Part 58: Episode XL: In Which There is Surprising CompetencyEpisode XL: In Which There is Surprising Competency
It has been a while since we've needed to do some housekeeping. Completing the first mission of Branch B unlocks a new weapon in Accord's shop. The first newly unveiled weapon costs a healthy 48,300 gold. I guess being some manner of Time Lord or whatever the hell is going on with Accord costs a pretty penny. Let's take a quick review...
Bloodwyrm's Flame posted:
The spear of a renowned dragon.
Weapon Size: Large
It had lived long. So long. Sometimes it seemed it had
lived for all the time in the world, the usual cycle of
life and death being little more than a farce.
Its slow, heavy body was old and wizened. It had
witnessed countless human lives kindle and then
extinguish in the blink of an eye.
It had lived with the heart it was now losing bit by bit.
It had forgotten how to roar, or gnash, or fly into a rage.
The flames of war raged on in an endless stream of conquest
and slaughter and death. In the face of this unchanging flow
of history, the dragon finally grew weary of living.
Poor dragon. It could have just stuck around a few more years and taken its pick of apocalyptic end every few decades. Aww well. Hindsight and all that...
After all that tedious grinding of low-level mooks, Zero has called a time out for the rest of the day. No wonder Zero's murder road trip took a bit shy of two months the first time around. We're already at two slack-off sessions in one day here.
Oh well... Let's see how our crew of miscreants are holding up.
Was she this weird when she was young? Or is that a new thing?
No idea. Not my problem.
Wow. Now I actually feel sorry for her.
You know, we haven't seen much of each other lately. Don't you... miss me?
Oh Dito. You're a fun little psychopath. But your game is just shit, man. Don't start leaving streams of drunk texts at weird hours of the night next. Maybe Decadus is more on the ball today.
Oh! My apologies, my lady! I did not mean to ignore you.
What were you fantasizing about this time?
N-Nothing, my lady. Just... thinking about Lady Four.
Oh? You care enough to remember her, huh?
Worry not, my lady. My heart is yours alone.
Which one was Four...? Was that the one with the boobs? That shit was ages ago, man. Meh. What's Octa's take on the forest being all weird and Fallout 3 filtered?
I assume you mean Lady Three. To be honest, I'm not sure. She always was a bit of an odd duck. Though one thing did pique my curiosity...
Normally, my love truncheon would riiise to attention at the sight of Lady Three. But when I beheld her this time, it didn't stir an inch! My hat is off to you, Lady Zero, for taming a lust as voracious as mine!
Is that a compliment?
In any case, Lady Three did leave us with some rather important words, mmm?
Not really. I mean the forest is weird and is textured like an absolute horrendous mess. One might somehow be involved...? She also told us it's important for beasts to brush our teeth between meals. So who knows... Anyway, let's hit up mister trivia while we're in the neighborhood.
Two... Hmm. Something about that name bothers me. I often pay scant attention to others. But something about this Two person just...
Is it really that much of a mystery? You and Two are supposed to be working together, after all.
Me? Two? ...Working? ...Together?
Forget it. It's a moot point now, anyway.
Well, nothing strange about that. Eh. It's probably fine. Let's hit up Mikhail to end this marshmallow toasting session and see us off to the next mission.
You and me both.
Do you think I'll ever grow a flower in my eye? Huh? Do you? If I had one, I could make it sprout up and blossom, and then boooooom!
This flower ain't all sunshine and lollipops, ya know. And you can't just make it "sprout up," either. First, you need another person to pay for-- Ah, forget it.
Aw, come on! You can't trail off there! That's mean. You're mean, Zero!
I just wanna be a big, strong dragon! That's all I want!
So what next?
I think Three's right. One might be hiding somewhere deeper in the forest.
Ugh. I'm so tired of walking through these stupid woods!
Well, turning back is just as much of a trek, so we might as well keep going.
Octa speaks the truth. Whether One is here or not, we should press on.
All right then. Hop to it.
