Steampunk Primalist

Primal Goodness

It was honestly a sheer miracle that I made it through yesterday.  As the day went on, it felt like my estimate of three hours of sleep was a bit too high.  Luckily around 3 pm I managed to catch a second wind which made the whole “driving home” thing significantly safer for everyone on the road.  My general goal was to stay awake long enough to be able to head to bed naturally around 9 pm thinking that maybe just maybe it would fix the problems and give me a good nights sleep.  For the most part it seems to have worked and while I am a bit groggier than normal this morning, I am feeling significantly “better”.  In my stupor yesterday however I managed to have an insane bit of luck.  I happened to be watching my twitter feed at just the right moment, when Rift tweeted that they were just about to give out some Wilds Packs.  They posted a photo with I believe six different codes on it, and I picked the smallest one… and started typing.  Apparently my fingers were fast enough because much to my shock I saw a note in my transaction history that said the Wilds Pack was added to my account.  Also much to my shock… I thought this was the basic pack that just included the new primalist class only, but instead it was apparently the $100 pack that includes a ton of other goodies as well including an insane dinosaur mount.

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I think maybe that I violated the intentions of the class when it came to outfitting him.  I rolled a dwarf, thinking that a dwarf with a big hammer/axe/thing would be kind amazing.  Then when it came to actually setting up the wardrobe and picking a mount to use…  things happened.  Now I have my goggle wearing, leather clad, aetherbiker Dwarven Primalist.  I played a little bit but very quickly realized that maybe when I am half awake is not the best possible time to play anything that requires a significant amount of reading.  I did play enough to decide upon the Berserker prebuilt class for the time being.  I considered going Titan which was the tanky build listed, but for the time being I think I am just going to be a pewpew hammer swinging dps.  The starter primalist weapon looks kinda amazing, and honestly one of the big things that I look forward about playing him is that I will actually collect all of the low level gear appearances as I get stuff to drop for me.  That was the negative about going into a major change like the wardrobe system with a high level character…  that ultimately I was well past the gearing phase and all that I would end up physically seeing was new gear.  Playing a low level character again will see me coming across all of that gear that I had and sold, or at least that is the hopes.  However this is a journey for another day, one when I am not struggling to exist.

Questing Guardian

One of the negatives about playing Destiny as primarily an MMO player is that there are certain traits that carry over into the MMOFPS title.  Namely that you actually find yourself caring about having quests hanging around in your quest log.  Since the whole reading and making sense of things part of my brain was largely malfunctioning, I thought I would instead venture into Destiny and work one some of the things that have been looming over my head.  Namely the “High-Value Targets” quest.  On paper it sounds simple enough, that you need to defeat several of these High-Value targets… 3 in the Cosmodrome, 3 on the Moon, 3 on Venus, 3 on Mars, and 3 on the Dreadnaught.  The problem being that in order to qualify as a high-value target, it has to be one of those special patrol missions that ask you to go kill a given mob somewhere in the patrol zone that is marked with a red star.  To make matters more interesting… I learned that these only come from special patrol beacons that are also marked with a star.  Theses seem to be largely rare and absolute luck of the draw if you will see them.  So as a result I managed to complete the Cosmodrome and Dreadnaught quickly…  but struggled with having not found a single high value target patrol on Venus or Mars.

So last night I spent pretty much the entire night wandering around various planets looking for star beacons, and when I did not find them… running as many patrols as I could in the hopes of making them spawn.  At about 9:30 last night, moments before we were heading to bed…  I managed to complete the quest.  Additionally I also managed to complete Taken Assault: Mars which gave me enough Queen’s Wrath faction to finally start opening up bounties on the Reef.  This also opened up The Wolves of Mars quest chain for Variks which involves doing a bunch of shit involving the Fallen.  From what I have heard this will reward a Boolean Gemini at the end of it… which in truth will probably be a Year One variant…  but if it works like Last Word did, it also opened up the Year Two blueprint for me.  So in theory I can save up my marks and purchase the 280 version as well.  In any case I had a lot of fun last night faffing about working through the various quests and bounties.  There is something relaxing and mindless about wandering around and taking things out with an assortment of really fun to use weapons.  The other big progress I made is I collected enough data using a shotgun, so I am now on the step where I need to disassemble a bunch of blue or better ones.  I had a handful stowed away just for this occasion but it was nowhere near enough.  As a result I will be farming engrams in the hopes of getting more, and in theory I need to just start running strikes.  I did however manage to make it to 287 light when wearing my “best” gear, which is slow but palpable progress.

Week in Gaming 10/11/2015

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A Good Week

I am sitting here this morning with my writing buddy beside me.  I’ve shown pictures of Allie in the past as she sits on the blanket that I have folded beside my keyboard, and once again this morning she is there purring quietly.  She really is the mascot of the week I have had, because honestly other than a bit of an emotional roller coaster surrounding The Beginner’s Guide, I would say that the week as a whole has been one of contentment.  I managed to accomplish quite a bit in my quest to push through all of the stories I had not seen in SWTOR, as well as made small bits of progress in Destiny.  At work things seem to be largely calmed down, or at least to a manageable madness.  More than anything I think it was taking Tuesday off that helped reorient my world to a much better state of mind.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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This week was an insanely productive one when it came to Star Wars the Old Republic.  As of last Saturday night during the podcast I managed to wrap up the Smuggler storyline, and picked up work on the Sith Warrior.  With Tuesday essentially being a day where I did nothing but play SWTOR, I managed to finish up the Sith Warrior.  I’ve talked about this already but I have to say at the time the Sith Warrior was one of the most gratifying experiences when it comes to giving you the control to settle all of your vendettas in one ending.  Every person that you want to seek your revenge on is laid out in such a way as that you can, and the final events are so damned satisfying.  Having played both Sith Warrior and Jedi Guardian…  I have to say I am a bigger fan of the Warrior experience namely because it is deeply personal… and not simply the overarching events of the game as a whole.

