Tiny Samurai vs Eureka

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One of the things that happened over the weekend that we did not talk about on the podcast, nor have I mentioned on the blog… was the reveal of the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers at the Las Vegas Fan Fest.  I mentioned Fan Fest when I was talking about BlizzCon and how they only hold one when they have a big announcement to give us information about.  As such you go into the experiencing knowing you are going to see something really cool, and while the trailer for Shadowbringers is cool… it was not the big reveal of the weekend.  That said I do find it interesting that we are not going where I thought we were going at various points in the Stormblood storyline.  It seems like in order to restore balance… we are to become the Warrior of Darkness.

The more important reveal however was that of the Blue Mage… aka the MMO class that I questioned if was even possible to do in a multiplayer game.  With it they are introducing this concept of “Limited Jobs” and by that they mean Jobs that you can do… but are purely solo/open world only.  Blue Mage will launch with 4.5 and be locked to a maximum of level 50 in progression.  Like a Blue Mage in any other Final Fantasy game, you will not learn new skills by leveling up and instead learn them by fighting the monsters that perform certain abilities.  So to learn Bad Breath you will need to fight a Morbal and watch it do that move…  or similarly you will need to watch a Sabotender do 1000 Needles to be able to pick it up and start doing it yourself.  I really dig this concept because it allows them to do this class with all of its flavor and power… without having to worry about balancing it against any other class.  Level 5 Death would have been super hard to balance around… and I am wondering if they will start bringing other challenging classes in to the game under this Limited Jobs banner.

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All of this thought about Final Fantasy XIV lead me to patch it up, and attempt to figure out where the hell I left off in the Stormblood post expansion main story quest.  I bounced very hard on Stormblood and I am still not entirely certain why, but after leveling the Warrior and then grinding up the Samurai… I just ran out of steam.  I’ve made a few attempts to get engaged again and similarly bounced out.  Hell recently there have been a few times I logged into the game and then right back out when I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to do in order to gain traction.  All of this time however Sol has kept Greysky Armada active and there is a group of folks that do a cycle of regular events.  Last night was Eureka night and I decided to log in and join the shenanigans.

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Ultimately it was myself, Mor, eventually Neph and a character that I have seen around but can’t really place a person to…  being babysit by Pix who deserves a hero medal for easing us all into the concept of Eureka.  I remember when this first opened I spent some time solo grinding and managed to make it to level 2 just by killing random stuff.  It seemed insanely grindy and a love song to Final Fantasy XI which itself was effectively the Japanese version of Everquest.  Soloing it was miserable but with a group of friends it felt an awful lot better.  Even more so once we started gathering up the materia shards that effectively gave us a 60% damage boost.  I entered the night at level 2 and managed to push through to level 8 before we finally called it because it was getting late.

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Seriously Pix deserves massive thanks at herding us around Eureka and helping us get the objectives we needed to get knocked out.  Effectively he was out of group and AOE taunting everything onto him… while we sat there killing it down as fast as possible.  As a result I spent most of the night as Samurai and while it took me a bit to remember how to play the class it eventually came back.  When Neph joined us I feel like she went through the same thing with Machinist… which I guess is to be expected for as long as we have been gone.  I know they have other themed nights, like one in which they do crafting maps…  so for the time being I am probably going to be logging in and doing those activities at least until I get my bearings.  I had an awful lot of fun, and I most of it was due to the fact that I was getting to hang out with a bunch of friends that I had not hung out with in a really long time.

Let’s Go Thoughts

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Without really intending to… this weekend became largely about Let’s Go Pokemon, the new Pokemon game that released on the Nintendo Switch Friday.  I went with Eevee, because quite honestly it is one of my favorite Pokemon largely for the sheer versatility that is available in the evolved forms.  The starter Eevee however will be permanently locked in its adorable pupa stage, and I am mostly okay with that…  as it keeps me from having to try and figure out which way I want to evolve my Pokemon.  I decided to give my Eevee the super adult name of Wigglebum.

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Similarly I decided to give my rival the super adult name of Buttface, because in most of the other Pokemon games that I have played… they turn out to be a dick.  Unfortunately this one is rather awesome, and constantly cheering us on and giving us free stuff.  Now I feel sorta bad when I am in a cutscene with the two of us…  and I see the monaker that I unfairly bestowed upon them.  Blue however is around to play the role of the butthead, but even he seems better behaved than I remember him…  or in my case it was Red that was the Butt since I played Pokemon Blue not Red.

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A few days ago my friend Hestiah posted a thread where she commented on a few of the Pokemon Go names that she came up as she caught them.  This made me realize how generally boring I am when it comes to catching Pokemon, in that I never actually give them names.  Maybe it feels better when I send them back to the professor to grind into candy if I didn’t name them in the first place. Ultimately she is the one who inspired all of this serious adulting… and has trickled down to the individual Pokemon as well.  ZappyGirl started her life as ShockyRat, and then I decided to name her based on the whole Zappy Boi  meme…  and thankfully this game lets you rename your charges whenever the hell you want to.

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The interesting thing about Let’s Go as a game is that it seems way the hell more sticky for me personally than any other Pokemon game to date.  The truth is I don’t really like Pokemon combat, and it always felt weird to be beating up on random woodland creatures.  In this game it has adopted a Pokemon Go sort of approach where the individual Pokemon appear and you walk over to them to engage in a capture session… where you have all of the same tools as you do in the handheld game.  If you are playing in handheld mode you simply center the screen on the pokemon and throw the ball…  if you are playing docked you have to do some motion controlling nonsense with a dettached joycon in order to capture.  I am super disappointed that I could not play with my Pro Controller and just mimic the same behavior I do in handheld mode…  as such I am largely playing this game undocked which sorta makes me a little sad.

