Dolly and Dot Are My Best Friends

wow-2018-08-14-06-15-40-085

worldofwarcraft0002

Last night was the launch of Battle for Azeroth the new expansion for World of Warcraft, and as I said yesterday it sort of snuck up on me.  Blizzard was doing a global release for the first time in my memory meaning that while a lot of the world did in fact get the game on August 14th…  the United States got it in the evening of the 13th.  So it was in fact midnight CEST on the 14th for Europe but for me personally it launched at 5pm my time.  I was not however sitting at the keyboard waiting for the gates to open as it were…  because it was 5 before I managed to get to town from work.  That then triggered the whole list of things I need to do when I first get home as well as nomming some tasty noms…  finally ending up at the keyboard around 6ish.

worldofwarcraft0001

At that point I was pleasantly surprised that I got right in with zero queue or waiting.  There were reports of folks having some issues with the login server, but thankfully I had none of those issues and effectively sailed right in.  I even tempted fate about 8:30 last night and decided to swap from my desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs…  and even at that point I was able to log straight in without much issue.  I am not sure if this is a smaller than normal launch day, or if they were just really that prepared for the launch.  Whatever the case it went smoothly and collectively myself, Grace and Mor decided to get the desert zone out of the way first and spent the rest of the evening roaming around Vol’dun.

wow-2018-08-14-06-15-40-085

For my troubles I managed to get my amulet-of-not-artifact-power to level 2 just barely shy of level 3, collected 2 pieces of the upgradeable gear that has talent point unlocks on it, and dinged 111 with about halfway to 112.  I consider it a very productive night given that I did not take any time off from work and really didn’t “grind” that hard at anything.  I believe both Grace and Mor are further ahead than me, but at some point I will catch up and hopefully reach the first dungeon unlock, though in truth I didn’t notice if there was one we could queue for already or not.  I am surprised at just how much story there is in this expansion… like not just text story but I seem to be drowning in really awesome cut scenes.  If the rest of this expansion carries on the same way as the beginning has… it is going to maybe be one of the better expansions in World of Warcraft history even with the questionable PVP narrative.

The above video is going to be a bit of a spoiler, but if you care to watch… it features my favorite moment so far in Battle for Azeroth.  Meerah the awesome Vulpera responsible for driving the caravan around Vol’dun serenades her pair of Alpacas.  Dolly and Dot are the best and are probably going to be the break out hit from this expansion.  It reminds me a lot of the singing Quaggan from Guild Wars 2, and is similarly memeable.  Meerah herself was apparently voiced by the very amazing Deva Marie, so extra awesome bit about the quest.  ~Dolly and Dot are my best friends~  ~they pull my wagon through dunes of sands~  ~they have small teeth and they love to eat…~  then sadly the song is cut off by a mean ole troll who doesn’t appreciate awesomeness.

I am hoping we get a lot more Meerah, Dolly and Dot as I go further into this zone.

Follow Up to Yesterdays Post

monsterhunterworld-2018-08-13-21-27-55-14

As a follow up to yesterdays post about Monster Hunter World PC… when I took a break to move downstairs to the laptop I decided to fire up the game there to see what sort of settings I would have to play on to get the game functional.  What you are seeing is MHW on Low settings and 720p resolution and even then… I was only managing to see about 25 fps.  For reference the gaming laptop I have is in the top bar of the site but also linking it here.  As far as the stats go… it has:

  • Intel Core i7 4th Gen 4720HQ (2.60 GHz)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2 GB GDDR5
  • 16 GB Memory
  • 1 TB HDD
  • 128 GB SSD

The game is effectively unplayable given that I am only seeing 25 fps in town and even then it wildly fluctuates down into the teens and up into the thirties.  Essentially hopefully you can make your own determinations as to how well the game is going to run on your system between the two baselines I have given you.  Now the positive is…  steam does allow you to return games if you end up trying it out and it simply not working at all.  Personally right now I am streaming Monster Hunter World through Parsec on my gaming desktop upstairs when I am playing downstairs on the laptop.  This is honestly the way I am gaming most of the time these days and is probably going to keep me from upgrading that laptop anytime soon.

