Chat Goes On Left

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One of the things I am realizing is just how bad I am at responding to messages some nights.  Last night for example I was mindlessly grinding away in Destiny 2 while watching video full-screen on my second monitor.  All the while various folks were messaging me on lots of different platforms including battle.net, slack, discord, and even some resorted to twitter.  All of which I was largely oblivious to as I happily ground public events and took down high value targets pushing the warlock up in level so that I can start doing the weeklies on that character as well.  The problem is really two fold, firstly that I am so used to soloing at this point that I am not really watching messages like I used to for the sign of someone else popping online.  The second issue I will get into shortly.

At this point my Warlock is level 28 so nearing 30 but apparently completely capable of wearing gear of decent level because I am now rocking an energy weapon that is 350.  It is super hard going back to the warlock after only really playing the Titan for a good deal of time.  Hunter is simple…  multi jump will always be multi jump.  Warlock on the other hand has the wrong version of Titan jump and no matter how long I play it I never can quite get used to it responding the opposite way that I am expecting.  I feel like folks either bond with Titan or Warlock jumps…  and from that point on the other one just doesn’t feel like a jump should feel.  Hunter on the other hand always feels like you are riding around on a midair pogo stick.

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Now the other problem I was talking about earlier is that Destiny 2 UI design is designed wrong.  What I mean by that is in literally every MMO I play the chat box location is on the left hand side of the screen as illustrated above by my UI in World of Warcraft.  The chat you care about appears on the left hand screen, and in this ElvUI layout the chat I don’t care about at all ever…  appears on the right hand side of the screen.  This is pretty much how I lay out every MMO that allows me to shift around the UI, but I cannot remember a game off the top of my head that does not default to having the chat left justified for lack of a better term.  Destiny 2 on the other hand creates a super spammy loot window that you cannot remove on the left hand side of the screen and gives you the chat you actually care about on the right hand side of the screen…  that will constantly minimize to just a tiny notepad document looking icon.  When you receive a message it does not de-cloak and show you said message…  however any time some jackass loots some random item the game takes every opportunity to make sure you know about it.

This is a broken design and causes me to simply ignore that chat exists because it does not conform to the cultural standards I am used to.  By culture I mean the general cultural design of MMO games, of which Destiny 2 is a part of regardless of how Bungie feels about that label.  To make things worse…  Bungie themselves taught us that the only place that matters for text was the left hand side of the screen in Destiny 1 as they placed all of that spammy nonsense there.   There is in theory a sound that is supposed to play when someone messages you, but whatever sound that is is either inaudible to me personally…  or just blends into the din of everything else happening in game because I never notice it.  \

Ultimately what my inability to notice chat cost me last night was a run through the raid as my friends over in TQMB were trying to reach out because they needed one more to get started.  I am hoping when they put in the clan chat they also give us the option to swap the locations of the two chat panes so that the spammy nonsense goes on the right and the important chat goes on the left.  Otherwise I am honestly not sure if I can ever fully train myself to look for chat in a weird location.  After over two decades of online gaming… I am just too indoctrinated into a “chat on the left” mentality.

More Warmind Impressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster Hunter and Destiny

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While I am not quite ready to throw out a complete post about it…  I am swirling around in my head the notion of rebooting Blaugust this year.  If I did so it would be a slightly different affair and I am sorting out in my head exactly what that might entail.  There was a period of time when we had a bunch of events happening at the same time…  Developer Appreciation Week, Newbie Blogger Initiative and Blaugust.  None of which really exist today in their current form and have not properly for a few years.  So in remixing Blaugust I would be also attempting to fill some of the niches that the others provided as well by laying out a series of themed weeks.  The rough idea is it would start with the last full week in July as a sort of “Prep Week” where the remaining elder bloggers would sorta throw out “how to get started” posts from an inspirational, logistical or technical manner.  It is still an idea that is incubating however so I will do some sort of a larger post once it has solidified completely in my head.

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The other general thought that has been going around in my head is that Monster Hunter World has become my new Destiny: The Taken King.  That sounds counter intuitive I know since Destiny 2 is a much closer simulacrum to the original game than Monster Hunter World given that they are two completely different genres.  However what I am talking about is more the way I engage with the game rather than the way the game actually plays.  Destiny 1… especially during the Taken King era was this game I was completely obsessed with and wanted to know every tiny bit of lore I could find for it.  It was this giant box of content that allowed me to engage with it in whatever method I chose to, and also always gave me one more goal to complete once I had finished the previous one.  It was this title that I could just log in and play any given night without needing to bring into it a predetermined purpose because there were so many layered purposes available that I could easily latch onto one of them and proceed happily for an evening.