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Traditional combat still exists and is reserved for dueling other trainers, which feels a little better than kicking the ass of every random pidgey that happens across your path while roaming between two areas.  Wigglebum however is a soul less killing machine and gives zero fucks about beating up her kin.  She believes in Highlander rules… and there can be only one Eevee.  The interesting thing about random trainer battles is just how insanely lucrative they are, and the fact that apparently you never really need to buy Pokeballs in this game?  Most battles reward anywhere between 3 and 5 Pokeballs… and have just started paying out in Great Balls helping me keep in stock of those as well.  When I am playing in motion control mode I fail an awful lot so I am guessing they are paying out to help stop the frustration of Nintendo and their determination to make me do stupid shit with my hands while playing their games.

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The game feels extremely good and while it is mimicking Red and Blue… that doesn’t somehow ruin my experience because I have not played either of those since 1999/2000ish on a Gameboy Emulator?  This is mostly a fresh experience to me and while it seems really familiar… I can largely chock it up to the fact that ALL Pokemon games feel somewhat familiar.  I spent just shy of 9

hours over the weekend playing Pokemon Let’s Go, and while that might not sound like a ton of time… it is for me when it comes to a Pokemon game.  I tend to bounce off of them pretty fast, and this time I just kept playing…  until my switch battery ran out… and then went upstairs to dock it and try playing some more.

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I am not terribly far progressed, but at this point I have made it through three Gyms and quite honestly the only one I had any issues with was Misty and the Water type gym.  The only real problem there was Starmie and its inexplicable fire type moves???  I limped through it, but I had to take two runs at getting through her.  Surge and Brock were both easy as hell and largely fell over when I attacked them.  There are a bunch of weird moves that you can teach your starter, and according to Ashgar…  while they have horrible names they are actually really good.  So I might make my way back to that NPC and try a few of them.  So far Doublekick and Tackle have been my money attacks… and everything else seems to largely be expendable.

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Ultimately the game is super charming and if you like the concept of Pokemon, but maybe struggled a bit to get into it…  I highly suggest you check this game out.  If you are a Pokemon purist, some of the changes might frustrate you… but then again it is a Pokemon game so admit it… you are probably going to play it anyways.  I’ve linked my Pokemon Go account but have not made it to the area of the game where it allows you to swap stuff back and forth.  Last night Ash and I were going to try trading some stuff, but I ultimately fell asleep…  so I will try and catch up with him tonight and do that thing.  All in all… super fun game and my wife was shocked to see me playing it instead of something with more death, gore and dismemberment.  There is still a time for childlike wonder in the Tales of the Aggronaut.

If you are so inclined… we also talk quite a bit about the game on the podcast this weekend.

Hellgate Disappointment

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If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I have a hot burning and undying love of the game Hellgate London.  I played it originally at launch and was of the few suckers who actually ponied up for the subscription plan as well, with its extra events.  There were a whole slew of us that were playing World of Warcraft at the time, that took a break and started playing Hellgate as effectively our primary game.  There was in fact a House Stalwart guild in game that was pretty damned active for awhile…  but sadly a very short while.  The game released on October 31st or 2007, and in 2008…  Flagship Studios filed for bankrupt protection and all assets including the intellectual property of the games they were working on… were seized by Comerica bank.  Namco Bandai kept the servers going through January 31st of 2009 and after that point it was effectively a single player only game.  The assets were eventually sold to T3Fun/HanbitSoft a South Korean game developer who took the unreleased assets and spun up a few new areas of the game centered around Seoul.

In 2014 the game showed up on Steam as Hellgate Global which was being run by a HanbitSoft Connected company called T3Fun/Redbana Corporation.  Hellgate Global was an MMOized version of the game and featured a number of micro-transactions that added some “pay for qualify of life” type features like an item that would identify all of the items in your inventory instead of having to do them one at a time.  Similarly there was an item that would deconstruct every item in your inventory at the same time.  I actually played this game for a bit, and noticed that the difficulty was massively watered down and these mini bosses were added in every so often that served as a loot pinata.  It was entertaining but also nowhere nears a compelling as the original game, and it eventually shut down in January of 2016.  Recently Hellgate once again showed up on Steam as a game that was coming November 15th… and last night I purchased it for myself and a couple of Aggrochat members.  One to grief him because I sincerely doubt he will like the game, but he also once gifted me a copy of Bad Rats.  The other however because I think she will absolutely like the game…  that is if she can get past the frustrations with this version.

My hope was this would be an easy way to get people in and let them experience Hellgate London.  Previously the best way to play Hellgate London was to either Amazon or Ebay a copy of the old game and then install Hellgate Revival to bring it up to more modern standards.  There is even a side project called London 2038 that acts as a server emulator, allowing you to play online with others and restoring much of the functionality of the game.  My hope was the Steam version would bring a lot of these improvements to the game and make it as easy as purchasing and installing to get in and play.  Unfortunately after last night…  the route I just described is still the best way to play the game.

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First of all we have to talk about how HanbitSoft has seemingly changed the story of Hellgate London, by introducing a some equally questionable animation tacked onto the front of what is still the most epic intro sequence from any game.  The original game is largely the story of Doom… rifts from hell open up and a bunch of demons flow into our world and decimate it.  They however shifted it to be a battle between the light and the dark in ambiguous terms, that maybe work better for a South Korean audience than the biblical hell on earth story of the original.  The other big problem is that seemingly this is a game that was taken from the original English…  localized into Korean…  and then has now been localized back into English.  We’ve all seen the memes of what happens when you pass something through google translate too many times… in fact my favorite is a twitter account called Rosewatta Stone that does that with Magic the Gathering cards.