Verse 2: Premonition
Music: Registance ~ Battleground
Huh. This must be the high end real-estate neighborhood of the Land of Forests. We really are pulling a Halo going through Chapter 3 in reverse. At this rate we'll end up fighting in
Spoiler: We won't. That would be a semi-cool setpiece requiring effort and budget to render.
We're actually starting back where Zero murdered the King of Faeries last go around. Or already had. I think everything happened the same in this timeline. Other than Cent wandering in and informing everyone how blueberries are not actually named for their color, but how eating them in abundance is said to cause depression.
<sigh> Look, why don't you take to the skies and look for One and Three, okay?
Awww! Why? You don't like being with me?
Is it because I smell? Is that it?
What? No! I... just want to see you spread your wings and soar across the skies! ...And stuff.
Oh, really? Wow! Okay, you got it! Watch this, all right? Watch this!
Later Mikhail. I guess that's as good an excuse as any to vanish for most of the stage. And I really mean vanish. They stop rendering him immediately after he passes that garbage looking 2D foliage. This is not a good looking game to begin with and the Land of Forests wasn't particularly pretty even on those terms previously. I know they're going for a tainted forest thing and all. But this green filter makes everything look goddamn hideous in a "I want to get this chapter over with so I can stop looking at this eye vomit" sort of way.
Up ahead we are ambushed by more of the Land of Forest's troops. Including one bugger who hates Cent enough to ignore the Midgard Barrier Load Masking Armistice Treaties of 614 and attack him while the area is still spawning enemies. Rude!
Takes one to know one...
Just kidding! Kidding! Hoooooo...
Remember when I said previously we were done seeing upgraded Imperial soldiers? I was only half-correct. For in this area we are tasked with slaying six Lancer Captains. These are technically upgraded Lancers (the horseback idiots rarely appearing back in the late chapters of Branch A) these are also an undead variant that fight completely differently. Or at least they had their AI turned on once they got the skeletal horses. It's hard to tell.
The undead lancer captains actually do more than charge headlong like glorified spearmen. They'll use their higher HP and stun threshold to charge in on Zero and begin slashing about at an attempt to get some good hits in after the initial attempt. I believe the standard version could do this too But having virtually zero poise meant that tactic rarely came to light.
Additionally, due to the number of KIA soldiers thanks to Zero's campaign, the undead are automatically promoted several ranks upon reanimation. Thus lancer captains come in groups of two. And as such, they'll actually back off and attempt to flank Zero. Or just leap away and gallop to a distance for another go if they start getting pounded on. Like I said, it's like they actually got something resembling AI in this form.
That's about all the praise I have for the lancer captain's lot. Not quite as braindead as most Drakengard 3 enemies. Good thing we never come upon anyone of higher rank in any of the Intoners' armies. And the top brass are a bunch of magical girl idiots and their highly ineffectual and prone to desertion boyfriend bodyguards.
The path ahead reveals itself and a small, rare for this stage pile of human soldiers pile out...
There's something weird going on in this forest.
Who cares? Kill her!
Arrrrah. M-my whole body is itchy as hell!
We can't fight like this!
What the hell is happening?!
The lancer captains were all undead and their allies during battle were mostly undead skeletons. Well there were archers, but they don't count as people. I guess we are backtracking technically. It makes sense for there not to be too many living and breathing folks left in Zero's wake.
A bit further down the path we find a cave with a shiny golden treasure box. I don't normally mention these in updates. Mostly because I am image a screenshot and sentence explaining I found a twenty dollar bill, some copper wire, and a pastry discarded in a truck tucked behind a mulberry bush isn't terribly compelling for any party involved three times a mission. But this one is right out in the open and well it's hard to avoid so...
Oh snap! The undead actually set up an ambush. Booby-trapped the box, sealed the room, popped out of hiding and everything! Man! Maybe there's so much murder and death in Drakengard's world because everyone becomes far more competent in death. At least their skeletons anyway.
What? Stop babbling like an idiot and tell me what you want.
WHAT!? Are you deaf or just dumb!?
Helloooooo? Zero? I can't hear you! I don't know where you are anymore, Zero!
Perhaps this forest is affecting his ability to sense you...
