Week in Gaming 1/17/2016

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weekingamingIt has been awhile since I have done one of these, and of the various failed columns that I have tried over the years…. I think this one is the best for me personally.  Sunday is a rough day in general, in part because I wake up and have to finish up AggroChat and get it out to the various locations.  As a result it helps to have a fairly formulaic option I can lean on when I am not feeling super inspired.  As a result I am leaning once again on the Week in Gaming series just to talk about a bunch of stuff I played this week.

Pax South Hype!

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I am starting to get super excited for Pax South.  Last year I had various companies ask me for a business card, and I was somewhat kicking myself for not having any.  I mean I guess part of me never really thought that having a business card for a blog and podcast was a good idea.  This year however I have gotten my ass in order and if everything works as intended the cards will arrive at the beginning of next week.  I only ordered 250 because I could not in any circumstance think of a reason why I would need that many.  The design was done by Rae and was originally intended to be our Pax Prime cards, but since we were denied media access to that convention they never actually got made.  I resurrected the idea because I thought it was pretty slick.  In the original design each of the hosts has their own color, and given that I love green I latched onto that one.  As far as a back design I went with something simple because I felt like it needed something on the back….  and in truth that is the crux of our thing…  daily posts, weekly cast.  If you are also going to be at Pax South let me know, I would love to meet up with everyone that I can while I am there.

Undertale

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I have some mixed feelings about Undertale so far.  On one level I really like the game and it feels like something that is going to be an interesting experience.  The negative is I absolutely HATE the combat system.  I hate mini-games, and while I was corrected last night on the podcast…. I am sorry but that isn’t a real combat system.  Part of me just wants to run away from every single fight so that I don’t have to do it.  I mean granted I was using arrow keys and maybe that makes it worse than it actually is, but I just hate the concept of breaking out of an otherwise fun old school RPG style game….  and having to deal with move the heart to avoid shit.  For now I have essentially abandoned the game, in the hopes that some distance will in fact make the heart grow fond.  Essentially I love everything else about the game… other than the combat system.  This might be one of those games that is more enjoyable to watch.

Victor Vran

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I’ve already talked about this game quite a bit throughout the week but I feel like it still deserves additional mention.  The only negative about this game is that I started playing it essentially the week before a bunch of other things that I wanted to play happened.  My hope is that once the recent infatuation with Warframe and Diablo 3 Season 5 have calmed down, I can return to this and play my way through the main story some more.  I really want to see what multiplayer feels like in the end game experience.  Playing it was fine for me… but essentially locked the other players that I was dragging along with me… out of some of the experience of interacting with the voice floating around in your head.  If you are not partaking of the Diablo 3 Season 5 madness…. and still want a ARPG fix… I highly suggest you check it out.

Warframe

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This game….  is so good and I am kinda kicking myself for never really giving it a proper attempt at playing.  I have downloaded this game numerous times in the past on the PC, PS3 and PS4 when I saw other folks in my various social media timelines talking about it… but never actually tried it.  I guess in my head I had this absolutely misrepresented as to what sort of game it was.  With a super generic name like Warframe… I kept getting it jumbled up with the other game Warface.  Warface being a super generic Call of Duty/Counterstrike style PVP shooter.  So in my head I equated Warframe to a PVP experience… not this deeply nuanced cooperative PVE experience.  There are so many aspects of this game that remind me of an MMO, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.  The game as a whole feels like this amalgam of Destiny, Phantasy Star Online and Tribes.  If that combination sounds like something you would be interesting, I highly suggest you check it out.  I think I was largely luckier than most in that one of the freebie mechs, the Excalibur is right down my alley.  I am slashing everything with my space ninja ways, and really enjoying myself.  For those curious, I have pretty much set down roots on the PC, and while I might give it a shot later on the PS4, I have no real intention of moving at the moment as the AggroChat crew seem to all be playing it.

Diablo 3

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The floodgates for Diablo 3 Season 5 opened on Friday at 7pm and from that point until 10:30 or so my time I was running around in a group leveling like mad.  At this point I have managed to get to 68, which puts me behind the curve of folks like Grace that are 70 with over 150 paragon levels.  That however is fine by me, because I am just happy I am almost to the cap with at least one character.  I am going to be interested in seeing what the various challenges are that unlock the various seasonal rewards.  What makes the season play so addictive to me is the fact that it mimics a MMO launch.  Everyone on your friends list for a period of time is playing Diablo 3 and excited about it, as though they were playing a brand new game.  So you have a few weeks of focused play, and then don’t feel guilty at all when you shift back to playing other games until the launch of the next season.  This focused excitement is really fun to experience, and this is technically my third season so far.  There is part of me that wishes I had gotten on board with the concept earlier.  My goal today is to finish up my Crusader and then probably focus on some more Warframe.  Hopefully all of you readers out there have had an equally fun week, and Pax South seriously could not get here soon enough.

Week In Gaming 12/20/2015

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The Week of Star Wars

This week was all about either waiting for Force Awakens or riding the high after seeing it.  Some other stuff happened in the middle, like on Tuesday I went yet again to RiffTrax with some co-workers and had a blast.  This time around was Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny, and apparently it was a slightly new version where they include the story of Jack and the Beanstalk instead of apparently Thumbelina.  I have to take their word for it, because I did not manage to catch the previous version.  However coming up is a rebroadcast of Starship Troopers, which is one of the Riffs that happened before we started doing this as pseudo team building.  In truth it has very little to do with building morale… and more to do with the fact that we just share a similar sense of humor.  So I am looking forward to that in mid January.  The only negative with this week however is that quite literally I did not actually get to spend any length of time with my wife until Friday.  On the nights I had free she was up at school doing prep work for the end of the semester and the rest of the nights I had something going on.  I am really looking forward to the break however… because we tentatively have planned a movie marathon for Christmas day.  My wife has not seen the original Star Wars films since the theatrical release of the special editions in college.  So right now the plan is to marathon through all of them and take her to see Force Awakens afterwards.

Whole Lotta Nope

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There has been a lot of buzz about Black Desert Online, and largely the thing that everyone seems to talk about is just how detailed the character creation system is.  You certainly can create a bunch of really pretty characters, but for me at least that is where the game starts to fall apart.  I had largely avoided this game, because I didn’t like the concept of having classes tied to gender and to some extent “race” or what passes for race in the game.  So to play the berserker type class, you have to play this mammoth Giant race of a character.  My trip through Nopeland started however when I tried to install the game.  I had all sorts of issues just getting the installer going, and when I finally got it loaded it booted up and sat on a black screen for fifteen minutes or so before finally loading into the game.  The interface itself…  feels cheaply made and I am really not sure how to quantify it other than that.  Once you get into the game… you have an action MMO driven off of left and right mouse buttons.  I tooled around the starter area and honestly…  I just didn’t like what I was feeling.  It does a thing… that many other games have done better.  Sure the character creator allows you to pretty much live any possible player fantasy as far as looks go… but the game itself didn’t feel that fun.  So at this point I have already uninstalled it, and will throw this game is the same bin I tossed TERA.  Extremely pretty, but didn’t feel like I wanted it to feel.