 

Monster Hunter World PC Thoughts

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0000_layer-20

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0019_layer-1

This weekend I played a significant amount of Monster Hunter World on the PC.  This morning I am going to talk a bit about my thoughts related to it and why it maybe isn’t the dumpster fire that the internet seems to think it is.  First off you are not going to get much general Monster Hunter commentary since I have belabored that point at length on this blog.  I love the game and think that for the most part everyone should give it a shot on whatever platform seems most comfortable for you personally.  I played the hell out of it on the PS4 and only backed off a bit when I got bit by the Elder Scrolls Online bug again…  which has moved recently into desperately trying to prepare for the World of Warcraft expansion.  Basically don’t ever take me moving on from a game as a reason not to play it because quite honestly I am fickle as hell when it comes to game.  I play a lot of different things and shift wildly between them as the mood suits me.

You can get a link to my current PC build up in the menu of this site but for those reading via RSS I will summarize the high points.  The relevant information:

I technically have an SSD in this system but have long since run out of space to run games from it…  so for the most part I linked the drive that the game itself is running on.  For sake of reference I attempted to screenshot all of the relevant graphical settings I am using.

mhwpc-settings

Essentially I set the resolution to 1080p and attempted to max everything out to see what sort of gameplay that would give me.  For the most part I get 60 frames per second, with the occasional dip into the 55ish territory as you can sometimes see sub 60 numbers in the lower left hand corner of these screenshots.  However it feels very smooth given that I personally cannot seem to differentiate between about 40 fps and 60 fps that well.  Ultimately I wanted to throw these numbers out there however  I have a 5th gen x99 setup running a still fairly beefy GTX 980 graphics card.  Your mileage may vary wildly if you are using a system less capable than that, but I am not really sure how far below.

The game looks infinitely better than it did on the PS4 and had I the time this weekend I would have installed it on my laptop to see what sort of concessions I needed to make it get it running on a far lower end machine.  The laptop being a 4th Gen i7 which is the generation of processor in the recommended settings, and a mobile gtx 960M… which given the rules of mobile cards means it likely performs about the same as a desktop 700 series since the desktop did not get the 800 series.  Regardless it is further testing I want to do so that I could give some estimates of what the game would run like and look like on a lower end machine.  The truth is I played most of the weekend on the laptop, but I did so using Parsec streaming off of my gaming machine upstairs.  I still am deeply in love with that software.

desktop-screenshot-2018-08-11-12-50-45-49

The biggest takeaway for me personally is just how phenomenally good the game looks on the PC.  On the baseline PS4 everything felt very muddy for lack of a better word.  There were lots of moments when everything seemed like there was a thin coat of vasoline on the lens and you couldn’t quite focus on anything specific.  This means that a lot of the vistas in this game were completely lost to me and might as well have been static background images.  However on the PC there have been numerous points where I just stop and stare the the scenes in awe of just how cool everything looks.  I have a hard drive full of screenshots already and according to steam I am only twelve hours into the game.

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0008_layer-12

It is highly likely that this is an experience that the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro players have already had… but for use plebs still stuck on the lower end machines in this generation…  the difference is extremely noticeable.  Now all of that said…  my awe of the game comes from a console player getting to see the world I already love in much higher detail.  From the general standpoint of a PC gamer… the game still has some wonky stuff going on in the way that the world looks and it is the same sort of stuff you see in a lot of console ports.  Textures don’t always look as crisp as you might expect and what appears to be in focus versus blurred out is all over the place.  Notice in the above image who the background appears so much crisper than the character in the foreground for example, just random goofy stuff that you don’t notice in motion but do notice when the action stops.

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0000_layer-20

One of the weirder revelations for me personally is that the game is completely connected into steam groups… and seems to rely on your steam friends list and the groups you are a member of in place of the clan system.  This means that I already happen to have a Greysky Armada group ready to go and you can see me up in the gathering hall flying the colors of our guild…  even taking into account the custom imagery we uploaded for it from FFXIV.  The only problem here is…  I think those of us who have lots of groups and massive friend lists at this point…  are maybe bogging down the network?  It seems to take forever to bring up a friends list dialog, or to browse the sessions that your friends are in.  This seems to have improved over the week, but is still way more sluggish than it felt on the console.

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0010_layer-10

The real problem however is that the network connectivity seems to be extremely fickle, with Match Making generally not working at all…  and the browsing of existing sessions working about as well.  You are going to see this window a lot with a 50382-MW1 error being throw which is essentially the “cannot connect” generic error message.  Spawning your own instance however seems to work reliably well, and joining an instance a friend is in also seems to work fairly well.  I’ve managed to play with my friend Wolfy at several points during the weekend, but just go into the situation expecting things to be less than reliable.  I feel like the PC is a leap forward overall given that it allows you to integrate with your existing list of Steam friends…  but the overall way that grouping works in Monster Hunter World is still extremely awkward.  This is one thing that Dauntless has going for it, is that grouping as a whole just feels more natural.

