2022.03.08

Horizon Forbidden West ruins stormbird city

The plan for this month to rave about Horizon: Forbidden West and Elden Ring. The Ukraine crisis was an ominous but interesting situation three weeks ago. Sadly, now people are fighting for their country and seeking refuge and having their lives destroyed by a pointless invasion.
Ukraine

Ukraine UN Sergiy Kyslytsya phone

I'll keep the theme from the previous posts, primarily just regurgitating the news and discussion that I've consumed.

Escalation

Ukraine Russia diverted flights FlightRadar PQ7980 7B342

Everything started with headlines saying that the 'go' order had been given without further details. I guess Reddit had been somewhat on-point with the flight tracking - the airspace cleared and Kyiv-bound flights looked for new places to land.

UN Russian delegate emergency session

It was surreal to watch the UNSC emergency session. Member nations gave rote speeches about de-escalation while social media reported shelling and airstrikes. Midway through, the Russians announced their intentions using all the euphemisms that they could muster. Then the mic went back around the room again for hastily-modified variants of the original de-escalation rhetoric. The only interesting bits were the US delegate saying, "we told you so" and Sergiy Kyslytsya being understandably outraged and demanding to see the Russian Federation's UN birth certificate (so to speak).

Ukraine soldier javelin Russian convoy video

Two weeks in, there's been plenty of information and disinformation. I won't attempt to even provide a synopsis since there are far better resources, but the TLDR is that Russia is still advancing but probably much slower than they had anticipated.

Intelligence, propaganda, and casus belli

Ukraine Russia article Gordon Corera BBC US UK intelligence

Biden, NATO, Five Eyes, whoever - they knew the Kremlin's game plan and warned the world in advance. Based on the provocations, false flag attempts, and assurances that they weren't planning an offensive, it appears Russia was trying their hardest to establish a legitimate-sounding casus belli. I guess Putin got tired of waiting and simply went with the stated intention of 'denazifying' Ukraine.

Broadcasting Russia's plans was an impressive tactic that may well have paved the way for the international opposition to the war that we see today. It ensured that any "evidence of Ukrainian aggression" would be scrutinized, that the international community would have time to prepare its response, and that the US would remain out of the spotlight while still defending its interests.

Ukraine Russia article Olympics China invasion Reuters

In retrospect *of course* this invasion was going to happen. At the time, the idea of a traditional military offense seemed unbelievable. It wasn't unimaginable but it seemed like Putin was doing the Kim/Saddam routine of creating a negotation chip out of nothing. If there's one takeaway from the armchair (well, nap time) news junkie, it's that many of us legitimately thought this thing wasn't going to happen.

For a couple weeks there was the talking point floating around that the administration was sounding the alarm to distract from domestic issues. This briefly morphed into the accusation that NATO was antagonizing Russia, hoping for a war to distract from domestic issues. As it's become apparent that this has been in Putin's five year plan, people stopped banging that drum.

Ukraine Russia article Naryshkin gaffe
Maybe the writing was on the wall.

Midterms are this year, after all

Ukraine Russia captured invasion plans

This is all pretty dry, so I'll get to the memes as quickly as I can. But the administration's "be like water" playbook has continued beyond the failed deterrence phase. In summary, it's:
This could turn out a miserable failure or a huge success. At the very least, it's kept a lid on escalation while openly supporting Ukraine. Ultimately, this occupation feels like a race between Ukraine's defense forces and Russia's tolerance for economic isolation. It's a shame that something so globally important has to be poisoned by domestic politics, but the midterms are a mere eight months away, so...

Ukraine Russia news the Hill Trump Putin
Bro, it's not smart, he did that with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It's like you aren't even paying attention.

"This wouldn't have happened if I were president." I'm not so sure. There was a pretty strong anti-NATO, pro-isolationism posture in previous years. In an alternate time line I bet "this is Europe's problem".

Guh


/u/jasonredit
BREAKING: Russia's economy

As I was saying, the West - and I mean like everyone - decided to obliterate Russia's economy. Or, in newspeak, the West decided to launch a special operation to denazify the Russian economy. MOEX looks like it's closed for good, taking the classic strategy of keeping your losses unrealized.

Russian investor toasting to death of MOEX
Some funny Russian investor dude toasted the death of the Moscow Exchange.

The global community - setting aside China, India, and a few Russia fanstates - has sanctioned Russia so hard that MOEX has been closed for two weeks and counting.

Russia Ukraine market response

But the uncertainty and disruptions to energy markets have been unkind to the global exchanges that aren't hiding with the curtains drawn and lights off.

Markets that are actually open

Reddit WSB WallStreetBets Russia Ukraine VozdvizhenkaStreetBets
Vozdvizhenka Street Bets.

So while there are far more important issues here than money, there's never a good reason to let institutionals walk away with your tendies.