swtor 2015-10-11 00-53-25-44

From there I picked up on my Bounty Hunter, largely because I needed a palate cleanser from playing a force user… and having just wrapped up Smuggler I was not quite ready for another cunning class.  I fully expected to not be terribly into the Bounty Hunter experience, largely because I didn’t really enjoy Trooper that much.  However I am coming to realize most of my problems with the trooper was the fact that it was my third class within a few months of the launch of games to push to 50… and at that point I was simply bored to tears of all the repeated planet story content.  The Bounty Hunter is quite literally the most reasonable person on the imperial side.  The game gives you the ability to play the consummate business man, and that is absolutely the path I took.  I killed no one for free, and kept my collateral damage to a minimum.  As a result people were constantly surprised that no, I was not in fact going to kill them.  Generally speaking I almost always took the option to freeze them in carbonite and return them to the client fully intact.  I am guessing that quite honestly, Bounty Hunter is probably going to go down as my favorite game play experience in SWTOR.

Destiny

My progression in Destiny has slowed down considerably, with the bulk of my forward movement coming from Armsday packages and any time I level up a faction like the Gunsmith or the Cryptarch.  While I am playing the game of equipping my best gear before I decrypt any engrams, I am still ending up with low level blues most of the time that I turn into crafting materials.  I’ve developed the nasty habit of buying shaders, emblems, and ships…. and as a result I am generally running low on Glimmer most of the time.  I really need to try using some of those glimmer items that increase the drop rates while I work on bounties.  My latest toy that I am enjoying playing with is the scout rifle above that came from a package when I leveled up Dead Orbit faction.  I had not really played with a scout rifle much since coming back and had forgotten that it was essentially a high payload sniper rifle.  Realistically I am to the point where if I want to progress I need to be running Heroic Strikes, and I simply have not messed with getting friends together yet in order to do that.  Still having a lot of fun, but trying to keep it super casual so I don’t burn myself out and get bored with it.

Battlefront

Another game this week that I have spent some time with is Star Wars Battlefront.  I pre-ordered this game through PlayStation network the moment it was announced because I am super nostalgic about the lineage of Star Wars shooters.  This weekend they allowed players to download and play for free in the beta, and I have to say my feelings about it are extremely mixed.  The game does an excellent job of giving you the fantasy fulfillment of playing a soldier in the Star Wars universe.  Past that however… I think it suffers from the fact that I have been playing so much Destiny lately.  The game handles significantly worse in the moment to moment gameplay that Destiny does.  The guns feel worse, the movement feels worse, the cover mechanics… feel worse.  I think if I spent enough time I could get used to it and even come to like it, but right now I am struggling with the feeling of “I would rather just play destiny”.

The Beginner’s Guide

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I’ve said everything I could really ever want to say in my deeply personal post on the game from last week.  Last night on AggroChat I to some extent reprised those thoughts in a much more condensed manner.  The take away for me is really this.  If you are not in an extremely stable position in your life, and if you are at all struggling with your own emotions…  don’t play this game.  Essentially there are two possible reactions… either you are going to think it is complete bullshit and it won’t effect you in any way.  Or it is going to act as a mirror to show you all of your fears and anxieties about yourself.  It quite literally took me a few days to recover from the experience of just watching a play through of this game, and not actually playing it myself.  I am not unhappy that I went through it, but it is also not the sort of experience that I would suggest lightly to anyone.  I know that sounds weird and arcane… but this game does strange things to you.  This is honestly the closest thing I have seen to a real life “The Ring”, in that this game will ultimately leave you slightly changed as a result… and not always in a good way.

 

Day of Destiny

So Much Fireteam

Pause in loading gave a rare screenshot opportunity.
Pause in loading gave a rare screenshot opportunity.

It seems my recent Destiny addiction has rekindled the fires in a handful of my friends.  As a result over the weekend I spent most of it in a Fireteam with Damai attempting to help level our friend Carthuun represented above by his PSN name Saldonas.  Saturday night my wife was freezing, so I got drafted into going to bed the moment our podcast broke up to provide “warmth”.  As a result I had to spend a good chunk of Sunday morning editing the podcast, creating the YouTube version, blogging about it and broadcasting it to the world.  After that I of course has to throw out my own Aggronaut post… which means that I was fairly late getting started on playing anything.  By the time I logged into Destiny Damai and Carth had a fireteam going and were working on the last few missions of the original storyline.  From there we pushed through The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansion content as a group, which honestly had been a bullet point that I wanted to get through at some point.  The problem is with so much new and exciting stuff  to do and gear to get… I never quite got around to making the time for it.  However with Carth leveling for the first time… all of the items you get through those storyline elements were actually relevant.  I finally st0pped grouping around 7pm when my wife got back home, and I went off to fix dinner for the two of us.  At that point I think Carthuun was sitting around the level 25 mark which is not too shabby for a day of grouping.

The big thing that I sorted was how to use PS4 party chat comfortably.  I have a Logitech G430 sitting relatively unused because after swapping to using a Blue Yeti microphone on my machine upstairs, I swapped to simply using a pair of Behringer HPS3000 studio headphones.  The sound output was better and they are nowhere near as heavy as the Logitech pair because they don’t need an attached boom mic.  Ages ago I ordered a few pairs of adapters that take a standard headset and converts it down to the single jack style input that modern phones and the PS4 controller uses.  Yesterday I took the time to dig out my G430 and one of those adapters and after some fiddling and piping all of the game audio through the headset… I finally arrived at something that was fairly comfortable to use.  I don’t seem to mind the fact that playstation chat is mono audio… when I have the rest of the game audio coming through my headphones as well.  Additionally having something other than my dedicated PS4 headset…  makes them far more comfortable to use for several hours on end.  Also this finally allows me to crank up the game audio without frustrating my wife, who has on occasion asked me to turn it down when a really crazy moment happens and the audio is booming.  Now that it is sorted I feel more comfortable using a headset with the console, and am also more likely to just hang out in party chat for awhile.  I am wondering what the upper bound on a party group is, and if you can have more than just the three fire team members.