I had a small group of friends playing it, that allowed me to do bigger activities if I so choose like the various raids I completed with Axioma and later Tequila Mockingbird.  That said most of my time playing the game was just me roaming around and doing stuff that suited whatever mood I happened to be in.  There was always one more obstacle to overcome and one more piece of loot that I was chasing and never quite obtaining.  It was a perfect storm of hooks for me personally and kept me entertained right up until the point when my head was filled with daydreams of Destiny 2 and what might be.  I realize I can still log in at any point I want and play the game again…  but it almost feels tarnished due to the greatly diminished community surrounding it.

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Destiny 2 for reasons I cannot fully explain does not contain the same hooks for me that the original did.  I tried very hard to stay focused on it, and for some time I have blamed my eventual malaise towards the game on the fact that I tried to play it twice.  What I mean by that is that I played the game hard and heavy when it released on Playstation 4 and then immediately turned around and went through the same manic leveling process on the PC one month later.  Effectively I ran up six characters to high gear levels back to back, and I had managed to hit 305 the then cap on PS4 before swapping over to PC and grinding up to that point again.  That is a lot to ask of any game to sustain interested during that sort of nonsense and I largely explained my fading away from the title as simple burnout.

The problem is there was so much more that I have yet to completely unpack.  The moment to moment game play in Destiny 2 feels amazing…  but there is a problem with its feedback loop.  What was missing was my drive to keep doing more of it once I had obtained whatever shiny baubles I wanted to obtain weapon wise.  What was missing was some larger overarching pull that kept me going off and doing individual tasks that ultimately felt like they were adding up to some big payoff.  In part the problem is a lot of those items that I used to grind for…  now exist as Eververse cash shop exclusives.  The other problem is that when they have put in longer grinds like the weapons of osiris…  they feel extremely hollow because they are so horribly repetitive and involve you doing the same limited number of activities over and over.  I realize they are still trying to fix this broken loop and some of the upcoming changes might help it…  but I feel like their over reliance on timed mechanics is going to be a bridge I just cannot cross given now much anxiety they inflict.

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On the flip side you have the game Monster Hunter World that I honestly did not expect to get into, given my lousy track record with the handheld versions.  However I am engaging with it much the way as I engaged with Destiny during the Taken King era.  I find myself looking up lore for the monsters if they have existed in the series before, and if not speculations about their origins and such that are floating around on Reddit.  I find myself researching bits and parts for armor and what interesting builds surround them that exploit their specific attributes.  I find myself able to log into the game any given night and just find something to do because I have this massive laundry list of things I want to go acquire.  I can always use more elder dragon parts….  but similarly can use the gemstones that are rare drops off of almost any creature you can hunt.  I became completely ecstatic last night when I got a double gem drop off Zorah Magdaros…  that I cannot fully explain why I was bothering to do in the first place.

This is the feedback loop that used to drive me while playing Destiny 1 and it is the feedback loop that keeps me doing nonsense.  I have an addiction to SOS Roulette which isn’t even really a thing…  just something I made up in my head to relate it to the various roulette’s in Final Fantasy XIV.  I like dropping into the middle of an assortment of random events happening that people need help on and trying to push the scenario to a win condition by my interaction with it.  Sure there are times we fail miserably like Monday night…  but then there are nights like Last night where we somehow managed to win every single boss fight I attempted including Val Hazaak and Nergigante.  There will likely NEVER be a time when I cannot use at least one or two things off the elder dragons.

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What makes Monster Hunter World so sticky is that eat time I get the parts to craft a new piece of gear, it ends up opening a whole bunch of possibilities to solve other problems…  and often times leads me down a path of wanting something else to try some new build out.  The way the gear sets interact in interesting ways means I am constantly searching for another piece of gear to complete a specific stat packages that I have decided in my head that I need.  This was the same sort of nonsense that happened for me in Destiny 1 where I was constantly seeking out a slightly better stat package that interacted more perfect with the gear I had.  I had a vault full of items that I didn’t want to shard because they were useful under certain circumstances and led me to want to keep them.  I am having this same problem in Monster Hunter World where I am afraid I will legitimately hit the 1000 item hard  cap on equipment.

Effectively what I have realized is that Monster Hunter World is my new Destiny, and hopefully I have explained a bit this morning what that actually means.  It is that game that I can pick up and play without any real reason… and find a constant stream of activities that I want to be doing…  that also feel like they are working towards some larger objective.  Capcom is doing an excellent job of keeping a constantly flow of events and activities happening almost every week to keep us engaged and wanting to do new an interesting things.  Kulve Taroth is phenomenal and might go down as some of my favorite content in any game…  but the fact that they sprung it on us completely unannounced makes it all the more exciting.  While I have had friends who have bounced off of this game… I still maintain an active enough community to be able to do things together if need be.  The only problem is that right now I seem to be a couple of hours off what would be prime monster hunting time…  given that I tend to wind down around 9:30 my time and that is when folks are getting online.

Ultimately while this might seem counter-intuitive…  if you loved the original Destiny but largely have bounced off Destiny 2…  you might give Monster Hunter World a try.

