Reluctantly Fury

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This morning is a hard morning, because I am struggling to wake up.  I apparently had a way more active night than I realized, because in my mind I slept all the way through.  However my wife told me a tale this morning that tells otherwise.  Apparently I fell asleep with the television on and at some point during the night she woke up and decided that it should be turned off.  The television remote was on the end table on my side of the bed so she proceeded to wake me up and tell me to turn it off.  Instead of doing this… I apparently proudly proclaimed that “I peed”.  At which point she tried to tell me no.. please turn off the television…  to which I again proudly replied “but I already peed”.

This apparently happened a couple more times before I finally reluctantly turned off the television.  I remember absolutely none of this happening at all.  In my mind I went to bed and slept all the night through without incident, but I am guessing my generally groggy state this morning is due to the fact that I didn’t in fact do that thing.  I have been taking a dose of nyquil before going to bed because I have been fighting this nameless crud, and I am wondering if the sleep inducing nature of that…  lead to my odd behavior.  Regardless it is blogfodder as I call it, and like so many things I probably shouldn’t tell you…  I am telling you anyways.

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Last night I managed to get the Demon Hunter to 114 and finish out the quests in Vol’dun.  At this point I have moved him on to Nazmir which is a zone I never quite finished on the Warrior before getting caught up in the madness of world questing.  As I was winding down on the Demon Hunter I decided to make one more pass on the Warrior to see if there were any quests up that I absolutely had to do.  It was around this point that I decided to try out Fury in proper and get my bars set up.  Now at this point I don’t have a great combo of weapons for Fury as I am have a spear from world questing that came in around 320 and an axe that came from a world boss I believe at 289ish.  It is good enough to get started, but generally speaking I have had hell getting weapons this entire expansion so far.  I was hoping that onehander fury was a thing again and I could just drop some fist weapons crafted by my leatherworker, but that is apparently not a thing.

The shocking truth is…  Fury is amazing.  It feels good and shockingly feels like I have more moment to moment survival than I do as a protection warrior.  Basically this is now my world questing form and will probably run dungeons as such also to help build out the rest of my gear.  This is the expansion where apparently I am maining Fury on the Warrior, however that is not enough of a consolation prize to give up my mission to level the Demon Hunter and tank on it.  It does at least make me feel like maybe I didn’t completely waste the first two weeks of this expansion leveling a character that would be permanently shelved during this expansion.  Maybe just maybe at some point they will apply some tweaks to the way protection feels and I can dust off the sword and shield.

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Another thing that I poked my head into last night was Destiny 2, and for starters the lighting model feels totally different as evidenced by the way this ship looks.  As far as the changes… I am still wrapping my head around what weapons do what.  What I thought was going to happen was that we could put any weapon in any slot.  What actually happened was that weapons are still divided by Kinetic, Energy and Power slots and then to confuse things further…  the weapons are split by what sort of ammunition they use being primary, special or heavy.  Fusion Rifle, Sniper Rifle and Shotgun all now are counted as special weapon types and are divided between the first and second slot.  What I had hoped was that I could run around with Uriel’s Gift in the first slot, Merciless in the second slot, and then a Sword in the third slot.  That is not a thing since Merciless and Uriel’s Gift both occupy the same slot.

None of this works exactly how I remembered them explaining it in the first live stream about Forsaken, however I have also not been following the changes terribly close.  So technically there probably are ways you could have a shotgun in the first two slots, but I am not sure how viable that is actually going to be.  The infusion however works much better to where it is slot based and not weapon type based.  That said we still can’t do what we were able to do in TTK era of feeding trash drops from one class to become infusion fuel to push up another class which is unfortunate.  Supposedly the changes feel really good, but I am on a mission to level the Demon Hunter so I did not give it that much time.  I hope to explore it more over the long weekend break.

Backyard and Banana

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Last night was a pretty chill night and was spent either gaming or hanging out on the patio off our bedroom.  Here is a photo from my chair as I waited to top off the pool and played Monster Hunter Generations.  There was a nice breeze and it was making the wind chimes do all sorts of happy sounds.  My wife was hanging beside me doing school work…  because unfortunately it is both hobby and job rolled all in one.  I love our backyard even though I don’t spend anywhere near as much time as she does out in it.  Last night however was a perfect storm of overcast and cool which is about my sweet spot for outdoors.  My eyes are super sensitive to light and there are times where while I am sitting in the shade… the world itself is just too bright for my tastes.  The flowerbabies of course are doing okay still, and I need to wrap up this post soon so I can go out and give them all a drink.

