Dauntless Thoughts

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This morning I am going to talk a bit about a topic I had originally planned on doing so earlier in the week.  Dauntless is a game that I have a brief history with because I got to play it at a Pax South shortly after it was announced.  I was supremely bad at this game having never really played a Monster Hunter title before and never quite grasped the concept of being able to heal myself up…  and wound up getting downed over and over.  Enough times that I fear I was probably the reason why my playtest group of randos failed to take down the encounter.  If I am remembering correctly I think we were going up against Quillshot, but I could be completely wrong.  The game sparked curiosity in me, but never enough to pay my way into the alpha or beta testing process through a founders pack.  Time moved on and Monster Hunter World was announced…  at which point I remember saying that Dauntless ultimately had to hit market before that game to be successful.  I signed on to play the console version of MHW and everything else is history…  with me not being completely indoctrinated into the cult of hunting monsters for fun and profit.

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In the meantime however Dauntless has “released” on PC, and I say that in quotes because it claims to be in Open Beta.  However if you open the floodgates to all players….  and publicly announce that you are not going to do any more resets…  then your game has launched albeit in a super buggy state.  I would also argue the moment they started taking money from customers…  they also launched the game but that is a whole other discussion.  On May 24th I joined the madness as folks bombarded their servers generating queues in the hundreds of thousands.  I’ve heard of some folks who had to wait eight hours or more to get through the queue…  only to get disconnected and have to deal with the process all over again.  I personally lucked out in that I left the launcher running on my Desktop and by the time I made it home from work on Friday I had made my way through the queue and was ready to sit down and play the game.

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At it’s core Dauntless is Monster Hunter…  but simplified.  I am sure this is not exactly the definition they would like me to use…  but instead of Hunters we are Slayers and instead of Monsters we are fighting Behemoths.  Ultimately Dauntless feels what happens when you create a Monster hunting game… without over a decades worth of history to draw upon.  Monster Hunter World feels rich and vibrant in part because it stands on the shoulders of over a dozen different games and a massive back catalog of creatures to draw from.  Comparitively Dauntless feels extremely simplistic as if the Monster Hunting concept is drilled down to its most basic concepts.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for folks coming from the PC who might be completely new to the genre but even after getting used to a single Monster Hunter game I find that Dauntless lacks a lot of the nuance and subtlety that World had.

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This is most noticeable in the Behemoth design which feels less like you are fighting an unpredictable living creature and more like you are going through the motions of a World of Warcraft style raid encounter.  Behemoths attack in patterns that end up making the encounter feel more predictable.  Sure it might be technically challenging to perform the right ability at the right time, but it never really feels like I am trying to read the monster so much as simply responding to a very obvious tell that is happening before each attack.  There are several encounters where you just sorta stand back and let the Behemoth finish its nonsense before getting back in an engaging again.  The combat also feels fairly formulaic in that I mostly focused on breaking each one of the weak points similar to how we might fight Kulve Taroth, in order to get maximum rewards at the end.  Once you have taken out all of the weak points however…  the fights largely feel like you are hitting a wet bag of hitpoints with no real visual way of knowing how close you are to winning.  Sure the monster tacks on visible damage, but it doesn’t actually seem to make the fight any different, and when a monster runs…  they just sort of blink to another area of the island rather than giving you the opportunity to stun and continue the fight.  There is never a point where the monster seems to be tired… or limping or otherwise effected by your actions but instead just unceremoniously falls over whenever you have depleted its invisible health bar.

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Another challenge with Dauntless is that it feels very limited in scope.  You don’t really have world to explore but instead a chain of disconnected floating islands that have no more personality than a walled arena.  Sure there are a few resources out there that you can gather to make potions, but there is no real joy of exploration as every single game mode revolves around taking down a specific monster.  My favorite mode in Monster Hunter World for example is their version of Expeditions where I can roam around interacting with everything on a map without actually chasing down a Monster…  or if I get the urge I can take one out at my own pace.  Dauntless has effectively four game modes…  quests that you are given by your trainer, patrols, expeditions and pursuit.  The quests obviously have a specific scope that generally revolves around introducing you to a new monster that you will be hunting.  Patrols involve dropping into a specific zone and facing off against a random monster that lives on that island…  giving you some bonus armor and weapon crafting bits to account for the non-targeted nature.  Expeditions do a very similar thing…  but this time you get a cache of crafting materials used for making potions and such.  Pursuit gives you the ability to focus in on a single monster that you want to hunt…  with a slightly lesser bit of armor and weapon materials since you know exactly what you are going up against.  The problem is…  all of these modes are essentially the same apart from the reward package.  Behemoth is the game of dropping from weird looking airships onto tiny islands to fight monsters.

