Upcoming Lapse

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I don’t really have much of a proper post to make today, but I did want to give my readers a heads up that it is highly unlikely that I make a post before next Tuesday.  Nothing bad is happening, it just won’t be reasonable for me to be posting much.  This makes it all the more inexcusable that I don’t really have much to say today.  I’ve been playing a lot of The Division and have managed to get back into the swing of things after the gear swaps I talked about last night.  Unfortunately I am having hell taking screenshots right now because both Fraps and the Nvidia Experience based fall back seem to not be picking up and taking the shots.  I am not exactly sure what is up but whatever the case I’ve been going into gaming sessions thinking I was taking a bunch of captures but not ending up with anything in the end.

The one new thing I have been playing around with is Survival mode, which was suggested to me by a lot of people.  The premise is you are trying to get to the dark zone in order to extract some cure that was found for the small pox based super bug that started the whole problem in the first place.  This in itself would probably be reasonable but there is a massive blizzard hitting New York and upon approach your Helicopter crashes…  puncturing your hazmat suit and leaving you stranded with only a pistol.  Essentially as you roam around you are fighting two problems…  the extreme cold and the fact that you have been infected and are trying to stave it off.  Either of those things can straight up kill you.

For the cold you wind up moving from building to building or fire barrel to fire barrel trying to stay warm while wandering out in a whiteout blizzard.  For the infection you can pick up medication periodically and use it to pause the timer that is ticking down.  On top of this… you lost your filter in the crash and need to gather up enough materials to craft a new one in order to move into the dark zone, get the cure and successfully extract.  If you choose to queue into a PVP session you are also up against other players who are trying to compete for the same resources and the same eventual cure.  To spice things up… you will also encounter the various factions from the game roaming the streets that will of course start firing on you the moment you come in range.

There are a number of things that you can do to improve your odds, because you drop in with a base set of green gear.  Drops occasionally upgrade your weapons or your armor, but everything is limited to this one survival session starting you back at square one.  The cosmetic clothing increases your survival against the cold letting you stay out longer before needing to run back and warm up somewhere.  The entire process is really interesting because it is basically this intense survival game in the middle of an MMO complete with hunger and thirst meters that you need to keep an eye on.  Basically the entire world is dead set against you and you need to keep moving, keep searching and keep looting to gather enough resources to be able to survive for a long periods of time as you attempt to cross New York, get into the Dark Zone and retrieve your cure.

From what I understand there are also a number of other gameplay modes that show up once you reach thirty… and as I am sitting at 28 I am feeling close enough to the finish line to try and push through this.  Super thanks to everyone who tipped me off to Survival since there were several of you.  I linked a guide video since I didn’t have much in the way of screenshots.

Significant Gear Swaps

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I thought I would talk a bit about my varied experiences with The Division of late.  I wrote the other day about some of the difficulties I had and frustrations that it was not easy to swap gear around to fix those problems.  That said I decided to start trying to incrementally improve my lot in life.  I sifted through my bag and my wallet and decided that I had enough components to be able to craft a single item…  which luckily rolled with stamina on it.  After that I found that the base vendor also had an item I could afford that added stamina to a slot I had none in.  The above image is the original state of my character before swapping anything around.  Notice how heavily I am apparently leaning into electronics…  more than likely because that is just what I was able to get through drops.

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This image is after that first swap of two items…  gloves and mask.  Firepower and Electronics obviously took a hit but my stamina went up significantly.  This was enough of a change to make the game feel completely different for me.  No longer was it feeling like a single shot was taking an entire pip of health off and I did not really notice that much of a difference in my ability to kill things.  This little act alone was enough to revitalize the game for me, which makes me question…  should stats make that much of a difference in the way the game feels?  It basically took something that felt horrible every single time I attempted to play it over the last year…  into something that feels pretty good.  Sure I still feel squishy if I get caught in the open but so long as I stick to cover I can hold my ground, which is absolutely not something I could do before without swapping out those two items.

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After a few more gear and mod drops this is where I am sitting today and the game feels pretty great.  I played some last night, but eventually sleep claimed me.  I did however managed to knock out a few lengthy side quests including one that had like five phases two it and involved taking down two yellow mobs.  Now I am not entirely certain the yellow mobs were connected to the particular quest…  but I took then down nonetheless in the progress of doing it.  I also seem to have completed some Division Shields mission that rewarded me three pieces of endgame gear that will sit there and wait for me to hit 30.  I am just shy of dinging 28 so I sorta can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I had a lot of fun playing last night and it just seems weird that two item swaps could make all that difference.

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I still have a significant number of quests to knock out in the world and there is at least two areas of the map that I have never even been to.  I seem to be getting back into the swing of things and enjoying my time.  It is funny how E3 works because it often has these side effects of making me interested in games that I dropped along the wayside somewhere.  The coverage of The Division 2 gave me the drive to give the original another shot.  Based on some twitter discussion that happened yesterday while I was completely swamped… it seems like there are a handful of other people still playing as well.  I still have yet to fully catch up from the threads that went nuts while I was sitting in meetings all day.  If you are playing Division however…  friend BelghastStern my UPlay handle.  I still don’t fully know what I am doing but I am dying a hell of a lot less.

Final E3 Rundown

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Yesterday was the Nintendo Direct E3 edition, and the truth is not enough came out of it to really do its own post.  I am sure if you are a huge fan of Smash Bros it was an amazing presentation because they went into copious detail on how exactly that game will work on the switch.  The only Smash Bros game that I have played is the WiiU version and it honestly felt weird…  like I was unable to see why everyone is such a huge fan after playing so many other better fighting game options.  I realize this is probably blasphemy but whatever… it’s my blog.  Some of this will be a recap for those who follow me on twitter…  but I figured I would put a pin in my E3 coverage with an ordering of the show I thought was the best downwards.

  1. Ubisoft
  2. Bethesda
  3. Microsoft
  4. Sony
  5. PC Gaming Show
  6. EA
  7. Nintendo Direct
  8. Square Enix
  9. Devolver Digital

Truthfully Ubisoft and Bethesda are really close, so close that I almost gave them a tie.  There were so many games that I was amped for coming out of the Bethesda show, but it also provided a whole lot of awkward moments.  Ubisoft on the other hand is just really good at doing a presentation and has mastered the flow of dialog to game trailer.  I think they are just technically better at these shows than most of the other companies.  As much of a Sony Playstation fanboy as I am… it pains me to admit that the Microsoft show was just better in every conceivable way.  Sony itself almost got marked down significantly for how bad this new show concept was that involved intermissions and shuffling the live audience between venues.  What gained it the fourth position however was the simple fact that everything they showed was awesome.

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The PC Gaming Show has always been a mixed bag that never really felt like a blended experience.  While the production value has increased massively each year it still lacks something in cohesiveness and flow.  Electronic Arts would have been dead last on the list were it not for Anthem and my desire to get more information about it.  The problem with this show is the majority of things covered are recursive sports titles that I have never cared about.  I still feel like they would be better served having two shows… one with a high sports flavor that they could maybe partner with ESPN on… and one with everything else.  Nintendo Direct was a massive disappointment because the things I wanted to see…  didn’t show up.  We had no news of Metroid Prime 4 and I was honestly expecting something along the lines of Pokemon Lets Go but for Animal Crossing with a Pocket Camp integration.

Square Enix didn’t really have what I would consider a proper show.  What they released was a YouTube video that they just happened to be streaming.  The only thing I was really interested in like I said yesterday was the FFXIV/Monster Hunter crossover.  They should have simply skipped having a “live” event and just released a big YouTube video instead since everything was prerecorded.  Admittedly so was everything we saw from Nintendo Direct but at least it had some dialog interspersed between the game trailers…  Square was one statement at the beginning and then fifteen minutes of trailers.  Devolver Digital on the other hand I don’t even consider a real show… given it is mostly a running joke at this point.  That said they did at least announce two games this year…  but the majority of the experience was something straight out of an episode of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.

