World Scaling Thoughts

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Firstly since I was absent in making a blog post yesterday I feel like I need to address said lapse.  I’m dealing with this horrible strain of the flu that has been going around.  I was in fact one of those people who had the flu shot early in the season as soon as my work offered it, and still managed to catch it.  Last week I went to the doctor and they misdiagnosed me with a bad sinus infection.  As the week carried forward and I was not getting any better I went back to the doctor and this time around they thought to swab me for influenza.  I feel horrible because I probably infected a bunch of people during that weeks time considering people are dropping at my work like flies.  The biggest challenge of this batch seems to be thinking…  as in stringing together a sequence of thoughts into something that makes sense.  I tried it yesterday and failed…  primarily because the topic I want to post about involves a little finesse.  However here I go attempting to make a post work in between the coughing spells.

On Tuesday January 15th the World of Warcraft was once again forever changed with the introduction of patch 7.3.5 and World Scaling.  You have to understand I have been thought a lot of emotional tinges about this sequence of events and it really has taken me this long to be able to sit down and formulate my thoughts.  Now this is something that I had been wishing would arrive in World of Warcraft for so many years before there are lots of games out there that do it really well.  Prior to the patch I had been furiously leveling a Tauren Hunter and upon logging in I had the immediate guttural reaction of “Gah! This Feels Horrible! LOGOUT!!!”.  The longer I have lived with these changes the more nuanced my opinion has become, and today I am going to try and weave it all together into something that makes sense.  Firstly lets talk about what leveling has been like for the last few expansions in the heirloom economy.  Putting on a full set of heirloom items turned you into a god and you could pretty much roll though content with impunity.  With zero hyperbole…  on my beast mastery hunter I could pretty much oneshot every single mob in the game while doing level equivalent content.  This had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives…  the negative being you weren’t actually doing any of the content legitimately.  The positive is it allowed you to tackle all of those boss level encounters and made up for the fact that the zones you were leveling in were effective ghost towns and you might never actually see another player.

The other side effect is that you could level exceedingly fast because of the sheer volume of things you could kill in your wake.  You could pull big and pull sloppy and shake it off knowing there was virtually nothing the mobs could do to you that would actually kill you.  This meant that on a really good night I might be able to do twenty levels of content, and on average something along the lines of ten to fifteen.  It was not unusual for me to do literally all of outland in a weekend afternoon buzzing from 58 to 68 in a single sitting.  The changes have firmly closed this era of the game.  Speed leveling is probably still possible but the definition of fast has changed considerably.  In the nights after the patch I have played with many variables but for the most part it is a really good evening if I see two dings.  In addition to the lack of speed is the constant fear of death as even wearing a full set of heirloom gear I feel just as weak as if I were wearing greens.  I am constantly in peril of pulling too much or the wrong combination of mobs at the same time and maybe not being able to live through the damage.  Previously food and bandages had no value at all because you simply did not need them… but I find myself utilizing both again.  The big boss encounters however are the problem because once again… there is no native population of players leveling through these zones anymore.  There is no one in zone shouting that they need help cleansing ursoc for example…  an encounter that is still mostly unsoloable for anyone but a tank with some sort of health regeneration of their own.  The island full of all of the boss encounters in Grizzly Hills…  I couldn’t even get through one of the mini-bosses let alone the final encounter that requires burning down the boss while also managing large waves of adds.  Essentially if a quest rewards a blue item… it is probably off the menu for solo players to ever attempt because due to world scaling there will never be a time when it is far enough beneath your level to comfortably solo.

So do I mourn the old fast and silly leveling with heirlooms?  Admittedly a little bit.  Because it was fun to feel that powerful and get through the  content that quickly.  However I also realize it was a bit much and lead to all sorts of problems like being unable to kill something slow enough to complete any of those “use item while weakened” type quests.  Level scaling in truth is good for the health of the game because it means everyone will be actually doing the content in the game rather than buzzing past all of it.  Essentially everyone will be leveling every alt now like they were leveling their first.  I am sure Heirlooms do speed things up still, but it isn’t nearly as noticeable as before.  The problem I see however is that in the new economy… the survival capabilities of various classes are likely going to need to be tweaked.  I’ve been playing a bit as Survival Hunter…  and there are just certain encounters that I cannot handle by myself.  I take too much damage and cannot chew my way through the hitpoints before they chew through mine.  Survival is a fairly sturdy class, so that tells me lots of other classes are going to have pure hell in this new world order.  I am not sure what sliders they have to tweak how the content feels, but this first pass feels like it lands a bit to much on the side of unforgiving brutality at times.  There have been several times I have had to log out and walk away from leveling…  because it was annoying me too much.  Leveling alts was always my moment of zen and my happy place…  and now it is stressful.  Again a lot of the problems are with the fact that while the world is scaling I am still utterly alone in all of these zones with no help to be had from another player happening across my path and maybe seeing I am in trouble.  The general world sorta feels the way that Argus feels at times when you are a little undergeared….  and maybe that is the problem.  Heirlooms previously were supposed to scale like you were wearing the best blues you would wear at a given level.  There should never be a time when you feel undergeared for the content…  but unfortunately that is mostly how I have felt every moment after the patch.

