More Warmind Impressions

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desktop-screenshot-2018-05-11-06-06-11-41Last night I managed to hit the first soft cap of 345 through doing some of the content that happens immediately following the completion of the main story.  I am still a bit dismayed at how short it ended up being.  The core problem with the experience is there was a disconnect between how the NPCs were acting and the events that were actually occurring.  What I mean by that is when we took down Ghaul…  he had done enough to interfere with our lives to make us really hate him by the time we reached the point of final confrontation.  With Warmind…  they end up treating the Worm God we are fighting with similar contempt…  even though we only found out one exists on Mars a few minutes earlier.  Sure I get the fact that the Worm Gods are one of the galaxies great sources of evil and they were key in creating the Hive in the first place.  I’ve read the Book of Sorrows and understand that all…  but the average player has not.

The average player would be going into that scene wondering what in the hell a Worm God is and why these two NPCs seem so freaked about it.  The problem being that the game didn’t really give us enough run up to reach this supposedly epic conclusion.  It feels a lot like the campaign in Rise of Iron where you have some epic things going on…  but nowhere enough lead up to make them feel like that epic nature is earned.  Sure taking down a giant SIVA enfused Iron Lord was a slick final fight just like taking down a Worm God was a slick final fight…  but in both cases it felt like we lacked significant reason for what we were doing.  I mean the “Guardian” is the Deus Ex Machina to fix all problems much like the Warrior of Light is in Final Fantasy XIV.  The problem is it feels like that role is earned in FFXIV whereas we sorta just magically are able to best everything in Destiny without really knowing why we are so much better than apparently every other Guardian out there.

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Tam and I get into these discussions a lot and he is usually the one raising these points.  The funny thing is they generally revolve on why he quit playing a game, and for me this is an annoyance but by no means a game breaker.  I feel like there is a magic formula that keeps me engaged in a game.  First you have to have a core mechanical loop that I enjoy, for example in Destiny I love the gun play and the movement which makes me feel awesome as I traverse this beautifully rendered world.  The second point of that magical formula is that there has to be something in the game that I want to do.  There needs to be some objective out there that drives me forward and keeps me engaged with the game when the shiny newness of the mechanical loop wears off.

Please note what I said there…  something I want to do.  For example in a game like World of Warcraft there can never be a possible way that I would ever run out of things to do and content I have not actually seen.  Similarly in Final Fantasy XIV there is just too much content to ever find a true end to it.  The problem is in both of those games I have rather regularly reached a point where there is simply nothing left that I care to do.  Either the content left involves something I don’t much enjoy like Player versus Player interactions or it feels like it has more stick than carrot attached to it.  I reached this point after Trials of Osiris in Destiny 2 where the mechanical loop simply was not enough and the repetitive and unrewarding nature of the Infinite Forest made it so that I just didn’t feel like logging in anymore.

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While Warmind is an extremely short expansion… it feels like it might be a fairly intricate one.  What I mean by that is there are already a bunch of post credits items that the game is asking me to do that spawn new opportunities to go off on adventures.  I am sure there will be an end to this, but in some ways it reminds me of the style of interaction that happened on the Dreadnaught in The Taken King.  There are puzzles to be solved and items to interact with in ways that I have not quite figured out.  There were weapons to collect that are associated with questing, and others that folks don’t even know how they work as of yet.  There are drops that can be used to improve most of the exotic weapons, and in it a bunch of interesting ways to feel like I keep moving forward.

On the other end however the new grind is real.  After hitting 345 and finally accepting my Milestones for the week…  each one of those rewarded a 351 item…  6 levels of movement off the base whereas before we were regularly getting upwards of 15 levels of movement from the same milestones.  This means that journey to 385 is going to be an extremely long one when you have a very finite number of weekly options to give any sense of movement.  This means that if I find myself engaged in this game again I will by nature need to push the Hunter and the Warlock through Curse of Osiris so that I can have three sets of weekly upgrade options instead of one.  Sure the armor won’t swap over but those weapons can keep pushing up slowly over the course of multiple characters.

