Last night was the second running of our reconstituted Monday night group, but unfortunately this time around we were missing a Thalen. So instead of working through the content we planned on doing with was Ravana Extreme, we opted to start work on the second part of Alexander. We had seven folks gathered up so we figured grabbing a single pug wouldn’t hurt at all. We also decided to be up front with the pug, in that they were hanging out with a group of learners. The most awesome of possible circumstances happened in that the game ended up giving us someone on our own server. As a result we met a new friend Lux Tenebrae who happened to join up as a semi-permanent 8th last night. We like to go into fights fairly blind, and then adjust and shift until we have a grasp on the movie parts. So both of the Alexanders that we completed last night took more than one attempt, but at the same time it feels like we have a firm enough grasp on the fights to be able to come in next week and completely wreck them. The fights themselves were extremely fun, and pretty much anything with the Alex background music is going to rate high on my radar. We had to cut things short however because last night began the maintenance period that will eventually get us patch 3.35 which for all intents and purposes is the “Deep Dungeon” patch. I think every single one of us is looking forward to this as a way of leveling our army of alts.
However once we got out of the raid we had roughly thirty minutes left before the servers reset. At the not so subtle nudging of Neph we pulled together an expert group and decided to go for it. By the time we got zoned in we had less than thirty minutes to go and Hullbreaker Hard set out before us. We had an early wipe due to hubris and standing in stuff, but we recovered quickly and made it through the zone in a good clip. When we pulled the final boss we had two minutes left on the official clock from the set time of the maintenance period. The thing is we continued on fighting after time was at least in theory up. Then something strange happened… firstly Kodra got disconnected, but we were able to finish the boss without him. We got our loot and zoned out… and then both Tam and I got disconnected at exactly the same moment. Then moments later Neph did as well. So it seems like quite literally they were flushing connections one at a time as they cycled through the server preparing to shut it down. The positive is that three of us managed to get credit for the expert… the negative is that Kodra did not but I am sure we will all be willing to make it up to him later. This was one of the funnest dungeons I have fun in a long while because we were really pushing ourselves trying to beat the timer… which while we didn’t quite make it we came really damned close.
Farewell to Gold Farms
The other part of the evening was spent going from character to character and purchasing Smuggled Sack of Gold over and over until I completely depleted my garrison resources. Yesterday was essentially liquidation night of everything from my garrison that might sell for a decent bit of gold. I also went to Wrath era Dalaran and checked the various PVP vendors to see if any of that gear was something I might want for transmog purposes given that with today’s patch all of that is getting shifted away from gold to honor based purchases. On a handful of my characters this also meant scrapping lumber yards to build trading posts… just to liquidate their resources for cash. The whole process was an extremely fun atmosphere because quite literally everyone else in the guild was pretty much doing the same. In a shared chat earlier in the day macros had been posted to speed up the process and there we sat spamming away purchasing gold bags and opening them at the same time. In many ways it felt like we were all saying goodbye to what ended up being a frustrating expansion, and more than that… saying goodbye to our daily garrison chores. Today the first of the Legion pre-patches go live and with it a removal of pretty much all of the ways to make gold from the garrison. This is a bit of a double edged sword because even someone like me, was able to compile a decent amount of gold just by logging in periodically and opening bags of gold from my garrison missions.
That said not a single moment of doing this really felt fun. It was a chore for me because I felt like if I was not cycling through all eleven characters on Argent Dawn I was essentially “leaving money on the table”. So doing my Garrison chores mean spending thirty minutes to an hour doing nothing but interacting with NPCs and queuing missions all before doing anything fun or interesting. So removing the gold from Garrisons will always be removing any leverage it had over me to actually do the crap contained within those instanced walls. What gets replaced instead is the every so much more exciting mission of farming all of the transmog bits from all of the old world dungeons and raids. Most of my characters have a fat stack of salvage crates waiting to be opened in the hopes of gathering up new appearances to unlock for the system. I still think overall the transmog changes are a bit of a half assed system compared to what other games have, but it is a far better system than World of Warcraft currently has. Tonight will more than likely be spent going character by character and checking things into the transmog system and getting rid of everything that is literally clogging my bank, void storage and inventory. I started a bit of this last night in selling off any non cosmetic gear that was for alternate specs other than whatever I considered my “main” role on a character. Getting things in the Transmog system however will pretty much clear up the rest of the space and allow me to actually start saving more interesting items.
Yesterday I decided to start “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” section of my hot bar. This area has been through many changes throughout the years and the whole idea was just to let readers know what I am actually playing right now. It originally started as me simply i-framing in the information from Raptr… but since I don’t actually use that server or any other equivalent games tracker that isn’t going to work. I shift games quite often, and I wanted a way to indicate what games are currently “on tap”. So this shifted from “Now Playing” to “Frequently Playing” and eventually wound up with the verbiage of “Regularly Playing”. The goal now is to evaluate the list once a month and make adjustments to keep it “mostly true”. I realize I am finger quoting a lot of shit in this post, but the truth is I come home and log into whatever seems enjoyable unless I have a specific activity planned that night. Over time some stuff fades away and other games get added, so I thought as part of this process I would talk a bit about where I am currently in each game on the list, as well as a bit about any that I might have removed or didn’t quite make the cut.
Destiny: The Taken King
I am still just irrationally enthralled by this game, though over the last week I have not played quite so much because I am starting to get back into MMOs once more. This week has been all about Iron Banner, because I am trying my best to get my Hunter to Rank 5… in spite of not being here for the weekend due to travel plans. The major goal of the month was to hit 335 light and I have managed to do just that on the Titan, however I am still lagging on the Warlock and Hunter with the primary slot that they need the worst being literally any legendary quality artifact. I need to sort out what I can do to get one of those because I have plenty of infusion fodder to feed into an artifact… they just have 320 blues currently equipped. The only real frustration that I have with Destiny right now is that Bungie is apparently shit at math. We were told that several activities would drop an item equal to your current light level of better. However now sitting at 335, there are still a truly silly number of activities that drop 334 items. From Challenge of Elders turn-ins last night I got both a 334 weapon and 334 arms, and from an exotic engram I got a 334 secondary… all while showing up in game as 335 light. This is pretty maddening since 334 is useful for infusion if you are desperate but what you want to see is 335s so you can bring up ALL of your gear to that light level. Regardless I am still loving the game and I am hoping that the next big patch will address this problem. Also hoping that when I get back from my trip I can finish the push to Rank 5 because I am roughly halfway to Rank 4 at the moment.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
This marks the second week of me being “back” at least as far as doing the Tuesday night raid content is involved. I am still very much in “catch up” mode, but I am enjoying myself. As far as downtime activities I have started the grind to get elemental crystals for the first Anima weapon, aka the Relic 2.0 or 3.0 depending upon how you are counting. I am loving being Lala-Bel once more and I guess whatever funk I was going through that was keeping me from playing MMOs has passed because I am enjoying myself again. I very much need to be doing a nightly Expert but that has yet to happen quite yet. After yesterdays post however I found a whole slew of people willing to be tagged and pulled in for expert running. Now I just need to get back from this weekend and get started on this proper. Also apologies ahead of time for the nightmares that will be induced by the creepy-assed Calcabrina dolls.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Season Six is very much winding down to a close, and I have managed to accomplish pretty much everything that I could have hoped for… at the very least I got my additional stash tab. I have friends who still have things to knock out to get theirs so I am very much in a help as needed mode. That said I am still poking my head into the game on a regular basis to farm for Menagerist Goblins…. something I have yet to actually see. The highlight of the season was something that I did not even realize was a thing until it dropped. I guess the cosmic wings are among the rarest item this time around.. because it is RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG. You have to get one of the rainbow goblins to show up… and then have to get it to drop the Whimsydale portal… and then have to get a specific mob to show up in there to get them. In any case pretty much any time I get a Whimsydale portal I holler at anyone who happens to be on to come along with me now just in case they drop again. I’ve made it way further this season than at any other time… the only thing I am not looking forward to is trying to merge my current seasonal bank into my non-seasonal bank once more.
