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Final Fantasy XIV Xtreme Beach Volleyball When

Genshin Impact, Final Fantasy XIV's 6.2 update, Gamescom Opening Night Live and tons more.

On this episode of 99 Potions, the gang’s all talking about Final Fantasy XIV’s latest 6.2 update and how it feels awfully similar to Tecmo’s Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. They ponder a better world with some summer games mixed in. Plus, Michael gives us a quick check-in with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and the week’s news. Listen to the episode down below or check it out on your preferred podcast catcher of choice! God, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. What a time.

Podcast Transcript:

Nerium: Hello everybody, and welcome back to 99 Potions, the premier Fanbyte RPG podcast with a free trial up to level 60, including all of the content in the critically acclaimed expansion Heavensward. I am one of your hosts, Nerium, Senior Managing Editor of fanbyte.com. I am joined as is so often the case by one News Editor for fanbyte.com, Imran Khan.

Imran: So is it “heaven’s word”?

Nerium: Heavensward.

Imran: ‘Cause like, now that you say that out loud, I realize I have no idea what the hell that means. And I always assumed it was like “heaven’s sward,” like sword with an A. [laughter]

Michael: Yes, because we all…sward is a thing everyone says.

Nerium: Sward. I’ll take S words, Alex.

Imran: I legit thought it was a sword that they were just spelling weirdly because it was like weird or special.

Nerium: No.

Michael: No, it means like towards the heavens, like heavensward.

Imran: Okay.

Nerium: Yeah, ’cause it’s where they added flying mounts.

Imran: Okay, like to– okay, I get that now.

Michael: Wow, I didn’t even make that connection, Nere.

Nerium: Yeah. It’s like a– it means a bunch of different things, ’cause it’s when they added flying mounts. It’s also when you go to like fantasy Vatican and like meet the evil Pope and stuff like that.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: And also there’s a faction in that expansion called the Heaven’s Ward, two words.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Like they’ve ward heaven.

Michael: Yeah, so it’s a triple entendre.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Mm. Layers.

Michael: Don’t ask me how.

Nerium: [laughs] Master of the triple entendre is joining us today on 99 Potions, again, two times in a row?

Michael: Ayy, two time champion.

Nerium: Two time champion, Michael Higham, Section Head of Final Fantasy XIV? Is that your–

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: How does your title work?

Michael: I don’t know. I don’t know how it works. I’ve been here–

Nerium: I don’t know how literally anybody’s title works. Every time I ask merritt, it’s something different.

Michael: [laughs] Next week is my one year at Fanbyte.

Nerium: Oh, fuck!

Michael: So I should probably figure that out, but…

Imran: Figure out what my job is before [laughter] the one year anniversary.

Michael: Hey, listen, listen, I’m looking at our traffic numbers. I know what my job is, baby. Shit.

Nerium: Oh God, yeah. This week, holy shit. We’ll get into why that number has been going up recently. I should– you saying that, though, also makes me think I should go back and check my Discord messages to find out the day that I didn’t get fired when they fired everybody else and like the old people– the old–

Michael: They forgot to fire you, yeah. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: Yeah, when they forgot to fire me and stuff like that. I should figure out when my actual anniversary of like when I officially started working at Fanbyte is, because– before Fanbyte existed, before we had come up with a name. It was unnamed video game website in the backend for a very long time.

Imran: We should have kept that.

Nerium: We should have just kept that.

Michael: Untitled video game website.

Imran: No one’s gonna ??? that thing wrong.

Nerium: Well, the thing– so, the thing with the Fanbyte name, I don’t know if we’ve said this part out publicly as much, but like the thing with the Fanbyte name was like the guy who was in charge back in the day—who’s no longer with the company, thank God—was like, it has to be one word and then a completely unrelated second word mushed together, ’cause he was like, it’s gonna be like Buzzfeed and Facebook and it has to sound like that, and that’s why it’s called Fanbyte. And then he just like asked a bunch of people.

Imran: Potatomarker.

Nerium: Oh, we had a document. I need to find it some time. [Imran laughs] We had a document of all the rejected names, ’cause everybody in the company was encouraged to present a name and like put them forward and whoever got it got like paid a bonus kind of thing.

Michael: What? Really? Fuck!

Nerium: Yeah. [laughter] There was a bounty out on naming the website.

Michael: That sounds kind of illegal, but I’m with it.

Nerium: Well, it was–

Michael: Allegedly.

Nerium: Michael, it’s so much more fucked than that, ’cause the guy who was like, “Hey, we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna put a bounty out on coming up with the name for the website,” [laughter] he also– the executive who was in charge at the time or the general manager or whatever you want to call it was putting names into the hat too. And John at one point asked him, “So what happens if one of your selections, you know, what if one of your names gets picked?” And he said like, “Oh, well then I get the money.” [Imran laughs]

Michael: Oh.

Nerium: [laughs] “I get to pay myself extra.” And it’s like, what are you talking…?

Imran: It’s like, how jeopardy, like the guy who was in charge of the search is like, “I guess I’m the host now.”

Nerium: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. Oh my God. Yeah, that former person had that energy, for sure. [Imran laughs]

Michael: Damn. They should have got jumped.

Nerium: God.

Imran: You should find that list, and we should put it up as an article.

Nerium: We need to find it.

Michael: Yeah, I was gonna say you should publish that.

Nerium: I just, I remember boredvalley was a big one. Yeah.

Michael: Gamepost.

Nerium: Gamepost. [laughter] Yeah, there isn’t enough confusion in the game comma word with an SOT in it. Yeah, mm-hmm. God. Anyway, this is 99 Potions. We are your three hosts for this week, and we are going to be talking about a whole bunch of different kinds of things, because we’re kind of mixing up the format a little bit. Long time listeners of 99 Potions have probably realized at this point that we originally started off by doing– we would do three normal episodes where we would have a particular topic in mind, and then we would do a News Quest at the end of the month. The problem with that was that news didn’t wait until the end of the month to happen, which was very inconsiderate of it.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: So we have– and so what we ended up always doing was just like, you know, oh, News Quest is supposed to be the last episode of the month, but then we would do it on like a Tuesday in the middle, because we needed to talk about like a Pokémon Direct or something that had happened, and it’s like, well, we have to get this out, because it’s up to date. So we’re probably gonna move away from the News Quest as an individual episode, and we’re gonna make it into its own segment that happens every week on the show after we talk about the stuff that we already want to talk about, so we can be a little bit more up to date on some things. And also, this was a big fucking week for news and video game patches and– not releases, but like, as you can probably tell by the fact that we have one expert Michael Higham here, there was some big Final Fantasy XIV stuff.

Michael: Ya!

Nerium: Uh huh. We’ll get to the news segment after a little bit, but first we will open up with a normal thing that we do every week or most weeks, which is just kind of talk about some video games.


Nerium: Because we got a list here of a couple of different video games I think we’ve all been playing, and Imran, I want to hear about this game that I have checked out of in recent months [Imran laughs] but need to go back to, ’cause like every time I go back to it, I’m like, it’s pretty fucking good though, huh?

Imran: It’s weird. So, we’re talking about Genshin Impact, and it is weird how much constant content there is for that game.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like for a game that just doesn’t have an endgame at all, like, it’s weird how—I guess I say weird, even though it’s almost assuredly because they’re working their developers to the bone and they have like 500 of them focused on the game—how consistent the new content updates are, that like every two weeks, there’s just something new in that game that was not there before.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And like, you play through it, and you’re like, “Cool, I’ve got my shit,” and then you either check out or you just keep playing through. And this time, as of, I want to say, 12 hours ago, 13, 15, something hours ago, they put the 3.0 update, which is a massive new continent and new storylines and new characters and all that jazz. So, I played a few hours of that already. It’s still Genshin Impact.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: It is still exactly the same game, and it still has the exact same problem where everything is entirely too wordy.

Nerium: Yeah. Yeah.

Imran: I put a couple of hours in, and most of that was in conversations that could have been like half as long.

Nerium: So, Michael, do you know what we’re talking about with the wordiness? Have you played Genshin Impact?

Michael: I play– I fuck with Genshin Impact.

Nerium: Hell yeah.

Michael: Or, well, I used to. I just like doubled down on Final Fantasy XIV as the–

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: That’s my live service RPG that I’m dedicated to, but I do– listen, I enjoy anime girls.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Michael: You know me. Shit. [laughs]

Nerium: Literally, as soon as you said, “I fuck with Genshin Impact,” I was like, what am I even asking? Of course you do.

Michael: [laughs] Why are you asking?

Nerium: I know why you fuck with Genshin Impact.

Imran: I remember, like two years ago, I saw you at a party, and we were talking about Genshin Impact, and you were just like, “Lisa’s the best character.” I was like, “Why?”

Michael: I was just gonna say. [laughs] I was like, yo, Lisa’s bad.

Imran: And you said ’cause she’s the only one you know is an adult. [laughter]

Imran: I was like, all right, that makes sense to me. I understand what you’re getting at.

Nerium: Uh huh.

Michael: I am an enjoyer of her design is what I’ll say.

Imran: Yeah. [laughs]

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But yeah.

Nerium: I’m an enjoyer of many designs in Genshin Impact, [“Mm-hmm”] kind of across the board.

Michael: Oh, what’s the blue dude? Young Aymeric. What’s…?

Nerium: [laughs] Young Aymeric.

Michael: You meet him early on.

Nerium: Tartaglia?

Michael: No, he’s one of the first characters in the story.

Imran: Kaeya?

Michael: I think so, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nerium: Oh, Kaeya, with the eye patch? Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, he’s– oh, with the eyepatch– bruh, listen. Eyepatch? [scoffs] Listen, it’s over. Dimitri with an eyepatch? Yo, let’s go.

Nerium: Okay, so, literally the first time I ever heard about Genshin Impact before anybody knew what Genshin Impact was, it was at PAX, I think? I think it was like PAX East or something like that, whatever PAX we went to as a– this is actually before either of you worked here, ’cause it was like literally the first year of Fanbyte. And a friend of mine, Sabriel, who works in video games and has worked for– you know, friend of the site. She’s worked for us a couple times as a freelancer. She was also at the show and found me on the show floor and like grabbed me by the arm and said, “Hold on, I found this game with a really pretty femboy. You have to come see it.” [laughter] And she knew exactly how to get me.

Michael: Listen, I have a similar story. My– sorry, Imran. We’re hijacking the Genshin Impact segment.

Imran: No, go for it. We should just talk about Genshin Impact in totality.

Michael: So, it was PAX East 2020, and I was walking from the media room to like an appointment, and I stopped dead in my tracks, because there was a TV in the hallway playing the Genshin Impact trailer. And I hadn’t seen it before, so I fucking, I stop and I watch it, and I’m like, “Oh shit, what is that? I gotta check it out.” And then I’m checking out the beta, and I didn’t– like I played through it, and I was like, “Oh, this game seems cool, but I don’t think it’s going to like blow up or anything. Maybe it’s just like another kind of generic anime-inspired RPG.” And then it became like the biggest fucking thing.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: And I was like, damn, I missed out on the– dawg, if I was a Genshin influencer from day one? Oh my God.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Money bags.

Nerium: It’s weird to think about. And I mean, that’s just a thing that we run into in this business, kind of like more often, I think, than most people do, where we just see a thing and it’s like, okay, this looks like a million other things exactly like this that I’ve seen before. I have no reason to believe that this one will pop off more than those other dozen games like this. Same thing happened with Fortnite. When Fortnite first launched, it was like, okay, yeah, it’s kind of a…it’s Minecraft with guns. Okay, sure. [“Mm”] It wasn’t even that, ’cause it was just like base building, barely.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs]

Nerium: And then you had zombies. It was like horde– they’d made a video game out of Horde Mode from Gears of War is actually probably more to what it was.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: And then it was like, oh, battle royale, huh? And then it was like the Drake Ninja stream thing where everybody realized, oh, this is big.

Imran: Yeah. I remember– so I don’t remember why I started playing this game. I started playing, I just downloaded it on PS4 one day. I was like, “All right, cool, I’ll play this for a bit,” and stopped for about a year, and then since, I think, last November or October, I’ve pretty much been playing it every day.

Nerium: Oh, wow!

Imran: I don’t know. [laughs quietly]

Michael: Oh snap. Damn.

Imran: I can’t explain it. It’s just, like…but I remember before this game came out, the main thing I heard about it was it is a complete ripoff of Breath of the Wild.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: ‘Cause it does look like that.

Michael: Right, yeah.

Imran: It looks exactly like a– to the point where I remember someone at one of the ChinaJoy summits like taking a PS4 to the summit [Nerium: “Mm-hmm, yep”] and like smashing it for the reasoning of: why can’t China make original games? Why do we have to rip off like existing titles?

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And like, I don’t think Genshin Impact is really that anymore, but at the beginning, when you first saw the game, it was like, oh, this is straight up just the same game again.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: You climb on rocks, and there’s a stamina wheel.

Imran: There’s little like bokoblins that are not bokoblins that…

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Oh, right, yeah.

Nerium: The hilichurls.

Imran: Have the same kind of like setup in camps and all that. There’s elemental reactions that are kind of the same thing but aren’t.

Nerium: They took that in such its own direction, I think, over time.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Like a lot of these. I mean, similar to Fortnite, it just became its own thing at a certain point.

Michael: Right.

Nerium: It just like was very heavily influenced. The baseline was very heavily influenced by something else.

Imran: Yeah. And the elementary reactions thing is weird, ’cause at some point they just kind of gave up on that too. [laughter]

Nerium: Yeah, I know. It’s like such a big part of the tutorial, and it’s just like, I don’t know. If you got it, got it.

Imran: It’s important for damage, but like, earth doesn’t actually do anything with anything.

Nerium: Yeah, it’s not useful.

Imran: Like, it just does crystallize, and that’s kind of it. The new element–

Nerium: Which just gives you damage shield, which nobody cares about.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I can tell you from Final Fantasy XIV, Warframe, Destiny, everything: all anybody ever cares about is DPS.

Imran: Yeah. The new element, Dendro, which is a plant thing, is like weirdly complicated but not really and also doesn’t do much. So like, the way it works with Dendro is it’s a grass element that has been in the game in like two enemies since the beginning, but they’ve only just introduced it for more enemies with elemental reactions and characters now. So if you hit it with electricity, it’ll open up, like enemies will open up. If you hit it with water, they’ll bloom, and then they’ll spit out little seeds, and if you hit those seeds with fire, they’ll all explode.

