Media Consumption – 10/31/2015

Happy Halloween

MediaConsumption

This was another week where I mostly just watched things on YouTube.  That said I did dig up a few gems that I feel are worth sharing.  My weekend is going to be a bit odd because last night we recorded AggroChat so the members of our podcast that have social lives… can go out and do social things.  I on the other hand plan on playing the new Funcom single player game “The Park” in honor of the holiday.  I am not 100% sure if I am going to stream it or not, but I will likely record it.  I have heard it is honestly not that long of a game, but it seems just about right for Halloween fun time.  Other than that…  I have this fear that because of the cold snap I am starting to also get a cold…  I know it doesn’t work that way but still.  So I am starting to preemptively medicate myself, because I really don’t want to be sick again…  after having recently spent entirely too much time sick.

The Book of Sorrows

This is absolutely amazing… and you should stop what you are doing and spend the next hour and a half listening to this.  I may or may not be a bit obsessed with Destiny and its oddly coherent… but insanely difficult to find Lore.  This lore has traditionally been pieced together in a manner that can only be fully represented if you imagine a basement somewhere… with newspaper clippings, photos, scribbled writings…  all connected together with red string with various bits and pieces circled and text scrawled on it that says “this means something”.  Seriously to understand Destiny lore is to lose a significant part of your sanity.  With the Taken King release…. they made things a bit easier in a way that peeling an orange with your bare hands… is easier than trying to do it with a pair of those weird mechanical lab arms that you see in science fiction labs.  Throughout the new items there are some items called Calcified Fragments… and each one you collect unlocks another tidbit of a tome called the Book of Sorrows.  This actual book…  outlines the progression of the hive from being this tiny race that lived only ten years…  to the immortal monster that it is today.  This shit is really good… and at some point I will listen to it again.  The channel I linked is pretty damned amazing… because it is voice acted in a manner you would expect an audio book to be done.  Extremely worth your time…  seriously listen to this now.

Star Wars Original Trilogy – Force Awakens Mash-up

Another thing I am also completely enamored with right now is Force Awakens and anything else that seems like  Force Awakens.  The measure of hype and love that I am feeling for Star Wars right now…  is insane.  The awesome thing about it is that right now I am rocking a R2-D2 beanie… and it is insane the amount of friends I make because of it.  I had a long conversation about Star Wars Battlefront last night with the grocery store cashier because it all started with a “Man I love your beanie”.  If you want to be crushed with feels….  watch this above video.  The creator took scenes from the original trilogy, and cut it to fit the thematic elements of the Force Awakens trailer and that soundtrack.  Seriously…  I felt shivers when I watched this thing… and then was just overwhelmed with emotion upon its conclusion.  I am probably overselling it…  but you know I get super excited about things so…  watch this too.

Detroit Trailer

A few years back there was this amazing tech demo running on the Playstation 3 hardware called Kara, about this android that feels more emotional than it should.  We wondered for years what would become of it…. if anything would come of it.  It was this great experience of trans-humanism and my friends and I all sort of hoped it would be more than just a tech demo someday.  Turns out they are in fact working on a game surrounding that same universe, and they are setting it in Detroit.  Not sure exactly what the appeal of Detroit is for non-American developers…  but apparently it has some because there seem to be an awful lot of games set in this city.  The game looks pretty awesome, and it is going to be interesting to see what ramifications come from being a “free range android” of sorts.  Reminds me quite a bit of the show Humans, which deals with similar issues.

Destiny re-cut to Force Awakens

I said I was obsessed with Force Awakens right now… and also Destiny… and this video connects the two.  Similar to the original Star Wars trilogy trailer, this takes the sound and voice over associated with the Force Awakens trailer and edits it to Destiny footage.  I think it works pretty great, and I felt the same sort of warm fuzzies watching this as I did the other…  I was honestly shocked at just how well it worked.  The strange thing is… the guy that did this apparently almost exclusively re-cuts movie trailers to Destiny footage… but honestly most of them don’t work nearly as well as this one.

Walking Dead

I thought I would throw a footnote in here really quick…  just to say I am not going to talk about this episode.  Mostly because I don’t want anyone to accidentally have it spoiled.  Some shit happens… some major shit…  and Monday morning we tried to sort through all of it.  We were seriously distraught because we were uncertain what the events of the show meant for the franchise as a whole.  Then…  one of us found some leaked information…  which makes me even less likely to write about it.  Right now…  I am just not sure how I feel about it… what happened… what supposedly will happen.  As a result I just am not going to talk about it other than what I have just said here.  Since however I have gotten in the habit of running down each new episode, I thought I would at least leave a footnote.

MMOs Worth Playing: Marvel Heroes

Costumed Madness

mmosworthplayingJust as a quick reminder, this series is about me highlighting games that I think are well worth the look.  This is by no means a complete list of games, and there are still a bunch more that I just have not gotten around to talking about.  These are largely titles that I feel like everyone should probably at least give a try once.  I am largely focused on games that don’t necessarily get the press or hype that some of the more prevalent titles like World of Warcraft do.  I figured in honor of Halloween I would talk about a game that is entirely about dressing up in costume and taking out bad guys.

A Tale of Improvement

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In 2013 when Marvel Heroes launched… it was plagued with problems.  Not the least of which was the fact that it was pretty much universally reviewed as a massive cash grab.  The game itself was not that terribly fun, and any heroes or costumes purchased on the store were oppressively over priced.  You can look at any of the reviews from 2013 and they all pretty much say the same thing, that the gameplay is lackluster at best… and that it is ridiculous to have to pay $20 to play as an A list hero like Ironman.  The game has since re-invented itself and gone through a number of changes… before eventually rebooting itself as Marvel Heroes 2015.  Rebranding is one of those fiddly things, but in this case the game that exists now is a very different gameplay experience than the one that launched.

During my time playing the game they have made constant incremental changes to the experience.  Originally the game asked you to essentially pick your free champion blindly, and now you can play any number of champions all to level 10 before finally choosing one to unlock all of the way to 60.  This gives you time to get in and experience the way a champion performs before finally committing to it.  In my case I have found that many of my favorite Comic Book heroes and anti-heroes…  are not necessarily something that I want to play.  For example I have always loved the Punisher, but the game play felt a little lacking since I am not a huge fan of ranged combat.  On the other side of the coin… I have never really liked Captain America as a comic book…  but playing as him is freaking amazing.  He is this massive shield slinging badass that I love playing, and my friend Grace has a similar experience with Iceman ending up being the character that she stuck with.