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I don’t want to give the impression that Dauntless is not an enjoyable experience, because it absolutely is.  The problem however is that the one area the game really shines… is only due to the fact that Capcom and the Monster Hunter team really don’t understand how the internet works.  I’ve railed on just how annoying the grouping experience in Monster Hunter World is… in that it involves shifting back and forth between lobbies and quest boards… with no real system to let you easily join a party with some of your groups and go off and do stuff together. Dauntless has this all covered with a solid chat interface and friends lists and the simple ability to form a group with people and then queue to do stuff.  There is nothing I have encountered that does not support simply queuing for it… which is absolutely not the case in Monster Hunter World.  Kulve Taroth is a great example of how contorted the alternative can be… in that you have to find a lobby where people are running that encounter and then hope there is enough room in an active group to be able to get in and fight the monster.  You could absolutely have the misfortune of joining what looked like a fully lobby where only one team of four players is actually doing the event…  and everyone else is off doing random stuff.  Dauntless is simple…  if you want to do something with a friend you simply invite them to your party and then start an activity…  no fuss no muss.

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I feel like at some point in the future…  Dauntless is going to be a truly great game.  The problem is… it needs time to bake.  Sure it has been in development for several years now, but it needs time to gain the same level of richness that the varied Monster Hunter experience has.  All of the weapons feel simplistic in comparison to the wide variety of play styles available in Monster Hunter, and there is the huge problem of not actually having a ranged game at all.  This was the point at which a few of my friends checked out of Dauntless because they were bow or bowgun mains in  Monster Hunter.  The problem is after doing some of these fights…  the mechanics and encounters really are not balanced in a way as to support a ranged player which is probably going to be an issue moving forward.  I like the game quite a bit and have spent a bunch of time playing it over the last week and some change, but it isn’t quite ready to support the level of devotion that I gave to Monster Hunter World.  This is likely going to be one of those once or twice a week games for me, because I am extremely curious to see how it evolves.  Unfortunately in the meantime though… it lacks a lot of features and cannot really properly be throned as “the PC Monster Hunter”.

Backyard and Banana

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

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

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

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

Elves I Don’t Hate

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Yesterday I pulled an example from World of Warcraft and after doing so I realized that I never actually talked about the character that was hiding underneath the fold of the Destiny 2 image.  I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Allied races, the Horde races were super easy to unlock but the Alliance ones required a level of commitment that I was simply not willing to offer them.  They were one of those things that I worked on off and on as I had time or wanted something mindless to do while watching television or a movie.  It was a few weeks back when I realized that I was actually getting pretty close to exalted with both of the factions required to unlock them.  Even then I largely failed at doing the quests on a daily basis because I really am not a huge fan of Argus.

Nevertheless I managed to push across the finish line and unlock them both a few weekends back and as a result I have been poking around on a brand new Void Elf hunter during the AggroChat podcasts.  I’ve found it super relaxing to just roam around and take things down at low levels and for whatever reason Void Elves don’t trigger that “I hate elves” instinct that I have built up over all of these years.  In part I think they mostly register as Drow to me, which is something I occasionally played in D&D or the games like Everquest that had decent implementations of them.  Honestly it weirdly makes me want to go back and farm the single piece of Dragonstalker that I am missing, because in all of my years of running Blackwing Lair…  I never got the boots to drop off Broodlord Lashlayer.  The only thing keeping me from soloing it each week is the fact that I really hate doing the Razorgore event.

