Far Cry 5 Done

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I still appear to be having screenshot issues.  Likely a reboot will take care of it, but right now thing seems to be saving an image in games…  so as a result you are going to get some recycled images with this mornings post.  Last night I finished Far Cry 5…  and I have words about it.  The game as a whole is still something I consider to be really awesome.  The story and the forced nature of it however is not awesome.  After playing through it… I have this feeling that whoever designed the narrative wanted it to be some shocking and moving work of art that would make us feel something.  However it is hard to actually feel things about an interactive narrative that you have no control over.  This is a game that told me a story, and made my character do things that I would not have done…  and the payoff is more shit happening that I was not invested in.  The shocking reveal didn’t feel that shocking when the game kept forcibly pushing our noses in it as we played along.

I think this is the challenge with telling a traditional story…  in an open world game.  The open world nature means that the majority of the time we have complete freedom over our actions and can do whatever the hell suits us.  However when the narrative path is one that would better suit an on rails corridor shooter…  there is a cognitive disconnect between the freedom you normally experience and the super linear nature of the cutscenes.  By contrast if you take something like a Skyrim or a Fallout…  you arrive at a conclusion that was driven by your actions and your interactions in the freeroam world and as a result even if that conclusion isn’t exactly what you expected it still feels like yours.  For a game that has put so much emphasis on building big open world games…  you would think that by now they were a bit better at telling stories in them.

I am still curious to see what happens in Far Cry New Dawn…  but I have also lowered my expectations significantly.

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There was more game to be played in Far Cry 5 with the DLC… but quite honestly I needed a break from that world for a bit.  Originally it was my intend to pop into God of War, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and figure out why PS4 Remote Play was not working.  As a result instead I poked my head into Assassin’s Creed…  which admittedly is yet another Ubisoft open world game.  This one feels considerably different however, and I never actually left Siwa in my initial playing of it.  I have this problem when a game gives me a big open world to explore…  yet tells me that I should leave it to move on with the story.  I want to go out and explore everything, and as a result I spent way the hell too long roaming around the desert tracking down question mark icons on the horizon.  I had this same problem with Dragon Age Inquisition and the Hinterlands.

Last night I moved the story ahead a bit and probably will be playing this for the next few nights to see if I can get re-engaged.  I like the gameplay a lot, which is shocking considering that I never really clicked with Assassin’s Creed before this game.  However considering the number of series Stalwarts that didn’t really like this title…  I am guessing maybe there is a reason?  This feels more like an action combat MMO-lite sort of feel, and I am largely on board with that.  The bow gameplay could be better, but it is passable and serves its purpose.  I know I have a ton of game play ahead of me as I have only managed to track down two of the targets I am after.  I am sorta feeling like when I kill those targets… it is going to give me a world two sort of thing and I realize that my revenge plot is only the beginning.

Bungie Divorce

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I had a totally different post planned for today, but since the news of the Activision and Bungie split was announced yesterday…  there really wasn’t another topic that I would be discussing today.  I also committed memery last night and cobbled together this…  since yeah it is sorta relevant.  So the details that we know…  in 2010 Bungie entered into a 10 year publishing deal with Activision.  Over the last few cycles Activision has been making a point of announcing that Destiny 2 as a franchise has been failing to live up to expectations.  Behind the scenes for quite some time Bungie devs have been leaking tidbits about them feeling constrained by that relationship.

So at this point we really don’t know how the split was started…  did Bungie buy out the remaining two years of the contract?  Did Activision decide that Destiny 2 looked bad on their balance sheet and kicked them to the curb?  Bungie learned the lesson with Microsoft and seemingly retained the rights to their intellectual property going into the arrangement with Activision, and as a result it appears that we have a newly liberated Bungie with all of the rights to keep making Destiny 2 and in theory Destiny 3…  but I will talk a bit more about that later.

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I think the question on a lot of minds is going to be…  who’s idea was Tess Everis and the Eververse store…  and will this change see the focus on this as a monetization vehicle lessen.  In truth I think this was a “both of them” sort of decision and not necessarily something we can really pin entirely on the Activision Evil Empire as it were.  Going into Destiny 2 I think Bungie knew they had to have some vehicle for long tailed sales… and this new version of Eververse was their answer to that.  Now the shop has vacillated back and forth between being grossly unfair at release…  to honestly having the deck stacked greatly in favor of the player in its current state.  I talked a bit about my thoughts there in the Bright Engrams Revisited post, but I think we have seen all of the tweaks we are going to see to Eververse.

The hard truth is… there will not be a major game release that lives in the MMO space that does not include some sort of pay for cosmetics or loot box scenario.  The fact that Destiny 2 hands those Bright Engrams out like Candy for playing through the content, and the fact that you can break down anything into Dust and pick items up as direct sales during the weekly resets…  means to me at least that the system is actually pretty reasonable already.  Sure people would prefer to simply cherry pick the items that they want each season…  but I am okay with the amount of friction that exists.  It gives us a reason to keep checking the store each Tuesday and to keep doing the weekly Eververse Bounties to stockpile bright dust and whatever the cores are called that unlock items from the list.