True to the Source

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Another thing I love about the game is just how integrated it is into the Marvel Universe.  There are so many characters, costumes and team-ups that come from the deep bowels of comic history.  Remember that one time Punisher was a Frankenstein-like monster?  Well Marvel Heroes does… and offers the costume as an option during Halloween.  Remember that time Wolverine was infected by the Brood?  Yup Marvel Heroes also offers that costume.  If there is a movie released, or a big comic event… you can fully expect Marvel Heroes to roll out a special event to mark it.  During the Avengers Age of Ultron release… you got bonus experience anytime you played an Avengers character or grouped with one for example.  Obviously at this same time they offered a brand new pack of costumes representing the way the characters looked in the movie at a “priced to own” value…  but none of it feels like something you have to have to keep playing the game.

My favorite aspect of the game is the way it handles gender swaps for characters.  For an increasing number of the champions in this game, they offer an alternate gender version.  What makes this awesome is the fact that they are once again mining the rich Marvel history to make it happen.  For example if you want to play a female Punisher, you instead end up playing Rachel Cole-Alves a character that has allied with the in comic Punisher a few times and even wore the costume.    Granted this is not the case for every character in the game…  like Lady Loki is just that… a female version of Loki.  However it is absolutely comic book canon that there was one time when Loki was brought back as a woman, so even then… it absolutely fits.  This works both ways…  so in addition to Scarlet Witch and her many female costumes… you can play as Wiccan, or among the many Captain Marvel Carol Danvers costumes… you also have an old school male Captain Marvel as well.

Cost of Being a Hero

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I realize I am not actually talking about the game-play much but really…  if playing a Diablo style game with Marvel Heroes is not enough of a hook for you… then you probably should play something else.  This game is all about the fantasy fulfillment of running around as a super hero and beating up cartoon bad guys to make the street explode into a shower of bright colored loot.  The challenge of the game should be mentioned… because if its default state that challenge is next to non-existent.  They have essentially started calling this base difficulty “Story Mode” and you play through it while finishing the main story.  After finishing the story you can ratchet up the difficulty as you see fit and visit any of the previous areas for leveling purposes.  These later difficulties feel more akin to the harder difficulties in Diablo 3, but it is somewhat sad that unlike D3 you cannot simply play on hard all of the time.  You have to finish the normal mode before you can start anything more aggressive.

The biggest change since the 2013 incarnation is the fact that the game really is “free” or can be pending you don’t just fall in love with anything in particular.  What I love the most about the game is that you can collect these items while roaming in the world called Eternity Splinters, and with them you can purchase specific champions… or do what I end up doing and simply gamble on one of the 100 spliter random hero boxes.  I’ve managed to pull several of the big name heroes that I have like Star Lord and X-23 through these random boxes, and it gives you the feeling of making some forward momentum without a ton of grinding.  When talking about the price of things, that too has changed significantly.  The blade pre-sale for example is happening right now and its $16.19 for the champion and an alternate costume, with a normal price around $20.  Still not the cheapest thing in the world… but not that insane either considering there are fairly easy in game ways to get all of the champions as well.

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Honestly I stayed away from this game for years… because of the bad press surrounding it’s launch.  It was only after seeing a good friend of mine playing it every single night on steam, that I finally decided to give it a chance.  I am extremely happy that I did, and even though I don’t play it all that often it is yet another in a long line of games that has re-invented itself for the better.  I seriously feel like the era of big AAA games is past us… or at least the era of “American” AAA MMOs that is.  I qualify that because it seems like South Korean is going through the same sort of period that we did during the big MMO boom.  In the meantime I am really enjoying watching these older titles figure out how to make their games work, and more than happy to support them finding a new niche.  The awesome thing about Marvel Heroes is the barrier of entry is non-existent.  If you are looking for a fun Diablo style game… head to steam and install it.  If you do, let me know what you think.

 

Overwatch Frustrations

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Overwatch Hype
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On Tuesday October 27th Blizzard opened the doors of Closed Beta for it’s highly anticipated shooter called Overwatch.  As you might expect, the internet as a whole quickly lost their shit and reverted to a state of chain refreshing the battle.net account page to see if they were among the lucky few to get granted access.  What I did not expect however was all of the infighting this process called as folks essentially called down a pox on the house of those who did manage to get in.  It is one thing to be frustrated that you did not get into whatever the hot new Beta happens to be, but it is an entirely different to wish harm upon those who did.  There were even a few folks who decided to flail about declaring that their not getting into Beta shows how little Blizzard cares.  Others talk about how they should have earned access with this or that deed.  At first I thought to myself…  are we really this entitled?  Because seriously… there have been some serious entitlement issues going on over the last few days.

Then I noticed something else happening that disturbs me even more.  For those mere mortals like myself that do not make a living off gaming…  then absolutely it would be entitlement.  However for the folks that make a living through creating content related to Blizzard games…  I started to read this impotently lashing out…  as cold hard fear.  When you make your money by presenting the freshest content on your Stream or your YouTube channel… you are in essence relying on being able to play whatever everyone else is playing.  Not having access means you are missing out on all of these eyeballs that are now suddenly flocking to the internet to gaze into the window at those chosen few who get to play whatever game they want to play.  Right or wrong…  Blizzard is essentially saying who is really important to the future of their product and who is not.

The Hunt for Eyeballs

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I am a shitty Streamer and an even worse YouTuber…  but the most eyeballs I have ever had on my collective “stuff” is when I happened to get into the first wave of Alpha invites to Trove.  I got to be one of a handful of people playing around with that game, and broadcasting it to the world and it was really noticeable.  It is 6:30 in the morning right now… and one of the Overwatch streamers has over 10,000 viewers at this hour.  During prime time… Overwatch has consistently been the highest watched game on the network.  When you tune into one of these streams, especially the ones going on during the day… you will see a who’s who of internet celebrities fighting each other.  Whether or not they intended it… Blizzard did essentially judge who was important to them and who was not by determining who got into that first wave of invites.  That can be a pretty harsh reality check, especially if you have essentially devoted your career to supporting Blizzard products.

What worries me more however is what this says about the current state of video games in general.  I remember how I felt the first time I got into a Friends and Family Alpha program… or FFA.  I remember the excitement, and the desire to tell the entire world…  but the reality that was I was bound behind a very serious Non Disclosure Agreement.  I remember for one of these FFA programs I had to fax in a signed copy of a thirty page document back to the studio before being granted access.  What made this work is that the company could literally focus on testing the game… rather than having to showcase it to the public 24/7.  Sure it is frustrating to be in a thing that you cannot share… and sure it sucks for streamers especially to need to play something that they cannot show off to their viewers.  However I think the model worked pretty damned well because up until these last few years it has been the model that almost all of the games you can think about nostalgically have been released under.  It lets testing happen beyond the prying eyes of the public and bugs get fixed before it is ready for people to see it.  The problem is… we the gamers have started to feel that there is something dishonest about this process… and that if a company isn’t completely transparent in every single minute action that they take…  that it must be the sign of something horrible going on behind the scenes.

