Part 34: Episode XXIV: In Which Life in the Sands STILL Friggin' Sucks!Episode XXIV: In Which Life in the Sands STILL Friggin' Sucks!
Music: Descendus - Instrumental
That previous chapter probably could have gone better toward the end there. But, it is what it is. We must soldier forward. Before carrying on the Murder Road Trip to blistering heat of The Land of Sands we need to take care of some housekeeping leftover from Chapter 3. First of all, defeating Three's horde of human soul infused stone dolls has given Accord the motivation to stock a couple new weapons in her storefront. Both going for a hefty 21,000 gold a pop. It is getting toward the end game. Time to price gouge the hell out of the protagonist party as per Article 29 of the Fantasy Mercantile Treaty of Cornelia.
Saintly Brimstone posted:
A sword once carried by a missionary from afar.
Weapon Size: Medium
The villagers doubted the strange new missionary at first,
but sooner his charming words and handsome smile won
them over, and they welcomed him with open arms.
Beauty was power in the village. The beautiful were royalty,
while the ugly suffered as slaves. Soon, the scarred and
deformed of the village begged the missionary for help.
Smiling, the missionary raised a hand. In a flash, the ugly
villagers were transformed, their faces all identical to
his own. And yet, his work was not complete...
Soon, every man, woman, and child looked like the missionary,
right down to the grin. They no longer cried or grew angry,
leaving the village with nothing but grim, hollow smiles.
Well, at least everyone was happy and smiling in the end, right?
Azure Cleaver posted:
A chakram said to have been stained blue from reflecting ocean waves.
Weapon Size: Small
The small island was surrounded on all sides by the sea.
It was a quiet place, blessed by beautiful, verdant nature.
And once, it was where violent criminals were sent to die.
Atop a cliff was a grave etched with a bladed blue ring.
Fresh flowers covered it every day. Who lies here? the
young boy asked. A criminal, responded the old man.
Then why the flowers? asked the boy. Because, said the
man, he led a revolution in an effort to improve the lives
of all. Here he led a pure life, and here he finally died.
And with that, the old man fell silent and gazed out to sea.
The grave's blue ring reflected the blue of the sky, while
the waves added a dark tone to the sharpened blade.
Why do all of these weapon orders come with these stupid stories taped to them? Who writes this crap!?
Before we say farewell to The Land of Forests, we do have one of Accord's Requests to take care of for the solitary weapon drop from that gulag slog that chapter.
On The Move is a treasure box opening business set in the Verse 1 map of the chapter with a minute and a half time limit and an All Combat Bracers All the Time stipulation. Nothing too taxing other than the medley of archers breaking Zero's combos while she attempts to beat the living crap out of a steel chain. As you do.
Virginal Sin posted:
A heavy sword from which several incredibly sharp spikes protrude.
Weapon Size: Medium
Once, there were three young girls. Though they lived in an
age when arranged marriages were the standard, they swore
to each other that they would always protect their chastity.
One girl cut her beautiful blonde hair and commanded
a battalion in place of her dead brother. She died a fine
death, with her beloved manservant at her side.
Once girl, a brunette and an avid reader or books, loved
a man from a poor family. Knowing their love could
never be, the couple threw themselves into the sea.
The last girl, a flaxen-haired beauty, never knew her
friends had broken their vows of chastity. She remained
a virgin all her life, eventually passing away of old age.
Ugh. Did this weapon fall out off of Four's airship when it exploded or something?
I believe that takes care of all clerical duties before we kick off Chapter 4 to go kill Two. So let's continue our journey...
Zero defeated Three, but lost Mikhail to the disciple, Cent, in the process.
The group headed for Cent's home in the Land of Sands to try and rescue the dragon...
Hmm... The camp scene feels kind of empty without Mikhail's dopey ass lounging about. Let's see how the rest of the party is fairing before we trek out into the desert.
Don't be. He's fine.
I'm telling you. He's fine.
<sigh> Very well. I'm sure Mikhail is safe. But we should rescue him nonetheless.
Decadus is an alright guy when he isn't making moaning noises over the tritest of trials. That will last for all of about five minutes from now...
First, your dragon makes a meal out of Lady Three, then he's stolen away by another disciple? Madness!
You ordered him to eat her, I presume?
Nope, sure didn't.
Oh, my... Such a cruel twist of fate!
Lady Three suffered a cruel end. Perhaps you and I should "commemorate" her passing, mmmmm?
...Yeah. Moving on. Let's see how Dito is doing. At least he's creepy in a reasonable fashion.
He's the disciple here in the Land of Sands.
Two's disciple, huh?
Yep. They seem young, beautiful, and madly in love. Makes me wanna hurl! This Cent guy seems like a real charmer, doesn't he? Probably better to just kill him when you take out Two.
So what do you think those two are planning, anyway?
Planning? As if either of them were smart enough to have an actual plan.