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The game needed something and in truth at this point I am not sure if this is what that need was.  The problem with Destiny 2 is that on paper it looks like the sequel I wanted for Destiny.  However in practice it has always felt lacking in part because it felt like we sacrificed so much cool stuff from the first one to get this as a result.  Nothing I have seen from this game justifies the reasons why we had to reset back to ground zero.  I know they felt like they wanted a fresh start, to shed any bad blood from the first title.  However I feel like that plan backfired horribly.  I’m interested to see where they can go with Warmind and if they can give us justification going forward to buy the “Comet” expansion that has been looming on the horizon and leaked via the Canadian Walmart website.  The one act that would go a long ways to building good will for me personally…  would be to port the old patrol zones to Destiny 2 and make it feel like we didn’t abandon half the world to get this game.

Mirrorball

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Last night I spent a not insignificant amount of time playing Destiny 2 Warmind.  You will have to excuse the garbage screenshots but I was largely chilling on the sofa with my laptop and it runs the game at the potato resolution of 1366 x 768.  I say potato because scaling down to that from the 4K display I have upstairs is quite the adjustment.  It however allows me to be flexible where I am gaming, and last night allowed me to hang out with the mrs while still getting to do the thing I wanted to do.  I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Destiny 2 over the last few months and I am not entirely certain why.  It is just like after the release of Curse of Osiris I lost my forward momentum and stopped caring that I was no longer getting those engrams every day.  Based on the fact that I was the only person online in my clan for most of the night…  I am guessing everyone has had this same thing happen to them.

That said I was extremely interested in this expansion because it is the return of three things that I love in the Destiny universe…  The Hive, Rasputin, and Clovis Bray lore.  The last bit takes the form of our companion during this expansion Ana Bray…  a heir to House Bray and former golden age scientist turned guardian.  There is a rule among the guardians that they are not supposed to go digging into their past life before they died and were resurrected with the light, but when you are a Bray… this gets a lot harder knowing that so much golden age tech that remains was potentially created by your hands.  As a result you get the impression that Ana Bray is no longer a Vanguard member…  and not even a real guardian in the eyes of Zavala…  because she broke the rule and started digging into Bray tech when she first realized it recognized her and would respond to her commands.

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I am not far enough into the story to fully understand the other parts of the equation that I love…  The Hive and Rasputin.  The polar ice caps of Mars seem to hide a group of frozen hive that include several new troop types and modifications to the others as well.  There are now Knights that wield a shield making it extremely difficult to attack them, and versions of the Acolyte called Adherants that seem to snipe you with long beams of energy.  In addition there are more heavily armored versions of the Ogre, but this might just be one of the boss models for this expansion that gets used on ultra units.  The map area itself is a little bit bigger than Titan in scope…  which is somewhat disappointing but a significant step up from the tiny and repetitive Mercury.

What I enjoy the most so far is that it feels like this is as tightly packed with secrets as the Dreadnought was in The Taken King expansion.  I’ve already encountered a bunch of objects that say I need to have a specific item or buff to be able to interact with them, meaning there are secrets to be unlocked hidden out there much like the Skyburner Deployment Codes.  On the director map there is a note out to the side saying that I have found 0 or 45 Latent Memory locations, so this feels like something along the lines of the Calcified Fragments or SIVA Clusters of old.  This is the sort of stuff that Destiny 2 desperately needed, to give us a downtime activity to strive for in getting out and exploring the world.