Nerium: That seems like a lot of work.

Imran: It seems like a lot of work, and it seems like it’s meant for these really high level bosses to fight, which I might fight, ’cause most of my characters are fairly high level, but I’m guessing most people won’t, so it seems like a lot of time spent on, okay, we don’t have an end game. How do we keep people who are at high levels interested in the game but also not make it too complicated for people? And I don’t think they cut that middle ground right with this. I think most people are just gonna be like, oh, it’s a plant, I’m just gonna use fire.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And that works fine too. [laughs quietly]

Nerium: And now you say like new element, new all this other stuff, like 3.0, new continent. Is this Sumeru?

Imran: Yeah, this is Sumeru.

Nerium: Okay.

Imran: Which is ostensibly based on Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Nerium: Uh huh…

Imran: Like they can’t really get away from that because of all the characters that have things like heads that look like Anubis or are Persian belly dancers or things like that.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: But they’re also lily white. They are–

Nerium: Really, really, really white.

Imran: They are, I think I put it in one article as the cover of the Beatles’ White Album [laughter] made into characters.

Michael: The article’s fire. It’s like one, two full paragraphs of being like, “Listen, I don’t know why y’all gotta keep making your anime characters super light-skinned.”

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Like, oh my God.

Imran: And like, the reason is because that’s how they make the money and because the type of people who play Genshin Impact are gonna be like, “I don’t like the character with dark skin as much as I like the character with light skin.”

Michael: Mm. Yeah. It’s, uh… [laughs] Shouts out to colorism. [Imran laughs] You hate to see it.

Nerium: Fucking wild.

Imran: Colorism, very common in selling video game characters as waifus.

Michael: Yeah. Oh, man, that’s fucked up. Well, yeah, one, it’s fucked up, but also like, you know, I want not light-skinned waifus, which is a sentence I didn’t expect to say before. [laughter]

Imran: Just go to a protest with a sign saying, “I want not light-skinned waifus.”

Michael: Yo, listen, it’s…I mean, well, you want to talk about colorism, like, yo, the skin whitening products make a killing in the Philippines, and I’m sure they do across like all of Asia, which is like an inherent problem that’s like, [Nerium: “Huh”] that’s our problem, of course, but yeah, just colorism and being light-skinned is such a– it is huge in Asia, especially the Philippines. Yo, there’s a whole section in Seafood City. Like, you can pull up to the beauty section in Seafood City, and it’s like, hey, here’s face wash that also incorporates skin whitening agents in it. And I’m like, yo. Damn.

Nerium: I’ve never heard of that.

Michael: My mom tried to put me on that shit, and I was like, yo, nah! [laughs]

Imran: It’s a real thing in pretty much every like culture in the world of like…even in my culture, people who are lighter skinned are generally considered better?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Like more attractive, more, you know, more likely to succeed. Like I have a cousin who is very dark-skinned. Dude had the most difficult time getting married despite being [Michael: “Fuck”] way more successful than I am in every way. [laughs]

Nerium: Huh.

Imran: And just like, because he was darker, and that was like, that was a thing people look at like, “Oh, no, this is not as attractive.”

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: I think that’s what– yeah, that’s what they think of when they design characters is we need these to sell.

Michael: yeah.

Imran: ‘Cause if you look at the actual like sensor tower charts, and even HoYoverse’s own charts, the characters who are cuter, more attractive, more skeptically clad tend to sell better.

Michael: Damn. You hate to see it.

Imran: Yeah. That’s where they make their dough.

Michael: Shit.

Nerium: I had honestly– I mean, obviously I know about like colorism and racism and all that stuff in the world, but like, yeah, this is wild news to me, possibly because like, my skin has never seen melanin within like, you know, spitting distance, so.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Fargo doesn’t doesn’t have the sun, I don’t think?

Nerium: No, no, no, no, no.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: We live under– you’ve seen the TV show Under the Dome?

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: That’s a sequel to Fargo.

Michael: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Imran: Wait, I want to– Michael, have you actually seen the TV show Under the Dome?

Michael: No, I know of it. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Okay. I like that Nere said that as if that was a thing that was like likely.

Nerium: Yeah, of course Michael’s seen Under the Dome! Like, what?

Imran: The big cultural touchstone, Under the Dome.

Nerium: Oh my God, yeah. Those are always– honestly, I do not watch like any TV whatsoever, but like every TV show that was like in that post like 10 years, and it still kind of happens now, but like for a long time there, there was that kind of like post-Lost rush to be the next TV show that was like, what’s the big mystery? What’s the big thing that we’re going to be like doing? Heroes was very much like in that vein, in terms of like the marketing and stuff like that. There was that show about like people lost in the Amazon and stuff like that that happened around that time, the fucking– oh, there’s just so many of those different shows, and for some reason, all of that era of marketing is like burned into my brain. So despite never having seen Under the Dome, I remember that show or I remember everything about it that I ever saw like to a T. It’s wild.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: That was like 10 years ago, right?

Nerium: It was like 10 years ago probably, yeah.

Imran: It’s kind of like how I’m fairly conversant in comics, even though I’ve never–

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: Not never. I’ve not read a comic in like 25 years. Because like, I know so many people who do know comics that like, when I talk to them, [Nerium laughs] I’m like, oh yeah, you’re talking about the time Wolverine wore an eyepatch.

Nerium: Yeah. When he was a bouncer in Las Vegas with Joe Fixit, who is a hyper intelligent version of the Hulk who becomes a bouncer in Las Vegas as well and wears a big white suit.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And uses ???

Imran: [laughs] Yeah, that thing everyone knows about.

Michael: Love The Bouncer.

Nerium: So The Bouncer the video game started off as a Marvel tie-in product and they eventually had to change the license.

Imran: I was thinking about this the other day. Do you think they ever bring back The Bouncer?

Michael: Oh, damn.

Imran: Like for an HD remaster or anything?

Michael: They gotta. They bring it alongside Kingdom Hearts IV and they’ll confirm that Sion is actually Sora’s dad.

Nerium: So that’s the thing I could actually see.

Imran: What if they make a Bouncer world in Kingdom Hearts IV?

Michael: The Bouncer extended universe.

Nerium: Totally. I could see that. I could see Sion Barzahd showing up in The Bouncer. Sion? Zion? Syon?

Michael: Syon? I don’t know. All I know is that…

Nerium: I remember Barzahd. I remember that he’s just proto Sora too.

Imran: Like everyone asking Nomura to bring back Final Fantasy characters, and instead what he does is in the next Traverse Town [“Yeah!”] it’s just The Bouncer characters and that’s it. [laughter]

Nerium: It’s, uh, what’s his name? It’s not Deedee Mega Doodoo, but it’s like there’s a name in that same vein Dauragon is the one I keep thinking of.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Because there’s a Twitter account that uses Dauragon. That’s the villain from that game.

Michael: Ah, I love me some of the bouncer.

Nerium: The bouncer.

Imran: The bouncer.

Nerium: The bouncer! Ugh. Bad game.

Imran: There’s a wrestler– as long as we’re talking about Kingdom Hearts, there’s a wrestler named Hook, who like…

Nerium: Mm-hmm. [laughs]

Imran: His thing is he does not talk really. He just says like, “Yup,” and that’s it. His whole thing is he’s just a guy who looks like an anime shonen character, and now people are just bringing signs of Sora whenever Hook comes out to be like, “Put Hook in Kingdom Hearts II,” and just pictures of Sora.

Michael: Oh, that’s what that’s about.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Michael: I thought like Hook from, uh…

Imran: Peter Pan?

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: He has a lost boys-like quality to him. He’s like a muscular Tom Holland in a lot of ways. [laughs]

Michael: Or like Hook from Rufio. Get Dante Basco in Kingdom Hearts IV.

Nerium: Yeah. Friend of the website, Dante Basco.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Just put Zuko in there, and like, you don’t even need to own Avatar. I’m pretty sure they won’t mind.

Nerium: Yeah, I mean, once Warner Brothers gets a hold of it anyway, like nobody’s gonna remember that. They’re going to erase Avatar from existence, so it’ll be, you know, it’s all good.

Imran: Does Warner Brothers own Nickelodeon?

Nerium: No, no. Viacom, I think.

Nerium: Oh, good.

Nerium: [laughs, sarcastic] Yeah, it’s way better!

Imran: It’s something– I mean, better, like…at least like, the difference between a ship that’s sinking from incompetence and a ship that’s sinking ’cause they’re actively drilling holes in it.

Nerium: Yeah, that’s true.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Fair enough. [sighs] So how is it? Are you enjoying Genshin Impact 3.0, Imran?

Imran: I played just a couple hours, and like I said, most of it was cutscenes. They put some new mechanics in this new area that seem interesting, but we’ll see how they go, ’cause there’s always– HoYoverse will do this thing of “Hell yeah, we put some new mechanics in things! You’ll only see them in this one small area, and then we’ve forgotten about them by the time we get to the end of it.”

Nerium: Mm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Imran: Beyond that, like, I’m interested. I’m a little bit interested in the story, even though it’s a little over long.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: ‘Cause what they set up so far is they introduced one character who has anime disease.

Nerium: Oh.

Imran: And usually what anime disease is is we don’t want to talk about it but the symptoms are she bleeds from her nose and faints sometimes.

Nerium: Oh.

Michael: [laughs] Anime disease.

Imran: In this one, they kind of like detail it a bit more of she has a weird disease where her skin starts out numb and eventually she will become completely paralyzed.

Nerium: Oh.

Imran: Like, okay, it’s interesting that you are willing to go that far, so I’m curious where that pays off. But the problem is with Genshin Impact is there’s just so much dialogue that doesn’t need to be there.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: I don’t know if that will ever pay off in any way or they’re just saying shit.

Nerium: That’s the weirdest thing about Genshin Impact is like so much of that game is like, you log in, you do your dailies, and then you log out. But like, we’ve talked about this before on 99 Potions, but this is what we were getting to at the beginning, which is just that game has like no dialogue editor to speak of. It’s wild how you will go through– it’s like doing a beast tribe quest in Final Fantasy XIV, and like some of those, I think, even get over long, where it’s like, okay, go to this person, click on this guy. You have to like watch them do their little animation of being shocked, and then they say one thing, but you can thumb through it really fast. Genshin Impact is like, every single time you do a daily, you have to hear this person’s entire life story about their romance, and it’s the same life story about their romance that they’ve said every single time for the past like six weeks, and you can’t thumb through it very quickly. It’s too slow to skip the dialogue.

Michael: Oh yeah.

Nerium: It’s so weird.

Imran: I’ve done enough dailies at this point that I know which ones are like, oh my God, this is the time waster, this is the one that’s gonna take forever, and some are I’m done in like 20 seconds. So like, when I get those time wasters, I’m like, “God, why does everything in this game need to take so long?”

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Why do I have to talk to this person who wants me to get a rope? Like, just tell me to go get a rope. You don’t need to explain to me why you need the rope. I don’t need the fucking history of the rope.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Just like, let me just thumb through this as fast as possible. And like, I’m sure there is actually a lot of decent, good writing in Genshin Impact.

Nerium: Totally.

Imran: In terms of like story plotting or dialogue, but I don’t see any of it, ’cause I get so fucking impatient like whenever they start with these cutscenes that go on way too long where people are just not saying anything real– like not saying anything that moves the plot forward.

Nerium: It’s all extraneous, yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: That’s the thing, is like, there’s so much writing, and it’s like, the actual amount of writing that is like plot critical is very, very small compared to the amount of writing that is just like complete diatribes. It’s very strange.

Imran: Right. My conspiracy theory is they know that it’s like overly long, but like there’s some metric they measure for of time spent in game per day or whatever.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And they try to– like, they make these things overly long on purpose so that that number goes up. But like, on the other hand, wouldn’t it just cost less to not localize these things into a bunch of languages?

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Because you have fewer– like a third of the amount of dialogue, I think, would be ideal. But even if you just cut it to half, like you’d be saving so much time and money on these things and like localization, ’cause all these, like, most of these lines are voiced, so you have a bunch of things that you don’t want to pay voice actors to constantly be doing. It feels like it would benefit the game so much if they did this, and I don’t understand why. Like, is there somebody at HoYoverse going, “No, I, the CEO slash writer of this game, [Nerium laughs] want to put in an entire novel’s worth for every expansion.”

Nerium: [sighs] It’s bizarre, but I’m glad to hear it sounds like the game part is still pretty good, at least good enough to give you coming back for, you know, every day.

Imran: Yeah. I’d still– I would classify it maybe more as addiction than like fun.

Nerium: Mm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Imran: But I’m still…I’m not hating it.

Nerium: Okay.

Imran: I’m enjoying what I’m playing.

Nerium: Well, a game that just added more dialogue, and people are hooting and hollering because it’s so good and everybody wants more story, is Final Fantasy XIV.

Michael: That’s big facts. [laughter]

Nerium: Michael, I know you’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV. We’ve both been playing Final Fantasy XIV.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah, 6.2 dropped yesterday. Oh my God.

Nerium: Jesus Christ.

Michael: Exciting stuff. [laughs] Yeah, it feels like…

Nerium: There’s so much.

Michael: It feels like– well, ’cause the patch notes dropped on Friday, so Mike Williams and I have been basically nonstop on the case since then, so it feels like it’s been out for a while, but finally getting hands on with 6.2 has been…it’s been great. Oh, I ran the new raids last night with my static, so we have cleared Abyssos, [Nerium: “Ooh”] and we’re ready for savage raiding next week. Did MSQ, did the new dungeon, did the new trial, checked out Island Sanctuary for a little bit, and it just, it feels like a very whole and complete package. Yeah, it’s kind of wild that it just…I think a lot of folks that I follow were booted up and said, “What do I even do now?” Like paralyzed by choice and just like, “Which– do I start Island Sanctuary? Should I do MSQ before I get spoiled on it or should I do the raids now?” So it’s really exciting that we have this huge update that gives us a lot of variety. And I think we talked about it last week, but finally seeing what Island Sanctuary is is kind of…you know, finally, it’s here. We got to see what it is. It’s really cute. Tataru says like, “Hey, yo, I bought you an island!”

Nerium: [laughs] It’s a wild way to start a quest.

Michael: Yeah. You just, you go up to this NPC in Old Sharlayan, and then Tataru shows up and says, “Yo, listen, I know you’ve been putting in a lot of work, so I got you a gift. We’re going to set sail, and I can show you the gift I got you.” And then, hey, it’s your own island.