Swapping Companions

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When I got downstairs last night to prepare for the season finale of Fear the Walking Dead, I of course booted up and started playing Star Wars the Old Republic.  Now that I have finished with my smuggler, I am picking up where I left off on my Sith Warrior.  Through the course of the evening I worked my way through the rest of the Nar Shadda storyline and just now starting on Tattooine.  I have to say it is very nice to finally have all four buffs after beating one of each base class.  I am a bit saddened however that I am finally reaching the stage of the game where it feels like having a healer is a very useful thing.  This means relegating Vette to crafting and spending the majority of my time with Malavai Quinn.  In the grand scheme of things I have no problem with Malavai, because he seems like the honorable Imperial Soldier type.  The problem being that I just like running around with Vette, because I always loved Mission Vao, and honestly for me… she was always Mission 2.0 rather than her own character.  Instead she will farm up companion gifts… that I will ultimately give to her later…  which seems a little strange?

Basically if I have a shot in hell of getting the special legacy unlock thing for beating all of the stories, that means I have to play through the rest of Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, Bounty Hunter, and Sith Inquisitor all before the end of the month.  I am seriously doubting I will be able to do it, but…. that said if I ONLY focus on the story missions I might be able to make it.  When you only focus on the class story the early planets at least go extremely quickly and you stay at a decent level.  I might need to spend some cartel coins however to unlock more mod gear to throw on my characters.  The plan I arrived at on my smuggler of upgrading my armor every other planet seemed to work pretty well and I would really like to do that with my Sith characters.  The problem being the game is not extremely forthcoming with armor options.  There are sets available for pretty much any level range on the Cartel Market, but each of them cost a fair amount of coin.  So I guess we shall see what ultimately happens.  I guess if I got desperate I could make them wear the free moddable flight suits they give you, but that is not exactly a great option.  I might use the imperial pilot suit for Malavai Quinn however.

YouTube AggroChat

 

The funny thing about AggroChat is that in the grand scheme of things… we don’t actually get that many listeners… or at least not enough listeners to go through the trouble of some of the things that I do.  For example… our YouTube videos maybe get a dozen views a piece.  That said I like doing them, and I am not sure why.  I guess they are just far easier to link to someone when they ask you about the show than linking the actual podcast page.  Also I like embedding a youtube video far more than I liked embedding the Libsyn player.  I feel like I could probably do better about advertising our show.  I tend to do it in a rather haphazard fashion, because I feel rushed to get each show out the door and ready.  By the time I finish editing, uploading, and doing all the other things… I reach this point where I just want to be done with it for another week.  It is not necessarily the most enjoyable period of my week.  I love making the show, but the tedium that comes from doing all the fiddly bits to make it happen…  gets annoying.  So I reach this point where I just want to hurl it out into the world and hope someone finds it interesting.  The hardest part is it feels like we don’t have a lot of feedback.  Podcast listeners tend to listen silently, and while we have a few people that comment here and there…  you don’t get the sort of commentary that you do when you have a blog.  There are weeks however like this week, where I feel like we got into some extremely interesting conversations, and it is well worth listening.  I love the folks I podcast with, because ultimately they are the folks that I hang out with on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

 

Week in Gaming 10/4/2015

Moving in Slow Motion

This morning I am having one of those days that feels like I am fighting against quicksand, to be able to accomplish anything.  It is the fitting end of the week I have had where so many issues have come up, that I had to deal with.  This week was one where my boss was out of the office for most of it, which meant I got to be the boss.  This is a concept that sounds fun on paper, but after having done it for years…  I promise it is not nearly as entertaining as it sounds.  Being the boss means you are the one that has to deal with isssues when they arrise, even when the issues are of a magnitude that makes you just want to pull the covers over your head and forget the world exists.  As such my gaming was a bit odd, because I needed to vent my frustrations in the form of shooting aliens.  There were many nights this week where I intended to do something else, but ended up playing Destiny all night.  As such there really are not a lot of individual games to talk about but here goes nothing!

Star Wars the Old Republic

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As of last night during the AggroChat podcast I have officially completed the original Smuggler storyline, and with it… I have a lot of thoughts about what I experienced.  When Kodra played through this content I can remember him being extremely disappointed… but maybe I am just more simple minded, but I absolutely loved the ending.  It is everything I expected underworld dealings would be… romance, betrayal, and getting revenge on the people who betrayed you.  It wraps up everything a good outlaw story should, and like the best ones… ends up with you on the side of justice.  Maybe I just grew up with too many westerns, but it felt like it should to me.  My character wasn’t necessarily a white hat, but he definitely was not a black hat… and at the same time I got to do enough things that felt like decisions I would make, to keep me hooked on the storyline.  Now that I have wrapped this one up, I think I am going to work up faction on Risha and see what that romance option looks like.  After that I think I am putting the Smuggler to bed for awhile, no pun intended… and moving on to something else.

While I doubt I will manage to play through the four imperial storylines before the launch of Fallen Empire, I think I am going to make a good college try to do so.  It would be cool to go into Fallen Empire with the special perk for having defeated all eight storylines.  Last night I swapped over and started working on my Sith Warrior which is the next closest to moving forward.  I have to say once I stopped doing side quests and only focused on the character story the entire experience became far more enjoyable.  Not that the side quests are not awesome… but when you have done them multiple times…  they begin to drag on.  As I play my Sith Warrior I will probably keep doing side quests because most of them on the Imperial side I have not actually seen.  I wonder how many if any duplicate between the two factions.  In any case I am still very much enjoying my SWTOR vacation and I think it has been a great way to spend the lag time between 3.0 and the 3.1 patch in Final Fantasy XIV.