Essentially it is an adjustment period, and I will have to get used to feeling weak again.  I think in the grand scheme of things this is probably a good step for the long term health of the game.  I just have to learn that I can’t fly nearly as close to the sun as I used to.

Sword Coast Chronicles

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Do you know how hard it is for me to say Neverwinter… and not follow it up with Nights?  Like that is hands down the hardest thing about playing the Cryptic made MMO…  is just stopping with the first word.  Like part of me feels like it would have simply felt better to call it Neverwinter Nights Online, but I am guessing that Bioware probably still has the licensing rights to “Neverwinter Nights”.  Regardless of this personal struggle I find myself suddenly unable to stop playing this game.  I am not really sure what is going on there but I am having a lot of fun and the content just seems to be flowing smoothly in a way it never did the few other times I tried to play it.  Everquest II had this concept of the golden path where a sparkly line of particle effects would attempt to lead you from objective to objective.  The problem is it never really worked right and was prone to completely abandon you if the effects clipped through the terrain, or simply route you in a truly bizarre manner.  As a result I think when I first saw that Neverwinter had a similar construct… I largely tried to ignore it after all of the bad experience attempting to make it work in EQ2.  The main difference is that here it actually works remarkably well, and while it might not be the most optimal path for questing purposes…  it does end up giving you a nice path to follow that eventually ends in you getting all of the objectives you need to knock out those quests.

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I had so many quests that were either partially completed or not even started scattered throughout a bunch of zones.  I am guessing I mostly ran around and killed stuff without really focusing on completing anything.  The problem with returning to a game after a significant amount of content has been added is you are never quite certain if something was in the game when you last played… or if you had just been completely oblivious to it.  One of these for me is  the introduction of the Sword Coast Chronicles tab which shows your general progress through the game, or at least what you should be working on content wise at a given level.  The only problem with this is that I am progressing way faster level wise than the content would in theory suggest.  I’ve been working on Neverdeath Cemetery still within the confines of Neverwinter proper.  If I had to guess I am now entering the second half of the content in that zone and should begin to start ticking off some of the boxes needed for the completion rewards.  So far the thing that is making this game stand out for me is just how interesting the locations are and how relatively densely packed they are with interesting vistas.  The one gotcha here is that the zones are not really as open as they might seem at first glance but instead in truth are more corridors to move through in a similar fashion to the zone design in something like Destiny 2.  So long as you treat the zone as a conduit to do the quests it feels really good…  when you start trying to break out off the beaten path and just traverse the zone without a purpose however it begins to feel frustrating and confining.

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Another thing I remember about this game is that it seemed really scarce with loot drops and at some point they went in completely the opposite direction.  I am getting more than enough gear from just running about to stay constantly upgraded and in the short time I have played I have gotten three different mounts as world drops and two companions.  There are entire subsections of this game that I have no clue what is even going on… like I vaguely remember there being some sort of web based component to this game.  I keep getting crafters and such from quests but I have no clue how to access it.  I attempted to do a little research yesterday but was constantly confronted with several year old information, so I am guessing the game just does not have much of a informational community presence.  Reading back through my original reviews of the game…  I seem to have thought it was an enjoyable experience each time I have attempted to play it.  The problem is I never really stick to it for one reason or another.  It already feels like I have gained way more traction in the game than any of my other efforts given that I logged in at level 16 Monday and now am just shy of level 30.  There are still a lot of ways that I feel like I don’t really know what the hell is going on, but I am slowly getting acclimatized to the game and feeling like I at least know my way round a bit.  The Dungeons I have run have been a mess… but the sort of mess where one person who is grossly overpowered just speed burns through the content and we sorta follow along haplessly looting shit.  At some point I want to check out the user created content that I know at some point went into the game.  I know my friend Tipa was super into that for awhile, so I am interested to see what playing that is like.  All in all I am still having a lot of fun, and probably just as shocked as you are to be seeing more Neverwinter posts.