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I realize that I recently started a Tauren Hunter, but the whole being assigned a pet at the start of the game thing still seems a little weird.  On the Tauren your start with a Plainstrider which isn’t really my sort of pet, but even then I kept using it for a significant amount of time before taming anything else to replace it.  As Void Elf though you start with Voidstalker… that is both my kind of pet and also extremely cool looking.  I’ve found myself with zero drive to go out and tame something else, but that might change as I am now interesting Stranglethorn Vale.  I might grab something rare if I happen across it but for now I am more than happy to run around with my void pal…  even though I have yet to give her a proper name.

It is weird to me that I have lost any forward momentum in World of Warcraft thanks to Battle For Azeroth and the direction they are taking the game.  However I still enjoy dinking around on low level characters because to me that is the purest version of the “WoW Experience”.  BfA really has been a let down as far as the information coming out about it.  Additionally my time playing beta…  hasn’t really done anything to hook me on the direction the game is going.  For years I thought that maybe Metzen was what was holding the game back…  but now I wonder if he was a force of stability keeping the game from dropping off a cliff.  Note I loved Legion “for the most part” but the one bit that I could push right into the sea was the factional nonsense that happens in Stormheim.  Battle For Azeroth feels like an entire game made out of those factional nonsense moments and I am not really looking forward to it.

Moms and Minor Gaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Magic

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Once again I did nonsense to finish out my weekly limited bounties in Monster Hunter World.  The problem is my currently play times seem to be diametrically opposed to the play times of my friends who are currently playing the game.  Most nights I start playing early in the evening… around 6 pm cst and am logging out around 9 pm when folks start to show up.  As a result I have gotten used to doing things is really silly ways involving a bunch of random players.  This weeks was weirdly harder than the 9 star quest in part because at the end of the day…  people will likely always be farming Xeno’jiiva for parts and that quest is really hard to fail.

The 8 Star quest however is more or less Nergigante, Vaal Hazak, Teostra, Kushala Daora, and Kirin.  All six of those have a pretty high threshold for failure so I feel like more often than not players are just doing them solo…  something that I weirdly don’t enjoy that much.  So instead I check the SoS Roulette and see what is available and ultimately managed to get all of them done with random players.  The easiest was weirdly enough Kirin…  which considering how big of a pain in the butt the tempered version was seemed like it would have been the hardest.  The most challenging is generally Nergigante because if you get players who legitimately need to fight him…  they are more often than not simply unprepared for how much harder he is going to hit them than what they are used to.

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The truth is I need to start farming Nergi for parts because there are several weapons I would love to be able to make that require copious amounts of bits.  Last night I managed to craft the first version of the Nergi Sword and Shield, because in truth that is probably the weapon I am most comfortable with if I don’t have my longsword.  I spent some time earlier in the week playing with Gun Lance because also as part of the weeklies I needed to kill a bunch of Fanged Wyvern…  which mean’t I could kill that green punching bag Great Jagras over and over.  I think its a weapon I could get used to with time, and I managed to pick up a couple of reasonable options during the Kulve Taroth event.  Still very much in love with this game and hoping they give us some more surprise events soon…  because I can sorta see an end to what I actually deeply want to be farming.

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The rest of my evening last night was spent poking around with my Fauxlgari Exploratic deck which is a tweaked version of Golgari Exploration…  one of the stock decks that come with MTG Arena.  It is not the most successful thing in the world for me, but I enjoy playing it and if it is not going my way pretty early on I concede out to move on to the next battle.  If everything goes as planned you end up with a few really powerful creatures that keep growing each round, combined with Lurking Chupacabra that you can use to start taking out critters on your opponents side.  It isn’t perfect and I am sure I should tune it some more.  Right now I feel like I am playing with way too much land because I have had moments where all I am drawing is land for way too many rounds in a row.  Regardless I find the whole experience of playing it enjoyable and I can lose hours just plinking away at other players.

I think that ultimately is going to the role MTG Arena plays for me…  just letting me play magic when I want to play it.  For whatever reason MTG Duels and the year branded Planeswalker games always felt really limited in the types of magic I wanted to play.  They were shadowboxed in on a specific number of sets and as a result it felt more limited than what we already have in Arena.  I like just sitting down and playing, regardless of the win condition.  Sure it gets frustrating when you go on a losing streak when you are one win away from being done for the day…  but even then the simple playing of cards makes me happy.  It is something I have missed more than I realized…  simply because I don’t have access to a lot of MTG players right now.  I play to have fun and my version of fun is not exactly drift compatible with the meta.  I enjoy bad magic.