As far as Monster Hunter Generations…  I am largely playing it over 4 Ultimate because of the impending release of Generations Ultimate for the Switch.  Monster Hunter is way too complicated a game for me to really enjoy playing it on a tiny screen with a thinkpad trackpoint nub serving as my second thumbstick.  That said I do know that whatever effort I make is going to transfer over to the Switch so it feels like it is allowing me to have a bit of a headstart as it were.  There are still three months until the release of Generations Ultimate and that gives me some time to casually work on leveling my Palicos and progressing through the quests to a point where I might not be completely on ground one at launch on August 28th.  I am super looking forward to having a newish to me Monster Hunter experience to sink my teeth into…  that I will be able to play on my 43 inch monitor upstairs.

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The tail end of the evening I settled into playing some Iron Banner in Destiny 2 as I had not honestly played much of that since Curse of Osiris.  I am nowhere near as good at Crucible as I once was because I am simply out of practice, but then again I never was terribly good in the first place.  I did manage to turn in a couple of packages, one of which getting me the Auto Rifle that looks like Scathelocke.  I am super pumped about it because firstly I love Auto Rifles and secondly…  I had really wanted to try that weapon out and was afraid that I lost my chance when the season changed.  There is another auto rifle available as faction rewards so I am wondering if I want to try grinding out 30 packages…  and I pretty much figure the answer is no.  I do however want the super high rate of fire weapon because it has auto loading holster and high impact rounds and seems like a much better version of Perseverance/Valakadyn…  which are both weapons that I hated on the console but have come to enjoy with a mouse and keyboard.

I have significant problems with Destiny 2… but damn does that mechanical loop still feel fun.

Chat Goes On Left

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One of the things I am realizing is just how bad I am at responding to messages some nights.  Last night for example I was mindlessly grinding away in Destiny 2 while watching video full-screen on my second monitor.  All the while various folks were messaging me on lots of different platforms including battle.net, slack, discord, and even some resorted to twitter.  All of which I was largely oblivious to as I happily ground public events and took down high value targets pushing the warlock up in level so that I can start doing the weeklies on that character as well.  The problem is really two fold, firstly that I am so used to soloing at this point that I am not really watching messages like I used to for the sign of someone else popping online.  The second issue I will get into shortly.

At this point my Warlock is level 28 so nearing 30 but apparently completely capable of wearing gear of decent level because I am now rocking an energy weapon that is 350.  It is super hard going back to the warlock after only really playing the Titan for a good deal of time.  Hunter is simple…  multi jump will always be multi jump.  Warlock on the other hand has the wrong version of Titan jump and no matter how long I play it I never can quite get used to it responding the opposite way that I am expecting.  I feel like folks either bond with Titan or Warlock jumps…  and from that point on the other one just doesn’t feel like a jump should feel.  Hunter on the other hand always feels like you are riding around on a midair pogo stick.

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Now the other problem I was talking about earlier is that Destiny 2 UI design is designed wrong.  What I mean by that is in literally every MMO I play the chat box location is on the left hand side of the screen as illustrated above by my UI in World of Warcraft.  The chat you care about appears on the left hand screen, and in this ElvUI layout the chat I don’t care about at all ever…  appears on the right hand side of the screen.  This is pretty much how I lay out every MMO that allows me to shift around the UI, but I cannot remember a game off the top of my head that does not default to having the chat left justified for lack of a better term.  Destiny 2 on the other hand creates a super spammy loot window that you cannot remove on the left hand side of the screen and gives you the chat you actually care about on the right hand side of the screen…  that will constantly minimize to just a tiny notepad document looking icon.  When you receive a message it does not de-cloak and show you said message…  however any time some jackass loots some random item the game takes every opportunity to make sure you know about it.

This is a broken design and causes me to simply ignore that chat exists because it does not conform to the cultural standards I am used to.  By culture I mean the general cultural design of MMO games, of which Destiny 2 is a part of regardless of how Bungie feels about that label.  To make things worse…  Bungie themselves taught us that the only place that matters for text was the left hand side of the screen in Destiny 1 as they placed all of that spammy nonsense there.   There is in theory a sound that is supposed to play when someone messages you, but whatever sound that is is either inaudible to me personally…  or just blends into the din of everything else happening in game because I never notice it.  \

Ultimately what my inability to notice chat cost me last night was a run through the raid as my friends over in TQMB were trying to reach out because they needed one more to get started.  I am hoping when they put in the clan chat they also give us the option to swap the locations of the two chat panes so that the spammy nonsense goes on the right and the important chat goes on the left.  Otherwise I am honestly not sure if I can ever fully train myself to look for chat in a weird location.  After over two decades of online gaming… I am just too indoctrinated into a “chat on the left” mentality.

Moms and Minor Gaming

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This weekend was largely not about gaming, as is often the case when a major holiday is occurring.  In past years we have done the divide and conquer thing when it comes to Mother’s Day festivities, with me getting up super early to go to Mass with my mother and then my wife sleeping in and going to lunch with her mom.  However with the amount of work that my wife has been having to do lately trying to prep her kids for the impending AP Exam…  after missing two weeks of instruction time due to the walkout…  she is more than a little sleep deprived.  I was legitimately concerned about her making it home safely if she was on the road for long periods of time alone.