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The E3 experience does weird things to me… like I fully expected to be having a resurgence of Elder Scrolls Online after the Bethesda show case.  Instead what I find myself doing over the last couple of nights is running around and attempting to get back into The Division.  I left that game in a really weird place in that I never actually managed to make it to the level cap.  Right now I am 27 and still struggling to get back used to the way it plays.  I feel insanely squishy, and in truth I think it is all because I failed miserably at gearing my character.  The problem there is I am too poor to do anything about that by picking up gear to fix this problem of any of the vendors.  That was a huge thing for me when I last played is that it felt like I simply was not getting the drops I needed, and never got enough cash to go the vendor route instead.  Similarly all of the crafting patterns that I have really don’t do much to dig me out of this whole either.

I missed the train with the Division.  Those players who got in early and power leveled their way through the content seemed to have a much easier time gearing up.  I remember that first patch and the nerfing of the drop rate of materials combined with an increase in the material costs of crafting really hit me hard.  I think more than anything that was the point where I was largely demotivated from moving forward.  I have been going with the solo build of med pack and turret and in some cases it works nicely…  in other cases it feels like I keep getting one shot by things that should be well under my level range.  I did one of the missions last night and it wound up taking me eight or nine attempts to get through the final phase which involved two yellow mobs that rushed in with a yellow sniper type mob.

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The whole cover mechanic thing is a foreign concept for me as I am way more used to the run and gun style of Destiny.  I am very much not used to finding the best option as far as cover goes… or often times ending up getting pinched from both sides as something spawns in behind me.  These are things that are likely mitigated with more players, but as a solo player it is pretty much death.  There lies another problem… I attempted to queue up for another mission and managed to find exactly one other player wanting to run it.  Things went mostly well until once again we got to the end encounter and kept getting overwhelmed by a wave of purples and two yellow bosses.  After eight attempts the other guy just left and I found myself frustrated for the evening and logging as well.  It always feels like most of the encounters have one or two mobs more than are really manageable, and in turn I just die an excess amount.

I loved everything about The Division for a really long time but I just sorta hit a wall around level 26 where everything seemed way tougher than I could handle.  I am sure it is a combination of the fact that the game does a poor job of messaging how you should actually be gearing for solo play.  It also does not do a great job of letting you dig yourself back out of that hole because drops seem really spartan.  If they offered the ability to boost to level 30 and give you a decent starter set of solo gear…  then I think life would be grand.  Right now the only way I succeed is to just never get hit, which isn’t always a viable option when there are eight things rushing towards you.  I figure with time I might get used to the game play again… but for the moment it feels miserable.

E3 Monday Roundup: Square Enix/Ubisoft/PC Gaming/Sony

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I am once again starting this post ahead of my normal morning routine because there is just too much stuff to cover for me to cram it all in without a little pre-work.  As a result some of my tenses might go haywire given that I am at least in theory writing parts of this at different times.  Hopefully you will bear with me, because it feels like the conferences are way more tightly stacked than they have been in past years.  On Monday June 11th we had Square Enix, Ubisoft, PC Gaming Show and the Sony presser and I am attempting to cover at least all of the things that interested me from each.

Square Enix – 1 pm EST

This one was a bit of a let down and did not follow the standard E3 press junket format, but instead reminded me an awful lot of a Nintendo Direct.  Instead of a bunch of commentary connecting the clips we just got a rapid fire succession of trailers back to back.  The truth is… there just wasn’t a lot here that really interested me.  I feel like a horrible human being but I am one of what seems like a handful of people not terribly excited for Kingdom Hearts 3.  I only played a little bit of the first game because it came out in a weird time for me and I never caught up on any of the others.  I keep telling myself I will play them but never actually get around to it.

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Monster Hunter Final Fantasy XIV Crossover

This is legitimately the thing that excited me the most from this press conference, the announcement of a crossover between Monster Hunter World and Final Fantasy XIV.  This one appears to be inside of XIV but that is still awesome.  My hope is we can end up earning a Palico mini pet or some of the iconic weapon skins for glamour options sorta like the Lighting Returns crossover event.  I am still holding out hope however that we will see the other side of this equation at some point and FFXIV stuff showing up in Monster Hunter World.

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Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Another game I am very interested in is Dragon Quest XI since I have not played a Dragon Quest title since Dragon Warrior IV on the Nintendo.  I am completely out of touch with this series and at some point I would really like to try some of the games out.  I absolutely loved Dragon Quest Builders… and I realize that game barely relates to the modern core of the franchise but it was still enough to raise my interest level enough to try this one out when it releases.  It looks pretty freaking cool which is enough of a reason for me to play almost anything.

Ubisoft – 4 pm EST

While they don’t always have what I would consider to be the best possible line up of games, Ubisoft always seems to have the most watchable show.  What I mean by that is many of the offerings have relatively low production value and Ubisoft seems to take a very holistic approach to the show carefully placing games in such a way that you are never very far off from something you are going to find awesome.  This time around though there was a lot to see and I am pretty pleased with the overall product line up.

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

I can honestly say I have never before been excited about an Assassin’s Creed game.  I am not exactly what you would call the core demographic of most sneak around and don’t be seen sort of games.  However Assassin’s Creed Origins pushed the game into more of an Action RPG genre.. and I have really enjoyed it.  From all signs this appears to be Origins wearing a Greek skin… and I am perfectly okay with that.  This time around you get to choose between a male and female protagonist…  which is a permanent decision point that has been long overdue in this series.  It was a blast running around in Ancient Egypt and I am certain it will be similarly awesome running around in Ancient Greece.  Definitely looking forward to this one in ways that I never thought I would prior to Origins.

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The Division 2

Please lord help me temper my hype because this game continues to look extremely good.  It is making me want to give the original game another shot as I attempt to finally push my way to thirty.  As I said in this mornings post… the game seems to have what the first one was missing…  a sense of hope.  Things are going on in the world that lead me to believe we are actually the heroes instead of potentially making everything worse with our presence like the first game.  It grated on my nerves that everyone seemed to be deathly afraid of me as a player character, and that there wasn’t much that I could actually do to help folks I stumbled onto in the world out in a significant way.  Sure there were those random encounters that would take a piece of food and give you something frivolous like a beanie, but the only people I seemed to help out in any significant way were the JTF agents.  I wanted to help the suffering citizens out and what I am seeing hear leads me to believe that is actually a gameplay style.

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Beyond Good and Evil 2

I still don’t really have a clue what sort of game this actually is.  It seems like some sort of an action RPG, set in a really interesting world… and I am okay with this.  I never played Beyond Good and Evil because I missed the boat when it was actually cutting edge and struggle to bring myself to go back and play those older 3D titles.  The folks who did play it tell me it was an amazing experience.  I am mostly just enthralled by the world building that is going on here because it seems like an insanely intricate setting.  That is the sort of thing I go in for more than a narrative story…  giving me a world that just begs to be explored.  Glad to see this continues to be less and less vaporware as time goes on.

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Starlink: Battle for Atlas

I really hate that this game exists and that I want it.  I got caught up in the thrall of the whole digital toys thing with both the Amiibo and the Disney Infinity generation 2 and 3 (Marvel and Star Wars) and have way more of these figures than I should admit for the sake of sanity.  Starlink appears to be the same sort of thing, but this time you are piloting modular starships that change your vehicle in game based on the pieces you have assembled in the real world.  The real hook for me however is the inclusion of Star Fox…  which just seems cruel.  I am not even the biggest fan of space ship shooters but this looks extremely excellent.