This is the newest addition to the list and also the one I have spent the least time playing. This week was the official launch of Overwatch, and my friends list has been completely on fire about this game. I played it enough in beta to know that I liked it, and then ceased to play it any further waiting for launch. Now that launch is here however… I have all of these competing priorities. The game is really good and so far I have yet to find a champion that I don’t like… pending I give them a serious chance. I was largely diametrically opposed to D.Va largely because the mech looked like a killer whale mixed with a guardian mode veritech. However after getting the carbon fiber skin from a loot box… and giving her a proper try I found out that I really enjoyed it. The game is probably the best designed shooter I have played in a very long time. The thing that is going to keep me from really sinking my teeth in however… is it has no PVE/Exploration gameplay like Destiny. If I could have Destiny set in this universe with character progression and collecting awesome weapons… I would be completely hooked. This will likely always be a game relegated to the “once or twice a week” column for me largely because I am just not that competitive. Earning loot boxes is a cool reason to keep playing, but eventually there will come a point where I run out of things I care about that came come from lootboxes.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
This is the backburneryist of backburner games for me right now. I’ve gotten in the habit of logging in daily and collecting my free money from the garrison… especially now that I put a massive dent in my finances and bought the Grand Expedition Yak. That said every now and then I do play one of the characters that I am still in the process of leveling. I have this grand idea that it would be fun to roll into Legion with a full list of level 100 characters, however I somehow doubt that is going to happen… much the way as it has never actually happened during any of the other expansions. However that said the alt of choice right now is my druid that I am slowly pushing up. In truth I am in a holding pattern until Legion and largely not paying a ton of attention to the game in the meantime.
Things Removed From List
Elder Scrolls Online
The truth is the MMO Funk hit and I never really returned to playing this regularly. I still very much want to, but it is going to need another lag in some other game for me to really sink my teeth into it. The game that exists today is amazing and they have done a really good job of keeping the content fresh. The biggest problem is I really don’t have anyone to play with over there on the North American server cluster. Now if I were playing on the EU side… I know lots of active and happy guilds. I would absolutely play with the Whitestar folks were that really a viable option.
While initially interesting to me, this game just did not sink its teeth into me the way it did the rest of the AggroChat crew. There is just something that I don’t like about it… and I have tried to reason out what exactly it was. I still have an account and still have some cool stuff on it, so I might at a future date return to it, but it never really replaced my love for Destiny.
While technically it was never actually on the sidebar… it probably should have been. I was all about The Division at launch and that excitement did not even manage to carry me through to the level cap. I am sitting around level 26 and I am just not sure what is holding me back. Largely the content at that level doesn’t feel nearly as interesting or rewarding as it did at lower levels. The packs of mobs out in the world seem to be scaled for group play, and when you down folks… they don’t seem to be dropping anything interesting. In theory I could hold my nose and grind through it… but what would I be grinding for? I am so far behind the curve in gear and it doesn’t feel like the game really gives you a lot of great options to catch up. There has been a sequence of changes that I really didn’t feel like had me in mind. At first I liked that it felt like you could progress through the game on many different vectors and end up at the same loot goal. However the crafting material nerf really hurt that feel for me. This is something I might return to later, once they offer some Destiny like catch up mechanisms to give players a hand up.
This weekend as I have said before I will be going to visit friends in St Louis, or more literally Lake St Louis. As a result we will be taking the weekend off from the podcast, and I will be taking the weekend completely off from my blog. I am not sure if I will be making a post Monday or not… because in theory if things work as intended we should be back Sunday night. One of the things I was mildly relieved about was the fact that I would not be missing an Iron Banner. There is a nasty bug going on right now that happens in a certain circumstance… which primarily involves the rocket launcher from the raid… if it happened to roll with the Clown Cartridge perk. It combined with Cocoon meant that you could have limitless regenerating ammunition and be able to fire rockets long before the heavy ammunition showed up in crucible matches. As a result they completely cancelled Trials of Osiris, and looked like they were going to cancel this months Iron Banner. However yesterday unexpectedly Lord Saladin showed up at the tower, and just like that Iron Banner was on for the month of May.
I know without a doubt that there is no way I can manage to get three characters through to rank 5 this time around because I will be out of town for most of it. However I decided to focus on my hunter that is my second highest light character. The hope being that somewhere in this process I get some decent infusion fodder if nothing else. This go around the weapons are the Fusion Rifle and Sidearm… neither of which I am actually interested in. As far as armor we have Chest and Arms again, both of which are pieces that my Hunter has. In theory I should probably be doing this on the Warlock because he could use both of them. I did however manage to ALMOST hit Rank 3 last night on the Hunter and knocked out some of the harder achievements like “top score” for a match. It was a lot of fun, and a whole bunch of that I chock up to the Lord of Wolves Shotgun. I had not really fallen in love with this weapon, but I had moved it to the hunter at one point because it was 335 light and I needed something to get my light levels up.
What makes this weapon awesome is that it works unlike pretty much any other shotgun. Firing it feels more like a pulse rifle, and at least now… no one seems to be expecting it. So many times I managed to pick people off just outside of normal shotgun range with a single burst to the head. While it doesn’t hit quite as hard as a traditional shotgun… it still hits plenty hard and the perfect balance perk seems to help quite a bit with the otherwise nasty recoil. This feels like one of those meta breaking weapons, that will probably only work well against untrained players. There are plenty of ways to counter it… and lord knows last night several people figured it out. However for guarding flags… this combined with Trip Mines seemed to be super effective. Hunters are just brutal in any of the PVP modes, and that throwing knife… so much fun to use, so much cursing when it is used against you. I am certain that I pissed off a handful of people during the night, because there was this one guy that seemed to make it his personal mission to seek me out and kill me… not always effectively which probably only added to the frustration. Its my hope that maybe I can push to Rank 5 tonight and then maybe try pushing the Warlock when I get back from my trip.
