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.

Radiolarian Paradox

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

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

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

Dawning Sorta

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

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

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

The Visionary

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

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

XFV-KHP-N97

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

 

Clipped Wings

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Last night I had every intent of coming home and playing some Destiny 2…  but instead I logged into World of Warcraft to “check what gear was up on world quests” and never really logged back out.  I’m still very much stuck in “must complete the emissary caches” mode and as a result I had one in Argus for the Argussian Reach faction that I lacked enough quests to complete.  As a result I started unlocking more of the planet until I finally got enough to finish it out.  This however was super time consuming because doing anything on Argus feels needlessly tedious due to the packed base pop and terrain that goes out of its way to keep you from going from point a to b.  For my troubles I got a big fat nothing… or in truth a little bit of gold that feels insanely lackluster given the amount of effort I went through to be able to complete it.  So the real question I ask to you more seasoned players that did not take a massive break after Nighthold…  did they just fucking nerf emissary caches into the ground?  In the past these used to be a significant source of gear upgrades, and also used to drop legendaries like candy.  At this point I have no legendaries and have not seen a single piece of gear from the six caches I have turned in since starting up playing again.  Is this just a bad streak or did they simply remove any reasonable rewards from these things?

I’ve managed to move the needle a little further forward and am sitting at 884 and I think 15 concordance on my two primary weapons.  I still have Tomb of Sargeras LFR to do this week but in truth it seems like grinding Argus is going to be my best bet for gear level movement.  The only problem there is that I hate Argus and want to nuke the planet from orbit.  I mean in all reality it isn’t that bad but it just feels shitty to return to land mounts again after being able to fly literally everywhere else.  The base pop reminds me of a lot of what it feels like to roam around in a Rift zone where everything is super aggro and ready to reach out and thump you if you get too close.  The main difference is that at least in World of Warcraft it is completely reasonable for me to round up 30 mobs and grind them down….  because I did this thing today out of laziness and not wanting to stop.  The only really works if you can keep healing yourself like the protection warrior can, but nonetheless it is a viable option.  In Rift if I had more than a couple of mobs I would have fallen over, which makes the game feel super tedious to play.  If I apply myself and gobble up every quest I can do on Argus each day… I may be able to purchase a single piece of 910 gear which is a slow way to upgrade but potentially preferable to hoping for lucky double platnium bonus warforged gear from LFR.

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Towards the end of the evening while rewatching Force Awakens I did wind up grinding a bit in Destiny 2 and managed to complete the Mercury Flashpoint.  When I turned in with Cayde-6 I managed to get my very first Masterwork item…  and I maybe just almost accidentally called it Warforged.  The positive it is at least an Auto Rifle which is something I will use.  Grace said last night that when she got her first… it was a sidearm…  which is something that no sane and rational person would ever want to use.  I was absolutely certain that the game would give me a sniper rifle or something else that I generally loathe.  Then again if that were the case the decision to shard it and get crafting materials would have been simple…  in this case I have the strong desire to start using it even though Solemn Hymn isn’t exactly one of my favorite weapons.  As far as the perk on mine, it gives a small range boost which is reasonable enough for the moment.  Were it a warforged Better Devils I might work on trying to get the best possible roll, but for now I am okay with a ranged boost.  I have a late night tonight because Star Wars…  but I might be able to hop on when I get home and give it a proper testing.

Schmoradric Cube

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This mornings post flavored non-post is brought to you by my favorite item in Destiny 2…  the Schmoradric Cube.  This is one of the items that you get in place of actual loot occasionally in one of Cayde-6’s treasure map chests.  These appear to be more interesting than they were…  but I am still not entirely certain if they are worth the price tag.  Last night I looted the majority of them in a single sitting without doing my previously back to orbit thing to make sure I didn’t hit the empty chest bug.  Each one rewarded three to four EDZ tokens and a couple of blues and at least one of the “fake” cash items that you can take back to Cayde and sell.  One of the chests rewarded me with a legendary engram and another with an emblem that I did not have.  This is nothing like that one week when I got four legendary engrams, an exotic and a faction exclusive weapon…  but it does feel like you are at least getting something rather than the big fat nothing I occasionally got before.  So if you were one of those folks that decided they simply were no longer worth your time…  they at least feel interesting now.  The real highlight of the night though was getting back the Wolf emblem above, which was a favorite of mine from Destiny 1.