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The other burning question is…  who’s decision was it to move away from story driven content?  This is another one that I don’t really know the answer to either…  but I would tend to land that one more in the lap of Activision, given that they just pushed out a Call of Duty game with no single player story in it.  I would love to see them return to story beats each time we get a major update, rather than a purely activity driven focus.  I think ultimately we will have to see what Penumbra ends up being like to determine if everything is going to be like the Black Armory going forward or not.  With this change however I have a whole bunch of wish list items…  some of which are wildly speculative but would be amazing.

Shared Game Saves

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If I understand it correctly… the Playstation exclusivity deals were between Activision and Sony…  and Bungie was not necessarily a party to them but in turn constantly effected by them.  I think what this means in the short term is that soon all of the formerly Playstation exclusive content will trickle down to the other platforms as soon as everything is finalized.  What I hope this paves the way for however is a shared save state between all of the platforms.  Sure I would love it if all of the platforms could play together at the same time…  but as an easier hurdle…  I would love it if I could log into my PC characters on the Xbox or PS4 so I can keep playing with friends on those platforms.  At this point it would require an account merge system but I could see various ways where that might work.

Since the game largely uses an entitlement system now instead of actual items for everything but Forsaken forward…  you could do some sort of a system where you choose a primary account and every other account would simply just copy over the achievements and entitlements.  Of course at some point I want the ability to play with my PS4 friends while playing on the PC… and with the consoles moving further towards accepting keyboard and mouse as an input option (something both Xbox and PS4 support in limited ways currently) it might be a reasonable option.  At the very least it should be completely fine for any PVE activity… with PVP being the outlier where they might still have a segregated “Console” and “PC” play lists.  Look we are setting up a wish list here….  so even if it is unrealistic at this very moment…  it still definitely falls on it.

Bring Back Destiny 1

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It is as simple as it sounds…  I would love to see all of the patrol zones and activities from Destiny 1…  make an appearance in Destiny 2.  They have been cherry picking elements from the first game already, but a lot of us players from Destiny 1 felt a great sense of loss in losing all the places we loved from the first game.  It will take some work, but in theory they could start shimming in zones here and there as they release other content.  I would love to be able to do Prison of Elders again or take on Oryx.  You could even bring in some sort of a time walking like mechanic that lets you run older content without effecting the flow of the current storyline.  What if there was an ascendant realm that contained pockets of these old settings or something of that sort.  The Destiny story is kooky enough to be able to support it via space magic.

Table Destiny 3

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Along the lines of the last topic…  I would honestly love to see them completely table the discussion of a Destiny 3.  Hell at this point my preference would be for them to rebrand Destiny 2 to simply be “Destiny Franchise” or something of the sort and start treating the game like a more traditional MMORPG with semi-yearly expansions that keep adding new content without doing a nuke from orbit reset every few years.  Sure a new game gives players a chance to come back into the game on the same footing of every else…  but I legitimately do not thing we will be gaining a much larger audience than the game already has.  Destiny 2 was a big push and burned a lot of people…  and getting those players back won’t happen with a new numerical release.

Keep the Course

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I like the roadmaps that they are now doing… and I like that there are little trickles of new things flowing into the game every so often.  Ultimately my hope is that we will see more content without the thumb of Activision…  but quite honestly I am not sure that is realistic.  The company will be getting a larger share of the profits…  but those initial purchase profits are already a sunk cost.  They are going to have to prove to us that annual pass is worth it at this point, and I am not entirely certain that Black Armory did that.  Additionally they are going to have to give us other things to purchase to keep the cash flow incoming.  It will be interesting to see how things move forward as we clear the rest of this year.

If they straight up released Destiny 1 for PC as a stand alone game… I would probably throw money at the screen and buy it.  However if they released the content FROM Destiny 1 as an expansion to Destiny 2 that was not part of the Annual Pass content…  I would probably throw MORE money at the screen.  I do however think they might need to rework Eververse drastically however to give us more reasons to give them money.  That does not mean that I think they need to fuck with the math and make Bright Engrams stupid, but instead offer other avenues.  Like for example… if I could spend bright dust/silver to unlock shaders permanently…  I would probably do that.  SWTOR had that functionality of buying things as unlocked for your entire account, so in theory they could do something similar.

Additionally I would throw lots of money at the screen if they created an expansion that added better cosmetic options to the game, and allowed us to create outfits of our favorite gear appearances…  decoupling them from what we happened to be actually wearing.  Basically there are ways that they can keep improving the game, but also creating vehicles that get us to spend money with them.  There are folks that are predicting a switch to a free to play model like Fortnite, but I question if that would actually work.  Destiny 2 is not exactly a game that is great at onboarding new players, and they would have to think long and hard about how to address that problem.

At this point I have rambled at length… but these are some of my thoughts.  What are your thoughts about this announcement?

Another Seed Down

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This mornings post will probably have some minor plot point spoilers for Far Cry 5… so be warned.