As stupid as it might sound… this is the thing that I have missed the most from Final Fantasy XIV. The whole standing around and interacting while in the at the Free Company thing. Unfortunately this is also something that doesn’t really happen that often. It feels like with Heavensward there are not as many reason to keep returning to the Free Company house as there used to be. Also the FC is going through that pre-patch doldrums with not that many people being on within a given night, unless that night is Tuesday. I have been trying to clear my schedule so that I can participate in Tuesday night shenanigans and this week was no exception. For whatever reason however we struggled quite a bit, and in part I think that was because we were way short of a standard 8 player group. Towards the end we were down to five players… 1 tank, 2 healers, 2 dps which for most of the classic Extreme Primals was doable but considerably more difficult. As a tank I had to start dealing with mechanics that I usually never see like weight of the world. The other bummer was that through all of this struggle… we didn’t see any pony drops… and no real interesting weapons either.
As far as failing at my goal… it was my intention to get in every night and run at least one expert. The problem being… nobody has been around and my desire to solo queue is minimal. It is one of those hurdles that I need to push myself over, because I realize that it is not terribly likely that I will run into one of the “git gud” idiots. Most of the community is pretty damned chill, but there is a small fraction that feels just as toxic as any other. It was one of these people that halted another friends queue frenzy, and I guess I am afraid I will bump into one of those and have my happy reunion with this game halted. If you can bring two players into a four player group… you can mitigate a lot of frustration and if nothing else kick the offending party. However I wish I had a regular group of people to queue with for nothing more than a single expert, because god knows I need the currency to buy upgrades.
Developer Appreciation Week is here! For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster. The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios. As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better. That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole. So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there. If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.
I knew sooner or later I would end up needing to do Square Enix because at various times during my life they played a huge role in shaping how I looked at games. Lets go back to a time and a place where the only gaming news I got was through Nintendo Power magazine. In one of those issues I was first introduced to a game called Final Fantasy. For ages I had been looking for the personification of Dungeons and Dragons in game form, and while the gold box games did a decent job of doing just that… there was always something missing. Final Fantasy bridged the gap and gave me precisely that, along with a story line that made me care about all of the dungeon crawling. I remember being so insanely excited when I went to a nearby Walmart and they had this game in stock. The only negative was that within a short few days I would be heading to Boy Scout camp for an entire week. While I normally loved camp, this was quite possibly the most miserable week of camp I have ever experienced. All that I really wanted to be doing was playing Final Fantasy from the comfort of my bedroom… and instead I was making campfires, and hiking up sharp flint rock strewn paths. When I finally got home, firing up that Nintendo and playing Final Fantasy was quite literally the best feeling ever. Regardless of how exhausted I was from a week of camp, I still ended up pulling an all nighter and getting through that damned Marsh cave.
When Final Fantasy 2 was released… aka Final Fantasy IV for the rest of the world… it once again dominated my life for a period of time. I was completely blown away by the graphics at the time, and also amazed at how much more complex the story line of that game was. This was also the point at which I learned the hard lesson of save at every single save point, because of a bad mishap with the Magus Sisters. The game also introduced the term “Spoony Bard” into my vocabulary and for that I will always be grateful. This was also the first game that gave me characters I had no interest in playing… I am looking at you Edward and your inability to do any real damage. The game also gave my quite possibly my favorite goofy archetype of character… the Dragoon, with its amazing but also sometimes frustrating jump attack. I was completely hooked on the notion of having this huge cast of characters that I could switch between at will… but then ultimately only ever seemed to play with the same party ever. For the most part that party was Cecil, Rydia, Kain, Rosa, and Edge… with that last spot being highly variable as I went through the play session. This is really something I do even today when I play for example a Bioware game. In Dragon Age Inquisition, my party is pretty much permanently Cassandra, Dorian, Sera and my character.
It wasn’t until High School that Final Fantasy 3 was released… or Final Fantasy VI for the rest of the world. I remember it coming out around Christmas break and at first I rented it… which was a truly dumb idea given that the Super Nintendo didn’t have memory cards. The main reason for this was because the game itself was something stupid like $85 when it released, which was an awful lot of my limited resources at the time. However after a few days of playing the game I was making a trek to the big city to try and find a copy. After searching a dozen different stores I finally found a copy at Target, and much to my shock it was on sale for only $65. I am not sure exactly sure what it is about Final Fantasy VI, but for whatever reason I think this game will always be my favorite. I tend to love games that pull a bait and switch on me, when you think you are nearing the end of the game… only to realize that the world just got much larger and instead of being nearly done… I was just barely starting. I also have a soft spot for a lot of the characters in this game, because it managed to make me feel things that video games had not really succeeded in doing up to this point. Ashgar and I have had a conversation about this… and for me the game that did all of these things was Final Fantasy V. However for me… that game was not available and didn’t even receive a fan translation until I was well into college. The two games do a lot of the same things, I just happened to experience six first.
Over the years there has been a string of Final Fantasy titles always in my life, and several non-FF series games that I loved as well. For example I love beyond love Vagrant Story, and I remember playing the hell out of it when it came out on the PSX. I also spent more than my fair share of time playing Chrono Trigger, and the subsequent follow up games. Then there are games that I wish would get a reboot like Parasite Eve that were so amazing for the time in which they came out. Essentially there has always been some Square Enix game somewhere in my life, be it Bravely Default that I am slowly working my way through on my 3DS downstairs on my bedside table, or the Kingdom Hearts collection I have sitting beside my PS3 ready to start in earnest. All of these are in fact great experiences, but the one I feel like I really need to talk about is the miraculous rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV. This game was released in 2010 and was essentially universally despised. I remember getting into the beta for it and finding it just largely uninteresting more than anything. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t really feel anything about it. So I was more than happy to return to World of Warcraft, and forget that the game existed.
However in August of 2013 the game relaunched as A Realm Reborn, and I have to say I was shocked at just how much I liked the title. We played for a handful of months until our group ran out of content that we could realistically complete. Then July of 2014 I decided to fire the game up again, because I wanted to see how it had progressed in our absence. Final Fantasy XIV was one of those games that our group left on good terms. What I found waiting on me was this rich cache of content that laid untapped. Over the next several months we had what could only be termed as a renaissance of MMO gaming all centered around this game. I was happy to raid once again, and happy to be doing pretty much all of the tropes of a MMORPG. What made all the difference was the loving way in which this game was being crafted. I have to give huge shouts to the localization team and namely Koji Fox. Final Fantasy XIV is so amazingly well written and is packed full of more feels than most games ever manage to muster. There is content that will make you painfully belly laugh, and other times infuriate you for all of the right reasons. Then there are moments that will make you cry… and there are certain cut scenes in this game that even the mere thought of will summon up the waterworks.
While I am currently on a break from the game after burning myself out again with the launch of Heavensward, I know sooner or later I will return and be happy to do so. Heavensward was quite possibly the expansion I have looked forward to the most from any MMORPG that I have played, since maybe the launch of Trials of Atlantis in Dark Age of Camelot. Unfortunately much like ToA… I got my expectations up way too high, and the content drought that followed the launch ultimately ended up with me stopping playing. However as a couple of patches have built up for me, I plan on returning soon… probably after I get the upcoming Diablo 3 season out of my system. I am happy to know that there is still a very thriving guild presence in this game waiting on me. I have a feeling that sooner or later we will all return for yet another renaissance of MMO gaming and when it happens… it will be in huge part to just how great Final Fantasy XIV turned out.
