a bit more frequently now.
no High Roller what are you doing here
Devouring Earth bosses (left) creep me out, though a smart person would be more wary of the damage those big arms can do than of the weirdness of their tentacle mouths.
LET'S FIGURE SOMETHING OUT
Seriously I don't plan on making a habit of this. I have a rep to think about.
I'll make good to you on this, Victik. I mean it. Once I get some new powers, you'll see!
Fuck... I don't know, man. Yeah, you gotta try, but realistic expectations...
It's good to want something, and to want to keep it forever, but I don't think this is healthy. You keep throwing yourself into crazy, impossible schemes like this, and you'll just break yourself if something else doesn't. Maybe this is just out of your power, man? Trust me, if there's anything a thousand year old necromancer learns, it's how to accept that you have to let go. Of zombie minions.
Is he gone?
Right he said the gems were no good, but I came all the way out here so it would be a waste to leave without checking...
GOD DAMN IT
Lesson in sunk cost fallacy learned. Time to head back to the slot machine...
fine, give it to me.
Well, at least you're not trying to hide it any more. There better be a BIG payout.
What is this strange feeling? It feels like ...
Seriously, I always liked this bit. There's something puppy-like about the Slot Machine's gratitude here.
We heard out to find High Roller, and...
GO AWAY RIKTI NOBODY LIKES YOU
Ah, Oranbega. The cramped passages, close-together spawns and vertically designed rooms tend to make for fun times for masterminds.
They have some of the toughest enemies in this arc. Once a Behemoth Master activates his Invincibility (and he will) all my pets could beat on him for a couple of minutes and not wear him down, so it's best to Hold or Fear him right away before he can.
I also particularly dislike Nerva Spectral Demons, for resisting nearly every damage type I have, debuffing my accuracy, and flying away to some ridiculous place near the ceiling.
It may be hard to tell what's going on. The demon flew away up here, and my pets are super-jumping up to a tiny, tiny platform in a wall to try to reach him. Only the platform is tiny, so they're immediately falling off. And so on ad infinitum.
Which means that for the first time ever I discovered that pets do not take falling damage in this game. Good to know I guess.
Also note the ghost named Disappointment. When one of my pets dies, I have the opportunity to revive it as a Ghost, a nice bonus.
Bosses come and go, disappearing under a wave of lethal, dark and toxic damage literally spewed out by my zombies.
Oh? What's this?
Loot! Actual loot!
The tunnels of Oranbega are winding...
... and there is a network of portals that keep randomly sending you to the wrong place over and over because they're not properly linked...
... but we eventually find the stupid man.
Not sure what you were thinking coming down here, but fine, fine... I'll kill these guys for you.
Yup! You are!
After a brief escort out, High Roller finally faces the facts.
I imagine any action that leads to you repeatedly being surrounded by the undead would be pushing your luck. And I forgot to get a screenshot of this so...
High Roller's Last Gamble posted:
High Roller looks at you sheepishly, and tries to explain himself:
I don't even know why I tried this stupid magic thing anyway. I'm a science guy. Magic? What was I thinking?
That was rhetorical. I know what I was thinking. I wanted it all back. I wanted my old glory days back. When I was powerful. When I was worth something.
You know, I almost did it once. The big score. The big steal. I told you I was all gambling themed, right? Well, I'd built these intelligent gambling machines. Slot machines, mostly. They were gonna monitor casinos all over the world, and then strike at once, hacking in and draining the casinos' funds dry in one shot. But that robot on the Freedom Phalanx, Citadel. He figured the whole thing out and shut'em all down. The Phalanx cornered me, and I tried to threaten them with my quantum luck bomb, and well, I told you the rest.
You know, that was a pretty good shot, wasn't it? How many people can even say they came that close? Who else can say they faced down half the Freedom Phalanx, or nearly bankrupted the casinos of the world? My inventions are gone, sure, but when I had that gift, I used it. I really did.
You've helped me a lot. I guess it's time I stopped trying to hog the stage and stepped aside for the next generation. I got a sister in Poughkipsie who says she can get me a job as a shop teacher. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up helping some kid build his first battlesuit.
Thanks, pal. I think I need to go book a flight out of here. Keep living the dream, and never let any jerk tell you what to do.
Regrets and half-finished things. We're never really done with what we have, even long after it's gone.
And unfortunately there's no shortage of jerks who want to tell you to stop.
But at least you get out with some bit of dignity, and your head held high. Remember the good parts, for they were very, very sweet. Let the rest go to hell, I say.
And I got my due reward, but lost something. A brilliant machine, full of moving parts that sometimes exploded or puked on stuff.
High Roller wasn't wrong to try, want and hope, you know.
He just didn't know how to stop before it became unhealthy, bitter and foolish.
Some of you risk falling into the same trap. Doing so won't kill you, but it won't make you any happier.
And I'm not saying the time to stop is now, or tomorrow, or next month. But either you win, or the time to stop comes, when you must accept that something you really liked is behind you, and something good is in front of you.
... for what it's worth though, I've seen these two new kids, and they're a pale imitation of what came before them. Just my opinion. The less said about the kid in the corner dressed as W00lver1n3 the better.
But anyway... for now, I think we can still have hope, so long as our hope for revival does not keep us from seeing its hopes for survival. You never know when something unexpected might reappear in the unlikeliest way.
Until then, just keep the best of it in your mind. They can't take that away from you. You can think and talk and plan and speak. Maybe someone will hear.
Maybe they'll think you're taking it too seriously.
Maybe you are.
How seriously are you meant to take something you enjoyed, that brought you together with people, that flexed your creativity, that you were invested in?
Hopefully not so seriously that you write a pretentious LP post. Well, it made me feel better at least.
The brilliant machine has gone dark, and silent.
Maybe nobody will ever come and fix it. But still...