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I am going to have a pretty short post this morning as I need to get into work earlier than normal… and I apparently did not have the foresight to pre-stage something last night.  I am finding myself still very much enthralled with Far Cry 5, and quite honestly this is a bit of a rare occasion with me.  I am not normally one of those players that has to finish something they have started.  My super power has for years been being able to wander away like a bored toddler from literally any game and pick up another shiny object in my field of view.  This is why I have not finished God of War for example, in spite of everything up to the moment I sat it down for a bit…  being a truly great experience.  Maybe 2019 will be the year that I actually start being games instead of just playing them for a really long time and never quite finishing them.

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At this point I have finished another chapter of the game, this one involving Faith Seed…  the “temptress” of the Seed family.  This played out so much differently than I was expecting based on the media I had ingested about this game.  I was sort of expecting her to seduce the player… and in some ways that is exactly what happened…  but not in the manner that games normally try and seduce players.  Instead of sexual gratification…  Faith trades in Bliss…  a drug induced state where everything is peaceful and joyous.  In this state of ecstasy you become the unwitting puppet for whatever she wills her followers called “Angels” to do.  The truth is… I thought the section of the game surrounding John Seed was disturbing…  but Faith cranked that sense of everything being fucked up and wrong to eleven.

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From there I have moved on to Jacob Seed…  the hunter that views that the only way to progress as a society is to constantly cull the weak.  While Faith was able to invoke a sense of Bliss…  Jacob seems to be able to pervert this into a sense of animistic rage.  So far however this appears to be the weakest of the chapters… because while I prefer playing games in Murder Hobo mode…  that doesn’t exactly make for a compelling character.  There are disturbing things about this chapter, but they seem to be largely centered around the stories that the survivors tell and not the actual actions you are having to go through.  You end up working a lot for a character that is essentially the living embodiment of Darryl from Walking Dead which is always cool.

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This chapter also seems to have my favorite companion…  Jess Black who looks like a jacked up Robin Hood.  I like her however because she stays the fuck out of the way…  as she focuses entirely on far ranged attacks with the bow.  Right now my party of choice is her and Boomer…  though as always Hurk is pretty entertaining and also arrives during this chapter.  For those who have played any other Far Cry games…  Hurk is a repeat character that links the worlds together.  He shows up in Far Cry 3 and 4…  and you find out he actually comes from Hope County as you meet his very cantankerous and very conservative nut of a father.

All in all I am still enjoying the hell out of this game, but the complaint made in the comments the other day still holds true…  the cut scenes that involve the various members of the Seed family always feel like they are interrupting the actual enjoyable part of the game.  The fun for me is running around and blowing stuff up.

Far Cry 5 Thoughts so Far

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Today is a bit of a struggle as it is the first day in a week that I am actually having to get up and around on a schedule.  Traditionally I take the full two weeks off surrounding Christmas and New Years, but this year since I am now the low manager in seniority…  I wound up having to work the weird and horrible partial week following Christmas.  However that meant I was going to take all of my time off for the holidays in the first week of the year.  I allowed myself to get way out of practice in the whole getting up at 5:30 in the morning thing…  most of those days I wound up rolling out of between somewhere closer to 7 or 8.  So as a result I am paying for it this morning.

Note I am going to be talking about Far Cry 5 this morning and there might be some minor spoilers.  Going to try and stay away from a lot of the specifics, but I have to say some things to explain the shape of the narrative.

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The Video Game Awards produced a shocking number of announcements that made me greatly interested in some of the games coming out.  One of those was Far Cry: New Dawn which is a post apocalyptic game set in the same setting as Far Cry 5.  This intrigued me greatly given that as far as I am aware…  the Far Cry series has never actually made a direct sequel to any of their games.  They’ve had several cases of the same game using the engine from the previous title…  aka Far Cry 3 and Far Cry Blood Dragon and Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal.  Far Cry 5 had been on the list of games that I wanted to play since I saw the initial trailers, but I never picked it up because I always had other things to play.  Over the break I caught a sale and wound up grabbing it and have been playing a silly amount of the game.  It’s weird that the thought of a sequel was what ultimately pushed me into gear to get going with playing it.

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The elevator pitch for Far Cry 5 is that it is set in Hope County Montana, and draws heavily on the history of various religious cults that we have had here in the United States.  The game centers around one such Cult that has a home base of operations in the Montana country side called Project Edens Gate.  Instead of worshiping the Bible, they worship something they call the Book of Joseph…  which was written by Joseph Seed the man the cultists refer to as The Father.  He has predicted a collapse of society, and when you are called upon to serve a warrant to arrest him on Kidnapping charges that signals the opening events of his prophecy.  You barely escape the compound and are now a hunted man…  as the Project Edens Gate…  or Peggies as the locals call them…  swarm out capturing everything in the Valley.

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You have the set up for a game that works pretty much like so many other games where you are the opposition to a larger force…  your job is now to destroy the foothold the cult has on the area and save as many locals as you can in the process.  The game is divided up into a bunch of sections, as each one of the “children” of Joseph Seed act as lieutenants over a different region of the valley.  I wound up going after John Seed, in part because it felt like the game was directing me there… and the person he was holding was the one I was most interested in saving.  As you take actions against the regional “boss” you raise a resistance meter, and every third of that bar there is a stopping point that triggers a specific event that plays out.  By the time I reached the conclusion of this “zone” of the game I had successfully worked up quite the hatred for John Seed, and wanted to see him die.