Really? I figured Cent took your dragon because Two ordered it. She's gotta have some reason for doing that, right?
Verse 1: To the Sands
Music: Exvulsion ~ Battleground
Welcome to The Land of Sands. You know the Knight of the Seal in Drakengard 2 might have been sort of a fascist regime keeping magical seals in place by literally stealing the life essences from the poors of the land. But at least General Grismor and his regime had actual urban renewal initiatives and thriving cities. Unless Zero is taking the most off the beaten trail of trails I've yet to see a single Intoner run region that wasn't a ruined shit heap.
Didn't Nathan Drake shoot this place up in Uncharted 3...?
Our goal at this point is pretty straight forward
We are immediately set upon by a pack of wolves. The desert is just lousy with wolves at all times according to Taro Yoko. Wolves for days. It could be worse. There could be a demand for flower cultivation...
Wolves can sense the murderous intent of their foes...
What? You saying I'm not hiding my "murderous intent" enough!?
J-Just that we should remain calm, or-- See? Now there's more of them!
Beyond the roaming packs of desert wolves, this region really is in love with archers in out of reach places. Thus demanding chakrams to be dragged out of the broom closet they ought to be forgotten in forever. At the very least they never roll out a tier 2 archer that takes more than a single hit to take down. Small favors...
Ho ho ho. A shame. We're not apt to find water in this place.
If we have to keep fighting like this, I'm gonna keel over!
Indeed, it saps my strength as well. ...Though not my man strength!
My throat's on fire here.
Oh ho! Perhaps a sweet kiss can quench those flames! And then afterwards, I could clear... some sand from the lion's den, mmm?
Another word and I'll cut you down.
Those bastards! Attacking Lady Two while she's ill.
We fight for Lady Two!
We must hold out until she recovers. Ugh! So strong!
No belly-aching! You can't serve Lady Two like that!
Is Lady Two safe?
I don't know... But I think she's with Cent at least.
A few dozen dead loyal soldiers later...
Remember the cannon mounted troops from back in Chapter 2 (cannoneers?) Periodically from here on out we'll occasionally run into cannon arenas. The typical set-up is a large open field with scaffolding and/or hills along the perimeter upon which are 6-10 cannon crews targeting Zero who will wander in during a mini-cutscene. The artillery squads usually will come packing archer back-up to lend them supporting fire.
Here we need to deal with both the archers and cannoneers to clear the arena. But just the defeat of the jerks attempting to zero in on Zero will do the trick in most instances. The best way to deal with this ambush set-up is to just make a break for the closest cannon squad. Murder them as quickly as possible, and just carving a methodical path of death clockwise or counter-clockwise... whichever gets you going in the morning.
Interesting to hear all this talk of Two being under the weather despite being the most pro-active in stopping Zero's revenge quest thus far.
Fire! Fire! Keep firing!
They're right there! Don't aim, just fire!
Less confirming! More striking!
I've had it with these stupid-ass little toys...
Come at me! You AND your damn flower! I'll cut you both down right here!
The bravado of rallying cries of troops falling hollow later...
Following the end of the cannoneers' careers were are introduced to a new enemy upgrade: Alpha Sand Wolves. Regular sand wolves have already plagued us up to this point. But those are just regular wolves with a palette swap. Alpha Sand Wolves are a whole new game.
For you see these puppies can swim through sand like a rich duck through gold coins!
You said it. Stupid furballs...
You all right, Decadus?
Sand... in my eyes... Such... exquisite pain...
Yeah, you're all right.
Oh ho ho! We're almost there! And despite the heat, I'm still ready for more...
Dammit! Why the hell are the wolves on HER side!?
I don't think these are your everyday wild wolves, my lady.
Yeah, Freakshow's right. These guys are definitely trained.
Whatever. If they're in my way, they're getting cut down!
Alpha Sand Wolves still come with all the perks of their standard issue forest roaming cousins. They can still summon helper wolves from its pack from the cracks in space hidden between sands. They still have a bucket load of HP compared to their one hit wonder lesser pack mates.
But they have gained a couple of new tricks. The aforementioned sand tunneling skills allows them to essentially teleport across the map. Or if they so choose, beneath Zero's feat for a surprise attack... If you ignore the sand rumbling on the ground for about a solid second or two before they spring out of the ground.
In addition they will also rarely hack up a sand furball. It does almost no damage. They've just got a throat full of sand thanks to tunneling through it like fool animals. There's a reason Sand Wolves are going extinct.
...Well two reasons now.
After dispatching a pack of vicious sand wolves, the party comes upon the first of the elite Red Soldier Guys. Adhering to the Metro City Badman Color Coding Unionization Declaration of '89, Red Soldier Guys have a more strenuous work regiment and be issued higher quality equipment than their blue counterparts. But there is to be no moveset discrimination or discrepancies between the two classes.
Which is to say red guys have more HP and do more damage. The end.