PC Gaming Show – 6 pm EST

This show is always an awkward beast, though I have to admit each year it has become closer and closer to a real production.  This year they cranked up the quality significantly but in my head I still remember the cheaply thrown together high school theater experience sort of feeling.  They showed off some thirty games but it always feels a little jarring because the quality and style of the games always varies so much.  I am not really going to talk about most of these but there were a few that did stand out for me.

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Sable

This game is some sort of hyper stylized open world exploration and adventure game.  The setting reminds me so much of a Jean Giraud/Moebius comic from the 80s.  The main character even feels like it could have been one of his designs.  More than anything I think it is visually interesting and might be something I pick up at some point just because I like the look of it.

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Overkill’s The Walking Dead

I know a lot of people are simply done with the zombie genre but I am not…  in fact I continue to enjoy the hell out of the Walking Dead franchise and have been looking forward to this game for awhile.  I am not really a fan of mobile games, so the majority of the Walking Dead branded titles are really not for me.  Similarly I have for whatever reason not really been able to get into the Telltale style of adventure game so that one fizzled for me as well.  This however looks like a game right in my wheelhouse set in the Walking Dead universe.  I am down with it on so many levels.

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Ooblets

I am so ready for this game to come out already.  This was hands down my game of the PC Gaming show last year… and it continues to look amazing.  It is a quirky mash up of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon and Pokemon where you grow pets and then “battle” them.  However as of today we have learned that those battles are awesome dance fights…  I am so down with this and it is so fitting to the setting.  Please release this game already because I want to run around doing nonsense things with tiny pets.

Sony – 9 pm EST

This was a really odd show as far as E3 showcases go.  It started with a word from Shawn Layden…  that essentially stated that we should not expect to see anything new.  This was followed by a very lengthy banjo performance in this huge custom built set piece that looked like a church in a tent.  Immediately following the banjo time we were treated with a new trailer for Last of Us Part II… where we find out the church tent stage design came from the game.  Immediately following this however…  there was a lengthy intermission as they asked every single person in attendance to move to another theater…  at which point some generic commentators showed up and started commenting on their own show.  Finally once we moved venues almost 20 minutes later…  we were presented with a bamboo flute solo of some sort.  Then finally after that… the show became a little more traditional…  but it was a really weird ride to go through.  The positive however is that almost all of the titles shown looked excellent and as has been the case in so many other years…  most everything they talked about landed firmly in my wheelhouse of things I was interested in.

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Last of Us Part II

I thought about what screenshot to include for reference to this game but since this is literally the moment everyone is talking about…  I figured I sorta had to include it.  My timeline erupted with praise of this portrayal last night which tells me I have done a pretty damned good job of curating it over the last several years.  Supposedly however in other pockets of the universe it somehow was shocking that the lesbian character from the first game was in fact still a lesbian character and erupted into a chorus of faux controversy.  I am thankful my little corner of the twitterverse is generally a sane and rational one, because instead I personally focused on how damned amazing this game looks.  I still have yet to play the first one and I need to make sure that happens before the release of this game.  I am hoping my nonsense parsec solution to play console games remotely is going to help me clean out my backlog of PS4 games.

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The biggest thing from the trailer is it revels in reminding us just how damned brutal a world Last of Us really is.  There are two start juxtapositions between the quiet times of the revival tent and the stark brutality of hunting down the people that I think were cultists in the first reveal trailer.  There are two fades that happen with the last one being the most biting given that we go from Ellie chopping off someones head…  directly into this kiss sequence.  It was a strong way to lead the showcase, but a weirdly dramatic set up that largely fell flat followed by a twenty minute intermission that felt needless.  Great game… weird presentation for it.

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Control

Another game that seemed to cause my timeline to erupt into excitement was Control, which appears to be a game where a lady uses a rubiks cube for a gun and travels through a M.C. Escher drawing.  This is apparently the spiritual successor to Alan Wake and Quantam Break…  games I have never played but always thought looked interesting.   If I am remembering correctly this is also the team behind the first two Max Payne games which were essentially rag-doll physics sandboxes as far as I was concerned.  They seem to like really playing with the narrative space within games and sending us to weird places…  and this trailer is definitely one of those weird places.  However some of the combat sequences specifically do look really awesome, so I will have to watch this one as it gets closer to release.

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Marvel’s Spider-Man

It is really difficult to take a coherent screen capture of a high action video like this, which I guess should tell you what the game play is going to be like.  Spider-man was essentially in constant motion and one of my friends referred to this as the Arkham Spider-man…  referencing the Arkham Knight series of games.  I personally don’t think this is a bad thing because they were high action and high enjoy-ability as you went on a wild ride with that character and were presented a ton of signature villains.  We seem to have a plot line that centers around a version of the Sinister Six as they are breaking out of the Raft and you as Spider-man are trying to prevent this from happening.  The Playstation 2 game was amazing and just insanely fun to swing around town… and this looks similarly crazy and enjoyable.  I am not exactly the biggest Spider-man fan in the world but this is going to be a fun game, and it looks gorgeous.

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Death Stranding

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The only way I can really explain this game is to show you what I was tweeting while watching the trailer.  This is the third or forth trailer I have seen for it and I still have no more idea what the hell is actually going on.  You have to understand… I never played the Metal Gear Solid games because the whole sneaking around bit pissed me off and was exactly the opposite sort of experience I wanted to have in a game.  I don’t generally like stealth games, and especially not ones where you have to repeat entire sequences if you get seen.  So I am not as indoctrinated into Kojima nonsense as I think most of my friends are.  If I was basing anything on this trailer I would assume Norman Reedus is some sort of a post apocalyptic UPS delivery guy that occasionally has to deliver creepy babies.  I don’t think anyone knows what is going on, but I continue to be intrigued by it.

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The Death of Cayde-6

While not part of the Sony show… Bungie did release a tweet with a video attached giving us some more background story surrounding the Forsaken story.  Now for some time there has been a back plot in Destiny 2 that has existed only for the lore hounds revolving around the fact that the forsaken we are fighting don’t appear to be any one house… but instead a mixture of houses all unified under one banner.  If you dig hard enough you uncover evidence that it appears that Uldren Sov… The Master of Crows and brother to Mara Sov has survived the battle that occurs at the beginning of  The Taken King cinematic and is gathering up the remnants of the forsaken and uniting them for his purposes.  In the trailer from last night we see a very beaten up Cayde-6 that is then summarily executed by Uldren with Cayde’s own Ace of Spades Hand Cannon.  It is my sincere hope that Cayde is not actually dead…  but would serve as a decent revenge plot as we hunt down Uldren and make him pay.

E3 Weekend Roundup: EA/Microsoft/Bethesda

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It is that time again…  like Pete Smith said it is very much like rushing home to find the Sears Christmas Book sitting on your door step filled with toys you have never heard of and begin daydreaming about.  This is really the time of the year I look forward to the most when it comes to gaming information.  It is also the time of the year when I try and lock my excitement away in a box and guard myself against the fact that a lot of the promises that are being made won’t actually see the light of day.  Everyone holds a game in their memory that didn’t quite live up to that original announcement trailer.  That said it is still an insanely fun time to be a gamer and blogger…  and as is my tradition I sit down and write about the shows as I watch them.

Electronic Arts – Saturday June 9th

First up this E3 Season is the Electronics Arts conference which thankfully happened while I was gone at a family reunion.  I say thankfully because of all of the shows during the season this is traditionally the one I need to parse the most because over half of the show is content that is very much “not for me”.  If I was not being so lazy I would add up the total minutes of the show that are in that not for me category, but the truth is…  if you are like me and don’t really enjoy sports you could probably skip the above conference link and watch individual trailers.

