First Week on PC

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This is one of those mornings when I am not even sure where to start the post.  It is like I have all of these disconnected thoughts in my head and am having a very hard time wrangling them together into something that follows any manner of logical progression.  Destiny 2 released on the PC last Tuesday and since then I have played a significant amount of it, only really taking a single night off to go do something else.  According to WastedOnDestiny.com I’ve played 32 hours of the game since release…  which is officially more than I played Destiny 1 on the Xbox One.  On the PS4 I managed to make it to 267 in that very first week, and on PC I managed to break the 265 cap and push on to 271 which makes me happy.  I am nowhere near as lucky as my friend Raz was…  who is sitting at something crazy like 282.  There are ways to do this…  but they involve madness and way more grinding than I was able to get in this week or really wanted to do.  Additionally I started working on secondary characters and managed to push the Hunter to 18 while recording the podcast… and finished leveling it to 20 and making it through all but the final quest last night.  I also started up my Warlock and got her to level 8, which was mostly about getting my 5000 clan xp to help level Greysky Armada.  We managed to hit rank 3 which is extremely awesome and is largely made possible by the fact that myself and Wolfy started leveling the clan a bit on PS4 before the release of PC.

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On Friday night we decided to give the Nightfall a go, which in truth I was uncertain about given that I only actually completed the Nightfall once on the PS4 side… and even then it was a bit of a pain in the ass.  I also remembered us being significantly higher than the 250ish we were when we tried it.  Together Tamrielo, RustySpork and I managed to get the boss down with about 3 minutes left on the clock, which is not good enough for the rat king…  but makes me happy nonetheless.  Yesterday afternoon I gave it another attempt with Mor and Grace and once again finished…  but just barely with me taking down the boss via a couple of pulse grenades and auto rifle fire at about the 1 second left on the clock mark.  Mor was just barely at the 240ish requirement for zoning in, so I feel like in the future so long as we are bringing in 260s we should be fine for this.  This week also was a bit of an aberration in that it was extremely easy to cheese the objectives because of the modifier giving us insane grenade and melee regeneration.  Striker Titan with double grenades meant I could clean out a bunch of adds almost as fast as I could throw them.  They still hit insanely hard though and I just don’t have the recovery yet that I really should for doing harder content.  This largely comes from just wearing a bunch of scraps instead of something resembling a full set of gear.  I am really hoping in a few weeks I can get the full set of Titan Iron Banner gear again because it makes for a really excellent base for shenanigans.

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I would have finished the Hunter but instead I took a lengthy break Sunday afternoon and worked on doing the weekly milestones on the PS4 side of the pond.  I have to say after playing so much PC…  the console version just feels sluggish and odd.  Everything seems to move more slowly, which makes the crucible much easier…  but everything else feel really odd.  Not only was the visual fidelity much lower than even my laptop running at greatly downgraded settings…  but just the movement speed of my character felt slower.  I noticed this when doing some of the intro missions where you are limping through the city…  on the console there was a specific point I could make it to before my character was forced to pause for a moment.  On the PC I could make it considerably past that point before I was forcibly halted, so my running theory is that the PC version just has faster movement speeds.  Weirdness aside I did manage to get used to the controller again and finish up Clan XP, Call to Arms and Flashpoint milestones which were enough to finish pushing me to 305.  I feel much better hibernating the character now that it is sitting at the level cap rather than being just slightly under it.  I will probably keep logging in at least once a week to finish off these easy milestones however because I feel like I need to keep contributing some Clan XP to TQMB in addition to all the work I am doing PC side with GREY.  Eventually once I have gotten my PC characters to a more manageable state I am sure I will start doing those three main milestones on six characters…  3 on PC and 3 on PS4.  It takes me roughly an hour to do all of the things needed to earn those three luminous engrams, and after a point that becomes my routine of logging in a new character each night and getting their progress.

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I am absolutely loving playing the game on PC because it fits my play style considerably better.  With the console it forced me to be in the room I have my PS4 set up in, but with PC  I can either be playing it on my gaming desktop or downstairs on my laptop.  The laptop doesn’t run it perfectly and I am having to throttle it down to 720 p and a few other considerations…  but it runs well enough for me to be able to do almost anything I might need to do.  For something like a Nightfall where there is a timer on the line I wouldn’t want to push it…  but It is more than fine for some strikes or crucible.  My activity of choice however is still doing public events and random token farming through chests and patrols.  My goal for tonight is to attempt to push the hunter through the various things needed to unlock her three easy luminous engrams, and then to maybe get her through the Nightfall.  From there my goal by next weeks reset is to have my Warlock finished off so I can start triple dipping on the powerful rewards front.  While it has been a pure joy starting over on the PC…  I do still want to arrive back at where I left off…  and hopefully in a much faster time frame than the seven weeks it took to get me there on console.  I am booned by the fact that the game seems to have traction among the AggroChat crew and with that means that there is likely going to be raiding before too much longer.  I am assuming the raid will open up tomorrow much like it did on the console side, and then I am assuming next week we will have faction rally once more.  Destiny 2 on PC is pretty much everything I had hoped it would be.

