Overwatch Frustrations

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Overwatch Hype
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On Tuesday October 27th Blizzard opened the doors of Closed Beta for it’s highly anticipated shooter called Overwatch.  As you might expect, the internet as a whole quickly lost their shit and reverted to a state of chain refreshing the battle.net account page to see if they were among the lucky few to get granted access.  What I did not expect however was all of the infighting this process called as folks essentially called down a pox on the house of those who did manage to get in.  It is one thing to be frustrated that you did not get into whatever the hot new Beta happens to be, but it is an entirely different to wish harm upon those who did.  There were even a few folks who decided to flail about declaring that their not getting into Beta shows how little Blizzard cares.  Others talk about how they should have earned access with this or that deed.  At first I thought to myself…  are we really this entitled?  Because seriously… there have been some serious entitlement issues going on over the last few days.

Then I noticed something else happening that disturbs me even more.  For those mere mortals like myself that do not make a living off gaming…  then absolutely it would be entitlement.  However for the folks that make a living through creating content related to Blizzard games…  I started to read this impotently lashing out…  as cold hard fear.  When you make your money by presenting the freshest content on your Stream or your YouTube channel… you are in essence relying on being able to play whatever everyone else is playing.  Not having access means you are missing out on all of these eyeballs that are now suddenly flocking to the internet to gaze into the window at those chosen few who get to play whatever game they want to play.  Right or wrong…  Blizzard is essentially saying who is really important to the future of their product and who is not.

The Hunt for Eyeballs

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I am a shitty Streamer and an even worse YouTuber…  but the most eyeballs I have ever had on my collective “stuff” is when I happened to get into the first wave of Alpha invites to Trove.  I got to be one of a handful of people playing around with that game, and broadcasting it to the world and it was really noticeable.  It is 6:30 in the morning right now… and one of the Overwatch streamers has over 10,000 viewers at this hour.  During prime time… Overwatch has consistently been the highest watched game on the network.  When you tune into one of these streams, especially the ones going on during the day… you will see a who’s who of internet celebrities fighting each other.  Whether or not they intended it… Blizzard did essentially judge who was important to them and who was not by determining who got into that first wave of invites.  That can be a pretty harsh reality check, especially if you have essentially devoted your career to supporting Blizzard products.

What worries me more however is what this says about the current state of video games in general.  I remember how I felt the first time I got into a Friends and Family Alpha program… or FFA.  I remember the excitement, and the desire to tell the entire world…  but the reality that was I was bound behind a very serious Non Disclosure Agreement.  I remember for one of these FFA programs I had to fax in a signed copy of a thirty page document back to the studio before being granted access.  What made this work is that the company could literally focus on testing the game… rather than having to showcase it to the public 24/7.  Sure it is frustrating to be in a thing that you cannot share… and sure it sucks for streamers especially to need to play something that they cannot show off to their viewers.  However I think the model worked pretty damned well because up until these last few years it has been the model that almost all of the games you can think about nostalgically have been released under.  It lets testing happen beyond the prying eyes of the public and bugs get fixed before it is ready for people to see it.  The problem is… we the gamers have started to feel that there is something dishonest about this process… and that if a company isn’t completely transparent in every single minute action that they take…  that it must be the sign of something horrible going on behind the scenes.

Marketing Cycle

 

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The big problem is…   we bore of games before they are released.  There are games out there that seem to have permanent alpha and beta cycles, and as we go through seeing them displayed on our screens for two years…  then the final release just seems lacking.  There have been numerous times on AggroChat for example when someone brings up a title… and I have to ask “wait that actually released?”.  There is this constant battle to control the hype cycle about a game, and make sure that your product is getting enough spin among the social media influencers.  So when a game like Overwatch goes into one of these lengthy beta cycles…  the company needs these streamers just as much as the streamers need the game to showcase to their viewers.  They need those all important eyeballs peeping their wares… and getting excited enough to plunk down their hard earned money to purchase goods in it.  The frustrating thing about it… is it feels like we are always in a hype cycle for something.  It becomes much like the American Political system… where the candidates… or games in this case are always running for the next election.  The market at this point is simply saturated with new titles that all sound interchangeable.  MOBA with FPS roots…  FPS with MOBA Character Styling…  FPS gameplay MOBA spirit…  the marketing spin that gets applied to games just seems meaningless after awhile.

Where I really start to get frustrated however is when this hype machine starts hurting people.  Sure watching someone have an internet meltdown is entertaining while it goes on… but behind the screen is someone obviously in pain.  I am not coming out to support those tantrums… but I am coming out to say that for all that is good and right in the world…  lets stop hurting each other over a game.  I have been just like you among those people frantically checking my battle.net account each time a new wave of invites comes out.  So I get it… I get the desire to play that new shiny game.  I’ve done this cycle over and over, and will continue doing this cycle until the games industry changes the way it works.  Even if I want something really badly…  I make it a goal in life to be excited for the people who are having good things happen to them…  rather than being that selfish person who is lashing out at others because they got left out.  I get the frustration and fear especially if you make your living from this sort of thing…. but having a meltdown in front of your followers isn’t going to help either.  The truth is… we are eventually all going to get in… and the additional truth is…  most of us will play a handful of games and then move on to the next shiny thing.  This is not as important as we happen to be making it out right now… and within a years time…  this will feel like another silly incident in the gaming community.  What will stick around however… is how people feel about you and the way you have treated them.  So lets just be awesome to each other while we wait for the next hype cycle to spin up.