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There are of course a bunch of cool items that came in with this expansion.  At one point I got to choose from three weapons…  one of which was essentially Uriel’s Gift minus high impact rounds but with Dragonfly…  so I had to take it.  I’ve not finished the main campaign and not hit level 30 yet so I am not super focused on gear at the moment.  That said I have picked up a bunch of cool items through the eververse doodads you get while leveling up.  My Ghost is now a floating mirror ball that I eventually colored neon green via a shader.  I’ve similarly picked up an exotic ship and an exotic speeder as well.  They seem to have tweaked these exotic shells a bit so that they have the same two perks….  the first being summons your mount faster and the second being universal elemental telemetry.  The last perk seems to now be some sort of a cache based perk for a given planet.  This mirror ball for example works on Nessus, which is handy since that happens to be the weekly zone.

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I have to say I really like the set of gear that you get through turning in tokens with Ana Bray, and I can already tell this is going to be something I try and collect in its entirety.  So far the story has been interesting, but I have a feeling that I am nearing the end of it…  and if that is the case it is also very very short.  Maybe there is more going on than I think there is… and maybe the boss I am just about to face is only the midpoint.  However it certain feels like it is pushing me towards a supposedly epic conclusion…  and the way the NPCs speak sounds in terms like we are doing this massive struggle…  when it feels like I only just arrived on the planet.  Reading a little blurb on Reddit just now confirms that I am in fact on the final quest…  so essentially there are five quests in a chain that had I not been dawdling probably could have completed in an hour and a half.

Granted I like the other parts of the game more than I do the story…  but it feels like a bit of a let down.  During Destiny 1 the justification they gave for the need to reboot the game and create Destiny 2…  was that the way D1 was build was particularly difficult to build content for.  They blamed the tools for the fact that we kept getting recycled areas instead of completely new maps and raids.  The problem is…  neither Curse of Osiris with its rampant recycling of the Infinite Forest and its tiny planetary area…   nor Warmind so far really prove that the sacrifice the players made was worth it.  I say sacrifice…  because in coming to Destiny 2 we gave up a lot of things that we still have not gotten back.  We were promised a better gaming experience and on some levels it is… but on other levels it is just a less interesting game.

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Ultimately I will be around for awhile because it did feel good last night to shoot things.  The new event type that they touted however was a bit of a let down as well…  given that it is mostly just another planetary event that involves hunting wave after wave of hive and doing some stuff to destroy crystals.  Sure it was fun but also I can see it will get pretty repetitive.  However it does fill that Archon’s Forge/Court of Oryx niche in giving something repeatable that can give decent rewards.  The protect the Warsat event type is back and I had missed it greatly.  I am not exactly sure how you can push that one into heroic mode, but I am sure it will involve something silly like blowing up one of the hive ships.  There is an open world version of the Hive Ritual event that seems really cool because I was so used to doing that in the one space it appeared on Titan.  All in all I was happy to be playing again…  but still a bit grumbly about how cool this game could have been.

Many Osiris Handle It

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Yesterday was of course the release of the first expansion content to Destiny 2 in the form of the Curse of Osiris DLC.  I was sick yesterday so completely out of it and did not realize until that evening that I could have been playing around in the expansion during the day.  I did however have time to finish the main story line and am now in the after game that involves going around and doing a bunch of adventures on Mercury.  I am not entirely certain what I was expecting but I enjoyed myself and found a lot of the new areas really cool to roam around.  The level cap is bumping up from 20 to 25 and the light cap is bumping from 305 to 335.  This means we all need to spend time pushing up that number once again, and have a whole slew of new weapons to help us with that process.  Based on what I am seeing blues seem to still be bound to the 5 below your base light level as I am seeing 303 drops with a base light of 308.8.  Legendary engrams which seem to be dropping like candy for me are dropping at my base light level and as a result seem to be providing a decent way of bumping up my overall power level.  Unlike before I am not quite as rabidly focused on trying to squeeze the last bit of light out of each week as I have in the past.  I am sure this will change but for the moment I am trying to take things easy as I may or may not have burnt myself out a bit.