Marketing Cycle

 

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The big problem is…   we bore of games before they are released.  There are games out there that seem to have permanent alpha and beta cycles, and as we go through seeing them displayed on our screens for two years…  then the final release just seems lacking.  There have been numerous times on AggroChat for example when someone brings up a title… and I have to ask “wait that actually released?”.  There is this constant battle to control the hype cycle about a game, and make sure that your product is getting enough spin among the social media influencers.  So when a game like Overwatch goes into one of these lengthy beta cycles…  the company needs these streamers just as much as the streamers need the game to showcase to their viewers.  They need those all important eyeballs peeping their wares… and getting excited enough to plunk down their hard earned money to purchase goods in it.  The frustrating thing about it… is it feels like we are always in a hype cycle for something.  It becomes much like the American Political system… where the candidates… or games in this case are always running for the next election.  The market at this point is simply saturated with new titles that all sound interchangeable.  MOBA with FPS roots…  FPS with MOBA Character Styling…  FPS gameplay MOBA spirit…  the marketing spin that gets applied to games just seems meaningless after awhile.

Where I really start to get frustrated however is when this hype machine starts hurting people.  Sure watching someone have an internet meltdown is entertaining while it goes on… but behind the screen is someone obviously in pain.  I am not coming out to support those tantrums… but I am coming out to say that for all that is good and right in the world…  lets stop hurting each other over a game.  I have been just like you among those people frantically checking my battle.net account each time a new wave of invites comes out.  So I get it… I get the desire to play that new shiny game.  I’ve done this cycle over and over, and will continue doing this cycle until the games industry changes the way it works.  Even if I want something really badly…  I make it a goal in life to be excited for the people who are having good things happen to them…  rather than being that selfish person who is lashing out at others because they got left out.  I get the frustration and fear especially if you make your living from this sort of thing…. but having a meltdown in front of your followers isn’t going to help either.  The truth is… we are eventually all going to get in… and the additional truth is…  most of us will play a handful of games and then move on to the next shiny thing.  This is not as important as we happen to be making it out right now… and within a years time…  this will feel like another silly incident in the gaming community.  What will stick around however… is how people feel about you and the way you have treated them.  So lets just be awesome to each other while we wait for the next hype cycle to spin up.

 

Fun with Squirrels

Groupy Stuff

Last night I had an absolute blast in Destiny.  During the day I mentioned that I really needed to do some Court of Oryx stuff on the Dreadnaught, since the Stolen Runes in their initial state do not stack… and I happened to have like four in my inventory.  My friend SquirrelPope chimed in to mention that he could also do with some CoO goodness, but we didn’t necessarily make any firm plans.  When I got home I started piddling around on my Warlock and shortly after dinner my good friend Carth showed up and we started up a PSN Party.  Around about this time I decided to swap back to my Titan and I got a PSN friend invite from Squirrel and next thing I know it we are on the Dreadnaught doing summons.  Over the course of the night we participated in probably a half dozen of the level 300 summons, and at least a dozen if not more of the 240 ones…  then a good smattering of the low level ones mixed in as well.  We were there long past the point where our bags were overflowing, and it managed to get me a level 300 artifact and Squirrel one as well for his hunter alt.  We took a trip to decode our goodies on the Tower before regrouping.

From there we chain ran a bunch of strikes and I managed to get a couple of exotics as a result.  The other night Carth managed to pull a Telesto fusion rifle, and I had commented that I really would not mind getting one since I didn’t have a great fusion rifle option.  Sure enough in our travels last night one of my exotics was a special weapon and that was precisely what I pulled.  The other item I got was extremely situational, No Back-up Plans arms which give you a force barrier anytime you kill someone with a shotgun.  This screams like something perfect for defender titan in the crucible.  Going to hold onto them because in theory they are a decent enough item, even though I skipped getting them when they were on Xur a few weeks back.  It was one of those nights of incremental movement in my light and not necessarily anything big.  The big two things were that I was able to push up Hawksaw from 293 to 296 and my Sol Edge from 296 to 298 making me extremely happy in both cases.  With the focus on secondary weapons for my exotic slot, now that I have both Telesto and Invective I also robbed my Hunter and got my favorite version of the Zarinaea-D Auto Rifle to replace my Fabian Strategy that I am apparently going to shelve.  I mostly liked the Fabian for the survival that it granted me… and I really notice it when I am not using it.

Armsday

It’s Wednesday, which means its Armsday… otherwise known as the…  I can’t remember what I ordered so for the love of god get these packages out of my inventory day.  Last week I put in orders for pretty much everything and you can see my actual picks above in the image gallery.  This is the first time I have actually used an image gallery so… hopefully no strangeness happens with my blog layout as a result.  Of these honestly… the only one I can really see myself using is the Judith-D hand canon and maybe one of the pulse rifles.  The Auto Rifle is pretty much guaranteed to turn into legendary marks because it has next to no impact.  As far as the shotgun goes… I have an invective and the ability to give all of my characters an invective… why would you use any other shot gun?  In all seriousness I am probably going to eat my 4th Horseman and give an Invective to my Hunter, because having a shotgun that regenerates ammunition auto-magically is a pretty spectacular thing.  The only thing that I really need to round out my special weapon options is the damned Black Spindle…  and next time it comes up I am probably going to pester Squirrel and Carth to make several attempts at getting it.  I want that damned thing so badly, and similarly I am hoping we see a return of the Firewall mission required to get the Sleeper Stimulant as well at the beginning of November.

The thing that excites me the most about this Armsday is not necessarily the weapons I got this week… but instead my hope for weapons next week.  For ages I have been hearing about how amazing the Suros Ari-45 Auto Rifle is… and it has now appeared as one of the packages for next week.  I’ve put in at least two of these orders, one on the Titan and one on the Hunter… and it would be pretty great if I managed to get my Warlock up to 38 this week and be able to put in another order on him.  I have a feeling like the Zarinaea-D it is going to be one of those weapons that I would love to have multiple copies of.  My only fear however is that maybe just maybe the hype surrounding this weapon is not going to live up to my expectations.  I have very specific tastes in weapons, and it is as much about the “feel” for me as it is the actual stats.  I like the Zarinaea-D because I love the “feel” of it… sure it is a laser beam of accuracy.. and packs a decent punch with good sights, but the sound is really what makes me love that weapon.  I have been running around with a version of the Suros Ari-45 on my Warlock as I level him, and while it is cool and a fun weapon to use… it is no Zarinaea-D.