Mount Chase

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I am not really sure how I allow myself to get drawn back into holiday events, but right now there is one happening in World of Warcraft that has a chance of dropping a Yeti mount.  Since the very first Winter Veil event, I have had an affinity with the Yeti, and used to save my charges of my mechanical Yeti each year so I could play with it off and on.  Similarly when they added the first mechanical yeti battle pet… I had to have it.  So it is no surprise that I am finding myself doing Holiday dailies each day in a vague attempt to get a Yeti mount from one of the Savage Gift satchels.  I am going to be pissed as hell if I do not manage to get one this year.  Essentially each day has the same basic flow, where I start with Belghast and cycle through all of my characters that can do the holiday quests… mailing all of the tokens to Belgrace on the horde side and then purchasing four savage gifts…  only to be disappointed moments later when none of them yield the mount.  I have managed to pick up the pet, so that at least is a positive.  Of all of the holiday mounts I have chased over the years…  I have very few of them.  The king of all teases has to be the Headless Horseman mount, that I always make attempts on… only to be disappointed when I have zero luck getting it.  The love rocket is another one, but that one I really don’t have much desire to get… other than for completion purposes.

Proper Tankadin

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This week a lot of my focus has been on the MooCowAdin, largely because he is the one opening all the Savage Gifts.  The root of my focus however has been to get a good weapon, which I FINALLY have in the form of the sword above.  It is a blue baleful that has been upgraded to 705 via the 20,000 apexis crystal token and two valor upgrades.  Finally I now feel like a proper tank, and am finally what I would consider a viable option for the Sunday night raid.  As a result I have been doing most of my daily quests in tanky form to get used to doing all the tankadin things.  I have to say I am absolutely in love with Light’s Hammer.  It is like the best possible version of Death and Decay… it slows and deals damage to enemies… and heals allies at the same time.  Who could ask for more?

The Orclock

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My downtime character is still Belghula the Orc Warlock.  I am enjoying leveling by dotting everything up and running around like mad until it dies.  Thanks to Tam for teaching me the ways of playing a damage over time class 🙂  At some point I need to start with the dungeons… but right now I am sitting just shy of 20.  The Northern Barrens are getting a little stale, so I am hoping that soon I will get the quest starter to jump to the next zone.  I’ve not really made it terribly far in the horde side quest chains, so I am kinda amped to see the later areas.  I am also working on leveling Tailoring so I have a bag maker, and enchanting so I have the ability to do enchants.  The next character I run up will absolutely be a herbalist/apothecary so that I can hopefully at some point make my own raid potions.  That has been the hardest reality check for me…  the concept of starting over with a fresh stable of characters and no infrastructure.  I guess that is a slight lie, because the guild horde side keeps shoving stuff into my hands and seems more than happy to support me…  but I am very much a person who prefers being able to support myself.  So I need to knock out some more characters so I can start to do that.  I am going tailor first because the biggest problem I have right now is the lack of a bag maker to feed my alts.

Week in Gaming 12/13/2015

Blogging is Hard

KnightsOfTheOldRepublicComicjpgI’ve been in a bit of a relative funk this week, and found it extremely hard to get started writing most mornings.  It is like for whatever reason my will to put fingers to keyboard and make important sounding things happen… has been drained out of me.  At this point we are a few months away from going three whole years worth of blog posts, and I guess in a way it is having its toll on me.  At this point I have far more regular readers than I have ever had at any other point in the blogs history, and that is freaking awesome.  The fact that I have so many supportive people with my back…  is ultimately the thing that keeps me moving forward on days like today.  We recorded this insanely huge podcast last night where we took the normal crew of myself, Grace, Kodra, Tam and Thalen…  and included some other friends InkyBrushes, Nephsys and Pizzmaid.  Sadly we were missing Ash but he had his own version of a really rough week.  Combined we focused a single topic… and recorded for over two hours…  which compressed down to just under it.  The problem being… by the time I did even the most basic editing pass…  it was around one in the morning.

I’ve been fighting what I think is largely sleep deprivation most of the week, and it has ended up with me falling asleep as early as 8 pm on a couple of the nights.  Well granted I went to bed at 8pm… and read comics on my new kindle but still I ended up drifting off to sleep about 30 minutes to an hour later.  I have been getting a lot of use out of my Marvel Unlimited account, and largely using it to read the backlog of awesome Star Wars comics.  At first I went through what was available of the modern series, namely Star Wars and the Vader series.  I started on the Princess Leia series but struggled with it, mostly because I simply was not a huge fan of the art style.  Recently though I have been running back through and reading the Knights of the Old Republic series from the start.  I am maybe a dozen episodes in at this point and I am loving it…  this totally feels like I am consuming comics in the same way I binge Netflix shows.  I just wish the lag between print and them showing up on Marvel Unlimited was not quite so great.  The latest issues of the modern Star Wars comic to show up are from August of this year, but what I am really hoping is that they release the issues on a semi-monthly basis just with that lag.  I can totally deal with reading comics late…  I just want to be able to read them with a certain regularity.

World of Shipyards

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This week has largely been about reconciling my differences with the Shipyard system.  I commented last week that they were essentially a worst possible version of the Garrison system…. and in many ways I don’t have a significant change in that opinion.  What did change however is that I realized that after so many of you told me about it…  the Garrison addon I was already using had built in functionality to automate a good deal of the shipyard bullshittery as well.  The end result is that I have somehow managed to learn to live with the Shipyards and they have rewarded me well for my blind submission.  At this point between the three characters that have them…  I have earned a hippo mount, a bunch of hellfire citadel gear caches,  and more left sharks than I could ever have a use for… I seriously have three sitting in the inventory of my MooCowAdin.  The problem with all of this of course is the fact that I now need to feed the beast that is the shipyard, and the only reliable way of doing this… is schlepping out to Tanaan jungle and completing the daily mission.  Now some of my characters have been stockpiling oil from Garrison missions for along time now and won’t really have this problem… but Belghast is constantly struggling to pay his daily upkeep.

Other than this I have been slowly inching up my gear levels on Belghast and Belgrace, and attempting to run the Timewalking event on my alts… that can actually benefit from the 660-675 gear that they can drop.  The funniest part of the week however has been learning that I don’t simply remember the BC era content as being significantly rougher… that it actually really is.  PUG groups are simply not prepared for mobs that crowd control and fear the hell out of players… and are in no way ready for just how hard everything hits.  There have been more wipes from the party finder than I have had in ages… and I am really enjoying every minute of it.  The alliance side…  has been a colossal mess of chain group joins and splits until finally we push through the dungeon.  Horde side on the other hand.. people just buckle down and pick themselves up after a wipe and keep pushing forward.  I guess when you have to wait through a thirty minute dps queue… you are significantly less likely to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble.  Alliance will always be my first home because that is where my army of alts lives…  but I have to say Horde is growing on me really quickly.