If you want to see me fail miserably at a hunt and mash the shit out of my keyboard and mouse here is the stream from Sunday morning.  The keyboard is getting more comfortable as I go but I will say it was a challenge to get used to after being fairly comfortable with the PS4 controller.  For the most part I have rolled with the default keybinds, but you can in fact remap most everything.  The only thing that I really have changed is that the initial set up for Longsword was Left Mouse for basic attacks, Right Mouse for thrust, and Ctrl Key for Spirit Blade…  which was functional but not exactly fitting with the priority that I have those attacks.  I swapped Right Mouse and Ctrl to give me something that feels more natural given that I rarely actually thrust, the only negative however is that it makes it more challenging to do the leap out of the way slash attack.  My fingers are long however and for the most part I can hit any ability that I need to.  Your mileage may vary given how comfortable you are reaching into odd spots on the keyboard.  I do however need to sort out something other than F1 + Number to get to the quick bar items because that really doesn’t work for me right now.

monsterhunterworld-weirdlycropped_0015_layer-5

All in all I am really happy with the PC port and especially if you have been waiting in the wings due to a lack of console…  you should totally pick this up.  From what I am hearing it is both the biggest selling Japanese Steam game of all time, and the biggest Steam launch of 2018 so far…  so much of the issues that are happening currently are probably just compounded by that fact.  As the crush of players coming in to hunt some monsters dwindles a bit…  I think a lot of the network weirdness is going to mysteriously go away.  It is 7 am CST and right now Steam Charts is showing 245,535 concurrent players…  with an all-time peak of 329,333 which was also achieved apparently in the last 24 hours.  Basically it is super popular right now and as a result there are going to be some growing pains.  If you cannot deal with that maybe wait a month before picking it up, however the game does always default back to a single player state allowing you to get in and experience the game play regardless of the current network conditions.

desktop-screenshot-2018-08-09-18-57-06-25

If you found yourself on the fence about this title I hope this post offers some wisdom.  Like I said I need to get in and actually install the game on my laptop to give it a lower end impression as well.  I will try and do that over the coming days…  but not likely tonight given that apparently Battle For Azeroth launches at 2pm CST?  Talk about that game release sneaking up on me.  I hope you have a great day and an awesome week.

 

Moms and Minor Gaming

img_20180512_115818

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.

ddjzywyv0aa7zeh

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.

desktop-screenshot-2018-05-11-15-59-37-07

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.

desktop-screenshot-2018-05-11-20-44-15-19

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

dcq5z7qv4aay-uz

dcq5v_kvaaek5k1

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.

dcq5z7qv4aay-uz

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.

mtga-2018-05-08-06-33-04-13

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

dcwvspyvwaec44e

dcwvspyvwaec44e

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.

dcwvxwju0aamqno

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.

destiny-2-screenshot-2018-04-29-14-02-03-08

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

dcg5copuqaezwgx

dcg5hn8uqaacok0

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.

dcg5kavvaaaeg5w

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?

db_mteauqaah_hr

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

dbomtogvaaamrhs

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.

Destiny_20160308221525

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.

destiny-2-screenshot-2017-12-19-20-42-04-77

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.

dbomtogvaaamrhs

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.

dyuizgsu0aaepnx

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

dbizx7ouqaayfjy

dbgcjkjuwaexwrv

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.

dbizx7ouqaayfjy

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

dbdowcbvmaacjn2

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.

night-in-the-woods-2018-04-21-13-55-17-54

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.

defiance-2018-04-22-09-16-19-14

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.

dbdoqzeuqaai2-s

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.

dbdowcbvmaacjn2

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.

 

Gold Dust Woman

dbomgyvvwaeqn6d

dbomgyvvwaeqn6d

Right now in Monster Hunter World there is a brand new type of event happening called a Siege.  The idea is that an entire 18 player session is working towards one objective… taking down a Zorah Magdaros style massive elder dragon.  In order to start the process you need to find a gold pile somewhere out in the wilds.  By default this should be somewhere near the start of any of the outdoor zones.  In talking to the AggroChat crew last night I was told to do an investigation…  which absolutely worked… but I believe that Tam originally intended to tell me to do an Expedition which according to Ash also works.  The pile will be very obvious and very out of place and by looting it you will then have a quest as soon as you zone into Astera.  From there the quest takes place in the Gathering Hub and will show up as a unique quest type called Siege at the bottom of the quest givers list.