 

 

 

 

Open World Dungeons

Throwback Zones

One of my favorite aspects of Destiny is the patrol zones.  I can quite literally spend multiple hours in a given night roaming around on one of the planets or the dreadnought just doing “stuff”.  I guess in some way they remind me of the way that dungeons used to be designed during the early days of MMOs.  Back in Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot all of the dungeons you encountered were these wide open places that had no predetermined path through them.  Players tended to carve them up into smaller sub dungeons, that were focused around getting to a specific spawn… and I remember spending many an hour with a group of friends essentially leveling our characters by hanging out in these dungeons.  This is precisely what the patrol zones feel like…  an almost dungeon experience with so many little offshoots and places you can disappear into if you know where you are going.  I realize that essentially all of the Patrol zones are big loops, but there are several places where you can get off the beaten path, and honestly end up with relatively pristine hunting grounds if you just know where to look for them.

One of my favorite examples is on Venus, there is this place with a fairly rapid spawn Vex major Minotaur.  On the days when you have the Vex Major/Ultra duty this area becomes heavily camped with players fighting over the ability to kill all of the yellow health Vex that spawn there.  However if you just got a bit farther and get off the beaten path there is an area that is completely ignored that happens to have three praetorian spawns… aka major Minotaurs.  I feel like the game rewards exploration and willingness to muck through dungeon like areas to see what is at the end of the path.  What makes patrol so interesting to me is that you can visit most of the areas you can find in the strikes and missions that happen on that same planet, just if you make the effort to go there.  I also love that Patrol mode tends to reward you richly with engram drops for your diligence and time spent wandering around looking for interesting bits.  The dreadnought is this concept on overdrive, because there are so many hidden nooks and crannies filled with chests for you to find.  At some point I am going to write up a blog post that explains all of the hidden goodies that I know of on the Dreadnought.

Halloween Is Everywhere

Even the Traveler Dressed Up
Even the Traveler Dressed Up

As strange as it might sound… there is in fact a Halloween event happening in Destiny.  Doing actions while wearing a paper mache mask gives you candy… and when you fill up a candy bag you can turn it in for a loot box that will drop masks and candy… which acts as a short term buff.  The only problem is… that this shit takes up inventory space.. and last night I actually ended up having an exotic shard mailed to me because apparently I had filled up the very spartan 20 slots of material space.  If you manage to get a legendary mask, those can be kept past the event.  However if you find a blue mask that you really like there is a way to save those as well upgrading them to legendary by using materials gained through disassembling other masks.  On my first bag opened I got a legendary Speaker mask, which honestly is good enough for me.  The masks are equippable head slot items… but have no stats so essentially by wearing one you are losing stats.  There are a series of quests you can complete by wearing masks while doing activities out in the world.  I am doubtful if I will actually complete any of them.

Other than that I had a night full of farming Vanguard Strikes, and managed to pull six exotics throughout the night.  They broke out like this… 2 Helms, 2 Arms, 1 Chestpiece and 1 Primary weapon.  Sadly the primary weapon was Last Word that I already had…  and honestly is no longer that good of a hand cannon any longer.  At the very least there is never a reason why I would use it over Hawkmoon.  Engrams are so amazing when they drop… but so disappointing when they turn into something that you have no interest in.  There are so many primaries that I really really want… like the Zhalo Supercell for example but the likelihood that I will actually pull one of them is pretty slim.  I pulled a ton of engrams… so many that I had fifteen items waiting for me in my mailbox at the end of the night and that was after disassembling dozens of items that dropped while running the strikes.  I did manage to raise my light level by one as well as picked up a few things that I thought were interesting like the unique legendary arms from the bond brothers.  I also managed to level my defender a bit…  which I am still finding relatively miserable to play as.  Pretty much anything that is not “Super Hammer Bros” is going to be a let down at this point.

Slight Progress

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Titan Improves

This weekend once again was mostly a Destiny weekend for me, as I worked on both my Titan and my Hunter trying to slowly inch up their gear.  On the Titan I hit a bit of a milestone, and finally pushed forward to get my light level… aka item level to 295.  The funny thing about this is it seems to be a significant number, because I have noticed that a lot of things simply feel easier now.  I spent a good bit of the weekend running the level 36 strikes, but as per Cortical’s suggestion I tried a few 20 strikes.  The strange thing about them is… in some ways they seemed more difficult.  At the very least the level 20 strikes seem to throw more cheap mobs at you, and I guess if you have really good AOE damage you can shred through them.  Ironically I died far more often in the 20s than I normally do in the 36s so I think I am going to return to doing the slightly “harder” ones.  I would rather have harder bosses and easier trash I guess.  It also seems like once I hit 295 I started getting slightly better drops.  I still have yet to see a single item over level 300, so I am not sure at all how I am going to bridge that gap.

I guess Nightfall would be the next big jump forward for me, but I have to say I am slightly gunshy.  Heroic was maddening at times, and I am guessing there are lots of mobs in Nightfall that will straight up one shot you.  It feels like to do those really well you need to know the placement of the mobs and predict every sniper or big gunner type mob to take them out quickly before they whittle down the party.  The other side effect that I am really not digging is the way that the community seems to love to glitch out content rather than complete it.  Most of the times I have been on the Restorative Mind map… something happens and the other two players disappear on me… only to end up with me getting teleported to the final boss room moments later.  So there has to be some sort of shortcut that I am just not understanding, or some glitch somewhere that lets them bypass the gates.  I guess I get the reason why Destiny “Sherpas” are a thing.

Hunter Viable

The progress I am happiest with however this weekend is that of the hunter.  It seems like it was only a week or so ago that I was 285 on the Titan, and I have now reached that point on the hunter as well.  I am still largely focused on Nightstalker, but I did pick up the Bladedancer helmet this week.  I also picked up a chest engram and pulled a Crest of Alpha Lupi which works pretty well.  I am also really really loving my Zarinaea-D Auto Rifle, that I got the first week Armsday orders were available to me.  I’ve had a couple of these now but the one my hunter uses seems to be the best so far.  I am running a combination of Partial Refunds, Rodeo, and High Calibur rounds on it… and it is a beast at taking down mobs in general.  I also really really like the LD Watchdog sights on it.  I’ve heard the Suros legendary auto rifle is the one to get,but so far I have had little to no luck pulling that one.  I did manage to get a Villainy pulse rifle from Future War Cult faction package, but I have yet to really put it through the paces.