Fabian Strategy Lives

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I know I spent a good deal of my post yesterday gushing about the new and revised Fabian Strategy… but seriously I am in love with this gun.  It had been roughly a month since I had seriously spent much time in Destiny, and yesterday I poked my head back in.  Apart from being woefully out of practice, I am still amazed at just how fun the moment to moment play is in this game.  I spent a bit of time yesterday trying to play Battlefront, and the gameplay just doesn’t hold a candle to just how good Destiny feels.  Now that I have this weapon that allows me to abuse all of my instincts, I can see myself really settling on it as my main gun.  Now I have said that numerous times… and I know I said it recently with the Xhalo Supercell…  but seriously….  this gun is amazing.  I will always be a Titan at heart, because I want to play like a tank in most games.  This gun makes me FEEL like a tank, because the chance of regeneration upon kill ends up firing a lot more frequently than I think most people realize.  There have been several strikes that I survived entirely because of this weapon constantly triggering my shield regeneration.  It is my goal this week to pop in periodically, and not go quite so long between play sessions.

 

 

Week In Gaming 12/5/2015

Sunday Madness

Today my posts and the AggroChat podcast are coming out a little late, because reasons.  My wife has this thing at church this morning, and stuff was not going very much as planned.  So instead of wrapping up the podcast when I got up, I went into the mode of attempting to support my wife as she flailed around the house trying to get everything ready.  I don’t really do the religion thing, but it is important to my wife so I’ve always attempted to support her in whatever way she needs.  Normally speaking I would have been further along in the podcast creation process by the time I slept last night, but instead I decided to have a knock down drag out fight with Amazon.  There is an item that starting last Tuesday, has been updating daily to tell me it would be there by 8pm the next day.  This has drug on for several days… and the FedEx tracking that I finally received shows that there is no way it is going to be here until sometime at the end of next week.  Needless to say I was more than a little perturbed, and ended up trying to get to the bottom of it.

Where I feel bad however is that I know I took out some of my frustrations on the agents that were working the case.  I realize why companies hide their chat functionality, but overall it is a horrible practice, that only leads customers to be pissed as hell by the time they FINALLY get a hold of a person to talk to about their issues.  I know I probably came off as a mad man, but seriously…  I’ve been an Amazon customer since around 2000, and been a prime member for I think as long as the program has existed.  I keep that active so that I can have items here in two days… and there have been a lot of times in the past where they actually have it here next day.  Since the swap to using the US Postal Service however, I have had several delayed orders… and this one just seems to be another in that line of problems.  The worst part about it is.. that after spending over an hour last night trying to get someone to tell me where the ball was dropped…  no one seemed to have any answers.  I did however get two months of prime added to my account apparently to appease me, so I guess that makes up for some of the frustration.  I have no doubt that the item will arrive and be just fine… but man this situation has been annoying.  It is nothing nearly as bad as Tam and Amazon quite literally losing his shipment.

The Week of Warcraft

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For the most part this was in fact the Week of Warcraft as I am attempting to play both characters on Argent Dawn Alliance side… and the joined The Scryers server Horde side.  This means  there are two different communities that I am trying to be an active part of, and as a result pretty much everything else I am doing has fallen by the wayside.  Part of my Sunday ritual is to go downstairs and watch a sequence of television shows until ultimately it is time for bed.  However during this sequence I got pulled into the Horde side guild raid with my friends in the awesomely named Facepull.  Between some gear upgrades from drops and some crafted gear by the amazing Brerhoof it took me to around the 670 range.  Now after some LFR this week I am sitting at 679 so a stones throw away from 680.  I have two parts left to do of LFR and my hope is at some point before this evening I can actually get them knocked out and will hopefully see some more upgrades.  My lowest piece on the Paladin is his necklace which is still the level 640 boosted green gear.  In theory if I get lucky I could get a baleful item to drop while I am doing dailies… which I also need to do at some point.  I have everything enchanted and gemmed… at least with cheap enchants and gems so my performance as a whole should be better tonight… that is if they still want me to come and pewpewpew things.

Then Wednesday night I was invited to raid with some twitter folk that I have known for ages.  There I brought my Alliance Warrior Belghast, and similarly have made some jumps in gearing as the week went out.  I started the week at 680 and have bumped it a little bit up to 684.  This is still a long ways off from the 705-710 range that I need to be in order to really function in Heroic for the Friendship Moose fun, but whatever I am enjoying the process.  In both cases I was mostly a fly on the wall as the raid went about their business, but I could see myself enjoying both situations greatly.  It is my hope that in both scenarios are am invited back for future weeks, and in spite of my crummy gear I still managed to end up I think 3rd in total damage done for the raid.  My burst dps is still on the weak range, but I am throwing out a lot of total damage which still is nice.  Gladiator is such a fun spec that I am really going to hate losing once the expansion ships.  I guess there is hope at a later date that they might revive the spec, but I seriously imagine it was just too hard to balance when it essentially took all of the same gear that tanks did… which means that my overall survival is among the highest of the dps classes.  In any case I am having fun… and that is what really matters right?

Reaching Diamond City

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The original plan for this week was to record our final Fallout 4 show last night, and because of that I felt this overwhelming need to have completed the storyline.  This means that a good chunk of this week I was pushing hard to get through the main story, and I have to say… it was some of the most miserable I have been playing Fallout ever.  My play style is very much a “forget the story exists” method, where I wander aimlessly and go explore whatever happens to suit my fancy.  This means there is a lot of ADD induced gaming as I see what that building over there in the distance is, or go explore that wrecked vehicle there because it looks interesting.  The result is that I spend a lot of time playing, but not a lot of time getting anywhere specific.  With the severe content density that is the Commonwealth, it means I had at 70 hours not gotten anywhere vaguely close to Diamond City.  I knew where it was, but I was busy wandering around the Cambridge area and exploring lots of little nooks and crannies.

Instead this week I forced myself to follow the storyline, and while it is really awesome… and there are lots of interesting characters… the entire process feels forced.  I mean it IS forced, because I am trying hard to play in a style that is not natural to me.  I talked about this for quite a bit on the podcast last night, but essentially most of the time I don’t like it when games end.  In Mass Effect 2, I enjoyed every moment of the side missions… but it felt like all of my fun was being sucked down a drain the moment I started that sequence of events that lead to the end of the game.  I want these worlds and settings.. and characters that I have created to essentially live on forever… and the sooner I “beat” a game… the sooner that fun for me is over.  I think in part this is why I like the MMO so much, because my characters never have to go away… they just keep going on and changing and adapting as new content is released.  So as it looks like we are pushing off the Fallout 4 show a bit…  I am going to try and find a happy medium where I alternate between following story… and also spending some time following my heart.

Week in Gaming 11/22/2015

Missing Breakers

During this segment I generally run down the gaming I have done during the previous week, however this week I am going to regale you with a story from last night.  As I have talked about a bit on my blog we are currently going through some minor home renovations.  We seem to be nearing the end however, and other than a few minor problems that they are working on…  things seem to largely be done.  During part of this process we had a big extension cord coming out through the garage door so they could do work on the front of the house, and as part of their wrapping things up they asked me to go inside and raise the garage door so they could unplug it.  When I got out to the garage however…  the door would not open, and around about this same time I noticed that our freezer was off.  Thus began the mission to try and sort out what breaker was flipped.

