Two things of note released yesterday, with the first being Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’s paid DLC and the second being Recore getting a free Definitive Edition upgrade. Since Recore was so bad, I figured it’d be best to start with it and leave the probably-good Shantae stuff to hopefully cheer me up afterward. Of course, the fact that this Definitive Edition upgrade is free even for disc owners is laudably consumer-friendly. “More” isn’t necessarily a good thing when it means not learning from one’s mistakes, though, and all of the criticisms I leveled at vanilla Recore remain true of the Definitive Edition (even when it comes to the new area). It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not going to play through the base game again. Why would I, if all of the same problems exist? Also, I really don’t want to.
Driving seems to be the big innovation
Upon loading my completed game save from when I originally played through the game, underutilized fast travel robot Violet explains that Joule has to travel to some place to do something. It turns out that he’s giving her a new robot form to put one of her three buddies in, and this is referred to as a “tank” despite looking and handling more like an ATV with a serious traction problem. Apparently the area you find it in was some kind of hideout for the resistance back before the game’s villain ruined everything for everyone, but it’s hard to tell right now if that little bit of back story will matter or not. What does matter is that the not-tank can drive over quicksand and get you across the desert quickly, which could make the base game marginally less annoying to play. Of course, you can tell that the game wasn’t originally designed for it, as the game’s frequent autosaves when you reach certain area thresholds cause the game to frequently freeze for a moment while driving around.
It’s a decent addition, though, and it can be used to attack while moving:
Its biggest problem (apart from steering being kind of luck-based) is that hitting anything kind of obstacle like a crate or raised bit of ground causes it to crash to a halt. Here’s a video of me cruising around a main game area and hitting something:
And then there’s the problem that arises when you’re expected to platform using this thing despite the control issues and jumps making that incredibly imprecise:
Some big little improvements
There are a few improvements over the base game I noticed that aren’t flashy enough to splash all over the box, but that no doubt make playing a much less tedious experience. The first is that you seem to be able to fast travel anywhere from anywhere without needing to find one of Violet’s stations (except the first time to activate it). Before you were only able to fast travel back to Joule’s crawler, which meant an extra loading screen. You can also swap your allies’ cores into different bodies without having to return to the crawler, which further reduces the tedium. Oh, and your robots’ subtitles are now in English rather than the weird made-up robot language they actually speak in, so it seems less like Joule is talking to herself like a crazy person. The last thing I’ve noticed thus far is that there are some prismatic cores where before there weren’t any, which should make the hunt for 45 to actually finish the story slightly more bearable. These are all good changes.
Don’t trust advertisements, though
Some of the things that I saw advertised are absolutely true. The amount of time it takes to respawn after dying definitely seems quicker, and I’ve already personally seen a few of the new achievements they added. The claim that the loading times have been improved is a bald-faced, lie, though, at least as far as the original Xbox One is concerned. You still have 50 seconds of loading before the main menu:
Other loading screens remain every bit as terrible as they were before:
Radiation is still ruining exploration
If you had hope that they’d figure out that climbing random things to explore is the best part of the game and stop punishing it with radiation that kills you at high altitudes, go ahead and abandon that hope right now. It’s still in the main game:
And even the new area has it, proving that they’ve learned absolutely nothing.
Speaking of learning nothing…
Hey, remember the ATV form that I just brought up? Sounds potentially entertaining, right? Maybe as a break from the tedium that is finding little robots to unlock dungeons so that you can platform and fight your way to hopefully getting a prismatic core? Well, guess what? They managed to make the driving tedious too! To open the dungeons in the new area, you have to engage in a clumsy race to pick up a little robot who’s running from you, and if you fail it, you have to slowly drive back to the starting point and try all over again. Over and over and over until you manage to not run into anything slightly raised, stopping you in an instant and dashing your hopes of catching up. One step forward, two steps back.
And those dungeons are mandatory
In yet another stunning example of learning nothing, you have to enter these dungeons to pick up some plot MacGuffin because upon reaching the base of the new content’s enemy faction, you’re greeted with this message:
Translation: “We don’t have enough content here to justify letting you continue playing, so we’re going to stand in your way until you do a ton of busy work just like how we designed the base game. Aren’t you lucky to be able to waste a ton of time doing nothing particularly interesting because of our poor design choices?”
I did one of the three dungeons already
The first thing I got was a new weapon mode to use. Now it’s possible to tap a direction to choose a color, then tap again to access a weird laser thing instead of the gun’s ordinary explosive secondary weapon. Since the explosive was the best way to approach combat and now the only way to tell which mode a gun is in is a little icon on the bottom-left of the screen, this has made combat pure joy. Especially since it remains as floaty, chaotic, and cheap as ever. Just look at this:
When I started Recore, my hatred of it had died down quite a bit. All I really remembered were the entertaining climbing physics (and radiation that made them less fun) that stole the show. Having now played it for an hour or so, I remember why I hated it so much in the first place. Vanilla or Definitive Edition, this thing is a mess.
But I will finish the new content so that I’m never tempted to play this again. Woe.