Destiny 2 PC Beta Thoughts

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Last night was the beginning of the Destiny 2 PC beta for those of us who have already preordered the game.  I am one of those weirdos that loves Destiny so much that I plan on playing it on multiple platforms.  With Destiny year 2 and beyond I played it actively on both the PS4 and Xbox One… and going forward I am planning on doing the same and splitting time between PC and PS4.  One of the things you need to realize is that I have some strange habits when it comes to gaming.  I split my time between my gaming desktop upstairs and my gaming laptop in the living room.  I’ve found the secret to marital happiness as a gamer is to be able to be flexible in my gaming habits and there are nights when I just need to be more available than cloistered in my office with my ear cans on.  As a result I have two systems to worry about being able to play Destiny on.  The positive is however as someone who potentially might be interested in Destiny 2, you are going to get functionally two different sets of reviews for the game…  one on a system that is heftier than the recommended specifications and one that is closer to the minimums.

Gaming Desktop

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Machine Specifications

  • Intel Core i7 5820k 3.3ghz 6 Core Processor
  • Asus X99-A/USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard
  • 32 gb G.Skill Ripjaws V Series DDR4-2400 Memory
  • MSI Geforce GTX 980 4GB Twin Frozr Video Card
  • System SSD but Game Running on Mechanical Hard Drive

For starters I spent absolutely zero time fiddling with the sliders and I just went with the defaults that it handed to me.  The end result was a gorgeous 1080p 60 fps experience.  I don’t have fancy monitors or anything even vaguely close to outputting a 4k or even 1440p signal so I went with it.  With time I plan on ratcheting up the detail level to see what I can do, but I am hearing from folks with 1080s that they are having issues sustaining frame rate on Ultra so more or less I am pretty damned happy with the results.  In truth the hardest thing I had to figure out was some third party screenshot tool that would actually record the screen.  Bungie has done a bunch of stuff to disable overlays and I had to fall back on the Nvidia Experience tools to be able to capture anything.  I am presently running the game in Windowed Fullscreen which is my preferred method and it just works great.  The difference in quality between the PS4 and PC is noticeable even just running the game in 1080p.    All of the textures just look crisper and less muddled, but that said the console experience with Destiny 2 on even a stock PS4 like mine….  looks noticeably better than the original Destiny.  Last night I tried out everything but the strike, and saw zero frame drop at any point during my experiences.  I have been keeping an eye on the lower left corner of the screen where I have the Nvidia framerate tools running… and the only time I saw drop was upon going into a pre-rendered cutscene.  All of those are still at 30 fps, which I would assume is to be able to support all of the different configurations of the game.

Gaming Laptop

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Machine Specifications

  • Asus ROG GL551JW
  • Intel Core i7 4720HQ 2.6 ghz
  • 16 gb DDR3 Memory
  • Geforce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
  • Mechanical Hard Drive
  • 3rd Quarter 2014 Release Date

While the Desktop was a picture of simplicity… literally everything about the Laptop experience was a hassle.  I included the street date of the laptop just for reference and to show that I am attempting to get this running in functionally a three year old machine.  I knew that 1080p was largely out of the question so I started trying to dial in specs for a 720p setup.  Since my laptop has a 15 inch screen that seemed completely reasonable and generally the only reason why I run MMOs in 1080p is because of the UI element resolution.  The biggest issue that I kept running into is that for some reason it felt like my mouse was dying on me.  I would have these issues where I could not swing my viewpoint to the right of my model, and then other times I couldn’t scope in my weapon at all.  After trying a bunch of configuration options I noticed that it was ultimately happening at the same place each time in the mission, which made me start doubting it was just the mouse.  After a bunch of searching I found a thread on Bungie PC Support forum talking about this same issue.  What I ultimately had to do was go find the executable for Destiny 2 and choose properties off the right click menu…  then change the compatibility settings to disable Scaling on High DPI settings.  Note this is called something different depending on the version of windows you are running, but in all cases it will be some Option referencing DPI.