I am back on the wagon as far as cutting out caffeine during the evening. During my post PAX illness without really intending to, I quit drinking pop. Any time I attempted to it hurt my already ungodly sore throat so I switched to mostly drinking water, juice or fake koolaid. As a result my intake of Caffeine seriously plummeted, causing a few side effects. Firstly my operating range… was greatly stunted, and by that I mean that I am able to stay awake until 10 pm max instead of my normal Midnight to 1 am sleep times. Additionally I noticed that I actually slept better and fell asleep easier… so after all of these years of thinking caffeine had little to no effect on me… I am guessing I was completely wrong. Monday night I was being lazy and ended up drinking Mountain Dew, instead of making something else to drink and when I finally tried to go to bed around 11 pm I found it significantly harder to actually get to sleep. As a result last night I opted to drink mostly water, and once again returned to being able to fall asleep easily. This however has some strange side effects… like my body is still used to getting 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night, and for some reason when I go to bed at 9 pm I end up waking up again sometime around midnight.
So last night I ended up waking up around 11:30 pm and my body apparently thought I had slept a full night. The television was blaring because it seems that I crashed hard and forgot to turn it off. In my brain I am guessing that I equated the television to the alarm clock, and I started going through the routine of grabbing underwear and taking off my night clothes and heading for the bathroom to take a shower…. only to realize that it was not in fact 5:30 am part of the way through that process. It is one of those moments when I was glad my wife was still completely conked out… because I am sure I looked like an idiot… half undressed, holding my underwear stumbling for the door. The point at which I realized was when I went to turn off the alarm clock only for it to finally dawn on me that it was the television. Now I am not saying I am giving up caffeine completely… because I just finished a tasty cup of coffee. I am however trying really hard to not drink anything with caffeine once I get home from work, and I have absolutely cut energy drinks out of my life completely. I am still very much going through the phase where every time I pass a cooler in a store that is loaded with them… I get that desire to purchase one. The positive however is that for the most part I don’t “need” one, and other than yesterday after not sleeping terribly well the night before… I haven’t had any real moments during the day where I was fighting drowsiness.
New Machine Thing
For the next few days I will likely be installing games on the new laptop, playing them once or twice and then moving on to installing another game. This seems to be my tradition when it comes to getting a new machine, because ultimately I am wanting to see how much better everything seems to perform. Last night the first game on the menu was Dragon Age Inquistion, which I finished installing Monday night. It ran beautifully and using the Geforce Experience settings it picked reasonably high settings, or at least high enough to NOT have playdough hair. After that I played some Fallout 4 and once again… it ran beautifully on reasonably high settings. The thing I am noticing is that there seems not to be nearly the gap in performance between the gtx 960m and the gtx 960 as there has been in previous generations. For the most part I am able to run things in the same sort of fashion I have come to expect on my desktop machine upstairs… which honestly makes me even happier. I was fully expecting the 960m to perform something akin to the 760/860 which had always been the case before… where a mobile card was roughly a full generation behind the desktop equivalent. Maybe Nvidia realized that this felt shitty and was also deeply confusing to the customers? The next game on tap will be to install the Witcher 3, which was another in the long list of games that my laptop simply would not play. At some point I will settle down and actually begin to play some of these games… rather than just launch them to see how pretty they look.
Towards the end of the night however I did manage to settle into a single game… that is at least until sleep claimed me. Yesterday was the release of the 3.2 patch in Final Fantasy XIV and I have honestly been fairly scarce in the game since well before the launch of 3.1. I always said at some point I would get drawn back in, and I guess last night in installing the client that started to happen. I am not sure yet if I will stick around for a long period of time… or if this will simply be another one of my “content locust” passes where I gobble up all of the new stuff and move on to something else. I do however want to see the new story content in 3.2 before someone online spoils any of the key plot points, which considering that is already happening to folks… I need to move fast. Last night I didn’t get much more accomplished than the first few steps of the continuation of the main story quest. I did however see several other quests that I am guessing are the new Hildebrand and new dungeon starter, that I will at some point have to pick up. The thing is… there hasn’t been a moment where I didn’t care about this game… I just wanted to play other things instead. I have a feeling that it will be up to the MSQ to determine if I really want to stick around after finishing the content. It seems like they also made some significant changes to the game, that I will have to sort through and determine how they effect me. One of my guildies last night told me to respec out of Strength because apparently Vitality is now literally the only stat that applies for tanking, so thankfully I had enough company marks to do that. This makes me wonder just how deep the rabbit hole of changes actually goes.
First off let me start this post by wishing all of you my readers a Happy New Year. During the course of this past year nearly 70,000 of you have visited my blog, and I am still scratching my head as to why. Whatever I am doing, I guess I will keep doing that in the next year. I do have some cool ideas for things to keep me moving forward, but I don’t really want to go into those right now…. mostly because it will involve some programming on my part to make it function. The thing I have learned over the years of blogging and this coming year will make seven… is that I am really really bad at columns. I will start a feature and then after a few weeks to months it peters out. The MMOs Worth Playing feature was one of my favorite so far, but it was also one of the more time consuming. That said in the coming year I would really like to bring it back, and maybe change its focus to be a little big more manageable…. sort of a MMO of the Month Club type thing. Each week during the MWP thing I was trying to log into that game, play it a bit to remember the things I liked about it… take fresh screenshots and get up a post every single Friday. As we got into the pre-Holiday crunch time it failed miserably. Maybe an MMO of the Month will work better because it gives me more time…. though honestly if the AggroChat Game Club is any evidence I will probably just end up waiting until the week before we record the show before attempting to play the game.
This morning the idea is to do my Awards for the year, since we have officially wrapped up a year now. These are not exactly your normal awards and more like the back of a high school year book… most likely to succeed etc. Though from what I understand…. there are a lot of schools who are no longer doing that for sake of potentially damaging students self esteem. More than anything I want to thank all of you for joining me on this continued journey. The last few months of the year were pretty rough on this side of the equation, but you all kept with me and kept supporting me, and for that I am immensely appreciative. Without further rambling… here is the inaugural edition of “Bel’s Game Awards”.
I absolutely did not expect to like this game, and in truth I probably never would have played it were not for the fact that my good friend Grace chose this as her aggrochat game of the month. I expected it to be largely played on a goof, and even went to the extreme of recording my first game play session because I expected it would be a maddening experience for me. The end result however was something I did not expect, I really enjoyed it. I laughed more while playing this game than I have laughed in a long time while playing any game…. maybe since initially playing Sam and Max Hit the Road. What is even more shocking is that I continued on after the initial play through and ended up getting six or seven different endings by the time we had recorded the AggroChat show. There has been a whole side discussion since about whether or not Hatoful Boyfriend is actually representative of Otome and Visual Novels in general…. or if it just lampoons the genre. I think more than anything it opened my eyes to the fact that this sort of “non-action” game can be extremely fun, and would make me at least try some other games. So kinda like WoW is an ice breaker for MMOs… this might be that sort of Icebreaker for Otome.