I was not really expecting much from Electronic Arts and somehow they managed to still disappoint me.  I had heard they would be announcing a new single player story driven Star Wars game… and they did…  sorta.  They announced the title Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order… and that the game would take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope but not much more than that.  Unravel 2 was announced… and available for purchase immediately after the presentation which was kinda cool…  but seeing as I have yet to play the first one it is more knowledge to file away for a future date when I have played the original.  We also got a new Command and Conquer game…  on phones…  not sure what else to say here.

Not shocking there was more talk of Battlefield V…  and they announced their new “innovative” Battle Royale mode.  The truth is I am at least slantwise interested in Battlefield V because I recently started playing the campaign in Battlefield One and found it to be rather enjoyable.  It seems like they are swerving even harder into the story… which is sorta hillarious given that traditionally Call of Duty was the game you played for story and Battlefield was the multiplayer only experience (no bot mode does not count).  This year it seems like the roles are completely reversed given that Call of Duty is not wasting time or money on a story and as a result completely ruling me out from caring about it.

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Sea of Solitude

The first of the titles to really interest me is a little “indie” game called Sea of Solitude.  This is another in a line of Indie games that get published by the big box stores of gaming to give them some measure of street cred.  The world appears to be set after some sort of apocalyptic flood that has drowned the world and you play a little girl who has a problem.  In this world when people get lonely they start turning into monsters, and your character is beginning to go through the transformation.  So you have to sort out why the loneliness has taken hold of her all the while avoiding other more predatory former human beings.  It is cool looking and funky and might be worth adding to the list of things to play when I have time to do so…  which is a disturbingly long list.

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Anthem

Next up is Anthem and god I am trying so hard to keep my hype in check.  This game looks really awesome and so far what we have seen of the setting and the mech like Javelin suits is just so damned cool.  The problem is once again I am doubting the visuals and the “gameplay” that we are seeing…  that is until a YouTuber that I generally trust released a video this morning from an influencer exclusive play test of the game.  The gameplay footage syncs up with what we are seeing in the trailers and now my hype struggling against its restraints.  There are so many ways this game can go wrong, and having played both Division and Destiny 1/2 at length I am still going to try and maintain a fairly neutral stance until release.

That said it seems pretty positive and I am digging the weird unique IP that feels like a sort of blending of the Monster Hunter ethos, Warframe and Destiny with a little bit of Mass Effect Andromeda mixed in.  That last bit is not a negative to me because I happened to really like the last Mass Effect game we will probably ever get.  Supposedly this game has been in development for a very very long time under the code name Dylan.  One of the developers mentioned that the game was in development before the announcement and launch of Destiny and that much of the gameplay loop predates that genre coming into its own.  I will be watching this one closely while we wait for February 22nd of 2019.

Microsoft – Sunday June 10th

I will just come out and say it… Microsoft who is a company I am often disappointed with…  really knocked it out of the park with this conference.  Now if you believe the YouTubers that were hired as part of the official E3 coverage…  it was a disappointing show.  However at least three of those people on the panel are known for releasing rant videos so probably take that with a giant semi truck full of salt.  Their show had a reported 50 games in it… and hit on many big name franchises like Halo, Gears of War, Crackdown, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, and Fallout.  Admittedly there is a lot that was shown that I am mildly interested in but not enough to really talk about it here.  If you are interested I highly suggest you watch the show because it was an overall good experience…  even though it clocks in at roughly two hours.

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Halo Infinite

Halo is that series that I really wish I had gotten in on back in the day…  because now I am just not indoctrinated enough into the franchise to stick through a bunch of mechanics that I don’t enjoy.  We don’t know anything really about this title other than the fact that it is in fact a Halo game and appears to have Master Chief and Cortana in it.  The infinite branding makes me wonder if this is maybe their attempt at an always on persistent world environment for Halo along the lines of Destiny.  If this is the case I might be interested…  but most of the Halo fans I know are in it for the single player story and occasionally multiplayer matches with friends.  My core problem with Halo is the fact that they give you an amazing feeling weapon… that immediately runs out of ammunition…  which forces you to use absolute trash weapons from that point on to survive.  If they come up with a Halo that doesn’t have this problem… sign me the hell up.

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

We jokingly referred to Nioh by Team Ninja as “Samurai Souls” then today From Software announces a game that deserves that title more.  Based on some of the gameplay footage we can maybe split the difference and refer to this as “Ninja Souls” due to the fact that your character has a trick arm of sorts that seems to be able to hookshot onto objects.  It looks interesting but I am not entirely on board with the Dark Souls genre, though that said I have been playing through the Remastered a bit and enjoying myself.  I loved Onimusha and if this game can scratch the itch left by my desire for another game in that series I would be willing to try it.  Otherwise I might end up just giving Nioh a shot given how much Tam seemed to enjoy it.

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Metro Exodus

This game looks so unbelievably good.  I really enjoyed both Metro games that already exist and the remastered versions were a massive step forward in both graphics and gameplay.  The entirety of the demo footage shown today apparently comes from a single mission in the game where you are seemingly taking on a cultist of sorts.  The biggest problem with Metro in the past is that it aligned with some pretty janky non-standard mechanics that came up through the Stalker series of games.  I get why it does what it does especially given its lineage, but I am hoping with Exodus they are adopting the norms for an RPG shooter or at the very least giving us the ability to rebind all of the keys to our liking.  This is going on the must play list because it looks great and anything that shines more light on this setting is a plus in my book.  Speaking of books… I keep telling myself that at some point I will read the translation of the Metro books.

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Division 2

The Division is one of those titles that promised an awful lot with that very first E3 trailer… and never quite delivered on all of it.  The Division 2 is similarly promising an awful lot and presents something that looks completely awesome.  However they still seem to be dead set on scripting artificial multiplayer dialog that provides for a really awkward experience.  I don’t sound like that with my friends…  because in truth we are usually talking about something other than the game until someone yells “oh fuck” when something goes completely wrong.  The problem is this scripted interaction just brings back my feelings about the first Division and its E3 reveal trailer…  and how much it missed the mark.  I signed up for the beta so here is hoping this time around they really deliver on things.

What I can say that I like going into this one is that it appears that we are actually helping the people this time.  One of the back and forth discussions that kept coming up on AggroChat is how awful the world of Division feels and how it seems like we are actively harming the citizens that just keep getting caught in the crossfire.  This time around they are seemingly running missions to help out people who are stuck out there trying to make a difference.  You go into an area where there are kids playing and signs of folks trying to make a better life for themselves.  This is a setting I can get behind… one that gives me reasons to go out into the wilds on murder sprees… and makes me feel like I am actually helping rather then maybe being a bad guy myself.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Another not so subtle reminder that I need to get back on the bandwagon and finish the first game.  Look I may or may not be bad about starting things and never getting around to finishing them.  There is a similar stack of partially read books on my end table…  so it is a me thing.  As always this looks like an excellent entry in the series and I really would like to catch up and be able to experience the whole thing as it releases.  There is however a long list of games waiting for me to give them attention… and with other things that have been announced during the Bethesda show…  they may be waiting awhile longer.  The game looks great and very much in the feeling of the other modern Tomb Raider games.

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Devil May Cry 5

This is a title that initially surprised me… but in truth really should not have.  Over in Monster Hunter there was a recent cross over event where you could earn a charge blade and outfit themed after the primary character in this series…  Dante.  That should have tipped me off to the fact that there was a new game on the horizon.  The truth is I have not played these games past the few that were on the Playstation 2 and at some point I really should catch up because it looks like a fun series.  Everyone on twitter was talking about the cringe worthy dialog, but in truth I found that just fine for the sort of game that this is.  It was at the very least interesting enough to make me write about it, which considering how many things I won’t be today is a positive.