Imran: One, that’s a creepy thing to like tell somebody [Michael laughs] is like, “Hey, hey, I got you– let’s get on this boat, ’cause I have a surprise for you.” [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Oh yeah, yeah. Well, she tells you beforehand, is like, [Imran: “Okay”] “Hey, I got an island for you. Let’s go check it out.”

Imran: Two, that’s the premise of Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball. [Nerium laughs]

Nerium: ??? Zack’s island.

Michael: Yo, they’re gonna add volleyball!

Nerium: Oh my God. [Imran laughs] Oh my God, Michael.

Michael: Get Yoshi-P on the line.

Nerium: Shit. Next year. That’s the new fucking summer event, the new Moonfire Faire.

Michael: Yeah. That’s gonna be the new content that they update to Island Sanctuary, but it’s…I know, Nere, you’ve been diving deeper into Island Sanctuary and stuff, and yeah, it seems like chill. It’s not…well.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: We’ll see how it plays out, but it doesn’t seem like too intensive or complicated. Just like crafting and gathering.

Nerium: It’s different than what I expected.

Michael: Yeah. So I want to kind of throw it to you to talk about like the market board stuff real quick, because I looked at that stuff, because there’s a lot of tutorials once you get onto the island. It’s like, “Hey, this is how the systems and mechanics work specifically here. This is how you grow crops. This is how you accumulate enough materials, so then you build and expand. This is how you expand. These are your objectives.” So it walks you through all of the systems and mechanics. It’s like, okay, this is like really well thought out, where they’ve built a set of mechanics that all feed into like a same ecosystem. So like herding animals, growing crops, get you new materials to build other things that get you access to more different types of items that you can then build and craft. So it, yeah, it has four or five core mechanics that all feed into each other.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Which is cool. And then there is the handicraft stuff, which is, I think, the…

Nerium: Right.

Michael: Surprisingly, I– well, maybe not surprising, but it is, I think that’s the main purpose of this thing is the different types of items that you can craft, because you sell them on a separate market board that is…it looks like a stock market thing, where it’s like, [Nerium: “Uh huh”] hey, this is supply. These are the supply and demand numbers. This is what players are looking for. This is what the system predicts will be highly sought after later. And then you have a crafting schedule where you can set out five whole days of this is what your NPCs are going to craft, and this is what you’re gonna yield from it.

Nerium: Real time days, by the way.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Not like in-game fake days. It is like, no, you can schedule out this system of basically like making, like, setting these little puppet type things called mammets to work [“Mm-hmm”] which are like Final Fantasy universe name for like living dolls, I guess. And they are all on your island and they do a bunch of stuff for you automatically that happens in the background, but you have to like schedule out a production queue, almost like a Satisfactory or like a Factorio kind of game.

Michael: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Nerium: And that’s where it, yeah, it’s weird, ’cause it’s like, I think when they announced Island Sanctuary, what a lot– at least this is what I kind of assumed was like, oh, it’s gonna be kind of like a light Harvest Moon type thing or a, you know, Animal Crossing type thing, and it is a little bit of that. It’s like 20% that and like 80% like single player EVE Online, which is a weird way to put it. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Yoshi-P say, “Hey, this is gonna be relaxing. It’s not gonna be intense.” And then the player base said, “You thought!” [Nerium laughs] Well, I mean like, listen, Tataru gave us this island. What did you expect? Of course she was gonna be like, [Nerium: “Yeah”] “Ay, also, there’s gonna be some wild capitalism in it, so have fun and make me some fucking money.” [laughs]

Nerium: The writing around that is actually like also surprisingly strong, if you actually do button through and like read all the stuff that the mammets and stuff are saying.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah.

Nerium: Like, it’s really funny, like there’s a lot of good jokes in there.

Michael: [laughs] That’s why I said like Island Sanctuary is really cute, ’cause the dialogue and the way the mammets– well, the mammets are cute.

Nerium: Mammets are cute.

Michael: But the way they talk to you and their NPC names are so cute. You have the Produce Producer.

Nerium: Uh huh.

Michael: And like the…I’m blanking on the other ones, but they’re all like puns and alliteration, and they’re like, the way they animate is really cute. The way they talk is really cute. Yeah.

Nerium: The one who like invites you to the island is called the Felicitous Feline, because it has cat ears.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: And it greets you, and then it just like basically goes into like, “Yeah, okay, so I run this island, and you basically just get to live here, despite the fact that the deed is in your name, but fuck you. I don’t respect you whatsoever or any of the other mammets that work under me.”

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Nerium: “They are my capitalist underlings.” And there’s like a whole– there’s like a bunch of jokes about like, “Great, you’ve cut down this big forest area here, you fucking monster.” [laughter] Like, “Time to like get rid of all this pesky untouched wilderness and replace it with civilization. Isn’t that great?” Like, there’s some really good stuff there. Like, you know, its name is the Felicitous Feline, but then it talks about like, “By the way, if you leave me here to fucking die, you will come back to find me– or you will come back to find my twin, the Furious Feline instead who will claw your eyes out.” [laughter]

Michael: It’s so cute. Aw. I want to sink more time into it, so. But yeah, it’s cool. I love when there’s like a brand new piece of content in the game, ’cause that also means traffic numbers, so. [laughs]

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Listen, the numbers are telling me, motherfuckers is out here looking for Island Sanctuary stuff, so.

Nerium: God, yeah.

Michael: Yeah, that’s really cool. But yeah, like I said, I ran the raids yesterday.

Nerium: How’d you like them?

Michael: Raids seem really cool.

Nerium: Yeah?

Michael: Mechanic wise, they’re a lot of fun, because I think that the mechanics are…well, I mean, I feel the same way. Well, the thing is like, I ran Asphodelus: Fourth Circle like how many times for the rewards?

Nerium: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Michael: And I like that. I like Asphodelus four, I just, I felt like it was pretty predictable. Like, once you did it once, you’re like, oh, okay, this is exactly how it’s gonna go. I mean, well, that’s how a lot of raids are, but I think there’s a lot of variation within singular fights in this particular raid tier.

Nerium: Oh, cool.

Michael: So, yeah, so like, with the other– some of the other raids are like, “Hey, this is the gimmick that this fight has,” and it’s like, okay, cool. But I think that this raid tier has a lot– you have to be a lot more on your feet, a little bit more active in terms of how you process the, like, how the arena changes throughout the fights, so that’s really cool. I really like the third one, because it’s not just like a square platform or whatever or a circular platform. What’d I say, the– oh yeah, the third one. You have to do a lot more like lanes and different platforms that get covered by different mechanics.

Nerium: That’s cool.

Michael: And they’re like, oh, I have to be really active. And you have to do, like instead of anticipating just the AOE markers, there’s a lot of like gesture tracking with the boss itself, and I think that’s…I mean, that’s true of most of the raids, but something about this one just feels a little bit more…there’s just a lot more variety within fights.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: So I like that, and I’m looking forward to how those things are kind of flipped in the savage tier next week.

Nerium: Ooh, yeah.

Michael: Yeah, and it was– those were really fun. I didn’t really get to process mentally the story stuff behind it, because I was with a static, and we’re like, [Nerium: “Oh”] “Hey, we have to…some people have a hard out, so we gotta get through this.” So I want to go back and rewatch the cutscenes to really understand what was happening, but man, y’all want a story about bad dads? Yo, Final Fantasy XIV loves bad dads.

Nerium: [laughs] Uh huh.

Michael: That’s like, that’s like its MO is just bad dads. Oh, man.

Imran: I thought I had seen some bad dad like media recently. Nothing is as bad dad as Hunter x Hunter.

Michael: Oh shit. Okay.

Nerium: Oh, wow. Yeah. God.

Imran: Like, Gon’s dad is maybe the worst dad I’ve seen in media.

Nerium: Oh, you mean Ging Freecss?

Imran: Yes. Ging Freecss. [laughter] The guy who explicitly abandons his son and then is like, “Yeah, you can come find me if you go through all this shit, and also I’m gonna trick you and make sure you don’t find me.”

Nerium: And also other characters call– like, it’s nice, ’cause it’s not like the Dragon Ball thing of like, “Wow, it’s just, this is kind of fucked up.” It’s like, in the world of Hunter x Hunter, other characters will call him out and say like, “That kinda sucks, dude.” It’s like, “You’re just a big coward who doesn’t want to talk to your son because it’s hard.” [laughs]

Michael: Wow.

Nerium: Which is very funny.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: The end of the Greed Island arc has a good moment like that.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. So yeah, that’s definitely the Abyssos storyline.

Nerium: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Michael: Is trying to chase dad who doesn’t want me, but there’s a twist at the end.

Nerium: Oh. Ooh.

Michael: So, I don’t know. Maybe there’s two dads. I don’t know.

Nerium: Ohh, hoho!

Michael: I don’t know. It’s kind of wild.

Nerium: All right, I’m back in.

Michael: But yeah, I need to…I’m gonna rewatch the cutscenes of that. That’s cool. But the new story– so like, no spoilers and real quickly before we move on to other things, the story stuff for 6.2, the main story, [chuckles] oh my God. Yo, this shit goes in a direction. Right off the bat, it’s like…’cause you play 6.1, it’s like, oh, okay, now I know where it’s leading to. 6.2 is like, yo, here’s a completely new batch of like lore drops on you, and it’s wild, and it’s almost surprising how quickly they’ve shuffled in new characters into the mix. That feels…it’s exciting.

Nerium: Mm.

Michael: Like, oh, this is– I look forward to what they do with these characters, now that we’re going to this piece of the world and exploring this piece of the lore.

Nerium: Hmm.

Michael: I think the overarching like narrative stuff that is kind of classic Final Fantasy stuff, because it is kind of banking off of Final Fantasy IV for a lot of its– kind of as a source material. So it has like this classic, you know, the bad guy has his four underlings who are going to do his deeds, and “Haha, I am the all powerful one, and I’m going to suck up all the ether here. Haha, you can’t touch me,” and you just, you know, okay, we’re gonna fight his underlings, and then we’re gonna finally get to him is kind of what you would expect or that that’s how it’s set up. But I think with the thing with Final Fantasy XIV throughout its history, it’s more of like, yes, this is, you know, we have the standard structure of this is a villain and you’re going to chase that villain. It’s all the things that happen in between that make it very special. So it’s really exciting to have new characters into the mix that feel like natural fits.

Nerium: Yeah. They look cool as shit too, in some places.

Michael: Yeah, cool as hell.

Nerium: There’s one character…she’s in the trailer and everything like that.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: But ugh, God.

Michael: Yeah. And yeah, it feels like a, like, oh, okay, they fit in, but not just that. They also bring a new dynamic.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Michael: So. And that’s really cool that it’s like, hey, we’re gonna make a super attractive character who’s just there to be like everyone else. It’s like, no, this is their deal, and they’re going to kind of…eh, not question things, but they are…they definitely shake up the dynamic of the main cast we’ve come to know. So that’s really cool, that, you know, a patch story is usually, “Hey, we’re trying to wrap up previous things and lead into the next thing,” whereas this feels like, no, we’re already getting there. Yeah, and that’s, Final Fantasy XIV, listen, and there’s a whole bunch of new gear. There’s new PVP stuff. There’s…those are the main things, like the raid, the story, Island Sanctuary, but there’s so much other things around the edges that are also sick.

Nerium: New tribal quest coming soon.

Michael: Yeah, tribal quest coming soon. In the next patch we have new Relic weapons, more Manderville stuff. That’s gonna be in October.

Nerium: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: But for now, it’s just like, there’s so much to chew on. If you are a Final Fantasy XIV sicko, there’s so much more around the edges that…I mean, it’s only been one day, really, so we’re gonna be digging into that, and we have almost all that stuff covered on hit video game website, fanbyte.com.

Nerium: Yeah. Go there. Click on the ads. Tell us if they’re working.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah. If you’re a sicko, we’re enablers.

Michael: Yes. Just click the ads just to make sure that they work.

Nerium: Yeah, just make sure that they work. Tell us that they’re working.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: And then sign up for the goods and services to make sure that those are working, [laughter] and then we’ll know that they’re good ads, and we’ll keep doing them, so.

Imran: Yeah. I mean, Square Enix could have ended the free trial without saying anything.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And still continuing to advertise it. You won’t personally know until you sign up for the free trial.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Yes.

Nerium: On fanbyte.com, specifically.

Michael: By clicking our link. [laughter]

Imran: Through fanbyte.com.

Michael: Oh my God.

Nerium: A game that does not have a free trial but I think all three of us have played? Am I wrong about this?

Imran: I have not played 3.

Nerium: You’ve not played 3. Okay.

Imran: No.

Nerium: Xenoblade Chronicles 3. We’re coming back in. We already talking about this a little bit last week. We hadn’t talked about Final Fantasy XIV as it is now, because we were still waiting for new stuff, but we did talk a little bit about Xenoblade Chronicles 3 the other week, so let’s do A Xenoblade Chronicles 3 check in real quick.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: With Michael.

Michael: Oh, hi. I put in another three or four hours into it.

Nerium: Hell yeah. Okay.

Michael: And yeah, it’s really cool. I like it a lot. I like how…I like how mature it feels.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Like, so, last time I talked, I think I was right before the point in which you meet the rest of the party.

Nerium: Ah.

Michael: So now I have actually spent time with the rest of the party, and yeah, it’s a really cool dynamic. I was talking to a friend, friend of the site Cameron Hawkins, [Nerium: “Mm”] about RPG character party dynamics where like the party members don’t like each other necessarily. I think that’s a cool thing to play off of.

Nerium: Yeah. They don’t trust each other at all in Xenoblade.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Not at first.

Michael: Yeah. And I think in contrast to Soul Hackers 2, which tries to do the same thing, Xenoblade Chronicles 3…I mean, one, blows that game out of the water. [quiet laughter] I mean, for one, but, it does it, in and of itself, it does it really well, because it’s so good about establishing the stakes and where these characters come from and like what motivates them and why they don’t have trust for each other. And the point in which they finally meet, you want to talk about an incredibly well choreographed just anime bullshit fight scene?

Nerium: God.

Michael: Oh my God. It is like one of the best in recent memory.

Nerium: I’m so glad you got to that fucking moment.

Michael: [laughs] It’s so cool and so good.