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Which admittedly plays in really nicely to the narrative of the game.  My sin is that of Wrath, and as you tear through wave after wave of brain washed cultists…  you start to think about that specifically.  I love killing baddies in games, but in truth…  I am the embodiment of Wrath each time that occurs.  The final fight unfortunately is one of the most frustrating I have ever encountered in a game, largely because it centers around a dog fight.  While I enjoy flying planes in Far Cry 5…  the controls themselves do not lend themselves to aerial combat.  There are a couple of options here…  you can hire one of the townsfolk to be your wing man and let them get the killing shot.  If you are far enough in the game you can buy a heat seeking rocket launcher and take him out that way…  or you can go the route I did and purchase the attack helicopter which is way the hell more maneuverable in the air for fighting.  Thankfully at that point in the game I had a lot of cash and had unlocked the Helicopter shop.

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The best part about the game however is that you get to run around…  if you choose…  with Boomer that dog.  He is so much better than any of the human options when it comes to your partners…  because firstly he alerts you to any trouble that might be ahead.  Secondly he retrieves stuff from the bodies that you kill along the way, meaning that other than cash you don’t have to be quite so concerned about making sure you loot every single body that drops.  You are going to be killing a lot of people in this game and as a result producing copious amounts of bodies that you have to painstakingly loot.  The dog short cuts a lot of that, and unlike some of the other companions he rarely gets in the way of what you are actually trying to accomplish.  The game has a photo mode and I used it in the above shot to focus in on the good boy that I am regularly running around with.

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I think the most interesting thing about the game so far is how familiar it feels to me.  I grew up in very humble and very rural roots.  I came from a town of 2000 and graduated in a class of 60…  while that was Oklahoma and this is Montana…  there is a shocking bit of detail that stays exactly the same no matter what rural environment you are traversing.  The people remind me so much of people that I knew growing up, so I have to give massive credit to Ubisoft for getting that feel completely dead on.  Even the cultist thing feels a little familiar as we had a local Want-To-Be-Megachurch Preacher that paid kids to attend church service in the form of scholarships.  The amount you got was a formula based upon how many services you attended and how many other kids you recruited to the fold.  So sure it wasn’t a dooms day cult, but it felt no less creepy.  Essentially I relate to this game and setting way more than I ever have in the Far Cry settings, and I am looking forward to getting home tonight and starting another area.

Great game so far, but unfortunately given the release window for Anthem of February 22nd…  I doubt I will be playing New Dawn the sequel when it releases on February 15th.  Tomorrow I am probably going to talk some about the games that are coming out in 2019 that I am looking forward to… but if you want a preview we talked about it at length during the podcast this weekend.

Seasonal Light Cap Get

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As promised yesterday, today we return at least for a bit to proper gaming news…  or more so the news of the gaming I have been up to over the break.  I’ve been spending a significant amount of time playing Destiny 2 which is not terribly shocking.  That said I did manage to hit 650 light, the current cap for the rest of the current season and even have managed to push up my standard loadout of Breakneck, Ikelos Shotgun and Thunderlord to that level as well.  Now begins the slow process of bringing the other things I care about up to that level as well.

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I also managed to get my Hunter to 50 and have finished the Warmind content now and am slowly chewing my way through Forsaken.  I’ve swapped over 650 weapons and am using them to slowly push up her light level which I have managed to get to 625 in a day of trying to do this.  I will probably be spending a good deal more time working on her than the Titan seeing as I hit my initial goal of hitting the light cap during the break.  At some point I will probably also start working on pushing up the Warlock, but seeing as that is my least favorite class to play… it always ends up lagging behind significantly.

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The core problem I am having with Destiny 2 is a pretty good one to be having.  There is more content to do each week than I have time to really do it in.  At launch time I could push through all of the powerful gear options in a single night, and could easily run out of things that I felt were “worth doing”… and as a result spent a good deal of time working on alts to spread out that list of things to do enough to get me through the week.  With the current state of the game there is no way I have enough time to do all of the things that could create progress so instead I just focus on the things I feel like doing in a given night.  I am leaving so much progression on the table in a given week that I am having to learn to be okay with it.

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Lastly I have been tooling around with a weird Dark-Soulsian game called Ashen that is currently only available on Xbox One and the Epic Games store.  Once you get over the fact that all of the characters are faceless poppets, the game does a much better job of making you care about the world that you are exploring in the fact that you are essentially recovering after an apocalypse.  As you roam around you meet new people that you can help and in turn they join the village that you are building.  They start to offer you whatever it is that they can do from forging weapons to letting you futz with your stat layout.

There are times the game reminds me of Breath of the Wild as well…  albeit with way more hardcore combat.  It is very easy to die in this game as pretty much everything in the world hates you.  This can get a little frustrating because in my rush to attack before  they can attack me…  I have accidentally killed a few NPCs.  I am enjoying myself quite a bit, but I am not really playing it anywhere near as much as some of the other games I have on my plate.  I still thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone else was interested.  They have managed to create a game that is very much in the Dark Souls genre… that is also very hopeful and not quite so soul crushing. I linked to the original trailer above.