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The other positive from last night is that for the most part I am certain that the power mode setting is what was causing my insane freezing.  I talked a bit about this yesterday but for whatever reason during the Fall Creators update to Windows 10, it reset my power settings to power saving mode.  The behavior I kept seeing is that every 10 to 15 minutes Destiny 2 would lock along with anything else going on on my system while the audio continued to play.  After scouring the forums I finally found a post on Tom’s Hardware when I started looking for issues related to the Fall Creators update but not necessarily Destiny 2.  Throughout the night I played some crucible and a lot of planetary stuff and never once encountered a lockout except for occasionally some respawn lag which was something that occasionally happened even during the best of times.  So in theory I cam considering this “fixed” as I was  able to watch videos on YouTube (or in truth listen to them) while grinding out the Crucible Call to Arms last night.  Past that though…  I had one of those nights where nothing went right and it was not until 9 pm that I finally got settled into a computer and playing something.  Tonight is more or less also going to be a non-gaming night because I am going with some friends to go see the Disaster Artist…  the same crew that I watched the RiffTrax version of The Room with.  It should be amazing, but it also means I won’t get home until significantly later than normal.

 

Many Osiris Handle It

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Yesterday was of course the release of the first expansion content to Destiny 2 in the form of the Curse of Osiris DLC.  I was sick yesterday so completely out of it and did not realize until that evening that I could have been playing around in the expansion during the day.  I did however have time to finish the main story line and am now in the after game that involves going around and doing a bunch of adventures on Mercury.  I am not entirely certain what I was expecting but I enjoyed myself and found a lot of the new areas really cool to roam around.  The level cap is bumping up from 20 to 25 and the light cap is bumping from 305 to 335.  This means we all need to spend time pushing up that number once again, and have a whole slew of new weapons to help us with that process.  Based on what I am seeing blues seem to still be bound to the 5 below your base light level as I am seeing 303 drops with a base light of 308.8.  Legendary engrams which seem to be dropping like candy for me are dropping at my base light level and as a result seem to be providing a decent way of bumping up my overall power level.  Unlike before I am not quite as rabidly focused on trying to squeeze the last bit of light out of each week as I have in the past.  I am sure this will change but for the moment I am trying to take things easy as I may or may not have burnt myself out a bit.

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In Destiny 1 we spent a good deal of time exploring the Fallen and the Hive and with Destiny 2 we have spent the bulk of our time dealing with the Cabal.  This expansion sees us taking on the Vex in ways that we have not seen before.  You get a decent idea over the course of the content we have seen to this point that the Vex that essentially hacks time to create the most favorable outcomes for themselves.  However we have not actually really seen this in progress other than the tiny unexplained bits of the Black Garden.  With Curse of Osiris we get to roam around in the massive simulation worlds that the Vex are constantly using to collect data to update their models.  What is really cool about this is that we see simulated versions of all of the other races, that are very similar…  but not quite exactly the same.  Pay close attention to the way that the “Axis” versions of various troop types look because they appear to be almost Vex hybrid versions.  As far as the length of the expansion… I would say it is probably about the same number of missions as the base game.  You spend a lot of time roaming around and trying to sort out how to stop this one Vex simulated future from coming true.

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As far as characters…  Sagira is great and I like the fact that even after completing the main game we occasionally get to hang out with her again.  Osiris was honestly not much of a character, and still remains this madman prophet that we are really no closer to fully understanding than we were going into the expansion.  Brother Vance still has a fanatical devotion to Osiris even though he could not be bothered to pop out to the Lighthouse long enough to even see his acolytes.  There is a nice passing of the Torch of sorts to Ikora, because really she is the Warlock we care about.  Its not so much that the student has surpassed the master… its just that the student is done being a student.  If nothing else this expansion brought with it one of the most badass final boss fights I have seen in awhile, and while it isn’t exactly technically complex it is fun as hell and makes the player feel awesome…  even though it is really Osiris hacking reality to make it happen.  It reminds me a lot of the way the Oryx fight in the Kings Fall raid felt… with this massive imposing figure that you are able to bring down by doing some stuff with some things.  Unlike the main campaign I am actually looking forward to finishing it on each of my alts, as I attempt to get them ready to start pushing up power level once again.