The breakers are in a horrible location in our house, which is on the garage wall…  but someone in their infinite wisdom decided to build a table and attach it to the wall in front of the breaker box.  When I say table… I mean it is a 4 foot deep and 8 foot across shelving unit made out of full sheets of plywood.  Sure it is sturdy as hell but it is super awkward and fiddling with the breakers means I have to essentially crawl up onto the table.  The problem being… none of the breakers were flipped which began a hunt through the house because the contractors were convinced that this could not be the ONLY breaker box on the house.  Please note that at this point we have lived in the house going on eighteen years….  we were absolutely certain this was the only breaker box.  Finally after running around and flipping the damned house main in the back yard…  someone noticed that the outlet in the garage that the opener was plugged into… had a ground fault switch.  We flipped that and magically everything started working again.  So yeah…  that was a fun way to spend a good chunk of my night.

Final Fantasy XIV

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This week finally saw my return to Final Fantasy XIV as it also announced the release of the 3.1 content.  I talked about this a bit during the week, but it feels a little bittersweet.  The content was really good, but also really really short.  Usually we have some big boss fight as the pinnacle of the content patches, and this time around….  nothing.  Sure there was a big fight but it wasn’t on the same level as a new Primal or an encounter like Gilgamesh.  Also there is the fact that we still don’t have a new segment in the Hildebrand chain…  or nothing to really replace the hole it has created in the content.  I feel like they spent a lot of time on the Lords of Verminion minigame and as a result a bunch of other stuff slipped to the 3.15 patch later.  I still have yet to do any of the dungeons, but hopefully I can get that going soonish.

The bulk of my final fantasy time consists of me logging in, and doing my Beast Tribe dailies for the new Vanu Vanu tribe along with some of the old world quests.  What makes this pretty great is the fact that at the current level cap… all of the old world quests are super easy to do.  So essentially my daily pecking order is… Vanu Vanu > Slyphs > Sahagin.  Mostly I just want to be a tiny lalafell riding along on a giant goobue.  Last night we also revived the tradition of doing stuff on Saturday nights as we ran bits of First and Second coil with the guild.  I was not there for Turn 5 but I got pulled in on the second coil fun.  We managed to get all the way up to turn 9, and put in a few attempts before Ashgar and I had to leave to prep for the podcast.  My hope is we can get people in the habit of showing up on Saturday nights to do stuff like this and pony farming.  That would go a long way towards revitalizing the Final Fantasy experience for me.

Destiny

I am continuing to play Destiny but a significantly reduced pace.  Each Sunday afternoon we do a Star Wars pen and paper game, and right now Destiny seems to be my game of choice to play while doing that.  It is something I can play on a machine that is not my main computer, and still be able to pay attention to what is going on in the roleplaying.  Destiny is for the most part muscle reflexes at this point, so I am spending the time doing bounties and missions and such.  I did however play quite a bit on Wednesday, or at least long enough to do my various weapon missions.  I still very much love this game, but Fallout 4 has largely taken the place it held of the game I am spending most of my time playing.  There are still a lot of things I want, but more than likely I am going to mostly do the Armsday/Xursday thing each week and then focus if there are objectives and goals that I really want to accomplish.  There are a few interesting looking weapons this week that I am hoping turn out to be pretty awesome from the Gunsmith.

Fallout 4

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I am still slowly wandering my way through the commonwealth.  I am roughly sixty hours into the game and have yet to go to Diamond City.  That said I have done a whole slew of side quests, but more often than not when I get one… I have already been to that location and cleared it out.  When I went to help the Brotherhood of Steel for example… I had already completely cleared that location other than the areas that the Brotherhood ends up unlocking for you to go explore.  As far as the Minutemen, I am tasked with taking back the castle, but the castle is a long ways off from where I am.  Right now I am largely exploring the Cambridge area and delving into the ruined buildings that you find there.  The hospital at Cambridge was one of the more interesting areas, so if you have not been there I highly suggest checking it out.  There has been some crazy shit happening there… but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.  At this point I am still largely using my crappy pipe gun, that has been upgraded as much as possible…. but that is largely because I have a truly silly amount of ammunition for it.

World of Warcraft

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I am weak…. and nostalgia is strong.  Over the last few weeks I knew deep down inside that I was fighting a losing battle.  Finally yesterday I gave in and started playing my sub level 20 horde characters since I could do that for free.  When Scryers and Argent Dawn merged, I ended up creating an entire accounts worth of Horde alts with the thought of playing with some of my Horde friends on the Argent Dawn server.  I tried to create one of every race and class… and some of them I am probably going to simply re-roll.  For my Warrior… I ended up going  Blood Elf because I remember at launch Warrior was not an option for them.  Also I have gotten kinda sick of playing Orcs, and my Deathknight is an Orc, and my Paladin is a Tauren.  Maybe I am mellowing in my old age, but the whole “elf” thing is annoying me far less right now.  Maybe it is the nostalgia of him wearing what is essentially a set of Wrath armor from Molten Core.  In any case I am poking my head around World of Warcraft, and we will see how well that takes.

Week In Gaming 11/15/2015

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Two Times the Monday

I’ve mentioned this before, but this week we got off in the middle of it for Veterans Day.  While I completely support this holiday, I question the good of cutting a week down the middle.  What it basically created for me at least was a whole lot of time I seemed to be occupying space in a chair but not getting much accomplished… because individuals smarter than me ended up taking either the entire front half of the week off… or the entire back half of the week off.  Those people apparently did not coordinate well, which meant there was a skeleton crew on board and few of the people you actually needed to talk about this item or that available and ready to discuss.  My hope is this coming week we can make up ground for all of the perceived lost time from this fractured week.  On the gaming front though… this was a week entirely about Fallout 4.  However while prepping the AggroChat episode I watched another sequence play out on twitter that I am going to get into towards the end of the post.

Irrational Desire

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I am admitting here again that I am still struggling with an irrational desire to log in and play World of Warcraft.  I think part of it is simply because I know that as much as I loved Gladiator… it will be going away in the coming expansion.  Part of me wants to spend some more time playing as a DPS sword and board warrior while it still exists.  Then the rational mind kicks and tells me that there is still nothing really there for you.  The raid is gone, the guild is mostly gone…  there just isn’t an infrastructure to return to.  Similarly I realize that other than faffing about and running old content… there is nothing much there that I would really want to do.  This reached its peak over the weekend while I was anxiously wanting to play Fallout 4, but not able to do it yet without VPN hackery.  The problem is even though I am wallowing fully in the goodness that is post apocalyptic Boston…. there is still a bit of nostalgia tugging at my coat tails telling me that I would really like to log into World of Warcraft still.  I have a slew of new content to go experience in Final Fantasy XIV as well, so hopefully between it and Fallout 4… I will slowly quell this desire.  I am still really damned interested in seeing how Legion feels, so not giving up hopes on maybe being able to wrangle a beta invite somewhere…  but unfortunately I think my past points of access are no longer available.  If I had them I would have definitely tried to exercise one for access to Overwatch.

