Grim Community

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If you have been reading this blog over the last few days you will know that I have been delving into Grim Dawn.  At this point I believe I am 43 and after some advice that I received checked the Veteran box.  I am not entirely sure what this does apart from seemingly increase the rate of named mobs spawning, and as a result increase your chance for good loot in the process.  More or less it reminds me of the difference between Normal and Hard in Diablo 3, where you can pretty much instantly bump up to Hard and just go on with your life without much stress.  It appears the other difficulty ranks do not unlock until later…  I am assuming either associated with you hitting level cap or you finishing the main story.

I have officially been playing long enough that I have started trying to venture out and see what sort of community surrounds this game.  For a largely single player focused experience…  I was not expecting much.  The steam forums were not exactly a great resource, but then again they never.  However exploring further it appears that there is a fairly active scene supporting this game, so I thought I would spend some time this morning going into some of the resources I have found.  The at a glance takeaway seems to be that a lot of the same sort of folks that supported Diablo 2 and Diablo 3…  are supporting this game.

GrimCalc

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This is the very first Grim Dawn resource that I stumbled across, because several build guides were linking to specs designed using it.  Ultimately it is at its core a spec generation tool that allows you to fiddle with your talent points and devotions…  and then links to a bunch of other resources not necessarily hosted on the same site.  I thought it was pretty great and exactly the sort of thing I had been looking for.  Unfortunately when you dip down into the build compendium, instead of having something more programmatic and searchable it links you to a forum post with a bunch of popular builds.

Grim Checklist

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This was linked to off of GrimCalc and appears to be a site that maintains checklists that you can create for your various characters to make sure you have hit certain objectives.  At this point I don’t really know enough about the game to understand this, and as such I have not spent much time exploring it but I thought it was worth noting.

Grim Tools

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Then in my journeys I stumbled across Grim Tools which appears to be the WoWHead of Grim Dawn websites.  Effectively it does everything that the previously two links do… but adds a bunch more functionality as well.  It of course has a robust build calculator that you can see above that not only manages Talents and Devotions but also drills into possible item builds.  On top of that it has a database for all of the Items, Monsters and Pets…  their own version of the Checklist Functionality and a World Map.

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This later functionality was ultimately what drew me to the site.  I was searching to try and find a good map that shows all of the world and stumbled across this application instead.  Now given the limited area that I have cleared I had already thought that Grim Dawn was a really big game.  However based on this map it seems that I have not come close to seeing the full scope of it.  What is weird also is that as I go up through new areas… it appears like the areas themselves are getting much bigger in scale.  What I find really impressive about this game is that legitimately you can walk from one end to another and the zones actually connect and synchronize without having to do any hand waving teleportation magic.  This is something that Diablo 3 completely fails at with each act representing a disconnected island from the whole.

Grim Dawn Forums

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Another interesting throwback with this game is the fact that it has official forums…  and they really are a hub of information about the game.  So many modern games have all but completely abandoned this concept, pushing all of the moderation duty to fan managed Reddits and the like.  However Grim Dawn has what appears to be a very thriving forum culture where folks congregate to talk about the finer points of gameplay.  All in all it does not appear to be super flamey either.

Grim Dawn Reddit

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Normally I am super leery of anything that advertises specifically that it is “Not a Political Correct Reddit”.  This usually means that a given reddit has very specific political leanings of its own.  However with that caveat it does not appear to be a bad place to find information.  Overall the threads I’ve read up to this point have been largely positive, and quite frankly I have not really seen much that made me cringe.  That said I purposefully sorted it towards the bottom of the list because Reddit is not always going to be the most useful place in the world… and I have seen subs turn on a dime when something shifts in the game.  Still worth knowing about, and I suggest that you use the “Old” reddit for this one given that they have done nothing to update it for the modern interface.