 

Fun with Squirrels

Groupy Stuff

Last night I had an absolute blast in Destiny.  During the day I mentioned that I really needed to do some Court of Oryx stuff on the Dreadnaught, since the Stolen Runes in their initial state do not stack… and I happened to have like four in my inventory.  My friend SquirrelPope chimed in to mention that he could also do with some CoO goodness, but we didn’t necessarily make any firm plans.  When I got home I started piddling around on my Warlock and shortly after dinner my good friend Carth showed up and we started up a PSN Party.  Around about this time I decided to swap back to my Titan and I got a PSN friend invite from Squirrel and next thing I know it we are on the Dreadnaught doing summons.  Over the course of the night we participated in probably a half dozen of the level 300 summons, and at least a dozen if not more of the 240 ones…  then a good smattering of the low level ones mixed in as well.  We were there long past the point where our bags were overflowing, and it managed to get me a level 300 artifact and Squirrel one as well for his hunter alt.  We took a trip to decode our goodies on the Tower before regrouping.

From there we chain ran a bunch of strikes and I managed to get a couple of exotics as a result.  The other night Carth managed to pull a Telesto fusion rifle, and I had commented that I really would not mind getting one since I didn’t have a great fusion rifle option.  Sure enough in our travels last night one of my exotics was a special weapon and that was precisely what I pulled.  The other item I got was extremely situational, No Back-up Plans arms which give you a force barrier anytime you kill someone with a shotgun.  This screams like something perfect for defender titan in the crucible.  Going to hold onto them because in theory they are a decent enough item, even though I skipped getting them when they were on Xur a few weeks back.  It was one of those nights of incremental movement in my light and not necessarily anything big.  The big two things were that I was able to push up Hawksaw from 293 to 296 and my Sol Edge from 296 to 298 making me extremely happy in both cases.  With the focus on secondary weapons for my exotic slot, now that I have both Telesto and Invective I also robbed my Hunter and got my favorite version of the Zarinaea-D Auto Rifle to replace my Fabian Strategy that I am apparently going to shelve.  I mostly liked the Fabian for the survival that it granted me… and I really notice it when I am not using it.

Armsday

It’s Wednesday, which means its Armsday… otherwise known as the…  I can’t remember what I ordered so for the love of god get these packages out of my inventory day.  Last week I put in orders for pretty much everything and you can see my actual picks above in the image gallery.  This is the first time I have actually used an image gallery so… hopefully no strangeness happens with my blog layout as a result.  Of these honestly… the only one I can really see myself using is the Judith-D hand canon and maybe one of the pulse rifles.  The Auto Rifle is pretty much guaranteed to turn into legendary marks because it has next to no impact.  As far as the shotgun goes… I have an invective and the ability to give all of my characters an invective… why would you use any other shot gun?  In all seriousness I am probably going to eat my 4th Horseman and give an Invective to my Hunter, because having a shotgun that regenerates ammunition auto-magically is a pretty spectacular thing.  The only thing that I really need to round out my special weapon options is the damned Black Spindle…  and next time it comes up I am probably going to pester Squirrel and Carth to make several attempts at getting it.  I want that damned thing so badly, and similarly I am hoping we see a return of the Firewall mission required to get the Sleeper Stimulant as well at the beginning of November.

The thing that excites me the most about this Armsday is not necessarily the weapons I got this week… but instead my hope for weapons next week.  For ages I have been hearing about how amazing the Suros Ari-45 Auto Rifle is… and it has now appeared as one of the packages for next week.  I’ve put in at least two of these orders, one on the Titan and one on the Hunter… and it would be pretty great if I managed to get my Warlock up to 38 this week and be able to put in another order on him.  I have a feeling like the Zarinaea-D it is going to be one of those weapons that I would love to have multiple copies of.  My only fear however is that maybe just maybe the hype surrounding this weapon is not going to live up to my expectations.  I have very specific tastes in weapons, and it is as much about the “feel” for me as it is the actual stats.  I like the Zarinaea-D because I love the “feel” of it… sure it is a laser beam of accuracy.. and packs a decent punch with good sights, but the sound is really what makes me love that weapon.  I have been running around with a version of the Suros Ari-45 on my Warlock as I level him, and while it is cool and a fun weapon to use… it is no Zarinaea-D.

 

 

 

 

Open World Dungeons

Throwback Zones

One of my favorite aspects of Destiny is the patrol zones.  I can quite literally spend multiple hours in a given night roaming around on one of the planets or the dreadnought just doing “stuff”.  I guess in some way they remind me of the way that dungeons used to be designed during the early days of MMOs.  Back in Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot all of the dungeons you encountered were these wide open places that had no predetermined path through them.  Players tended to carve them up into smaller sub dungeons, that were focused around getting to a specific spawn… and I remember spending many an hour with a group of friends essentially leveling our characters by hanging out in these dungeons.  This is precisely what the patrol zones feel like…  an almost dungeon experience with so many little offshoots and places you can disappear into if you know where you are going.  I realize that essentially all of the Patrol zones are big loops, but there are several places where you can get off the beaten path, and honestly end up with relatively pristine hunting grounds if you just know where to look for them.