Rudderless

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

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

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

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

Red and Gold

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One of my favorite aspects of Monster Hunter World has been the constant revolving door of limited time events.  It seems like at some point we will run out of brand new ones, and that they will begin cycling through the past happenings…  but for right now it seems like every time I turn around there is something brand new and shiny to interact with.  Starting on April 27th we got the Code Red event which involves fighting four “red” monsters in the standard arena, one after another.  So you have to work your way through Anjanath, Odogoron, Rathalos and then finally the Elder Dragon Teostra.  Doing this gives you a special currency that looks like a monster gem called a Red Orb.  Collecting seven of these and a slew of parts from all of the monsters included in the quest allows you to craft a set of rank 8 gear patterned off of Dante from Devil May Cry.

What makes this set really interesting is unlike past offerings…  this is not a complete suit but instead individual pieces allowing for some interesting Mixed Build options.  For the unindoctrinated…  armor pieces have specific stats on them and by mixing and matching them you can often times come up with really interesting builds that benefit specific weapons.  The boots for example have two levels of weakness exploit which I can see very easily mixing into other sets to achieve the desired affinity boost while hitting weak areas.  The other special thing about this event is the fact that we get a brand new Charge Blade that is themed after Devil May Cry as well and starts out Rank 8 without any need to do a follow on upgrade quest.  Instead of a sword and shield… it is a short sword with a run that serves as the shield…  that then turns into a giant two handed sword giving it a very unique appearance and feel while using.  A good chunk of my last week and some change has been spent collecting bits for this set and weapon… and last night I finally managed to craft the final piece when Teostra dropped that last piece of webbing.

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The other big thing I have been participating in is the Kulve Taroth “raid” quest that drops materials to create a really awesome set of armor that you can see me wearing in the above image.  Other than that it is also a chance for a lot of really interesting semi-random weapon drops.  During the course of the runs that I have participated in I have managed to get a purple or better weapon for every slot other than bow…  which seem to be extremely stingy for some reason.  I had enough blue weapons that when I sold them all last night I jumped from 10,000 zenny to just shy of 300,000 zenny.  The keepers have been 9 orange rank 8 weapons and 23 purple rank 7 weapons.  Like I have talked about before the real benefit of this quest is it gives you a stable of usable weapons that allows you to branch out a bit.  Like I have a decent Hunting Horn now…  why not try it out and learn to use it?

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Among the weapon drops I have gotten one of the more interesting ones is this Rank 8 longsword with 330 paralysis on it.  If a monster is at all susceptible to this status effect… it seems to proc quite often.  I was clearing out some of my quests last night and took out a Lavasioth and during the short time it took me to lower it to skull territory and trap it… I managed to proc paralysis four times.  While these weapons won’t likely ever outdo a truly tuned weapon… because they are spending some item budget on defense…  I like them as well rounded general use options that I didn’t have to spend a lot of materials to create.  The Kulve Taroth quest goes away May 5th and the Dante quest goes away on May 10th.  I am curious to see what replaces each of them which I guess we will start to see late in the evening on Wednesday?  The content release schedule is odd and ends up with some things releasing Wednesday night and others releasing Thursday night.  I want to get some more farming in of Kulve tonight for more attempts at shiny gold weapons, but in the grand scheme of things I am pretty happy with the progress I managed to make.

 

 

Monster Hunter and Destiny

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While I am not quite ready to throw out a complete post about it…  I am swirling around in my head the notion of rebooting Blaugust this year.  If I did so it would be a slightly different affair and I am sorting out in my head exactly what that might entail.  There was a period of time when we had a bunch of events happening at the same time…  Developer Appreciation Week, Newbie Blogger Initiative and Blaugust.  None of which really exist today in their current form and have not properly for a few years.  So in remixing Blaugust I would be also attempting to fill some of the niches that the others provided as well by laying out a series of themed weeks.  The rough idea is it would start with the last full week in July as a sort of “Prep Week” where the remaining elder bloggers would sorta throw out “how to get started” posts from an inspirational, logistical or technical manner.  It is still an idea that is incubating however so I will do some sort of a larger post once it has solidified completely in my head.