Once this change was made my mouse suddenly started working as it should.  One more round of tweaks saw me setting the display mode to Windowed Fullscreen and I was finally playing the game in pretty good shape.  While its not amazing… it is playable at a generally 30 fps…  however as you can see in the upper right hand corner of the above screenshot…  I am dipping down into the high 20s occasionally.  The biggest challenge is that Destiny requires a ton of VRAM.  When I was playing on the Medium preset I was consuming every last bit of VRAM available and borrowing from the system memory.  I really appreciate Bungie including a gauge under the video settings to show just how much you are consuming and how much is left available.  The high preset functionally takes a little bit over 2 gb, and I would assume each time you ratchet it up those requirements go up again.  The other thing you can take away from the fact I was running it on a laptop… is that effectively everything on a laptop performs like it is a generation older than the equivalent Desktop component.  So my 4th gen i7 in truth performs about like a 3rd gen i5…  and my gtx 960m…  effectively performs the same as a gtx 760 in a desktop card.  Between the two setups you should be able to extrapolate how this game should be able to run on whatever your current gaming PC setup seems to be.

Gameplay Discussion

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For a complete write up about my feelings of the Destiny 2 beta… I highly suggest you check out my PS4 impressions post from July.  I am not going to spend a lot of time this morning talking about general topics.  Instead I am going to focus in on the tweaks that were made between the two betas.  The first noticeable thing is that the recharge rate that I complain so much about on the PS4 seems to be greatly improved.  During the tower courtyard fight on PS4 it felt like I was lucky getting a single super charge and a single grenade charge while fighting the three waves of red legion cabal.  During the PC beta… I could easily get 3 super charges and 2 grenade charges during the same time.  Grenade still lags a bit from what I would have liked it to be… but part of that might simply be that I am used to running around with the Armamentarium and as a result always have two grenade charges available, so even when I use one… there is almost always one sitting there waiting in reserve.  Things just feel “better” as a result of the recharge rates being cranked up, and it feels more like the Destiny experience I am used to.  My guess is that they have increased the rate of recharge you get from killing things, because the effect was a bit less noticeable in the Crucible.  Previously in the PS4 beta everyone got their supers at exactly the same time… which was just a few minutes from the end of the match.  During the PC beta I managed to get off two supers and was getting close to a third by the time the match ended, so in theory had I been playing better I probably would have easily gotten three supers.

The other big takeaway is that everything just feels more polished.  This one isn’t easy to quantify, but everything about this build felt production ready.  The other big takeaway is that once I got used to the hotkeys… the PC experience is just flawless and before long I reached a point where it was just as instinctive for me to hit F to activate my super as it is to mash my two shoulder buttons.  So far I have only modified one hotkey, and that was to change ~ from toggling between weapons since I use that as my push to talk key.  Instead I use the alternate key which is mouse wheel to shift between weapons.  For those going into the game I thought it might be useful really quick to run down the basic hotkeys.

  • Movement – WASD + Mouselook
  • Primary Fire/Light Attack – Left Mouse
  • Scope/Heavy Attack – Right Mouse
  • Melee/Block – C
  • Grenade – Q
  • Reload – R
  • Jump – Space
  • Toggle Sprint – Shift
  • Toggle Crouch – Ctl
  • Class Ability – V
  • Super Move – F
  • Air Super Move – X
  • Interact With Objects – E
  • Kinetic Weapon – 1
  • Secondary Weapon – 2
  • Heavy Weapon – 3
  • Rotation Through Weapons – Mouse Wheel
  • Toggle Chat – T
  • Deploy Ghost – Tab
  • Return to Orbit – O
  • Character Loadout Screen – F1

It is a lot of hotkeys to remember, but in truth it largely matches the pattern I was used to with PC shooters already.  All in all I thought the PC Beta played amazingly well and it is going to be a really hard call as to which game gets the majority of my attention.  I think ultimately it is going to be determined by how many people that I know are chosing which platforms.  The only other thing that really concerns me are the general limitations of Battle.net already.  I feel like I am already bumping up against the maximum friend number there because of the various other Blizzard games that I play… and for the most part everyone in my Destiny clan is not already in that list.  So it is going to be a bit frustrating to try and find space to add everyone new in.  I am also really curious to find out how each of you felt that the PC Beta was when it goes “open beta” today.