Past the sand wolf menace and the new red guys faction, Zero and the gang come upon a proper new enemy type: Lancers.
Lancers are akin to upgraded Halberd soldiers yet somehow far less competent. Maybe it's just me, but these fellows seem to be programmed with exceedingly shitty AI. They have a charging attack like spear and halberd wielding soldiers, but due to having a model small enough to wedge itself into places similar to a normal soldier but large enough to get caught on geometry bits.
Additionally, instead of just sticking to their guns with charging attacks, Lancers will flail about at the sides of their steeds trying to knock away any nearby opponents. This is one of the few times disciples will actually come in handy. As it turns out, the Lancer will often decide Octa running face first into his horse's leg while Decadus punches its tail is a far more pressing issue than Zero jamming a spear into the back of his spinal cord.
He gets himself taken, and then you get all crazy with rage...
I'm not crazy with rage because of him... This is just my normal, everyday rage.
You don't believe me?
I didn't say that...
You really do want to die, don't you?
The cannoneer cadets, the sand wolf brood, the repulsive red dudes, and even the loathsome lancer are no match for Zero. Decadus and Octa were also present. But enough about that, hey look who we found all tied up in an open fortress courtyard. Resisters Shall Land in Hell.
Nice place for a nap.
No! They caught me! They caught me here, okay?
I can see that.
Zerooo! Help meee!
Well now, here's an old Drakengard standby. A Golem. In the original Drakengard a six year old boy would make a magical pact with one of these critters. He would then later go on to either command it to crush his twin sister and herald a cannibal space baby apocalypse. Or else in another timeline, that same boy would enslave their entire race to be used as weapons of mass destruction in a
Golems have a rough future ahead of them. But that's over a century from now. Here, golems are one of the toughest enemies in the game.
In my head! ...It IS in my head, right?
Golems are infused with magic spells that give them life.
And... said magic spells are always etched upon their bodies.
Er, well, if you destroy the part of the body that contains the spell, perhaps the golem may...
Too much work. I'll just beat him to death.
Ho! I assumed that would be your response...
A Golem is not something to be trifled with in Drakengard 3. Their lot possess by far the most HP of any mid-boss class enemy in the game. You could jam two and a half Gigas worth of health points into a single Golem easily. They're made out of stone. They're hearty fuckers!
Besides a massive slab of durability, Golems come equipped with a wide variety of heavy hitting attacks. Right off the bat: Golems. Heat vision. A mid-range vertical attack wherein our foe shoots laser beams out of its eyes. It's probably its rarest and least effective attack. But the thing can shoot plasma out of its eye sockets. Just throwing that out there.
At close range a golem has a one-two downward strike into the ground. This both hurts like a bitch and has deceptive range given the size of the fists in question and the golem leaning pretty far into the blow. Since it uses one limb after another to perform the attack, basically a good wide area directly in front of a golem is a danger zone. And for being a big hunk of animated stone, these fists come down very quickly.
At mid-to-long range a golem will employ the full benefits of The Land of Sand's rocket technology research division and use its fists as makeshift drone strikes on Zero's position. Like with the fist strikes earlier, it's a two limb affair and the golem has no problem rocket punching the first fist down on top of the second fist. Logistics be damned!
If all that business wasn't enough, like any good portly, towering enemy type in a video game the golem possess a good, old fashion butt stomp shockwave attack. Sometimes the simplest thing works.
With enough perseverance and perhaps a healthy dose of Intoner Mode the golem will eventually be toppled in due time. Enjoy that one singular golem encounter. These big bastards learn from their comrade's failings and employ the buddy system from here on out.
Following the battle...
And here I thought you'd be smart enough to stay away.
Well, I suppose that's just the curse of being a big-picture kind of guy. Know what I mean?
I know my own abilities, and I just expect others to recognize them as well.
Buuut, I guess that's asking too much of folks like you, now isn't it? I mean, why hold people to an ideal they can't possibly meet? Am I right? Heh-heh.
<spit> This guy's really startin' to piss me off.
<walks forward> You're Two's disciple, yeah?
Should I kill you, too?
<sigh> You see.
I guess the universe simply can't help those who won't help themselves.
What are you trying to--
And when that moment comes, it will be too late for regrets... traitor.
And thus Cent vanishes into a Kingdom Hearts-esque anime cloud of darkness. I... guess disciples can do that...? Is this going to turn into Pact Partner powers where they can fly and communicate telepathically if the plot/lack of budget for scenery demands it?
Welp. At least we got our dumb dragon kid back in the party after his grueling mission long absence. I really do need to make a list of excuses the game makes not to include Mikhail in a mission.
Video: Chapter 4 Verse 1 Highlight Reel
Lancer Concept Art - Look at this tool that bought the Horse Armor DLC. Idiot!
Cent Official Art - If you're wondering why his chest looks like it's been cut wide open and sewn back together the answer is: <shrug> I dunno. It just is.