One of my favorite examples is on Venus, there is this place with a fairly rapid spawn Vex major Minotaur.  On the days when you have the Vex Major/Ultra duty this area becomes heavily camped with players fighting over the ability to kill all of the yellow health Vex that spawn there.  However if you just got a bit farther and get off the beaten path there is an area that is completely ignored that happens to have three praetorian spawns… aka major Minotaurs.  I feel like the game rewards exploration and willingness to muck through dungeon like areas to see what is at the end of the path.  What makes patrol so interesting to me is that you can visit most of the areas you can find in the strikes and missions that happen on that same planet, just if you make the effort to go there.  I also love that Patrol mode tends to reward you richly with engram drops for your diligence and time spent wandering around looking for interesting bits.  The dreadnought is this concept on overdrive, because there are so many hidden nooks and crannies filled with chests for you to find.  At some point I am going to write up a blog post that explains all of the hidden goodies that I know of on the Dreadnought.

Halloween Is Everywhere

Even the Traveler Dressed Up
Even the Traveler Dressed Up

As strange as it might sound… there is in fact a Halloween event happening in Destiny.  Doing actions while wearing a paper mache mask gives you candy… and when you fill up a candy bag you can turn it in for a loot box that will drop masks and candy… which acts as a short term buff.  The only problem is… that this shit takes up inventory space.. and last night I actually ended up having an exotic shard mailed to me because apparently I had filled up the very spartan 20 slots of material space.  If you manage to get a legendary mask, those can be kept past the event.  However if you find a blue mask that you really like there is a way to save those as well upgrading them to legendary by using materials gained through disassembling other masks.  On my first bag opened I got a legendary Speaker mask, which honestly is good enough for me.  The masks are equippable head slot items… but have no stats so essentially by wearing one you are losing stats.  There are a series of quests you can complete by wearing masks while doing activities out in the world.  I am doubtful if I will actually complete any of them.

Other than that I had a night full of farming Vanguard Strikes, and managed to pull six exotics throughout the night.  They broke out like this… 2 Helms, 2 Arms, 1 Chestpiece and 1 Primary weapon.  Sadly the primary weapon was Last Word that I already had…  and honestly is no longer that good of a hand cannon any longer.  At the very least there is never a reason why I would use it over Hawkmoon.  Engrams are so amazing when they drop… but so disappointing when they turn into something that you have no interest in.  There are so many primaries that I really really want… like the Zhalo Supercell for example but the likelihood that I will actually pull one of them is pretty slim.  I pulled a ton of engrams… so many that I had fifteen items waiting for me in my mailbox at the end of the night and that was after disassembling dozens of items that dropped while running the strikes.  I did manage to raise my light level by one as well as picked up a few things that I thought were interesting like the unique legendary arms from the bond brothers.  I also managed to level my defender a bit…  which I am still finding relatively miserable to play as.  Pretty much anything that is not “Super Hammer Bros” is going to be a let down at this point.

Slight Progress

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Titan Improves

This weekend once again was mostly a Destiny weekend for me, as I worked on both my Titan and my Hunter trying to slowly inch up their gear.  On the Titan I hit a bit of a milestone, and finally pushed forward to get my light level… aka item level to 295.  The funny thing about this is it seems to be a significant number, because I have noticed that a lot of things simply feel easier now.  I spent a good bit of the weekend running the level 36 strikes, but as per Cortical’s suggestion I tried a few 20 strikes.  The strange thing about them is… in some ways they seemed more difficult.  At the very least the level 20 strikes seem to throw more cheap mobs at you, and I guess if you have really good AOE damage you can shred through them.  Ironically I died far more often in the 20s than I normally do in the 36s so I think I am going to return to doing the slightly “harder” ones.  I would rather have harder bosses and easier trash I guess.  It also seems like once I hit 295 I started getting slightly better drops.  I still have yet to see a single item over level 300, so I am not sure at all how I am going to bridge that gap.

I guess Nightfall would be the next big jump forward for me, but I have to say I am slightly gunshy.  Heroic was maddening at times, and I am guessing there are lots of mobs in Nightfall that will straight up one shot you.  It feels like to do those really well you need to know the placement of the mobs and predict every sniper or big gunner type mob to take them out quickly before they whittle down the party.  The other side effect that I am really not digging is the way that the community seems to love to glitch out content rather than complete it.  Most of the times I have been on the Restorative Mind map… something happens and the other two players disappear on me… only to end up with me getting teleported to the final boss room moments later.  So there has to be some sort of shortcut that I am just not understanding, or some glitch somewhere that lets them bypass the gates.  I guess I get the reason why Destiny “Sherpas” are a thing.

Hunter Viable

The progress I am happiest with however this weekend is that of the hunter.  It seems like it was only a week or so ago that I was 285 on the Titan, and I have now reached that point on the hunter as well.  I am still largely focused on Nightstalker, but I did pick up the Bladedancer helmet this week.  I also picked up a chest engram and pulled a Crest of Alpha Lupi which works pretty well.  I am also really really loving my Zarinaea-D Auto Rifle, that I got the first week Armsday orders were available to me.  I’ve had a couple of these now but the one my hunter uses seems to be the best so far.  I am running a combination of Partial Refunds, Rodeo, and High Calibur rounds on it… and it is a beast at taking down mobs in general.  I also really really like the LD Watchdog sights on it.  I’ve heard the Suros legendary auto rifle is the one to get,but so far I have had little to no luck pulling that one.  I did manage to get a Villainy pulse rifle from Future War Cult faction package, but I have yet to really put it through the paces.