As a result we crammed everything into one day and left the house around 6 am…  getting home around 6 pm.  However in the middle of all of that I believe there were sufficient moms day festivities for all involved.  It did however lead to a really tiring Sunday experience given that we had lots of driving perforated by various other awkward moments like my wife’s sister referring to the litter box as a “poop bed” or her inviting an aunt that neither my wife or I can stand to lunch with us.  Later in the evening there was plenty of awkwardness as my wife’s brother and father got into some political diatribe that was just flat out factually incorrect and also highly racist.  We made it home in one piece and still have most of our sanity intact…  but I did have a rather fitful night of sleep.

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As far as gaming goes I spent some of my time Saturday working on the weekly quests in Monster Hunter World.  I am down to just needing three arena challenges and I am hoping I can connect with someone before the reset happens to do some.  I can technically solo them, but I really really do not like soloing them.  I solo’d the Pink Rathian arena challenge with longsword and that one in particular is really annoying because you do not have the full compliment of healing items.  I pulled out a victory, but it took a long time and I wound up taking three of my eight deaths in the process.  I am one item away from having enough of the event only Sakura items…  but am nowhere near able to craft the set because of general lack of coins.

I wish you could roulette your way into the Arena Challenges because I really am not a huge fan of playing solo in Monster Hunter World.  Now that PizzaMaid is easing her way back into the game I might try and snag her for some shenanigans, because most everyone else I know that is still active gets online way later than I do.  Grace unfortunately bounced off the game as did Mor and while Thalen and I share a timezone… he is always around significantly later because baby happens.  If it does not look like I will have folks to do this with I will ultimately try and solo my way through it, because I know without a doubt I can do it…  I just won’t really enjoy it.  I also ran quite a few tempered roulettes just for the sake of fun and managed to get a couple of decent decorations from it.

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Over in Destiny 2 I am still roaming around but have made all of the movement I can essentially before the reset.  I am still too low level to get into heroic strikes which is unfortunate given that I need to run several of them to move forward a quest line that I am currently on…  that I am assuming is related to the sleeper simulant.  The highlight of the weekend however was getting the Armamentarium again, which allows me to run around with dual grenades in both void and solar specs.  Unfortunately however it does not give me THREE grenades in arc striker spec.  This would have been a completely awesome item if it were able to do that…  now I am wondering if it is as good as my auto-rifle reloading chest but largely running around with it for sheer nostalgia sake.

I am still largely on the fence with this expansion and am contemplating taking Squirrel up on the offer to get the raid in.  I still have yet to defeat Gaul in the raid even though I have a stack of tokens from our attempts.  Folks bounced faster than we had time to progress our way through it, and while I would love to resurrect a Greysky raid I somehow doubt that will ever really be a thing again.  There just are not enough people active and playing, and part of me is contemplating just pushing the Greysky leadership off on my secondary PS4 account and moving my main back to Tequila Mockingbird so I at least have an active clan of folks to play with.  My main PS4 account never left and has always been in TQMB…  that is unless they punted me for inactivity.

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I am still enjoying the mechanical loop of Destiny 2 again…  but I am also feeling somewhat listless as I don’t have a major goal apart from making my light higher.  I managed to level the Hunter to 30 this weekend but have yet to really touch any of the story content.  I like that Warmind seems to not be connected to having finished Curse of Osiris or versa vicea.  I need to push the Warlock up via event quests so I can at least start doing the milestones on each of them each week to slowly push up my weapon light level that way.

More Warmind Impressions

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desktop-screenshot-2018-05-11-06-06-11-41Last night I managed to hit the first soft cap of 345 through doing some of the content that happens immediately following the completion of the main story.  I am still a bit dismayed at how short it ended up being.  The core problem with the experience is there was a disconnect between how the NPCs were acting and the events that were actually occurring.  What I mean by that is when we took down Ghaul…  he had done enough to interfere with our lives to make us really hate him by the time we reached the point of final confrontation.  With Warmind…  they end up treating the Worm God we are fighting with similar contempt…  even though we only found out one exists on Mars a few minutes earlier.  Sure I get the fact that the Worm Gods are one of the galaxies great sources of evil and they were key in creating the Hive in the first place.  I’ve read the Book of Sorrows and understand that all…  but the average player has not.