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Session

I know nothing about this game other than the fact it has skateboards…  and pending that this is not some sort of bait and switch and the game is really about some crime drama…  I will probably be down to play it.  I loved the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series and it is a crime that we don’t have a proper modern game worthy of that lineage.  Sure they released a game not long ago but it had a lot of issues…  what I want is a spiritual successor to come along and pick up the reins delivering a great street skating experience.  Ultimately that is all I have ever really wanted is for someone to give me an open world skateboarding sandbox where you could roam around freely and create mini objectives as you played.  I need to track down a copy of one of the Skate series games because it always felt like the Transworld Skateboarding to THPS’s Thrasher magazine vibe.  I would love to see this game land squarely in the middle…  but again I know nothing about it yet other than the fact there are skaters in it.  Please don’t disappoint me…. the ambiguous title concerns me a little.

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Tunic

Cute chromatic aberration fox zelda…  which is completely enough for me to go on and want to play it.  We need more interesting takes on the zelda-like genre and from what I can tell this seems to be one with pretty good fidelity.  Again I don’t know much more than we are given in the trailer but I will be spending some time looking this title up because I have a feeling… it is probably going to be showing up on steam at some point soon given it very obviously is Indie.

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Dying Light 2

I really enjoyed the original game… when I did not think I would given I am not a big fan of parkour nonsense in games.  That said it presented a really interesting take on the zombie apocalypse with a very vibrant world full of survivors…  and a ton of options to make as to who you would align with.  Dying Light 2 seems to double down on that decision making game play in presenting a world that seems to be shaped from the very first moments by the choices you make.  This will end up creating a really rich narrative with a shocking amount of replay, but also gives you the feeling that while you are killing zombies…  you are actually fighting for something you care about.  This is yet another game that I started but never quite returned to… in part because of the laptop thing…  but now that I have a working option I need to add this to the list of games I want to revisit especially given I made it rather far.

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Cyberpunk 2077

This is the game we have all bee waiting for…  a Cyberpunk game with the loving fidelity of The Witcher 3.  While this is mostly just an establishing trailer showing us off various locations and the style and feel of the game…  it does not stop me from wanting to wallow the fuck in its grandeur.  Everything about this trailer is good and I just want more of it.  I am so ready for this to be a thing and for us to be roaming around in this world hacking bots, getting augments and driving crazy vehicles.  I am not really sure what else there is to say at this point but I feel like this was a major coup for Microsoft to get the first reveal of any sort of this game.  Now if Sony turns around and gets gameplay… I will reverse this decision but in the grand scheme of things…  awesome.

Bethesda – Sunday June 10th

This is the show I think most of us were waiting on… and I did not walk away disappointed.  In fact once again I think Bethesda threw down the gauntlet and probably won E3 as far as new and interesting game releases.  They opened with a surprise Andrew WK performance of a song that appears to be in Rage 2.  It was weird watching the internet react to this because I was like “Hell yeah!” and so many were frustrated and annoyed and just wanted to move on with the announcements.  This show as shockingly self aware, often making fun of the sort of things the internet says about Bethesda as a company.  Probably the best of these moments was the Skyrim Very Special Edition commercial…  for a hopefully made up Alexa version of the game demonstrated by Keegan-Michael Key.  There were some moments of the show that were just awkward… which prompted me to comment…

There is an awful lot to unpack here so lets get started….

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Rage 2

I am finding out that apparently I was one of the few people out there that deeply loved the original Rage title.  I’ve heard so many people comment about how generic it looks…  but it was fucking Mad Max before the Mad Max game existed.  This was everything that I wanted in a road-warrior-esc-post-apocalyptic game…  how is that for some hyphen abuse!  The truth is I enjoyed every minute of the game…  but it just never really lived up to its potential given how painfully short it was.  When I got to the end of the game I thought that maybe a bigger campaign would open up and there would be a whole bunch more areas to explore…  instead I just got a credits roll.  Now at this point I have played through the game several times and I am excited to get to step back into that world with the sequel.  Ultimately I am hoping this will live up to the potential that the first one left laying on the ground.

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Fallout 76

The other game we knew about going into the show is of course Fallout 76 and unfortunately post show last night… I have more questions than I actually have answers.  It is in fact set in West Virginia and based on some of the scenes may also include the Capitol Wasteland as well.  It is a game supposedly four times the size of fallout 4, which is staggering…   which at face value seems amazing and makes me want to start throwing dollar bills at the screen.  There are some concerns I have because this game is going to be entirely online, and while they talked a bit about both PVE and PVP elements there were not a lot of details determining if you could in fact play with your friends in a purely PVE environment.  Thankfully they at least mentioned that the entire game was playable in a single player mode, which is enough to keep me going for the moment.

If I could create a session that included a bunch of my carebear minded friends and allowed us all to freely roam around and conquer the wasteland together…  then that would be absolutely amazing and the sort of thing I have always wanted in the back of my head.  However if all of my effort can be fucked up by a random asshole who just likes breaking shit…  then I am going to be severely cross with this game.  I feel like there are a lot of players in my timeline that feel pretty much the same so it will be interesting in the coming months who this shapes up especially given that it has a November release date.  I will be signing up for the beta in hopes of getting in and seeing how the game works in person.  I am excited…  and sorta felt like running around the house flailing my arms last night… but trying to temper that excitement with the possibility that this will in fact be a Rust/ARK/Survival-Murder-Sandbox clone and not really a game for me.

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Wolfenstein: Youngblood

In the games I was absolutely not expecting at all category… we have a new Wolfenstein game this time centered around the grown up versions of B.J. Blaskowicz’s daughters.  This time the game is set in 1980s Paris with what appears to be a very 80s vibe to it.  There is not a lot of detail to go on from the trailer other than the fact that you get to destroy more Nazis and this time around do it with one of two female characters.  The entire game supposedly supports co-op play letting each player take control of one of the main characters or you can play single player and I am sure have slightly different branching options similar to the other games in this series.  I am so down for this and extremely excited to see that Machine Games can apparently turn one of these games out every single year.

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Doom Eternal

The last doom game was extremely good and felt like a modern successor to that franchise in every single way.  Now it appears that we are getting the version of Doom 2: Hell on Earth for this modern re-imagining of the series.  This time they are calling it Doom Eternal, but whatever… I see signs that we are on Earth and that is all I need to know.  I loved the Doom series and the truth is… I played through Doom 2 in full long before I ever did the original games.  For a very long time I played the original free episode of Doom over and over and over because I lacked the credit card to order all of the add on episodic content and they did not release that in a physical form until after Doom 2 was already a thing.  I will always welcome more games in this series pending they apply the same level of interesting detail and fidelity that they did the last one.

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Starfield

One of the surprise announcements at the end of the show is something we had heard rumors about for some time… that Bethesda had been working on an entirely new IP.  We got essentially a title card… with a bit of animation showing a planet and some sort of a satellite looking space ship warping away.  I am so down with Bethesda doing a space exploration game and I am very much read for someone to pick up the reigns left by Bioware when they seemingly abandoned the Mass Effect series.  I am hoping by the time E3 2019 rolls around that we have more details and a release date, because after seeing Prey I am ready for a proper space game from Bethesda.  This game will be the source of rabid speculation for the next year…  and this would have been more than enough of a mic drop at the end of the show.  However there was more.

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Elder Scrolls VI

I think more than anything this is to silence the “there is never going to be another main Elder Scrolls game” crowd that has been claiming that since the launch of Elder Scrolls Online.  We know nothing… except that once again the theme has somehow managed to get more grand and bombastic.  We have a flying aerial shot of Tamriel that I am sure folks will pick apart and try and determine the setting…  and then a simple embossed gold title card in the Elder Scrolls font.  Short simple and enough to drive people insane for the next year.  I fully expect this one though is two years away considering at this point last year Todd Howard claimed that they were not working on it yet.  Skyrim took 4 years to develop so I think 3 years is the absolute minimum that they would need for this.  That said at this point they do have an army of other games studios that they could probably employ to work on parts of the game.  Bethesda seems to be speeding up the time it takes for them to deliver games so it will be interesting to see when this actually releases.  I fully expect Starfield with be the 2019 game and this the 2020 game but I could be completely wrong.