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As part of the main story we get another choice of a vanguard legendary, and I not shockingly went with the auto rifle that looks and feels a lot like the Jiangshi AR4 that I cannot seem to get the Gunsmith to give me.  The bulk of the really interesting system changes go into effect next week with the December 12th patch, but we did get a fresh assortment of weapons to find and an armor ornament system.  I’m looking forward to the next Iron Banner so that I can unlock the requirements to use those with my Iron Banner set.  Additionally there was a refresh of the eververse store and with it a new set of fluff engrams, this time including a set of armor that I think actually looks cool.  I was not a big fan of the weird formal armor set that came from the last batch, and even though I have collected a set of it on my Titan I doubt I will ever wear it.  This time around however it is Vex inspired and looks pretty badass…  but it has some hefty competition with both my New Monarchy and Iron Banner armor sets.  All in all I think I am going to like the influx of content, but I am also not extremely focused on grinding to get everything instantly either.

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Honestly the thing that has most soured me on Destiny 2…  may or may not have anything to do with Destiny 2.  A few weeks ago on patch day I started having issues running the game.  Ultimately this thing would occur where the game would freeze for anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes in the worst cases…  all the while the audio would continue playing in the background.  If I happened to be watching a YouTube video on the second monitor its video would freeze as well, as would my ability to alt tab or interact with anything.  Everything would recover itself and return me back to whatever I happened to be doing…  and if I was in a group activity the game would rapidly catch me up to the same time frame as the other players…  often resulting in my death.  As a result I had been avoiding doing anything serious and anything that forced players to require on me not fucking up.  I’ve searched the forums and crawled through the bowels of Reddit attempting various fixes, until this morning when I found something that is a possible culprit.  Around about this same time I got forced upon me the heaping pile that is yet another windows 10 update.  As a result it force reset a bunch of my settings, one of which flipped my system into power save mode for some ungodly reason.  Before sitting down to write this post I played a bit of crucible because that seemed to always make it happen…  and seemed to be doing just fine.  I need to run around on Mercury a bit to do some further testing but I am hopeful that maybe this was the mystery sauce that was causing all of my problems.  I would love to be able to return to doing group content without fearing that I would be a liability.

Xur Week Twelve: 12/1/17

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Destiny 2

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This is potentially the last of these Xur reviews that I will be doing on this blog.  It is not out of a lack of interest, but more than next week with the Curse of Osiris the reset time is changing and with it when Xur arrives.  Right now Xur shows up in the middle of the night and as a result by the time I shower, get ready and sit down to blog is available for me to talk some shit about what he just brought.  Starting next Tuesday however that reset time will shift from 5 am my time to 11 am …  long after I have already been at work for a significant amount of time.  This is a boon for the career YouTube types so they don’t have to wake up quite so early, but not really for me so alas this is probably the end of my recent Friday feature.  The flash point zone this week is the EDZ which means Xur is hanging out near the Winding Cove drop zone.  There is technically a cave that allows you access to the ledge he is on… but I never can remember where the entrance is and just end up jumping up the rocks to the right of where he is at.

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Sweet Business is a really cool sounding weapon that winds up being a horrible idea.  Maybe I am being a bit unfair but in truth I have never been able to get much out of this gun.  Firstly it requires some wind up time while firing before it arrives at its final rate of fire and as such true damage potential.  The perk payday in theory helps with the wind up because you can fire it from the hip relatively well and as such start firing ahead of when you are actually needing to deal damage to a target especially in the crucible.  The magazine size of 99 seems really awesome…  but given how fast this fires you will be empty and suffering the pretty horrible reload speed before long.  Where the gun really lacks however is in the total ammunition you can carry.  Payload might help your magazine but it doesn’t actually seem to help your pool of ammo and when I attempt to run something using this weapon I find myself always starved for kinetic ammo.  Definitely pick it up if you do not already have the weapon, but I am not a huge fan of it.

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Do you want to punch things?  Do you want to punch all the things?  Then these might be the gauntlets for you.  In the grand scheme of things they probably are not that good, but are pretty fun to at least play with while running around doing planetary content.  The biotic enhancements per does two things really, firstly it greatly increases the range of your punch allowing you to hit targets at roughly the distance warlocks can.  On top of that it gives you a version of surrounded where the damage your punches deal increases based on the number of targets around you.  This is insanely fun against boss type encounters with a lot of minions and would potentially pair nicely with either the Sentinel or Striker trees that allow you to gain health regen on kills.  Definitely a pick up if you do not already have it… and in truth I am even going to log into the PS4 and buy this since it is the only Titan exotic I am lacking there.

