Author Topic: Endless Ocean Luminous Tech and Gameplay Impressions  (Read 1058 times)

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Offline John Rairdin

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Endless Ocean Luminous Tech and Gameplay Impressions
« on: May 02, 2024, 07:59:04 AM »

A refocused Endless Ocean for the modern age.

Possibly Nintendo’s biggest surprise announcement of the year is here in the form of Endless Ocean Luminous. It has been 14 years since the second Endless Ocean game released on the Nintendo Wii, and I was curious to see how this format would hold up outside of that more casual Wii market, and how it could be modernized for 2024. Now we didn’t receive early code for this one so these will be some early technical and gameplay impressions based on my first few hours with the game.

Right off the bat I can say this game is going to be divisive. It's extremely slow paced, you’re never in danger, and the challenge comes simply from exploring and finding everything. Its also structured in such a way that you can’t just rush through the story. Chapters are gated behind documenting a certain number of fish so you’ll need to take breaks from the story to just sorta go wander around.

Something I do really appreciate about this entry and a way in which they’ve modernized the formula, is in the use of procedural environments for your dives. Whether you’re playing solo or online, when you start a dive the area you’ll dive into is generated randomly on the fly. These environments aren’t incredibly ambitious but given how much time you’ll need to spend going on dives, this does ensure some freshness each time. These dives do really seem to be better when playing online, as the areas are huge and documenting everything solo will take you a very long time. My experiences online have obviously been limited so far, but it will be interesting to see how populated these servers stay long term. For the sake of this video I have focused on single player dives, primarily just because I wanted to bum around looking at technical stuff like texture detail, lighting, and of course resolution. But all of my findings in single player carry over to multiplayer as well.

Endless Ocean Luminous is a very clean looking game, and I think this is both an artistic choice as well as a utilitarian one. When playing single player the game can look a little bland, however it does ensure that performance keeps up fine in multiplayer, at least in my experiences thus far. And that's not to say the game is devoid of nice visual touches. Fish are well detailed overall, though some do hold up better to scrutiny than others. Divers, though simple, are stylistically distinct and stand out nicely against the gloom. The surface of the water above you just makes use of a simple cube map for reflections but it looks very attractive. When diving at night or heading into a dark area, a flashlight kicks on to illuminate the area ahead of you. It interacts nicely with the simple but effective texture work on fish and the environment. Though I would have liked to see more dynamic shadows cast by the sun and by your flashlight. The game only targets 30fps and seems to have no trouble hitting it. Once again I assume this modest target is built around the demands of multiplayer. That being said, this is a very slow paced game, so 30fps was just fine with me. Resolution looks sharp hitting a full 1080p docked and 720p handheld. I haven’t seen evidence of either of these being dynamic so at least in the resolution department, we’re getting everything we could ask for. The image isn’t anti-aliased at all so depending on your TV resolution, you may notice some harsh edges when docked, but when in handheld mode, you’re at least getting a perfect native resolution, even if the image is very raw.

My primary issue with what I’ve seen of Endless Ocean Luminous so far is that it seems somewhat simplified compared to the two previous entries. Multiplayer was clearly the focus here but a lot of the expanded gameplay of the previous games just isn’t here. The only voiced character seems to be your companion AI, while the occasional other diver you meet in the story only speaks to you via text boxes. There is no above water area so while characters will refer to sending an artifact back to HQ, you never actually seem to see it. Contrast this with the second game where you had an actual base of operations you could visit between dives, and characters you’d interact with. Luminous feels like a simplified experience by comparison.

It isn’t exactly a hot take to say this game isn’t going to be for everyone. Unfortunately I feel like even some existing Endless Ocean fans may feel like this one is missing something. At the same time, procedural environments and online multiplayer can add a lot to the experience. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore it and see if any of these issues resolve themselves later on, or perhaps new things will be introduced to replace them entirely. Regardless, Endless Ocean Luminous seems to be a technically conservative game that ultimately results in a very reliable and solid technical outcome that isn’t showy at the cost of performance. A lot will hinge on the online community for this game, hopefully there is enough here to draw enough divers to fill the sea.

Offline M.K.Ultra

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Re: Endless Ocean Luminous Tech and Gameplay Impressions
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2024, 12:56:28 PM »
This seems like it would be a cool VR game. I might pick it up on a deep discount. The metacritic average is 63 right now which is not that bad considering the low score that IGN gave it. Looking forward to a full review from NWR.