Hossin, so often praised and yet so rarely fought over. Why is this one might ask? Well I too ask this and think I have a partial answer, the color palette. Now hold on I know you think I’m full of it and are about to click away from this post, but hear me out. I in no way think this problem is the primary cause of a lack of action on Hossin, but rather see it as a small puzzle piece that fits into the larger whole of the “Nobody plays on Hossin” problem. Now if you’re still with me let’s get right into it.
I find that the continent is one of the most exotic settings, and yet it does not explore that with its colors. From a biological standpoint, Hossin should be an ecological explosion of life and yet it feels like my grandpa’s house back in bleak old Ohio (It’s all just muted browns/greens with orange light and the occasional salty vet). I’ve always felt that PS2 doesn’t use its sci-fi status enough in level design and I think Hossin would be a great place to explore that. This lack of color also makes the entire continent super samey which in and of itself is boring, but it also creates a lack of easily identifiable landmarks to help with orientation for new and old players alike.
If you’ll allow me I want to compare Hossin to another giant video game swamp, Farron Keep of Dark Souls 3. Is this fair on account that Dark Souls is a primarily single player driven experience that designers can carefully design around while PS2 is an open world that players drop in and out of at random locations? Nnnnnope, but I’m gonna do it anyway because I think we can learn things! The swamp is by design supposed to depress you, it’s a long slog through deep movement impairing poison water full of deadly enemies and invading players galore, and yet it’s still super interesting and I can easily identify where I am. In the shot linked above it is easy to identify points of interest, there is a bright fire to the left, a white item of some kind in front of us, and a ladder that is conveniently glowing orange/red to our right. I even know where those things are in relation to each other now, so when I go to one I can move to the next one without needing to completely re-digest the area! Even the ground itself has varying textures that helps judge distance between things/prevents our eyes from getting lost in one giant blob of brown. The swamp also uses its fantasy genre to its advantage by using giant trees with ungodly puss sacks hanging off them(+points for Hossin similarity here), creepy slugs/giant goat men(?), and ruins. I feel like I’m in this crazy ass fantasy world that wants to kill me.
Now let’s look at Hossin (I had to go take this pics myself to get good shots of the locations I wanted, not trying to supply biased info I promise). First starting at a warpgate, where am I? If it were not for our handy dandy waypoint system navigating this would be a nightmare. I do see a base in the distance, but the screen is largely just one giant glob of orange. I don’t have a techplant, mountain, or anything to orient in relation to the warpgate. I know the draw distance has to be low, but I can’t use the trees to my left to orient me because Hossin is all trees, same deal with the plateau to my right, and bases with huge rectangular buildings like the one in the distance are a dime a dozen (especially with the construction sites). Now let’s fly over to the base and see if we get anything new. Not really, we have the same problems once again. Its all trees and plateaus with very similar colors/shapes and one base that I can’t really identify because it is far away and small. Unlike the Dark Souls pic I don’t know where anything is in relation to anything. Throw in some color or something and I can at least use that to orient myself. Ok, but this is from the air, what about the ground? Well, say we just capped Ixtab Power Regulation (specific base is unimportant) and we know the general direction of the next base (which many noobs will not because there are two exits to Ixtab Power here and here that lack any kind of indication as to where you are going). Let’s follow the road up to Woodman ASE Lab. Here we leave the base, again unlike my first Dark Souls picture the ground here is kinda one giant blob, there is some grass but it only renders when I’m really close to it. I’m also in a hole and can only go straight ahead (to my right out of frame is literally a 90-degree wall of rock). Moving on we get a pretty blue flower, tis but a fleeting dream of variety as we quickly return to our journey through brown pass (sounds like a poetic description of taking a dump, which I would try to avoid when choosing a color pallet). BASE HO, even though it belongs to crazy vanu cultists the bright purple banner is a relief to my green and beige worn eyes. This is where things start to get better, the red spike tree thing on the left actually marks a pretty nice sundy rock garage and to the right where the road leads is a grayish footpath leading into the tower, things get interesting! If my point is unclear here I want to highlight that I find most of Hossin’s color troubles in between bases. The color design of bases isn’t actually that bad, for example here we have the blue wall monitors drawing our eyes to that wall and BAM we see the door to the next room right there, or how about the blue ceiling lights lead that my eyes in a line towards the giant vehicle shield that gets me out of here. Heck we are even using the samey floor texture to our advantage here so that there is nothing there to take my attention away from my exits. I know where all my exits are and I didn’t even need to study the room, how bout that shit! Now on the topic of using our genre to our advantage, unlike Dark Souls we can’t fill the swamp with freaky ass goat men things 😦 but we can add strangely shaped plants or even sounds. A giant swamp continent is quite an exotic concept, paint it that way. Do I need to go over brown pass again? We currently have really boring stuff to look at when we don’t have to, lets make some science fiction happen!