From there you join a party in progress or start your own.  There is no SOS Roulette for this so my standard practice of joining a clan session to hang out only really works if you are all focused on doing the event.  The AggroChat crew apparently did this with only four players on Wednesday night when it opened, but I largely just kept joining public sessions until I found one with players actively doing the quest.  For the most part every instance I joined had two active groups so a total of eight players chipping away at the progress meter for the event.  Functionally all groups are working in their own separate instances with progress made each time you meet a milestone… like knocking off a specific part of the body.

dbomtogvaaamrhs

There are functionally four phases that I am aware of in the fight.  In the first phase Kulve Taroth moves around the zone completely oblivious to the players allowing you to hit it with canon fire perched atop cliffs much like the Zorah Magdaros fight.  During the second phase she is still covered in the gold plating but begins to take notice of your actions and will actively but very slowly attack you.  During the forth phase she enters a room where there are some magma eruptions that heat the gold up making her go significantly faster as well as allowing for better damage to knock parts off.  During the final phase she goes into a room where magma is dripping down from the ceiling and all of her armor is knocked off making her extremely fast and very Nergigante like in damage when she hits you.

Ultimately the goal is to survive until one of two things happens…  either she gets bored and wanders off “leaving the area” which counts as success weirdly enough.  The other option is that through the actions of all teams that her horns are broken…  which allows the team that broke them the ability to carve them for all sorts of tasty loot.  The other thing that makes this fight extremely interesting is that she is constantly dropping parts on the ground so you have to juggle fighting with looting on a regular basis.  Additionally there is a tribe Gajalaka that will constantly be getting in the way, throwing things at you, knocking you down…  so you will be dealing with this in additional to avoiding very wide sweeping attacks.  You can take them out however and the ones with gold shielding on their back drop Kulve Taroth bits… and the others have a reasonable chance to do the same.

mhw-weaponhaul

This is a massive time sink, given that it often takes a full instance two or three attempts to take down the dragon.  What makes it worth it however is the interesting semi-randomized loot drops that introduce the relic system that has existed in other games.  While you are in the fight picking up drops, there is a chance that you can get a relic weapon.  These then are appraised at the quest giver after you have exited the instance in a fashion similar to decorations.  Last night I ran three complete Kulve Taroth fights and walked away at the end of the night with 22 blue rank 6 weapons, 5 purple rank 7 weapons and 3 orange rank 8 weapons.  The above screenshot is an amalgam of all of the best items that I got from the fights.  Apparently that Insect Glaive is good enough to make Tam our resident Glaive master general drool a bit over it.

What I am more interested in however is the fact that this is giving me an infusion of weapons that I might have not actually tried on my own.  The truth is I have played with a very small subset of weapons in the game and there are others like lance that I have wanted to try… but had no clue which one to work towards.  Last night I got myself a reasonable sleep lance to start taking down things like everyone’s favorite target dummy…  Great Jagras.  More than this, it is giving me a smattering of different elemental damage types which gives me more leverage when we start looking at other fights in the game.  The other big thing I am working towards is being able to craft a full set of the Kulve armor because it too is really nice…  but will involve a lot of elder dragon farming since each piece requires a gem.

dbomaprumaajbsx

Lastly there is both new layered armor and palico gear associated with this quest and I am wearing two pieces of the set… shoulders and waist in the above screenshot.  Kenzie my palico is wearing the full set of her gear.  This is crafted by combining Bushi Tickets that drop upon turning in the Kulve Taroth quest when your instance had defeated it and combining them with a bunch of varied monster parts.  I am working towards the Bushi Homare set which involves a bunch of elder dragon bits…  whereas the Bushi Sabi set has a broken down battle worn appearance and requires a bunch of parts from alternate high rank mobs like Black Diablos.  All in all I love the feel of this event because it is essentially Monster Hunter World doing a raid.  I’ve been extremely impressed with the sort of things they are continuing to patch into this game giving us reasons to keep coming back and interacting with content.  The event itself runs for a few weeks and I can already tell I will be spending at least some time each night farming Kulve Taroth for interesting weapon options.