Viva New Vegas

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Monday night I got so low that I booted back up Fallout New Vegas and spent a good deal of time wandering around there.  I only managed to get as far as the Vikki and Vance casino before finally attempting to get Fallout 4 going.  I have to say…  it might be nostalgia talking… but I still absolutely love this game.  I even popped in for a bit this morning to get this screenshot… and there is absolutely a direct lineage between Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4.  The world feels the same… albeit considerably prettier in the newest incarnation.  I guess this is why in part folks who hated Fallout… still hate it… and the folks that loved it… are having some of the best times of their life.  New Vegas really raised the bar for the way the world felt, and it seems like Bethesda rose to the occasion and answered this narrative call.  That said… there is a part of me that kinda hopes that we end up with a DC Metro and New Vegas reboot using the Fallout 4 engine… much the same way as we have one of those under works for Morrowind and Oblivion using the Skyrim engine.  I would love to be able to roam around these areas with the fidelity that the new engine provides.  Even then…  I could still see myself returning to New Vegas time and time again…  and loving every moment of it.

Critical Mass

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The bulk of my week has been spent wandering around the Massachusetts area in the new Fallout 4 on the PC.  Firstly I have to say… I am pleased and amazed at just how good this game looks and how well it runs on my fairly aging hardware.  The game auto selected Ultra for me, and I have been playing on that since… with limited hick-ups.  The game runs between 50-60 fps at all times and just works flawlessly.  Folks are reporting all sorts of bugs… and honestly I haven’t really seen them other than the usual floating objects type issues when you are dealing with a complex open world game.  For example… if you remove a table out front under a vase…  there is a chance the vase will just hang there indefinitely rather than fall to the ground.  This sort of stuff does not bother me at all, and I come to expect it when a game has physics and the ability to place objects.  That said there are apparently a number of the traditional day one Bethesda bugs but I am happy to say that I have not encountered any of them… game breaking or not.  Maybe I am simply lucky, or maybe I just have not gotten far enough into the game to experience them.

According to steam I am roughly 50 hours into the game… the problem with that is that I accidentally left it running one day while at work… so you can discount about eight hours of that time as that event happening.  The rest of the time however is absolutely real… and I have built up at least partially every settlement that I have come across.  That is the part of the game that is the real hook for me… especially now that I have trade routes going between the towns.  I’ve said this before, but my big take away from why this game is more enjoyable than the previous incarnations is that it feels like I am actively making the world a better place.  In other Fallout games… you were the good guy, simply because you were killing off all of the bad guys in the world.  There was very little you could do to actually improve the lot of the other denizens of the wastes other than the occasional donation of money or fresh water.  In this game… from the very beginning you are actively improving segments of the world and making it a decent place to live in.  Sure the world is dangerous… but you are making it far less so for a group of settlers.  That right there is the hook, and when I am out in the wastes… every hotplate  and desk fan… excites me because I can go back and build something really cool with the parts.

Streaming and Games

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While prepping this post today I watched a little exchange on twitter.  Essentially one of my friends challenged streamers to do more with the games they are streaming.  That it would be nice to have streamers take a mostly educational stance on either showing other gamers how to do something… or working through problems.  While I think that might be pretty cool, the truth is that is not at all why game companies seek out streamers.  I am going to give an analogy that is going to be a bit long winded, but stay with me.  I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and in this part of the land there are few things more important than High School sports.  I have my own damage thanks to this fact, and having no interest in sports at all… but that is a tale for another day.  In a small town the team is the center of pride for the community… and while high school athletics has the possibility of making money for a district… in a small town it is mostly a giant hole that you pour money down.  So when it came to maintaining facilities, it was always a struggle… and knowing this soft drink companies would often times ride in on a white horse to save the day.

There was not a small town anywhere near me that did not have either a big Pepsi logo or a big Coca-Cola logo on their score board.  Of note I have no clue who’s scoreboard this one actually is, but I am just using it to illustrate my point.  They would offer to sponsor the scoreboard, make sure the school district had a free supply of cups, lids and straws… brand new pop machines…  and a discounted rate on the soda itself just so long as they would sign an exclusive contract with the brand and only allow their products to be sold at school events.  The schools needed the goods they were offering… and could make money selling the product which then would end up supporting the school.  Pepsi got advertising out of the deal and more than likely converted a good segment of the townsfolk into loyal Pepsi or Coke drinkers for life.  My small town had Pepsi and it is probably no small coincidence that I grew up in a household that drank Pepsi and still drink predominately Pepsi products.  The indoctrination works, and goes back for generations… so much so that when a school changes affiliation there is often times an uproar in the community.

But What about Streaming?

So you are asking yourself… Bel… you just told us an elaborate story… but you said it was about streaming?  This is precisely what is happening with game companies and streamers.  There is a natural symbiosis at work.  The gamers need a fresh supply of whatever happens to be the hotly contested games to stream, in order to keep the eyeballs on their channel, and the companies need to have their games placed strategically on as many channels with as many eyeballs as possible.  So even if there is no payola happening under the table… the streamers are actively promoting the products of these games companies.  In fact there is a not so subtle desire on the part of the streamers to keep from burning any bridges with a company… because that could very well mean that they would lose their privileged access to new releases.  On the part of the company… all they really want out of the deal is for this streamer to look like they are having a really good time playing their product, that way someone leaves the channel and gets convinced to subscribe or pre-order because it looked so appealing.

Sure it would make sense for them to serve a greater educational purpose… but honestly…  the big popular streams aren’t doing this.  The popular streamers are entertainers first and foremost.  They are selling themselves playing this game more than the game itself.  They build up loyal followings because the people are interested in the person, not so much what they are doing.  The advertising still works however because it is subtle.  They might have their back wall decorated in products of the company they are streaming for, or be wearing branded merchandise that the company provided…  or even giving away items for the game on their streams.  While all of these seems fairly natural and filters into our subconscious as benign… it is absolutely planned branding and ultimately we are the dollars that the companies and the streamers are trying to get.  Once upon a time… game companies cared deeply about what the blogosphere was saying about their game.  That time unfortunately is over, and over the last few months I have come to realize something.  Blogging is not dead by any means…  and nor is Podcasting really…  but in the gaming sphere neither are they growing.  Once you leave the land of MMO gaming… you are hard pressed to find ANY blogs devoted to games.

For example I have crawled the internet trying to find a source of news and information about Destiny other than Reddit.  There is simply no one out there blogging on a regular basis and producing content explaining how the finer points of the game work.  There are however hundreds of YouTube channels and streamers devoted to this niche.  There are almost no blogs devoted to Call of Duty, but similarly there are thousands of channels devoted to it.  While blogging was the comfort zone of my generation that grew up reading game forums…  and podcasting is the natural extension of that…  the next generation no longer really cares about it.  They are completely connected to YouTube and Twitch as their game information sources, and as a result…  I feel like the bloggers really don’t have much sway.  I am not trying to do this as a living, so in the grand scheme of thing it doesn’t matter too much other than the fact that I don’t have much of a shot in hell of getting into this exclusive alpha or that limited beta.  The companies know exactly what they are doing… and quite simply they are playing the numbers.  They are putting their product in front of as many eyeballs as they can, and doing so in the medium that has the largest majority of those eyeballs…  Twitch and YouTube.