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There is an awful lot of jank going on with this game, from the completely unskippable tutorial sequence that keeps popping up how to do everything… and then will freeze your character in place until you perform whatever the hell they are asking you to do.  To the fact that the textures are extremely muddy and are way lower resolution in a few of the areas than the base install of the original game.  Hellgate London was a game with a bunch of different tile sets for lack of a better term, and they were constructed out of a series of themed prefabs…  and this one in particular seems to have fared the worst which is the cityscape with rubble strewn through it.  Others like the train station tileset, seem to have gotten a much higher resolution texture treatment and as such look significantly better.  The problem is however that this experience feels extremely uneven…  like they got bored while working on the game and only focused on the areas that they liked the most.

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This is effectively the same version that was released as Hellgate Global from what I can tell, and as such it includes a handful of classes that were not available in the original release.  I am however a creature of habit and wound up rolling a Guardian again… which is the class I always tend to play when I play Hellgate.  I am a sword and shield tank, but again you can see the unbalanced nature of the textures.  That shield looks perfectly fine… the armor however is blurry and washed out.  It also has the weird intro sequence where it places you in what used to be the cash shop hub of the game, before sending you to your first destination.  None of the cash shop vendors still exist, but that was effectively a player lobby that allowed groups to gather up, and it seems like there is no real way to get back there once you have started actually playing the game.  It definitely comes off as them quickly singlerplayer-izing what was designed to be a rudimentary MMO cash grab.

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The thing that cracks me up the most is the inclusion of the Korean warnings about play time.  After paying an hour you get the following message to pop up in the chat window “You have been playing for 1hour.  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.”  This is one of those loot pinata bosses that I talked about, and when you kill them you get a fountain of loot most of it blue or higher quality to come pouring out.  All of this aside the game was largely playable once you got past that forced intro section.  That is until I started encountering some more serious issues with the game.  Shortly after the hour mark I started encountering some massive slowdowns, and at first I thought maybe there was a memory leak in the client.  However upon restarting the game and getting into a fight the same things started happening again.  I think this might be an issue with one specific spell effect from a specific type of monster, which are the the demons that crawl around and then throw fireballs at you.  The moment one of these sends this spell effect in your direction my framerate bottomed out.  This is coming from me playing on an i7-5820k with a Geforce 1080 ti…  so more processing power than this game ever dreamed about having initially.  I finally had to stop playing last night because it was impossible to do anything…  because I kept hitting these framerate walls.

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Ultimately I still love Hellgate London and I happily played for about two hours until I encountered the issues.  I was hoping that the Steam release would have actually had some effort put into it, but unfortunately that is not the case.  The positive side is that right now it is selling for a little less than $10, so it isn’t like even with the three copies that I bought I am out a significant amount of money.   I am hoping that the modding community decides to fix these issues, because it is probably something as simple as the fact that the game inexplicably dropped Direct X 10 support and is only allowing Direct X 9 for some reason.  If you really want to play Hellgate London, you are still better off digging up an original copy…  installing Hellgate Revival and then using London 2038 to play on the multiplayer servers.  I have a feeling in the coming days I will be doing this thing again just to see how different the experience is.

I hope that HanbitSoft will patch the game to make the experience less frustrating, because I still would love to see the Seoul levels as well as the Hellgate Tokyo content that supposedly was added in to the game as well.  I am not however holding my breath that any of that is going to happen, and more than likely this was just a quick cash grab that I got suckered into by my love of this franchise, and the nostalgia of all that it could have been.  I’ve spent thirty bucks on dumber things, so in the end I will be just fine.

Leaving Flatwoods

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Yesterday it turns out that I was not crazy, and that Fallout 76 was in fact active and fully launched for most of the day.  When I popped in to get a screenshot for the blog post, I noticed that it was allowing me to hit play…  and sure enough I got in with a half dozen people roaming around the map.  The funny thing about this is I remember doing something similar during the launch of Elder Scrolls Online and getting into that game several hours early.  I guess it pays to be patched up and ready to go when Bethesda launches a new game.  The funny thing is though, since I knew the game was available it caused me to approach launch day with a lot more chill than I normally have.  This is also helped out by the fact that I had a character with progress that carried over from the beta, and I didn’t exactly feel a rush to get to a point of sustainability quickly.  Now that said I am always seeming to need a source of food and a source of water and weirdly enough a source of wood… to keep boiling said water.

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For most of the beta I spent my time around the Flatwoods area, which is one of the first towns you encounter…  if you actually follow the quest directions.  However it is an area rich in resources and quests so in theory it is a pretty good idea to go there first.  We did a jaunt to the far south at one point and captured the Poseidon power plant as a Trio, but I never managed to make it to Morgantown which was where the next major quest objective was directing me towards.  So I set forth on a journey that would take me up Interstate 59 to Route 64 and on into the basic vicinity of Morgantown.  I largely followed the highway system in part because I figured if I were doing this for real… I would wind up doing that as a way of keeping track of where I was going.  Sure I could have set a waypoint off in the distance and made my way across the open terrain, but I was curious what attractions I might be able to find from the highway.