The Good Grind

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Over the last few days I have been thinking about where Monster Hunter World has succeeded and Destiny 2 has failed.  I know this is probably a strange way to start off a post, but I am playing MHW the way that I fully expected to still be playing Destiny 2.  If you add up the total time I have spent with the Destiny franchise across different platforms you wind up with 741 hours.  Given that sort of track record I fully expected to be playing that game currently.  That said I have missed two faction rallies, two iron banners and have not really even logged in during the current crimson doubles event.  Sure I could be getting all manner of cosmetic gear from them…  but the weapon and gear system just feels hollow given that I have collected most everything I am interested in using.

While I love the token loot system, Destiny 2 has a problem with not giving us a meaningful grind to be focused on.  Doing event after event hoping to get a Masterwork Weapon or Piece of armor doesn’t really count.  When I say meaningful grind I mean something that I can do on a nightly basis that is fun, but also feels like I am making progress towards some larger objective.  In many ways the fickle nature of loot in Destiny 1 and the existence of things like the Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge gave me something I could do… that felt like I was potentially moving in the direction of something that I wanted from the game.  As it stands there are too few interesting weapon options and the watered down version of exotics no longer really make them worth chasing in the way we used to before.

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It may simply be because I am playing on the PS4 with friends that I am drawing the conclusion…  but as I play Monster Hunter World I think about the ways that it has given me this path to madness paved with little incremental rewards.  When you kill or trap a Monster you are hunting you are showered with a bunch of monster parts…  some of which are useful and some of which are not as useful.  The thing is, regardless if I have 50 of an item… I am still sorta excited to see them because I know that eventually I might need to use them to craft some new weapon that I then have to upgrade up to the final version.  I might suddenly decide that Hammer is awesome and then have to start building up my collection of weapons much the same as I do for my beloved Longsword.

I know that every thing I kill, and every object in the world that I loot is taking me towards some bigger goal.  The number of times that I have had to go out lately and farm herbs…  one of literally the first items you encounter in the game…  is shocking given that I am dealing with a completely different set of monsters than I did back then.  However it doesn’t seem like tedium because they have placed value on almost everything you can encounter out in the wilds and while you may not need it today… there is likely going to be a time at some point in the future where you will be wishing you had more of it.  While literally every moment I am not hunting a big epic monster is busywork…  none of it feels like it because it feels valuable to the larger mission of the game.

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While Destiny has never really had something close to this grind, I am thinking maybe it should.  The central focus of all of this for me personally is the Smithy, which is a menu driven crafting system that allows me to turn all of these bits and pieces of critters I have taken down…  and meld them into usable gear with interesting stat combinations.  I’ve spent a good deal of time farming up Odogoron, which is a giant hairless blind hell hound looking thing.  I personally really like its armor set and I want to be able to wield the full thing a a potential replacement for my mishmash of gear I am currently wearing.  This gives me a goal, and the grind itself is slow enough that each kill feels like meaningful progress without ever giving me that landfall moment of getting everything I possibly need in a single round.

Imagine for a second if you had gear and weapons in Destiny based on a similar concept.  Each time you took down the Fallen example, there was a chance of getting an item that could be used in the crafting of Fallen themed weapons or armor.  The common items would drop from Dregs, medium rarity items from Vandals and the rare bits from Servitors and Walkers.  Then say you wanted to craft the Vex Mythoclast you would need to maybe take down a Gate Lord to get the focusing lens, and a bunch of Minotaurs to get the armored housing.  All of this is more meaningful than collect 40 of token Z and hope the RNG gods smile upon your en devour as you may or may not get the item you want from a relatively deep loot table.  It also turns Banshee-44 into more than the Gachapon machine that he currently is, by giving him the actual ability to craft specific items for you.

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What Monster Hunter World does better than almost anything is that it gives me a target for my nightly nonsense.  Granted right now I cannot craft the Chrome Slicer I because I lack the zenny to do so….  but I know where every single piece that it requires drops from.  I know that I can run loops around High Rank Wildspire Wastes for most if it, but to get the Fucium Ore I am going to have to make my way down into the Elder’s Recess.  If I notice a weapon requires parts off of a specific monster I am given a bunch of different ways to target that one specific encounter and run it over and over if I so choose.  In my case what I personally tend to do is answer SOS beacons for that specific encounter, feeling like I am actually helping out someone else in the community take down that critter for fun and profit as well.

More than anything what I think Monster Hunter World does so well is that it eases you into all of this.  You quickly learn the value of the items you can grab out in the world as new patterns start showing up that you can craft.  You notice that items have ??? beside some of the materials and it drives you to go out and explore until you find them.  All of this creates a feedback loop of take down epic feeling monsters, get items, craft interesting gear…  so you can take down even bigger monsters.  Sure a lot of the gear is not strictly required…  but for someone who is very gear focused it certainly makes the journey feel a lot more meaningful.  The monster battle portion being fun enough that while I am actively engaged in fighting…  I am not even thinking about what might drop which is not the case in most MMORPGs.