Forging Stuff

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A couple of weeks ago I talked about my general disappointment in The Black Armory and how it does not really have any content that players can participate in immediately.  That much is largely true but as far as disappointment it is waning.  Once I hit 620 light the Forge Ignition sequence went from nigh impossible to pretty much a guaranteed thing.  The actually event itself is honestly pretty great, I just wish it would have scaled in a similar fashion to the way that strikes appear to, giving players a brand new activity to do at a much wider variety of light levels.  Now at 630 light burning down the final boss feels much like burning down a Public Event Boss…  somewhat time consuming but largely trivial.  Granted I have yet to ignite any of the forges other than Volundr, but I am up to the point where I should be doing Gofanon tonight.  I could have in theory done it last night but I spent my evening trying to mop up any remaining powerful gear rewards that I had available.

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The Hammerhead is your first reward for taking down the boss and while I didn’t get an amazing roll…  I didn’t get a horrific one either.  I’ve since ignited the forge a few more times to get some of the blue weapon frames which apparently end up as one of a handful of weapons per type of activity being completed.  I did one that required doing three lost sectors on the Dreaming City and another that required taking down a couple high value targets in the Gambit and in both cases it rewarded a weapon from the pool from those activities.  I am working on one for collecting a bunch of materials, and as a result I am assuming it will be rewarding one of the planetary weapons as a result.  Now for some quick show and tell of some of the weapons I have picked up from the armory either as drops or as frames that I forged.

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This is the weapon that I forged from a blue frame that involved running three lost sectors in Dreaming City.  I have to say I love this weapon so much in both look and the way it feels to use it.  I’ve infused it up a bit and it has more or less become my new main hand canon to go to.

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The other weapon that I got from forging a blue frame is Bygones…  which weirdly enough is a weapon I had yet to get from any of my Gambit packages.  This one comes with kill clip and full auto and so far has been a blast to use because it honestly feels like you are firing a really slow rate of fire super accurate auto rifle.

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As far as random drops…  Bad News was never an amazing Hand Canon to start with, and this way cooler paint job version isn’t necessarily amazing either.  The roll I got has explosive rounds and range finder… which is okay-ish but the reload speed largely precludes me from using this very often.

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Baligant is also not an amazing shotgun in general but this version with Field Prep and Moving Target seems particularly bad…  I mean I guess you could slide to reload but not really my cup of tea.  I tend to ignore all shotguns that are not full auto.

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Lastly I finally wrapped up my Hand Cannon Headshots in Crucible… and then completed the rest of steps and unlocked my Ace of Spades.  Yes I realize this is like six months behind the curve but whatever…  it knocks another exotic quest off the list.  I still have several that I need to do including the Rat King which simply requires me to go find some other people with the Rat King and do activities.

Have you gotten anything cool or interesting from the Black Armory Forges?

Prison Break Problems

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First off I need to start this mornings blog post with a spoiler warning.  If you have not played through the first mission in the Destiny 2 Forsaken expansion, then there are going to be spoilers included.  Granted probably nothing more than was already spoiled with the Forsaken trailer, but I just felt like I needed to throw that out there.  This weekend I spent some time playing Destiny 2 and while working on the Heroic Story mission queue I noticed one of the missions was “Prison Break” the first mission in the Forsaken storyline, and something I had not played through in awhile.  I remembered really liking it a lot and opted to go replay it for powerful gear credit.

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It was around this point that I realized the core problem with Destiny 2 and its story.  It functionally operates in two modes…  pretending that you never played Destiny 1 and re-educating you in all of the basics of the universe, or assuming completely that you were a Destiny 1 lore hound and giving you a big ole deep dive with little room between the two.  The “Prison Break” episode plays out completely differently for players who were new to Destiny with the PC release and players who were veterans of the original game on the consoles.  This disconnect begins from the very moment that you are treated to a cinematic between Uldren Sov and Cayde-6.  This really hit me at the moment of the above screenshot…  the “How’s your sister?” line either is extremely powerful or makes no fucking sense depending on your perspective.

“Prison Break” is a mission that almost exclusively references things that happened in Destiny 1… and worse things that were never introduced up to this point in Destiny 2.  Sure if you went around scanning everything your ghost indicates you can scan you might have gotten snippets of information here or there but if you base things entirely upon what you see in the normal flow of Destiny 2 there are a bunch of problems.

  • The player has no clue who Uldren Sov is – we last saw him in the introduction to Taken King expansion for Destiny 1
  • The player has no clue who Mara Sov is… because again we last saw her in the introduction video to Taken King in the big Oryx space battle
  • The player really has no clue what the Reef is
  • The player has no clue that the Awoken were working with the Fallen and have no clue who Variks was/is
  • The player has no clue what exactly the Prison of Elders is
  • The player has no clue who Petra Venj is and why we already seemingly know her

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These are all things that make this mission extremely confusing if you view it through the lens of a “brand new to Destiny 2” player.  For veterans however this mission is a big romp as you roam through this place that you only managed to see a piece of before when doing trials for Variks.  This is a destination I think that we all wanted to see more of and I was completely staggered by the sheer scope of the place when I first played the mission.  For those who are not already familiar with it… it is just another busted ass location that is being blown up for some reason and that is largely hand waved away.  There is no time spent on explaining what it is other than a Prison, and no time spent explaining who Petra Venj is other than someone who can apparently levitate her knife.