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Roughly halfway down Interstate 59 I encountered a Slocum’s Joe which for the uninitiated is the Fallout Universe version of a coffee/donut shop.  On the road beside it however was something magical…  I am guessing this player spent every last minute of the beta hoarding resources to build this really awesome base, giving him one hell of a start for when the game launched proper.  What was creepy however is that the mutated hounds were flopping stuck in the side of his fortifications.  They were one of the random encounters I ran into along the road so I am guessing they attacked the base… and then got gunned down but the two turrets up above.  My previous camp location had the problem of constantly being attacked by feral ghouls, and in one case they managed to damage the turrets and make their way into the base…  and I logged in just as they were taking out my  generator.  So as such I started thinking more defensible fortifications…  and this guy here seems to have a great design…  minus the fact that the steps are wide open.  Maybe the NPCs can’t walk up steps so good?

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When I got to Morgantown I found this bridge with an eyebot moving back and forth across it playing its patriotic theme…  and behind it was leading a trail of rat pups pied piper style.  I watched the bridge for quite a bit and nothing else seemed to be pathing across it due to the fact that this neutral/peaceful event was programmed to take place there.  This gave me a bit of an idea…

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As such I opted to move my camp and reconstruct it underneath the bridge… thinking that this map feature might make for a slightly more defensible outpost.  This was well and good until I realized that the ground was just uneven enough to make erecting a barrier of fences nigh impossible.  I’ve built as much as I realistically can at this moment because I have run out of resources.  However the area surrounding my camp is full of logs, so my hope is they will have re-spawned each time I visit the camp and can keep harvesting a decent amount of lumber that way.  Additionally I am on the outskirts of Morgantown, which should serve as fertile scavenging grounds for parts to make more stuff.  The camp being nearby will let me shuffle loads of things over to it and dump them in the machinery there to free up my inventory.  I need to learn to pair down my weapons and carry only the things that I know I will be immediately using.  The truth is I have largely settled on my serrated machette and my trusty 10 mm pistol…  but in both cases I need to build the level 10 version of each I think.  Unfortunately my building spree has run me out of other resources as well.

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The biggest takeaway from last night is that this is in fact a Fallout game.  My wife got home super late and as a result I largely played things other than fallout until around 7:30.  By 8 pm however I was deeply engaged in the game and did not really look up or pay attention to the time until a little before 11 pm when I hurriedly scrambled off to bed.  Another friend managed to play until 4 am without realizing it.  When you are focused on this objecting or that while exploring this deceptively large and densely populated map…  all other things in the world sort of fade away.  I still have not really encountered any players in a negative fashion, and while they are out there… once I left the Fallout 76 proper area and Flatwoods especially…  I stopped encountering them.  That is not to say that there are not players out there… the above screenshot I took to show off where my camp is located and you can see a number of dots sprinkled around the map representing other players.  That seems like a large number for the roughly 6 am when I took it.  More than that however I learned a few key pieces of information about why the world is the way it is… and what happened to most of the people that were remaining.  That however is a tale that I am going to save for another time, given that it factors on some serious spoilers.

Shock to the System

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Yesterday I had the day off and I am sorta thankful for that.  It means that I missed driving in the first snow of the season.  It isn’t that the roads would have been slick or anything… it is just more a case of folks acting crazy in inclement weather.  As a result I stayed home and dealt with the air conditioning folks doing our winter maintenance checkup on the system.  I also spent a good deal of time playing various video games and also making a batch of Chicken Tikka Masala.  My wife unfortunately did not get the day off and as such I wanted something to warm up her belly when she got home.

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While waiting on the folks to get here, and while they were doing their thing… I played a lot of Diablo 3 on the Switch and have moved on into Act 2.  I like this port of the game quite a bit, but as I have talked about…  mobile gaming just doesn’t fit that cleanly into my life.  If I have access to my other machines I would probably rather play them…  and the switch is just heavy enough to be awkward to play while laying in bed.  However I heard last night that apparently the Switch version is what Tamrielo needed to really get into the game as he now has a Necromancer in its 60s… which is significantly higher than I think he has ever gotten a character before?  The controls feel good, but for someone who is super used to how things work on the PC… it is taking a lot of adjustment.  I equate it to someone reciting a poem you know in a foreign language…  you understand what they are saying but there is a lot of translation happening.

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As far as most of the day… I spent a good deal of time playing Path of Exile…  and I really need to figure out how to leave public channels.  I also decided to spend a little money with the game and bought one of the supporter packs that they are just about to phase out when the new expansion releases.  I figure at this point I have gotten enough joy out of the game that I really should pay something for it.  This gave me a bit of cash shop currency which I then used to get a better looking weapon and shield…  though I am wishing I had gone with something else for the shield because it does not match the outfit at all.  Basically my gameplay tends to revolve around Molten Strike, Blade Vortex and Leap…  everything else is largely superfluous and as such I am completely cool losing W as a keybind to give me back the move forward functionality I am used to in Diablo 3.  I flirted briefly with binding leap to spacebar, but ran into issues with the game needing a close all windows keybind to replace the spacebar I took.  Once I figure out a decent option for that I might go back to spacebar for leap since I prefer having a movement key bound there.

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As far as Monster Hunter World goes…  I am in an odd place where I need some Kirin+ items…  but for whatever reason do not have access to High Rank Kirin.  I spent a good chunk of the night trying various quests to try and whittle down whatever it takes to unlock the High Rank version of the fight, but failing miserably.  Essentially I need a couple materials to get the last of my layered armor pieces from the Kulve Taroth event… and I am not sure if I will still be able to do the turn-ins after the event or not.  I know that I can craft Kulve Armor without issue, and have gathered up more than enough mats to make a full set of that once I farm up the Elder Dragon gems.  I’ve been sitting at Hunter Rank 49 for awhile now, which means that I have to take down a Tempered Kirin.  Last night I made several attempts and while one came super close…  there is always the problem of someone fainting.  In this particular run it was me that failed…  but in others I managed to stay alive 100% of the time and someone else got the carts.  Ultimately I will get through this… but in reality I just want the parts from it and could care less about moving my Hunter Rank higher at this very moment.  Time to research what exactly I need to have already completed to unlock the needed High Rank hunt.

