Not First Rodeo

TheDivision 2016-03-08 06-10-11-29

The Waiting Game

HowToSurvive2 2016-03-07 19-39-03-75

Yesterday marked the official release of The Division… or at least it did in some parts of the country.  Most of the evening was a simple case of me waiting around for the servers to unlock.  My friend Lonrem apparently purchased his CD Key from a UK reseller, and as a result he was able to get in and play significantly earlier than the rest of us.  It was completely unintentional as he was simply shopping around for the best deal, but I guess that is a neat trick for games like this that have a somewhat staggered launch cycle.  The rest of us however had to wait for midnight eastern to pop in and attempt to play.  I say attempt to play, because as the saying goes… this is not my first rodeo.  To the best of my knowledge UbiSoft has never launched an MMO, so as a result I expected the first night to be extremely choppy.  My only real complaint is the fact that I had to wait until around 11:50 to begin extracting the game from steam…  which was a process that took over twenty minutes.  I mean I get why they limit folks, but it seems like they could have flipped that switch about 11pm and let folks get through that step so they were quite literally ready to go when the final switch was thrown at midnight.  The bulk of last night was me playing other things while waiting on access to The Division.  My goal was simple… stay up long enough to create a character and then head to bed.

I played a little Destiny, and then ultimately retired to the sofa to piddle around.  After doing my Garrison chores in World of Warcraft, I ultimately landed in How to Survive 2, which is a game that is really growing on me.  It is not going to win any rewards for graphical fidelity, but there is something about it that I find appealing.  Sunday I managed to get the first mission that straight up wrecked me, so last night I attempted it again but this time dialing down the difficulty a little bit.  That is one of the things that I failed to notice at first is that you can repeat the missions, but each time you can adjust up or down the difficulty.  This creates some interesting ways to get easy experience, as the very first mission objective is simply kill 5 undead…  which you can do really quickly and if you crank up the slider to maximum difficulty you soak up lots of xp.  The mission I struggled with was the very first night mission, which means I had to see everything by either spotty moonlight or by shining my flashlight around.  This made exploring buildings as anxiety ridden for me as I imagine it would be for real in this situation.  I found myself playing vastly differently… shutting doors after me to buy myself some time just like I used to board up windows in State of Decay.  If that mission signals more of the game to come I am looking forward to seeing it, because I expect to repeat that mission a bunch just because it was extremely enjoyable trying to stay alive in a much more infected city at night.

Desert Parkour

DyingLightGame 2016-03-07 21-06-54-45

I guess I was simply in a zombie mood because after playing a few missions in How to Survive 2, I moved over and booted up Dying Light.  Now I have had a copy of this game for quite a while but never wound up playing it.  I am not exactly sure why, because at least aspects of this game are right down my alley.  The whole parkour thing… not so much, but their particular implementation is pretty great.  At base level the game reminds me a lot of the fun I had running around the rooftops in Assassins Creed II, but this time… the citizens were out to kill me and I couldn’t really blend in among them.  I feel like I am late to the party, but I had quite a bit of fun running the first several missions.  I managed to make it through the tutorial and into the “real” game where I chose to remain offline, because I absolutely did not want some player showing up in my game and hunting me down as the “Night Hunter”.  While I didn’t actually make it terribly far before feeling like I needed to log out and watch the clock again…  I want to definitely pick this back up the next time I want a single player game.  It seems like an amalgam of a bunch of other games that I enjoyed, and it looked gorgeous on my laptop and performed extremely well.

Crash and Burn

TheDivision 2016-03-08 06-10-11-29

I already talked a bit about the frustrations of having to wait for the game to unpack, and while I had not intended to… I popped on voice chat to hang out with Tam, Kodra and Ashgar who were all waiting as well.  Ash purchased through Uplay so he was up and running well before the rest of us.  Tam, Kodra and I all seemed to get in around the same time and I apparently took significantly longer on the character creator than the other two.  I was just about to finalize my appearance when I hit a server connection error.  As expected the UPlay servers crashed and crashed hard.  It was at this point that I decided to go to bed, because I doubted they would be playable for awhile.  My key complaint with this game is that you are not sent to a menu first, so that means you have no access to the graphical settings until after you wade through the introduction.  In the multiple betas I have played in and on multiple machines…  this game has never once auto selected a viable graphics option.  During beta it kept trying to tell me I could run the game on 4k… and this time around it seems to favor running the game in a postage stamp sized window.  It is only after logging in and changing the settings that things became usable.  Dear UbiSoft… never do this again…  in a PC game the first screen you see should ALWAYS be the Graphics/Audio/Whatsit menu.  I mean I get what they are going for…  wrapping the player in story from the second they launch the game…  but this could have been just as easily done from hitting the play button from a menu.