I remember when I first saw this game… it seemed like this amazing callback to the Super Nintendo era of RPGs where you had such oddball genre bending hits like Mario RPG and Earthbound. The problem is that in application… the game ended up as this soulless hull that simply was not fun to play. This was our very first AggroChat game club game… and none of us really liked it. This was the game that essentially we all unanimously voted that we wanted to play… and was also the game that caused us to change gears and start letting individual members pick a game for us to play, rather than trying to all decided together what the next game we would play might be. The game was frustrating from a technical level, but the level of grind needed to get very far just made the experience simply not enjoyable. The idea of being able to recruit hundreds of potential party members was amazing… until you realized that not a single one of them was interesting at all. The part that ruined it for most people was the fact that the main character, the mayor was so completely unlikable. I think it was Kodra that said that the game would have been salvageable if you could simply leave him at home and go off adventuring without him. The stereotypes were caricatures were humorous for the first fifteen minutes, and then quickly became painful to keep playing.
What can I say about Destiny the Taken King that I have not already said. I had no real hopes for this expansion because for the most part I had abandoned all hope for Destiny before the time the first expansion patch landed. Year one was a grindy mess whose light leveling system left me scratching my head and simply not caring anymore about trying to progress. I believe I managed to get to Light 26 before hitting a wall of resource gathering, that I simply lacked the desire to keep pushing through. In year one engrams in general felt few and far between, and you were constantly having to judge whether or not an item provided enough light to make it worth swapping it in, even if in other ways the item might be superior. Year two fixed a lot of this in the same way that the Diablo 3 2.0 patch just magically fixed that game, or at least made it FEEL better. That is the thing with me and games, the moment to moment game play has to feel good and also feel like I am getting something for my time spent. While I could say that technically there is way more grind in Year 2, it feels like you are at least getting something for your time…. even if it is just weapon and armor parts. I would rather see things drop… and all of those things be crap rather than never seeing a drop… and when you finally do it decodes into a lower level than the face value of the engram. The biggest change however is the fact that the Taken King has a story… and it is actually a cool one. Through both the quest narrative and the item descriptions that can be found on the website for each of the items you pick up… the game has started to tell this epic tale of both the Traveller and the Darkness, and how the two have battled through countless races and star systems since time began. For me, I patched up my game and tried the year 2 experience long before picking up the expansion…. and I highly suggest anyone who has not given it another shot do the same.
Game I Still Can’t Get Into
I love the Dragon Age franchise…. or at least I did. I’ve been a fan since Dragon Age: Origins… and I have beaten at least six different endings of that game. Which as a person who rarely if ever finishes video games… that should tell you something. I even managed to play through Dragon Age 2 a few different times, and largely enjoyed my experience. However when confronted with Dragon Age: Inquisition it feels like this insurmountable wall. Firstly I think the game just looks ugly out of the gate with its overuse of object shine and its strange playdough hair. The other big problem I have is that generally speaking I play roleplaying games on the sofa, where it is nice and comfy… and none of the laptops that I own are capable of playing this game with decent settings, or at least good enough settings to make it look not like shit. Recently I have picked it up for the Playstation 4 over the recent sales and it is my hope to maybe try playing it on the vita. The first statement anyone ever seems to make to me when I talk about my problems with the game… is that I need to leave the hinterlands. I promise I have left the Hinterlands… but the main storyline is just boring to me. It is nothing as awesome as Dragon Age Origins was…. and I think that’s because I just don’t like the Inquisition. I could get 100% behind the Grey Wardens… I believed in their cause and was ready to go into battle for them. I could give a flying fuck about being the Herald of Andraste. I hate this green shit that comes out of my hand… and I hate the feeling that I am constantly fiddling with the magic of the world… and my key goal in life seems to be to close rifts full of annoying demons. I like some of the characters that I interact with, but some of my favorite characters so far are characters you can’t take with you on missions like Scout Harding. My party of choice would be Cassandra, Sera, and Harding…. but instead I tend to go with Cassandra, Sera and Dorian. I wish I knew why this game is just so not enjoyable for me…. but I want to play it… I really do.
Lived Up to the Hype
The game this year that I was the most hyped about has to be Fallout 4, and that hype cycle started from the moment it was officially announced at E3. This game did so many things right, and really it was starting with the way it was announced. They held off to show any information on the game until it was already pretty damned polished, and then they hit it out of the part by saying that it would be in our grubby little hands only a few months later. In the meantime they gave us a pretty fun mobile game to keep us interested…. which I will talk about later. Fallout is one of those franchises that I place up on a pedestal for always giving me exactly what I wanted out of the game. A big open world with lots of little things to keep me interested, and a complete inability to ever truly “finish” the game. There is more content in Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and now Fallout 4 than I will ever have time to see. Hell in the few days ahead of the launch… I played some more Fallout New Vegas and was still finding things that I had never seen before… and I considered that game pretty damned well trodden. As far as Fallout 4… everything about the game makes me happy… apart from maybe the main storyline. The thing is… I don’t play Fallout games for the story… I play them to go off and inhabit the wasteland and weave my own storyline around me as I go. I thought the voiced protagonist would annoy me… but for the most part I have been able to ignore it. I really like some of the companions this time as well…. namely Piper and Nick. I wish so much that I could adventure together with Piper, Nick and Dogmeat at the same time because I love them all. The biggest moment for me though was when I realized that in this game through the settlement system I could finally make the world a better place. I have a dozen or so different settlements at this point, and I have spent time building on each of them. I feel like I am making things work…. and improving live as I go. As far as the Storyline… I find parts of it frustrating namely that I did not see a good option to broker peace between the three main factions. I would have loved a “Can’t We All Just Get Along” ending option… and maybe it is there but I just have not found it.
Hype That Didn’t Last
If I had to pick a game of the year based on sheer amount of time I played it during this year…. the award would go to Final Fantasy XIV. It has been my constant companion… that is until the last quarter of the year when I started to lose interest. I can’t say I am disappointed in the game, because the content leading up to Heavensward… and the launch content was really amazing. The problem I have had is like after the launch of A Realm Reborn there just doesn’t seem to be that much to do to keep me engaged. I guess in truth the game has always been this way… because I remember us running into the same wall a few months after the launch of 2.0, that ended up leading us to un-subscribe shortly after. Coming back when we did July of 2014 meant we had roughly a year worth of content waiting for us to progress through. This content kept us busy up until the point of the Heavensward launch, with us not actually defeating Bahamut until we did it unsynchronized. With Heavensward we lack that backlog of fun older content to work through, and our casual gameplay style just does not really fit with the Final Fantasy XIV bleeding edge. So we managed to down Bismarck Extreme, Alexander normal, and made some pretty good progress on Ravana Extreme before we petered out and started to lose interest. What is making it extra hard is the fact that there are only two max level dungeons at a time this go around. Previous expansion each content patch came with three new dungeons…. and having to run experts by only alternating between the same two dungeons gets old really really fast. I am sure at some time I will get the bug and go back to playing this as my primary game…. but for now I am just basically only playing the new story and holiday content as it arrives and the rest of the time…. simply not logging in.