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There are so many games right now out that I’ve not had a chance to really devote much time to.  On the 16th another one gets added to that stack in the form of Let’s Go Eevee…  because Eevee is way cooler than Pikachu.  I need to figure out a better way to spend time with the switch because I have quite the backlog right now…  because I have not devoted anywhere near enough time to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate or Starlink Battle for Atlas.  The only problem with Switch games is that they look like crap on my 4K setup upstairs, and they are not quite comfortable to play in bed.  So I need to figure out a happy middle ground where I feel comfortable playing the games and will also be willing to give up playing something on the PC.  Yes I realize these are the first worldiest of problems.

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Also in the extreme stack of games that need attention…  Fallout 76 launches I believe tonight?  Look when someone says Midnight I never quite know if they mean which specific night/morning.  I believe it launches tonight at Midnight EST, but when I popped in a moment ago to take screenshots the servers were up.  I am wondering if this was by accident, or if they are just going to let people trickle in that happen to try it.  Sadly I have work, but I can in fact verify that everything from my B.E.T.A. character is there and functional…   minus one turret that I placed on my base.  I am not sure if it got blown up, or if something glitched and it fell below the world or something.  Regardless Fallout 76 is either launching tonight… or has already launched and it will be tonight before I get to give it any attention.  I had a lot of fun with Kodra and Tam running amok, and now I am left with the decision of… do I play my already level 10 character from beta or do I roll something fresh.

Captain K

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I am all over the map right now when it comes to video games.  I am in this weird holding pattern where I am playing a ton of different games, but none of them for terribly long in a single sitting.  I also managed to garbage out my left pinky this weekend which is making typing surprisingly painful.  Right now my average night involves at least one Kulve Taroth match in Monster Hunter World, and then flipping over Destiny 2 to try and score another powerful/prime engram for the evening.  From there I bounce all over the place… lately that has included some time spent in The Division which actually lead me to hit the level cap of 30 and start unlocking end game activities.  One of the things that I loved about this game was just how detailed its world was, in that it felt like a real place that I was going to visit.  Yes I realize it was patterned off of New York…  but I have supposedly visited New York in a bunch of different games and this was the first time it really felt like an actual place.  The game looks gorgeous at 4k… but then again so far MOST games look gorgeous at 4k.

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I poked my head into Neverwinter as well this weekend and finally claimed my Purple Owlbear mount from Twitch.  This game has a lot of positive things going on, but it is an inventory management nightmare…  which ultimately prompted my little burst of posts on twitter.  Inventory Management is just not something that is fun… and out of the tons of favorites I only got one person who chimed in stating that they actually like cleaning their inventory.  There are games where having a nonsense inventory is enough to make me log right back out, and many times… I feel this way about Neverwinter.  Side note another game that I often feel this way about is Everquest II because so much of what ends up dropping is not terribly useful, and when you can have bags that are getting close to 100 slots each…  you can carry around a lot of junk.  I think the theory is that people get excited when they see loot… but that excitement quickly passes when you realize that 99.9% of the stuff that drops is useless crap.

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Which leads me to Path of Exile… a game where the common practice is to install a loot filter so you just don’t see the useless shit you shouldn’t be looting in the first place.  I am using the NeverSink filter, largely because it seemed to be the one that was most widely recommended.  I will say however… it does greatly improve the experience… even though that I still feel like inventory space is a nightmare in this game.  I spent way more time this weekend playing POE than I expected, and I will say that the game has gotten significantly more enjoyable once I crossed the line into Act II.  Unfortunately I didn’t take many screenshots this weekend…  especially now that I apparently unleashed an ancient evil and blotted out the sun.  POE comes in both Grim and Dark flavors…  but apparently I shifted into Grim Dark mode.  The other issue that I have with POE is that my character looks stupid… which I realize is fixable if I drop a bunch of money on the cosmetic shop.  Right now I am wearing a leather diaper, plate booties, a metal old-timey football helmet…  while wielding a camp axe and a cabinet door for a shield.  This is not a good look on anyone…  and no matter how much gear I swap out I seemingly cannot get rid of the diaper.

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Lastly I am still spending quite a bit of time before falling asleep each night playing various mobile games and one of the ones that I am finding myself enjoying in spite of it not making any sense… is Lineage II Revolution.  During the podcast I talked a bit about this and apparently I completely missed the whole cookie clicker like games thing.  Games that play themselves are apparently a genre… and this one is weirdly enjoyable.  What I found odd though is once I hooked up ADB to play the game mirrored on PC from my phone… it had built in support for WASD so in theory…  this game was designed for a PC interface?  I am legitimately wondering about trying this through an emulator like Memu and mapping it in a fashion to allow for keyboard and mouse play.  At the moment you can do that… but it means you are clicking buttons on the screen instead of having things bound to mouse buttons/keys.  It is weirdly entertaining…  but it isn’t like I can actually suggest it as a “good” game.  It is pretty and some stuff is happening on screen but I am largely just letting it play itself since mobile controls are garbage.  Maybe that is the way these games are getting around that fact…  letting the game navigate for you and then just hit attacks periodically in a sort of on rails shooter type experience.