The average player would be going into that scene wondering what in the hell a Worm God is and why these two NPCs seem so freaked about it.  The problem being that the game didn’t really give us enough run up to reach this supposedly epic conclusion.  It feels a lot like the campaign in Rise of Iron where you have some epic things going on…  but nowhere enough lead up to make them feel like that epic nature is earned.  Sure taking down a giant SIVA enfused Iron Lord was a slick final fight just like taking down a Worm God was a slick final fight…  but in both cases it felt like we lacked significant reason for what we were doing.  I mean the “Guardian” is the Deus Ex Machina to fix all problems much like the Warrior of Light is in Final Fantasy XIV.  The problem is it feels like that role is earned in FFXIV whereas we sorta just magically are able to best everything in Destiny without really knowing why we are so much better than apparently every other Guardian out there.

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Tam and I get into these discussions a lot and he is usually the one raising these points.  The funny thing is they generally revolve on why he quit playing a game, and for me this is an annoyance but by no means a game breaker.  I feel like there is a magic formula that keeps me engaged in a game.  First you have to have a core mechanical loop that I enjoy, for example in Destiny I love the gun play and the movement which makes me feel awesome as I traverse this beautifully rendered world.  The second point of that magical formula is that there has to be something in the game that I want to do.  There needs to be some objective out there that drives me forward and keeps me engaged with the game when the shiny newness of the mechanical loop wears off.

Please note what I said there…  something I want to do.  For example in a game like World of Warcraft there can never be a possible way that I would ever run out of things to do and content I have not actually seen.  Similarly in Final Fantasy XIV there is just too much content to ever find a true end to it.  The problem is in both of those games I have rather regularly reached a point where there is simply nothing left that I care to do.  Either the content left involves something I don’t much enjoy like Player versus Player interactions or it feels like it has more stick than carrot attached to it.  I reached this point after Trials of Osiris in Destiny 2 where the mechanical loop simply was not enough and the repetitive and unrewarding nature of the Infinite Forest made it so that I just didn’t feel like logging in anymore.

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While Warmind is an extremely short expansion… it feels like it might be a fairly intricate one.  What I mean by that is there are already a bunch of post credits items that the game is asking me to do that spawn new opportunities to go off on adventures.  I am sure there will be an end to this, but in some ways it reminds me of the style of interaction that happened on the Dreadnaught in The Taken King.  There are puzzles to be solved and items to interact with in ways that I have not quite figured out.  There were weapons to collect that are associated with questing, and others that folks don’t even know how they work as of yet.  There are drops that can be used to improve most of the exotic weapons, and in it a bunch of interesting ways to feel like I keep moving forward.

On the other end however the new grind is real.  After hitting 345 and finally accepting my Milestones for the week…  each one of those rewarded a 351 item…  6 levels of movement off the base whereas before we were regularly getting upwards of 15 levels of movement from the same milestones.  This means that journey to 385 is going to be an extremely long one when you have a very finite number of weekly options to give any sense of movement.  This means that if I find myself engaged in this game again I will by nature need to push the Hunter and the Warlock through Curse of Osiris so that I can have three sets of weekly upgrade options instead of one.  Sure the armor won’t swap over but those weapons can keep pushing up slowly over the course of multiple characters.

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The game needed something and in truth at this point I am not sure if this is what that need was.  The problem with Destiny 2 is that on paper it looks like the sequel I wanted for Destiny.  However in practice it has always felt lacking in part because it felt like we sacrificed so much cool stuff from the first one to get this as a result.  Nothing I have seen from this game justifies the reasons why we had to reset back to ground zero.  I know they felt like they wanted a fresh start, to shed any bad blood from the first title.  However I feel like that plan backfired horribly.  I’m interested to see where they can go with Warmind and if they can give us justification going forward to buy the “Comet” expansion that has been looming on the horizon and leaked via the Canadian Walmart website.  The one act that would go a long ways to building good will for me personally…  would be to port the old patrol zones to Destiny 2 and make it feel like we didn’t abandon half the world to get this game.

I made a mistake

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This morning I committed one of the classic blunders… I attempted to fiddle with my computer before finishing a blog post. This lovely screen is the result, and I have no clue how long I will be staring at it. I attempted to apply the lastest Nvidia driver since I have been having issues capturing screenshots in Destiny 2 via the shadowplay interface. At this point I have been watching this screen for twenty minutes as my cats keep check on my sanity.

The truth is that I really did not have a lot to talk about this morning. Keeping with tradition however I am banging out a post on my phone. If I’ve made any horrible mistakes I apologise, but a cellular keyboard sometimes has a mind of it’s own.

I did finish the Destiny 2 expansion last night and finished leveling to 30. I am nearing the first soft cap of 345 light, which means I will soon be in raid/trials/milestones only territory for getting light upgrades. They have significantly slowed the grind because that is apparently what the players wanted. I do agree that the game needed more meaningful friction… but I doubt this is the right combination. Ultimately the inability to get upgrades from things like Iron Banner or the faction rally are the worst feeling parts. I am apparently back for a bit, so we will see if the game manages to hook me further.