At some point this week I guess I am going to work on my Warlock.  At this point I am only level 8 on him, and I don’t have a cheaty item that will zoom me to 25 this time.  The early game is really somewhat bland… and while I have weapons for 20ish in my vault… I don’t have much stocked away to make the low levels go smoother.  The only negative about boosting the hunter is that I had made essentially no progress on my classes, and had to basically start leveling from 25 on… with nothing much to rely on other than the basic super and basic grenade.  At least on my Warlock I have a fair number of the abilities ready to go, and that at least should make things good more smoothly.  I have this overwhelming desire to have one of each at high levels, and since I went Solar sword on the Titan, and Void sword on the Hunter… I guess that means I am going to go Arc sword on the Warlock and throw sonic booms.  Largely I just like the idea of eventually being able to swap swords between them based on the need.  I wish there was such a thing as a Legendary kiosk like there is the Exotic one… because man… there are certain Legendary weapons I wish I could have on every character.

 

 

Week In Gaming 10/25/2015

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The Sickly Bel

weekingamingThis week was an odd one in that I managed to catch some flu-like chest crud.  I felt pretty awful most of last weekend, and then struggled to exist Monday and ended up coming home halfway through Tuesday.  I chained Wednesday as well, and found myself in that place where I wanted to play something…  but anything seemed to require too much concentration.  This was after all the week I had early access to Star Wars Fallen Empire, and I did exactly none of the content.  I poked my head in a few times to attempt to play my Sith Sorcerer and failed miserably at it.  I have a few comments to make about my experiences, but the majority of my gaming time was spent playing Destiny.  Apparently that game is largely muscle memory, and I can play it without having to think too much about it.

SWTOR: Fallen Empire

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As I said in the intro, this week was the early launch of Fallen Empire the massively game changing expansion for Star Wars the Old Republic… and I barely touched it.  I did pop in enough to get sorted out how some of the new systems work.  Namely the way companions now exist as being independent of the abilities they use.  This means if you no longer have to deal with companions you cannot stand just because they fill the role you want.  As a result I swapped to using Andronikos Revel on my Sorcerer, because he loves it when I shock the shit out of NPCs that are not giving me my way.  Similarly I would probably never run with a companion that is not Vette on my Sith Warrior, or always run with Kira Carsen on my Jedi Guardian.  There is seriously nothing cooler than running around with Kira and feeling like a Jedi strike force, and having her also be a healer…  just icing on the cake.  As you can tell this is a super important change for me, and I am damned happy to see it go in.

Other than that the other big change for me is the fact that the NPCs are actually labelled as to what type of quest they give you.  For example in the above image you can clearly see that this NPC is going to give you the Belsavis planetary quest.  This makes it easy to ignore things like the non-soloable heroic quests or flashpoint quests you are not quite ready for… to keep them from cluttering your logs.  The other big thing that I noticed was the way that the level scaling works.  It seems like when you land on a planet you are scaled to the maximum level for that area, somewhat like Final Fantasy XIV scales dungeons.  This means you can overlevel content… but just barely making it a bit easier if you wait for awhile to do a quest rather than doing it when it is on level.  However there is never a point where content ever becomes useless to you, which means you can easily go back and farm early content if you are struggling a bit to progress forward.  The loss of 12x class experience however means that pretty much to stay current you are always going to have to do your class quests as well as the main planetary story arc.  In any case I think the expansion content is going to be enjoyable… if I ever actually play it.

All-Saints Wake

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I don’t have a lot to talk about when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV this week, but I did poke my head back in for a few hours.  This week was the release of the All-Saints Wake event that serves as Halloween for the game.  As we talked about last night, holidays in Final Fantasy XIV are largely the tale of incompetent villains and in this case it is a repeat appearance of the Impresario the mastermind behind the Continental Circus.  Over the years we have learned that this is really a group of voidsent that are trying to cause mayhem each year, and we the player finds new ways to thwart them.  As cute as the story line is… the reason why you do holidays in games is to get stuff.  This year we get the purple outfit that my character is showing off above, a new Pumpkin Butler minion, and for the first time this year an actual mount.  We get to ride around Eorzea on a flying broom… that actually does fly if you have unlocked flight in a given zone.  The thing I love about Final Fantasy XIV holiday events is that they are adorable, provide awesome rewards… and end up taking only a few minutes to complete rather than being a grindy mess that brings out the worst in players.  If you are subbed you should definitely check it out, because while the quest is more enjoyable if you have done the previous years… it is still fairly easy to follow without that ancestral knowledge.

Devilian

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I have some issues with this game, but since I am now in alpha/beta/whatever phase it is and the NDA has dropped I thought I would talk a bit about it this morning.  My number one issue is the gender locked classes and the fact that they have very specific styles to them.  The Berserker is a guts clone, the Shadow Hunter is a bare chested Bishi-elven alucard like character, the Evoker is spilling out of her dress, and the Cannoneer is a Loli.  Out of those options… there is exactly one I can stomach playing as, which is the Berserker.  The thing is…. all of these design decisions unfortunately have nothing to do with Trion Worlds which is the company bringing the game to non-Korean markets.  As fraught as the classes are… the game is actually rather enjoyable once you get past its slightly odd control scheme.  By all looks it is a Diablo clone, but it controls vastly different… and honestly reminds me a bit more of the way skill shots in League of Legends feel.  You use your mouse for character facing and then use your number keys to fire off abilities.  You can bind an attack to your left mouse button, and I am probably going to do that with my basic attack to make it feel more Diablo-like.  What I have seen of the combat is kinda interesting, and the dungeons are really enjoyable.  I am just struggling to get past the art direction decisions, because honestly…  they make me really sad.  This could be a really great game, if it didn’t have gender locked classes and the art design did not seem to be from a thirteen year olds “tee hee hee boobs” mindset.  It will be interesting to see if I am still piddling with it by the time the next beta comes around or if I have decided that the game is simply “not for me”.

Destiny

Magical glow of an Exotic Engram… only to be dashed moments later when you find out its a damned helmet.

This week has been almost entirely devoted to Destiny.  As I said before this was the game that I could play without having to apply much thought to it.  A good chunk of the week was spent working on my Hunter who is now I believe 270ish light level, and all of the way through the TKK content.  I cheated a bit and jump started the character to level 25 using the item I got from purchasing the Taken King.  I have to say if they want to sell something on the cash shop… I would absolutely buy a second one of these.  Going from 25 to 40 was not that bad, but I am just not looking forward to taking my Warlock from 1-25 to get there.  This week has also been the resurgence of my appreciation of Auto Rifles.  I completely the third Gunsmith faction quest and it ended up giving me an exotic rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  This thing is just a blast to use and I love the way it sounds and feels as I rip through mobs.  This has also caused me to dust off the auto rifles I had in my vault and I found a few others that I really like, one of which my hunter is currently using.