Nerium: ‘Cause I was holding myself back from talking about it when it became clear that you hadn’t got the full party yet.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: It’s like, “Oh, that means Michael hasn’t seen– oh! Oh shit, okay.” God!

Michael: It’s so cool. And like, it does the anime thing of like, oh yeah, we’re fighting, and we have this internal dialogue, and I’m going to stare you down because I need to wait for the dialogue to finish. But it always feels like…I don’t know. It’s really well done, so it doesn’t fall into the trap of like, here’s like a bunch of anime stereotypes. [laughs] So.

Nerium: Right.

Michael: Oh, and then the…when they finally like have the transformation thing that happens in there, and I think the way that, and…I feel like this is a pattern early on in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but they’re so good about communicating lore and narrative stuff without having to explicitly explain it to you.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Rather than showing characters are going through this thing and it implies so much about the game’s world, so you don’t have to sit through like characters having dialogue that’s actually just there to explain lore to you. It’s like, once you see this thing happen, you know exactly what this game is about. So yeah, through the first like six, seven, eight hours, it has a lot of that, and I really like that. I appreciate that.

Nerium: A thing that happens very early, like during that fight scene, is like basically…I think the game has been out long enough we can say the thing that happens in like the first two hours of the game really.

Michael: Oh yeah.

Nerium: And I’ll also friend of the site Eric Van Allen talked about this a few weeks ago.

Michael: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Nerium: So people already know it there, but like, they basically– you very quickly learn that like, oh, these specific people in this crew that you can have…your core crew of six people has specific pairings, where if they get in sync, they can fuse together and turn into like a Xenoblade Chronicles X-style mech.

Michael: Yeah!

Nerium: And it’s Pacific Rim rules too, so they share memories, and they’re like working together internally and stuff like that. So there’s this moment where they first fuse together for the first time, and it’s like, they see all of each other’s like childhood memories and trauma and stuff like that, and it’s not like the game just like sits there and like bombards you over the head with it. It’s like, the characters are like, “Oh shit. Like this is this person’s entire life. I don’t have time to process this right now, ’cause we’re fighting a big fucking metal demon that came out of nowhere that I didn’t even know existed five minutes ago, but apparently my whole worldview has been turned upside down because this Cockney accented motherfucker that looks like an Eva unit just showed up, [laughter] and I gotta fucking deal with that right now.” But like, over time, we will maybe start to unpack some of that stuff in conversations at campsites and stuff. It does a lot of the stuff that like I always thought that there was a lot of promise in the early hours of Final Fantasy XV about, which is like characters hanging out together, talking, sharing stories, sharing their feelings at camps and stuff like that while you do like side stuff, but it’s like way more fleshed out than Final Fantasy XV ever allowed that stuff to be.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: And it’s just like such a core part of the game, ’cause you– like pretty early on, I don’t even know if you’re at this part yet, but like at a certain point, they learn, oh, we have to get to this certain objective that we’ve been told. We aren’t sure what it is, but it’s gonna take us two months to get there. It’s like, Jesus, two months.

Michael: Mm, yeah.

Nerium: Okay, wow. I guess let’s get started. And so it gives all that stuff time to breathe, and it like takes advantage of the super long run time that these games often have by letting that stuff kind of like unravel naturally and organically. We talked about this a bunch last week too, but it’s just like, it’s so good at that stuff, and it’s like such a nice distillation of like all the stuff that Xenoblade has had in the past but has not necessarily used to the fullest, like the super, super long runtimes. Those like…

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: I feel like the first and second game– I like the first game a lot. Both games are a little padded.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Sure.

Nerium: They don’t need to be 80 hours.

Imran: They’re longer than they need to be, for sure.

Nerium: Totally. This one feels like they’re at least doing stuff with that time. They’re like, they’re making– we talked about it last week, but it’s like all of the stuff with the camps and how every single camp that you like liberate in the game has like a unique storyline to it with dialogue and cutscenes and characters that have emotions and, you know, wants and needs, and it ties all into the side quests that you do in that area, which then levels up that camp. So it doesn’t just like, say, do the Assassin’s Creed thing of like, okay, you flip it from red to blue. Congratulations. Move on. It’s a checklist.

Michael: Here’s your territory percentage ownage.

Nerium: Yeah, totally.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: It doesn’t do that at all.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: It’s like, no, we’re going to write all of this dialogue, and like, it’s gonna be pretty interesting and like build up on the world and like, you know, play into the idea of like trying to heal these two people who have been pitted– like the game wears its like political messaging on its sleeve to a certain degree too, ’cause it’s like, the whole thing early on is that you basically find out that these two factions of people who are basically in it together, “We’re not so different, you and I,” type situation.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Nerium: Have been like forced to fight and kill each other for the amusement and gain of a ruling class in the background of like these 12 guys, the…God, what are they even called? The red guys?

Imran: The red guys.

Nerium: The red guys. The prefectuses? Something like that. That’s not it, but.

Michael: Aw, sick name.

Nerium: [laughs] That’s my new Final Fantasy XIV villain. Prefectus Alerian. No.

Imran: It’s funny you mentioned how well the cutscenes are done, ’cause like, for all of Xenoblade 2‘s faults, I think the cutscenes in that game are both higher budget than you usually see for like a Nintendo game and better directed [Nerium: “Oh yeah”] than you would think for like a JRPG.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like you compare it to like Tales of Arise cutscenes, which are a higher budget Tales game, which has like…what’s the word I’m looking for? Mocap cutscenes and all that jazz. But the actual direction’s not that great.

Nerium: No.

Imran: Xenoblade 2, they definitely like went, “Okay, we want this to be directed and choreographed like an anime fight scene.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Oof, yeah.

Imran: “So we’re going to go– we’re gonna make an effort to make it look like that.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And it’s good to hear they didn’t lose that with 3.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Yeah, 3 is like, what if we had that direction from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but with characters you actually like. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, y’all had a conversation with Eric Van Allen. I actually talked– I was on Axe of the Blood God last week too, [Nerium: “Mm, mm-hmm”] and we talked about it there, so.

Nerium: Oh, sure.

Michael: Eric Van Allen is a well known Xenoblade Chronicles 3 enjoyer.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Talk to us.

Imran: What’s the Dunban thing you and Eric keep referring to?

Michael: Oh, so, I was talking about Xenoblade Chronicles 3, [laughter] and so I was comparing the openings of the different Xenoblade games, and I was talking about how strong 3’s opening is because like how great it is as establishing its world without having to say much. And I was saying like, yeah, 1 and 2, like they’re good, but they’re just not compared, ’cause like, you know, in 1, it’s cool and all that, you know, you have the opening war cutscene, and everyone’s like, “Oh my God, Dunban, Dunban.” [laughs] And so I was talking about how hot Dunban is.

Nerium: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Michael: And I was like, “Yo, Dunban, with your 12 inch dick, dick me down,” or whatever. [laughter] That’s what I said, and then Eric was like, “Ayo, relax!” [laughter] I was like, “Ah, shit.” It’s like, I don’t know, I’m just a big fan of Dunban, you know what I’m saying? Like, look at the guy. Look at the guy. Oh my God. Dunban is like probably one of the hottest characters of all time. I’m not even gonna hold you. Like, Dunban? Ooh! So yeah, that’s basically what happened, and now I have blessed 99 Potions with my Dunban thirst.

Nerium: Listen. I mean, Dunban’s right. Dunban, I don’t know, as a fan of anime ladies, men, and everything else…kind of a diet Oron??? Like, I don’t know.

Michael: Damn. Damn, we’re gonna have to fight.

Nerium: Sorry. [laughter] I’m gonna get Dunbanned off this podcast. [laughter]

Michael: Oh my God. I’m just, I’m basic.

Nerium: [sighs] No, Dunban’s cool, though. I like Dunban a lot.

Imran: I like the thing where like–

Nerium: He’s definitely the best character in that game.

Imran: That’s the cool thing in games like that, where…what was it, his like hand was injured?

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: So he had to use his left hand for the entire game, so he’s not like–

Nerium: He strains it so he uses his like off hand, yeah.

Imran: Yeah, so he’s not the super strong– like, there’s a reason he isn’t just solving every single problem.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But they also put it– like, that’s a cool thing for a game to do.

Michael: Absolutely, yeah.

Nerium: It’s a cool thing, yeah. And it looks cool, ’cause he always has like his one like arm of his jacket, ’cause his like right arm is paralyzed, so he’s always got like his arm like hidden inside of his jacket and he’s just fighting one handed style. It’s pretty good.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Dunban. Oh my God. Yeah, but. Yeah, Xenoblade.

Nerium: “I’m really feeling it.” [laughter]

Michael: I really like that Lanz wants something meatier.

Nerium: God. Lanz and Sena, their whole dynamic of like everybody in this crew is just like, “I don’t know if I can trust these guys. We’ve been fighting. You know, we have this generational blood feud between these two factions.” And then the himbo and the bimbo are just like, “You like working out? I like working out too!”

Michael: Yeah. [laughter]

Nerium: “Fantastic! Let’s work out together!” and it’s just like immediately like predator handshake. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah, it’s…a lot of dynamics like that.

Nerium: God, they rule. Yeah. Great character designs all around. Mio, Noah.

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Nerium: Just saying.

Michael: Oh, this game’s got catgirls in it, so who am I to say no?

Nerium: It’s a quality catgirl too. Mio, it’s a good look. Anyway, we got news. We got news to talk about. This is what we threatened at the beginning of the show. I don’t know– we don’t have a new segment name for it.

Michael: Oh.

Nerium: I’ll think of a new segment name at some point.

Michael: Okay. I was thinking like, I don’t know, for some reason– oh, ’cause I was on– [music begins] when I was on Axe of the Blood God, every transition had like a little tune, so as soon as there’s news, [Nerium: “Oh”] it’s like they would play like a little jingle or whatever, and I was like waiting for the jingle. [laughs quietly]

Nerium: All right, Paul, well, get on that.


Nerium: Imran, as the news master, the news meister, the mic rulah, Shake Zula. Gamescom: Opening Night Live happened. I don’t know.

Imran: It did. Not like the most exciting show of all time, but that’s kind of always been the case that Opening Night Live is sandwiched between Summer Games Fest and the Game Awards.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: So it’s like, you can’t really get all the real hot bangers for this show.

Nerium: Yeah, despite having Keighley there.

Imran: Yeah. You put ’em on the other things. This one is the show where Keighley clearly flew in like a day or two before and is also very obviously jetlagged, and like, this show is just happening whether anyone wants it to or not.

Nerium: I’ve not seen the show at all, ’cause I was like head down in Final Fantasy XIV with Mike and Michael yesterday, but I’ve seen exactly one clip, which is like him introducing the like Justin Roiland game and like asking the audience like, “Is everybody a fan of Rick and Morty?” and just like dead silence from everyone in the crowd.

Imran: So he was doing that before every single segment.

Nerium: That’s wild.

Imran: Like, “Who here is a fan of Dune? Who here remembers Lords of the Fallen? Who here is a fan of Borderlands?” And like, I think if you’re gonna do that, I would bet that it wasn’t dead silence. I would bet that they just didn’t mic up the crowd.

Nerium: They didn’t mic the crowd? Yeah.

Imran: Which is like, you have to do that, otherwise it sounds like nothing.

Nerium: Yeah. [Michael laughs] It was brutal. Like, it made my skin crawl, the Justin Roiland one especially, but also that game just seems like [cringing] oy.

Imran: I can’t really talk about that game, ’cause I was working at Squanch when it was being developed.

Nerium: Oh, right!

Imran: But yeah, that was not a great showing for that game.

Michael: Damn, which– what was it?

Imran: High on Life.

Michael: High on Life. Oh, okay. High on life, story about me. [laughter]

Nerium: The game with the gun that makes fun of you or something?

Michael: God. That sounds, uh…

Imran: Multiple things in that game make fun of you that you can equip.

Nerium: I suppose that’s true.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: That sounds, uh…what’s the word I’m looking for? Insufferable.

Nerium: Yeah. Mm-hmm. [Imran and Nerium laugh]

Michael: That’s the one I’m looking for.

Nerium: God. Okay.

Michael: That sounds insufferable.

Nerium: I’m looking at your roundup, Imran, right now.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: So, what we got here? We got the Dune MMO, Dune: Awakening.

Michael: Dunk awakening.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Dunk awakening! Dunk is back!

Imran: It was just a CG trailer and also published by Level Infinite, [Michael: “Aw”] which is a Tencent joint, [Nerium: “Oh, right!”] which is the same parent company as Fanbyte. There’s a lot of disclaimers in this show this week.

Nerium: Yeah, which they didn’t– like, if you ever need like a really good vision into how little we know about what’s going on at Tencent as a company, most of the people on staff here did not know Level Infinite was a Tencent thing until like six months after Level Infinite was announced.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And we were like, “Oh yeah, Level Infinite, they’re this new publisher.” And they don’t tell us shit.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Which is good.

Imran: They don’t tell us shit. We wouldn’t want to know shit. But also, I found out about this thing because like that one leaker on Twitter said something about it.

Nerium: Yeah. Mm-hmm. [laughter]

Imran: And I was like, oh, I guess there’s gonna be a Dune game soon.

Nerium: Yeah. Oh God, they don’t share any like early info with us, so like don’t– yeah, oh my God, how tragic would that be?

Imran: Right. They don’t share– we also don’t review many of their games. Whatever. It is…

Nerium: We don’t review many games period, but yeah.

Imran: That’s true, but yeah, we try not to do Level Infinite stuff in general, but this is a Level Infinite thing.

Nerium: Anyway, dunk.

Imran: Yeah, dunk, and it seemed like an interesting CG trailer, until they said: open world, Fine. Survival, little less on board. MMO, and I was like, yeah, I’m good. [Michael laughs]

Nerium: It’ll be Ark with Dune stuff, right? Like that’s kind of the implication?

Imran: Yeah. Ark with sand worms and some Timothee Chalamet.

Michael: Oh, okay, I’m on board now. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: Oh, okay. All right. Perfect.

Imran: I don’t think actually Timothee Chalamet, but like probably something.

Nerium: Patrick Stewart?

Michael: Nah.

Nerium: Kyle McLaughlin?

Imran: Patrick Stewart did Lords of Shadow and was like, “I’m done.”

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: “There is no reason for me to ever do another video game.”

Nerium: Yeah. I’ve said everything that I need to in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Imran: He really like, he acted the hell out of that role. Like not so much the character, but he does the narration between levels.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And like, dude was really putting his all into it.