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This is the core challenge of this expansion and why I think it had such split reactions.  For me it was an amazing romp through places I had been and quite honestly miss greatly from Destiny 1, and for others… it is just another string of locations that were never really explained.  The game does a really bad job of telling a cohesive narrative that does not require you to have watched every single Byf or Myelin lore video to understand.  I was one of those players that gobbled up every little bit of lore about the first game… and as a result I sounded like a madman half of the time when I talked about it trying to defend it to the rest of the AggroChat crew as being this deep masterpiece.  The game doesn’t just let players know these things, but instead requires them to jump through a whole bunch of hoops to be able to interact with the content.  The Book of Sorrows is really interesting science fiction horror reading…  that thankfully has been collected into an easy to read PDF or EPUB format…   but to get it initially you had to roam around the Dreadnaught in Destiny 1 collecting over 40 Calcified Fragments.

The problem with this style of storytelling is it sets up a dichotomy of players.   You have players like me who are willing to track down the story and chase it across various in game assets and other websites that help to summarize and condense the content into easily understandable chunks.  You also have what I feel is the majority of players who just straight up bounce off of the story when it never quite pays off on the deep secrets they have heard people talking about through its storyline.  If you were a lore hound, you immediately understood who the frozen hive were and why it was super exciting to see them.  You also understood a lot of things about Rasputin and at the very least knew who Ana Bray was enough to be interested in meeting her.  You also knew all sorts of things about Cayde-6 and his background and how someone becomes an Exo, and why Clovis Bray is the home of some really dangerous technologies.

 

As a new player… which is especially true for the PC crowd given that there was no option of playing Destiny 1 on that platform, you are simply treated to a list of names that have no real meaning.  These are proper names which is at least an upgrade from Destiny 1 which treated you to “the traveler”, “the speaker”, “the exo stranger”, and “the darkness” among others.  The names themselves however don’t have meaning attached to them if you didn’t dig for said meaning.  Sure for the right kind of player this sets up a delectable puzzle that they are going to go digging for to find the answers, but you can’t expect EVERY player to want to do the leg work required to make any sense of it all.  In the end I will defend the story that is being told as ground breaking, because the sum of all parts is amazing…  but the game does no favors in actually helping players find it.  It took me a long time to really see this point of view, but replaying through “Prison Break” was a bit of a wake up call to them simply not explaining why we should be caring about anything in this game.

One Crazy Sled

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Yesterday I talked about the initial quest of delivering cookies to Zavala to cheer him up, but the rabbit hole goes way deeper than that.  When you turn that quest in you pick up a second one from Eva Levante to get a secret blueprint from Amanda Holiday for a new sort of sparrow.  I also covered all of the recipes yesterday but the quest asks you to deliver Vanilla Blades to Shaxx, Chocolate Ship Cookies to Amanda Holiday and Eliksni Birdseed to Hawthorne as well as bake a grand total of 12 gifts.  Now I am not sure if these need to be unique gifts or if you just need to bake twelve in total.  Regardless I set about making one of everything yesterday and delivering them, and currently the only gift that has not been delivered is the one for Xur who of course will not be available until Friday.

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Your reward for baking one of every possible recipe is that you can “Masterwork” Eva’s Holiday Oven.  This essentially lowers the dawning essence cost from 15 per item to 10 per item…  which is nice…  but still it seems like this holiday is way more about grinding dawning essence than any of the other individual components.  It does make it way easier to craft individual items once you have learned all of the patterns which show up in a drop down as I am showing off in the above screenshot.  Something interesting of note… the counts seems to be tied to your account and not individual characters because as soon as I collected the quest on my Hunter this morning for the purpose of getting screenshots… I was able to Masterwork the Holiday Oven and showed that I already knew all of the patterns.

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Once you have baked all of the cookies and delivered them to everyone needed in Eva’s quest you can go to Holliday and get your Dawning Cheer sparrow.  It does in fact look as silly in game as it does in this screenshot and it has a bunch of seemingly unique animations that make it seem way more cumbersome to drive than various other options.  Now the thing with this sled is it is not quite complete when you get it… there are three talents that you have yet to unlock and those are started by completing a few quests for Amanda Holliday.

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I’ve photoshopped them all together so you can see the requirements.  Essentially in order to get all of the talents you are going to need to start making a TON of gifts…  120 in total but thankfully they seem to be cumulative and not separate achievements.  This is one of those situations where I am not sure if this is also account based, but I plan on getting the hunter through the first part and getting her sparrow tonight as a test to see if you can effectively bake them on all of your characters and count towards one total.  Essentially you are going to need to at a minimum give another round of Gifts to Ikora, Sloane, Devrim, Asher, Banshee and Failsafe…  and then a bunch more gifts on top of that to whoever you want until you reach the magic 120 in total.