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When they first started talking about Destiny 2 being a much more open world and quest driven game…  this is honestly the sort of experience I had been envisioning.  What if you could fight a Destiny boss the same way you do a Monster in Monster Hunter World?  What if getting every player to focus on taking out a Gatelord’s weapon arm caused it to no longer be able to fire that weapon… and instead forced it to change up tactics and start engaging in melee attacks.  What if the way you fought a boss mattered just as much as the weapons you took into the fight?  When we got Destiny 2 and it was a stripped down version of what we had in Destiny 1…  I was disappointed, but the mechanical loop of the game kept me engaged for way longer than the game itself probably deserved.  I had enough hype built up to carry me through the console launch and restarting with the PC launch…  but now I just don’t ever feel like even logging in.

What I want is a good grind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean running Omnigul hundreds of times hoping that maybe just maybe you will get that one in a million perfectly stated Grasp of Malok.  What that means for me personally is something that I can do on a nightly basis that feels like I am eventually heading towards some goal down the road.  Maybe at some point in the near future I will feel like I am out of grinds in Monster Hunter World, but I can at least see a road map in front of me that seems like it is going to be an interesting ride.  Right now I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of objectives that I could be chasing, and as I move up… it feels like the world keeps expanding out rather than narrowing down to a pin point like the raid cycle does in an MMORPG.  Monster Hunter World is a really great grind, that is attached to a really fun experience of taking down giant monsters that fight in a fluid and believably organic manner.  Maybe Bungie will find its footing at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying discovering the Monster Hunter franchise.

The Visionary

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I don’t have a whole lot to say this morning given that by the time I got home I pretty much crashed on the sofa and wound up officially asleep about 9:30.  Last week I had several nights where I was not asleep until after 1 am and I think they are catching up with me.  I played a little WoW and a little Destiny 2 but nothing really of sufficient effort to talk about it at length.  The bulk of my evening was an hour long call with my folks where we talked through christmas plans or the potential lack thereof considering we are expecting an ice storm.  We mostly agreed that if the weather was dicey…  Christmas could be any day given we can get together.  My mom used to be super big on doing things on the official day but seems to have mellowed out over the years.  Mostly this morning I wanted to make sure my readers knew about something…  namely the Fall of Osiris comic book over on Bungie.net.  Personally I would have rather they just released it in one of the comic book e-reader formats for us to download and enjoy on our reader of choice…  but the step through the panels format works well enough.  I mean in theory we could recreate it in PDF or CBZ format considering you can easily open the images in another window and snag them that way.  That might be a side project…  but anyways it is 10 pages worth of story and well worth the read.

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Buried in the middle of the comic is a panel showing the written Prophecies of Osiris.  Of course Redditors immediately noticed that at the top of the text was a broken line that looked a lot like morse code, and then another one quickly decoded it.  The end result is a code that when input into the Destiny redemption page rewards you with an emblem. Simply input the following text in the code redemption box…

XFV-KHP-N97

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As a result you end up with “The Visionary” emblem shown above.

 

Xur Week Twelve: 12/1/17

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Destiny 2

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This is potentially the last of these Xur reviews that I will be doing on this blog.  It is not out of a lack of interest, but more than next week with the Curse of Osiris the reset time is changing and with it when Xur arrives.  Right now Xur shows up in the middle of the night and as a result by the time I shower, get ready and sit down to blog is available for me to talk some shit about what he just brought.  Starting next Tuesday however that reset time will shift from 5 am my time to 11 am …  long after I have already been at work for a significant amount of time.  This is a boon for the career YouTube types so they don’t have to wake up quite so early, but not really for me so alas this is probably the end of my recent Friday feature.  The flash point zone this week is the EDZ which means Xur is hanging out near the Winding Cove drop zone.  There is technically a cave that allows you access to the ledge he is on… but I never can remember where the entrance is and just end up jumping up the rocks to the right of where he is at.

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Sweet Business is a really cool sounding weapon that winds up being a horrible idea.  Maybe I am being a bit unfair but in truth I have never been able to get much out of this gun.  Firstly it requires some wind up time while firing before it arrives at its final rate of fire and as such true damage potential.  The perk payday in theory helps with the wind up because you can fire it from the hip relatively well and as such start firing ahead of when you are actually needing to deal damage to a target especially in the crucible.  The magazine size of 99 seems really awesome…  but given how fast this fires you will be empty and suffering the pretty horrible reload speed before long.  Where the gun really lacks however is in the total ammunition you can carry.  Payload might help your magazine but it doesn’t actually seem to help your pool of ammo and when I attempt to run something using this weapon I find myself always starved for kinetic ammo.  Definitely pick it up if you do not already have the weapon, but I am not a huge fan of it.