At some point this week I guess I am going to work on my Warlock.  At this point I am only level 8 on him, and I don’t have a cheaty item that will zoom me to 25 this time.  The early game is really somewhat bland… and while I have weapons for 20ish in my vault… I don’t have much stocked away to make the low levels go smoother.  The only negative about boosting the hunter is that I had made essentially no progress on my classes, and had to basically start leveling from 25 on… with nothing much to rely on other than the basic super and basic grenade.  At least on my Warlock I have a fair number of the abilities ready to go, and that at least should make things good more smoothly.  I have this overwhelming desire to have one of each at high levels, and since I went Solar sword on the Titan, and Void sword on the Hunter… I guess that means I am going to go Arc sword on the Warlock and throw sonic booms.  Largely I just like the idea of eventually being able to swap swords between them based on the need.  I wish there was such a thing as a Legendary kiosk like there is the Exotic one… because man… there are certain Legendary weapons I wish I could have on every character.

 

 

Week In Gaming 10/25/2015

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The Sickly Bel

weekingamingThis week was an odd one in that I managed to catch some flu-like chest crud.  I felt pretty awful most of last weekend, and then struggled to exist Monday and ended up coming home halfway through Tuesday.  I chained Wednesday as well, and found myself in that place where I wanted to play something…  but anything seemed to require too much concentration.  This was after all the week I had early access to Star Wars Fallen Empire, and I did exactly none of the content.  I poked my head in a few times to attempt to play my Sith Sorcerer and failed miserably at it.  I have a few comments to make about my experiences, but the majority of my gaming time was spent playing Destiny.  Apparently that game is largely muscle memory, and I can play it without having to think too much about it.

SWTOR: Fallen Empire

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As I said in the intro, this week was the early launch of Fallen Empire the massively game changing expansion for Star Wars the Old Republic… and I barely touched it.  I did pop in enough to get sorted out how some of the new systems work.  Namely the way companions now exist as being independent of the abilities they use.  This means if you no longer have to deal with companions you cannot stand just because they fill the role you want.  As a result I swapped to using Andronikos Revel on my Sorcerer, because he loves it when I shock the shit out of NPCs that are not giving me my way.  Similarly I would probably never run with a companion that is not Vette on my Sith Warrior, or always run with Kira Carsen on my Jedi Guardian.  There is seriously nothing cooler than running around with Kira and feeling like a Jedi strike force, and having her also be a healer…  just icing on the cake.  As you can tell this is a super important change for me, and I am damned happy to see it go in.

Other than that the other big change for me is the fact that the NPCs are actually labelled as to what type of quest they give you.  For example in the above image you can clearly see that this NPC is going to give you the Belsavis planetary quest.  This makes it easy to ignore things like the non-soloable heroic quests or flashpoint quests you are not quite ready for… to keep them from cluttering your logs.  The other big thing that I noticed was the way that the level scaling works.  It seems like when you land on a planet you are scaled to the maximum level for that area, somewhat like Final Fantasy XIV scales dungeons.  This means you can overlevel content… but just barely making it a bit easier if you wait for awhile to do a quest rather than doing it when it is on level.  However there is never a point where content ever becomes useless to you, which means you can easily go back and farm early content if you are struggling a bit to progress forward.  The loss of 12x class experience however means that pretty much to stay current you are always going to have to do your class quests as well as the main planetary story arc.  In any case I think the expansion content is going to be enjoyable… if I ever actually play it.

All-Saints Wake

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I don’t have a lot to talk about when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV this week, but I did poke my head back in for a few hours.  This week was the release of the All-Saints Wake event that serves as Halloween for the game.  As we talked about last night, holidays in Final Fantasy XIV are largely the tale of incompetent villains and in this case it is a repeat appearance of the Impresario the mastermind behind the Continental Circus.  Over the years we have learned that this is really a group of voidsent that are trying to cause mayhem each year, and we the player finds new ways to thwart them.  As cute as the story line is… the reason why you do holidays in games is to get stuff.  This year we get the purple outfit that my character is showing off above, a new Pumpkin Butler minion, and for the first time this year an actual mount.  We get to ride around Eorzea on a flying broom… that actually does fly if you have unlocked flight in a given zone.  The thing I love about Final Fantasy XIV holiday events is that they are adorable, provide awesome rewards… and end up taking only a few minutes to complete rather than being a grindy mess that brings out the worst in players.  If you are subbed you should definitely check it out, because while the quest is more enjoyable if you have done the previous years… it is still fairly easy to follow without that ancestral knowledge.