If Drakengard ever made it to the modern age, do you think the Umbrella Corporation would actually be successful and competent? Makes you think.
An undead ambush later...
What? You grow a third nut or something?
If only! But... no, I'm referring to Lady One. She was said to be in the Cathedral City. Why would she come to this place?
Don't know, don't care. Leave the thinkin' to the eggheads.
It's Zero! She's here! The traitor is here!
Protect us Lady Three, please!
This is bad... How'd she get this far!?
See! I told you our defensive positions weren't--
Just shut-up and fight, idiot!
There's a handful of surviving soldiers left that had an error on their enlistment forms where they checked:
[_ ] Dead
That needed to be corrected. No worries. It's a common clerical error. But other than that, the rest of the stage is just a walk in the pa--
...Bah. Don't you hate when that happens? Strolling in the park, enjoying a nice afternoon breeze and suddenly you're neck deep in a cutscene getting your ass kicked.
And Zero gets her ass kicked right thoroughly by a trio of, again, surprisingly competent titans. Waiting for a cutscene and everything for an ambush. Good going getting it together guys.
This would kill me!?
Goodness... So that's how they regenerate...
What's this?! One of the titans is having none of this lengthy world's most bloody magical girl transformation sequence. The attempt to thwart it fails with a blind parry by Zero but hey... Where's all this competence coming from all the sudden? Did One show up to give everyone lessons in cutscene savviness?
Hey, where the hell have you been, Mikhail!? That's another tardy to the party tally on your record, mister! I hope you like spending the next five Saturday mornings in make-up classes this summer!
Music: Registance ~ Battleground
Oh... We're playing as Mikhail now. We can do that without Zero? That's a thing...? Since when? This new timeline is silly business.
So what? The big dummy was able to sense Zero's pain?
Such an intense bond...
So this battle sucks ass for two reason. Neither of which involve these three Arch Titan clownshoes. They're upgraded beefy titans, sure. But we have a dragon and they have zero aerial attacks. It's a pushover to actually kill the trio. No, this battle sucks for mechanical reasons outside the actual fighting part. But first of all...
Gonna run off and piss yourself, are ya?
I'm not running! And I'm not pissing myself, either! Not yet, anyway...
^ See this exchange up above. Remember the desert sun area and Decadus? Yeah... This fucking exchange triggers every 30 seconds if there is no other dialogue at the moment. No, Mikhail is not running away, Decadus, you naggy motherfucker! If you don't shut up I will take Dito and shove him down your goddamn throat... if I didn't think you'd like it...
This arena is NOT designed to have a dragon flying around it. At all. See how high Mikhail is flying there? That's the vertical limit of the area. Those 32x32 texture leaves? Yep they're right up at the same level obscuring your view. Have fun flying into those in the trees scattered about the area. Not all of them are all that high but still have solid geometry for Mikhail to get caught upon while navigating the region. So that's fun too. And did I mention it's about five seconds of gliding to hit the outer borders of the map and get the camera caught there as well? No? Well that's great t--
Where are you going, Mikhail? Lady Zero needs you.
Our chance for what?
Uh, if you hadn't noticed, Zero's a bit tied up at the moment. She can't use her crazy powers or any of that junk. Now's our chance to haul ass outta here!
That's one possibility...
Mmm... I suppose it might work?
You suppose wrong, assholes!
The three arch titans competency has waned now that we're back in the realm of gameplay. They have seemed to scattered to different corners of the area far enough to be unable to support one another. On their own Mikhail's fireballs and divebombs can easily stunlock a single one of them into submission. Frankly, it's easiest, if most time consuming, to just land and take a steady stream of potshots on solid ground rather than wrestle with the shit camera and getting caught on trees in the air. Not that such is an immediately apparent tactic.
Anything to quickly wrap this up and get us out of this ceaseless green tint hellscape and Decadus' broken record of concern.
Just hurry up and pull it out!
Thanks Zero, I didn't need to sleep tonight.
Video: Branch B Verse 2 Highlight Reel
Skip to Ending Cutscene (You should watch at least this)