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Do you want to punch things?  Do you want to punch all the things?  Then these might be the gauntlets for you.  In the grand scheme of things they probably are not that good, but are pretty fun to at least play with while running around doing planetary content.  The biotic enhancements per does two things really, firstly it greatly increases the range of your punch allowing you to hit targets at roughly the distance warlocks can.  On top of that it gives you a version of surrounded where the damage your punches deal increases based on the number of targets around you.  This is insanely fun against boss type encounters with a lot of minions and would potentially pair nicely with either the Sentinel or Striker trees that allow you to gain health regen on kills.  Definitely a pick up if you do not already have it… and in truth I am even going to log into the PS4 and buy this since it is the only Titan exotic I am lacking there.

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Arc Bolt is one of those grenades that only seems to work in really ideal conditions.  This chest is all about making that grenade be able to chain a little further, giving you some wiggle room on what those ideal conditions actually are.  The problem is… there are WAY better hunter exotics than this one and in truth until Arc Bolt gets some sort of a rework it isn’t exactly worth building an item loadout around.  The positive however is this version does come pre-slotted with an arc grenade recharge mod so at least they realized the only edge case anyone would ever want to use this item.  It’s worth picking up for unlocking but not really much more than that.

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Do you like Nova Bombs?  Do you want to always be Nova Bombing?  Me too…  sadly this helmet won’t actually let you do that thing.  The perk Actual Grandeur in theory grants you super energy on Nova Bomb kills.  The rate that I have seen is that if you are able to Nova Bomb and kill five targets, it will take your super bar roughly to the halfway point.  So sure this does a decent job of regeneration but it also falls drastically short of the dream of being some sort of Evil Ryu throwing void fireballs.  In my experience if you are dedicated to Voidwalker you are far better off with Nezerac’s Sin or even the Eye of Another World.  Once again, pick it up for the unlock because Bungie occasionally balances exotics to make them better and you might as well have it in your collection.

Destiny 1

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This week Xur is hanging out at the Reef and offering a few items, including a Helm I never managed to get on my Titan.  This week he is offering.

  • Legacy Primary Engram – 31 Strange Coins
  • Eternal Warrior – Titan Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Young Ahamkara’s Spine – Hunter Arms – 13 Strange Coins
  • The Stag – Warlock Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Monte Carlo – Primary Auto Rifle – 23 Strange Coins
  • Monte Carlo with Royal Flush Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust
  • Trespasser with Crucible Assassin Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust

Bungie Mostly Gets It

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Yesterday I made a post talking about some of my frustrations and some of the frustrations of the community at large.  In lieu of giving the final Bungie Curse of Osiris reveal live stream, they opted to instead give us an extremely dense blog post paired with a podcast episode expanding on the theme.  As a programmer by trade I am generally slow to assign malice to the actions of game developers, especially when said problems get patched out of the game.  There have been so many times in my own life that I have thought something was going to be a really good idea, and in the end it only served to hurt my user base.  As a result I haven’t really talked about the whole XP gain issue because it didn’t really directly effect me.  I essentially told myself there were three reasonable bright engrams that I could get per character and past that I didn’t attempt to go out into the wilds and grind for more.  I didn’t even really have time to participate in the Clarion Call event that was happening over the Thanksgiving weekend because family and reasons.  Also as a programmer I read yesterdays post as a game company attempting to peel back the curtain and show the players the mess that is hidden behind it.  I more or less accept their explanations and I figured this was something I should state up front before I dig too far into the specific issues.  I highly suggest you read both the blog and listen to the podcast because hearing the voices of Luke Smith, Mark Noseworthy and Eric Osbourne explain why things are the way they are…  really drills home the point that they did mean the best.  None of them are really polished orators and there is emotion in those voices that helps to add accent marks to the commentary.

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One of the biggest announcements is that there is a brand new tier of weapons coming.  Yesterday I talked about the whole static roll thing and mostly how I was bracing for the return of randomized stats.  In truth I was preparing for the worst because I actually like static rolls on gear because it lets me know directly what I am shooting for, and not always wondering if there is a better roll around the corner.  I feel like they sort of shot down the middle and landed in a happy place that I can accept as reasonable.  Masterworks will be legendary weapons that roll with an extra mode that provides some amount of randomized stats.  The above image is lifted from the Bungie blog post and shows a Uriel’s Gift with a bonus 10 to reload speed and also shows that they are starting to track how many kills you have made with a specific masterwork weapon.  They announced a couple of things about this that make them more reasonable…  firstly you can re-roll the stat node until you get the one you actually wanted.  Secondly you can break down masterwork weapons that you do not want to get upgrade materials to turn your normal legendary weapons into masterworks themselves.  Functionally this gives players what they said they wanted… in the ability to get different versions of weapons but also makes it sane and rational for those of us who actually liked fixed rolls in being able to upgrade our existing stash to the new version.  Also it allows us to slowly work our way to perfecting the roll with whatever combo we were wanting on it by re-rolling that node.