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In Destiny 1 we spent a good deal of time exploring the Fallen and the Hive and with Destiny 2 we have spent the bulk of our time dealing with the Cabal.  This expansion sees us taking on the Vex in ways that we have not seen before.  You get a decent idea over the course of the content we have seen to this point that the Vex that essentially hacks time to create the most favorable outcomes for themselves.  However we have not actually really seen this in progress other than the tiny unexplained bits of the Black Garden.  With Curse of Osiris we get to roam around in the massive simulation worlds that the Vex are constantly using to collect data to update their models.  What is really cool about this is that we see simulated versions of all of the other races, that are very similar…  but not quite exactly the same.  Pay close attention to the way that the “Axis” versions of various troop types look because they appear to be almost Vex hybrid versions.  As far as the length of the expansion… I would say it is probably about the same number of missions as the base game.  You spend a lot of time roaming around and trying to sort out how to stop this one Vex simulated future from coming true.

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As far as characters…  Sagira is great and I like the fact that even after completing the main game we occasionally get to hang out with her again.  Osiris was honestly not much of a character, and still remains this madman prophet that we are really no closer to fully understanding than we were going into the expansion.  Brother Vance still has a fanatical devotion to Osiris even though he could not be bothered to pop out to the Lighthouse long enough to even see his acolytes.  There is a nice passing of the Torch of sorts to Ikora, because really she is the Warlock we care about.  Its not so much that the student has surpassed the master… its just that the student is done being a student.  If nothing else this expansion brought with it one of the most badass final boss fights I have seen in awhile, and while it isn’t exactly technically complex it is fun as hell and makes the player feel awesome…  even though it is really Osiris hacking reality to make it happen.  It reminds me a lot of the way the Oryx fight in the Kings Fall raid felt… with this massive imposing figure that you are able to bring down by doing some stuff with some things.  Unlike the main campaign I am actually looking forward to finishing it on each of my alts, as I attempt to get them ready to start pushing up power level once again.

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As part of the main story we get another choice of a vanguard legendary, and I not shockingly went with the auto rifle that looks and feels a lot like the Jiangshi AR4 that I cannot seem to get the Gunsmith to give me.  The bulk of the really interesting system changes go into effect next week with the December 12th patch, but we did get a fresh assortment of weapons to find and an armor ornament system.  I’m looking forward to the next Iron Banner so that I can unlock the requirements to use those with my Iron Banner set.  Additionally there was a refresh of the eververse store and with it a new set of fluff engrams, this time including a set of armor that I think actually looks cool.  I was not a big fan of the weird formal armor set that came from the last batch, and even though I have collected a set of it on my Titan I doubt I will ever wear it.  This time around however it is Vex inspired and looks pretty badass…  but it has some hefty competition with both my New Monarchy and Iron Banner armor sets.  All in all I think I am going to like the influx of content, but I am also not extremely focused on grinding to get everything instantly either.

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Honestly the thing that has most soured me on Destiny 2…  may or may not have anything to do with Destiny 2.  A few weeks ago on patch day I started having issues running the game.  Ultimately this thing would occur where the game would freeze for anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes in the worst cases…  all the while the audio would continue playing in the background.  If I happened to be watching a YouTube video on the second monitor its video would freeze as well, as would my ability to alt tab or interact with anything.  Everything would recover itself and return me back to whatever I happened to be doing…  and if I was in a group activity the game would rapidly catch me up to the same time frame as the other players…  often resulting in my death.  As a result I had been avoiding doing anything serious and anything that forced players to require on me not fucking up.  I’ve searched the forums and crawled through the bowels of Reddit attempting various fixes, until this morning when I found something that is a possible culprit.  Around about this same time I got forced upon me the heaping pile that is yet another windows 10 update.  As a result it force reset a bunch of my settings, one of which flipped my system into power save mode for some ungodly reason.  Before sitting down to write this post I played a bit of crucible because that seemed to always make it happen…  and seemed to be doing just fine.  I need to run around on Mercury a bit to do some further testing but I am hopeful that maybe this was the mystery sauce that was causing all of my problems.  I would love to be able to return to doing group content without fearing that I would be a liability.