Energy and volatility. That's been the play for the last two weeks, coupled with some serious index swings. Cybersecurity stocks pumped as Russia teased cyberwarfare. Defense stocks bounced, possibly in anticipation of a larger conflict. But SPY is down 6.5% since the start of the conflict.

Reddit WSB WallStreetBets Russia Ukraine printer
To fight the severely devalued ruble, Russia raised interest rates a smidge.

What does the internet have to say about it?

Meme comments section hazmat suit

That title sounds sarcastic and it is largely sarcastic, but aside from comprehensive support for Ukraine, there have been a few interesting reads. For example, this retired Army Major provided some easily-consumable advice on withstanding invasion and turning an occupation into hell (for the aggressor). I've seen tank mechanics chime in with diagrams of where to drop a molotov for greatest effect and hypothesize on the state of Russian equipment maintenance regimes.

And there's been lots and lots of garbage commentary. But here are some nuggets:

Russia Ukraine Zelensky 300 spartan
Even with the crosshairs directly on him, Zelensky brought that meme charisma.

Russia Ukraine Reddit subreddit
The absolute opposite of Zelensky: angry bots on antisocial media.

Russia Ukraine YouTube amateur streaming
Then there were the people who made composite streams of cctv cameras and read comments aloud.


/u/Dddydya
Everyone talks about what Forte11 is doing, but nobody talks about how Forte11 is doing.

/u/Frontstunderel
I made a T-shirt that says: Fuck around and Forte out

/u/TreXeh
Could you Imagine if Russia shot FORTE down? reddit would lose it's collective shit

/u/Dddydya
"Reddit declared war on Russia"

FlightRadar gang stood by Forte11.


/u/usex10
How can you fuck up so bad that virtually every country hates you that much ... Well done Volodia, well done

/u/Raginghussar
This is how my Civilization games go 99% of the time lmao

/u/GriefMachine
Dude for real though Civ just brings that out. I tried to play agame SO peacefully, focussing entirely on culture then all of a sudden China is like "excuse me, why do you have so many great people?" denounce. Norway: "ay fuccboi, your navy licks balls" denounce. America after I create a new settlement lightyears away from them directly after them settling on my border: "your people are too close, stop it or you're fucked"
So anyway, I started blasting

Sid Meier prepared all of us for this, except that we thought we could count on Overflow Gandhi.

Russia Ukraine Reddit cyclist tank
This.

Vladimir Putin kompromat Reddit
Imagine.


/u/VisceralMonkey
Bless Saint Javelin.

Bad takes

Ukraine Russian convoy video IFV

So I covered some of the enthusiastic support and even humor in this dark saga. But there has been some really, really bad commentary. Here are a few common themes/comments...

"This is going to be WW3." While it's not impossible, based on publicly-available information this is just not likely. Russia has very few places to go before they hit the NATO wall (that's kind of the point) and they don't have anyone willing to open a second front. As the weeks have passed and Russia has shown its ineffectiveness, the idea that the offensive could be expanded simply does not seem plausible.

"They took Chernobyl!" Well, I was also surprised to hear that there was fighting at the infamous power plant. A quick search indicated that it's simply on the shortest path between Belarus and Kyiv. Still, there was a lot of dumb speculation about nuclear cataclysms.


/u/Aerialise
Wow the Ukraine ambassador just absolutely steamrolled the Russian ambassador. "All ambassador's parents are proud of their children. All children of ambassadors are proud of their parents. Except for yours".

I'm totally fine with Mr. Kyslytsya's entirely-justified condescension for his Russian counterpart. But praising that as a "slam" that "totally got him" doesn't say much for our appreciation for effective dialogue (confrontational or otherwise).

"This makes me feel..." Ugh. It's not about you or the anxiety you get from doomscrolling.

"Looks like covid disappeared overnight." Yeah, I stopped by the Zerohedge comment section just to see which side of the knife they fell on. Surprisingly, the most popular opinions were about how covid must have been overblown since a war in Europe is now #1 in the headlines. I guess they missed the fact that covid is the #2 headline and that it's declining because of omicron and vaccines. Well, maybe this means they can stop trying to reach a resolution on if covid is a total hoax or a Chinese bioweapon or a conspiracy to impant chips in people.

"But the US..." Russia apologists (including official statements from China) have frequently referenced the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. While the US shouldn't and hasn't escaped condemnation for these wars, pivoting to them is rather low-effort whataboutism. Hilariously, this comparison sort of presumes a major US role in the conflict when, in fact, the administration has deferred to its European counterparts on many of the public-facing aspects of the crisis. The comparison also sucks. The US has term limits and Russia has none. The US attempted regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan, but annexation wasn't ever a consideration. Putin's declared the Ukraine isn't even a real country and has made his intentions very clear. Those don't make one right and the other wrong, but they're not interchangeable.