 

 

Week In Gaming 11/8/2015

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Reapers Attack

Yesterday was N7 day and what I can only imagine as reapers… continued to dismantle my house.  What I mean by that is that this week contractors have been working on siding our house and other little home improvement things.  Friday during the day and all day Saturday I have had to listen to them tearing parts of the exterior of my house off, and sawing bits to put back in their place.  I have a headache that is completely insane and I think its simply from all the noise over the last few days.  Another thing that happened yesterday was the ExtraLife Marathon, and at one point we had these grand plans to try and do it as AggroChat.  I am extremely glad those plans fell through because with the contractors traipsing in and out of my house there would have simply been no way I could have done that yesterday.  I did however get to hang out a bit with Liore on her stream, and my hope was that anyone who would have supported me would end up supporting her.  Last I heard she raised something like $2200 which is pretty damned awesome!

Seeking Stimulant

This week once again has been largely devoted to me playing Destiny.  As I had hoped it does in fact seem like the Sleeper Stimulant quest is going to be reappearing about once a month.  I managed to complete the First Firewall and the follow up Shadow Call missions that are the ones that were time sensitive.  Shadow Call in itself was pretty damned insane because it is a mission where you have to reach the top of a tower in three minutes.  This tower is full of tons of Taken Fallen mobs, and essentially you don’t have time to fight ANY of it.  You need to run past as best you can, and the only thing I ultimately took out were the blight orbs that robbed me of my ability to jump.  When you get to the top you have to take down three Wizards all within the original time limit.  It took me about eight tries to get to the top of the tower… but when I finally did I was able to take down the mobs without much issue.  Now I am just left with the task of gathering up all of the elements required to recharge the Ikelos fusion core.  The problem I am having is of course the Warsats… I spent most of last night waiting on Earth in the supposed area where the Warsat spawns.  I waited through three different blights and did not see any Warsats at all during that process, so I am wondering if for some reason they have moved where the Warsat drops.  I am getting conflicting reports of it happening in the Mothyards and Skywatch… which while next to each other are only connected by a series of tunnels that makes them hard to move between.

The other big thing I worked on this week was my Warlock, and I have managed to get him up to level 30.  Doing the level 20 strikes I thought initially would be a great way to level, but for some reason I seem to only get the Omniguul one which is freaking annoying.  I have a few more of those Red Bull experience stimulant things… and I plan on chain running some strikes with them up in the hopes of maximizing the experience gain.  I still need to finish up the Black Garden quest, because ultimately when I am on I spend more time faffing about in patrol missions than I actually do in directed combat.   I have a slew of quests that the various folks on the tower have given me as well that I should probably finish up.  I am not sure what I have this drive to get the Warlock to 40 and geared, but in theory I guess I just want one of each.  In an MMO it always bugs me when I get exclusive gear for a specific class but cant use it… and that has always been my strongest drive to level said class… because I knew I had it waiting on me when I got to level.  I have most of a level 40 gear set waiting in my bank, and I am amped to be able to get the Warlock up to use it.

Halo: Combat Evolved

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Another side project this week has been to go through and play the original Halo: Combat Evolved, or at least start it.  The original Xbox and honestly the GameCube as well are like the biggest voids in my gaming history.  They happened at a time when I was largely in an Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot shaped hole.  As a result I never got to play Halo other than the pretty lousy PC port, and I never really caught back up when I finally got an Xbox 360.  In my travels I have picked up copies of the Anniversary edition of Halo for 360, as well as 2, 3, and 4 and plan on playing through them at some point.  What ended up peaking my interests is the fact that apparently on of the elder races in Halo were the Ecumene, which during the Book of Sorrows in Destiny you find out was a race destroyed by the Hive.  So in theory at least it seems like the Destiny universe is the “future” of the Halo universe, or at least Halo is a universe that exists before the coming of the Traveler and the dawning of the golden age.  I am not exactly sure why I am so fascinated with the lore of Destiny, but I guess in a way it reminds me a lot of the universe of Dune.  Super complex… but you also have to dig hard to find that connective tissue that brings everything together.

I have to say that so far Combat Evolved holds up pretty solidly.  My only real complaint is that I cannot actually remap my controls.  You can choose from one of many presets, but you can’t actually swap around the buttons.  If I had my druthers I would map things to match Destiny more closely… but I did manage to find a set that is “close enough” for me not to instinctively do anything stupid.  I am mostly wanting to know the story of the Halo universe, so that I can maybe glean more information about the Destiny universe.  Also I seem to be on an FPS kick so playing another one just seems to be in the cards.  I am honestly considering playing Fallout 4 on the PC with an Xbox 360 controller just to continue this pattern.  I do at some point need to get back into the swing of playing FPS on PC with the mouse and keyboard because I absolutely intend to play Overwatch that way.

Heroes of the Storm

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As I mentioned briefly above… I ended up playing a bunch of matches with Liore and Elly yesterday during their Extra Life stream.  It had been a really really long time since I had played any Heroes, more than likely not much since the game officially launched awhile back and reset.  They have really added a bunch of nifty stuff, and I noticed that one of my previously “cool” but largely just a recolor skins.. has turned into this elaborate Diablo Tyrael thing which I absolutely approve of.  Unfortunately while playing I just saw a bunch of skins that I really want to get… like Marshall Raynor… and Judgement Uther.  Later last night I poked my head in again, this time alone and noticed that I had more than enough gold to purchase Uther, which is one of those characters that I have enjoyed on free weeks, but never actually picked up.  I have also heard that Rehgar is equally enjoyable in the melee support role, but not really played him either.  I ended up winning a game as Uther which completed a quest.  I guess at some point they backed away from the concept that you could not complete quests in bots only games, which makes me happy because I can actually pop in and get stuff done on days that I don’t feel like dealing with other players.  This is still a really fun game, and probably the only MOBA that I would actually play by myself and solo queue.  Funny how making chat option improves my experience, the only negative is that you always seem to have one player that is off by themselves and not really paying attention to what the team is doing.

Rift

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I also popped my head into Rift for a bit while we podcast last night, and continued to work on my primalist.  At this point I am level 14 and I feel like I am starting to wind down the content in Silverwood.  I guess I am just a die hard Defiant… because I just don’t have near as much fun when I am playing Guardian side.  I liked the idea of a Dwarven Primalist, but man do I wish I had the option of choosing to play the Defiant content instead.  I mean I know you can race change, but it simply was not worth it for me to roll a Defiant and then race change to Dwarf.  I just kinda wish that races were independent of the path you choose to take faction wise… since the faction as fiction patch made all of that really a personal preference not a hard line.  I mean Freemarch has all sorts of awesome Undead that you get to fight… and what does Silverwood have?  Goblins…  Fae… and more Elves…  just not nearly as cool on the “fun to slaughter” meter.  Complaints aside I am continuing to progress but not really playing that often.  This is one of those games that I keep returning to when I want some low key activity, and I don’t feel like I have time to get into something more serious.  I guess I play Rift much the same way as a lot of people play Guild Wars 2.  Get in, do a few things… and get right back out.