TheDivision 2016-03-08 06-26-55-80

I managed to get into the game this morning, created my character and poked my way around the Brooklyn starter zone that we did not get to see during the beta.  So far I am liking it, it feels like a less hectic version of Manhattan.  I am not sure if I am simply better at the game than I was when I first played beta, or if the AI is really dumb… but I am mowing down the mobs in the Brooklyn area without issue.  I like how often gear upgrades are dropping and at this point in the few minutes I have played I have already essentially swapped out my entire gear set other than weapon.  The only frustration is that I really want to get to the rewards vendor so I can make sure all of the items that I supposedly unlocked are really available.  I have an 8pm raid tonight in Destiny but it is my hope to pop in and play some Division tonight to maybe get out of tutorial land.  If the servers stay stable…  like will be golden.  I don’t think there was anyone who has ever experiences an MMO launch that did not expect the servers to crash and burn last night.  However in talking to my friend Ravener, it seems like they recovered pretty quickly and within an hour the game was completely playable for the rest of the night.

Fairwell to Highmaul

Isometric Sorta Minecraft

Albion-Online 2015-01-29 23-14-44-84 About a week ago a friend of mine hooked me up with access to the Albion Online alpha.  I was immediately a fan of the art style, but concerned that it would end up feeling like a throwback to something like Ultima Online.  I do not have the fond nostalgia towards that game that so many players did, largely because I did not give it a shot until after I had already played a ton of Everquest.  So the other night when I got in, I noticed I was naked and the movement was click based… but other than that I popped right back out expecting to explore it at a later date.  Last night after the raid I wanted to play something, but did not want to get too deeply involved.  Seeing the icon on my desktop I decided to fire it up and give it a shot.  When I was quite literally falling asleep at the keyboard at 11:30 I realized the mistake I had made… because this is absolutely one of those “just one more thing” games.

First off this is a game without classes in any fashion.  You gain mastery over whatever you happen to be doing.  As such I have focused on leveling my crafting and working on leveling my sword and board skills.  So you start out rather simply by gathering rocks and chopping down trees so that you can build a skinning knife.  There are “suggestions” of what you should do when that appear in the lower center of the screen but these can honestly be largely ignored if you like.  I would however suggest you follow the first few until you grasp how exactly the game works.  At the end of the night I had upgraded all of my crafting gear and adventure gear to tier 2, and was preparing to venture out to try and find the tier 3 areas.  The real interesting thing for me is going to be that it appears to be available on PC, Mac and Linux… but also iOS and Android making it extremely cross platform.  If this thing runs on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone… I am in real trouble.

Fairwell to Highmaul

Wow-64 2015-01-29 19-59-39-67 Last night we ventured forth into Highmaul Heroic and after clearing the roadblock that was Butcher on Tuesday attempted to down some new bosses.  First up was Brackenspore and while we struggled a bit towards the end with the fungal creep and lost one of our flamethrower masters… we managed to push him across the line and kill him all in one shot.  We had made attempts on Brackenspore heroic previously, but had not really put any serious time into it.  From there we moved on to Tectus and while things did get a little dicey at times… we managed to oneshot him as well without any previous attempts on the heroic version.  This set our sights on Ko’ragh, and we fought valiantly, however were ultimately bested.  I believe our best attempt got him down to something like 22% but each time there would be a transition at a bad time and folks would die as the healers struggled to keep both tanks up.  I figure given some more time to work on him we could easily get him down.  As my friend Kadomi just reminded me… this content is still the current tier meaning we might want to kill Imperator to get the achievement.

However for the time being our princess is in another castle, as Blackrock Foundry releases next Tuesday and we plan on setting our sights there for the time being.  Highmaul has been a really fun raid for us, and I am proud to have gotten 7/7 normal and 5/7 heroic before the launch of the next raid.  This is kinda huge for me, and as I said in and earlier post…  I had not been up to date with relevant content since Icecrown.  I especially appreciate the way that folks have pulled things together in the last few weeks.  I joked that folks got good while I was away at Pax South, but it really did feel like that.  When I left we were still struggling a bit here or there, but when I came back… everyone seemed to have laser focus and precision.  I really am looking forward to Tuesday and sitting my feet down in a brand new instance… one that drops actual tier set gear!

Marketing Is Strange

When I first heard about Dying Light it was through watching a gameplay video from some conference… I spent a bit of time this morning trying to locate said video but was unable to do so quickly.  Essentially the video touted the multiplayer co-op survival horror sandbox nature of this game, and in doing so sold it to me completely wrong.  While it looked gorgeous, and while I have yet to tire of worlds full of post apocalyptic zombies.  I have however completely tired of the hardcore survival sandbox genre.  In a sea of hundreds of those games… it feels like a horrible way to market a game right now, but I am guessing the folks thought it might be wise to try and ride the coat tails of Day Z or something of the sort.  The early description that I saw of the game, and was reinforced by almost every trailer pointing out the sandbox nature…  excited me about as much as you saying “brand new moba”…  which is to say, not at all.

What I am hearing after the launch of the game however is that it is essentially Dead Island, but better in every possible way.  I loved Dead Island for its strange campy free roaming RPG feel.  While I never played the second game that came out of that series, I logged quite a bit of time playing the first and would gladly step back into that world.  The problem being that the storyline behind Dying Light was mostly obfuscated until I stopped caring about it.  Had I seen the above trailer first… I would have been interested.  I feel like this is one of those games that is going to be judged wrong by folks like me writing it off… when it sounds like it is absolutely a game for those who enjoy open ended RPGs.  While I have missed the initial purchase rush, I will probably pick it up when it gets the first price break on steam.  Had they done a better job marketing the game to more than one demographic…  I would have likely been a day one purchaser.