Devilian

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I have some issues with this game, but since I am now in alpha/beta/whatever phase it is and the NDA has dropped I thought I would talk a bit about it this morning.  My number one issue is the gender locked classes and the fact that they have very specific styles to them.  The Berserker is a guts clone, the Shadow Hunter is a bare chested Bishi-elven alucard like character, the Evoker is spilling out of her dress, and the Cannoneer is a Loli.  Out of those options… there is exactly one I can stomach playing as, which is the Berserker.  The thing is…. all of these design decisions unfortunately have nothing to do with Trion Worlds which is the company bringing the game to non-Korean markets.  As fraught as the classes are… the game is actually rather enjoyable once you get past its slightly odd control scheme.  By all looks it is a Diablo clone, but it controls vastly different… and honestly reminds me a bit more of the way skill shots in League of Legends feel.  You use your mouse for character facing and then use your number keys to fire off abilities.  You can bind an attack to your left mouse button, and I am probably going to do that with my basic attack to make it feel more Diablo-like.  What I have seen of the combat is kinda interesting, and the dungeons are really enjoyable.  I am just struggling to get past the art direction decisions, because honestly…  they make me really sad.  This could be a really great game, if it didn’t have gender locked classes and the art design did not seem to be from a thirteen year olds “tee hee hee boobs” mindset.  It will be interesting to see if I am still piddling with it by the time the next beta comes around or if I have decided that the game is simply “not for me”.

Destiny

Magical glow of an Exotic Engram… only to be dashed moments later when you find out its a damned helmet.

This week has been almost entirely devoted to Destiny.  As I said before this was the game that I could play without having to apply much thought to it.  A good chunk of the week was spent working on my Hunter who is now I believe 270ish light level, and all of the way through the TKK content.  I cheated a bit and jump started the character to level 25 using the item I got from purchasing the Taken King.  I have to say if they want to sell something on the cash shop… I would absolutely buy a second one of these.  Going from 25 to 40 was not that bad, but I am just not looking forward to taking my Warlock from 1-25 to get there.  This week has also been the resurgence of my appreciation of Auto Rifles.  I completely the third Gunsmith faction quest and it ended up giving me an exotic rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  This thing is just a blast to use and I love the way it sounds and feels as I rip through mobs.  This has also caused me to dust off the auto rifles I had in my vault and I found a few others that I really like, one of which my hunter is currently using.

The other key activity for this week has been running level 36 strikes in an effort to get exotic engrams with three of coins.  I found out today that I could be just doing level 20s, but honestly I kinda enjoy the slight effort the 36s provide.  They go so much quicker than the heroics, but don’t feel like I am simply steamrolling them in quite the way that the level 20s do.  Essentially my pattern has been to run strikes using coins until I get an exotic, then take a break for a bit and do something else.  I am also attempting to keep both characters up to date on bounties each day, and my regular farming runs on the dreadnought manage to pay off big time… as I had more than enough Hadium Flakes to get my Hunter his sword almost immediately.  The big chore is still trying to increase my light levels, and the most 290 grind is extremely slow.  That said it still feels enjoyable because I am seeing a ton of drops in the process.  Even though half of the things are going to turn out to be something I cannot use… it still feels good to see drops.  Its like the game is giving me hope… even though moments later it is just going to dash them once again when I find out the exotic is another damned helmet.

 

Loving Fabian Strategy

Nightstalker or Not

Over the last few days I have been irrationally sick.  The part of this that sucks is the fact that Knights of the Fallen Empire has been released… and I have honestly barely spent any time in SWTOR.  I keep going in there and attempting to play, but the whole standard questing construct is just something I cannot handle right now.  If it involves reading or honestly paying attention too closely to anything…  it is pretty much ruled out in my current state.  The funny thing is that playing Destiny works just fine.  I guess that is because most of that game I have committed to muscle memory, and while I may not be able to aim as straight or move as fast…  I can still function pretty well on auto pilot.  As a result I have been working on my second character, the Hunter.  By working I mean… I consumed my “free level 25 token” and pushed it from 25 to 40.  I still have yet to beat the actual quest content, but I have been having a blast doing patrol missions and completing bounties.  Right now I am mostly focused on Nightstalker but there are some quirks about the class I really do not like.  As awesome as Shadowshot is… it just isn’t in the same class of abilities as Hammer of Sol or Fist of Havoc.  It requires you to follow up with something else to take down the target rather than simply evaporating them.

Additionally my biggest problem with the class is that it seems to have shitty grenades.  I am so used to throwing grenades constantly as a Titan… especially as a Sunbreaker with their amazing sticky grenades…  and the options I have so far for Nightstalker just seem rather crappy.  I need to branch out and try some of the other classes, because honestly I was enjoying Bladedancer quite a bit before I completed the quest that unlocked Nightstalker and decided to go that direction.  Both the the Shadowshot and Arc Blade supers though are far more fiddly than I am used to as a Titan which is all about smashing or exploding things.  At some point I plan on leveling my Warlock as well so I can see what that side of the house looks like also.  So far though I just can’t get into the Warlock as much as I can the Hunter and Titan.  I guess it is my whole allergy to magic getting in the way again.  While technically it is just as strong as the Titan… it FEELS weaker since it isn’t nearly as armor bound.  Then there is the melee attack… the Titan Punch and the Hunter Stab… both feel amazing and visceral whereas the Warlock Palm Explosion thing just feels wrong.  I realize the whole battle caster thing is a fantasy fulfillment for some people…. but it just isn’t for me.

A “Lousy” Gun

Another accomplishment is that I finally hit rank three with the Gunsmith which started my next “back in the saddle” quest, this time involving Auto Rifles.  It was kinda cool since I am on a bit of an auto rifle kick lately.  That is the strange thing about Destiny… is that I will get a new weapon… that causes me to re-evaluate my feelings about an entire sub class of weapons.  I spent a lot of time on the Hunter using an Auto Rifle largely because that is what I happened to have laying around in my vault.  Then when I got to 40 I handed the hunter a bunch of past armsday orders… which included a pretty nice Hakke Auto Rifle that I never really gave much attention to. The faction three Gunsmith quest involves killing 100 mobs with an Auto Rifle while you have a telemetry device active… aka a class item with the auto rifle leveling boost.  After that you dismantle four blue auto rifles or two purple ones, and bam you complete the quest and are handed apparently a Titan exclusive Auto Rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  Honestly the gun has some strange things about it… and the fact that it is locked into iron sights mode at first seemed like a massive detriment.