Wildstar

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I have to say the disappointment of the week has been the free to play launch of Wildstar.  I guess I say “disappointment” in quotes because really… any time you do a major launch there are significant issues expected.  Wildstar relaunch has not been smooth by any measure of the word.  In theory from what I have heard if you can manage to get things are fine…  but that was not my personal experience.  I fought through the queues twice this week, and each time moments after actually getting into the game… I saw a message scroll across my screen warning me that the servers would be coming down in 15 minutes.  What does not help I guess is the fact that I am entirely focused on the Entity server, which happens to be the most populated.  At some point I will get some play time in, but at the very least I was able to go fiddle with my inventory and clear out my mail box.  I also gathered up all of my new items, and I am almost tier 6 on the Cosmic Points system.  I have premium sub time through next May so I am sure during that time I will play it quite a bit.

Destiny

Oryx is a badass

Not really sure what I can say about Destiny that I did not already cover this week in my blog post about it.  That said I am still having a blast playing, and several of my friends have also rekindled their interests in the game.  I’ve been getting snagged into a fire time quite often and as a result we are doing quite a few strikes to help my friend Damai get geared up.  Also this week Carthuun joined the game, so I have a feeling we will be doing some lower level content to help him catch up.  To some extent I have been working on leveling my Warlock other than doing my daily bounties, and enjoying replaying through the content.  This game is just so zen for me right now… nothing quite relaxes me like headshotting all manner of aliens, and in the strikes I have run I seem to get the lions share of the kills because of my focus.  I am absolutely in love with the Sunbreaker because seriously….  every game needs the ability to throw flaming hammers at your opponents.  I actually even spent some time running crucible skirmishes and enjoyed myself.  I didn’t lead the kill count for my team but I did manage to place second, and I didn’t have the negative experience some of my other friends have reported as a result.  I imagine that the community for Destiny PVP can be pretty horrible, I am just lucky that I have not seen that yet.

As far as today… I am probably going to spend a lot more of my time playing Destiny as while waiting editing the podcast this morning I managed to knock out most of the objectives.  After I wrap those up I will probably migrate downstairs and spend the rest of the day SWTORing on the sofa while watching something on the television.  Destiny has for whatever reason been the perfect blowing off some steam game for me this week.  My hope is that as I continue to gain light and gear up it will stay just as enjoyable.  I have yet to really try any of the true “endgame” content like the Raids and the Heroic Strikes, but I have to say if I have enough friends playing…  it might be interesting.  I am still just blown away by how much better the game feels to me.  Once again if you played the game at launch and found it lacking… I highly suggest you patch up your client and at least give the game a spin.  The changes trickle down through the entire game, and you should be able to see if you like the new feel before purchasing Taken King.  Thankfully there is the option to ONLY buy Taken King without having to repurchase the entire game… but those options are only available for digital copies of the game.  Not sure if you can upgrade a former physical copy or not.  The Destiny theme song however is playing in the background as I type this… so I am going to go answer its call.  Hopefully we all have an awesome week to come.

 

Destiny Got Better

Destiny Year One

For a few weeks now I have wanted to write a post to explain all of the things that I did not like about Destiny Year One, and talk a bit about how Year Two has just made things “better”.  However it appears that Matt Lees, one of the lovely people behind the “abridged” e3 videos that I love so much…  has done pretty much exactly that in video form.  Seriously if you have not watched the abridged PS4 reveal video… stop what you are doing and watch it now because essentially that one video has given our group a whole slew of inside jokes for a few years.  Despite Matt having done such a great job of this mission I wanted to do in the first place…  I am going to attempt to do my own discussion.  Destiny was one of those games that quite literally made me buy a console.  Admittedly it was one of a long list of Playstation 4 games that I wanted to play, but it was finally the catalyst that got me to pick up a used unit and finally join the rest of my friends in owning that console.  More important than that… it was the game that got me to shed my pc-gaming-hipster distaste of the thought of playing a shooter on the console.  Prior to this game existing… playing a shooter without a mouse and keyboard was utter blasphemy in my household.

What we got however in Destiny Year One was this oddly disjointed and terribly uneven play experience.  The single player missions were excellent, and in spite of dinklebot not having a personality… and never actually letting us in on the details that were happening in the universe, I found myself craving more of the game.  The story is one of the big problems because so much of it was told through the collection of grimoire entries…  that you could not even read in game.  You had to trek out to the Bungie website, log in, and then you could find huge swaths of story-line for the events you just did in game.  That design decision was confusing at best, and a laughable mistake at worst.  Story issues aside… the moment to moment game-play was amazing… until you reached level 20.  Then a completely different game started about item management and trying to maximize just how much “light” you had on your gear.  This stat that simply did not exist before level 20 suddenly controlled not only how effective your gear was, but also what “level” your character was in game.

Grinding Light

Not A Year One Shot… my current state in the game

The problem with the post 20 game was that it introduced so many things that you simply had not seen before that point.  For example post 20 gear could be upgraded, and in fact this is something you needed to do in order to unlock the true potential and maximum light value.  With each incremental upgrade you added a few more points of light here or there and could increase your level.  In order to upgrade items you had to essentially grind out the rare materials that you had been picking up incidentally on planets but not really knowing what to do with them.  In fact the game gave you a way of turning in huge quantities of these materials… for quick faction and experience boosts, but gave no indication of why you might not want to do this.  As such I went into the end game with limited resources, and had to spend hours scouring the various patrol zones trying to find enough spinmetal or iron ore to pay for the upgrade of my items to the next rank.  This is the point where the game lost me, in that I had all of my gear needing to be upgraded but nowhere near enough materials to actually do this.

The other frustrating problem with the light system was the fact that you could get a potentially better item, but not be able to afford to use it.  What I mean by that is you would get say a weapon with a higher starting light, but after several rounds of upgrading your current weapon had more total light.  So you knew that if you upgraded you could get high light level and as a result higher physical level by using this new item…  but in the meantime you would have to suffer the penalty of losing light in the process.  This made gearing a frustrating mess, and in those early strikes one level difference meant the difference between being able to actively participate and feeling like you were dragging down the entire team.  What added to this frustration was the fact that drops in general were pretty scarce.  I could log in and run around collecting iron on Mars for a few hours, killing tons of things in the process and maybe just maybe see a couple of greens.  As a result the end game just felt disconnected from the awesome game play experience that we had getting there.