Now the positive is each time you turn in a gift you get a chance at getting interesting gear…  as I picked up a new roll of the Avalanche HMG that I talked about yesterday by turning in a package to Sloan last night.  All in all I like this version of the Dawning quite a bit, but I miss the sparrow races greatly.  They really need to bring that concept back to Destiny 2.  I am however enjoying doing stuff… and then getting random bonuses from doing said stuff…  which in truth is going to keep me engaged in this event way longer than it probably should.  I want the nonsense tricked out sparrow that causes glitter to spawn when you do stuff…  so I guess I will be baking 120 gifts?  So far Crucible and Gambit seem to be the best use of my time for the purpose of farming Dawning Essence…  and I have objectives that I need from both of those so I might be farming those tonight.

 

 

The Dawning Arrives

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As I assumed yesterday, the Dawning was in fact waiting on me when I got home from work and logged into Destiny 2.  For the uninitiated The Dawning is effectively the Destiny universe Christmas event, covering the tail end of December and the beginning of the new year.  It has meant a lot of different things, including really awesome sparrow racing in the past.  Unfortunately that event did not make a return, but instead we get a fun mini game that asks us to go out into the world and do various things.  It also signals getting bonus seasonal bright engrams each time you level up, so doubling the opportunity for bright dust and related rewards.  Unlike past years however this feels way more rooted in game activities and not just another attempt to pry money from us in the cash shop.

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The event signals the return of Eva Levante to the Tower, who for those of us that date back to Destiny 1 will remember was the shader and emblem vendor.  Weirdly in Destiny 1 she was associated with the Festival of the Lost more than The Dawning… but I vaguely remember her also being the starting place of this event back in the day as well.  What Eva asks of us this year is to collect various ingredients and make baked goods for the denizens of the tower and all of the various NPCs scattered throughout the solar system.  She also offers a series of daily bounties that reward ingredients and at least one of them rewarded Powerful Gear, but I assume that is a weekly or one time reward only.

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Eva has given us a portable oven that fits in our inventory and asked us to go out into the world and start collecting ingredients.  She starts us off by giving us the ingredients and a recipe to make Gjallardoodles for Zavala, to sort of show us the ropes of how the system works.  After finishing that we are asked to collect the ingredients for Vanilla Blades for Lord Shaxx and Eliksni Birdseed for Hawthorne, and both of the quests tell us specifically what ingredients to go collect.  Effectively every recipe has three parts, a common material that drops from a specific enemy type, a rare material that drops based on the sort of damage you are dealing to the mob, and then dawning essence which drops from various activities from Public Events on the planets to match made activities like Gambit or Crucible.  Here is a quick rundown of the drops for various mobs and damage types.

Common Items (Green – Mob Based)

  • Cabal Oil – Kill any Cabal Enemies
  • Chitin Powder – Kill any Hive Enemies
  • Dark Ether Cane – Kill any Scorn Enemies
  • Ether Cane – Kill any Fallen Enemies
  • Taken Butter – Kill any Taken Enemies
  • Vex Milk – Kill any Vex Enemies

Rare Items (Blue – Kill Damage Based)

  • Bullet Spray – Kills made with “Machine Gun” type weapons – Auto Rifle/SMG/HMG
  • Delicious Explosions – Explosive kills aka Class Grenades/Rocket Launcher/Grenade Launcher
  • Electric Flavor – Arc Damage based Kills
  • Flash of Inspiration – A kill that generates an Orb of Light – Supers or Masterworks
  • Impossible Heat – Solar Damage based Kills
  • Null Taste – Void Damage based Kills
  • Perfect Taste – Precision Damage Kills – aka Headshots
  • Personal Touch – Melee Based Kills or Melee Abilities like Thrown Weapons
  • Sharp Flavor – Sword Kills… not sure if Hunter Knives can proc or not

These are then combined with Dawning Essence which drops from pretty much anything, and crafts an item that begins a quest chain.  Now a lot of these won’t show up on the map as a quest but it will cause the icon for a given vendor to start blinking.  You turn in the baked goods and get a package that usually includes some Dawning Essence and a Blue or Purple.  There are Triumphs associated with finding each of the recipes and delivering it to the respective NPC.  As I said before you are only given three recipes from the start, but as you experiment with putting different items together you start unlocking the specific vendor items.  If you put together two items that don’t make a tasty treat…  you end up with Burnt Edge Transits which Master Rahool will take off of your hands.

Recipe List

Collecting materials can be time consuming… since they do not by any means drop every single kill.  So as a result here is a list of all of the recipes, since if you are like me you are going to ultimately want to craft one of each to get the triumph for the holiday event.  All of the recipes will take 15 Dawning Essence to craft so not listing that, just know it is a requirement for everything.