 

Are you a Grim Dawn player, and is there a major resource that I completely missed in this list?  Let me know about it.  I purposefully excluded Graceful Dusk because it wasn’t nearly as good of an interface as GrimTools and didn’t appear to be as updated.  If you want to try custom versions of Grim Dawn, the game supports modding and this thread on the forums appears to be the best resource for grabbing those.  Finally there is a Discord server community if you are so included for that sort of thing.

 

Heir to the Throne

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This weekend was largely about three things.  Firstly watching the string of new releases coming out of Star Wars Celebration including a Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker trailer, a trailer for the game that EA has a high likelihood of cancelling before it sees the light of day, and some leaked footage of the strangely press blackout Mandolorian Television Series sizzle reel and trailer.   It was also a weekend about watching the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones…  and I had honestly forgotten how good that show was after watching so many recent seasons of Walking Dead when effectively nothing much happens.  Lastly it was a weekend devoted to playing heaps of Grim Dawn.  When I started this recent stint I was sitting at roughly level 15 but throughout the weekend I pushed through to level 38 on my Warder character.

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The only negative is that I found out this morning that running in Windows Borderless mode causes you to get some really fucked up screenshots.  The above image is an example of this where it appears to be capturing only the tiniest square of the upper left hand corner of the screen where I would assume the 0/0 coordinators are located.  This means that pretty much all of the cool screenshots that I thought I was getting over the weekend wound up to be duds, and I had to scramble around this morning to take a handful of relevant shots for the purpose of this blog post.

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The big problem with Grim Dawn is it never seems to give you a firm boundary between acts, so it is very hard to track exactly where you are in the progression of the main story.  As far as I can tell I am firmly in the middle of Act 3 and have managed to get my way to another large town called Homestead which appears to have everything that Devil’s Crossing has except maybe the Illusionist.  I am now questing for a group of Inquisitors called the Black Legion that is now sending me out into the wastes to kill stuff.  I like the look of Homestead a lot, but it is somewhat of a pain to navigate given its multiple levels and the fact that this game sometimes has trouble with ramps.  Ultimately you have to take any sort of a subtle ramp or rise very slowly or you just keep hopping right back of it.

The only real negative take away from the weekend is the fact that Multiplayer is not as easy as Diablo 3.  Even then there doesn’t really appear to be any multiplayer activity to do like Adventure mode and it would simply be either me joining someone elses game in progress or them joining mine.  The deal breaker however is the fact that both players theoretically have to own the same set of expansions in order for it to work.  I slowly picked up expansion content for this game as it was released and ultimately went on sale… and as such I have everything available.  So it would take someone paying the $24.99 for the base game, and then an additional $39.97 for all of the DLC content to catch up to the level my client is so we could play games together.

As a result this is largely going to be a single player game for me, but I still feel like this is the real heir to the Diablo 2 crown.  It is a happy medium between Diablo 3 and Path of Exile and feels just about right to actually go out and experience.  What is most interesting about it is how well the story line plays out and who it is way more intelligible than that of Diablo 3.  It actually has actions that make a difference on the world because in most of the quests you are given multiple paths to reach resolution.  I am currently paying for my actions because the town I am visiting is apparently missing one NPC because I chose to enact my vengeance during the events of Act 2.  Of all of the various NPCs I have chosen to take the combat route…. I am wondering which other ones will wind up making me miss something as a result.

Still a great game, still very much worth picking up.  However given that this is a single player experience you can probably bide your time and pick it up when it hits a sale point favorable to you.

Exploring Grim Dawn

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Last night was the very first night since February 15th that I have played no Anthem.  Up until this point I had attempted to get a little bit in every night even if that just meant doing a single contract.  Since the drop of Elysian Chests I had been trying to earn a key every night regardless if I actually ran the Stronghold to spend it on.  After yesterdays post I realized that my frustrations were reaching a level where I simply needed to let it drop for awhile for my own peace of mind.  For awhile I had contemplated playing some Destiny 2 given that it is theoretically in a pretty good state right now…  however my fear would be that I would spend the night comparing it to Anthem and still wind up frustrated.  I have been playing a lot of Diablo 3 on the switch, but again…  there is the whole comparison problem seeing as we all compare Anthem loot to that game.  Instead I decided to zig and zag off in a similar but different direction and spend some time with Grim Dawn.  The game was announced in 2009, went through a successful kickstarter campaign in 2012, entered early access in 2013 and finally officially “launched” in 2016.  Since then it has released three major content drops…  The Crucible which is a sort of horde mode arena thing and then Ashes of Malmouth and Forgotten Gods that add new story and additional functionalities.