Year Two

Shrine of Oryx event beginning

When Taken King got its announcement, I have to admit I was originally highly frustrated with the fact that there was no initial offering that did not also include the base game and its expansions.  They have since changed that and you can pick up a digital copy for around $30 that does not include all of the additional stuff.  However I have to say that I agree with the branding because Taken King essentially takes everything about the original game and fixes it.  For those who will understand the analogy, this is the Diablo 3 2.0 patch for Destiny.  Even if you do not buy Taken King, I highly suggest you patch back up Destiny and give it another shot.  Start a new character and revel in just how much better the overall experience feels.  I did just this, and within a few days it convinced me that I should go ahead and pick up the digital upgrade to Taken King.  Firstly the loot scarcity is no longer an issue at all.  I can play for a few minutes and I will have a stack of a dozen engrams that I need to decode on the tower.  Similarly the engrams themselves are more truthful.  If you get a blue engram, you will get at least a blue item.  If you get a purple engram you will get at least a purple item.  That said I have actually gotten a handful of purple items from blue engrams…  which is insanely exciting when it happens.

As far as the light grind… it is essentially no more.  Your light rating becomes something akin to a gear score in modern mmos.  It is a number that is an average of the attack and defensive ratings of all of the gear you have equipped.  Why this feels better is the fact that you can incrementally increase your rating, whittling down a few points a night giving you the feeling of constantly moving forward.  As far as upgrading gear goes, I have never run into a problem where I do not have the resources needed to upgrade an item, even though they still require the materials gathered on planet.  What has changed however is the fact that these nodes are far more plentiful.  There was a point last night that I was on Venus and could see four different spirit bloom nodes from where I was standing.  What makes this easier as well is that the Ghost is an actual item that can be upgraded.  You collect “shells” that change the appearance and defense rating gained by your ghost, and as you upgrade it they often have perks like the ability to increase the amount of a given resource that you gain.  When you bring up the ghost menu, that you would normally use to return to orbit… you get additional benefit now of the ghost scanning your surroundings and pointing out anything useful.  This gets used quite a bit in the later missions to help you map out your surroundings or show things that are invisible.

What has helped me at least is the fact that it feels like I have a bunch of little things that I can be doing at any point.  I am actually enjoying doing my bounties each day, and I just started working on my Gunsmith reputation.  That one is pretty interesting in that each week you can purchase a series of weapons from the Gunsmith and “field test” them.  Each weapon has different requirements to help it “gather information”.  For example I did one last night that only gathered information by killing Vex Minotaurs, and another that only gained completion if I got double kills with a sniper rifle… which as far as I could tell just meant two kills in quick succession without reloading my clip.  Once you have gained some reputation you are able to place “Armsday” orders, which apparently means that every Wednesday the Gunsmith will give you a rank appropriate weapon of the type you ordered.  All of this and more gives me the feeling that there are simply a bunch of things that I can do to improve my character in small and meaningful ways without really feeling that I am grinding without purpose.  I can quite literally lose entire nights playing this game right now, and last night I had every intent of logging in and playing for an hour… then going off to do something else.  I ended up playing all night,  because I kept finding one more thing that I wanted to accomplish.  I’ve now actually started playing through the game again on a Warlock, for when I want a break from my Titan main.  If you too were disillusioned with the original Destiny experience, I think you owe it to yourself to patch up the original game and give it another shot.  Even without the expansion you are still going to be able to experience new encounters in the old patrol zones, and at least get a taste for what “The Taken” as a race feel like.  If you are playing on the Playstation 4, hit me up with a friend request on Belghast my PSN account.

 

 

 

 

Bounties and Newness

Shiny Newness

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Right now the bulk of my social infrastructure is on fire with people returning to Wildstar.  September 28th at Midnight EST was the official launch of the Wildstar Reloaded free to play experience.  They are going through the same sort of growing pains that everyone goes through when they launch a game, or in this case relaunch it.  When I got in last night, and managed to fight my way through the queue, I was greeted with a “server going down in 15 minutes” message as they were needing to do some sort of emergency maintenance.  This is absolutely par for the course for an event like this, but nonetheless disheartening.  I absolutely get why they were bringing the server down however because the tiny bit of time I was able to play the lag was horrific.

I did however manage to do what I had intended to do this morning, which was rifle through my bags… dump everything that was not needed in my bank, and start to clean out my mailbox.  With the change to the way the crafting system works, a lot of the old crafted items were consumed and instead we were mailed a stack full of equivalent materials.  I had seven or eight of these messages from Protostar, all containing things I have no clue what to do with them.  Thankfully however pretty much everything seemed to fit just fine in my tradeskill bag so I don’t have to care for this very moment.  I was able to consume all of the perks that I got through the whole cosmic points system.  I am one step away from tier 6, and as of last night I got some perk that causes me to gain omnibits faster which is kinda cool.  With new toys comes a new outfit, which I cobbled together this morning before sitting down to right a blog post.  For the time being… I think I am going to stay off the servers until things calm down a bit.

Daily Bounties

One of the things I am still enjoying quite a bit is my daily routine of logging into Destiny and getting new bounties.  I am not sure how a game goes from feeling oppressive and grindy, to fun an exciting in a single patch… but whatever the case Destiny did just that.  I think more than anything it is the increased drop rates that make things feel interesting, because when I know it is highly likely that I will get something for my time spent, I don’t mind spending time doing something.  I love the random chance of finding something cool, and maybe once I am geared enough to no longer care about drops…  it will feel different.  However every single engram that I see glowing in the distance is a chance at finding something to increase my overall light and as such make me more formidable.  Largely my key goal this week however has been to try and stock pile strange coins again in the hopes that on Friday Xur will bring me something awesome and exotic.