On The Mend

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I am mostly among the living.  Yesterday was a federal holiday here in the United States and with me being off work… it also mean’t that I largely treated it as part of the weekend for blogging purposes.  I am still fighting the same crud that I had last week, but it feels like at some point on Monday I turned the corner.  While I still have the vestiges of whatever bronchial mess has inflicted me, I am starting to feel better and less like an appendage of the couch and or bed depending upon the time table.  it truly was a miserable weekend and while I attempted to game I was not terribly successful at anything until yesterday.  I spent most of the break working on the Tauren Hunter who has now finished the Outland and is knee deep in Northrend just starting the Grizzly Hills area.  My hope is that when I ding 74 the bear spirit beast will be up and I can collect it for my pet.  Up until this point I am mostly running a Fel Corehound that I got from the Blasted Lands.  I took the Beast Mastery talent that allows your pets to shadow step… so it is entertaining watching him leap up on targets rapidly.  At this point however I can kill most mobs well before my beast even has time to interact with it…  which is the life of running full heirlooms.

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Sunday I indulged a really weird whim and decided to reinstall the Arc client and give Neverwinter a spin.  I’m on the PR feed still from Perfect Worlds and they are constantly putting out press releases about content releases to this game.  It got me wondering what the current state of matters is when I have literally not heard anyone talk about it in almost two years.  It turns out the game is in pretty great shape as far as actually logging in and playing it.  As far as doing its best to feel insidious from a loot box standpoint…  it is also working on winning some awards.  I don’t remember much about the game if I am being very serious, but you know that thing that we chastised Call of Duty WW2 for doing at the beginning of the year?  Where if you get a drop the game announces to the rest of the world what you just got?  That apparently happens in Neverwinter as most of my time spent in the central hub area was a constant stream of people getting loot drop rewards.  In the very short time I played yesterday I got somewhere around 25 loot crate drops from random stuff while doing quests.  Each one of these crates would require a key which runs roughly $1.25 each without any of the “buying in bulk” discounts applied.  Through the quests I wound up getting three free keys to open three sample crates and if the ones that drop in the wild are at all similar to what they gave us as “examples” for why we should buy into this system…  they were full of utter garbage.  If you can however do what I started doing and just vendoring the damn crates for a few copper each time you saw one drop…  and loot past the money grubbing nature of the game…  the core feedback loop is actually rather enjoyable.  I think when I logged in last night I was around 16 left over from my initial push around launch and I believe I logged out for the evening around 25/26ish.  During all of that time I enjoyed the core game quite a bit so long as I completely ignored the multiple currency cash shop nonsense.  If you can do the same then you too will probably enjoy yourself.

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Last completely random thing I did last night…  is patch up and log into Elder Scrolls Online.  This game is in fact the same as I remember it and still rather enjoyable.  The biggest problem I will have is trying to sort out exactly what I was doing when I was last playing.  I am still being insanely stubborn and wanting to finish all of the original three story arcs before doing any of the newer content.  As a result I believe I am somewhere in the middle of Malabal Tor during my Aldmerri Dominion play through.  From there I will at some point venture forth into Ebonheart where maybe just maybe I can play long enough to see the character that was inspired by me and some of the folks we play with.  I think the fact that I jumped around so much last night… but still managed to get a bunch of play in with each jump…  is probably proof that I am on the mend.  In truth a good chunk of this weekend was spend with me just staring blankly at things without really doing a lot of interaction.  There were several times that I would start up a YouTube video that would then cycle through a whole bunch of things before I even realized I was still watching something.  Now however I need to go warm up the car and prep myself to venture forth into the frozen tundra (for Oklahoma at least).  Tonight will likely either be more Neverwinter or ESO because I had a lot of fun playing both.