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Arc Bolt is one of those grenades that only seems to work in really ideal conditions.  This chest is all about making that grenade be able to chain a little further, giving you some wiggle room on what those ideal conditions actually are.  The problem is… there are WAY better hunter exotics than this one and in truth until Arc Bolt gets some sort of a rework it isn’t exactly worth building an item loadout around.  The positive however is this version does come pre-slotted with an arc grenade recharge mod so at least they realized the only edge case anyone would ever want to use this item.  It’s worth picking up for unlocking but not really much more than that.

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Do you like Nova Bombs?  Do you want to always be Nova Bombing?  Me too…  sadly this helmet won’t actually let you do that thing.  The perk Actual Grandeur in theory grants you super energy on Nova Bomb kills.  The rate that I have seen is that if you are able to Nova Bomb and kill five targets, it will take your super bar roughly to the halfway point.  So sure this does a decent job of regeneration but it also falls drastically short of the dream of being some sort of Evil Ryu throwing void fireballs.  In my experience if you are dedicated to Voidwalker you are far better off with Nezerac’s Sin or even the Eye of Another World.  Once again, pick it up for the unlock because Bungie occasionally balances exotics to make them better and you might as well have it in your collection.

Destiny 1

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This week Xur is hanging out at the Reef and offering a few items, including a Helm I never managed to get on my Titan.  This week he is offering.

  • Legacy Primary Engram – 31 Strange Coins
  • Eternal Warrior – Titan Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Young Ahamkara’s Spine – Hunter Arms – 13 Strange Coins
  • The Stag – Warlock Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Monte Carlo – Primary Auto Rifle – 23 Strange Coins
  • Monte Carlo with Royal Flush Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust
  • Trespasser with Crucible Assassin Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust

Bungie Mostly Gets It

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Yesterday I made a post talking about some of my frustrations and some of the frustrations of the community at large.  In lieu of giving the final Bungie Curse of Osiris reveal live stream, they opted to instead give us an extremely dense blog post paired with a podcast episode expanding on the theme.  As a programmer by trade I am generally slow to assign malice to the actions of game developers, especially when said problems get patched out of the game.  There have been so many times in my own life that I have thought something was going to be a really good idea, and in the end it only served to hurt my user base.  As a result I haven’t really talked about the whole XP gain issue because it didn’t really directly effect me.  I essentially told myself there were three reasonable bright engrams that I could get per character and past that I didn’t attempt to go out into the wilds and grind for more.  I didn’t even really have time to participate in the Clarion Call event that was happening over the Thanksgiving weekend because family and reasons.  Also as a programmer I read yesterdays post as a game company attempting to peel back the curtain and show the players the mess that is hidden behind it.  I more or less accept their explanations and I figured this was something I should state up front before I dig too far into the specific issues.  I highly suggest you read both the blog and listen to the podcast because hearing the voices of Luke Smith, Mark Noseworthy and Eric Osbourne explain why things are the way they are…  really drills home the point that they did mean the best.  None of them are really polished orators and there is emotion in those voices that helps to add accent marks to the commentary.

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One of the biggest announcements is that there is a brand new tier of weapons coming.  Yesterday I talked about the whole static roll thing and mostly how I was bracing for the return of randomized stats.  In truth I was preparing for the worst because I actually like static rolls on gear because it lets me know directly what I am shooting for, and not always wondering if there is a better roll around the corner.  I feel like they sort of shot down the middle and landed in a happy place that I can accept as reasonable.  Masterworks will be legendary weapons that roll with an extra mode that provides some amount of randomized stats.  The above image is lifted from the Bungie blog post and shows a Uriel’s Gift with a bonus 10 to reload speed and also shows that they are starting to track how many kills you have made with a specific masterwork weapon.  They announced a couple of things about this that make them more reasonable…  firstly you can re-roll the stat node until you get the one you actually wanted.  Secondly you can break down masterwork weapons that you do not want to get upgrade materials to turn your normal legendary weapons into masterworks themselves.  Functionally this gives players what they said they wanted… in the ability to get different versions of weapons but also makes it sane and rational for those of us who actually liked fixed rolls in being able to upgrade our existing stash to the new version.  Also it allows us to slowly work our way to perfecting the roll with whatever combo we were wanting on it by re-rolling that node.