 

Double Legendaries

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I don’t have a whole hell of a lot this morning to talk about but I wanted to continue the pattern of the morning post.  This weekend I have a family reunion and a funeral to deal with… all the while shortly after finishing this post I will be driving my wife to the airport to start her week and some change of AP Statistics test grading.  The period of time when she is gone is always a hard one for me, but I am contemplating trying to stream a lot more in an effort to maybe not feel quite so alone.  Effectively one of two things will happen… either I force myself to get engaged with other human beings or I will end up falling deep into a turtle mode period that will take a significant amount of time to surface from.

Work thankfully seems to be stabilizing a bit and I have been able to hire both of my supervisors which is a step in the right direction.  I played a significant amount of Destiny 2 last night but unfortunately because of the nonsense that goes on with that game I couldn’t take any screenshots without disturbing the process of streaming it through Parsec.  It seems as though Parsec really does not like the Nvidia overlay turned on with the target machine… and that is the only way I have been able to reliably take a screenshot from Destiny 2.  Instead you are getting some images this morning from Hearthstone where I purchased the currently deal for several packs from all of the standard legal sets… and as you can see managed to somehow pull two legendaries in the same pack.

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I also spent a good chunk of the evening a few nights ago playing my way through the Witchwood Monster Hunt solo adventure.  I played as Shaw the Houndmaster and did fairly well right up until the fight encounter…  when things went south really fast.  All in all it was a really fun mode and I had personally not done much of the solo adventure content in Hearthstone.  I think that is something I will ultimately need to remedy over the coming weeks.  I like Hearthstone quite a bit but I never end up playing it for whatever reason.  Similarly I am not playing that much MTG Arena, but with the addition of Kaladesh and Aether Revolt I might take part in the draft this weekend in an attempt to get some useful cards for fueling my Golgari obsession.

Ultimately it is going to be a rough weekend for me and probably a rough couple of weeks, so if I seem a little out of sorts that is why.  I am going to try and force myself out of the rut that I can foresee is on the horizon, so if you see me streaming pop by and say hi.

Family vs Heredity

Yesterday was extremely stressful at work and when I got home nothing seemed to go right either.  I sat there battling a horrible headache trying to sort out why for some reason parsec was not streaming at all.  I had to jump through a bunch of hoops involving restarting the clients on either end of the connection before finally returning full service.  On the positive I now know the best way to restore functionality of Parsec has just gone south on a box…  but on the negative it took practically all night to reach that point. To make matters worse… the evening culminated with a bit of a fight with my mother that I am at least in part going to talk about today.

On Monday night my last remaining Great Aunt passed away and I had been expecting to hear from my folks as to when the services were scheduled.  While I have fond memories of Aunt Lucille, she isn’t exactly someone I had seen regularly over the last decade or so.  When my Great Uncle who was the blood relative passed away, it halted a lot of their coming up to visit other family that I did see more often.  That is just sorta the way of your related family, is as various linkages disappear so to do the get together that surrounded them.  This is a reality that I guess the pragmatist in me has accepted this reality far better than I probably should have.

Where the source of the spat comes from…  is not necessarily the Funeral but instead the family reunion that was scheduled for this same weekend on my father’s side of the family.  She has been trying to tell me about all of these people that are coming…  for example one individual she was trying to convince me that I had met…  she eventually realized was last seen at my parents wedding.  This is where the conflict kicks in because in my mom’s mind the fact that you are related to someone trumps everything… and makes it immediately important that you drop everything you are doing to placate them.  For me the fact that I may see them once or even twice in my entire adult life…  makes me question if they are even really family?

I mean yes I understand heredity and relationships so we don’t need to go into a discussion about that.  What I mean instead is why should I invest any emotional resources in caring about a bunch of faces that ten minutes later I won’t remember any of the names that associate with them?  For me family is more the people you interact with on a regular basis and can count on, not some third cousin twice removed that my mom once remembered seeing at a reunion when my parents were still dating.  Again this is where I differ from my mother and became a great source of frustration, because I simply do not believe that blood is thicker than literally any other connection out there.

You can’t choose who you are related to, but you do get to choose the people that you make your family.  So the people that I record AggroChat with every single week…  those are family.  The neighbor down the street that we’ve been close with for two decades and literally cleaned up my blood after the human sprinkler incident…  that is real fucking family.  Rae who moved to Tulsa from Ft Smith Arkansas to take a job in my department…  and has since moved on to bigger and better opportunities…  is real family.  The little man around the corner from us who walks with my wife every night for a single blocks length…  and occasionally cooks meals for us is absolutely actual and legitimate family.  All of which I have a real tangible connection to that isn’t blood related but is far more real and important to me than some random stranger that I am told should mean something more to me than they ever will.

So ultimately I am wondering… am I just odd in the way that I make my familiar connections?  Is this a generational thing and there are others out there that are more like me than are my mom?  My wife and I had a discussion about this and she theorized that once upon a time folks simply didn’t move far away from each other so it was very easily to get back together regularly…  and in an era without free long distance and facebook people made more of an effort to do it on a regular basis.  I mean on some level the blood family that I think about of being family… are all within a few hours of where I live right now.  However I have to admit I don’t really put in the effort to see them on a regular basis.

We used to do this thing among the members of my generation, where we had dinner out on a regular basis and in truth we probably need to start this up again.  I do really like my cousins that also live in the Tulsa area and we tend to get along swimmingly…  but at the same time we are all also very busy with our own lives and careers.  With the existence of social media… it gives the illusion that you are spending time together that sorta salves over that feeling that you should really see each other more often.  Maybe it is simply because my wife and I met through IRC…  that I consider internet communication methods to be just as real as face to face ones.  Whatever the case there is a significant difference between how I view family and how my mom does.

So I am curious… how do you my readers out there define family?  Are you more like my mom or are you more like me… in finding family in your closest relationships regardless of heredity.  The truth is I will be taking my mom to the funeral and then driving her to the reunion afterwards… since they are on the same day.  Regardless of my personal feelings…  it is important to her and I want to make sure she gets there safely given she has fallen quite a few times lately.

Forsaken and Faction Rally

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In Today’s adventures of Bel is completely all over the place in his gaming free time…  we see see a return to Destiny 2.  This should shock no one given that Bungie did a big announcement trailer yesterday for the Year 2 content and the upcoming Forsaken “comet” expansion to the game.  I feel like I need to spend some time explaining that term as it gets throw around a lot in Destiny discussions.  When the original roadmap for Destiny was laid out they set up two expansions worth of content and then something they referred to as the Comet… or a sort of mega expansion that changes the world in a significant way.  The comet for the original game ended up being The Taken King expansion which was an additional purchase and signaled the shift from Year 1 to Year 2 of Destiny.

Similarly in September we have Forsaken acting as the shift between Year 1 and Year 2 of Destiny 2.  It seems as though they are solidifying the pace of content releases for Destiny 2 in forming a setup where each calendar year will have a major release in the form of the Comet, and then two follow up expansions the size of Curse of Osiris/Warmind making up the remainder of a “Season” in FPS gaming terms.  To coincide with this they are selling annual passes allowing you to pick up the two expansions at a minor discount or you can bundle it in with the deluxe version of the game for a little bit more of a discount depending on how much you value you the extra in game bits.

If this is what it takes to fund constant development of Destiny 2… I am largely okay with it especially considering that maybe just maybe it sounds like they have learned some of the lessons that they should have learned in The Taken King.  Namely that players need a wide diversity of activities to do and that Destiny 2 felt like a thinning down of those possibilities rather than an increase in them.  I am super amped for the Gambit play mode which is a sort of competitive PVE thing, but I am concerned about the return of random rolls.  There is supposedly a new mod system that may fix bad rolls, but we have yet to see much information about that.  If I can in fact take a crummy drop and fix its problems with mods…  then I would be largely okay with randomized rolls.