The other key activity for this week has been running level 36 strikes in an effort to get exotic engrams with three of coins.  I found out today that I could be just doing level 20s, but honestly I kinda enjoy the slight effort the 36s provide.  They go so much quicker than the heroics, but don’t feel like I am simply steamrolling them in quite the way that the level 20s do.  Essentially my pattern has been to run strikes using coins until I get an exotic, then take a break for a bit and do something else.  I am also attempting to keep both characters up to date on bounties each day, and my regular farming runs on the dreadnought manage to pay off big time… as I had more than enough Hadium Flakes to get my Hunter his sword almost immediately.  The big chore is still trying to increase my light levels, and the most 290 grind is extremely slow.  That said it still feels enjoyable because I am seeing a ton of drops in the process.  Even though half of the things are going to turn out to be something I cannot use… it still feels good to see drops.  Its like the game is giving me hope… even though moments later it is just going to dash them once again when I find out the exotic is another damned helmet.

 

Media Consumption 10/24/2015

Week of Star Wars

MediaConsumptionThis week was extremely dominated by my burgeoning love of Star Wars.  I have written many times about how I just was not feeling the franchise after the prequels… and that all of the hype surrounding me has rekindled that little kid inside of me that wanted to be “darfa bader”.  I’ve always loved the empire more than the rebels, and I feel kinda bad about that… but Storm Troopers and Darth Vader….  come on.  I was sick for a chunk of the week and while home sick… I caught up on a few things… namely Star Wars Rebels.  So without further rambling… lets talk about stuff.

Star Wars: Force Awakens – Trailer 3

This trailer is absolutely amazing and only serves to bump my hype for this movie up to a fever pitch.  This honestly scares me more than a little bit.  I am as excited right now for Force Awakens as I was for Phantom Menace… and we all know how that turned out.  I think the thing that gives me confidence more than anything is the giant trail of money attached to this movie.  Disney paid four billion dollars to purchase the Star Wars franchise… and I think the realize if this movie is the stinker than Phantom Menace was… they have essentially flushed the vast majority of that money down the toilet.  That said I have also come to realize that quite simply I don’t think George Lucas knows how to direct human beings with human emotions.  I’ve recently watched the prequels again… and those movies are full of some really damned good actors… all of which are chewing up scenery with some of the most unnatural dialog and acting I have seen.  You take those same actors and put them in quite literally any other movie and they do amazing jobs… so it has the be the movies themselves that are the problem.  Anyways… enough of that and on to the trailer.

I love the feel of this trailer, how it is a sequence of more fleshed out vignettes this time.  I have gone back and forth on the popular conspiracies and at this point I simply don’t have a clue.  I don’t know why Luke Skywalker isn’t on the movie poster, and I am starting to question if it is him with the robotic hand reaching out to R2-D2.  I am playing this game of “who is the Skywalker”, and I right now I am starting to think that maybe Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren are all connected to the previous trilogy.  I am still leaning heavily towards Kylo Ren being the child of Han and Leia who has now turned to the Dark Side and become essentially a Vader fanboy… since he knows that Vader was essentially his Grandfather.  You see Rey behind the seat of the Millennium Falcon in one of the shots that has come out… so that would lead you to believe that maybe she is ALSO the child of Han and Leia…  maybe sibling to Kylo?  Finn is the one I cannot place…  since we see him wielding a lightsaber we know he is a force sensitive.  Makes me wonder if maybe he is the child of Luke, but with whom.  He could also be the child of Sana Solo which is now apparently the in canon wife of Han.  I feel like a lot of this movie is going to center around Kylo Ren essentially going on an Artifact hunt trying to find relics of Vader, but past that I am not sure of anything.  I am absolutely looking forward to December so I can finally see how the pieces are going to fit together.

Star Wars Rebels

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While sick this week I caught up on watching Star Wars Rebels, which I found out you can stream from the Disney XD website so long as you have a cable provider to validate with.  The only problem with this is that it isn’t really clear where one season ends and the next begins.  At this point I am apparently caught up and into season two, and I have to say this show… is so great and just what we needed to bridge some gap between the prequels and the modern age movies.  This show is essentially about the birth of the Rebellion as we know it episodes four through six.  I’ve talked about the show in the past on my blog, and I will warn you it honestly takes a few episodes before it starts to feel right.  Sabine Wren is awesome… just going to get that out there.  I love Mandalorians and she has this awesome quirky nature that is just great, and I love the fact that she tags her armor every time they take down another imperial target.  I also adore the paint job she did on the captured Tie Fighter.

The coolest part about this show however is the fact that we get to find out what happens to Ahsoka Tano.  That was the biggest problem I had after Clone Wars you weren’t really sure what became of her.  You know she isn’t in any of the prequels…  largely because I don’t think the character existed until the Clone Wars cartoon… but we just know she is not around in any form.  Here we find that she is fighting the good fight and acting as the rebel operative known as “Fulcrum”.  It is awesome to see her again, but we know that issues are going to come up…  and with a brief interaction with Darth Vader he realizes exactly who she is… and that she is still alive.  You are left with the impression that she has her assumptions that Vader is Anakin…  but she isn’t nearly as certain as Vader is in that interaction.  I thought it was awesome that they brought in Commander Cody as well, and it makes me so damned happy that essentially Clone Wars and Rebels are a continuation of the same basic story arc.  I was afraid that all of the great characters that got invented for the Clone Wars show would simply be gone, but now we are seeing them almost all revitalized as part of the Rebels show… which also I believe means they are being inducted into the canon universe.  The hope is that maybe some of these characters will have brief cameos in the new movies as well.

Walking Dead Season 5 – Episode 2

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Wow… this episode.  I thought the first episode was intense with the quarry full of walkers, and herding them down the path.  This episode starts off very benign showing you how the rest of the characters were spending the time while everyone else was out in the field with the walkers.  Then in a manner so quickly that I thought it might literally be a hallucination…  we see the wolves get into Alexandria and just start slaughtering the residents.  We all knew the wolves would eventually get there, and it seems as though either someone jumped the fence in the same way that Carl and Enid have done…  or someone left the damned gate open again.  Last week we theorized as to who was hitting the car horn and leading the walkers of the pack, but this week we find out that it was instead a semi truck that was heading for one of the walls to break it down.  The gun in the guard tower managed to shoot the driver…  but then the driver fell on the horn while dying.  The episode as a whole was just so strange to see how absolutely feral and blindingly fast the wolves were.

The part I am thankful for however is the fact that essentially this incident forced Carol to abandon her disguise.  She had to become the badass we all know she is, but I do think it is significant that she once again took on the disguise of a wolf, much like she took on the disguise of a walker getting into Terminus.  I think this is the sign of something more with her character… I think she got used to having to wear a mask in the years she was in her abusive marriage, and now it is just comfortable for her to keep adopting them in order to stay safe.  This episode however was a tale of two styles conflicting…  the monk like pacifism of Morgan, and the brutal and honest force of Carol.  The body count from this episode was massive and I think in one show we have whittled down the folks in Alexandria to only the reliable and self sufficient ones are left.  The wolves came in and killed all of the sheep as it were…  all of the people who simply could not take care of themselves.  As a result I think Alexandria is going to be a vastly different place in the coming weeks as they have to deal with this horde of walkers bearing down upon the walls.  I am amped for this week to see what happens next.