 

Bad Concierge

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Yesterday I failed miserably at making any sort of a post.  In truth by the time I had realized I had not logged in and created a blog post it was mid afternoon…  and figured I might as well just call it a day off.  First off this morning I feel like I probably need to update considering my Monday post.  I saw a Doctor Monday afternoon but good or bad the pain had subsided by that point.  The pain in whole lasted roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours and without it being “acute” the only way they really had to diagnose things was some scans.  Their advice to me is that if the pain comes back at all…  go to the Emergency Room immediately.  Based on my description they thought it might have been either a kidney stone or my appendix…  since I still have one of those so in both cases something dangerous if I allow it to go unchecked.  While I was there however they also told me I had a pretty significant sinus infection and prescribed a round of antibiotics to help clear that up.  I had been coughing up a storm the last few weeks and apparently I actually had an infection to back that up.  The doctor suggested that I not return to work until Wednesday, to keep down the odds of me infecting someone else…  which I guess makes sense given this is a sort of work based free clinic thing that I went to.  So for the bulk of yesterday I chilled out while something cooked in the crockpot and piddled around in World of Warcraft while consuming Netflix/Amazon shows.

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One of my favorite things about ElvUi is the AFK screen thing.  Not sure why it makes me happy to see it pop up and I have a directory littered with screenshots of my character sitting down while dancing on the side.  At this point I am level 52 on my newish Tauren Hunter and spending time in the greater Gadgetzan area.  In truth last night before logging for the evening I got the precursor quest to take me to Ungoro crater, so I will likely be heading there shortly.  Being fully decked out in Heirlooms makes the leveling experience really odd given that things rarely last long enough for my pet to even reach the target, let alone need any form of “tanking”.  This means that I am largely running a pet for the flavor of it rather than for the functionality.  Traditionally when I need a pet to be a barrier between me and the target I tend to favor bears…  however for the moment I am running around with a golden brown Owl I picked up somewhere in Feralas that I named Bubo.  The hunter is ridiculously relaxing which has been exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for lately.  One of the things I enjoy about hanging out in Facepull on the Horde side is that I can be a fly on the wall mostly, that interacts every so often but also has the room to simply not interact at all if the spirit doesn’t move me to communication.

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I ended up going off on a twitter tear yesterday talking about guild leadership and being the person in the background that makes sure things are happening.  When I first started leading guilds…  I was very young and lacked any sort of responsibility apart from just showing up at work and making sure I was getting my tasks accomplished.  In fact when House Stalwart hit its stride about a year into the release of the game…  I was in quite possibly the worst job I have ever been in.  I had a horrible boss and felt like I had no control over my work environment, and as a result having a smooth running community to come home to and spend my evenings with was almost refreshing.  During this time my home life was in a bit of a disarray due to the large number of deaths that were occurring in the family, and Stalwart wound up being my stability that I so desperately needed.  As we entered Wrath of the Lich King I changed jobs and wound up in a much better place where I had a support structure and actually started taking on more responsibilities.  As such I found myself starting to back away from the same sort of things that I did during Vanilla and Burning Crusade and begin placing myself in more of a distant advisory role.  By the time Cataclysm launched I had moved up to being a Team Lead, and was responsible with juggling planning and task assignment, and similarly I found myself completely checking out of the guild leadership role and even going so far as to quit World of Warcraft when Rift released.  During that time I have shifted from Team Lead, to assumed supervisor, to actual supervisor… to now interim manager of three groups.  While I have kept trying to be the social glue for guilds…  by the time I get home I just have no social capital left to make things happen.

The truth is that every guild you have ever been in that felt active…  had one or more people behind the scenes making sure that things were going smoothly.  I used to have a motto among our officers that I wanted our actions felt but not necessarily seen, and so long as I had the focus it worked smoothly.  From Cataclysm on Stalwart has changed hands numerous times and as a result has kept going forward without me.  While now it takes a more raiding focus, it is still functional and still doing things.  However if you take away the people who are actively moving the ball forward… you end up with 30 people sitting in guild chat and nothing happening.  That has been the problem with so many of these guilds that I have formed as new games come out..  I don’t have the drive to be the cruise director anymore…  and while I gather up the people I don’t have the strength to actually do things with other people.  This was extremely noticed in the recent foray into Destiny 2 where I spent 99.9% of my time soloing, all the while people around me were trying to make things happen.  Guilds work when they have a concierge making sure needs are being met and I just cannot fill that position anymore.  I have transitioned to being one of the players that just wants to log in and have a good evening escaping whatever stresses piled up during the day.  The key difference for me at least is that I do most of this through solo play and am completely happy to piddle along with alts.  There are times that I miss big group activities…  like I wish we had beat Calus in Destiny 2, or I wish we had made a bigger push into Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood.  Then I sit back and think about the frustrations of having to remember to log in on time with all of the materials needed for raiding on a specific night of the week… and I question if I could ever go back to that.  So yes…  I play tons of MMOs as single player games and am mostly okay with that, and yes I realize I am doing it wrong.  I do like knowing people are out there in spite of me not being capable of actually interacting some evenings, so I will always seek out potential communities because someday…  maybe…  I might shift back out of whatever turtle mode I have been in for the last year.