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The return to Destiny last night however was marked by the beginning of a new Faction Rally event.  I almost want to think of this as Faction Rally 2.0 because enough significant changes happened to warrant that sort of nomenclature.  First off… you can only pledge one faction per account instead of being able to split the difference like I always have done and choose one of each.  As a result I had to struggle a bit here…  and chose New Monarchy because I like their old school shaders the best and still have yet to get the Ship or Sparrow.  Additionally of all of the armor sets I like the design of the Titan one the best pending I apply a completely different shader to it in order to remove that whole mustard and ketchup appearance.

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Additionally I just love the look of the weapon that is up for grabs as part of the rally.  It reminds me of a Christian Hosoi Skateboard which I always thought was a great design…  in spite of its problematic connotations with the Japanese Imperial Rising Sun flag.  The truth is it will be hard pressed to make me change things up and stop using Merciless for my main Heavy weapon…  but it would be nice to have a rocket launcher I at least like the look of.  Additionally there is a version of the Antiope-D up for grabs as well that seems to have most of the same stats…  making it something I am definitely going to grind for.

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I have to admit I have not really followed the changes to the Faction Rally that closely, so I was completely confused when I was presented with two tasks… one to do a Lost Sector with 3 Renown and the other to do a Lost Sector with 5 Renown.  Essentially now when you complete an event… you gain renown which is a gauge that shows up above your main hotbar of sorts showing you what your current ranking is.  This caps out at 5 and doing stuff… makes it go up like Events, High Value Targets and Patrol Missions.  When you enter a Lost Sector it scales in difficulty based on the number of pips of renown you currently have and triggers a bunch of negative effects…  like the fact your health and shielding regenerates at a snails pace.

Reddit being the place that it will always be of course has a guide that explains all of the various things that allow you to get Renown and the stacking effects that trigger.  Firstly you cannot fast travel at all while you have a stack of renown without resetting this back to zero… which gets annoying as the fastest way to stack renown seems to be doing events.  When you die it removes a single pip of renown, which means if you are trying to stack up to do the 5 pip challenge you need to play more carefully.

I am not sure how many penalties you wind up with… but the shields very obviously stop recharging around the 3 mark and you also seem to move slower meaning you probably take an agility hit.  Lastly each pip seems to make mobs deal more damage to you, but thankfully they don’t seem to take more damage to kill.  I was still able to oneshot basically everything with a good hand cannon headshot.  I hung out in game for long enough to get enough tokens to open four New Monarchy packages before finally calling it a night.  I did however stumble across Scarybooster out in the wilds while doing some events on the EDZ which I guess makes sense because geographically we are fairly close to each other with me being in Oklahoma and him being I believe in Nebraska.  It is always really cool when you see someone in game that you know… and unfortunately I didn’t have a simple wave emote on my bar at the time so I think I made a bowl of Ramen, did the salt emote, and danced for him.

In Home Streaming

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I have what one might call unusual needs when it comes to gaming.  My primary gaming systems are all up in my office hooked up to the same 43 inch 4k television that I have written about in the past.  That said I maintain a laptop downstairs that I can game on while hanging out on the sofa with my wife and either watching television or just functionally being in the same room.  This has been one of the secrets of our marital bliss is the fact that several nights a week I hang out downstairs within easy talking distance rather than being completely sequestered up in my office all of the time.  This means that I ultimately need to maintain two different gaming setups and end up splitting resources between the two of them.

The biggest issue with this equation is that gaming laptops are horrible.  What I mean by that is that while yes they are more powerful than a normal laptop…  they also have a greatly stripped down feature set of a gaming desktop.  They usually run some sort of mobile specific version of a graphics card…  which tends to perform roughly the same as one product generation lower.  What I mean by that is my current gaming laptop has a 960M in it…  which instead of performing like a GTX 960 it performs far closer to a GTX 760 (given that they jumped the 8 series of cards).  Similarly the processors also suffer from this same issue with a mobile i7 greatly under performing a desktop i7.  Then of course there is the fact that you are ultimately going to pay a significant premium for a machine that is pretending to be extremely high powered but that is a whole other discussion.

One of the core problems that I am dealing with right now is I am starting to reach the end of the viability of this laptop for any sort of modern gaming.  Sure it can run older games just fine and does an admirable job at a lot of the MMORPGs that I enjoy playing, but I have a long string of games that just will not function on the device.  The first game I encountered like this was Dishonored 2… which I still have not finished playing through because it simply will not run in anything other than the most potato of resolutions on the laptop.  Traditionally the downstairs experience is where I play a lot of my single player titles…  and with the inability to actually do this thing games like Dishonored and Assassin’s Creed Origins that will not run on the laptop at all just sit there un-played.

Steam In-Home streaming I thought originally was going to be a unique tool that I could employ to stream games from my Desktop to my Laptop and be able to skirt all of these problems.  However after years of piddling with it… I still have issues.  There are times where a game window may get stranded or launch in a weird resolution and with that not being an actual remote desktop tool there is little way to right the ship once it capsizes.  I’ve read of individuals having good luck with Splashtop desktop/streamer but the latency there was so high that I simply could not handle it and now only use it as a way of remoting in to the gaming machine if I am absolutely in a desperate state.  Even if I could get Steam In-Home streaming working…  there was always the problem of not being able to easily run all of those games that I have that for one reason or another do not go through the client (I am looking at you Dragon Age Inquisition).

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This is where in my travels yesterday I happened across a mention of a product called Parsec.  The company effectively does a couple of different things, the first being rent virtual boxes that you can use to install all of your games on out in the cloud and then remotely connect to.  The second is that they have very highly tuned and low latency streaming software that allows you to connect to a machine, be it one of their virtual machines or your home machine and play games off it.  Lastly they add additional functionality of being able to play the couch co-op experience remotely through a social and online play system.  While I was supremely jaded by my other experiences I gave it a shot last night.

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The setup is pretty straight forward in that it requires you to install the parsec client on the host machine and the client machine.  They have clients for Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux and Raspberry Pi 3…  which gives you a few options for even creating your own homebrew Steamlink sort of device for streaming to a television.  For me I wanted a pretty straight forward set up of installing the software on my gaming desktop upstairs and adding it as a host…  that you can see in the client above.  Yes I named my gaming desktop Serenity…  I love me some Firefly.  Then downstairs on my laptop I installed the client again but this time just connected to the Serenity computer profile by hitting play.  Immediately I was presented with a remote desktop like experience that allowed me to pretty much launch whatever the hell I wanted to on my machine.

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It was at this point that I just started testing all sorts of  games… I played some Crucible in Destiny 2 with no noticeable input delay in a fashion that was comfortable enough to actually do competitive tasks.  I played some Dauntless where I took down the stupid thunder lizard Drask that had been giving me fits before.  Essentially any game that I launched was able to run just fine and in a completely playable and honestly beautiful state.  I had some issues with Steam games at first, but after troubleshooting that came down to something I had done yesterday in trying to set up my iPad as a third monitor.  Apparently the software that is involved with that does not play nicely with the Steam DRM.  However after uninstalling and rebooting all of those steam games that I struggled with before like Dishonored 2 and Assassin’s Creed Origins worked lovely as well.