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Another big announcement is that they are adding duplicate protection for exotics, so that the game will by nature favor giving you exotics that you do not already have over exotics that you have seen over and over again.  This has been a major point of frustration for a lot of players, myself included…  in that we keep getting the same exotic items over and over when there are still a bunch on the list that we have never seen.  I hit a streak of six prospectors in a row awhile back, and anything to blunt that would be much appreciated.  They also announced the return of Three of Coins in a modified form of just providing a 4 hour buff that gives you an increased chance at exotic drop rates.  I had a love/hate relationship with Three of Coins, and to some extent I like Xur serving more of a purpose each week than just presenting you with exotics you have already seen him sell numerous times.  Lastly while on the Xur front they announced that he would begin selling an additional item called a Fated Engram which decodes into an exotic item that you have not already unlocked on that character.  The above image shows that this costs 97 shards… which is a hefty price but by the time you need this you are probably going to be swimming in them.

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Another thing that I was extremely excited to see is that Banshee-44 will start just straight up selling a limited number of mods each week for a combination of Mod Components and Legendary Shards.  Now at first this doesn’t seem a amazing because it is not like we are swimming in Mod Components, however they are attempting to create a bridge for that too.  The biggest problem I have with the mod system is that in theory I need to hold onto every single blue mod in the hope that I get three of them to turn in for the purple variant.  As a result I regularly have no room left for mods because the 50 slot inventory is just inadequate.  Now they are going to make it so with blue mods you can break them down for gunsmith materials but they will also have a chance of dropping a mod component at the same time.  While saving them up for a guaranteed mod is nice… I will absolutely start breaking down every blue i get because I just don’t have the room.  They did state that eventually he will sell Kinetic Damage mods which in truth are the only ones we really have a hard time chasing.  Side notes… apparently Master Rahool will start straight up selling Legendary Engrams to help those chasing Masterwork weapons, and Benedict will redeem raid tokens before you get your first clear.  Additionally faction merchants will only now beckon you…  if you have enough tokens to turn in for a faction package.  So no more every icon in the tower blinking at once.

Functionally everything I have talked about is coming in either the December 5th update or December 12th.  I am going to attempt to list out the various things appearing in each, but I am certain to miss stuff so again I highly suggest you read the blog post and listen to the podcast for yourself.

December 5th

  • Armor Ornaments
  • Gunsmith Selling Mods
  • Blue Mods Occasionally Dropping Mod Components
  • Master Rahool sells Legendary Engrams
  • Benedict allows immediate raid token turn-in
  • Reputation Token Economy changes – way more tokens per activity but slightly higher turn in amounts
  • Cayde’s Treasure Map Minimum Payout
  • … and of course the Curse of Osiris storyline and related stuff

December 12th

  • Masterwork Weapons
  • Selection of Faction Armor/Weapons Purchasable for Legendary Shards
  • Xur Changes – Fated Engram + Three of Coins
  • Zavala/Shaxx sell Gift consumables that give interesting bonuses
  • No More Empty World Chests
  • Vendors leave you alone until ready to turn a package in

 

All of this sounds great to be honest.  The problem is we rarely get one of these posts like this.  All the player base really wants is to know what is coming down the pipe and roughly when they can expect it.  This is true for Bungie and Destiny but also equally true for World of Warcraft or any persistent game that receives a constant slow trickle of content.  Sure dates may not be final and they can shift and slip… but it is still nice to know what exactly we are waiting on.  I can only hope that this is the beginning of them giving us more information in greater detail… but in truth I feel like this is triage to stave off the angry pitchfork mob.  As players we get deeply invested in these games, and to hear them talk about it as a Hobby is a step in the right direction.  I would love to see one of these posts each time there is a content drop brewing just to let us know what folks are thinking and how they plan on addressing the concerns of the community.  Deej and Cosmo both do excellent jobs of giving us information…  when they are allowed to.  Most of the frustrations with online games in general come from a feeling of not knowing what is going on in this thing that we are spending so much of our time doing.  If we got a monthly post that outlined the timeline of what they were thinking about doing during that month…  I feel like we would be in a much better state and more willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  However this is a double edged sword and they talk about it a bit in the podcast.  They have been so gun shy to say anything because they don’t want an idea they had to turn into a promise when they maybe don’t even know if it is possible yet.  In the end…  its a tricky situation but I think the combination blog post and podcast were the right decision to make at this time.  I’m pretty excited about a bunch of the quality of life changes, and ready to tear into the new content next Tuesday.  My sodium levels have lowered greatly.