Kulve Farming

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This morning we return you to your regularly scheduled posts, instead of whatever yesterday’s post happened to be.  I started typing in Google Docs… and it just sort of kept going on and on.  Yesterday was of course election day, and a lot of my staging a post ahead of time was due to the fact that I was trying to get in and out of the polls in the morning quickly.  As far as gaming goes I am still very much all over the place.  Right now as it stands Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World tend to be the staples that I play at least some of every single night.  Over in Monster Hunter this largely involves getting into a Kulve Taroth group and trying to farm weapons and tickets for the layered armor set.  At this point I still have a ton of pieces left to collect but this is way more of a goal for me than collecting gear, given that I already have enough glimstones for a full set of crafted gear.  I am simply missing the various elder dragon gems needed to craft most of the pieces.  That however can be done after the event.

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As far as weapons go… I have been nowhere near as lucky as I was on the Playstation 4 version.  I have literal pages of blue weapons which are fine… and can provide a specific element if I need one.  However the above image shows off some of the weapons I thought were generally worth keeping around for the long haul.  Probably the weapon that interests me the most right now is the Taroth Blaze “Numb” because it has nonsense Affinity, plus a Defense bonus…  plus 450 Paralysis… and from the look of it it might have some white sharpness if I equip handicraft items.  The other item that I am probably going to wind up using is the Taroth Sword “Mire” just because there are occasionally fights where decent water elemental damage are useful.  I think the Sleep daggers might be useful to play with given how fast you can build up elements with that weapon type.  The Water damage Lance is decent, especially with the level three gem on it.  One positive is it does give me a Charge blade to play with… which is not a weapon type I have crafted any or messed with on the PC.

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Another game that I have been poking my head into is The Division, largely because I wanted to see what it looked like on the new graphics card.  However I noticed that I am really damned close to level 30 which I believe is the level cap.  I really want to see what the game becomes when I finally reach that plateau and somewhere along the line I picked up a handful of set pieces ready to be equipped at that level.  For now I am casually roaming around and killing stuff out in the world, and I find that relaxing and enjoyable.  Previously I was focused on TRYING to level… and getting frustrated that it was going so slowly.  Now I am just sort of running amok in the town and not paying attention to anything past that.  It seems to be working and I have been spending a few hours here and there on it.

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With the Diablo kerfuffle, I have also been exploring some other ARPGs just in case Diablo 4 really isn’t in the cards… or at least to have options to tide me over until it releases in a few years.  The most obvious game directly competing with the Diablo franchise is Path of Exile, but I have never really been able to get into it.  Coming back however it does feel considerably better, apart from the fact that you are given showers of loot…  most of it not useful… and nowhere near enough inventory space to ferry it back to town.  As such the loot itself feels a little frustrating, as does combat at time since it seems to vacillate back and forth between “nothing is attacking me” and “an entire screen of things is overwhelming me”.  Right now however the biggest problem with the game… happens to be its community.  In trying to settle in I started looking up the answers to a handful of questions and for the most part the community answer seems to be some derivation of “go back to diablo noob”.  That is not helpful, nor is it making people want to stick around for very long.  It has really interesting mechanics but a much slower pace, which can be both positive and negative.  The lack of a forward walk button without giving up an ability slot…   is also a little frustrating.

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The game that appears to be more my speed when it comes to methadone for Diablo 4…  is Torchlight II which admittedly is an aging game at this point.  However it is also serving to prepare me for Torchlight Frontiers which looks extremely interesting and fun.  Hey Perfect World folks… if any of you happen to be reading my blog…  hook me up with a key?  I love the setting of Torchlight, for example last night I was going through this awesome clockwork dungeon and since I play an engineer it felt really cool to be busting up mechs with a giant hammer.  This also has the shower you with loot, most of it useless problem… but at the very least you can keep sending your pet back to town to sell it.  This is another high point for this game is it allows me to run around with a Ferret friend.  Super glad I installed it and definitely enjoying poking around in it again… even though I am largely confused as to where I left off in the story the last time I was playing.

Packed Weekend

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I was off Friday and as a result did something that I had been putting off for far too long.  For quite some time now I have had a new case that I needed to shift my main gaming machine into… so that I had enough room to slot the 1080 ti graphics card I picked up for cheap.  The problem is it has been a sequence of two things…  firstly not wanting to have my machine down on the weekends when I spent most of my time using it and doing things like recording AggroChat.  Secondly I have been dealing with some nasty bouts of anxiety and the little voice in my head kept telling me that I would screw something up and be without a gaming machine while I tried to fix it.  As a result I have used the powers of avoidance to keep kicking that can down the road until finally last Friday I took care of it.  It took me about three hours to gut everything from my previous case and install everything fresh in the new case…  with time in between to clean the components before seating them again.

Admittedly I was watching Netflix so was probably greatly slowed down by that as well, but regardless by noon-ish I was up and running and wondering why the hell I waited so long.  As is tradition when I get new hardware… I launch what feels like every game I have just to see what it looks like on the highest resolutions.  I now have officially entered the realm of 4k gaming… and it is glorious.  Sadly these scaled screenshots won’t really do it any justice… but seeing it in motion is gorgeous.  The other interesting thing I found out this weekend is that my beloved Parsec client, takes a 4K signal from my machine upstairs…  scales it dynamically down to 1080p and delivers it to the laptop without losing a lot of the fine detail.  The end result looks like I am running 1080p super sampled to 4k and still providing a much nicer experience than just playing the games at 1080p all without noticeable issues.

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Another thing that happened this weekend is that I managed to get together with Tam and Kodra and play the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. aka… stress test.  At some point they sent all of us a few friend codes, and I shared one with a good friend and former coworker that was considering getting into the game.  That left me with two codes t hat I offered up to the AggroChat members.  Luckily the test times on Saturday happened at a time we could all be online and…  while I was enjoying the game solo, it really shines with friends.  Just the interaction between three vastly different play styles made it so we were constantly finding different interesting things to get engaged with.  I would find a chest and the other two would come over to see what was in it, or Kodra found a base that we could claim…  that then lead to an event where we had to build up the defenses and fight off a wave of scorched trying to take it from us.  The moment to moment gameplay and little doses of exploration was a glorious thing…  and also it ran great at 4k without issues.  I am really looking forward to being able to set up a private server for the AggroChat crew to roam around on.