Nerium: Yeah. And I’ll say this, I mean, I’ve said it before on like Channel F and stuff. I like that first Lords of Shadow game, like quite a lot.

Imran: That first game, pretty good. That first game very good compared to the second game, which is garbage.

Nerium: Oh, second game is garbage. Yeah.

Imran: For some reason, Sony announced a dual shock elite here, or dual sense elite here, and they did not give any details like launch or price, [Nerium: “Hmm”] which I feel like are important things when I start thinking about whether I want one of these things, but that exists. It’s called the DualSense Edge.

Michael: Sick.

Imran: Uh, what else? Anything you want to talk about, Nere, go ahead and like…

Michael: Tell– oh, sorry.

Nerium: Or Michael. Yeah, go ahead.

Michael: I was gonna say: tell me about Lies of P. I think that’s…

Nerium: [laughs] Lies of P!

Michael: Lies of…lies of D.

Nerium: All puppets are bastards.

Imran: Which is…that game I don’t think looks terrible. I think it looks like a kind of interesting DishonoredBloodborne mix that is very clearly a soulslike, and it’s based on the public domain Pinocchio. I don’t know why they gave it the worst name I’ve ever heard.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Lies of P.

Imran: Like, could you– Pinocchio is public domain. If you wanted to use the– like, are they afraid kids would be interested in the game and adults wouldn’t?

Nerium: Oh. Yeah, maybe?

Imran: Because they named it Pinocchio? But yeah, it’s a soulslike that very clearly took inspiration from Bloodborne. They say it did not, but they’re lying. And they like, this is the first gameplay trailer for it.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And it shows like an established character, Pinocchio, and some like…it’s the thing where every soulslike trailer, they have to show the thing as someone slashing at a big enemy twice, then rolling out of the way, so you know what kind of game it is.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: And like, this one has like two instances of that, as if they didn’t think you would get it the first time. [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Like, “Hey, did you know, by the way, this is like Bloodborne.”

Imran: Yeah, this is the Bloodborne of puppets. But yeah, this is also the game, as Nere mentioned, that the last time they showed it, they showed concept art of a dude with like a…like a dead man or a dead puppet or something?

Nerium: Dead puppet, yeah?

Imran: Wearing a sign that said–

Nerium: Robot, basically.

Imran: Yeah. Wearing a sign that said “All puppets are bastards.”

Nerium: Uh huh.

Michael: Oh.

Imran: Which is up there with “Aug lives matter” in…

Nerium: Aug lives matter.

Michael: Oh my God.

Imran: You are very much misunderstanding your ability to use this for marketing.

Nerium: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Oh my God. I didn’t realize that. That’s why you said it at the top, Nere. Okay. All right.

Nerium: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael: All right.

Nerium: This is the only thing I know about this game is that the APAB sign [Michael laughs] with like the robot hanging from a fucking, like, whatever.

Michael: [laughing] All puppets are– this shit’s so stupid!

Nerium: It’s so stupid! I can’t believe it’s real!

Michael: Oh my God. Nah. Nah, we’re pulling their card. Y’all can’t make this game no more. [Nerium laughs] Get the– nah, stop, stop.

Imran: I bet you money somebody thought of that and was like, “Oh, no, this is the cleverest shit ever.” [Nerium laughs]

Michael: No.

Imran: We’re bringing this for real.

Michael: Is this a French studio?

Nerium: No, Michael, that’s my first thought, is like, [laughter] tell me you’re a European studio without telling me you’re a European studio.

Michael: Oh my God. I mean like, yo, that’s like the…aw, French studios love doing that shit.

Nerium: They do.

Michael: Aw, they love co-opting American oppression for their stories. Oh my God, David Cage, where are you at? Fucking Eidos Montreal, where y‘all at?

Nerium: Eidos, yeah.

Michael: Listen, these fools are eating your lunch. [Nerium sighs]

Imran: I mean, speaking of David Cage, they also announced– or Quantic Dream announced a new game, which is like not the Star Wars game that they’re still not–

Nerium: What? Wait, what?

Imran: They’re still not making, like…

Nerium: I missed this.

Imran: Yeah, it’s called, uh…what the fuck is this called? Under the Waves, which looks like a…it’s one of those games that they make, but like do it in a submarine underwater.

Nerium: Oh.

Imran: I don’t know. That studio’s still being run by David Cage.

Nerium: Yeah. Like, that’s the thing where like, if you told me that like in a vacuum, I’d be like, “Oh, okay, I’m curious about that.” But then like you tell me that it’s a Quantic– it’s the same thing. It’s literally what happened with the Star Wars Eclipse trailer, where everybody’s like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh,” and then at the end of it, it’s like, “A Quantic Dream game,” and everybody’s just like, “UGHHH.”

Imran: This one started with a Quantic Dream logo, so at least they like let us know up front you should probably not care about this.

Nerium: Yeah, temper your expectations.

Imran: But I know whenever a Quantic Dream thing is announced, because we have access to our numbers, [Nerium laughs, claps] and I see on the news thing, [Michael: “Yep”] the report Natalie wrote about how David Cage was like, “All the women in our game are whores, and we don’t like games for…” like, slurs he has said. Like, the numbers on that start going up again, ’cause people look up David Cage, and for some reason that story is the first result on Google.

Michael: [laughs] Oh my God. Natalie cannot be stopped! [Imran laughs]

Nerium: Mm-hmm. That is going to outlive her. They’re still gonna be talking about that fucking article, like in a thousand years when Natalie is like dust and Fanbyte has never existed. That article will be the last like floating remnant to Fanbyte somewhere in the ether.

Michael: That’s an incredible legacy to leave. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: It is.

Michael: I can only hope to come close to that.

Imran: Yeah. No matter what she does from here on out, she destroyed David Cage on Google.

Nerium: Yeah, she destroyed his SEO. [laughter] Oh my God.

Imran: She could very much put that into a resume and get hired wherever she wants.

Nerium: Oh, for sure.

Michael: Except Quantic Dream. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: Well. Eh, I don’t know.

Imran: I don’t know, maybe. If you were gonna hire–

Michael: Oh, right.

Imran: If you fired David Cage and you wanted to hire– make Natalie the president of Quantic Dream is what I’m saying.

Nerium: There we go.

Michael: That’s like the number one like PR shift you could do. It’s like, yo, not only did we get rid of David Ca– David Hokage, [laughter] we also replaced him with his archnemesis, Natalie Flores.

Nerium: Oh God.

Imran: David Hokage.

Michael: I’m sure she would did not want to do that.

Nerium: Natalie, also British, so.

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Imran: The hidden leaf of– or hidden QTE village.

Nerium: God.

Michael: [laughs] Wow, I just got that.

Nerium: That’s dumb. That’s dumb! [Imran laughs]

Michael: Yeah, that’s…

Nerium: Imran, that’s very stupid, but I’m glad you said it.

Imran: Moonbreaker was officially revealed. Nere, you’ve played this game. Or not– you haven’t played this game, [Nerium: “No”] but you saw this game being played by other people.

Nerium: No.

Imran: No?

Nerium: I didn’t.

Imran: Oh, right! You saw people talking about wanting to tell you how this game is played.

Nerium: Yes. This game—from what very, very, very little I saw of it—looks cool as hell, I will say. Conceptually, it’s very, very cool of an idea. But yeah, what happened was we got to see this game early, before it was announced at this thing, and they did a demo for us over Discord where they were gonna show the game being played, but their build was tied to Steam or something like that, so it broke, and they couldn’t play the game. So all I saw was screenshots and them telling us how the game was going to look eventually, basically. [laughs] But conceptually the idea of it seems to be that they are basically trying to make a digital Games Workshop game, which is like the Warhammer, miniatures people. Not a digital Games Workshop game in the sense of like the modern Warhammer video games, but like they’re trying to actually like emulate the idea of painting mini figs and putting them on a battlefield and having them fight in tactical turn based battles, the way that you would.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Which is, if people don’t know– I’ve never done mini fig battle. Well, not like these anyway, where you’re actually painting your own figs, but I used to work at a game store that used to sell them a lot, and I can tell you: it is prohibitively expensive. It’s very, very, very pricey to get into one of these games as a hobby, and they know that too, the people who make these games, Games Workshop, the Warhammer people, know that the people who play their games are freaks, so they can charge them as much as they want. [laughter] But this game seems to be like an original universe where everything is hand painted or everything in the game is painted using the painting tools that they give you to paint your figures however you want.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Similar to like how Little Big Planet games are always made like using the Little Big Planet like level creator. You can paint all of your different figures. You can do all kinds of like very, very, very granular things. They hired professional like Warhammer painters to come in and do the color designs for the default colors of all their figures, and it looks very cool. It looks like really interesting. It is from the Subnautica people, of all places.

Imran: Yeah. It was weird the way Geoff Keighley introduced it, ’cause he was like…usually when you reveal these things, you want some level of surprise for when people find out what it is. Geoff Keighley introduced like this trailer go in, “Here’s the new game from the Subnautica devs. It’s a turn-based mini figs game where you paint things.” [Nerium laughs] It’s like, okay, that’s a weird way to like kind of undercut the trailer you’re just about to show.

Nerium: Yeah. I didn’t see that, but that’s a bummer, ’cause it is a cool thing.

Imran: Also, Brandon Sanderson is writing this game who is like [Nerium: “Oh”] the Mistborn author and like the guy who ostensibly finished Wheel of Time.

Nerium: Huh.

Imran: Which is…’cause like he introduced it, and he was like, “We’re gonna see the new game, and I wrote the world and the story for it.”

Nerium: Huh.

Imran: And like, that’s by far the least exciting thing about it. Like, I want to just like–

Nerium: Yeah, I tried reading Mistborn, and I did not like it.

Imran: Yeah. I just want to play with mini figs, and like the setup they have, like the painting system, which they built from ground up and is not just like a Photoshop. It looks like 3D modeling software, essentially.

Nerium: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. It’s like very specifically like in-game brush tools and stuff like that or that are like, hey, if you want to like do dry paint, if you want to do like, you know, scrape and do this stuff, you can put on like the fake, like, you know, painting lines, the white out type things, so you can spray paint over it and keep straight lines and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s cool. It’s very interesting.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: It’s different than a lot of other of these kinds of games. There’s so many tactics games. This year has actually been like weirdly very strong for strategy and tactics games, but this is definitely a way to set that apart. I’m curious– and maybe they’ve said this, but they didn’t tell us anything at the demo. I’m very curious if this is like a multiplayer-focused thing where they’re going to be selling miniatures as microtransactions, or if this is just like a single player thing where you mess around with this stuff, or it’s single player with multiplayer. I don’t really know, from what I’ve seen, but it could just be that I just missed that stuff, ’cause it’s been a very busy week.

Imran: Yeah. More Gotham Knights, which was moved up a week early.

Nerium: Oh, okay.

Imran: For some reason. And like, under any other publisher, I’d be like, “Cool, they’re probably really confident in that game,” but under Discovery WB?

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Like, I wonder what went wrong.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: I wonder what they’re cutting and running from.

Nerium: Let’s get this into a different like financial quarter by a week or whatever, so that–

Imran: It’s not even that. Like, it wouldn’t be– ‘cause the quarter would be October, November, December.

Nerium: Oh, okay.

Imran: So like, it wouldn’t matter at all. I don’t know why they did that.

Nerium: Weird.

Imran: They didn’t even really announce it. They just said, like, they just had a date, and then they announced a new date.

Nerium: Hmm.

Imran: And they didn’t like send a PR being, “We’ve moved it up a week early!” It just, here’s a trailer. This is what we’re doing now. Speaking of trailers, hey, why does Harley Quinn wear less makeup now?

Nerium: She doesn’t really wear makeup in the comics so much or anything like that, like, she hasn’t in a long time.

Imran: Right, like, I remember Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Where she wore like Harlequin makeup.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Which is, the name made sense there, but in like over the last 15 years, they just putting less and less makeup on her in like the movies and the games, to the point where now she just doesn’t have any, she’s just like a lady.

Nerium: A big part of like Harley Quinn in the modern era has been like very specifically her distancing herself from the Joker and how much she like doesn’t like the Joker, as she has become kind of probably one of DC’s most popular characters in a lot of ways, which is, you know…I wasn’t gonna say it was weird. It’s weird that they don’t push her harder than they do, because like I remember, you know, when I worked at that game shop where we sold comics and stuff, like anything with Harley Quinn on it like instantly sold 10 times better than it would otherwise. But yeah, I think they’ve just kind of like more or less continued to distance herself from the Joker stuff, as her like character arc has been like her getting over what they’ve, you know, classified as like an abusive relationship. So that’s probably just a big part of it, I guess.

Imran: Okay. That’s a better reason than what I was thinking. Like, if they’re doing like individualist and like, you know, enabling her freedom from an abusive relationship. That’s good. What I was thinking was they’re putting less makeup on her ’cause they don’t think people will want to fuck a clown.

Nerium: Oh. [laughs]

Michael: Hey, don’t kinkshame.

Imran: Which is like–

Nerium: Yeah, don’t kinkshame. I know lots of people who would be totally fine!

Imran: It kinda goes back to that Genshin thing of like, we’re designing the character to be sexier, ‘cause they did that at pretty much the same time.

Nerium: Mm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Michael: Ah, yeah.

Imran: Like as they started removing the clown makeup.

Nerium: Hmm.

Michael: Listen, colorism and clown makeup? Listen.

Nerium: It’s a real problem.

Imran: Look, clown makeup is colors. [Michael laughs]

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Oh, that’s gonna be a thing that gets, like, sounds real bad.

Michael: POC: people of clowns. [Nerium laughs]

Imran: Like, later on. That’s gonna be a career ruining… [laughs]

Nerium: Uh, oops.

Imran: Line later in my life.

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Nerium: Yeah, but–

Michael: Well, the thing is they have to get through one full hour of 99 Potions, which is like, hey, listen, you’re helping us.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah, that’s true.

Imran: At this point, you’ve already paid us.

Michael: Oops.

Nerium: Those metrics.

Imran: I think. We’re clearly making money off this thing.