MMOS Worth Playing: Lord of the Rings Online

The Underdogs

mmosworthplayingThis is the third week of my MMOs Worth Playing series, and at some point I am probably going to stop doing this introduction.  My focus on the games I pick is to try and choose some of the awesome titles out there that may or may not be getting as much love as I think they deserve.  No one needs to do a post on the reasons why you should be playing World of Warcraft, because there are tons of sites currently covering WoW.  However there are a bunch of games that slip under the radar for one reason or another, and my goal is to pick some of those and talk about the things that interest me about the game.  So far I have covered The Secret World and Rift, and this week I am digging up a title that I have not spent nearly as much time as I would have liked playing.  I feel like I missed the boat with this title, and at this point there is just too much content for me to ever hope to catch up.  I am talking about Lord of the Rings Online, which honestly is a quiet juggernaut of available content and things to do.

The Hook

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Shortly after posting my last write-up, someone asked me what the hook for Lord of the Rings Online was…  and honestly if that title does not inspire magical tingly feelings down your spine then more than likely this is not a game for you.  The hook of this game is and will always be that you get to wander around in the Middle Earth Setting from the Tolkien novels.  That is perhaps the first distinction I should make.  While this game draws some on the visual styling of the movies… it is very much a product of the literary source.  As a result you are going to see more of the world than you ever saw in the movies.  For example the movies cut out the entire Tom Bombadil/Barrow Downs section of the books…  and here you get to experience them in all their glory.  The Barrow Downs area was seriously one of my favorite parts of the early game, and exploring the tombs felt just like reading about the Barrow Wights for the first time.  Rolling up on Weather Top, or Rivendell is just amazing… because here is this thing that you already know so much about… that you are seeing fleshed out and made far more real.

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The biggest take away from the setting that I can give you is that it is huge, and feels more like a real world than most MMOs do.  There are all sorts of little things that draw you into the world.  When you ride past this or that stand of trees… it might scare a flock of birds to take to the air..  making it feel like this living breathing world that you get to explore.  Travel is one of the frustrations most people have with this game, in that the it requires you to memorize a series of routes that remind me quite a bit of the way travel in Dark Age of Camelot felt.  That said this also makes the world feel like something that actual people are living in… because people are messy and chaotic and pretty much buck order.  Think of your own surroundings… is it actually laid out in a manner that is consistent from town to town?  The amount of distance that you have to cross ends up slowing your gameplay down, and putting you in a mode where you are really enjoying the setting as much as you are the game.  There are so many little nuggets of detail scattered through the land that you can only see if you are not passing over them at irrational speeds.

Completionists Dream

LOTROdeedsIn many ways this game was doomed at launch by being thrown in a bucket of “WoW Clones” because honestly… the interface does feel extremely similar to the World of Warcraft standard.  However the game has always felt like a bit of a throwback to an earlier time, and a much less arcade gameplay experience.  The game has one of the more intricate and rewarding crafting systems, and I found wandering the countryside looking for nodes to harvest a pretty enjoyable use of an afternoon.  Where the game gets really intricate however is the “Deed” system, which I realize is a proper use of the word…  but for some reason I always think of housing.  Essentially every action that you can take in the game more than likely has some sort of a deed associated with it.  These deeds however are largely invisible to the user until they go to a specific area or do a specific thing.  From there it starts a completion bar explaining what you need to do to complete the deed which then appears in your log.

What makes this system interesting is that they are for all sorts of tasks.  They might involve you exploring an area and finding specific landmarks on the map and clicking on each of them, or they might involve you doing specific combat attacks a number of times.  Some of them involve you taking down a fixed number of mobs of a specific type.  Equally varied are the rewards.  This game is huge on handing out titles for damned near everything, which makes it really interesting as you roam the country side.  There are far fewer “Hand of Adal” type titles, and more intimate and custom ones.  I for example tend to rock the “Enemy of the Dead” title gained from slaying members of “The Dead” type… namely undead, wights and the sort which are one of the ancestral enemies of “man”.  The important bit from deeds is the ones that unlock your Class Traits.

This game is full of systems within systems, and the Traits are a talent point type system that falls into three categories:  Class, Racial and Virtues.  Class traits tend to increase the effectiveness of your class abilities.  Virtues are pure stat increases, and the type of stats increased vary based on the virtue you are choosing.  Finally the Racial traits are this odd mix of abilities and stat boosts that are designed to take the place of “racial bonuses” in most other games.  The end result makes them feel far more fleshed out, and gives every race in the game a specific flavor other than their visual characteristics.  The gotcha here is that in order to progress you really need to be paying attention to your deeds, because these traits end up giving you a huge boost to your effectiveness.  In theory you could probably level through the game without doing any… but it would be highly unlikely that you could actually complete any of the end game or likely even dungeon content without some focusing through these abilities.

 The Pricing Model

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Turbine with Lord of the Rings was one of the very first successful and even viable free to play pricing models.  It is a mixture of stick and carrot that no other game seems to have completely replicated.  Completely free to play characters are extremely limited in what they can do.  They are limited in their chat functionality, and the amount of money they can earn… and most importantly for me the number of bag slots they have access to.  All of the rich systems in the game are essentially on an adhoc basis forcing you to purchase wardrobe access, auction slots, and individual trait slots.  One of the interesting things about this system is that you transition from free to play status to “premium” the moment you purchase anything from the turbine store.  This unlocks a bunch of things including increasing your bag slots to five, and this essentially stays unlocked for the life of your account.  This means that once you have actually bought any of the unlocks it greatly upgrades your account making it pretty damned playable.  Granted when I have played this game actively I usually subscribe, but over the last few weeks I have been poking my head in to take screenshots and found the game play pretty viable in freemium mode.

The downside however is that I consider the Turbine store to be one of the more expensive to actually purchase anything on.  Horses are essentially $20 regardless of how you chop it by the time you factor in the mount and the actual riding skill.  Compare this to Rift where you can pick up a basic mount for only a few dollars worth of in store currency.  This was one of the first, but unfortunately it has not really taken into account the fact that other models are out there and are more equitable to the player.  They do however run a lot of store sales, and unlike most games you can actually earn turbine points by completing content in game.  Granted you are awarded them five to ten at a time.. and you need 2000 or so to unlock most of the things people would be interested in like new classes.  It does however give players the option to grind out content to earn cash shop currency to purchase things like trait unlocks and extra inventory and vault storage.  I file this system in the realm of not optimal but not nearly as “anti player” as the SWTOR free to play model.

