17th October 2021: It's Cold Out There
I know I wasn't really bothered about playing this expansion so soon, as I'd pretty much had my fill of this after going through the base game, but I figured I'd better get it out of the way.
So, with the straight-forward plan of just completing the quests, and not doing much else, I dove into the Frozen Wilds, the expansion to Horizon Zero Dawn.
Gotta admit, while this was very much more of the same, and quite playable and enjoyable, I still got quite irritated going through it. This is because, in addition to the little things that annoyed me from the base game, this also added something that ramped up the irritation: the combination of darkness and howling blizzards. It meant that so often while pushing through this, I struggled to see anything.
Granted, it probably didn't help that I was in a bit of a rush and just wanted to get it done and gone as fast as possible, but I really could have done without that issue.
Other than that, it's a fairly typical expansion that does typical expansion things, like adding in tougher enemies and more powerful weapons, without really explaining why those stronger enemies and weapons aren't in the base game.
And it did very little to expand on the story of the base game, other than during a conversation with a benevolent AI at the end of the game. And even that didn't really do much to tell us what is actually going on.
But whatever. It's done and uninstalled, and I can move on to something else.
I have continued to dabble with the original Settlers game, just for old time's sake. On a lazy weekend, during which I should surely have been doing something else, I jumped into another skirmish. This one was against a single opponent on the largest map size the Amiga emulator could handle, which was 5. I went into this after reading more of the manual and with much more of a game plan. After all, I'd got a score to settle with the CPU after last time.
Though the large distance between the two forces gave me a lot of preparation time, I struggled quite a lot to get up to speed. This is because, even though I'd placed myself near two large mountain ranges, all I could find was coal. Of the other resources, all I could find were scraps here and there.
As our two territories neared, I built a sturdy front line to my north east out of three guard towers, which were backed up by a garrison and a warehouse for supplies.
The enemy team kicked it off with a few rapid incursions into my territory, which luckily only saw one of my huts fall. Now things had kicked off, I unleashed my full fury, and though many of my knights fell, I was able to cut through towards their castle. Defending their main building was a tower and a garrison, which I claimed after some gruelling fights. From this position, it was not too hard to take out the surrounding huts and lay seige to the castle.
Victory was inevitable as I now had a 70-30 power advantage according to the graph, and though I toppled the castle, the game did not end. Another quick flip through the manual told me that I have to make them surrender to properly win. So off I went, smashing any of their huts that were protecting their economy or warehouses.
But still they did not surrender, even though they had no way of fighting back. My attacks had even sent me slicing through their territory to join back up with my southern borders.
After 9 hours of this, I had had enough and called it quits. So even though I was the one that technically quit, I'm going to claim the moral victory.
Because I'm a bit of an idiot, I decided to try and get my old MS-DOS version of Settlers working. I knew I couldn't get multiplayer working on this because an old serial mouse and port are required, but I thought that, if I was going to play the missions, a higher resolution would surely be better.
I could never get this working back in the day, and if I remember correctly it was because I couldn't get the sound to work. As I'd not tried it since learning about the existence of DOSBox, now seemed like a perfect time. Why I couldn't get it working before I will never know, as it works just fine on DOSBox.
I started a big 4 player deathmatch against 3 CPUs on a map of size 8, which is 3 bigger than the Amiga can go. I was immediately disappointed. It's nice to see more on the screen, but the audio is not very good, and scrolling the map is even more sluggish than on the Amiga.
It was then that I discovered something called Freeserf. This is a new version of Settlers that someone started to make a few years ago. It doesn't look like it was ever finished, but it's apparently open source which has allowed other people to pick it up and do their own things. The most promising one of these is Freeserf.net, which looks like it will focus on multiplayer, including LAN and internet play. This would be awesome for us, but the multiplayer sections still are not implemented properly, and when I gave it a quick look, the AI is useless.
The other version of Freeserf that looks promising is Forkserf, which is not being developed for multiplayer, but has much more enhanced AI. However, when I looked at this one, it has none of the quality of life additions that Freeserf.net has, such as being able to zoom in and out with the mouse wheel, and inverting the map scroll direction.
So what I really need is the two developers of these to get together and actually make a complete game that is great for both single player and multiplayer. I can only wait and hope...