Shocked I am Playing
At the beginning of the year, I had quite a bit of fun raiding in World of Warcraft, but as Blackrock Foundry drug on…. and the launch of Heavensward loomed I simply lacked the care to keep playing like I have done so many times. In June I quit playing as the chart at the end of this post shows and focused solely upon Final Fantasy XIV, and I think maybe it is this single minded focus that caused me to burn out of that game so quickly. Blizzcon is a primal force of nature that no one can avoid… and I have to say it got me started down this nostalgia trip that ended with me playing the free version of the game on my sub 20 horde characters on The Scryers server. This ultimately ended up with me resubbing to the game and I have to say I am really enjoying myself. I am playing the game in a much more casual fashion than I am used to, and while I am raiding every single week…. I am doing so with a group that only raids on Sunday nights, and during a time slot when I am normally downstairs watching television anyways. I know there is technically no new content, but what can I say… I am having fun. Playing Horde has breathed new life into the game because it is allowing me to not only play with friends I never really got the chance to play with… but also see the world from a slightly different perspective. No clue how long this will hold out but I think so long as I am playing it and OTHER games at the same time… it might just hold for awhile. I think the key for me not getting burnt out is to allow myself the freedom to play whatever I feel like playing in a given moment and not really forcing myself to keep playing something that feels stale.
Made Me Almost Care About Mobile
As I said above, one of the things that Bethesda did right with the launch of Fallout 4, is that they gave us a fun app to play with in the meantime. Fallout Shelter is essentially Sim Tower or the later Tiny Tower mobile game…. set in a Fallout Vault. This was actually a lot of fun for a few weeks and gave me a reason to play games on my phone. The problem is I eventually got bored with it the same way I seem to get bored with all mobile apps. There were a lot of times I thought that I would keep playing it, were it for the ability to play on my desktop while doing something else. But for a brief period of time I found myself caring about a mobile game, and that deserves some recognition. My lifestyle just doesn’t really support mobile gaming, in that if I am going somewhere… I tend to be the one driving. Then when I am at work… I should be you know… working and not playing games. When I am out shopping… most games simple require too much to get into them and do a few moves before you need to move on to the next area. Then when I am home…. I would far rather be using my laptop, gaming desktop, or one of several different consoles than spending time on a mobile device. The one thing that might change this is the fact that I have started spending some time on my new Kindle Fire before going to sleep. Right now that time is mostly occupied with reading comic books… but I could see eventually playing a game like Fallout Shelter while trying to fall soundly asleep.
Game I Wish I Enjoyed More
If you were to write out every single feature that I would want in an MMO on paper… you would pretty much get the feature set of Rift. That said for whatever reason I have struggled to get into this game since the launch of the first expansion. I will come back and play for a bit but find it far too easy to walk away from. I love Trion, and I love the awesome people that work there. I love some of the awesome folks engaged in that community like Kiwi. All of this said… I just struggle to get into the game itself. I think it is several problems, namely that I just don’t have a large friendly and active community to be part of. I mean I have the House Stalwart guild but it has been dead since the last resurgence several years ago that lead me to go found it. For a long time my hope was Machiavelli’s Cat community, but during Storm Legion the Rift contingency pretty much died, and it lead us to merge into Alea Iacta Est…. who then also seemed to die out. During this awkward period I tried a few other guilds, and never found a home… eventually creating House Stalwart on Faeblight. The big problem that Rift has that WoW does not… is the fact that there is no cross account id system that you can use for communicating with friends regardless of what character they happen to be playing. However with the recent “Glyph ID” that is now showing up in the launcher… I am wondering if they are crafting that infrastructure. I feel like I simply have not put in the necessary legwork to find a new home, because it seems like so much effort. That combined with the fact that finding a workable spec itself is a challenge, has left me in this phase of logging in… playing for a bit and then fading out again. I want to love this game, but it has been a struggle.
Most Emotional Experience
This is a strange one for me… because I’ve technically never played this game. The game itself is more of an experience… a visual novel of sorts… than a true game. Sure there are gameplay elements and mechanics… but those remind me of the video game equivalent of one of those pop up books that has levers and such that allow you to move the characters or animate a specific story element. I watched a let’s play video on this game, and in that I pretty much experienced all of it. The end result evoked some of the strangest emotions in me.. and actually lead me to cry at a few points. I think any creative type can understand the emotions that you go through in the experience, and I know for myself…. who tends to suffer from a fairly unhealthy amount of imposter syndrome… it hit incredibly close to home. I am not sure if it was a positive experience, and for all I know given the timing… it might have been the start of my recent funk. The rollercoaster I went through… was not exactly healthy. That said I feel like I have to give the game credit, because it made me feel things… like deeply feel things. Very few video games can do that, and ultimately I ended up purchasing the game as a thank you for the experience…. even though I doubt I will ever actually install it or play it.
Game of the Year
The only thing I can really give you… is a hearty shrug. I don’t know what my game of the year would be. If you judged it on sheer excitement and the eventual execution… it would probably be Fallout 4. If you judged it based on the amount of time I spent playing it through the course of the year, then it would be Final Fantasy XIV. If you based it on the sheer shock that someone got me to play the game in the first place… then Hatoful Boyfriend. Basically every game on my list deserves its recognition, and for the most part that recognition is positive with the exception of Citizens of Earth. I played a lot of games this year… and I hope to play even more next year. Game of the Year is honestly a silly concept… and just like I can’t really give you a firm answer for “Favorite Movie” or “Favorite Song” I could never tell you my absolute favorite Video Game. My mood plays such of a huge role in what I want to play at a given moment…. and if I want mindless destruction right now Destiny is giving me everything that I could ever want. But as soon as my mood changes… so does my preference in games… and I often times fall back on sheer comfort gaming like whatever MMO I happen to be into. So yeah… all of the games on this list… I mentioned because they were important to me, so they are all my Games of the Year.
One of the big problems with last week is that quite literally I had too many things I wanted to play. Not only did Fallout 4 release… and give me a franchise of shanty towns to look after…. we also had the launch of Final Fantasy XIV 3.1 patch. Now I have complained a bit that the lag between 3.0 and 3.1 was entirely too long. Basically from 2.1 onwards they kept a schedule along the lines of a major patch every 3 months and a minor patch every month. Instead this patch took about five months to release… and it was a long enough lag to get me completely out of the habit of logging in on a regular basis. That said I knew whenever 3.1 landed I would be back, albeit a bit rusty from lack of playing. Fallout however took precedence and over the last two nights I have finally consumed I believe all of the new quest content. Now we get to the mixed emotions part… because in one way the content was really damned good. It managed to hit us in the feels a few times and introduce a new to this game character… that we are VERY familiar with from Final Fantasy V thanks to Ashgar and his constant cheerleading for the Four Job Fiesta. The problem I am having is it did nothing really to re-ignite my desire to log in on a nightly basis.
The other big take away I had from the story content is it felt like a trickle compared to what we have seen in the past. I know at the very least the quest to unlock Void Ark was significantly shorter and less involved than the quest to unlock Crystal Tower. Similarly the main story line, lacked a big boss fight like they have in the past… because there was no introduction of a new primal. Also part of what I think is the feeling of it being small… is the fact that we did not get a Hildebrand story to go with it. So while I enjoyed the experience of the new quest content… I felt like it was over far too quickly, and took part of an evening to complete in total. That is including unlocking the new Vanu Vanu beast tribe quests and done two rounds of those. I don’t want to have this “let down” feeling but I can’t help it I guess. Maybe it is just that I had built up 3.1 as being this point of my grand return to this game… and like Tam has said in the past we simply lack the huge backlog of content to slowly work our way through that we had during 2.0. Maybe there has always been a very limited amount of content… and I just never actually caught up completely until this expansion.