[Edit]

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Almost like clockwork… the moment I posted this from my cell phone…  the computer rebooted and I seem to have the ability to take screenshots again.  Oh well tomorrow you will get a proper post 🙂

Mirrorball

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Last night I spent a not insignificant amount of time playing Destiny 2 Warmind.  You will have to excuse the garbage screenshots but I was largely chilling on the sofa with my laptop and it runs the game at the potato resolution of 1366 x 768.  I say potato because scaling down to that from the 4K display I have upstairs is quite the adjustment.  It however allows me to be flexible where I am gaming, and last night allowed me to hang out with the mrs while still getting to do the thing I wanted to do.  I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Destiny 2 over the last few months and I am not entirely certain why.  It is just like after the release of Curse of Osiris I lost my forward momentum and stopped caring that I was no longer getting those engrams every day.  Based on the fact that I was the only person online in my clan for most of the night…  I am guessing everyone has had this same thing happen to them.

That said I was extremely interested in this expansion because it is the return of three things that I love in the Destiny universe…  The Hive, Rasputin, and Clovis Bray lore.  The last bit takes the form of our companion during this expansion Ana Bray…  a heir to House Bray and former golden age scientist turned guardian.  There is a rule among the guardians that they are not supposed to go digging into their past life before they died and were resurrected with the light, but when you are a Bray… this gets a lot harder knowing that so much golden age tech that remains was potentially created by your hands.  As a result you get the impression that Ana Bray is no longer a Vanguard member…  and not even a real guardian in the eyes of Zavala…  because she broke the rule and started digging into Bray tech when she first realized it recognized her and would respond to her commands.

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I am not far enough into the story to fully understand the other parts of the equation that I love…  The Hive and Rasputin.  The polar ice caps of Mars seem to hide a group of frozen hive that include several new troop types and modifications to the others as well.  There are now Knights that wield a shield making it extremely difficult to attack them, and versions of the Acolyte called Adherants that seem to snipe you with long beams of energy.  In addition there are more heavily armored versions of the Ogre, but this might just be one of the boss models for this expansion that gets used on ultra units.  The map area itself is a little bit bigger than Titan in scope…  which is somewhat disappointing but a significant step up from the tiny and repetitive Mercury.

What I enjoy the most so far is that it feels like this is as tightly packed with secrets as the Dreadnought was in The Taken King expansion.  I’ve already encountered a bunch of objects that say I need to have a specific item or buff to be able to interact with them, meaning there are secrets to be unlocked hidden out there much like the Skyburner Deployment Codes.  On the director map there is a note out to the side saying that I have found 0 or 45 Latent Memory locations, so this feels like something along the lines of the Calcified Fragments or SIVA Clusters of old.  This is the sort of stuff that Destiny 2 desperately needed, to give us a downtime activity to strive for in getting out and exploring the world.

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There are of course a bunch of cool items that came in with this expansion.  At one point I got to choose from three weapons…  one of which was essentially Uriel’s Gift minus high impact rounds but with Dragonfly…  so I had to take it.  I’ve not finished the main campaign and not hit level 30 yet so I am not super focused on gear at the moment.  That said I have picked up a bunch of cool items through the eververse doodads you get while leveling up.  My Ghost is now a floating mirror ball that I eventually colored neon green via a shader.  I’ve similarly picked up an exotic ship and an exotic speeder as well.  They seem to have tweaked these exotic shells a bit so that they have the same two perks….  the first being summons your mount faster and the second being universal elemental telemetry.  The last perk seems to now be some sort of a cache based perk for a given planet.  This mirror ball for example works on Nessus, which is handy since that happens to be the weekly zone.

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I have to say I really like the set of gear that you get through turning in tokens with Ana Bray, and I can already tell this is going to be something I try and collect in its entirety.  So far the story has been interesting, but I have a feeling that I am nearing the end of it…  and if that is the case it is also very very short.  Maybe there is more going on than I think there is… and maybe the boss I am just about to face is only the midpoint.  However it certain feels like it is pushing me towards a supposedly epic conclusion…  and the way the NPCs speak sounds in terms like we are doing this massive struggle…  when it feels like I only just arrived on the planet.  Reading a little blurb on Reddit just now confirms that I am in fact on the final quest…  so essentially there are five quests in a chain that had I not been dawdling probably could have completed in an hour and a half.

Granted I like the other parts of the game more than I do the story…  but it feels like a bit of a let down.  During Destiny 1 the justification they gave for the need to reboot the game and create Destiny 2…  was that the way D1 was build was particularly difficult to build content for.  They blamed the tools for the fact that we kept getting recycled areas instead of completely new maps and raids.  The problem is…  neither Curse of Osiris with its rampant recycling of the Infinite Forest and its tiny planetary area…   nor Warmind so far really prove that the sacrifice the players made was worth it.  I say sacrifice…  because in coming to Destiny 2 we gave up a lot of things that we still have not gotten back.  We were promised a better gaming experience and on some levels it is… but on other levels it is just a less interesting game.