 

 

 

Unexpected Change

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Strange Transition

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I entered this weekend very much favoring the Playstation 4 version of The Division, because quite simply “it just worked”.  Friday and Saturday both I had all manner of problems with the PC version of the game, but it seems like most of those issues were server side.  Sometime during the day on Saturday they either ramped up new servers, or did sometime to improve the processing… because when booted up the game Sunday morning, everything seemed to magically “just work”.  It is funny just how much network and loading lag can destroy your game experience, because a lot of the problems I had associated with the game client itself…  simply went away.  Before I thought the console interface felt more smooth, but in truth the PC one works just as well once you are no longer fighting with input processing delays.  Additionally I was shocked and amazed at just how well I managed to get this working on my elder laptop.  It isn’t perfect and it isn’t nearly as pretty as it looks on my upstairs desktop….  but it works, and enough for me to get in and run missions or explore the world while watching some television.  Last night I even managed to do more than that, as I took down several bosses that I apparently forgot to pick up from the Hudson river camp.  I had no problem whittling down significantly higher level mobs, and it feels like the longer I play this game… the more I get used to the third person tactical style.

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The other big takeaway I have is how much I am now seeming to not only enjoy the PC client… but lean towards it.  One of the big reasons for me is Teamspeak and to a lesser extent Discord.  Both of which are simple voice solutions that sound so much better than Playstation party chat.  Also it allows me to hang out with people who are not necessarily playing the same game I happen to be playing.  Since I am part of a very social gaming community, this was a huge problem I had when it came to Destiny, because the entire time I was playing that game I felt walled off from my friends.  Another problem I am finding starting to disappear was the whole lack of “space guns” issue I talked about.  This game seems to have a really wide variety of weapon options, that cover more than just the AR/AK realm of assault rifles.  I’ve picked up no less than four different flavors of shogtun, each of which felt completely different in the way it handled.  I also managed to find what seems to be my “Ideal” weapon which is the Enfield L86 LSW rifle that you can see me firing in the above image.  It has pretty great single round accuracy and also fires some really tight bursts that while they travel up… seem to do so in a more predictable manner.   I guess this isn’t super shocking because in World War II games back in the day I used to love firing the Enfield MK1.

Remaining Challenge

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Now the challenge that remains is where exactly to pre-order the game from.  Everyone seems to be offering pretty much the exact same stuff for digital copies of the game…  with Gamestop being the only retail difference offering the Hazmat Suit seemingly in addition to the National Guard outfit that comes with the gold version.  For years I was absolutely opposed to darkening the door of a Gamestop, however at Pax South I met someone that made me start to re-evaluate that line of thinking.  Any company smart enough to make @JetPackHattie a manager… and give her free reign to create awesome events for her store seems like a place that cannot be all bad.  I also went int the other day when I was tracking down a Hori Fight Commander 4 controller, and no one tried to up sell me on anything….  which was always the problem I had with going in the first place.  Problem being at this point… I am not sure if I can pre-order in enough time to guarantee that I get the special bonus stuff.  I also hate physical copies of games, but it seems like GameStop now has a download only option for UbiSoft games at least.  The problem being…  part of me kinda wants this game tracking through Steam even though I still have to launch a horrible horrible secondary UPlay client.  So I begin to ask myself…. will I ever actually wear the Hazmat suit?  The answer is probably not… whereas I can absolutely see myself wearing the National Guard uniform… or at least parts of it.

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In any case I will need to decide something since the game launches in roughly two weeks.  Of note…  just for the sake of anyone wondering how this game will look on their own aging hardware.  Every screenshot I posted this morning is pulled from my laptop which is essentially running 720p and the lowest possible graphical settings.  The game still looks really decent, or at least better than a lot of the previous generation of shooters.  As far as frames per second… at the high end I could hit 50 and at the low end I was hitting around 35… both of which I consider very playable especially given that I was playing the game on a three year old laptop.  Focusing in on targets that are a significant distance away is not the easiest thing in the world.  However with the Enfield I was able to headshot enemies that were on a rooftop from the safety of my hidey hole behind a planter box.  Sure I was targeting a blurry mess, but it was easy enough to determine where the “head” was in said blurry mess.  Essentially at least until the official PS4 Remote Play app releases…. the PC version seems to give me the most options given that I can play upstairs on my desktop, where my PS4 is sitting… or I can play downstairs on my laptop… and in both cases I can play with or without a controller.  The PC version also makes it significantly easier to take screenshots given that with the PS4 I have to constantly be swapping a thumb drive back and forth to copy the files off.  So yeah… over the course of the weekend I shifted allegiance and am now leaning heavily towards picking it up the PC.