I still have so much story that I have yet to complete, and I have barely scratched the surface of the strikes that are available to me.  For the time being however I seem to get the most enjoyment from grabbing my bounties and going to some planet to whittle them down.  There is just something relaxing about this process, and in many ways it reminds me of the way I felt about the daily hunts in Final Fantasy XIV…  that is until I no longer really needed the currency to improve my gear.  There is something calming about having a routine and right now popping into Destiny is pretty much the first thing I do each night.  In the above video I decided to record a bit of me working my way through my daily quests, and that is actually my second attempt given that I had been recording for a bit only to realize that it was not picking up my mic.  Essentially I changed the way I am recording so that I could pull my boom mic out and be able to capture audio while I am playing on the PS4 easily.  The video itself was recorded through my Elgato HD, which I have hooked to a switch so that I can record any of my consoles.   The end product just looks better than the default video recording options on the PS4.

 

 

Balmorra and Oryx

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Awesome Wife Update

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My wife is always awesome, but every now and then she does something so cool that I have to brag on her.  This weekend she was out shopping with a friend when I got a series of excited texts from her about something she found for me.  Awhile back I picked up some Star Wars shoes with this “A New Hope” artwork spread across the two shoes.  The problem being that they were expensive as shit and I hate the idea of wearing them out in my normal shoe rotation.  I wear a mixture of Vans and Airwalk slip on style canvas shoes and I seem to be able to destroy them pretty effectively.  My wife however found the above pair that is absolutely Star Wars print but not to the level that I wouldn’t want to wear them constantly.  She didn’t end up picking them up, mostly because she wanted me to try them on.  We get up yesterday and they were apparently also on sale at Target, so I am not sure how much we paid but I think they were under $20.  I just think its awesome that she saw the shoes and immediately thought that I would want them.  My wife isn’t necessarily a geek like I am, but she has always “gotten” the fact that I am and supported me in my quirkiness.  I am exceptionally lucky, and every now and then I feel like I need to acknowledge that fact publicly.

Starting Balmorra

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I had all of these intentions to make a big push yesterday in Star Wars the Old Republic, but in reality I only ended up playing it in the evening while watching television.  I did however manage to finish up all of the end of chapter one back and forth for the smuggler.  I now have Risha as an official companion rather than just someone hanging out on my ship.  Granted I will likely never end up using her, given that the Tank/Healer combo of Treek and I allows me to pretty much take on anything with ease.  Overall I do like the character of Risha and it is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the game plays out.  I figure she is going to remain being a vocal participant in the content.  Now we are going to enter into some spoiler territory, so you might want to stop reading if you have not completed the smuggler story line and intend to do so.  One of the absolute best moments in the game so far… was when I finally got to take down Skavak.  Up until this point I kept thinking to myself…  god why will this game not let me just kill this guy already!

Now that we have moved into Chapter 2 we get a new set of bad guys.  At this point I don’t really care much about this Voidwolf character, but I am absolutely all about taking on Rogun the Butcher.  Up until this point I have had him looming over my head and he has sent the occasional bounty hunter after me.  My hope is that when I finally am able to take him down it will be just as sweet as it was for Skavak.  I feel like as a smuggler I probably shouldn’t want to have a stand up fight against these Kingpins, but then again Leia did slay Jabba in rescuing Han…  so there is that example to follow.  There are moments in this game that I know are traps… but you pretty much have to go through them anyways.  The “rescue” mission on the derelict freighter for example, was absolutely going to be a trap and it was.  I did not however expect Port Nowhere to be the trap that it ended up being.   I guess it makes sense, because pretty much EVERY map you go to that is not on a main world ends up being a trap.  Looking forward to pushing through Balmorra because I can tell you right now I am ONLY doing class story quests here.  This is the planet that often kills my progress on Sith side, so will be looking forward to getting through it here on Republic.

Heroic Light

Heroic Ready Titan

Yesterday was a day almost entirely lost to Destiny.  After finishing my blog post, advertising the podcast, and finishing up the youtube version we ended up running out to Target to pick up my shoes.  We got home around 11:30 and from that point until around 3:30 I was engrossed in this or that activity within Destiny.  I wound my way through the Taken King story, largely because I wanted to open up the Dreadnought patrol zone.  I have to say Oryx was one of those fights that was probably way worse in my head than it actually was in reality.  The entire time during the fight I was tense beyond reason because I did not want to die and have to start over again.  So I spent most of my time dodging and running away while trying to regroup and get some solid shots in.  I don’t want to go into too much detail for those who have not done the fight, but there is a moment where he goes invulnerable except for a specific moment when you can attack.  This phase…  freaked me out more than anything I can remember in this game.

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I kept trying to time my sunbreaker super attack for when he was becoming vulnerable again all the while dodging taking damage.  The only negative about the encounter is that the adds definitely felt like nothing more than ways for you to regenerate your ammunition, and they were less of an issue once I realized this.  At first I kept trying to run from them and focus down Oryx, but I quickly realized that if I kept doing this I would get overwhelmed.  The big takeaway from the weekend is that I managed to hit 240 light, which is the first heroic level.  I did a couple of the Vanguard strikes on the play list, and I am going to keep trying to do those periodically.  I also started getting quests to do various “end game” content.  My main goal for the week is to regenerate enough Strange Coins to be able to buy something next Friday if Xur has anything interesting.  I am really happy that I had enough to buy Hawkmoon since I pretty much exclusively use Hand Cannons on my Titan.  At some point I plan on working my way up on either a Warlock or a Hunter, but for the time being I am really enjoying leveling Sunbreaker.  I am not sure exactly why Destiny has this renewed life for me… but for whatever reason I am grabbing on with both hands while the fun lasts.