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The other general thought that has been going around in my head is that Monster Hunter World has become my new Destiny: The Taken King.  That sounds counter intuitive I know since Destiny 2 is a much closer simulacrum to the original game than Monster Hunter World given that they are two completely different genres.  However what I am talking about is more the way I engage with the game rather than the way the game actually plays.  Destiny 1… especially during the Taken King era was this game I was completely obsessed with and wanted to know every tiny bit of lore I could find for it.  It was this giant box of content that allowed me to engage with it in whatever method I chose to, and also always gave me one more goal to complete once I had finished the previous one.  It was this title that I could just log in and play any given night without needing to bring into it a predetermined purpose because there were so many layered purposes available that I could easily latch onto one of them and proceed happily for an evening.

I had a small group of friends playing it, that allowed me to do bigger activities if I so choose like the various raids I completed with Axioma and later Tequila Mockingbird.  That said most of my time playing the game was just me roaming around and doing stuff that suited whatever mood I happened to be in.  There was always one more obstacle to overcome and one more piece of loot that I was chasing and never quite obtaining.  It was a perfect storm of hooks for me personally and kept me entertained right up until the point when my head was filled with daydreams of Destiny 2 and what might be.  I realize I can still log in at any point I want and play the game again…  but it almost feels tarnished due to the greatly diminished community surrounding it.

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Destiny 2 for reasons I cannot fully explain does not contain the same hooks for me that the original did.  I tried very hard to stay focused on it, and for some time I have blamed my eventual malaise towards the game on the fact that I tried to play it twice.  What I mean by that is that I played the game hard and heavy when it released on Playstation 4 and then immediately turned around and went through the same manic leveling process on the PC one month later.  Effectively I ran up six characters to high gear levels back to back, and I had managed to hit 305 the then cap on PS4 before swapping over to PC and grinding up to that point again.  That is a lot to ask of any game to sustain interested during that sort of nonsense and I largely explained my fading away from the title as simple burnout.

The problem is there was so much more that I have yet to completely unpack.  The moment to moment game play in Destiny 2 feels amazing…  but there is a problem with its feedback loop.  What was missing was my drive to keep doing more of it once I had obtained whatever shiny baubles I wanted to obtain weapon wise.  What was missing was some larger overarching pull that kept me going off and doing individual tasks that ultimately felt like they were adding up to some big payoff.  In part the problem is a lot of those items that I used to grind for…  now exist as Eververse cash shop exclusives.  The other problem is that when they have put in longer grinds like the weapons of osiris…  they feel extremely hollow because they are so horribly repetitive and involve you doing the same limited number of activities over and over.  I realize they are still trying to fix this broken loop and some of the upcoming changes might help it…  but I feel like their over reliance on timed mechanics is going to be a bridge I just cannot cross given now much anxiety they inflict.

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On the flip side you have the game Monster Hunter World that I honestly did not expect to get into, given my lousy track record with the handheld versions.  However I am engaging with it much the way as I engaged with Destiny during the Taken King era.  I find myself looking up lore for the monsters if they have existed in the series before, and if not speculations about their origins and such that are floating around on Reddit.  I find myself researching bits and parts for armor and what interesting builds surround them that exploit their specific attributes.  I find myself able to log into the game any given night and just find something to do because I have this massive laundry list of things I want to go acquire.  I can always use more elder dragon parts….  but similarly can use the gemstones that are rare drops off of almost any creature you can hunt.  I became completely ecstatic last night when I got a double gem drop off Zorah Magdaros…  that I cannot fully explain why I was bothering to do in the first place.

This is the feedback loop that used to drive me while playing Destiny 1 and it is the feedback loop that keeps me doing nonsense.  I have an addiction to SOS Roulette which isn’t even really a thing…  just something I made up in my head to relate it to the various roulette’s in Final Fantasy XIV.  I like dropping into the middle of an assortment of random events happening that people need help on and trying to push the scenario to a win condition by my interaction with it.  Sure there are times we fail miserably like Monday night…  but then there are nights like Last night where we somehow managed to win every single boss fight I attempted including Val Hazaak and Nergigante.  There will likely NEVER be a time when I cannot use at least one or two things off the elder dragons.