Poorly Dressed Hunter

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Last night on a whim after running my Emmisary quests on Horde side I decided to start playing something else.  For a long time I have had a level 20 Forsaken Hunter, but I have this major problem playing anything with the “horde hunch”.  While I realize that is eventually going to be optionally not a thing…  there is also the major problem I have with the Forsaken in that they cannot wear anything but trashed out armor.  If I could be an upright walking normal armor wearing Forsaken…  that would probably cause me to re-evaluate a lot of my choices in life.  However I can’t and I doubt they will ever taken away the iconic exposed bone thing from them so…  until that date that is likely never going to happen I am probably going to bounce the fuck off playing one.  I wound up deleting my old hunter and re-rolling as a Tauren, which coincidentally was my very first World of Warcraft character back in beta.  I got into closed beta shortly after the Tauren starting zone opened and primarily played a Warrior and a Hunter for most of my testing time.  That combined with the fact that Mulgore looks not dissimilar from the corner of Oklahoma I live in…  has always sorta made that experience feel homey.

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The only problem is…  first I forgot that my mail armor was a mishmash of nonsense that I got through the Wintergrasp PVP heirloom vendor…  combined with the shaman shoulders because apparently at some point I bought those?  As a result I am the most disturbing ahn’qiraj era fury warrior looking character to exist.  The problem there is that I forgot that I could not ride a mount until 20…  which means I won’t have access to my Yak and a transmog vendor to remedy this until then.  For now…  I just look like a mess roaming around with an awesome purple birb.  There is something extremely relaxing about the leveling process and if I actually want to do that in earnest I am left with two options:  Roll Horde or Roll Alliance on server other than Argent Dawn.  If you notice in the above image… every single Alliance character I have is over level 100, which means I would ultimately have to grind nothing but Legion content and quite frankly that doesn’t sound that fun or relaxing in the least.

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Horde side however I have lots and lots of room for expansion and as a result I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance of “monstrous humanoids”.  I am however catching shit now from my Alliance guild as every so often tells show up in my timeline saying things like “we miss you”.  While I seem to have switched relgion for the moment I am sure at some point in the near future I will play alliance again.  I am neither red nor blue but have always been purple, because purple is a great color and also blends the fact that since day one…  I have played a little bit on both sides of the fence.  The fact that there still is a fence at all infuriates me, which is why I am not nearly as amped as I probably should be about this upcoming expansion.  I have different pools of friends that prefer to play one side or the other and as a result I will always be split between the two.  It is my hope that I can get a few more characters up before the expansion hits so I have a pretty even stable of characters on either side of the fence.  Similarly I will probably start pushing up some of  my Alliance characters as well…  but there is only so much Legion grinding that one can take.  Side note…  I have the best Tauren Hunter Bel-Themed name ever…  Belgrazer.

Double Agent

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I’ve reached this sorta happy place with World of Warcraft where I find myself alternating back and forth between it and Destiny 2 for how I spend most of my evenings.  Over the last month or so I had spent most of my pushing up my Orc Warrioress, and have now reached the point where I can no longer easily push her power level up by just doing World Quests.  As a result this caused a bit of an identity crisis over the Christmas break and lead me to pick another of my various horde characters to start working on.  Having not actually pushed up a Demon Hunter… and Legion being the expansion all about Illidari…  I figured it was high time to actually do this thing.  I started out leveling as Havoc like I had before on the Alliance side but promptly swapped over to Vengeance when I started missing tank survival.  It turns out that I really like Vengeance as a spec and you get to do a bunch of fun things…  sadly at the cost of your charge around the map ability.  The way shorter cooldown version of Heroic Leap in the form of Infernal Strike however makes up for the lack of the less predictable movement ability.  If nothing else the build allows me to do most of the World Questing with impunity and at some point I will actually try some dungeon tanking.