  • Alkane Dragee Cookies (Sloane – Titan) – Chitin Powder and Bullet Spray
  • Burnt Edge Transits (Master Rahool – Tower) – Any two ingredients other than those of the recipes below aka the failure state item
  • Candy Dead Ghosts (The Spider – Tangled Shore ) – Dark Ether Cane and Flash of Inspiration
  • Chocolate Ship Cookies (Amanda Holliday – Tower) – Cabal Oil and Null Taste
  • Dark Chocolate Motes (The Drifter – Tower) – Taken Butter and Null Taste
  • Eliksni Birdseed (Hawthorne – Tower) – Ether Cane and Personal Touch
  • Gentleman’s Shortbread (Devrim Kay – EDZ) – Ether Cane and Perfect Taste
  • Gjallardoodles (Zavala – Tower) – Ether Cane and Delicious Explosion – This was a freebie though and the mats Eva gives you
  • Ill-Fortune Cookies (Petra Venj – Dreaming City) – Dark Ether Cane and Impossible Heat
  • Infinite Forest Cake (Failsafe – Nessus) – Vex Milk and Impossible Heat
  • Javelin Mooncake (Ana Bray – Mars) – Chitin Powder and Sharp Flavor
  • Radiolarian Pudding (Asher Mir – Io) – Vex Milk and Electric Flavor
  • Strange Cookies (Xur – Varies Weekly) – Taken Butter and Electric Flavor
  • Telemetry Tapioca (Banshee-44 – Tower) – Vex Milk and Bullet Spray
  • Traveler Donut Holes (Ikora Rey – Tower) – Cabal Oil and Flash of Inspiration
  • Vanilla Blades (Lord Shaxx – Tower) – Cabal Oil and Sharp Flavor

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Now yesterday I was musing exactly how we would be getting the Legendary Heavy Machinegun associated with this event, and if it would be some sort of a grind like the Haunted Forest was during Festival of the Lost.  It apparently is super easy to get because it becomes your reward for essentially doing the very first quest which is to craft Gjallardoodles for Zavala.  Aka you can get this weapon on pretty much all of your characters “just for participating”.  As I thought however it drops at 600 light the same as the Festival of the Lost Auto Rifle, but it appears to not be equitable by lowbies the way that weapon was.  I am going to try doing the intro quest tonight on some of my alts and seeing how this weapon varies.

One minor thing that I have noticed however is that it is impossible to deliver every recipe if you do not have the DLC content since  Ana Bray is associated with Warmind, Spider with Forsaken… and Petra Venj with having beaten Forsaken unless you can turn in to one of her earlier incarnations that hangs out in Spiders Lair.  The season of giving challenge however asks you to deliver 12 baked goods… and with Master Rahool not counting towards this because it is a failed state of the quest…  that leaves 15 possibilities…  so they have effectively made this available to folks without the expanded content.  You just cannot get all of the triumphs/achievements associated without expansion access.  Largely good on them for allowing vanilla players to be able to get all of the rewards.  Ultimately you are going to spend the majority of your time farming Dawning Essence since you need so much to craft any given item.

 

Last Minute Shotty

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This morning I don’t really have a lot to talk about because it seems like I do this thing where Monday I make a gigantic post…  and then Tuesday I am always somewhat lacking for content.  I posted about this last night on twitter, but now you can see a new screenshot with a shader applied.  This is the IKELOS shotgun, which is gained by defeating the boss at the end of Escalation Protocol Wave 7.  Each week you are given a different boss that drops a different weapon…  with one week giving a shot at dropping all of the weapons.  I have been farming this week because it was Shotgun week and I largely wanted this because of the fact that it has 8 rounds of ammo capacity…  which I feel is a huge benefit to the various forge modes.  Now this is not what I would call an easy farm because it requires a bunch of circumstances to fire just right.

Firstly you have to find a patrol zone on Mars where people are doing Escalation Protocol…  and even more than that you need to find one willing to build up from Wave 1 all the way through Wave 7.  Better yet if you can find one that is willing to farm Wave 7…  because after killing the boss you have the ability to drop back down to 6 and work back to 7 again.  All told I spent a significant amount of time on Mars this week and probably got in somewhere between 20 and 30 boss kills.  I had largely given up on getting it and thought while waiting on my wife to get home… I would give it one more shot and helped a group work up from Wave 1.  As my wife was pulling into the driveway this thing dropped and you cannot fully encapsulate how much joy I felt in seeing it drop.  Now I am trying to decide if I want to try farming the other weapons for not to collect the complete set.

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The Dawning event gear showed up on Tess Everett, so I am guessing today when reset happens we will begin to see those events happening in the tower.  The Dawning is legitimately some of the weirdest looking gear you can get…  and the Titan set looks like some sort of crazy rhino beetle?  There are a few exotic ships again this time, one of which that looks really freaking cool.  More than that however there is a legendary heavy machinegun that we can grind for and that is pretty much going to be my central focus.  They did this for the Festival of the Lost, and I am wondering if this one will be similarly max light and equipable by all of your alts.  Even if it is just 600 light it will be a good option for alting, and truth be told I need a legendary HMG since I have yet to actually get through the forge.  I am so damned close but burning the wave three boss is now the problem.  I may random into more of that nonsense tonight.

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Lastly I have been playing a little bit of Super Smash Bros Ultimate…  but the truth is I have no clue what I am doing.  The jumping mechanics feel really bad so I need to sort out if there is a better way to configure the controls… because it feels like it has way more play in the jump than a traditional fighting game.  All in all right now I am playing Marth, but also largely just playing World of Light.  In theory I could unlock the characters faster through other modes, but I kinda like playing this as an adventure game.