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What makes Monster Hunter World so sticky is that eat time I get the parts to craft a new piece of gear, it ends up opening a whole bunch of possibilities to solve other problems…  and often times leads me down a path of wanting something else to try some new build out.  The way the gear sets interact in interesting ways means I am constantly searching for another piece of gear to complete a specific stat packages that I have decided in my head that I need.  This was the same sort of nonsense that happened for me in Destiny 1 where I was constantly seeking out a slightly better stat package that interacted more perfect with the gear I had.  I had a vault full of items that I didn’t want to shard because they were useful under certain circumstances and led me to want to keep them.  I am having this same problem in Monster Hunter World where I am afraid I will legitimately hit the 1000 item hard  cap on equipment.

Effectively what I have realized is that Monster Hunter World is my new Destiny, and hopefully I have explained a bit this morning what that actually means.  It is that game that I can pick up and play without any real reason… and find a constant stream of activities that I want to be doing…  that also feel like they are working towards some larger objective.  Capcom is doing an excellent job of keeping a constantly flow of events and activities happening almost every week to keep us engaged and wanting to do new an interesting things.  Kulve Taroth is phenomenal and might go down as some of my favorite content in any game…  but the fact that they sprung it on us completely unannounced makes it all the more exciting.  While I have had friends who have bounced off of this game… I still maintain an active enough community to be able to do things together if need be.  The only problem is that right now I seem to be a couple of hours off what would be prime monster hunting time…  given that I tend to wind down around 9:30 my time and that is when folks are getting online.

Ultimately while this might seem counter-intuitive…  if you loved the original Destiny but largely have bounced off Destiny 2…  you might give Monster Hunter World a try.

SOS Failures

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The thing about SOS Roulette is that sometimes you win big…  other times you fail miserably.  Last night was more in the fail miserably column as I decided to attempt to farm some of the gems I need to create the full Kulve Taroth set of gear.  That means I will need a Kulve Taroth Gem, a Val Hazaak Gem, a Xeno’jiiva Gem and a Nergigante Gem.  As a result I spent most of the night joining in on Nergi and Hazaak fights without much luck.  The truth is these are not the best things to queue into because the elder dragons represent a steep climb in difficulty.  More often than not last night we carted out of the fight with someone taking a faint and finishing things out without getting any measurable loot.

The night did however make me realize how desperately I need one more Miasma gem so I can become immune to Effluvial build up and just wreck that fight without much issue.  The truth is Hazaak is way easier than I remembered him being, which seems to be a common theme I am feeling as I go back and redo these fights.  The truth is I have mostly been in a mindset of fighting tempered or similar things over the last few weeks and as a result all of those high rank “tough” fights feel a lot easier as a result.  The truth is I should just be doing these solo where I can predict what is going to happen better….  but that just always feels so lonely.  I admit most of the time I do the SOS Roulette thing just because it feels like I am doing things with people…  without the need for actual human interaction.  I realize I am not normal.

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I did manage to get in a really good run of Kulve Taroth where I walked away with two decent items that represent weapons I had not really gotten before.  First up is the Taroth “Blitz” Erupter which appears to be pattered off of the Deviljho Light Bowgun…  and I have no clue at all if it is even a reasonable weapon but it does give me at least a Rank 7 one to play with.  Next up you have the above image of the Taroth Buster “Water” which lets me start playing around with Gunlance, another weapon I have not so much as even equipped.  I think more than anything that is what this event represents for me…  a way to get a bunch of decent versions of weapons to start playing with and testing out.  Sure I could have crafted likely better versions of all of these things…  but I feel like I sorta need to know what types of weapons I like before I sink a lot of resources into them.

I think tonight I might start getting used to soloing things again, either that or see what Ashgar is up to because I know he needs Nergi parts as well.  I need to get serious about trying to farm that last Kulve gem because when the event is over my opportunity closes there.  Shiana has somehow managed to get four of the gems already so has enough to craft both the alpha and beta sets.  For me… I am mostly just focused on crafting a single set and unfortunately I only have one gold ticket waiting in the wings to fill out whatever gem I have the hardest time getting.  I think I blew my luck the other night when I managed to carve a Wyvern Gem and then get two more from the end of mission loot window….  for a total of three that night.