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I also spent a decent amount of my time in Destiny 2, and managed to get my light level up to 575 which seems reasonable.  I’ve started getting 580 drops from Powerful/Prime Engrams, and I feel like soon the elevator to 600 will start to slow down a bit as has always been the case in Destiny.  I am mostly logging in and piddling around and trying to accomplish something that will net me an engram or two but have not really been playing very seriously this week.  It feels like there are just too many different things going on for me to really devote all of my resources towards any one of them.  I have the desire to play…  but the lack of focus to really push harder than I already am.

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I still say failure shots in Monster Hunter World are among the most interesting.  Right now the Kulve Taroth event is going on and I am trying to make sure I get in a few attempts each day so I can stock pile weapons.  So far I have gotten a few really interesting things, but I am less shocked each time I get something cool than I was during the running over on PS4.  At this point I have a few useful weapons for pretty much every slot, with the possible exception of Bow.  For whatever reason Bows are extremely scarce, and I remember that being the case on Playstation 4 as well… similarly I always seem to get Heavy Bowguns instead of Light Bowguns.  I do however have plenty of options to play around with, and I believe all of the items needed to make a full set of Kulve gear…  minus the various Elder Dragon gems which I will have to farm later.  My primary focus however is collecting the two sets of layered armor, which simply take repetition since the most tickets I have seen in a single run is 4.

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Another thing I messed about with this weekend was the demo of World of Warcraft Classic.  I started off playing a Tauren Warrior, which is legitimately the first character I ever created during the first stress test I got in back in 2004.  However…  Warriors about level 15 are miserable… and so is the Barrens… which were sort of this poorly thought out dumping ground of content.  Instead I opted to also recreate Lodin my Dwarf hunter and spend time roaming around Westfall.  I talk more at length about this on the podcast, but there are so many things that I remember…  but only after seeing them in person.  Like for example… I did not remember quest text scrolling as slow as it does.  That said I now remember seeing out an addon to speed up quest text scrolling, and that was legitimately the first addon I ever installed.  There are supposedly some tweaks you can make, but I am proud of blizzard in creating a way to legitimately play on a pseudo classic server with something resembling patch 1.12 on the client.  I also applaud them for giving it to the players as part of their normal World of Warcraft subscription.  I am likely going to play something up on a classic server, and I think it would be kinda cool to try some of the older content like Molten Core again.

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Diablo was effectively the game of the weekend… for reasons other than what I am about to talk about.  However I have been enjoying the hell out of playing Diablo 3 on the Switch, and wound up playing for quite a bit last night from bed.  I’ve not spent a lot of time with a console version of Diablo in spite of having Reaper of Souls on the PS4, in part because if I have access to a console… I can just play the PC version of the game I have devoted so many hours to.  However the switch is an interesting case because in theory I could drag it to work and play it over lunch, getting in some demon slaying on the go.  All in all I have enjoying the experience of playing it with the switch, and while blizzon was going on I was largely playing this in docked mode while watching the streams.

As far as the other Diablo news… for the moment I am just going to link to our podcast from this weekend…  because we spent the majority of the show talking about it.  I have thoughts still that I will ultimately put into blog post form…  in fact there were a few points during the weekend when I started drafting something in Google Docs, only to delete it all shortly after.  For the moment I am disappointed in both Blizzard and the Diablo Community, but am generally okay with a Mobile Diablo existing because Dragalia Lost has proved to me that it might be something I would be interested in.  It is going to take me a bit to work through my thoughts fully however because they are somewhat nuanced.  For now however… this is already a massive post so closing things out.

Fallout 76 B.E.T.A.

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Last night was the opening of the Fallout 76 PC Beta and by Beta I mean…  last minute stress test?  I mean there are a bunch of periods between the letters of B.E.T.A. but it might as well have been “Beta”…  but my frustrations over people misusing these terms can be a post for another day.  The primary reason why I can tell these are Stress Tests and not necessarily bug squashing beta tests is the fact that all of the players have been funneled into a tight play window.  So last night for example the test ran from 7 pm EDT to 11 pm EDT…  and technically I managed to fire up the game a little bit before that because it seems like they went live a wee bit early.  Thursday they are extending the window a bit given the issues that folks ran into last night allowing play from 2 pm EDT to 11 pm EDT…  which honestly isn’t super useful to me given that is 1 pm my time and I will be very much at work.  However I appreciate the effort and that seems like completely reasonable times for the EU players.

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I am not really sure what all I can actually say about this game that hasn’t already been revealed.  You need to set your expectations at “this is a Fallout 4 multiplayer mod without NPCs” and if you can sufficiently do that you will probably not be disappointed.  The character creator is effectively the same one we are used to with Fallout 4 and I managed to cobble together a reasonable facsimile of Belghast fairly quickly before venturing forth into the world.  There is a lot of weirdness going on with the game because at times… it feels like a much higher fidelity version of the Fallout 4 engine, then at other times the world feels like a nonsensical blurry mess even on “ultra” preset.  I have a feeling there is some sort of a dynamic scaling functionality going on that I am hoping is something we can eventually disable completely.  I would honestly rather have my frame rates dip below 60 occasionally than have the world freak out every so often.