 

Week in Gaming 11/1/2015

Goodbye Summer

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This is the week where we finally started to see some colder temperatures.  Its funny that this has been the case for the last few years…  that October for the most part has still be warm and sunny and if we still had our pool open… we probably could have swam in it all month long.  We still have yet to see a freeze but this past week it was regularly in the 40s, when the week before it pretty much never dropped much down past the 70s other than the early morning.  As a result this means our hibernation instincts are starting to kick into overdrive.  We recorded the AggroChat podcast Friday night, which left us with all of Saturday to do whatever we wanted.  The end result… is that we pretty much just stayed inside apart from a mad dash out of the house around 4 pm to run a few errands.  I am perfectly fine with a weekend like this…  my wife however has some inborn instinct that tells her that we if did nothing over a weekend… that the weekend is somehow a failure.  Me… I see those as the most wonderful weekends ever.

Destiny

I had all of these plans to play some themed games for Halloween… but those plans pretty much died yesterday.  Instead I ended up working on my Warlock and getting it to 21 from about level 8.  I have to say the Warlock is growing on me over time… and I really really like Nova Bomb as a super goes.  It is this awesome mix of the way the Havoc Fist super and Shadowshot super feel, where I can deliver death from above…  but at a target instead of jumping down in the middle of everything.  Having played all three classes… I have to say they have done an excellent job of giving them all something really neat and special about them that makes it rewarding to play.  The hardest thing for me so far however has been adjusting to the Warlock jump.  It just works so different than all of the others… and while I am starting to get the hang of it…  I still have zero desire to do any of the platforming encounters with it.  We will see when I get to the dreadnaught if I can figure out how to do the various chasm jumps with it.  Hunter is simple…  double jump, and Titan is similarly simple… you just have to sort out when you want to hover over your target before you land.  Warlock…  is just fiddly and annoying and I never can seem to do the sort of jump I need when I need it.

The secret of my success honestly was getting high enough level to where I could break out my Stranger’s Rifle and I plan on riding that puppy up as long as I can.  That weapon is just so damned amazing…  and I am ultimately going to have to sort out the process for getting the modern version of it.  Sadly I don’t have much faction with Future War Cult, which is ultimately required to get the No Time to Explain exotic.  As it stands right now my hunter is running up Future War Cult faction, but since I don’t play him nearly as much as I do my Titan it is lagging behind.  I did manage to get my hunter up to 285 light, and I can now consistently him 297 light on my Titan.  Getting 300 and beyond items just seems to be the problem, and I still decode so many 260ish items that are just trash.  While I don’t mind so much if they are weapons… since I am consistently struggling to keep enough weapon parts on all three of my characters…  but armor…  I have more than enough to share.  I want to take a moment to talk about how much I love the Bungie.net website for swapping stuff between my characters, and the fact that you can do it in the middle of a game play session.  This is a really amazing feature.. and I have heard there are chrome plugins that streamline this process considerably.

For the last several weeks I have been on this mission to grind as many strikes as possible to get Exotic Engrams…  and there was a method behind my madness.  There was one weapon in this game that I wanted more than anything else… and that was.. the Zhalo Supercell.  From the moment I saw it in a video, I loved the look of it as some sort of futuristic AK-47/Bolt Action Hybrid thing.  What I loved more about it was the functionality of being able to chain lightning to all of the mobs around your target.  The only problem being…  I never seem to get weapon engrams.  I get Helms and Gloves… and the occasional Chestpiece… but have pure hell getting any sort of weapon to drop.  So you can imagine my excitement this Friday when Xur had none other than the Xhalo Supercell available.  The only negative of course is that all Xur weapons start at 280 instead of the 290 that they are usually dropping for me as.  I have managed to pour enough stuff into it to get it to 287 which will have to do for the time being.  I love this gun, and more importantly I love the way it rips through mobs that always frustrated me.  I’ve noticed when the lightning procs… it can hit Phalanx and Knights even if their shields are up which makes this gun freaking amazing.  When I wrap up my post this morning I think I am going to stream/record for a bit and talk about some of my favorite weapons currently.

Another huge positive from this week is that one of the Armsday orders was the above Suros DIS-43 Scout Rifle.  One of the rolls available had full auto… which makes this gun freaking amazing.  It has good impact, solid range and really great stability which makes it pretty much the perfect scout rifle for me.  This has now completely replaced Hung Jury in my current weapon load out.  My Hung Jury essentially has maxed range which is nice… because I can use it much in the same way as I would a sniper rifle, but the Suros DIS-43 is just a much better all around weapon.  I noticed it was available for Armsday orders again this week, and I put in for another one… so hoping that I can end up getting a third one for my Warlock.  I have two of these now and they are just excellent.  Hoping that everyone managed to get in on the full auto version from this past week because man… I am really enjoying it.  My only problem with Suros weapons… is that I really don’t like the Red and White paint job.  So this is another case that I would love to be able to repaint my weapons…  like if I could put a Dead Orbit paint scheme on this thing… it would be perfect.

Secrets of Grindea

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Another title that I played this week was Secrets of Grindea to get prepared for the Friday night podcast.  I of course talked about this at length on the podcast, but this is a game where I went through a few different phases with it.  At first… it didn’t really grab me.  This was my pick for the month, and I largely picked it because some of the game footage I saw reminded me of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana.  The early gameplay however… is kinda boring, and the first “boss battle” on the bridge felt a little uninspired.  That was quickly followed up by the Giga Slime boss… which was absolutely brutal to do as a melee character.  So I have to admit that knocked a lot of wind out of my sails as far as this game went.  I did however manage to pick it back up this week and saw the game that I had not quite gotten to yet.

All I can say is… boy was I wrong to doubt this game.  The quests are cute, and a parody of traditional RPG tropes…. without being cruel or slapstick about it.  It is kinda a sly nod and wink to the fans of this genre…  saying “we know” rather than trying to rub your face in it.  We talked about this on the podcast, but this is essentially the game I had wished Citizens of Earth was.  It is well written, has some interesting and often times hilarious characters, and presents a world for the grown up fans of the original Zelda games…  not necessarily the same audience those games were targetting.  The boss fights are really challenging, but each of them have a trick or a pattern that once you figure it out it becomes doable.  That said I do think this game might have significantly more challenging encounters than Zelda did, because the above Hydra was essentially the point where the game broke me.  After talking with my friends on the podcast… there was essentially a pattern that I was missing that hopefully means I can get in and wreck it now.  There was not a single boss that did not take me multiple attempts… other that the first bridge encounter mind you.  The game does a great job of check-pointing your progress so you start pretty close to where you died allowing you to get right back into the action and try again.  Even though this is early access… I highly suggest checking it out…  though admittedly you might just wait for the final version.