All of this said… I have yet to do the two new dungeons, and have yet to run Void Ark, so maybe my feelings will be different after seeing those. Dungeons have always been the lifeblood of the game for me, but I have simply not been sleeping well the last few nights, so I felt more than a little out of it. Also Tam spent time playing Lords of Verminion last night, and I am hoping he writes up a quick guide because what I saw of it… looked like madness, but a fun sort. Mostly I just need to get back into the habit of logging in on a regular basis. I was in last night at least long enough to run my Vanu Vanu dailies before disappearing back into the Commonwealth, and at a minimum I plan to be doing that each night. I want my flying snake and I want my sundrop dance. I spent some of my stockpiled MGP one one of the new dances there as well… the “Gold” dance, which looks hilarious when my Lalafell does it. I also need to get back in the swing of tanking, because I was a complete slacker when it came to esoterics gear, and I need an awful lot of it. I also need to start running Void Ark to get items to upgrade with.
Is it wrong that I feel a little disappointed though? Maybe it just feels like a let down after the amazing ride that Heavensward was, and maybe the patch content is on par with what they have done in the past. Final Fantasy XIV has always been this happy place, and logging into the free company brings that point home. It is amazing that the guild has managed to keep trucking on and being active in spite of a large chunk of us taking an extended break from the game. I was just so ready to hop back in the saddle and be wowed by the experience… and instead I feel a bit melancholy about it. It just feels like the team might be resting on their laurels a bit, and maybe spent too much time working on Verminion that would have been better suited putting in more content for the patch. It really bothers me that there is only two dungeons in this patch cycle, because the whole Fractal/Neverreap thing got super old… super fast. Having only two dungeons means there is the one you enjoy… and the one you don’t… and it always feels like the only thing you get is the one you don’t enjoy. For us it was non-stop back to back Neverreap, and my fear is that once we start the dungeon cycle one of them is absolutely going to be “That” dungeon for us again. It is funny how much of a difference that extra dungeon seems to make… but man it does. Maybe they will add another dungeon in with 3.15 which is supposedly right around the corner. My hope is that they will also be adding more Hildebrand content… with another boss fight, and potentially a new primal. Mostly I guess it just feels like we got half of a patch, which makes me a little sad after the length five month wait.
Over the last few days I have felt run down, and I am grasping at straws to figure out exactly why. There seems to be something going around the office, but so far I am not really showing any signs of whatever it is other than simply being exhausted. Last night I largely struggled with a Migraine that kept me in a pseudo hibernation state, but this morning as I sit down to the keyboard and attempt to drink my coffee I am just feeling generally lousy. One of my co-workers has been out for three days with something, so I am hoping I am not coming down with whatever that was. Last night was the night of restless gaming. I attempted to log in and be present in Final Fantasy XIV but only wound up AFKing outside the guild hall. It made me appreciate just how much I love our free company house. It really is in just about the perfect location that seems to be close to just about everything in The Mists neighborhood. The only problem is… it is small. We have talked for a bit about potentially trying to pool our resources and getting a bigger house, but the problem there is we would have to move and likely out of our neighborhood.
One of the things that I like the most about where we are situated is that we actually know a large chunk of the neighbors surrounding us. While it has not been nearly as busy since the launch of Heavensward as everyone has fallen into this pre 3.1 lull… it is still nice feeling like you are part of something larger. While idling in FFXIV I attempted to play some Destiny and managed to complete a few bounties. However my aim was constantly wonky, and I knew I should not be attempting anything serious. As the night wore on the headache got worse and ultimately I ended up retiring to bed for awhile… the finally ending up on the Sofa. I hate those days where you have the will to play something… but cannot struggle through the “bad feels” in order to actually make any headway.
NDAs are Back
I am using Trove as the screenshot for this little section because it was one of the first “who needs an NDA” alpha games that I can remember playing. Everything about that game process was so out in the open that development discussions were openly happening on Reddit. For a period of time it seemed like every new game coming down the pipe was sans NDA so that folks could stream it freely and generate buzz. I was shocked when I managed to get into the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha for example… and was told that I could talk about it freely. The problem being… this open transparency bit more than a few games in the ass. Development is a messy time and as things are changing… you end up with features in “partially finished” states that look like a finished product to the gamer. The big problem with open and “pay to join” Alphas is that they no longer feel like testing. Instead you have simply released a broken game.
As a result lately I’ve noticed a significant number of games bringing back the NDA. Hell some of them seem to be almost unwilling to let the NDA go, as they have been in fairly prolific testing for a couple of years. As of right now I am in a handful of NDA bound alpha processes, and each of them seems to be trying to return to the era when Alphas were actually that. The problem with this is, I am finding myself far less interested in playing something that I can’t actually talk about on my blog. So generally speaking I install the Alpha client and play every now and then, but I am not actually playing enough to be a proper tester. I feel bad for this because I have always been the type to bug note the hell out of things as I see them. While I think it is probably a good thing for Alpha processes to regain some of their previous closed nature, I also feel far less invested in a game until it is actually hatched and ready for public consumption. So many things over the last years have blurred the lines between finished product and testing, and the current era of incessant and constant “early access” games just makes me leery to invest too much of myself in a game until I know that it is nearing its finished state.
Last night was a bit of a mixed night, in that I logged into Final Fantasy XIV early in the evening… and then spent most of the night with my chair turned to the side playing Destiny instead. I largely logged in when I did to be available for any raid shenanigans later that evening and also be available for various folks who were wanting to get friends invited to the guild. So I sat there with my headphones on attempting to monitor both games at the same time and doing a fairly poor job of paying attention to guild chat. I gotta say I am enjoying the Titan again now that I gave up on the whole defensive thing and went back to striker. There is something gratifying about doing Fist of Havoc in the middle of a pack of mobs and walking away to tell the tale. Largely I spent my evening working on quests and bounties. There are a handful that I cannot for the life of me figure out how to complete… what the fuck is an “attachable grenade”? I thought at first it was the lightning grenade that “sticks to any surface” but after a bit of reading this morning apparently it is the FIRST grenade option… which I don’t think sticks to anything.
At this point I am level 30, which I have to say really quickly how much nicer it is to have a simply leveling curve instead of that light bullshit. Having to sift through items and find the one with the highest light amount… was maddening especially when it often meant you were maybe turning down an otherwise superior item. The only thing I question at the moment is the fact that all of this “leveling” gear is upgradeable… whereas I am swapping out gear pretty much every single time I go out into the world, so upgrading it really is meaningless. The only thing I am still holding onto right now is my exotic gun, and that is simply because I have not found anything with higher damage. The moment I find a hand cannon with better stats, this exotic will likely get chunked in the bank for nostalgia reasons and I will happily use the next gun with better stats on it. I am still fairly firmly attached to a Hand Cannon as my primary weapon… or as they for some reason occasionally refer to them as “Sidearms” instead. As far as secondary and heavy… I am pretty partial to the Sniper Rifle and the Machine Gun because that combo gives me a strong way to pick mobs off at range… with a heavy with some serious stopping power. Stopping power that you need for the Taken invasions that seem to spring up at random in every single open world zone in the game. I stuck around on Mars long enough last night while working on a “kill champions” bounty last night, that I got to fight the same event several times in a row. The giant Taken Vex Minotaur thing… is freaking brutal. I don’t think it is quite as bad as a spider tank, but still pretty horrible to content with especially when there are not a ton of players around.