Russia Ukraine invasion blood bridge river
It's paint/symbolism.
Far Cry -> Deep Rock


Okay, to the gaming. And I have good news: Juan wasn't evil! Big Smoke keeps his title as worst turncoat in all of gaming. He would have anyway.

FC6 had a tragic-but-not-dark-like-FC5 ending after a cinematic-but-meh final battle sequence. I do like that the games never end with a boss battle (if I recall correctly). I think I recently wrote that a good boss battle is hard to pull off, sometimes the only way to win is not to play. Letting the final level be the climactic challenge and ending (or not ending) the big boss in a cutscene is just fine.

thumbnail Far Cry 6 Dani gator helmet thumbnail Far Cry 6 suppressed pistol thumbnail Far Cry 6 Juan Libertad endgame
thumbnail Far Cry 6 helicopter tank coop cover

Me and J played some of the 'black ops' missions that seem to be the replacement for community content. I was initially excited; the game mode is different and the maps aren't small. As it turns out, they're all the same scenario so the only variety is the map.

A map editor would have been so amazing for replay value.

Deep Rock Galactic drilldozer drilling ommoran heartstone

Since Deep Rock was a recent PS+ title (excellent choice, Sony), me and J have polished our pickaxes, waxed our beards, and hopped in the drop pod to mine some asteroids. I think we're going to move to Elden Ring soon, but it will be nice to have this one to switch to every so often.

thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic flamethrower morkite tunnel thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic chugging ale thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic drilldozer fuel recovery thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic drilldozer tunnel
thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic uplink thumbnail Deep Rock Galactic ommoran heartstone drilldozer
Horizon: Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West PS5 box

With great anticipation, I loaded up the sequel to my favorite 3D open world RPG. But hold on, it wasn't so easy. Here I'll show you:

Gamestop: the final chapter

Text chat Gamestop preorder Horizon Forbidden West
Click through for full chat.

I thought the hard push for preorders were a thing of the past. Welp, after this and the PS5 debacle, I'm done with Gamestop. They used to be slightly preferable to supporting Amazon, Best Buy, or Target.

Okay, into the Forbidden West!

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy zipline jungle waterfall

Well, I'm not actually in the Forbidden West yet. I ran through the prologue and am nearing the end of the second prologue, but it's given me a good taste of the gameplay.

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy water reflection

Yes yes, this will age poorly, but holy shit does this game look good. Let me rephrase, HFW graphics are a clear step up from PS4 games.

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy spear attack

The gameplay is largely the same: stalk and shoot robo dinos, climb things, craft, experience a neat story. Climbing is still reasonably easy. Games like Assassin's Creed and Dying Light make climbing a major play mechanic that can be slow and rife with fatal falls. HFW's climbing system has a bunch of controls so it's not trivial, but at this point I don't dread the frustration or pace of climbing segments.

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy tall grass

Stealth hasn't changed much and, importantly, tall grass is still the same color as Aloy's hair.

Horizon Forbidden West Aloy valor surge dialog

Forbidden West offers a few new mechanics, one of which is the Valor Surge ultimate abilities. Currently I have an invisibilty cloak that is nice for sneaking in inconvenient locations or to get out of trouble.

Horizon Forbidden West thou shalt not steal

The holographically-embalmed villain is your run-of-the-mill annoying hacker. I'm guesssssing he has a present-day clone who is equally annoying.

Horizon Forbidden West

I totally do not remember any of the characters from the previous game (except Lieutenant Daniels). It's weird that the first dozen conversations are like:
Aloy: Oh hey buddy.
Buddy: I have a crush on you.
Aloy: Not a great time, buddy, world in peril.
Me: [Who are you again?]
The game teases a couple of sidekicks and, while the dialogue and voice acting are good, the game plays better with - at most - a part-time ally.

thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy ran sad thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy tower balance shimmy high thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy Meridian crane
thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy evil hacker hologram
thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy cave sneaking thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy view pool jumping valley
thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy machine track path
thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West sun king guy Meridian thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy climbing holds highlighted thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy Chainscrape tavern thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy drinking beer thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy equipment upgrades Nora Anointed
thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy gondola canyon thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy vista point hologram thumbnail Horizon Forbidden West Aloy jumping photo mode cross process
Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven Steam living corpse Beastmaster skelly

The Steam campaign continues. We wrecked Jekserah pretty handily.

Gloomhaven Steam Quartermaster three digit damage

My DPS Quartermaster build notched three-figure damage in the aformentioned boss scenario. Then I swapped out a stun potion for a minor power potion (in addition to major power potion) and pulled north of 160 killing oozes and sneks in the Gloomhaven sewers.
So that's a long-range, 12-tile AOE attack 6 with eagle-eye goggles for advantage. It takes a few turns to refresh my spent items, but it's not a one-and done attack.
One dad joke before I go