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For the moment however when it comes to LFR, Heroics or Timewalking…  I have been swapping back to Havoc and just noobing it up.  This is the point where I have to step back from some of the commentary I made while leveling the warrior.  I was shocked and amazed at how chill the horde side of the house had been during my experiences…  but once I donned the mantle of the demon hunter…  and potentially as a side effect of the long holiday break…  all of the asshats seemed to come out of the woodwork.  Monday night I chain ran my five timewalking dungeons in a row… and all of the cool demeanor that I had originally attributed to the horde side melted away.  It became a night of gripes and wipes as I limped through my five instances and then walked away praising some dark god that my sanity was still intact.  I am still not entirely certain why my recent change in religion of sorts and swap to the horde, but I would have to think a lot of it has to do with simply wanting to hang out with my friends in Facepull.  As a result it has been this super chill place to hang out and have occasional comments about the game and life in general.  On a day by day basis I am feeling way less of a double agent and more leaning towards the Horde.  For years I never could seem to get into characters on that side of the fence and the only reason why I had a max level character during Warlords was because I boosted, this time around however I have the same number of Alliance characters as I do Horde and I am already plotting the next thing to level.  Side note…  Blood Elf demon hunters look way cooler than the damned floppy eared Night Elf equivalent.

Radiolarian Paradox

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The world is a really weird place and I sometimes have trouble reconciling just how random it is.  Yesterday after legitimate decades of not being in contact… I had a friend I grew up with reach out via the email address on this blog.  As the day went on we chatted and for the most part found out that we are still drift compatible.  We fell out of contact for reasons that quite honestly I have probably talked about on this blog at some point without assigning names or faces to the situation.  However I always sorta hoped at some point he would find his way back into my monkeysphere and that seems to have actually occurred.  It is super weird to get back in touch with someone who hasn’t been around for the last two decades.  Like for example he knows my wife, but at the time we were last in regular contact we were dating and not married.  In that time I have shifted through many jobs and titles and positions…  and had the birth of the blog and podcast and my attempts at writing for a gaming site and then determining that wasn’t really for me.  So much life has happened for both of us and it is weird trying to slip back into a friendship from so many years ago.  Regardless it was a really cool happening to close out 2017, a year that has been generally crummy in so many other ways.

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Lately I have fallen into a pattern with my evenings where I spend a little time in World of Warcraft knocking out the daily emissary chest and doing any world quests that have interesting rewards.  Then I usually end up swapping over to Destiny 2 and doing whatever package schematic is available that day to get more Dawning rewards for free.  I’ve talked about it at length in another post, but the Dawning being a largely cash shop holiday has been immensely frustrating for me.  This was an event that I was so into when it happened in Destiny 1 in part because it brought back the sparrow racing league and ushered in the beginning of strike scoring.  As it stands now I cannot seem to bring myself to run strikes of any form because they largely feel pointless.  The bane of my existence at the moment is the Advanced Paradox Amplifier needed to get several of the prophecy weapon unlocks.  These come from Strikes, Heroic Adventures and Crucible matches…  and come extremely sparingly at that.  I have been mostly grinding them out by chaining the new mayhem mode crucible matches and unfortunately most of the time you wind up with a single Paradox Amplifier per match…  that you then need to turn in ten of to get the advanced variety.  Unfortunately both the Strikes and Heroic Adventures award with the same frequency meaning that you can either do two things that take a significant amount of time…  or grind your face off in PVP.  I feel like part of me is completely dead inside from all of the crucible I have done lately, because I really don’t enjoy it…  but I want the items that I can potentially get from doing it.

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What makes this so painful is that Radiolarian Cultures seem to drop like candy from every public event or chest you open.  I can spend 30 minutes and roam around opening chests on a planet and get more than enough to do several weapons, and then I am stuck grinding for legitimately hours to get a single blue quality advanced Paradox Amplifier.  Throwing another thing into the mix I apparently need Fossilized Hermaion Blossoms which drop in Nightfalls.  I need two of these so does this mean I will have to complete two Nightfalls in order to get this step done, or does this simply mean that they drop two at a time?  The prophecy weapon grinds are largely frustrating because there is no real casual activity on the Paradox side of the equation.  Had they said…  you could do strikes, crucible matches or lost sectors…  that would have been something that I could piddle around on my own happily doing for hours.  Instead strikes feel too long and unrewarding, crucible matches are mind numbing, and the heroic adventure mechanism is just generally unfun especially since they included another god forsaken timer.  At this point I have completed Hand Cannon, Pulse Rifle, SMG, and Sword…  and now seemingly am working on the Saint-14 shotgun.  I need to chain run a bunch of strikes over the next few days so I can get the currency to purchase Curtain Call from Zavala before the weapons swap again next Wednesday.  I am in this weird place with Destiny 2, where I keep playing because I love the moment to moment gunplay…  but keep getting frustrated by the myopic design.