 

 

 

Seasonal Swan Song

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I talked a bit about progress in Destiny 2 in yesterdays post but I didn’t really want to get too deep into it figuring I would talk more at length today.  Last week I managed to knock out a bunch of accomplishments, not the least of which was hitting 305 light finally on the Titan.  Granted I realize this is all going to be in vain starting next week as the level cap itself is raising and I assume as well that means the light level with it.  Last week was Iron Banner, the second for console players but the very first for those of us choosing to primary the PC version.  Now on the PS4 I managed to complete a full set of Iron Banner armor on my Titan and my goal was of course to do the same for the PC.  I consider myself extremely lucky because I managed to get the full set after turning in thirteen packages.  There are folks I know who have been grinding away at this all week long and are still missing pieces of armor.  In addition to this I managed to pick up all of the weapons but three…  sidearm, fusion rifle and submachinegun.  Of those the only one that I would have actually used is the Fusion Rifle, but even there I have several options that I like already including Merciless if I am willing to give up my exotic slot and Main Ingredient if I am not.  The most important weapons for me were getting the Pulse Rifle, Auto Rifle and Hand Cannon all of which will see use.  The scout rifle might, but I need to spend some more time playing with it.

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The other thing going on is the fact that this week is effectively the last chance to do anything in Season 1.  Now I am not entirely certain what this means from a player perspective other than the fact that we know a bunch of new stuff is going to happen.  All of the Eververse items are changing out apparently, so that only makes the fact that they have apparently been throttling our xp gain towards bright engrams all the more shitty.  In truth I have gotten the few items that I care about…  namely the Ramen bowl emote and Bandwagon ship.  On top of that I managed to pull three of the exotic ships total and two of the exotic sparrows.  All in all I feel like I made out pretty well for season 1, but what I am really curious about is whether or not all of package loot is changing as well.  There are a number of weapons that I have not managed to get that I really walk…  namely the Curtain Call rocket launcher, Jiangshi AR4 auto rifle and Halfdan-D auto rifle.  I would not mind getting a Morrigan-D rocket launcher either considering I believe it is the only one with tracking still intact.  Finally I really want to complete the hunter set from Io on the off chance that maybe those are changing out as well.  Granted I don’t know any of this, but I know in Destiny 1 they started re-rolling the weapons so that is a possibility here as well I would guess.

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Lastly the other big change for us personally… is that our clan will be resetting from rank 6 to rank 1 next week and we will need to begin the leveling process anew.  Supposedly we will be adding a brand new clan banner standard to the mix because we maxed things out in Season 1.  Additionally the perks for each of the clan ranks will be changing out to a new set more relevant to the content we will be doing, that is at least in theory Vex based.  The only thing that concerns me is that we do not have nearly as many people actively playing right now as we did at the launch of the clan, and as a result the grind is going to go more slowly.  The calculations I had done before said that we needed about 20-25 characters reaching maximum contribution each week to keep us hitting the progression cap each week, and I think in theory we will still have at least that.  I know I will continue to keep contributing my 5000 clan XP on three different characters per week and if things get dire I have a set of characters on the PS4 on a secondary account that could add experience as well.  This whole season thing is new concept to me and I am somewhat excited to see just how different the game is from a loot perspective.  That also means that this week I need to do some significant vault purging to get ready for the introduction of new items.  I am hoping that we get some more space… because we need it across the board from vault to shader storage.  If they really want money from me…  I would throw money at the screen for more storage space.

Xur Week Ten: 11/17/17

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Destiny 2

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This week we have a phenomenal week for Xur at least as far as I am concerned.  He brought a bundle full of goodies that I either had never gotten to drop or did not yet have on the PC.  As a result this week is an extremely expensive week for me personally.  As is always the case he can be located on the Flashpoint location and in this case that is Titan.  You can find him in the rig section in a building devoid of enemy spawns.  That said be careful because they will absolutely stand at the doorway and shoot you while you are hanging out and doing your business with your face tentacled friend.  You might need to do a little pre-clear before you duck inside.  Let’s get on with the goodness.

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Hard Light as a gun has always been in the marginal category as far as usefulness goes.  It was never a bad weapon but it also never really stood out in the pack.  The year two Hard Light feels better across the board but still is far from the best Auto Rifle that you could be using in your energy slot.  That said the it is still a really interesting weapon because of its ability to shoot around corners and the fact that it lacks damage fall off.  That is however a deceptive thing to say given the way Hard Light works in that it fires a volley of projectiles that go bouncing around as they hit surfaces, meaning you can in theory “curve the bullet” and fire around corners.  While the gun doesn’t have damage fall off there is absolutely accuracy falloff the further from your target you get because you increase the likelihood that it will encounter something else and cause the trajectory of the original round to shift.  All of this is still in the fun and interesting but not amazing category until you bring into play another intrinsic ability of the weapon, and that is to shift the elemental damage type by swapping around your perks.  This isn’t near as handy as the playstation exclusive sniper rifle that has a keybind allowing you to do it on the fly… but it does serve as an excellent prism/match game weapon that can shift to whatever element you happen to be lacking.  If you do not already have this it is well worth the pick up and I know I personally am definitely going to be grabbing this for the PC since I’ve yet to get it to drop otherwise.