Nerium: I have to assume it is that first thing though. ‘Cause like, yeah, like her solo series was like a very big deal at the time.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: When it first launched and stuff like that, and like, it is very– like the Harley Quinn in the modern context is like very much like Harley Quinn is a solo act who is dating Poison Ivy and has been for a very long time, and that’s the romance between those characters right now, is Harley and Ivy have been together for a very good long time. I think that’s– I’ve not seen that cartoon, but my understanding is that’s like a huge part of that cartoon as well, but that mostly originates– I mean that technically originates with like, I forget what the episode is called. There is an episode of Batman: The Animated Series about Harley and Ivy. It might just be called “Harley and Ivy”, actually. And then like Harley and Ivy became a comic series. There was Gotham City Sirens. It might be the actual genesis of that where it’s Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman all as like a crew that is just like going through Gotham, just tearing shit up. But, yeah, that, I forget the…Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti I think are the artist and writer on the Harley series. And yeah, that’s very much been the direction that they have taken her and to more of an anti-hero role that like got over the Joker’s abusive relationship type thing, and now she’s like struck out on her own.

Imran: Okay. That’s good. Speaking of striking out on your own, Spotify has apparently given Kojima presumably a lot of money to start a podcast.

Nerium: [laughs] Okay.

Imran: Which he announced on the show, and then it was like “Also Geoff Keighley has a segment on it,” which I think is the funniest fucking thing of all of this, [Nerium laughs] to be like Geoff Keighley’s news report part of the podcast is what Hideo Kojima came here to announce.

Nerium: Weird.

Michael: Wow.

Imran: Like, he didn’t even go there. He was like, he beamed in a message, but like Keighley implied Kojima was there. It’s a very funny segment, if you want to go back and watch it. [Nerium laughs] I didn’t put the video in, ’cause it’s like also fucking stupid. I’m not gonna put a video in of Kojima announcing a podcast, but like the Spotify logo was like in focus behind him, and it’s really strange.

Nerium: Huh. [Michael laughs]

Imran: They announced a Pokémon car, which is the new Mini Cooper, but like it’s only a concept car and they’re not actually gonna release it, but like it’s an electric car, so when it’s fully charged up, the dashboard just shows like a picture of cute Pikachu on it.

Nerium: Oh. Okay.

Imran: Yeah. I’m not saying I would spend like $30,000 on that car, but I think if I had an opportunity and I needed a car, I would highly consider buying a Pokémon electric car.

Nerium: Sure. I don’t know if I can have an electric car here in Fargo. I don’t know what the charging situation is for most of the stuff around here.

Imran: Yeah, I think if I left San Francisco, then it would be difficult. Well, maybe not extremely difficult, but difficult to like keep my car charged and I would need to like own a house that has a charging port in the garage. Like here, I probably wouldn’t need to. Here, I would probably like…

Nerium: Right. You could just…

Imran: Just, yeah.

Nerium: Fill up? I don’t know what people say.

Imran: Every mall around here has some electric car thing, so it would not be impossible. Dead Island 2 still exists.

Michael: Yeah. That was a surprise. Well, the release date was surprisingly not announced, but it was just said out in the wild before Gamescom happened.

Nerium: Oh, was it?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah, Amazon listed it as February 3. Then they said it again at Gamescom. But like, I don’t know. This is the like their big final thing. I didn’t…I don’t really care about Dead Island.

Nerium: No,

Imran: I assume this is going to do well, because Dead Island 1 did well.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Dying Light does well. Like, presumably this will sell well, but like, I don’t know. They showed this, and I just kind of didn’t really feel anything about it. [Michael laughs]

Nerium: I’m a little burnt out on– especially after Dying Light 2 was just like not what I wanted at all. Like Dying Light 2 kind of put me off of the whole like open world zombie apocalypse first person thing, I guess? I don’t know if you want to call that like a subgenre at this point or whatever, but like Dying Light 2 is just like, mm. The writing and quest design in Dying Light 2 was so fucking terrible, [laughs] that like, I’m good for a little while on like the whole zombie thing.

Imran: Mm-hmm. I think part of it is the way video games are treating zombies now is they just exist in this world as essentially just obstacles.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: You are very casual about the fact that they’re zombies, because they’re like…I don’t know, they’re like ambient damage in a Mega Man game.

Nerium: Mm, sure, yeah.

Imran: And Dying Light 2 was that to like the Nth degree, of the real monster is humans, as long as you stay on the rooftop and go into a building for night, you’re good. I don’t– the way Dead Island 2 presented their initial CG trailer of “Yeah, there are zombies, but you’re still trying to live your life,” is just so boring to me now.

Nerium: Mm.

Imran: Like either make them a threat or don’t. I don’t care for more “Oh, there’s zombies around, and I have a cricket bat. I’m gonna hit them until the cricket bat breaks.”

Nerium: Yeah. Can make it electric, and– yeah, the whole like weapon durability thing. Like, I mean, I like weapon durability sometimes. I like equipment durability in some contexts and stuff like that, but just like, I don’t know, the crafting a cricket bat covered in barbed wire that’s electrified or whatever thing has just, I don’t know. The shine has come off that apple a little bit. Nothing about Dead Island 2 has jumped out to me and been like, “Ah, this is the thing that sets it apart.”

Imran: Yeah. Also, as you said, Dying Light 2 exists, and they are so similar in my head that when I was putting in the assets for Dead Island 2 last night, I named all of them Dying Light, [Nerium laughs] because I legitimately did not remember. So I had to delete them all and then rename them, because we have a name-based like image search system.

Nerium: Right. Yeah, if we ever wanted to find Dead Island stuff again, we wouldn’t be able to.

Imran: We’d have to look up Dying Light stuff. But like, I didn’t realize until I was like writing a thing like, oh right, his thing is called Dead Island, not Dying Light. Also, takes place in Los Angeles, not an island. [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Oh, yeah. Huh.

Imran: They gave up that conceit one game in. [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Damn. Yeah, that’s– yeah, LA’s not really an island. Well, maybe in this world, like, the world has flooded in a way [Nerium: “Uh huh”] and sea levels have risen so that where…

Nerium: Okay.

Michael: LA has just somehow got sectioned off from the rest of California, I don’t know.

Nerium: Well, it takes place after the Rock movie, right?

Michael: Oh, San Andreas, yeah.

Nerium: San Andreas, yeah.

Michael: From GTA, yeah.

Nerium: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, exactly. [laughs]

Imran: It’s like that Bugs Bunny thing of him just like sawing off part of a state. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah. That’s the opening cutscene to this game.

Nerium: God. [laughs] He just saws off, like, Los Angeles.

Imran: I kind of hope that they do something that stupid of like, we tried to quarantine Los Angeles by blowing up the ??? or something. [Michael laughs]

Nerium: Sure!

Michael: And it started floating away, so now LA’s an island.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I would–

Michael: And it’s the dead island.

Nerium: You know what? Yeah. If they go super, super ridiculous. Like Dead Island 1 took itself seriously, but that game is goofy as fuck.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Like that game is like the, “Who do you voodoo, bitch,” opening, like, which they reference in Dying Light 2, which is very stupid. But like, that, yeah.

Imran: But like the initial trailer they showed for Dead Island 1 was like so dramatic and serious.

Nerium: So somber!

Imran: And the game wasn’t that at all.

Nerium: Not in the slightest.

Michael: Damn.

Nerium: Anyway.

Imran: Yeah, that’s basically Opening Night Live.

Nerium: They showed Homeworld 3 gameplay for the first time.

Imran: Oh, they did.

Nerium: Which I can talk about just very super briefly, ’cause we should probably start burning through some of this. I got to play Homeworld 3 last week.

Michael: Mm.

Nerium: Or early this week? What is time? I don’t know. [Imran laughs] If people don’t know what Homeworld is, Homeworld is an old-ass video game from 20 years ago now that was a Relic joint, makers of Warhammer games these days, actually and Company of Heroes and stuff like that. But what differentiated it from other real time strategy games at the time, besides just like a very, very, very, very striking mood and tone– like that game, the original game came out like years before that reboot of Battlestar Galactica on SyFy that was very popular. And you can very much see that like, oh, the Battlestar Galactica people just borrowed a ton of ideas from Homeworld, and like from the music and the tone and the visuals and the way that like camera angles are showing spaceships out in space. But that was the thing about it. It was that it was a real time strategy game where you were in space, and a single ship was your base, basically. Instead of building different facilities and things like that, you would move through space and send out like harvesters to go mine asteroids and bring them back to you, and whatever you collected and whatever you lost would carry with you into the next mission. So if you, you know, went into mission three and you only have $35 in your pocket, that’s all you have in that mission, and you have to find more along the way. So there was sort of this persistent campaign idea in addition to it being a 3D space, which was kind of cool. And Homeworld 3 is the first one of these that they’ve done.

They did a prequel called Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, which is pretty good. I reviewed that for Ars Technica back in the day. That was a few years ago now. That was a more traditional top down thing, because it takes place before they get space, but Homeworld 3 is like back to the Homeworld 1, Homeworld 2 style of 3D open world or 3D open environment real time strategy game. And they’re doing a lot of cool stuff with that spatial awareness type thing, where if you like– there will be, you know, giant hulks of destroyed capital ships floating through the stars. And if you tell one of your little fleets to go towards one of those things, they will automatically use it as cover while they reload their guns and then flip around the other side and shoot at other ships and stuff like that. You can escape sensor detection by like hiding inside of hulks and stuff like that that they show in some of the trailers, and I got to experience that in some of the levels. So there’s like a lot of hunting with sending up probes that expand your sensor range, and it seemed really cool. Like, I’m into a lot of those ideas outside of like the cover system and all that stuff. It seems like more Homeworld, which is good to me, because they haven’t made one of those games since 2003, not in this style anyway. And it seems like it’s pretty good, which is good to hear, because they announced this thing like ages ago, and they have not shown anything from it for a while. And Gearbox owns the IP now, which is weird. They’re not making it, but they’re publishing it.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: So, it’s a cool thing.

Imran: Speaking of Gearbox, Randall Pitchford was there also at Opening Night Live.

Nerium: Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: [laughs quietly] Randall.

Imran: To talk about new Tales from the Borderlands, which is coming out very soon.

Nerium: Very soon.

Imran: Like, October.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: They showed a trailer. It does not seem good, based on just the– well, it did not match the tone, I think, of Tales from the Borderlands, which I feel like is probably Telltale’s best game in this…

Nerium: Oh, for sure.

Imran: Regardless of what you think of how Telltale was doing and how Gearbox, like, whether or not they’ve improved over the last couple of years, Gearbox is not Telltale. Like, their writing is nowhere near that level.

Nerium: So they are writing– they took the reins and said like, “We can do that.”

Imran: They have not confirmed otherwise, and that’s all we can assume at the moment.

Nerium: Okay. Interesting.

Imran: But Randall came out, and he said, “I’m glad to finally officially announce new Tales from the Borderlands,” and I don’t know what he means by that, because he officially announced Tales from the Borderlands in April. I literally have a video open right now of him doing it at the Gearbox panel in PAX East.

Nerium: What? Weird.

Imran: So I don’t know what the fuck he is talking about.

Michael: He was allegedly maybe [bleep, bleep, bleep]

Imran: [laughs quietly] He will yell at us on Twitter about that, Michael, so we’re not gonna say what the fuck– like allege what he is doing or anything like that. I am saying I don’t know what it means he’s here to officially announce it, because that game was announced months ago. I wrote a story about it. I’m looking at an image of him announcing it right now.

Nerium: Weird. Is it just like a situation…

Michael: God, what a piece of work.

Imran: I think he just misspoke, but like…

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: I think it’s one of those things where if you say, “Hey, Randall Pitchford, you misspoke,” he’s probably gonna go, “No, why are you fucking me on this? I was– [Michael laughs] I meant this.”

Nerium: Oh my God.

Imran: “Everyone knows I meant this. Blah blah blah blah–” yeah.

Michael: Oh my God.

Nerium: One of the great sweaty carnies of our industry, Randall Pitchford. [Imran and Michael laugh] I love– Michael, did you, were you ever a Telltale fan, like more generally? Do you have opinions about Telltale games?

Michael: Nah. I’m sure I would like Telltale games. They just kind of flew under my radar, so.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: I respect them from afar, and that’s that’s pretty much it. Yeah, I respect the work, so.

Nerium: I would say as a fan of like a 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim type of player, like you, I would assume that you would like maybe a story driven game.

Michael: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I’ve been meaning to play The Wolf Among Us.

Imran: I like that one a lot, yeah.

Michael: Yeah?

Nerium: It’s also very good. Yeah. Not as many anime girls in the Telltale milieu, but…

Michael: [sighs] See, that’s the thing. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: That’s the problem right there.

Michael: Yeah. Walking Dead seemed really cool too, like I think I would like that. I did an interview with voice actress for…no, wait, did I? Ah, fuck. I can’t remember, but I–

Nerium: That’s how you know you’ve been in this industry for– like that you’re a vet now, [laughter] is like, “Wait, did I do that, or was that somebody else?” When you have those things where– or when you go onto Google and say, like, “I wonder what the GameSpot review said for X game that came out in 2007.” Oh shit, I reviewed that in 2007. [laughter]

Imran: Niki was asking me yesterday, like, “How does it feel to have seen so many video games that you can’t even keep track of which ones have come out and which ones haven’t?” And I’m like, “It didn’t feel weird until you said this.” [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Yeah. It’s like, you’re the one who made it weird, dawg. [laughter]

Nerium: Niki just like tried to very politely ask you, “What’s it feel like to be old?” [laughter]

Michael: Niki is like perpetually like 22.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I know. I know.

Imran: Niki is a constant zoomer.

Nerium: Niki’s not that much younger than us, but they feel it.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs]

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: [sighs] Well, there’s some other stuff going on in video games right now. We’ll probably burn through some of this. The Embracer Group bought way more shit. I forgot all about this, like that’s how long ago that feels.

Imran: They bought Lord of the Rings.

Nerium: They bought Lord of the Rings.

Imran: Which is a thing you can just buy.

Michael: That was…when? Was that Thursday? Last week?

Imran: That was last week, yeah.

Michael: Oh my God. That’s, yeah, wow, that’s time. [Imran laughs] I could have sworn that was like two weeks ago. Shit.

Imran: Nope. Time doesn’t matter. It’s all a simulation. It’s fine.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah, that’s true.