Then I actually used it… I took it to the dreadnought and into a few strikes and I have to say I fell in love with the gun.  Now every guide maker is going to tell you just how bad this gun is.  In fact Briar Rabbit devoted an episode of Shard It or Keep It to the weapon… and the only real positives he was able to come up with was that it felt cool and looked unique.  I guess for me that is enough, because the way this gun handles as compared to most auto rifles just is… “different” and I am having trouble quantifying that.  It feels like you can just chew through damned near anything, and it does just enough impact to push back anything yellow or lower.  Granted it sometimes takes all forty eight rounds in the magazine… but I have shredded those crazy buffed imperial centurions on during the skyburners event with this thing like it was nothing.  The big thing for me… and why I am now using it is strikes is the the combination of Crowd Control and Life Support.  There were several times where I went into a pack of mobs at low health and exited moments later with full health just from the kill triggered regeneration.  This weapon makes me FEEL like the unstoppable Titan I am supposed to be.  Folks are going to tell you that this weapon is not worth an exotic slot… and I get that… because the special perk of the gun doesn’t seem to do all that much.  That said I love the look and the feel and am probably going to start gearing for auto rifle perks just because of this gun.

Legacy Lacking

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Fine with Failure

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I have come to accept the fact that there is no way in hell I am going to manage to finish all of the class story lines before tomorrow, when Knights of the Fallen Empire launches.  I allowed myself to get massively distracted by Destiny, and for the most part I am okay with this.  Last night I hit the start of Act 3 on my Sith Sorcerer and I should be able to wrap that up tonight if I am lucky.  That leaves only the agent to play, and as a friend suggested last night… it might be interesting to see what leveling is like post KotFE.  In truth while I am excited for this expansion, I am not just rushing headlong into the content.  I still have yet to complete Shadows of Revan on any of my characters, and while my Jedi Guardian is sitting at 57…  I have no real desire to rush through that.  Honestly at this point I might ding the new level cap before I even set foot into the new chapters content.  I want to play, but I am not feeling like I have to rush ahead, since really I am not trying to keep up with anyone.  That normally is why I push so hard at the beginning of an expansion, is that I feel like I am obligated to grind my way to the top of the heap so I will be available for tanking as we level.  That ended up in a small bit of burnout recently with Heavensward, so with SWTOR since I am now enjoying it again… I want to futz around a bit.

My biggest complaint about this game is shared with party based role-playing games in general.  Nothing frustrates me more than anything, when the game forces me to take a specific character on a mission.  This happened last night with Talos, and while I like the companion just fine…  a healer and a dps/healer grouped together is not exactly the best mix in the world.  I had to stop what I was doing in the middle of this mission, go back to the fleet, upgrade my mods and only then was I able to keep myself alive during a section where I am essentially soloing while Talos fiddles with something in a tomb.  I tend to get really connected to a specific group of characters, and when the game forces me to mix that up I get frustrated.  I am one of those people that plays Dragon Age with the same party every time, and never switches to use any of the others except begrudgingly when the game makes me do it.  I like building a small tight knit team and then using everyone else for crew missions.  The worst moment in Dragon Age was the bit where you have to split up and use all of your companions…  only half of which had anything other than their starting gear.  I had to load back in from a previous save and go out of my way to figure out how best to gear them all.  It was pretty much the opposite of fun, and that is how I feel in SWTOR when I am forced to use a specific companion pairing for a specific mission.

The Distraction

The reason why I am mostly okay with not hitting my goal is because I have been having a silly amount of fun playing Destiny.  Over the weekend I spent some more time working on my Hunter, which I hope to also get to 40 at some point soonish. After playing around a bit on the Warlock, I decided to use my boost to level 25 on the Hunter instead… because Blade Dancer seems like a really fun spec.  I also just like the look and feel of the hunter better than the warlock, and it makes me a bit jealous that my Titan doesn’t have a knife to stab things with instead of just punch them.  At this point I am level 30, and considering starting the Taken King content proper soonish if for no reason other than to unlock the Dreadnought for patrols.  Ultimately I want to be able to get all of my characters up there in level so that I can share the benefit of having multiple near cap characters.  A lot of the cooldowns can go faster if you can swap an item back and forth between your characters.  The Agonarch runes can gain one charge per day per character, so if you bank the item you can pop on another character and gain another charge… ultimately getting special event access faster.