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The biggest thing to keep in mind is you are playing with a lot of other players… and this can be a bit of a rude awakening given some design choices they made.  Namely when you first log into the game your microphone is completely open by default…  and so is literally everyone else’s.  At first I thought maybe I accidentally had a window open playing a video or something…  because upon arriving at the character creator I had some dude keep saying “PRESS X FOR SEX!” and I could not figure out if this was some sort of edgy tutorial or what.  Moments later I had a streamer ask the server to please not say anything racist because she was about to go live.  It was around this time that I went to the menus and figured out how to turn off voice chat completely.  Additionally I turned on the radio station…  both of which are things that greatly improve your experience.

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One of the things you have to realize about me and Fallout is just how much time I spent being a murder hobo roaming the countryside.  So in truth the lack of NPCs really wasn’t that big of a thing for me personally…  the game provides tons of feedback about what events happened before in an area in the form of found notes, journals, holo tapes that thankfully occasionally just start playing on their own without having to fiddle with the interface…  and in the scattered computer terminals.  Basically Fallout 76 is a game that wants you to read the story, and by doing so…  gives us lore hounds something to chew on without getting in the way of the folks who just want to run amok in large packs.  Occasionally you will encounter a robot that offers quests, but they largely serve as the only thing that would equate to the traditional fallout  dialog options.

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The game will put you through a sequence of tutorial steps that are designed to introduce you to how Fallout 4 worked…  but if you are like me you will have probably already done those things the moment you find your first crafting machine.  Sadly the game does not give you credit for already doing these things.  So for example the Second Helpings quest…  shows to Cook a Ribeye Steak and to optionally get a piece of Brahmin Meat.  At this point I had killed a half dozen Brahmin and had at least ten cooked steaks sitting in my inventory.  This is made more awkward in part because various folks will be doing various stages of the quest at the same time… and while it does not appear that you are actually competing with them for any resources…  Bethesda made the poor choice to make it so that if another player is using a machine that they lock you out of also using that machine.

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The long and short is… it was a fun game and I didn’t really have much in the way of actual interaction with other players.  There were to the best of my knowledge no gankers roaming around, in part because the deck is stacked heavily against them in the game.  That said I still probably will not get super serious about Fallout 76 until the custom server options are available and I can rent one for my friends to play on.  If I had the option to play this single player… I probably would… which I realize completely defeats the point of the game.  That said I do think it would be fun to run around with a group of friends and share resources in an environment where you can do things like dump stuff into a crate and not expect someone to come along behind you and take it all.

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Death seems to largely be meaningless apart from the fact that you drop some crafting resources when you die.  At first I thought you could simply go back to the place of your death and pick these up without issue…  however it seems like ANY player can pick up your sack of loot because I got a note saying someone looted mine while I was running back to the corpse.  It wasn’t a big deal because I didn’t really have any rare resources like circuit boards, but if I did… that would have been maddening.  I’ve not really tried the crafting system out in part because I didn’t want to try building anything in a region where so many random players were roaming around.  The positive is basically any town serves as a warp point, and all of them so far have had most of the crafting machines needed, so I didn’t necessarily find the need to build a base as of yet.  I enjoyed myself and look forward to playing it legitimately, but like I said… probably won’t play super heavily until I can get my own server or join the server of someone else that I trust.

Five Sixty

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I had a really great night, largely because over the last few days I have allowed myself to break free of the turtle a bit and communicate with other people.  Sunday this was me hanging out with Warenwolf doing some stuff in the Dreaming City.  During the first part of last night it was me hanging out on Discord with my good friend Grace while we were doing completely different things.  I am not exactly sure what she was up to but I spent my time running strikes and heroic story missions in Destiny 2 to knock out two more powerful engrams for the week.  I’ve talked briefly about this but it really is so much easier to get geared now than it was before.  There seem to be an endless supply of opportunities for Powerful/Prime engrams to drop.  I am not sure what the mechanics are behind it, but I have a buff that says it allows for the dropping of Prime Engrams, and to the best of my knowledge in spite of getting several of them…  I have never seen it disappear.  Apparently there was something I did called “Prime Attunement” that gave me the buff but for me… it largely just showed up without me realizing it.

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Later in the evening I got together with SquirrelPope who assisted with one of the quests that I had outstanding and taught me the ropes of the Ascendant Challenge much like Waren had with the Blind Well the night before.  Apparently the game took my desire to get a Tigerspite to heart because I now have three of them…  none of them sadly with the god roll.  I’ve managed to get my light level up to 560 which is still a good ways off from the cap of 600…  but nonetheless a lot of progress.  I am still very much in the phase of using whatever gear happens to be the highest light level, and that is probably going to be the case for awhile since I figure the grind will slow down significantly at this point.  I am not exactly sure when Prime and Powerful engrams stop giving the huge boost that they do now.  I will admit a lot of my slingshotting level was was the fact that I picked up Horror Story at 600 light.  At some point I will probably start working on my other classes and that slingshot will be similarly handy for them as well.

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One of the things that I have to talk about briefly is how great the collections tab is.  As you run through the world and get items to drop they flag as being collected.  If said item is a static roll, aka a pre-forsaken item you can always reacquire it from the collections tab at a reasonable light level.  Right now I am 560 light and everything in the collections tab is showing as 540 light for reference.  There are tabs like this for armor, exotics, ghost shells, sparrows, ships…  basically anything that takes up vault space that you may or may not need to keep forever.  At some point I need to have a great cleaning of the vault as I shard tons of items that I can get back from the collections tab.  Similarly I need to start trying to finish the sets, seeing as you can still get most of it from planetary vendors.  There are a few items that I got on the console that I never managed to get on PC, that I would really like to add to my collection.