Michael: So, yeah, they bought everything. God damn. Talk about– well, yeah. Talk about like corporate consolidation of IPs and properties and shit. Yeah, it’s– I don’t know. It makes me…it doesn’t give me faith in when like a much bigger corporation just seizes properties for the sake of like..their expectation as we’ve seen is probably going to be: “Hey, turn this thing into a money maker. Turn Lord of the Rings into the next Star Wars where we just pump out a whole bunch of shit that’s going to make a shit ton of money.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: And I don’t know, and of course, like, as we’ve seen with the Warner Bros Discovery stuff is that a lot of people just get fucked over in the process.

Nerium: Yep.

Michael: I mean, I’m not saying that like that’s currently happening with Embracer and all their acquisitions, but it’s just…I don’t know. You see shit like this happen more frequently, more often, until three corporations own all 1000, 2000 properties or whatever.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: And it’s just, I don’t know.

Imran: I don’t think this would make the acquisition spree good, but I would feel slightly less bad about it if Saints Row didn’t suck.

Nerium: Yeah, that’s the thing.

Michael: Oh, yeah. Uh huh.

Nerium: Like that game feels– and it sucks in a way that feels like it was very specifically, “No, you are gonna get this out the door right now.”

Imran: Right, like mission texts not showing up and just placeholder texts being in its place, like really drastic bugs that not only like affect your game but affect every save file that you have for the game.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Like, I don’t know if–

Nerium: It’s rampant.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: It’s everybody who’s reviewing this game is like saying like, “Yeah, I got about 10 hours in, and then everything just died.”

Imran: Yeah. We did not review that game. I don’t know if there’s like…you can read merritt’s preview if you want to know how Fanbyte seems to feel about that game, but…

Nerium: Yeah. We didn’t get an early copy of the game.

Imran: We did not get an early copy, and looking at the reviews, I am not shocked.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: That we didn’t not get an early copy.

Michael: They saved us the trouble. [Imran laughs] They said, “Nah, y’all don’t want to play this shit.”

Nerium: I’ll say you can read some of that stuff online. You can read merritt’s– merritt has a couple of different writeups about it. Imran, you wrote an article about like not having a review and stuff like that, but it’s just like, I will say this and just let people draw their own conclusions from it. It’s very rare to get flown out to Las Vegas or subsequent places or similar places for a preview event and then not get review code afterwards.

Imran: Right. At that point, they’ve already spent the money to market to you in a way that like, “We want coverage from your website or outlet for this thing.” So not sending code is saying, “We think we will lose more money on your coverage than we would not having you do it.”

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Very odd.

Imran: Which, draw your own conclusions about what that could mean.

Nerium: Yeah. Yeah.

Imran: I’m not saying they didn’t send it to us because they thought we would trash it.

Michael: They knew.

Imran: I’m saying we didn’t get code.

Nerium: [laughs] Michael is saying that, yeah.

Michael: I’m saying that they knew. [Nerium laughs] They’re like, “Oh, damn. Y’all are gonna be like real brutal about this.” And I don’t know, I mean, of course we, like you said, we didn’t get review code, but I mean, it’s like… [laughs] I don’t know, if you were in their position, maybe it was a tactical decision that maybe I respect in some regard.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: So.

Imran: I mean, if it were me running PR for that game, and somebody wrote a preview that was like, “Yeah, this game kind of sucks,” I probably wouldn’t send them code, [quiet laughter] because I assume that the review would be similar, knowing what the final game is apparently like.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Allegedly, allegedly.

Nerium: Allegedly,

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Well, I’ve not played it, so.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: But it doesn’t sound good.

Imran: None of us have played it. They’re sending us a theor– I don’t know at this point. [laughs] They’re sending us, theoretically, launch day code.

Nerium: If they’re even gonna bother. Yeah. It’s just, honestly, it’s kind of a bummer to me though, I will say, because like I actually…when they first showed Saints Row, I remember a lot of people trashing it at the time, ’cause people jumped to the conclusion immediately– which was a very weird conclusion in retrospect, where it’s like, they had a bunch of like named characters in the original trailer, and people were like, “They’re taking out custom character creation!” And it’s like, why would you just assume that when they didn’t say that? but okay. There are named characters in regular Saints Row games, in the original Saints Row games. But I was like actually kind of like excited by the idea of like hitting the reset button on some of that, ’cause like, by the time you get to Saints Row 4 and then Gat out of Hell and all that stuff, it’s so over the top, and it’s like, I kind of like the Saints Row 3 and even a little bit of two thing of like just some fucking scoundrels just kind of like getting up to some dirt, you know, doing some criminal escapades, you know. Especially now in a post Fast and the Furious, all, you know, are anti-terrorist unit cops now at this point. I want to be out there stealing DVD players and stuff like that. I want to get up to some antics and like hitting the reset on that stuff a little bit and like making car driving, you know, more important again seemed like a cool thing to me. And you know, as much as it sounds like the writing is not a strong suit of the game—even among a game that doesn’t have many strong suits, period—I, you know, thought that the basic idea of like, “Oh, they’ve become criminals to pay off their student loans,” I thought that was a fun idea. So I’m a little bit bummed by this. I like Saints Row quite a bit.

Imran: Yeah. I, again, haven’t played the game. We don’t know whether or not like every review could be wrong and the game is actually fantastic for us personally, but I am bummed because I really liked The Third.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And I thought IV was good. It’s been 11 years since The Third. It’s sad that– it’s entirely possible Volition is not the same Volition it was 11 years ago.

Nerium: Yeah. That’s very true.

Imran: Post…like, length of time, obviously, but also their parent company died. They got bought by a new parent company. That company got bought by another parent company.

Nerium: Yeah. Right.

Imran: And now, like, what even is that studio anymore? Is it the same people or is it just an IP that no longer actually is a…like, that is not being serviced to its fullest extent? Or is it like publisher interference of saying, “This game needs to fucking come out right now or you’re all fired,” or is it all of these things?

Michael: Ha.

Nerium: I mean– sorry, Michael. It sounded like you were gonna say something.

Michael: I’m all out of things to say about Saints Row. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: Last thing I was just gonna say is like, I think you could drop…I think it would be…hmm. The game being this buggy and having like missing assets and stuff like that and like placeholder text in multiple places that people are reporting, it’s pretty indicative of publisher interference.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Like, I don’t think that’s a thing that most developers just do for the– because they’re lazy, you know?

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: That just doesn’t– that’s not how this business works.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: The writing and all that other stuff may be something…

Nerium: Yes.

Imran: Maybe that’s the other part.

Nerium: It has other problems beyond that, for sure. Or allegedly, allegedly.

Michael: I lied. [Nerium and Imran laugh]

Nerium: You have more to say?

Michael: I mean, just from like the clips people are sharing, it’s…I mean, okay. There’s a lot of people who are out here saying like, “Oh, that’s just Saints Row,” when they share like clips of the new Saints Row being cringy. I just, it doesn’t have– God, this is, kind of the similar problem I have with Soul Hackers 2 is that like it’s written in such a soulless way [Nerium: “Yeah”] that it comes off as super cringy, because it doesn’t have any personality of its own. It’s just like, “Here’s a cool joke that we’re gonna keep repeating, because if we repeat it enough, then that is what makes it funny.”

Nerium: Uh huh.

Michael: And oh my God, it’s so bad! Like, ugh. Some of the stuff from like the older Saints Rows are, you know, they’re funny because they’re super ridiculous and over the top. I’m not saying it’s like Yakuza level type stuff.

Nerium: No.

Michael: But it’s like absurdist humor is, you know, it’s part and parcel to the Saints Row universe. But this isn’t even like absurdist humor. It’s just like, I don’t know. It’s just, it sounds like really bad improv, and…

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Ah, God damn. And some of the shit like Bless was telling me about like the– ’cause he was playing, he reviewed it for KF.

Imran: Yeah. Oh, that game broke– he literally said it broke him.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah. The game broke, and then it broke him.

Nerium: Damn.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah, I mean… [sighs]

Michael: So, I trust…a lot of people I trust who have said as much.

Nerium: It’s weird to say, but Saints Row 3 had heart. Like people say like, “Ah, it’s just, yeah, it’s always just been toilet humor, blah blah.” Saints Row 3 had heart. Saints Row IV also had heart, but there was like a…like sometimes the goof was just like, it was just commitment to a bit that was like…

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: It wasn’t like setting out to try to make you, like, force you to laugh the way that it feels like some of this stuff is. It is just like, we’re going to do a thing, and we are going to go all the way through it, and we’re gonna take it to its natural conclusion. You’re gonna deal with it. Like, one of the very famous things from Saints Row: The Third is like the joke about like, Biz Markie comes on or whatever or like Sublime comes on the radio and then all the Saints in the car just like one by one start singing, and like, they just got all those voice actors to sing fucking Sublime or whatever, and that’s it. That’s the whole joke. That joke is just like, everybody sings along with this song that they like.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And it’s just like, there’s a warm fuzziness to it on top of the other stuff. And then sometimes it’s like, we added a zombie mode where just your character just talks like a zombie, and just every single line of the dialogue in the entire game has been replaced by a guy going, “Urhurhuhhurh,” which is a good joke. [laughs]

Imran: But at some point, like, you can’t build Shangrila again.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like you can’t like…Saints Row 3, part of the reason that thing was so good and so endearing was we didn’t know what to expect from that game.

Nerium: Right.

Imran: We expected another GTA ripoff, and they managed to make one with heart.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And so like, even if you do the same thing, if you make another one with heart, it’s not gonna be the same. It won’t be as good. Especially if you’re going through like, “Hey, we went too far last time. We’re gonna pull it back. We’re gonna go back to our roots,” and then you go back to your roots, and it’s not as good.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Suddenly you’re like, okay, well, you would’ve been better off if we just said nothing.

Nerium: That’s gotta be it though, too, right? Like, when you say that.

Imran: No, this series is dead.

Nerium: This series is dead, right?

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Oh, God. Yeah. [laughs]

Imran: Unless this somehow sells like super fucking well despite the reception. Like, I’m talking we’re doing like a good 12 million.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Then this is not…I don’t think this is going be worth it, ’cause they spent a lot of money, counting the delays and the marketing and all that jazz. This is I think the first AAA game developed entirely under Embracer.

Nerium: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, this is, I think, them testing their, like testing the water to see if AAA gaming is for them, and I would not be shocked if they just say no after this.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Which is, again, partially their fault, ’cause they clearly rushed this game.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: They clearly put out a date that they could not hit, even after a delay. But yeah, this is not it. This did not hit, and this is–

Michael: This ain’t it, chief. [Imran and Nerium laugh] Oh, God.

Imran: And this is, I think, probably the last– I would not be shocked if it’s the last original thing we see from Volition.

Michael: [sighs] God damn. You know what? That’s what happens when you go woke. [laughs]

Nerium: Jesus Christ, Michael!

Imran: I always hate when like the thing that’s part of a– ’cause like merritt wrote that thing of [Michael: “Yeah”] you’re not making a like cultural statement from buying Saints Row. Like, just because the game is, quote, unquote, “woke” or whatever—or just not anti-woke, not conservative—doesn’t mean you’re doing anything by paying money for it.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: But on the other side, the converse side of that is it really kind of sucks when something that is part of a culture war that conservatives and people like that tend to hate sucks.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs]

Imran: Like legitimately, I…we mentioned Wheel of Time. That Wheel of Time TV show that a lot of people are like, “Why is this so– they’re like cramming diversity into this.” I would love it if that show was good so those people would shut the fuck up.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs quietly]

Nerium: Sure. Yeah.

Imran: But it’s not bad because it’s inclusive. It’s bad because it’s bad.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Nerium: Here’s the thing: most media is bad. Like, if you just take it on the whole, like most books that come out every year are bad. That’s just like the nature of creation, to a certain degree, and it’s especially the nature under like– again, one of the biggest reasons that this game is bad, by the sound of it, is because it was rushed out to meet like unrealistic expectations set by a fucked up capitalist system during a recession and yada yada yada. Like, the stuff that makes this– a lot of what makes this game bad is the stuff that like people who are like, “Haha, it’s bad! Owning the libs, ’cause the game is bad,” or whatever. It’s just like, no, it’s bad partially because the systems under which we make art oftentimes produce bad art more often than not. It’s a miracle that anything is ever good.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Damn. Speak on it.

Imran: It’s a miracle that games come out in the first place [Nerium: “Yeah”] and that any of them are good video games.

Nerium: Anyway, we can move on to other chud news. Nexus Mods says “Shut up chuds,” according to this article we got here. [laughs]

Michael: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: Which is cool. This one’s fun.

Imran: The long and short of it is that like, remember when there was like pride flags– there was like one or two pride flags in Spider-Man on PS4? And like people–

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And like Insomniac took a real weird victory lap over that. Like, cool, you did that. Great. It’s pride flags. And then one of the first things people did in Spider-Man PC was mod them out.

Nerium: Mm-hmm. [Michael laughs]

Imran: I think there were more by that point. There weren’t one or two. There were probably more than that. But like, people modded them out, and they hosted that mod on Nexus Mods, and Nexus Mods deleted it. And then the guy tried to make an alt and do it again, and they deleted that and banned the guy and his original account. And they were like, “Hey, we’re not gonna discuss this with you.” Like people were saying, “This is anti-free speech. This is censorship. Like, what does it matter what people do with mods?” And they’re like, “We don’t care what your argument is. [Nerium laughs] We do not give a shit. We are not gonna argue with you. You don’t have a platform to argue your shitty bullshit here. You’re banned; go away.”

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: And I think that is a high point watermark lesson in community management of, [Nerium: “Yeah,” Michael: “Yep”] just shut the fuck up. We’re not gonna listen to you. We’re not gonna argue with you so you can make your points to an audience. Go away.

Nerium: It is the…the number of times we at Fanbyte—like me, merritt, John, Danielle, you know, in the olden days and stuff like that—have had to have that argument or that discussion internally about just like, “Hey, do we make a statement about this? Do we do blah blah blah?” Our answer is almost always– and you know, sometimes it probably, it makes us, you know, it’s difficult for us to have to do, to bite our tongues and not be like, you know, “Actually, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” It’s just like, no. We just say, “Fuck it.” We delete this. We move on with our lives, and we say jack shit, because it is not worth giving a platform to a lot of this horseshit.

Imran: Yeah. The internet doesn’t need to be like a free– okay, let me rephrase that. [Nerium laughs] It doesn’t need to be a free speech zone for everyone, [Michael: “Yeah”] because there are people that are like, no, this isn’t an argument. We’re not arguing with you. You just have to leave now.

Michael: Yeah. We are telling you that you are not entitled to our platform.