 

Mixed Gaming Weekend

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Everquest is a game known in part for it’s interesting factions and your ability to not only completely wreck them…  but in some cases improve ones that started out bad in the first place.  My High Elf Ranger for example was friendly with Paineel, and my friend had an Iksar Monk that was completely at home in Rivervale thanks to hours and hours of clearing Runnyeye.  The factions have interesting names too like “HighHold Citizens” or the “Deepwater Knights” and are fairly granular in that you might be perfectly fine in most of a zone but one specific area will attack you on sight because you wrecked your faction.  I had a weird dream last night that there was a law firm that acted as a mediator to help you repair your damaged factions.  I don’t remember exactly I was there or what faction it was that I had offended, but I remember being across a giant board room from some NPCs that just kept chanting “You’ve ruined your own lands, you’ll not ruin mine!”.  I eventually was able to appease them slightly with an assortment of bear pelts, slashed deathfist belts and bone chips…  which only makes sense in Everquest.

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The primary thing that I played this weekend was our April AggroChat game of the month…  Night in the Woods.  I don’t want to talk too much about this other than it being really good and I highly suggest playing it yourself.  That said the suggestion is with a tiny bit of reservation because I found it a deeply emotional experience.  There are things in the game that pattern my own choices in life and others that were the road not taken.  I am mostly saving the ammunition for the podcast next week, but I have some feels about this game and its characters and small town life in general.

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I also played a bit of Defiance 2050 this weekend… and I have to say I am deeply confused by this title.  Maybe I completely misunderstood what this game was supposed to be.  I had gotten the impression that it would be a game where a bunch of time had passed since the original game and that the world had drastically changed.  So as a result I was deeply confused when I followed a sequence of events in Mount Tam that if I am not completely mistaken are pretty much exactly what happens in the base game.  So I am not exactly sure what is up with this one, because it seems like the same game with no changes that I could see?  I did not play for terribly long but was extremely confused the entire time because I kept expecting something new.  Yes I realized that I just used confused three times in rapid succession…  but I am trying to drive that emotion home here.

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The other bits of my weekend that I did not specifically call out here were spent in Monster Hunter World working on the weekly objectives…  namely hunting Black Diablos and doing 9 Star missions.  Here you can see me hanging out with T’Challa who I did not realize was into Monster Hunter World…  after taking down Xeno’jiiva.  Things I learned this weekend…  my fear of Diablos is largely unwarranted because waiting this late into the game to really start farming it…  means it is way easier than my memory would tell me.  The last time I had fought a Diablos was the one needed to clear the main story step.  I have avoided these like the plague because that fight…  was pure hell at the time.  Now I seem to be able to take them down pretty easily and I did four of the weekly event quest involving taking down both a normal Diablos and a Black Diablos.  As far as the 9 Star quests… I SOS Rouletted them which involved two Xeno’jiiva fights, a double tempered bazel fight, and a tempered rathalos/hard tobi fight.

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I did also spend a few attempts on Kulve Taroth and figured out that you can filter your session by folks doing the encounter.  I’ve been kicked a few times… the first because I am guessing they wanted a fixed party comp and I snagged the last slot they were saving for someone else.  The group disbanded and was locked when it was reposted.  The other time I am guessing that it was for simply being a longsword player because that seems to be the weapon type that everyone bags on as this games “Dragoon”.  I mean it isn’t wrong… I take a lot of damage and do plenty of stupid things but more often than not I also break big parts off things with spirit helm breaker.  Other than that I wound up getting into a few really good and chill groups and got more weapons…  sadly no more oranges but I did get a couple of decent purples.  I have this interesting collection of death shots and in this one I think I died to a magma splash, either that or someone else fainted and this was my final action shot.    I have a few really good ones from my many attempts at Nergigante as well because the scene at the end of the encounter always seems really interesting to me… so more often than not I take a quick snap.  All in all it was a pretty good weekend and I am really looking forward to next weeks AggroChat so I can get all of these thoughts related to Night in the Woods out of my head.