In spite of liking the game quite a bit I have never really made it terribly far because I have never played it as a primary game for any length of time.  This has been my “go to” for moments when I feel like playing something LIKE Diablo but not Diablo.  The game does not do much hand holding or explaining of anything…  which is to its detriment given that some of the systems are less than clear.  Effective you are thrust into a Victorian era world where demon like creatures called Aetherials have taken back the world is a Shadowrun awakening sort of event called the Grim Dawn.  Magic the Aetherials and the Chthonians began flowing back in the world and as a survivor and formerly possessed you are trying to do your best to fight back for the sake of humanity.  It is somewhat or a madlibs style remixed version of a bunch of different tales, but the long and short is you are in a world with both magic and guns and playing a game that sits somewhere between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 as far as feel.  You fight zombies and demons and weird floating not-quite-beholder things for the purpose of getting loot and progressing your character.

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When first starting the game you are asked to choose one of six masteries:  Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist, Nightblade, Arcanist and Shaman.  At level 10 you get to pick a second mastery and effectively set what “class” you are going to be as a whole.  For example I chose Soldier and Shaman which is apparently a combination called the Warder and known for its tanky goodness.  I somehow arrived at this conclusion without ever actually doing research… it just seemed like the class combination that fit me the most.  There was a terribly unreadable diagram on the Grim Dawn site with a really unfortunate font…  so I decided to cobble together something more manageable real quick in Google Sheets.  The Ashes of Malmouth campaign adds two additional masteries in the Inquisitor and the Necromancer and the Forgotten Gods campaign adds Oathkeeper.  The names are rather evocative and honestly make me want to try playing a handful of those specific specs at some point or another.  I am almost always deeply drawn to anything called a Death Knight.

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Last night I managed to finally finish the first act of the game, in part because some of the quests are less than helpful in their directions.  It is a game largely without modern quest advisement, so you have to sort of wing your way through most of them.  There will never be an arrow pointing you in a direction other than maybe marking what general zone something takes place in.  I still have a ton of side quests to knock out in the Act One areas, so tonight I might spend some time trying to clean those up before moving forward.  Some of them I have PART of the things done…  like I have managed to gather up 2 pieces of fabric but I need 3 total to turn in with the person in Devil’s Crossing which serves as the main quest hub.  Occasionally Diablo style you might rescue someone out in the wastes that will turn into an NPC that either grants you quests or serves a functionality back in town.  I seem to be missing whatever NPC allows me to craft things because I have picked up some blueprints but have nowhere to use them as of yet.

Ultimately Grim Dawn does a really good job of being an Action RPG without being a Diablo clone.  It definitely has its own ideas about some things and while complicated…  serves to be way more approachable than Path of Exile.  I guess for the forseeable future I am going to spend my evenings in this game and see how far I can manage to get.  I greatly enjoyed last night and found the whole thing super relaxing.  I do however also want to play some Magic Arena with Tam and Mor over the weekend, so that might be what is actually on the docket for tonight.  The biggest challenge I have right now is the fact that I cannot be on voice chat while playing over parsec.  There are some cludgy workarounds that only work for Discord but getting Tam on Discord is a massive challenge.  Even at that it forces me to try and relay through a second account which is a mess that I have just not dealt with.  Essentially if I am downstairs on the laptop streaming through Parsec…  then I can’t be on voice.  Last night I started upstairs but Kenzie screamed at me until I went downstairs so she could in my lap while I gamed.  Cats are like that.