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: So we’re kicking you– it’s like a bar that can be like, “We can deny service to anybody.”

Nerium: Right.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: ‘Cause they can, and that’s what a platform like Nexus Mods is doing. It’s just like, “Yo, fuck out of here.”

Nerium: It’s also literally free speech. Like that’s literally how that works, [Imran and Michael laugh] is like, you can also have the free speech to be like, “Actually, with my thing over here, I refuse to allow you to have your thing.” Free speech is not a free platform and is not like free entitlement to someone’s time and energy and resources and stuff like that. It’s so bizarre.

Imran: Yeah. I just love the idea of going, “No, we’re not gonna argue. Shut the fuck up.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: “Just leave.”

Nerium: Good on them. Good on Nexus Mods.

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: I’ve used Nexus Mods for a lot of different mods, [Michael: “Yes”] so I’m glad to see that they’ve got some good shit going on.

Imran: A friend of mine makes passive income on Skyrim mods like every month, [Nerium: “Jeez”] in the thousands of dollars.

Nerium: Jeez.

Michael: Oh my God, wow.

Imran: ‘Cause he made a mod like 10 years ago that people still download.

Nerium: Huh.

Michael: Wow. Damn, I should get into modding.

Nerium: I was about to say, we’re in the wrong business, Michael. [Nerium and Imran laugh]

Michael: Yeah, fuck. Shit.

Nerium: All right, last thing on this list before we move along and grab our botion for the week. Gonna probably just skim through this, but we’re gonna take a little walk into a place I like to call Destinyville.


Nerium: Which just means that there’s a bunch of Destiny news that came out. [laughs]

Michael: Oh shit. I didn’t even realize it though, that…I see on the doc. I’m like, “Oh shit, Destinyville.”

Nerium: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: That’s where we waste away.

Michael: Wow. “Margaritaville”? No, no? [Nerium sighs] You’re not washed up like us, Nere? [Imran laughs]

Nerium: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard– I’ve heard of “Margaritaville” the song. I don’t, if I’ve ever heard “Margaritaville”.

Imran: I legitimately do not believe that. [Nerium laughs] Like, I can buy that maybe you’ve heard it and have not acknowledged it mentally in your head of, “Oh, this is ‘Margaritaville’.”

Nerium: Okay. I’m gonna pull up “Margaritaville” really quickly and listen to like the first like 30 seconds. I’ll jump ahead like 30 seconds into the song and see if I recognize any of this.

Michael: It’s, uh, who’s… [laughs quietly] Warren Buffet, not Warren Buffet. [pronounced buff-ay]

Nerium: [laughs] It’s Warren Buffet’s “Margaritaville”!

Imran: The Warren buffet. [laughs]

Michael: Uh, Jimmy Buffet? [pronounced buff-ay] No, that’s the ring announcer. Who did that song?

Nerium: Uh, Jimmy Buffet.

Michael: Frank Sinatra?

Imran: [laughs] Yes.

Nerium: Jimmy Buffet did “Margaritaville”.

Imran: Yeah, it was Jimmy Buffet.

Michael: Oh, okay. Oh, okay. I thought– who’s the boxing announcer?

Imran: Uh…

Nerium: Uh, Michael Buffer. [laughs]

Imran: Michael Buffer.

Michael: Okay. [laughter]

Imran: And his brother who I forgot the name of.

Nerium: [announcer voice] Let’s get ready to waste away again! [Imran laughs] In Margaritaville! I’m listening to this song right now, by the way, and looking at the lyrics. I have never heard the song in my entire life.

Imran: How? How? How is that possible?

Nerium: It didn’t play on the Sun Mart supermarket radio when I worked there for seven years, so I didn’t hear it. [laughs]

Michael: Oh my God. That’s like white culture 101. [Nerium and Imran laugh]

Nerium: I’m a traitor to my people. I don’t know.

Imran: You’re a Traitor Joe to your people.

Nerium: [laughs] A traitor–

Imran: So, interestingly, upon Googling “Margaritaville”, there is apparently a resort and cruise named Margaritaville.

Nerium: Yes.

Imran: On the Jimmy Buffet song.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: Like, it is Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Nerium: Yeah, yeah. So this is why I know “Margaritaville” exists as a song is because [laughs] Justin McElroy has talked about that cruise and stuff on various things things.

Michael: Justin Macklemore, wow!

Nerium: Justin Macklemore. When I used to listen to MBMBAM like six years ago or whatever, like I remember him joking about that and like learning that that song– that, and– oh, no, the actual first place I ever heard of “Margaritaville” was in the Broken Lizard movie Club Dread.

Imran: [chuckles] Uh…

Nerium: Y’all remember this?

Imran: No.

Michael: No. [laughs]

Nerium: Y’all fans of Super Troopers?

Michael: Oh, no.

Imran: I’ve seen Super Troopers. I saw the Beerfest one.

Nerium: Okay.

Imran: I’m fine with just watching those two movies.

Nerium: Between Super Troopers and Beerfest, they did a horror comedy called Club Dread, and there’s a character in that movie who has a song called “Coco Cabana Burg”, and the joke is that he came up with that song first, and Jimmy Buffet’s song “Margaritaville” got popular.

Imran: Okay. Our producer Paul is telling us to move on, [Nerium laughs] but before we do, before we do, I want to just quickly read through the categories on the Margaritaville website. On the top of the page is Stay, Own, Dine, Cruise, Shop, Tune In, Jimmy, and Perks. [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Jimothy. Ah, Jimothy Charlemaigne. [Imran laughs] Good ol’…

Nerium: All right. I’ll talk to the devs. We need to add a Jimmy section to fanbyte.com.

Imran: Jimmy’s demanding the Jimmy section. Like, we gotta do what he says. It’s his Margaritaville. [Nerium laughs]

Michael: Oh my God. It’s it’s a dictatorship out there in Margaritaville. [Imran laughs]

Nerium: God damn. Yeah, they’re wasting away, because he’s hoarded all the food for himself. [Imran laughs] Oh my God.

Imran: Margaritas only.

Michael: So what’s up with Destiny?

Nerium: Destiny.

Michael: Destinyville.

Nerium: They announced Lightfall, which is like the big new expansion. There’s a hidden city on Neptune. merritt was trying to explain this to me the other day about how there’s a bunch of like, there’s a whole like bunch of humans in the Destiny universe that didn’t die in the golden age and like the old stuff, so like we’re finding like a secret faction of other humans that are still alive and stuff like that. So we’re gonna be going to Neptune, which we’ve never been to in Destiny 1 or 2, and that’s gonna be tying into some stuff that they’ve been setting up for a very long time in terms of story. Drifter and Eramis are involved. Eramis was the villain from Beyond Light, who was like, she shows up at the end of that– or you fight her at the very end of Beyond Light, and it’s very anticlimactic, and she just gets frozen.

Michael: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah.

Nerium: And it was just immediately like, well, this character’s just gonna come back in two expansions, and sure enough, she’s coming back two expansions later. King’s Fall, the very, very…like the kind of the raid, or mm, Vault of Glass might be better known just because it’s like the first one, but like King’s fall is like one of the most popular raids from Destiny 1, is coming back to Destiny 2 this Friday, which is huge. And Destiny is in Fortnite now, and Zavala can hit the griddy.

Michael: Yay.

Nerium: [laughs] That’s what I know.

Imran: Hell yeah.

Michael: No Cayde-6, though, so…I know folks are talking about Cayde-6, and I’m like, eh, I don’t care.

Nerium: Oh, he’s dead.

Michael: Yeah. He’s dead dead. Well, they brought back, uh, whatserface.

Nerium: Eramis, yeah. She just froze.

Michael: I killed Eramis. I played Beyond Light.

Nerium: Oh, you played Beyond Light.

Michael: Yeah. I played Beyond Light, and I was like, all right, I’m done with this, this storyline. Okay, let’s move on. You’re gonna bring it back. It’s like Xenos. Is Eramis the next Xenos? [Nerium laughs]


Imran: Did they kill Cayde-6 ’cause like Nathan Fillion cost too much?

Nerium: Yeah. I mean, Nolan North plays him in that like mission too, which is weird. Like, they definitely– they already lost Nathan Fillion before then, but yeah, that is almost certainly exactly what happened, ’cause they also– they’ve changed voice actors on a bunch of those like famous people that they’ve had. Obviously there was the Peter Dinklage debacle, I don’t know, in Destiny 1. But also Gina Torres, also from Firefly, voiced Ikora Rey—who’s a major character—for a long time.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Nerium: And in the last expansion, she was replaced by just a more traditional voice actor.

Imran: I’m shocked that they thought, “Okay, what if we get really expensive voice actors for our live service game?” Like, ’cause at some point, someone should have gone, “Hey, what does this mean in a year?”

Nerium: Yeah.

Imran: And nobody went like, “Oh shit.”

Nerium: Well, I’m sure somebody did, but it wasn’t people working at the top of Activision or probably even Bungie at the time who did that, who worried about that.

Imran: Mm.

Nerium: Because like, that was–

Imran: Bobby Kotick [Nerium: “Yeah”] just yelling, “Get me Tyrion Lannister.”

Nerium: Yeah. “Get me Paul McCartney! I need Cart!”

Imran: Get me voice clips of Spider-Man. [Nerium and Michael laugh]

Nerium: But I don’t know, like, there’s kind of an interesting element there actually of like, you know, Bungie almost like had a kind of a quiet coup in the last like three years or two years or something like that, where it’s like, there was that story that came out that you see all too often in the video game industry of like, hey, this was rife with like people, you know, especially women being like, you know, downplayed and ignored. And part of the reason that the writing in the Destiny games is so bad or was so bad originally is that like, there was like this group of people at the top who like believed themselves to be the real writers and everybody else who wrote the stuff that people actually liked, like the Grimoire cards lore, were like relegated to the bottom, and that’s why none of the cool writing off to the edges ever got put at the like forefront of Destiny. But like, quietly, it sounds like they kind of cleaned house a little bit?

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And a lot of those people, the people who were like doing the good stuff, are in charge now and have been for a little while, and like a bunch of different things have been happening in Destiny in the last like two years. They’ve like really just like cleaned up shop, not just in terms of like employees and management structure, but also in terms of like all of the stuff that everybody has been begging Destiny to do for the past like six years in the last like year has been happening. And one of the things that they’re adding is like, you know, native loadouts to for characters and stuff like that, so you can actually like, “Hey, I want to have this very specific build, but if I want to be able to save it, I need to use a third party app on my phone.”

Michael: Ah.

Nerium: That’s just coming to be part of the game now.

Michael: Cool.

Nerium: Bunch of other stuff. The writing has gotten so much better in the last like year as they’ve done this seasonal model.

Michael: Ooh.

Nerium: Like it’s actually really, really, really good and very characterful.

Imran: They’ve–

Nerium: Yeah, they’re doing– I’m sorry?

Imran: They’ve made a Beyoncé out of Destiny’s child.

Michael: [sadly] Oh.

Nerium: All right, everybody, so thanks for listening to 99 Potions this week. Thank you so much, Michael, for being on with us two weeks in a row. That’s great.

Michael: Yeah, it’s great that we, you and I, two weeks in a row, had a one-on-one podcast. [laughs]

Nerium: Yeah, just me and you, nobody else, on this week’s or last week’s, which is great.

Michael: Imran was sent into the ether on his own. [Nerium laughs] He did it to himself.

Imran: We should just keep adding a host every week until somebody notices. [Nerium and Michael laugh]

Nerium: We will keep adding hosts until morale improves. [Imran laughs] We will wrap this one up. We’ve been going for about two hours, and Paul, I’m sure, needs to take a nap. So I’ll just do the thing that I usually do, which is say: where can people find you, Michael?

Michael: Oh, you can find me and all of my bullshit @michaelphigham on Twitter. And you should go to fanbyte.com, that’s fanbyte.com. Click all the links, read all the stories. That’s hit video game website fanbyte.com, and go to thelinkshell.com for all your Final Fantasy XIV news, guides. Model viewer item database is popping off, ’cause the lodestone can’t carry the load by itself, so we got it for all y’all. Feature stories coming up. 6.2 is popping off, and so are we, so that’s where you can find some good stuff.

Nerium: Michael, remember like a few weeks ago to a month ago when you like posted that selfie of you wearing like a really nice suit and you looked like really great and like put together and professional?

Michael: Aw, thank you. Yeah.

Nerium: Yeah, you remember that?

Michael: Yeah.

Nerium: Are you wearing that right now? ‘Cause it sounds like you’re in business mode.

Michael: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Nerium: Like that was so smooth and professional, like damn.

Michael: No, you know, [laughs quietly] I said that, that whole segment I just said, I did it off the top of my head on an episode of GameSpot After Dark I was on like two months ago, and I listened back to the episode, and I was like, “Damn, that was kind of good. I’m just gonna keep– I’m just gonna use that.” [Nerium laughs] I did it on Axe of the Blood God. I did it on the Game Informer show. I did it on– one of my homies runs an independent podcast, I did it there. Like, listen, I got that shit on lock, son.

Nerium: Yeah. Imran, how about you? Where can people find you?

Imran: You can find me on Twitter @imranzomg, and you can also find me on fanbyte.com, where I talk about video games? I think that’s my job?

Nerium: Oh, okay.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: I thought we hired you for something. I couldn’t remember.

Imran: Yeah, I think I might start doing my job soon.

Nerium: Oh, okay. Cool, cool, cool.

Imran: Yeah.

Nerium: And you can find me at 4:30 AM grinding out fucking PVP ranks in Final Fantasy XIV, trying to get that archfiend armor while I also write guides about that same shit on fanbyte.com. I’m just Nerium on there, and you can find me on Twitter @neriumstrom, where I post a lot of the different things that I happen to write. I’ve been doing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV stuff, but I do a lot of No Man’s Sky things. I do all kinds of shit. I’m on a couple of other things here and there, you know. So just, you know, follow me on Twitter, and you’ll be able to keep up with all of it. You can also keep up with our producer Paul @polimayo on Twitter, and @fanbytemedia is @fanbytemedia. And like we like to do the end of every episode for 99 Potions, we sidle on up to the bar, and now that we’ve been going for over two hours, we like to take a big old swig to slake those parched lips of ours, and we go [smacks lips] and we take a big drink after we give it a solid:

Michael: Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug.

Nerium: Clink! [laughs] Michael’s still doing the glug! [Imran laughs] Bye.

Michael: Peace.

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