Dawning Sorta

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Yesterday the new and revised Dawning Holiday started in Destiny 2, but I feel like in order to understand the rest of this post we need to talk a bit about what Dawning was in Destiny 1.  This holiday originally ran from December 13th 2016 to January 3rd 2017 and was lumped in with a major update to the game.  As a result it is a little hard to separate what is the Dawning and what is the content, but I am going to talk about it anyways.  In Destiny 1 we had these things called record books that included a bunch of achievements and completing them unlocked loot.  There was one of these specific to the dawning event and featured achievements that involved either the brand new strike scoring system also included with the patch or the triumphant return of the Sparrow Racing League (SRL).  SRL is legitimately my favorite part of Destiny 1 and when it came back over the holidays last year…  I ground my little face off running endless Sparrow Racing League matches.  With this it also introduced a ton of new SRL themed gear and sparrows including these really awesome class items that left a neon streak behind you as you raced on your sparrow.  In addition to that three exotics were introduced into the game, as well as a series of presents that were in the tower allowing you to open one each day and get a mixture of good items and complete junk.  Needless to say there was a lot of stuff included in the holiday and a good deal of it like Strike Scoring became a permanent part of the game after that.

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This year around The Dawning is running from December 19th through January 9th and as much as I hate to be one of those folks…  seems to be largely a bunch of new Eververse Trading Company items.  You are given one Dawning Engram by logging in and then there are milestones that allow you to earn one each week.  When you XP up it appears that you still get a Season Two Engram rather than one of the special event ones, so your ability to actually get items from this event without spending some money seems to be at least somewhat limited.  Instead of presents that give you stuff for free…  you get to loot a quest item each day that requires you to do some stuff and then turns in at one of the tower NPCs for some dawning loot.  The first one is a pattern that goes in your ghost shell slot and requires you to collect 10 phase glass on Io and kill 15 servitors…  which largely meant hanging out and farming the Servitor events as they spawned in the EDZ.  I turned in and got an exotic ship and a shader, but based on what I am seeing this appears to be essentially the equivalent of opening one of those Dawning Engrams… so wide loot table including full sets of class armor, 4 unique emotes, 10 unique ghost shells including 1 exotic, 10 unique ships including 2 exotics, 11 unique sparrows including 2 exotic, 4 unique shaders, and 6 unique transmat effects.  At any given time there are seven of that assortment of forty five items available for purchase with bright dust on the Eververse vendor…  pending my math is correct.  Essentially this is an Eververse holiday with Eververse rewards…  and a minimal method of earning them through normal game play rather than swiping your card.

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The biggest problem I have with the event is the complete and total lack of the Sparrow Racing League.  Instead we get Mayhem Crucible modes…  which admittedly are amazingly fun, but no crazy swoop bike racing action.  For the uninitiated Mayhem is a mode of the Crucible where your super regenerates at an insane rate…  and grenade and melee are slightly increased as well.  It means that it takes what feels like a minute to get your full super bar, and as a result you are running around doing really silly things the entire match.  I played quite a bit of it last night and it was enjoyable to run around the map trying to out super all of the other supers.  Oddly enough I got plenty of normal weapon kills also as I sat back and picked off weakened targets when two different super saiyans clashed in battle.  As fun as Mayhem mode is…  unless it sticks around as a new permanent fixture it is going to feel super hollow.  The original Dawning added so much new permanent content to the game, that this version feels extremely lacking.  Strike scoring is one of those systems that is desperately needed in Destiny 2 and with the bulk of the dawning items coming from cash shop purchases rather than a book of achievements…  it just feels cheap.  I am as big a backer of Destiny 2 as they come, but even I have to stop and think that this seems more cash grab than content.