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Ultimately I will be around for awhile because it did feel good last night to shoot things.  The new event type that they touted however was a bit of a let down as well…  given that it is mostly just another planetary event that involves hunting wave after wave of hive and doing some stuff to destroy crystals.  Sure it was fun but also I can see it will get pretty repetitive.  However it does fill that Archon’s Forge/Court of Oryx niche in giving something repeatable that can give decent rewards.  The protect the Warsat event type is back and I had missed it greatly.  I am not exactly sure how you can push that one into heroic mode, but I am sure it will involve something silly like blowing up one of the hive ships.  There is an open world version of the Hive Ritual event that seems really cool because I was so used to doing that in the one space it appeared on Titan.  All in all I was happy to be playing again…  but still a bit grumbly about how cool this game could have been.

Rudderless

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Last night was largely spent cleaning up quests that I have had in my log for a long while over in Monster Hunter World.  Since the Kulve event is over…  I feel like I don’t have as much of a pressing goal as I previously did.  I could of course just farm things like Nergigante for parts that I need to make awesome weapons, but the Kulve event sorta robbed me of a bit of the drive there.  Apart from the bow… I have a reasonable weapon option of every type right now.  Sure there are things I want to make but the need isn’t there in the same way that it once was given that I have a box full of decent options.  At this point I am hunter rank 70 and the meter is climbing extremely slowly on doing normal stuff.  In theory I should be engaging in a bunch of tempered fights but I really don’t like soloing in Monster Hunter World that much, and I also didn’t much feel like SOS Roulette last night…  so was stuck just wandering around and knocking out things that have been sitting in my log for awhile.

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Monster Hunter World has more or less become my MMO of choice right now, and as a result it is making every other MMO feel really weird to play.  I’ve largely been checked out of Final Fantasy XIV for awhile now, and the Battle for Azeroth changes are making me not that keen on World of Warcraft.  I have the desire to play Elder Scrolls Online…  but I find myself lacking the focus since that is a game that requires all of my attention.  I realize this is an odd thing to say given that Monster Hunter World is way more reactionary than ESO is…  but I also have to play MHW upstairs and with Elder Scrolls I can chill out downstairs with the laptop while watching television.  I find my mind wandering or paying too close attention to something that is on television and end up in a horrible spot in Tamriel.  The other game that is sorta calling my name at this very moment is Star Wars the Old Republic because I really would love to play through the rest of the content I have missed.  I have not done any of Knights of the Eternal Throne, in fact the first quest of that expansion is sitting waiting there on my Jedi Knight for me to pick up and start playing.

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Lately I have been trying to ease my way back into Destiny 2 given that the new expansion lands on Tuesday.  The moment to moment PVE gameplay is still every bit as fun as it ever was…  but my current problem with this game is actually a silly one.  I have been out of inventory space for a very long time and the pain of having to juggle items between characters or dismantle things immediately upon getting them wears me out.  When I have an MMO and my bags are a mess or I am lacking enough bag space in general… I find myself extremely demotivated to play it.  This is in part what is going wrong with Project Gorgon at this very moment…  I have next to no bag space and as a result I am constantly having to play the inventory management game which is the exact opposite of fun.  The expansion is adding another 100 slots and supposedly some of the kiosks we used to have back in Destiny 1 so we will see how this improves my opinion of the game by not having to care quite so closely about what was in each inventory slot.  In theory I would love to push my Warlock and Hunter through Curse of Osiris…  because that is a sign of just how hard I stalled out on this game.  The expansion landed and I only managed to get one character through before legitimately giving up and moving on to other things.

I’m in a really weird space with gaming in general right now and it seems like I spend more time getting ready to play a game… than actually sitting down and playing a game.  There is an intangible wanderlust that has effected me and I am not sure what the cure is.  It is almost as though I am too stressed on a daily basis to actually sit down and enjoy the things I am supposed to enjoy.  I’ve been through these periods in the past and sadly it has also cut off any desire I had to stream or be engaged with other people in any way.  It has been a rough several weeks and I have a feeling that at some point it has to let up… and the clouds will part once more and I will feel like a human being.  Apologies to anyone who is attempting to interact with me right now because I am sure the experience is lacking.

Nothing Much to Say

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This morning I feel like I don’t have an awful lot to talk about, but still feel obligated to say words and things.  The last few nights have mostly been what I would refer to as maintenance gaming, where I log into something…  do a few repeatable activities and then log right back out.  The majority of this time has been spent in World of Warcraft since I apparently have set forth a goal of unlocking the alliance races which will involve copious amounts of reputation grinding.  At this moment I am about 6500 out of 21000 towards exalted or some close equivalent in both of the necessary factions.  At the suggestion of my friend Grace I have started hoarding faction tokens for the Darkmoon Faire buff, which admittedly is not a thing I have really partaken of in its modern format.