The Community

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The game is extremely rich and interesting… but in truth you are not going to be playing Lord of the Rings Online for the game itself.  You are going to be playing this game for the amazing story that allows you to play a character in the background of this world as you mirror the events of the Fellowship.  It is like playing Star Wars but playing Wedge Antilles instead of Luke Skywalker.  You are doing super important things, but you aren’t ever going to get the kind of broad credit and fame that the stars of the show are getting.  This ends up making the quests feel all the more rich because you know a bit of back story already, and they are filling in details of the setting and giving you insider information on the world.  Even more importantly than this however… is that you will be playing Lord of the Rings online for the community.  Now I am a huge fan of communities that are active and vibrant and I tend to be drawn towards role-playing environments… even though I am not myself much of a role-player.  I currently play on the Landroval server and I have to say it is pretty amazing.

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This game has spent so much time on providing settings for the players to interact and mingle, and has quite possibly one of the coolest sub systems I have seen in any system.  There are instruments in game that can actually be played by the characters, or you can read in midi sequences from text files that then get interpreted with the in game instruments.  This allows the players to do really interesting things… like hold concerts and places like the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree are a hotbed of folks showing off.  I rolled in last night and saw the band from the first image above performing in a corner of the Inn.  Outside there is a full concert stage, and normally there is another group set up there playing songs for the passers by.  There is never a moment in any of the hubs where there is not some role-playing going on, and people have always been super open to answering questions from new comers.  In terms of friendliness I would put Landroval up there with Antonia Bayle in EQ2 and Entity in Wildstar, and that is saying a lot.  I have also heard that the Windfola server was pretty amazing… but unfortunately I believe it was a casualty of the server merges.  It seems like about half of the people I knew from Windfola are now on Landroval… and another batch ended up moving to Arkenstone.  I have a feeling that honestly whatever server you end up on, is going to be a great place to land.  The game is well worth a download and giving it some time to explore.  The biggest word of advice I will give you however is to take it slow.  This game is a much more gradual game than players are used to these days, and if given the proper amount of time to allow yourself to wander and inhabit the world… I have a feeling you will greatly enjoy your experience.

 

Loving Fabian Strategy

Nightstalker or Not

Over the last few days I have been irrationally sick.  The part of this that sucks is the fact that Knights of the Fallen Empire has been released… and I have honestly barely spent any time in SWTOR.  I keep going in there and attempting to play, but the whole standard questing construct is just something I cannot handle right now.  If it involves reading or honestly paying attention too closely to anything…  it is pretty much ruled out in my current state.  The funny thing is that playing Destiny works just fine.  I guess that is because most of that game I have committed to muscle memory, and while I may not be able to aim as straight or move as fast…  I can still function pretty well on auto pilot.  As a result I have been working on my second character, the Hunter.  By working I mean… I consumed my “free level 25 token” and pushed it from 25 to 40.  I still have yet to beat the actual quest content, but I have been having a blast doing patrol missions and completing bounties.  Right now I am mostly focused on Nightstalker but there are some quirks about the class I really do not like.  As awesome as Shadowshot is… it just isn’t in the same class of abilities as Hammer of Sol or Fist of Havoc.  It requires you to follow up with something else to take down the target rather than simply evaporating them.

Additionally my biggest problem with the class is that it seems to have shitty grenades.  I am so used to throwing grenades constantly as a Titan… especially as a Sunbreaker with their amazing sticky grenades…  and the options I have so far for Nightstalker just seem rather crappy.  I need to branch out and try some of the other classes, because honestly I was enjoying Bladedancer quite a bit before I completed the quest that unlocked Nightstalker and decided to go that direction.  Both the the Shadowshot and Arc Blade supers though are far more fiddly than I am used to as a Titan which is all about smashing or exploding things.  At some point I plan on leveling my Warlock as well so I can see what that side of the house looks like also.  So far though I just can’t get into the Warlock as much as I can the Hunter and Titan.  I guess it is my whole allergy to magic getting in the way again.  While technically it is just as strong as the Titan… it FEELS weaker since it isn’t nearly as armor bound.  Then there is the melee attack… the Titan Punch and the Hunter Stab… both feel amazing and visceral whereas the Warlock Palm Explosion thing just feels wrong.  I realize the whole battle caster thing is a fantasy fulfillment for some people…. but it just isn’t for me.

A “Lousy” Gun

Another accomplishment is that I finally hit rank three with the Gunsmith which started my next “back in the saddle” quest, this time involving Auto Rifles.  It was kinda cool since I am on a bit of an auto rifle kick lately.  That is the strange thing about Destiny… is that I will get a new weapon… that causes me to re-evaluate my feelings about an entire sub class of weapons.  I spent a lot of time on the Hunter using an Auto Rifle largely because that is what I happened to have laying around in my vault.  Then when I got to 40 I handed the hunter a bunch of past armsday orders… which included a pretty nice Hakke Auto Rifle that I never really gave much attention to. The faction three Gunsmith quest involves killing 100 mobs with an Auto Rifle while you have a telemetry device active… aka a class item with the auto rifle leveling boost.  After that you dismantle four blue auto rifles or two purple ones, and bam you complete the quest and are handed apparently a Titan exclusive Auto Rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  Honestly the gun has some strange things about it… and the fact that it is locked into iron sights mode at first seemed like a massive detriment.

Then I actually used it… I took it to the dreadnought and into a few strikes and I have to say I fell in love with the gun.  Now every guide maker is going to tell you just how bad this gun is.  In fact Briar Rabbit devoted an episode of Shard It or Keep It to the weapon… and the only real positives he was able to come up with was that it felt cool and looked unique.  I guess for me that is enough, because the way this gun handles as compared to most auto rifles just is… “different” and I am having trouble quantifying that.  It feels like you can just chew through damned near anything, and it does just enough impact to push back anything yellow or lower.  Granted it sometimes takes all forty eight rounds in the magazine… but I have shredded those crazy buffed imperial centurions on during the skyburners event with this thing like it was nothing.  The big thing for me… and why I am now using it is strikes is the the combination of Crowd Control and Life Support.  There were several times where I went into a pack of mobs at low health and exited moments later with full health just from the kill triggered regeneration.  This weapon makes me FEEL like the unstoppable Titan I am supposed to be.  Folks are going to tell you that this weapon is not worth an exotic slot… and I get that… because the special perk of the gun doesn’t seem to do all that much.  That said I love the look and the feel and am probably going to start gearing for auto rifle perks just because of this gun.