I am still very much in the slogging phase of the game, and I have been hovering around the 290 mark for over a week now.  Ultimately my only way out is to start chain running Heroic Strikes, but I just have not been able to bring myself to do that.  I am having fun with the game, and I am afraid pushing that hard is going to ultimately break it for me.  When I start to resent the RNG, or resent the other players…  I know my fun time with Destiny will be over.  So I am sitting in this realm of finding enjoyment in the little moment to moment gameplay and trying to ignore the larger picture almost entirely.  There is part of me that would love to see the raid…  but a whole other part of me that doesn’t want to take that hit of heroine.  I know what I am like when I start chasing raid drops… I approach them with a single minded determination and focus that ultimately leads to me being completely hollow as a result.  I obsess over gearing… and grind myself into the ground destroying whatever enjoyment I had for the game in the process.  I tried really hard not to do this with Heavensward, and in part it is why I have been taking this break and playing other games in the process.  My hope is that by the time we end up going back to Final Fantasy XIV it will feel fresh and enjoyable again with the launch of the 3.1 patch.  Similarly though I am trying to keep Destiny and SWTOR as enjoyable as I can for the time being…  and it seems like not caring too much about reaching a particular destination is my way for doing that.

Week in Gaming 10/18/2015

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One Track Mind

This week was quite literally… all about Destiny.  We have a trio of myself, Damai, and Saldonas aka Carthuun that have been running around together quite a bit.  Alternately I have been spending some time with Euron as well when we can manage to meet up, and both “actually” be on at the same time instead of afking for long periods of time and leaving our Playstation 4 on while connected to Destiny.  Of note… if you do not exit out of Destiny before walking away, your PS4 will not fully go to sleep.  I know I have frustrated many people on my friends list who tried to invite me to parties at all hours of the day… when I am not actually at my console.  I have really been so into the PS4 this week that last night when we recorded the podcast, it was my first time on voice chat and really my PC since last Sunday.  Anyways… on with the games!

 

Rift – Primal Urges

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This week on a whim I decided to try and win one of the Wilds Packs being given away by Trion on their Twitter account.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time… and apparently choosing the right code to try.  I opened the image that had six codes in it, and keyed it in quickly into my account and BAM… it gave me the Wilds Pack.  I did not at first realize it but this was the big $100 pack of goodies, but the only negative so far is that it did not seem to give me ANY of the loyalty.  Otherwise it would have pushed me from the Orange tier that I am currently on into the the Red.  I put in a support ticket to ask, but my working theory is… that you get the loyalty for purchasing the pack, not for redeeming it.  In any case I am more than happy to have a slew of free stuff including the new Primalist calling.

I have to say that mechanically it is really interesting.  Instead of an energy or mana based mechanic, you have this push/pull mechanic that shifts your character between Fury and Cunning.  Abilities that are scaled based on Fury push your bar closer to Cunning… and Cunning abilities push towards Fury.  So you are constantly switching back and forth between the two stances and the gameplay feel reminds me quite a bit of the solar/lunar cycle of the old Boomkin.  I say old Boomkin because I honestly have no clue if this push/pull thing is still in that class or not since I have not played one since Cataclysm.  The calling itself is a leather wearing heavy weapon wielder, and so far I am digging it.  As you can tell I shunned the tribal feel of the class and ended up making mine a steampunk dwarf.  I’ve not really made it terribly far, but I have enjoyed the little bit I have played.  I hope at some point soon I will devote a few days to getting really up close and personal with the calling.

Star Wars the Old Republic – Sith Happens

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Last night during the podcast I returned to my Sith Inquisitor and am working on trying to finish it.  I realize there is no way now that I will finish ALL of my classes before Tuesday, but I am at the end of Alderaan now and it seems like maybe if I can focus attention on it today I will be able to wrap this one up.  I am still having a very love/hate relationship with the Sith Sorcerer.  Namely I love that I can burn things down quickly with lightning, but hate how horrible of a healer I am if my companion ever seems to get into trouble.  I switched from Khem Val to Treek and am enjoying that decision so far.  Namely the big problem I run into is that my instinct is to burn harder as our health gets lower… and unlike my Scoundrel I cannot pull us out of quite the health deficit.  So that means I really need to watch the companion health more closely and start healing sooner.  As a result I end up dying quite a lot on this class, which just slows down the process.  The storyline isn’t really “catching” me either…  and I think largely the problem is I ended up choosing the finger-wiggler path instead of the melee path.  Were I slashing things with my dual saber I would probably be enjoying this class significantly more.  It does however give me a healing option Sith side… so I am just going to go with it for now and struggle through.

Destiny – Struggling for Exotics

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I have reached the point in Destiny where those upgrades are no longer coming as quickly.  I am now in the 290 light range and the engrams are being assholes to me.  Right now the best source of gear seems to be doing Heroic Strikes, but our trio still struggles a bit with them.  I realize that through running copious amounts of them that problem will solve itself.  I also am frustrated by three of coins, which seem to be far less effective for me than others.  It took me eight coins before I got my first exotic drop, and I am continuing to feed the beast and have not seen a second so far.  I will say that the exotic that I did get was pretty sweet…  Invective.  I like shotguns, but my frustration has always been their relatively small ammo pool and clip size.  Invective seems to take care of that for me, in that it regenerates ammunition at a fixed rate… which is actually pretty damned quick.  I am finding it useful in strikes for when mobs get too close and personal.. and the fact that you can fire off the four rounds in full auto style… means you can absolutely shred a heroic minotaur for example.  Then I shift back to my pulse rifle and by the time I need my shotgun again, the ammunition is back and ready to go.  The only thing that could be better about it is if the chamber reloaded….  but that would probably be asking too much.