I still find it super annoying that the Alliance route to new races is way harder than the Horde route.  As a “Mostly Alliance” player for most of my wow career I have always felt like Blizzard favored The Horde…  not in the least because of the constant insistence that we should care deeply about Green Jesus.  Weirdly enough however for the last while I have been almost exclusively playing The Horde and the character I am grinding up is my Orc Warrior not my Human one.  There are certain things that just work easier on that side of the pond than the other…  for example jumping the wall from the flightmaster to the Horde area in Dalaran is so much faster than having to fly all the way across the map to the Alliance area.  Having a reasonable foothold on both continents is another nice point…  with ways to get there quickly.  Sure you can still use the Theramore boat as Alliance… but it feels weird to do so.

Grace had this idea of doing a sort of “raiding light” group one night a week that worked on trying to get the Mythic+ number as high as we could.  So far however that is struggling to get off the ground given in our most immediate aggrochat crew we represent the only viable folks for this mission.  I am heavily favoring Horde side since my Warrior there is 927 but most of the connections I would have to pull in people for nonsense are Alliance side.  Over the coming days I might start reaching out to individuals that play horde side to see if they would be interested in shenanigans but for the moment the idea has taken root but not seen much progress.

As evidenced by the screenshot I used for this post I fired up Destiny last night and played around in it for a bit.  The changes have made a lot of the weapons feel odd so in theory I will need to test everything out again to see what I do and do not like now.  The fast rate of fire valkydyn that I am pictured holding above no longer feels that great.  The general movement speed however does and it feels like Titan Skating is back to being a fairly viable thing once more.  I am not sure if this is “just me” but I swear the grenade recharge rate was lowered once again, either that or I am still struggling to adjust to how generally slow that is.  Even with double charges it was rare that it would actually be up when I wanted to use it while roaming around Mercury and doing events.

I miss Destiny 2, and more importantly I miss wanting to play it.  I am not sure why I bounced so hard with the release of Curse of Osiris, and why I never actually managed to get any of the other classes in my stable through the story.  Ultimately I was expecting something along the scope of The Taken King, and then was disappointed that we got something the scope of Dark Below instead.  Additionally there just isn’t a grind I want to be doing there, because the weapons at least prior to yesterdays patch all sorta felt the same.  Maybe now with the sandbox update there will be some reason to grind content to attempt to get masterworks for the things I want to be playing with.

The other side note is that I have started attempting to play some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate over lunch, but quickly realized that if I want to do this thing I will need to leave the floor.  We have a gaming area set up for folks to mostly play the WiiU that is hooked up there, but it does offer a bunch of really comfy chairs.  Over lunch yesterday I attempted to camp out in one and do a few hunts, and within minutes had someone do a drive by and start up a conversation about some project we were working on.  Basically now that I am 100% in the management world I cannot bump into someone without a conversation about something we need to deal with happening.  Ultimately I like the concept of playing a little 3DS or Switch over lunch, but I need to find a hidey hole to go do this thing in.

 

The Good Grind

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Over the last few days I have been thinking about where Monster Hunter World has succeeded and Destiny 2 has failed.  I know this is probably a strange way to start off a post, but I am playing MHW the way that I fully expected to still be playing Destiny 2.  If you add up the total time I have spent with the Destiny franchise across different platforms you wind up with 741 hours.  Given that sort of track record I fully expected to be playing that game currently.  That said I have missed two faction rallies, two iron banners and have not really even logged in during the current crimson doubles event.  Sure I could be getting all manner of cosmetic gear from them…  but the weapon and gear system just feels hollow given that I have collected most everything I am interested in using.

While I love the token loot system, Destiny 2 has a problem with not giving us a meaningful grind to be focused on.  Doing event after event hoping to get a Masterwork Weapon or Piece of armor doesn’t really count.  When I say meaningful grind I mean something that I can do on a nightly basis that is fun, but also feels like I am making progress towards some larger objective.  In many ways the fickle nature of loot in Destiny 1 and the existence of things like the Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge gave me something I could do… that felt like I was potentially moving in the direction of something that I wanted from the game.  As it stands there are too few interesting weapon options and the watered down version of exotics no longer really make them worth chasing in the way we used to before.

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It may simply be because I am playing on the PS4 with friends that I am drawing the conclusion…  but as I play Monster Hunter World I think about the ways that it has given me this path to madness paved with little incremental rewards.  When you kill or trap a Monster you are hunting you are showered with a bunch of monster parts…  some of which are useful and some of which are not as useful.  The thing is, regardless if I have 50 of an item… I am still sorta excited to see them because I know that eventually I might need to use them to craft some new weapon that I then have to upgrade up to the final version.  I might suddenly decide that Hammer is awesome and then have to start building up my collection of weapons much the same as I do for my beloved Longsword.