Taking Down Skywhales
While fiddling around with Destiny a large gathering of folks started showing up in Final Fantasy XIV. After a bit Kodra being the awesome person that he is, took it upon himself to try and make a group happen. I am super thankful that he did… because I was absolutely not paying a whole lot of attention because I was busy trying to headshot Taken. It turns out we had a few people who had not managed to get Bismarck Extreme yet, so that set our course for the evening. Learning nights are interesting when you are teaching a handful of people a fight, because it ends up shifting the balance for the rest of the group as well. Players who were the newbie last time, step up and become the experts and I saw that happening quite a bit last night. Bismarck Extreme is still serious business even though we have downed it several times now, and I went into it knowing that it would take a few tries before we finally got it down. On our first attempt we predictably missed the back on the first try, but after that we adjusted and started hitting that first hurdle pretty reliably.
The hardest hurdle as always is getting down the two snakes in time. The challenge there was simply a matter of keeping all of our dps alive and busy killing sky snakes because during that phase if you lose a single player it is highly unlikely that you will be able to pull it out. We are quite simply not geared enough to be able to carry that objective too hard. In truth we downed the boss the try in which we kept everyone alive. That just happened to be about 15 minutes before the instance timer ran out. I think it was a pretty great night though all things consider and we broke a few more players into the rigors of end game Final Fantasy XIV content. For the time being Monday night raids are on hiatus until November when the 3.1 patch lands, and I think in the mean time we are going to use Monday nights as a sort of “get stuff accomplished” night for whatever anyone happens to need. I would not mind farming more Bismarck or even getting a group back into Binding Coil of Bahamut. Cosmetic gear is always a strong draw to get me back into a place.
This week has been a tale of the universe conspiring to kill me… otherwise known as horrible horrible pollen count. When you go to one of those sites that tracks air quality, my neck of the woods has been bright red for the last several weeks. As a result I have been walking around in a bit of a stupor. Friday I felt like I was coming out from behind a fog, but this morning after running around yesterday I am once again feeling miserable. Essentially it seems like my best option is to huddle inside and forget the world outside exists. The biggest problem I have is that the only allergy treatment that seems to really work is Benedryl… which puts me to sleep. So as a result I take a cocktail of other medications in the hopes of blunting most of the things going on… and then combining that with copious amounts of caffeine in the hopes that somehow someway I will be able to function as an adult. Adulting is really damned hard sometimes. In spite of all of my time hunkered down this week, I really don’t have a wide variety of things to talk about.
Star Wars the Old Republic
Once again this week my primary source of gaming entertainment has been Star Wars the Old Republic. As I mentioned last week during the recording of the AggroChat podcast I started working on my Smuggler, and I have continued that process throughout the week. As of last night I am now on Alderaan and level 34. The extremely level gap that I had on the content is starting to shrink and as a result things are getting more difficult. I need to look up and see when the next upgrades are available because I am starting to feel like I need to spend some commendations on both myself and Treek to get some more gear. I had been trying to do this every other level range, so that I skip one upgrade step but the levels have not been coming nearly as fast as they were on Taris and Nar Shadda. I am however rolling in the commendations because they just seem to keep coming quickly.
I am absolutely enjoying the smuggler storyline because it feels so vastly different than any of the other storylines I had experienced. The Jedi Knight and Jedi Consular stories interweave as you go throughout the game, but it seems like the Trooper and Smuggler don’t really work this way. I am very much on my own mission through the galaxy with my own cast of characters to interact with. I am still really happy I made my choice to go with Treek over Corso Riggs, because even listening to him running Crew Missions is enough for me. I’ve managed to unlock three of the faction story bits with Treek and I am wondering if she has a special mission at the end or not. She just seems genuinely happy to roam around the galaxy killing things, and I am happy to keep her in business.
Yesterday I went through the steps outlined in this video link to attempt to get Tron 2.0 up and running on a Windows 8.1 system. It took a little bit of fiddling but I finally managed to get things running. I have to admit right now I am struggling a bit, because quite honestly it feels like a decade old game. The controls are not nearly as responsive as I have come to expect from a shooter, also it returns to an area without functional auto-save. This means that yesterday I died… after playing the game about an hour, realizing that the last time I had saved was during the tutorial when the game specifically asked me to do so. The combination of wonky controls, and not having auto-save to lean on… is going to mean that I have to shift the way I think about the experience. I’ve decided already that when I restart the game I will be lowering the difficulty and skipping the tutorial since I already saw it once. Here is hoping that I can manage to get through it before the AggroChat show next week!
Final Fantasy XIV
This is going to be the first week period that I have not actually logged into Final Fantasy XIV. Allergies and generally feeling like shit kept me from raiding on both Monday and Wednesday nights, which was unfortunate. I’ve been in this holding pattern waiting on the 3.1 release to come in and sweep me off my feet with overwhelming love for the game again. However over the weekend at the Tokyo Game Show they announced that we can expect the 3.1 patch in November. That seems a really long ways away… considering that people are desperate for content right now. The only thing we can think is that maybe the pet battle system might be what is delaying it… but honestly it would seem like a much better call would be to bump pet battles to 3.2 and get some fresh content now. This is precisely the problem we went through at the launch of 2.0 and ultimately why many of us quit playing when we did. We got tired of grinding the same two dungeons over and over. In the mean time I will have SWTOR and Wildstar to entertainment. I don’t plan on quitting the game, but I will probably not be playing a lot of it until November to be brutally honest.
Disney Infinity 3.0
The other thing that I have started playing with yet again is Disney Infinity. I managed to catch a silly deal on the Disney Infinity 3.0 set while only spending $15 out of my pocket on it. This gave me the 3.0 base game with five figures… the exclusive Boba Fett and then Luke, Leia, Anakin, and Asoka. The 3.0 interface itself is much refined from the 2.0 version and features an almost MMO like feel to it where you have various hubs in a persistent main world. Additionally there seems to be some sort of arcade feature that allows you to connect to players around the world and play with them. I have not really explored much other than talking to each of the quest givers off the main hub, and unlocking their specific area. Boba Fett is pretty damned overpowered as he has rockets that pretty much destroy anything they hit. The only negative that I see so far with the Star Wars characters is that unlike Iron Man or Thor none of them seem to have flight abilities. I halfway expected that Boba Fett could use his jet pack, but instead that is just used as a sort of charge attack. I am guessing that also means that most of the play sets will be built in a way where they don’t need flight in any fashion. Right now there are really only the two playsets that I have seen for 3.0 but I am sure more will be coming shortly.