The funny thing is… I am in this place where I am really happy with my assortment of weapons.  I just wish I had more high level blue fodder to feed to them to level them up.  Right now I tend to mostly use…  Hawksaw, Hung Jury, 1000 Yard Stare, Invective, and Sol Edge.  I would love to have the exotic shards and fodder to power up my Hawkmoon… but I don’t have the steady income of exotics yet.  I love that gun… but at 280 it is just too low right now to keep up with my other weapons.  For the most part I am happy shifting back and forth between Hawksaw and Hung Jury… both of which are weapons that feel great and can precision shot pretty easily.  The other big thing that happened this week is that I dug deep into the lore of Destiny, and if you ready yesterdays blog post you will see a bit write up about a series of videos.  Last night I also ended up going on at length about this factor on AggroChat and probably bored the pants off of my co-hosts.  What can I say… I am loving this universe and as I still continue to work my way through the missions I keep seeing more interesting parts of it.  Destiny is one of those games that has grabbed hold of me and does not show signs of letting go.  My hope is that I will be able to get it mostly out of my system by the time Fallout 4 launches….  because I want to spend some close and personal time with the wasteland.

 

 

 

Titan Mitsurugi

Plans Change

Opening the very disappointing Chest of Yuul

I had every intent last night of coming home and working on Star Wars the Old Republic, but instead I spent almost my entire evening futzing around in Destiny.  I did at least manage to get into SWTOR long enough to re-gear my Sith Sorcerer and claim Treek from my collection vault.  So in theory I should be ready to go with a new tank for future shenanigans.  What happened last night is ultimately what has happened so many nights lately, that I start working on this bounty or that quest and end up spending the entire evening there.  Towards the beginning of the night I decided to step foot into my very first heroic strike.  I have to say it honestly went pretty smoothly, and I lucked out that I managed to get one that I had at least done on normal mode.  The second strike I got however…  was not so smooth.  It ended with me being the last person remaining in the strike after the other two guardians gave up.  I was slowly working my way through the mobs, but quite honestly it was going to take forever… so I also gave up and left.  For some reason they were trying to rush ahead and skip mobs that only served to destroy us as a result when several different groups of mobs came tracking us down at once.  A few carefully timed supers whittled down the mess but we still had the final area with five ultras up, and I simply did not have enough ammo to make it through all of that by myself.

It’s like a Manta Ray with Pants!

In my travels last night I ended up picking up a Key of Yuul, and as I have gotten these various chest keys I have made an effort to try and track down the location.  This one is a pain in the ass and is located near the Court of Oryx on the Dreadnought.  The problem with it is, that you have to use a series of those invisible platforms to get up to the ledge that the chest is on.  I suck at jumping puzzles and as a result I was cursing while trying to do it.  As always the chest itself was disappointing, only giving me some materials and some court of oryx tokens.  I did however manage to get several legendary items from rare engrams.  One of which is the above Fusion Rifle, which has a name that is a bit of an inside joke for anyone who has watched the abridged PlayStation 4 reveal video.  Panta Rhei is actually a latest generation rendering system… but in the video the joke is made that it is like a Manta Ray with Pants.  I have to think that someone created this gun as a nod to that joke.  In truth it is pretty fun to use, and is significantly more enjoyable than the fusion rifle I had.  I seem to have incredible luck getting legendary items from rare engrams, because it seems like at least once a night one of them yield something nice.  Granted a lot of it just ends up being disenchant fodder, but those are still tasty tasty legendary marks right?

Sword Titan

will always be “Soul Edge” to me…

One of the things you have to realize about me… is that I am bad at actually following content in Destiny.  Hell it took me until a few weeks ago when we took Carthuun through it to actually do the Dark Below and House of Wolves content.  Similarly I have done shit for making progress on any of the dozens of quests I have.  Well in truth that isn’t exactly true, but apparently I was simply focusing on the wrong quests.  Last night when Carth logged in he helped me get my act together on the sword quest and as a result show me his Hadium Flake farming route.  I have to say… I was skeptical at first but in about thirty minutes of running around we gathered up the fifteen flakes I needed to get my sword.  I think I may actually be able to eventually farm the amount needed to get get Touch of Malice the Exotic Scout Rifle.  The thing I need to sort out is how to find Calcified Fragments, because I have only actually gotten two of them, and the part of the quest that seems insurmountable is that I will need 45 of them.  Mostly I think I just need to do some research because there has to be a similar route to find them.

Rare Ship Blueprints
Rare Ship Blueprints

The most exciting thing that dropped last night was during our manic chest farming route, I managed to get rare ship blueprints.  Once I turned in back at the tower it ended up giving me the ship above.  I still think I like my teal/grey kestrel better, but I figure I will use this for a bit until I get sick of it then swap back.  Ships seem to be one of the harder to get of the cosmetic items available, and I guess I can see why since they are basically the thing that you see when you load into a strike with random players.  If you have a really cool looking ship, it is bragging rights of sorts.  I’ve seen some really badass looking ones, and I have no clue how to get half of them.  The thing about Destiny is that I am making really slow progress, but still having a blast.  I had a friend last night send me a message to ask if I wanted to do a Nightfall… and I am not even vaguely close to well enough geared for that.  Unlike a traditional MMO though I feel zero rush to get geared to do stuff.  At some point I need to grab Carthuun and Euron and do a night full of nothing but heroic strikes but I am really hoping to do this over the weekend, when I have a chance to buy some more three of coins.  I want exotics, and I want them pretty bad…  but not bad enough to grind my face off to get them.

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.