I am known for doing some silly things… but there is a level of madness with Parsec that I am not entirely sure if I am willing to go through.  They have a blog post up outlining how they have managed to get a console working through the Parsec software and I would absolutely try this…  if it did not involve two hardware purchases that I do not currently have.  I have been wanting to get an Elgato Pro…  so this might be something I do at some point.  This would honestly be the perfect set up if I could somehow get all of my consoles playing through Parsec as well.  I have wanted a sort of virtual KVM for consoles for years…  and in theory I might be able to actually make this thing to work using Parsec.  If nothing else however I thought I would talk about my experiences this morning in case someone else out there is looking to do something similar.  I am greatly pleased with this process and I play on fiddling around with it some more tonight…  maybe actually working on some of those single player games that I have failed to make much progress in.  At face value though… I am supremely impressed with Parsec and will definitely be following their updates.

Coping Mechanism

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I had originally thought I would end up writing a big post this morning about my thoughts regarding the Dauntless launch.  Instead however I am writing a different post because reasons.  This weekend was mostly about recuperation for me personally given that last week was an extremely stressful one and due to the condensed nature of the coming week I expect it to be equally stressful.  As a result you are getting a picture of my goofy upside-down Kenzie girl to kick off this post.  The weekend was odd given that we spent a significant amount of time looking at cheap laptops and scouring their details.  I wrote a bit about this on twitter but my wife has a need for something new to travel with, at least in part because she cannot synchronize her FitBit with her android phone alone.  She has explored all of the avenues available through the manufacturer and she is basically stuck until at some point when she gets a new phone because for whatever reason it just doesn’t work on hers.

The problem that I find infuriating is that she has a long list of asks but doesn’t really want to pay much money for any of them.  There were folks on twitter who asked what that list entailed so I figured I would kick off this mornings post by trying to catalog all of it.

  • Windows 10 based device
  • 3 or more USB ports
  • Non-Streaming device (streambooks are out)
  • 11 to 13 inch in size
  • extremely lightweight preferably in the 2 lb range
  • preferably as thin as possible
  • 2-in-1 Touchscreen device if possible
  • real hard drive space – 500 gb or more
  • two finger scrolling on touchpad – pinch and zoom a plus
  • cheap…  she doesn’t want to spend more than a couple hundred bucks

Now I can find devices with all or at least most of those features…  but it is generally that last piece that completely destroys the process.  You can’t get much of a machine for only a couple hundred bucks.  We spent a good chunk of yesterday for example going to a couple different Best Buy locations and checking out their open box machines.  Sadly Craigslist has not exactly be a hotbed of listings for what she is wanting either, and we don’t really have any good aftermarket “wholesale” options…  the one we do have tends to be a scam.  So as a result my weekend was a constant string of looking at things my wife linked me and having to diagnose what the weakness in every option was.  Do you know how infuriating it is to try and diagnose the equivalent speed of a bunch of low end market processors?  The problem is she is coming from a Chromebook right now as her travel machine… and I am afraid she isn’t going to find a “real” laptop that is anywhere near as portable.

This weekend we recorded a podcast as usual, but towards the tail end of the show we got into one of the more dark and raw topics we have discussed.  I queued up the YouTube link to start round about when the conversation happens.  Prior to starting up we kicked around the notion of recording a bit about using games as a means of escape from real world problems.  This was largely kicked in because it seems like this is something fairly new to Kodra…  but man did it take a more serious and extreme bent because Grace and I are pros at using games to escape the anxiety and stress of the real world.  My good friend Nyn mentioned that this might be a decent topic to talk about in blog form so here I am doing this today.  First off one of the things you need to know about me is that while I might seem to have my shit together on a regular basis…  I am consistently teetering on the edge of a breakdown.  I go through these periods of “turtle mode” that I have talked a bit before on the blog about where I extract myself from the world and try and pretend that it no longer exists.  Twitter tends to be the only social network I can regularly engage with… and even then it is largely because even when I am saying words…  it feels like I am doing so at comfortably arms length.  I can drop a comment that I want to make into the ether… and then walk away choosing whether or not I actually interact with anything that comes from it.  Even then favoriting a comment has become this sort of minimum unit of interaction that I can still reasonably do even when I don’t have a lot of words to say in return.

The problem comes with the fact that I can only really handle chaos in one of my environments at once.  What I mean by that is I need some sense of change free stability in the three environments that I interact with:  home life, gaming/internet and work.  The longer one of those goes into a state of disrepair…  the more likely it is going to trigger a turtle phase when I for lack of a better term “literally can’t even”.  The problem that I am dealing with right now is my work is undergoing some massive chaos as part of a restructuring, and just being social and supporting in that environment drains me of all available energy to where I come home a husk of a human being.  My home life also has been chaos…  because the teacher walkouts required me to step up and take over almost all of the home care burden because my wife was left trying to condense an entire years worth of training in a very short abbreviated schedule.  This has continued because she is still in school and staring down the barrel of having to go way longer than normal…  and get out without any real time to prepare for her long summer trip to grade AP exams.

My gaming life has also been in turmoil because I am finding it extremely hard to really stick with any one game for any length of time.  For the last decade I have had this rich community that relied on me to play games with… either in the form of House Stalwart or later AggroChat and the offshoot Greysky Armada.  The problem here is that I seem to want to play games that are not nearly as sticky with that community as a whole.  When we started recording AggroChat we were a combination of east coast and central time zone players, and over time three of the six of us have moved to Seattle leaving a massive gulf of time between our regular playing schedules.  Grace suffers from the same sort of periods of “unable to deal with humans” that I do, and Thalen has largely been knocked out of the mix as he enters parenthood.  This chaos has basically decimated all of the normal patterns of game play that I have been used to…  essentially throwing that world into chaos as well.

Then there is the internet as a whole… which has been a relatively horrible place to be with events that started with GamerGate but have continued forward with Police Violence, Trump and School Shootings and everything in between.  I just don’t have enough free bandwidth to care anymore.  There are so many things that I know I should feel passionately or deeply about… but I am just numb.  So just the act of trying to go to my happy place that used to my by twitter timeline…  is an act that takes so much effort to keep from running screaming into the night.  The thing is… it isn’t like I could just disconnect that one social feed and be okay…  because the problems are everywhere.  Even NPR another one of my bastions of sanity is no longer a place that gives me more good than it takes from me to just keep listening.  So as a result… when these turtle modes kick in it seems like it takes me way longer to get out of them than I used to… because my entire world feels like it is in an amorphous state of change.

Ultimately I need gaming as a sort of crutch to get me through all of this.  Even though it is harder and harder for me to reach that ascendant state… I still need to try and find a place where I can escape from all of the horrible nonsense happening in the real world and blend into an environment where I can in fact right the wrongs and be the hero I wish I could be in real life.  Playing games and trying to shut off the noise in my brain while doing so… has become my primary way of coping with existing in the world.  I don’t sleep well, and often sleep in hour or two hour bursts scattered between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am, and I think in some ways…  gaming is filling the role that deep sleep might be of keeping me sane.  I am not even sure if that makes any sense, but by zoning out completely while gaming it allows my brain to enter a world where muscle memory is taking over and I can relax completely.  Ultimately it allows me to rebuild the walls that keep my psyche safe from the constant onslaught of existence so that I can keep going one more day.

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Since this has been another fairly dark post… I figure I would end things with another of my adorable cats.  This is Mollie and she is still not 100% sure what she thinks of the world.  She will follow me around the house but is still super skittish when it comes to directed attention.  At the time of taking this picture she was having none of my shit.  Then moments after I put the phone away… she was up and running around and following me like a little lost puppy.  She is a weird cat, but then again all of my babies are a bit odd in their own special ways.  The thing is with this post…  I am opening up about my struggles because in part I want you to see that it is perfectly okay to have issues.  We all have them and mine are built up from years of other issues that I don’t really want to go into in blog form.  Basically we are all weird and broken in some manner and the most important thing… is that you find your own way of regenerating the damage that has been dealt so that you can keep putting one foot in front of the other.  The salve for my wounds is gaming… and if I flake out on you when I just can’t handle human contact…  I am sorry.