I know that every thing I kill, and every object in the world that I loot is taking me towards some bigger goal.  The number of times that I have had to go out lately and farm herbs…  one of literally the first items you encounter in the game…  is shocking given that I am dealing with a completely different set of monsters than I did back then.  However it doesn’t seem like tedium because they have placed value on almost everything you can encounter out in the wilds and while you may not need it today… there is likely going to be a time at some point in the future where you will be wishing you had more of it.  While literally every moment I am not hunting a big epic monster is busywork…  none of it feels like it because it feels valuable to the larger mission of the game.

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While Destiny has never really had something close to this grind, I am thinking maybe it should.  The central focus of all of this for me personally is the Smithy, which is a menu driven crafting system that allows me to turn all of these bits and pieces of critters I have taken down…  and meld them into usable gear with interesting stat combinations.  I’ve spent a good deal of time farming up Odogoron, which is a giant hairless blind hell hound looking thing.  I personally really like its armor set and I want to be able to wield the full thing a a potential replacement for my mishmash of gear I am currently wearing.  This gives me a goal, and the grind itself is slow enough that each kill feels like meaningful progress without ever giving me that landfall moment of getting everything I possibly need in a single round.

Imagine for a second if you had gear and weapons in Destiny based on a similar concept.  Each time you took down the Fallen example, there was a chance of getting an item that could be used in the crafting of Fallen themed weapons or armor.  The common items would drop from Dregs, medium rarity items from Vandals and the rare bits from Servitors and Walkers.  Then say you wanted to craft the Vex Mythoclast you would need to maybe take down a Gate Lord to get the focusing lens, and a bunch of Minotaurs to get the armored housing.  All of this is more meaningful than collect 40 of token Z and hope the RNG gods smile upon your en devour as you may or may not get the item you want from a relatively deep loot table.  It also turns Banshee-44 into more than the Gachapon machine that he currently is, by giving him the actual ability to craft specific items for you.

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What Monster Hunter World does better than almost anything is that it gives me a target for my nightly nonsense.  Granted right now I cannot craft the Chrome Slicer I because I lack the zenny to do so….  but I know where every single piece that it requires drops from.  I know that I can run loops around High Rank Wildspire Wastes for most if it, but to get the Fucium Ore I am going to have to make my way down into the Elder’s Recess.  If I notice a weapon requires parts off of a specific monster I am given a bunch of different ways to target that one specific encounter and run it over and over if I so choose.  In my case what I personally tend to do is answer SOS beacons for that specific encounter, feeling like I am actually helping out someone else in the community take down that critter for fun and profit as well.

More than anything what I think Monster Hunter World does so well is that it eases you into all of this.  You quickly learn the value of the items you can grab out in the world as new patterns start showing up that you can craft.  You notice that items have ??? beside some of the materials and it drives you to go out and explore until you find them.  All of this creates a feedback loop of take down epic feeling monsters, get items, craft interesting gear…  so you can take down even bigger monsters.  Sure a lot of the gear is not strictly required…  but for someone who is very gear focused it certainly makes the journey feel a lot more meaningful.  The monster battle portion being fun enough that while I am actively engaged in fighting…  I am not even thinking about what might drop which is not the case in most MMORPGs.

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When they first started talking about Destiny 2 being a much more open world and quest driven game…  this is honestly the sort of experience I had been envisioning.  What if you could fight a Destiny boss the same way you do a Monster in Monster Hunter World?  What if getting every player to focus on taking out a Gatelord’s weapon arm caused it to no longer be able to fire that weapon… and instead forced it to change up tactics and start engaging in melee attacks.  What if the way you fought a boss mattered just as much as the weapons you took into the fight?  When we got Destiny 2 and it was a stripped down version of what we had in Destiny 1…  I was disappointed, but the mechanical loop of the game kept me engaged for way longer than the game itself probably deserved.  I had enough hype built up to carry me through the console launch and restarting with the PC launch…  but now I just don’t ever feel like even logging in.

What I want is a good grind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean running Omnigul hundreds of times hoping that maybe just maybe you will get that one in a million perfectly stated Grasp of Malok.  What that means for me personally is something that I can do on a nightly basis that feels like I am eventually heading towards some goal down the road.  Maybe at some point in the near future I will feel like I am out of grinds in Monster Hunter World, but I can at least see a road map in front of me that seems like it is going to be an interesting ride.  Right now I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of objectives that I could be chasing, and as I move up… it feels like the world keeps expanding out rather than narrowing down to a pin point like the raid cycle does in an MMORPG.  Monster Hunter World is a really great grind, that is attached to a really fun experience of taking down giant monsters that fight in a fluid and believably organic manner.  Maybe Bungie will find its footing at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying discovering the Monster Hunter franchise.