 

Week In Gaming 9/27/2015

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Week of Playstation

This week was very much a week of me waiting on something to happen on my PC while pivoted to the side and playing the PlayStation 4 instead.  The strangest thing has happened and I am not sure exactly when it did.  For years I was a diehard Keyboard and Mouse gamer… and if you suggested that I play a shooter with a controller I would give you a dirty look at best… and at worst give you a thirty minute rant about why that is a sloppy control mechanism.  The thing is…  shooters now have a significant amount of aim assist regardless of what platform you happen to be playing them on.  Sure you can get closer to pixel perfect aiming with a keyboard and mouse… but I am finding for extended gaming sessions a controller just feels more comfortable.  Destiny was essentially the game that forced me to learn how to play with a controller, and now…  I am finding myself replaying some games that I played exclusively on the PC on my PS4.  Over the week I picked up the Borderlands “Handsome Collection” because it was silly cheap on PSN, and I have to say… I am finding the game more enjoyable over there.  While I won’t necessarily say I have abandoned the keyboard and mouse…  I am finding myself equally comfortable with a controller and it seems so strange to be typing those words.

Destiny

Exotic Weapon FTW!

This week the game that I spent the most hours playing was without a doubt Destiny.  I am not sure why but the game feels fresh and new, and all of the frustrations I had over gearing for light are just gone.  Instead light has become this number based on the average attack power and or defense of your items, and seeing it climb is awesome…  but at the same time not something oppressively holding me back from doing interesting things.  I now think of light much more like a traditional gear score system in MMOs.  There is some content gated on that number, but it doesn’t feel like something that is extremely grindy to get.  I happened to luck out this week and Hawkmoon this seasons exotic hand cannon was available on Xur.  I had enough coins to buy it and bam I am now rocking a really awesome weapon, which only serves to improve my experience.  I’ve heard that you can send blue engrams to low level characters as a more efficient way of farming Strange Coins, and I might end up doing that as I pretty much depleted my entire stash on this one item.

Super Hammer Brothers!
Super Hammer Brothers!

Other than that I am slowly working my way through all of the story content that I have not played since launch.  It feels strange to be progressing in three different storylines at essentially the same time, doing whichever happens to suit me at the moment.  The big thing I am trying to work towards right now is I really need the dreadnought patrol zone opened up because I keep getting those as daily quests.  I am not sure how far into the story that happens but I keep working on creeping that storyline forward in the hopes that the next one will unlock the patrol zone.  Other than that I unlocked Sunbreaker and am completing most of my content as that, in the hopes of leveling it quickly.  There is something satisfying Fist of Havoc, but I have to say super fire hammer brothers is also pretty awesome as well.  You can whittle down objectives super quickly while throwing those hammers.  I’ve taken Taken bosses down to half health during my “hammer time” but the only problem is it essentially leaves you out in the open and vulnerable.  So I end up having to run for cover as soon as I’ve spent all of my energy.  Needless to say I am having a lot of fun with Destiny and probably going to continue playing it over the coming weeks.

Creativerse

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I’ve blogged about this game already at length this week, but I have to say I am still really liking it.  I am also digging that the company is from McKinney Texas which isn’t terribly far from me.  Not sure if I can rig this but it would be kinda awesome to go down and meet that team at some point.  I am hoping that they end up doing Pax South this year, because the game has so much potential.  I called it “Pretty Minecraft” but really that is selling the game short by a large amount.  I will say that it has pretty much killed my desire to play Minecraft at all from this point out.  I get what people say about the mods, but in reality I never modded Minecraft that much other than adding in quality of life things like a mini-map.  Regardless of how I modified the game it just felt like I was playing the same thing over and over with varrying differences.  This game however feels fresh and interesting because the world itself is something that I don’t know the formula behind.  I talked about this a bit the other day, but I think part of it is the fact that I have no real resources to rely on yet.  I can’t go on a wiki and find out that obsidian spawns between these two coordinates or if I need an item for a recipe I have to find it the old fashioned brute force way of exploration.  If you are in the mood for a building and exploration fix I highly suggest you check it out.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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Oh Captain My Captain

Last night during and after the podcast I finished up Alderaan on my Smuggler.  In the time it has taken me to get this far on my Smuggler, I found out that Tam has leveled like three characters from 1 to 50.  How is he doing it?  Well he is doing ONLY the class storyline, and I think maybe he has made a convert out of me.  I shot through Alderaan last night only working on my class storyline and gained three levels in the process.  Mostly at this point I just want to see the class storyline on several new classes before Fallen Empire comes along and changes a good deal of it.  I think the rest of the day I am going to likely work on my Smuggler and see just how close to the end I can manage to get.  My hope is that even after Fallen Empire they come up with a way to speed characters to the post 50 content.  I need to circle back around and do the Shadows of Revan content on my Jedi Knight, but honestly I am having so much fun with my Sawbones.  This is still such a great game, if you just treat it like a subscription.  The free to play options are complete and total bullshit, and feel like the most punitive way to play a game I have seen period.  If you can stomach the fact that you have to pay a subscription to really enjoy this game…  then it seems like a really enjoyable experience still.

 

 

Misery and NDAs

Broken

Game Is Still Pretty

Over the last few days I have felt run down, and I am grasping at straws to figure out exactly why.  There seems to be something going around the office, but so far I am not really showing any signs of whatever it is other than simply being exhausted.  Last night I largely struggled with a Migraine that kept me in a pseudo hibernation state, but this morning as I sit down to the keyboard and attempt to drink my coffee I am just feeling generally lousy.  One of my co-workers has been out for three days with something, so I am hoping I am not coming down with whatever that was.  Last night was the night of restless gaming.  I attempted to log in and be present in Final Fantasy XIV but only wound up AFKing outside the guild hall.  It made me appreciate just how much I love our free company house.  It really is in just about the perfect location that seems to be close to just about everything in The Mists neighborhood.  The only problem is… it is small.  We have talked for a bit about potentially trying to pool our resources and getting a bigger house, but the problem there is we would have to move and likely out of our neighborhood.

One of the things that I like the most about where we are situated is that we actually know a large chunk of the neighbors surrounding us.  While it has not been nearly as busy since the launch of Heavensward as everyone has fallen into this pre 3.1 lull…  it is still nice feeling like you are part of something larger.  While idling in FFXIV I attempted to play some Destiny and managed to complete a few bounties.  However my aim was constantly wonky, and I knew I should not be attempting anything serious.  As the night wore on the headache got worse and ultimately I ended up retiring to bed for awhile… the finally ending up on the Sofa.  I hate those days where you have the will to play something…  but cannot struggle through the “bad feels” in order to actually make any headway.