Devilian

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The other game that I spent some time playing is Devilian, that was having another beta test weekend.  I still have issues with the game, at least in the style of the character classes… and their gender locked nature.  That said I do actually enjoy playing it, and I think it is a cool take on a normally Diablo clone environment.  It feels like something different, and I find it significantly more challenging already than anything I saw in Diablo.  Diablo gameplay felt “cheap” at times… where bosses would just straight oneshot you if you were unlucky or lacked the armor/skills to deflect the blows.  This game requires you to react a lot more quickly to things happening and dodge out of the way of incoming damage.  I’ve already encountered a boss that I just cannot currently beat, and I am hoping to come back to it once I have picked up a few more levels.  I have this feeling that the boss is designed for multiple players to take him down…  because he is right there out in the open rather than hidden behind a bunch of mobs.

The game is really damned pretty, and I will give it marks too for running extremely smoothly.  I am still getting used to its somewhat quirky control scheme, but it makes sense.  If I were in the permanent test group I would probably be playing this more regularly but with only having weekends to play it… it somewhat disincentives my time spent.  My ultimate hope is that Trion has more control over this one than they do over ArchAge and that maybe just maybe they can get some of the changes in that will make the game more enjoyable.  Like for example the game is desperately in need of some inventory management tools…  like sort and compact.  It feels so odd to be playing a game without those things at this point.  I doubt the whole Gender locked classes thing will ever be solved, because that will mean a TON of art and animation work to get there.  In truth, as I look at the other classes… it is highly unlikely that I would play any of them other than the berserker in the first place.  I am just not much for ranged classes…  and I have zero desire to play a character with a habitually open shirt.  In truth I wish there was some sort of a “tanky” character like the Crusader in Diablo 3.  That would probably ultimately be the class for me.

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.

 

Week in Gaming 10/18/2015

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One Track Mind

This week was quite literally… all about Destiny.  We have a trio of myself, Damai, and Saldonas aka Carthuun that have been running around together quite a bit.  Alternately I have been spending some time with Euron as well when we can manage to meet up, and both “actually” be on at the same time instead of afking for long periods of time and leaving our Playstation 4 on while connected to Destiny.  Of note… if you do not exit out of Destiny before walking away, your PS4 will not fully go to sleep.  I know I have frustrated many people on my friends list who tried to invite me to parties at all hours of the day… when I am not actually at my console.  I have really been so into the PS4 this week that last night when we recorded the podcast, it was my first time on voice chat and really my PC since last Sunday.  Anyways… on with the games!

 

Rift – Primal Urges

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This week on a whim I decided to try and win one of the Wilds Packs being given away by Trion on their Twitter account.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time… and apparently choosing the right code to try.  I opened the image that had six codes in it, and keyed it in quickly into my account and BAM… it gave me the Wilds Pack.  I did not at first realize it but this was the big $100 pack of goodies, but the only negative so far is that it did not seem to give me ANY of the loyalty.  Otherwise it would have pushed me from the Orange tier that I am currently on into the the Red.  I put in a support ticket to ask, but my working theory is… that you get the loyalty for purchasing the pack, not for redeeming it.  In any case I am more than happy to have a slew of free stuff including the new Primalist calling.

I have to say that mechanically it is really interesting.  Instead of an energy or mana based mechanic, you have this push/pull mechanic that shifts your character between Fury and Cunning.  Abilities that are scaled based on Fury push your bar closer to Cunning… and Cunning abilities push towards Fury.  So you are constantly switching back and forth between the two stances and the gameplay feel reminds me quite a bit of the solar/lunar cycle of the old Boomkin.  I say old Boomkin because I honestly have no clue if this push/pull thing is still in that class or not since I have not played one since Cataclysm.  The calling itself is a leather wearing heavy weapon wielder, and so far I am digging it.  As you can tell I shunned the tribal feel of the class and ended up making mine a steampunk dwarf.  I’ve not really made it terribly far, but I have enjoyed the little bit I have played.  I hope at some point soon I will devote a few days to getting really up close and personal with the calling.

Star Wars the Old Republic – Sith Happens

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Last night during the podcast I returned to my Sith Inquisitor and am working on trying to finish it.  I realize there is no way now that I will finish ALL of my classes before Tuesday, but I am at the end of Alderaan now and it seems like maybe if I can focus attention on it today I will be able to wrap this one up.  I am still having a very love/hate relationship with the Sith Sorcerer.  Namely I love that I can burn things down quickly with lightning, but hate how horrible of a healer I am if my companion ever seems to get into trouble.  I switched from Khem Val to Treek and am enjoying that decision so far.  Namely the big problem I run into is that my instinct is to burn harder as our health gets lower… and unlike my Scoundrel I cannot pull us out of quite the health deficit.  So that means I really need to watch the companion health more closely and start healing sooner.  As a result I end up dying quite a lot on this class, which just slows down the process.  The storyline isn’t really “catching” me either…  and I think largely the problem is I ended up choosing the finger-wiggler path instead of the melee path.  Were I slashing things with my dual saber I would probably be enjoying this class significantly more.  It does however give me a healing option Sith side… so I am just going to go with it for now and struggle through.

Destiny – Struggling for Exotics

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I have reached the point in Destiny where those upgrades are no longer coming as quickly.  I am now in the 290 light range and the engrams are being assholes to me.  Right now the best source of gear seems to be doing Heroic Strikes, but our trio still struggles a bit with them.  I realize that through running copious amounts of them that problem will solve itself.  I also am frustrated by three of coins, which seem to be far less effective for me than others.  It took me eight coins before I got my first exotic drop, and I am continuing to feed the beast and have not seen a second so far.  I will say that the exotic that I did get was pretty sweet…  Invective.  I like shotguns, but my frustration has always been their relatively small ammo pool and clip size.  Invective seems to take care of that for me, in that it regenerates ammunition at a fixed rate… which is actually pretty damned quick.  I am finding it useful in strikes for when mobs get too close and personal.. and the fact that you can fire off the four rounds in full auto style… means you can absolutely shred a heroic minotaur for example.  Then I shift back to my pulse rifle and by the time I need my shotgun again, the ammunition is back and ready to go.  The only thing that could be better about it is if the chamber reloaded….  but that would probably be asking too much.

The funny thing is… I am in this place where I am really happy with my assortment of weapons.  I just wish I had more high level blue fodder to feed to them to level them up.  Right now I tend to mostly use…  Hawksaw, Hung Jury, 1000 Yard Stare, Invective, and Sol Edge.  I would love to have the exotic shards and fodder to power up my Hawkmoon… but I don’t have the steady income of exotics yet.  I love that gun… but at 280 it is just too low right now to keep up with my other weapons.  For the most part I am happy shifting back and forth between Hawksaw and Hung Jury… both of which are weapons that feel great and can precision shot pretty easily.  The other big thing that happened this week is that I dug deep into the lore of Destiny, and if you ready yesterdays blog post you will see a bit write up about a series of videos.  Last night I also ended up going on at length about this factor on AggroChat and probably bored the pants off of my co-hosts.  What can I say… I am loving this universe and as I still continue to work my way through the missions I keep seeing more interesting parts of it.  Destiny is one of those games that has grabbed hold of me and does not show signs of letting go.  My hope is that I will be able to get it mostly out of my system by the time Fallout 4 launches….  because I want to spend some close and personal time with the wasteland.