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Another big announcement is that they are adding duplicate protection for exotics, so that the game will by nature favor giving you exotics that you do not already have over exotics that you have seen over and over again.  This has been a major point of frustration for a lot of players, myself included…  in that we keep getting the same exotic items over and over when there are still a bunch on the list that we have never seen.  I hit a streak of six prospectors in a row awhile back, and anything to blunt that would be much appreciated.  They also announced the return of Three of Coins in a modified form of just providing a 4 hour buff that gives you an increased chance at exotic drop rates.  I had a love/hate relationship with Three of Coins, and to some extent I like Xur serving more of a purpose each week than just presenting you with exotics you have already seen him sell numerous times.  Lastly while on the Xur front they announced that he would begin selling an additional item called a Fated Engram which decodes into an exotic item that you have not already unlocked on that character.  The above image shows that this costs 97 shards… which is a hefty price but by the time you need this you are probably going to be swimming in them.

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Another thing that I was extremely excited to see is that Banshee-44 will start just straight up selling a limited number of mods each week for a combination of Mod Components and Legendary Shards.  Now at first this doesn’t seem a amazing because it is not like we are swimming in Mod Components, however they are attempting to create a bridge for that too.  The biggest problem I have with the mod system is that in theory I need to hold onto every single blue mod in the hope that I get three of them to turn in for the purple variant.  As a result I regularly have no room left for mods because the 50 slot inventory is just inadequate.  Now they are going to make it so with blue mods you can break them down for gunsmith materials but they will also have a chance of dropping a mod component at the same time.  While saving them up for a guaranteed mod is nice… I will absolutely start breaking down every blue i get because I just don’t have the room.  They did state that eventually he will sell Kinetic Damage mods which in truth are the only ones we really have a hard time chasing.  Side notes… apparently Master Rahool will start straight up selling Legendary Engrams to help those chasing Masterwork weapons, and Benedict will redeem raid tokens before you get your first clear.  Additionally faction merchants will only now beckon you…  if you have enough tokens to turn in for a faction package.  So no more every icon in the tower blinking at once.

Functionally everything I have talked about is coming in either the December 5th update or December 12th.  I am going to attempt to list out the various things appearing in each, but I am certain to miss stuff so again I highly suggest you read the blog post and listen to the podcast for yourself.

December 5th

  • Armor Ornaments
  • Gunsmith Selling Mods
  • Blue Mods Occasionally Dropping Mod Components
  • Master Rahool sells Legendary Engrams
  • Benedict allows immediate raid token turn-in
  • Reputation Token Economy changes – way more tokens per activity but slightly higher turn in amounts
  • Cayde’s Treasure Map Minimum Payout
  • … and of course the Curse of Osiris storyline and related stuff

December 12th

  • Masterwork Weapons
  • Selection of Faction Armor/Weapons Purchasable for Legendary Shards
  • Xur Changes – Fated Engram + Three of Coins
  • Zavala/Shaxx sell Gift consumables that give interesting bonuses
  • No More Empty World Chests
  • Vendors leave you alone until ready to turn a package in

 

All of this sounds great to be honest.  The problem is we rarely get one of these posts like this.  All the player base really wants is to know what is coming down the pipe and roughly when they can expect it.  This is true for Bungie and Destiny but also equally true for World of Warcraft or any persistent game that receives a constant slow trickle of content.  Sure dates may not be final and they can shift and slip… but it is still nice to know what exactly we are waiting on.  I can only hope that this is the beginning of them giving us more information in greater detail… but in truth I feel like this is triage to stave off the angry pitchfork mob.  As players we get deeply invested in these games, and to hear them talk about it as a Hobby is a step in the right direction.  I would love to see one of these posts each time there is a content drop brewing just to let us know what folks are thinking and how they plan on addressing the concerns of the community.  Deej and Cosmo both do excellent jobs of giving us information…  when they are allowed to.  Most of the frustrations with online games in general come from a feeling of not knowing what is going on in this thing that we are spending so much of our time doing.  If we got a monthly post that outlined the timeline of what they were thinking about doing during that month…  I feel like we would be in a much better state and more willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  However this is a double edged sword and they talk about it a bit in the podcast.  They have been so gun shy to say anything because they don’t want an idea they had to turn into a promise when they maybe don’t even know if it is possible yet.  In the end…  its a tricky situation but I think the combination blog post and podcast were the right decision to make at this time.  I’m pretty excited about a bunch of the quality of life changes, and ready to tear into the new content next Tuesday.  My sodium levels have lowered greatly.