NDAs are Back

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I am using Trove as the screenshot for this little section because it was one of the first “who needs an NDA” alpha games that I can remember playing.  Everything about that game process was so out in the open that development discussions were openly happening on Reddit.  For a period of time it seemed like every new game coming down the pipe was sans NDA so that folks could stream it freely and generate buzz.  I was shocked when I managed to get into the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha for example… and was told that I could talk about it freely.  The problem being… this open transparency bit more than a few games in the ass.  Development is a messy time and as things are changing…  you end up with features in “partially finished” states that look like a finished product to the gamer.  The big problem with open and “pay to join” Alphas is that they no longer feel like testing.  Instead you have simply released a broken game.

As a result lately I’ve noticed a significant number of games bringing back the NDA.  Hell some of them seem to be almost unwilling to let the NDA go, as they have been in fairly prolific testing for a couple of years.  As of right now I am in a handful of NDA bound alpha processes, and each of them seems to be trying to return to the era when Alphas were actually that.  The problem with this is, I am finding myself far less interested in playing something that I can’t actually talk about on my blog.  So generally speaking I install the Alpha client and play every now and then, but I am not actually playing enough to be a proper tester.  I feel bad for this because I have always been the type to bug note the hell out of things as I see them.  While I think it is probably a good thing for Alpha processes to regain some of their previous closed nature, I also feel far less invested in a game until it is actually hatched and ready for public consumption.  So many things over the last years have blurred the lines between finished product and testing, and the current era of incessant and constant “early access” games just makes me leery to invest too much of myself in a game until I know that it is nearing its finished state.

Titans and Skywhales

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Two Worlds

Badass New Speeder and Armor Theme

Last night was a bit of a mixed night, in that I logged into Final Fantasy XIV early in the evening… and then spent most of the night with my chair turned to the side playing Destiny instead.  I largely logged in when I did to be available for any raid shenanigans later that evening and also be available for various folks who were wanting to get friends invited to the guild.  So I sat there with my headphones on attempting to monitor both games at the same time and doing a fairly poor job of paying attention to guild chat.  I gotta say I am enjoying the Titan again now that I gave up on the whole defensive thing and went back to striker.  There is something gratifying about doing Fist of Havoc in the middle of a pack of mobs and walking away to tell the tale.  Largely I spent my evening working on quests and bounties.  There are a handful that I cannot for the life of me figure out how to complete…  what the fuck is an “attachable grenade”?  I thought at first it was the lightning grenade that “sticks to any surface” but after a bit of reading this morning apparently it is the FIRST grenade option… which I don’t think sticks to anything.

Can’t Go Wrong With Black

At this point I am level 30, which I have to say really quickly how much nicer it is to have a simply leveling curve instead of that light bullshit.  Having to sift through items and find the one with the highest light amount…  was maddening especially when it often meant you were maybe turning down an otherwise superior item.  The only thing I question at the moment is the fact that all of this “leveling” gear is upgradeable…  whereas I am swapping out gear pretty much every single time I go out into the world, so upgrading it really is meaningless.  The only thing I am still holding onto right now is my exotic gun, and that is simply because I have not found anything with higher damage.  The moment I find a hand cannon with better stats, this exotic will likely get chunked in the bank for nostalgia reasons and I will happily use the next gun with better stats on it.  I am still fairly firmly attached to a Hand Cannon as my primary weapon… or as they for some reason occasionally refer to them as “Sidearms” instead.  As far as secondary and heavy… I am pretty partial to the Sniper Rifle and the Machine Gun because that combo gives me a strong way to pick mobs off at range… with a heavy with some serious stopping power.  Stopping power that you need for the Taken invasions that seem to spring up at random in every single open world zone in the game.  I stuck around on Mars long enough last night while working on a “kill champions” bounty last night, that I got to fight the same event several times in a row.  The giant Taken Vex Minotaur thing… is freaking brutal.  I don’t think it is quite as bad as a spider tank, but still pretty horrible to content with especially when there are not a ton of players around.

Taking Down Skywhales

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While fiddling around with Destiny a large gathering of folks started showing up in Final Fantasy XIV.  After a bit Kodra being the awesome person that he is, took it upon himself to try and make a group happen.  I am super thankful that he did… because I was absolutely not paying a whole lot of attention because I was busy trying to headshot Taken.  It turns out we had a few people who had not managed to get Bismarck Extreme yet, so that set our course for the evening.  Learning nights are interesting when you are teaching a handful of people a fight, because it ends up shifting the balance for the rest of the group as well.  Players who were the newbie last time, step up and become the experts and I saw that happening quite a bit last night.  Bismarck Extreme is still serious business even though we have downed it several times now, and I went into it knowing that it would take a few tries before we finally got it down.  On our first attempt we predictably missed the back on the first try, but after that we adjusted and started hitting that first hurdle pretty reliably.

The hardest hurdle as always is getting down the two snakes in time.  The challenge there was simply a matter of keeping all of our dps alive and busy killing sky snakes because during that phase if you lose a single player it is highly unlikely that you will be able to pull it out.  We are quite simply not geared enough to be able to carry that objective too hard.  In truth we downed the boss the try in which we kept everyone alive.  That just happened to be about 15 minutes before the instance timer ran out.  I think it was a pretty great night though all things consider and we broke a few more players into the rigors of end game Final Fantasy XIV content.  For the time being Monday night raids are on hiatus until November when the 3.1 patch lands, and I think in the mean time we are going to use Monday nights as a sort of “get stuff accomplished” night for whatever anyone happens to need.  I would not mind farming more Bismarck or even getting a group back into Binding Coil of Bahamut.  Cosmetic gear is always a strong draw to get me back into a place.