The Visionary

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I don’t have a whole lot to say this morning given that by the time I got home I pretty much crashed on the sofa and wound up officially asleep about 9:30.  Last week I had several nights where I was not asleep until after 1 am and I think they are catching up with me.  I played a little WoW and a little Destiny 2 but nothing really of sufficient effort to talk about it at length.  The bulk of my evening was an hour long call with my folks where we talked through christmas plans or the potential lack thereof considering we are expecting an ice storm.  We mostly agreed that if the weather was dicey…  Christmas could be any day given we can get together.  My mom used to be super big on doing things on the official day but seems to have mellowed out over the years.  Mostly this morning I wanted to make sure my readers knew about something…  namely the Fall of Osiris comic book over on Bungie.net.  Personally I would have rather they just released it in one of the comic book e-reader formats for us to download and enjoy on our reader of choice…  but the step through the panels format works well enough.  I mean in theory we could recreate it in PDF or CBZ format considering you can easily open the images in another window and snag them that way.  That might be a side project…  but anyways it is 10 pages worth of story and well worth the read.

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Buried in the middle of the comic is a panel showing the written Prophecies of Osiris.  Of course Redditors immediately noticed that at the top of the text was a broken line that looked a lot like morse code, and then another one quickly decoded it.  The end result is a code that when input into the Destiny redemption page rewards you with an emblem. Simply input the following text in the code redemption box…

XFV-KHP-N97

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As a result you end up with “The Visionary” emblem shown above.

 

Conflicted Feels

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This weekend we ended up recording a full on spoilers Last Jedi show because it seemed to be a reasonable thing to do.  Functionally all of the AggroChat crew had already seen the movie and were ready to start talking about it.  In this discussion however I seemed to be the odd man out in the way I feel about the movie.  In truth I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it on Thursday night when I saw it, and as I saw it Saturday with my wife I started to get more critical of it.  When we walked out of the theater my wife was similarly not sure how she felt about the movie, and then as we were walking to the car said she was a little disappointed.  The problem is that seed grows over time and there are certain things in the movie that really bother me.  It has a film with a lot of really awesome moments, knitted together by a bunch of other stuff that I am not really sure how to think about it.  Essentially I am at a place where I feel like this is the weakest of the modern Star Wars movies and I place it firmly behind Empire Strikes Back, Force Awakens, Rogue One and A New Hope.  There are individual moments however that could easily elevate the movie above all of those…  were the rest of the film that strong as well.  I remember thinking Thursday night…  that the movie seemed really long but I mostly chocked that up to being after midnight when we got out of the theater.  When we watched it as a matinee on Saturday morning however…  it felt somehow longer.  My biggest frustration is that the movie really answers none of the questions I had in a satisfying manner, but I won’t go further than that.  If you want to hear the whole spoilery conversation check out the podcast episode because I elaborate on a lot of things there…  and end up being the single person who seems to feel this way out of the crew.  I want so bad to love this movie…  but I am just struggling with it much the same way as I did the prequels.  I was born and bred with Star Wars in my veins…  seeing the first movie as a toddler in the theater…  but I am struggling hard to maintain that hype and love.

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While sitting around questioning how I felt about the direction of the Star Wars franchise…  I spent a significant amount of time playing World of Warcraft.  The irony here is that Warcraft is another franchise I often have deep problems with but keep returning because there is a nostalgic core there that I still love.  Belghast the Female Orc Warrior on Scryers dinged 110 last weekend and since then I have been focusing on gearing up.  This largely has meant a lot of running world quests and more specifically unlocking a good deal of the content on Argus.  In the last week and some change I have managed to raise my item level to 896 which means that I can run the LFR version of Antorus.  In addition to this I have mostly just been focusing on slowly raising my level by knocking out the world quests that give me things that are useful.  Additionally I am trying to burn through all of the Argus quests that I come across in the hopes of gathering enough of <insert newest currency name here> to be able to purchase 910 items.  Luckily the world quest drops seem to be scaling quite a bit as I ratchet my level up there and as a result I am creeping closer and closer to 900.  The biggest challenge right now is the fact that I have yet to see any Legendary items in spite of doing a bunch of stuff that could in theory get me one.  Either they have greatly nerfed the drop rate…  or I am just super unlucky.  In truth what I need to focus on is finishing my Order Hall campaign, because the fact that I have not done so is starting to hold me back in a bunch of ways.  I think tonight pending I feel like doing group content… I will sit down and force my way through it because I know there are still a bunch of missions that I need to run.  Essentially I need to finish Valsharah and do some dungeons before I can get to the next set of order hall quests.