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The Synthoceps are another fun and interesting item, but maybe not best in slot at anything.  If you are a Titan you probably like punching things…  and these gauntlets improve the way you punch things.  The exotic perk Biotic Enhancements increases your melee range and improves melee damage when surrounded.  That last bit can be a slight improvement if you only have a few targets around you to a massive improvement when you are fighting packs of things like thralls.  If you combine this with something like the striker melee build…  you can do a number of very interesting things and cause massive amounts of damage as a melee titan.  Similarly this would benefit the sentinel spec path that causes you to regain health on melee kill, but not nearly as much given that spec cannot really chain melee abilities in the same fashion as Striker.  This is an item that I had yet to get so I am definitely picking it up for the unlock, and more than likely going to try out a striker melee build around it.

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Do you really still want to punch all the things even as a Warlock?  Karnstein Armlets are a set of exotic gloves that are effectively all about punching things as a warlock.  They have a built in version of the devour perk, though as I understand it significantly weaker that causes you to gain health recovery on melee attacks.  Note that it says attacks and not kills so in theory just punching things are going to help slowly regenerate your health.  While doing this punch happy life you are also slowly increasing the regeneration of your melee, grenade and class ability.  I am absolutely certain there is a build out there that could make the most of this… and I feel like double dipping with devour is maybe a great option.  Sometimes you look an an item and think to yourself…  I can build something around this and that is definitely the case with these gauntlets.  If nothing else I wanted to pick them up simply because I did not have the unlock in my collection.

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The Lucky Raspberry is a returning item from Destiny 1 that more or less kept the same ability.  Probability Matrix the exotic perk causes your arc bolt grenades to chain significantly further than in their default state.  Additionally dealing damage with your arc grenade has a chance of recharging your grenade.  This means that if you drop your arc grenades in a large pack of mobs, it is extremely likely you are going to get a proc and return your full grenade charge.  This makes this item a beast for doing something like the Nightfall on the weeks where every kill counts towards gaining back time on the clock because you can wait until arc burn and become a mad bomber dropping grenades everywhere.  The rest of the time however you are probably not going to see enough mobs tightly clumped to really make this worth using.  Occasionally in the team shot environment of the crucible you can drop one and take out an entire team…  but that is going to be the exception rather than the rule.  Still a very interesting chest to pick up and at least add it to your collection.

Destiny 1

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Xur had a similarly interesting day in Destiny 1 as he brought a couple of my favorite items.  Firstly the Armamentarium is the chest piece that I want back for my Titan more than anything because it simply gives you a second grenade charge.  Right now I am so enamored with striker titan largely because it is the only spec I can have this functionality back.  Similarly once I found the Bones of Eao I never looked back because it started enabling me to quad jump as a Hunter, a piece of utility that beat out every other possible exotic that I might want in that slot.  The Warlock helm is largely forgettable because it is their version of the Alpha Lupi chest that Hunters and Titans have…  but Xur did bring the Universal Remote which is the very odd primary slot shotgun.  Lots of stuff worth picking up if you don’t already have them… and I would say for Titan and Hunter these are absolute must haves.  Enough so that I am legitimately considering grinding out the strange coins so I have them on my Xbox One account.  Here is the full run down of what he is selling.

  • Legacy Chest Engram – 29 Strange Coins
  • The Armamentarium – Titan Chest – 13 Strange Coins
  • Bones of Eao – Hunter Boots – 13 Strange Coins
  • Light Beyond Nemesis – Warlock Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Universal Remote – Primary Shotgun – 17 Strange Coins
  • Dragon’s Breath and Tigershark Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust
  • Nemesis Star and Meteorite Ornament – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust

 

Snipers and Hellboars

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One of the core problems with Destiny 2 is that progression is all about luck.  What I mean by that is especially as you wind down towards the end of the power curve, everything lives or dies upon what you happen to pull from your powerful engrams each week.  Once upon a time SquirrelPope told me that he started getting random world 300 blues when he hit 299.5 on his base light level.  I’m at 299.8 at this point and have yet to see one and nor have I actually seen any of the supposed vendor engrams that go as high as 300.  At this point on my Titan I need a chest and a class item to hit 305, which admittedly is way sooner than it happened during the console release.  That said everything is luck of the draw for me and this week my luck was just about as bad as I could possibly get.  In total I got six sniper rifles among the nine powerful gear packages that I have opened on my characters.  Sniper rifle being the only weapon that I consider utterly useless because I have yet to find one that is even close to being worthy of that power slot.  Grenade Launcher is traditionally a stinker as far as slots go, but even there I have Berenger’s  Memory and Play of the Game that I like using.  If I absolutely had to use a sniper… so far the only one that seems even viable is Gentleman Vagabond from crucible packages but even then…  there are so many other good weapons that I could be using in that slot.

I tweeted this comment out last night and I thought I would post it on my blog as well this morning.  I promise I meant this to be helpful and not ragey, but it does frustrate me when I see players effectively wasting the scorch cannon rounds spamming the crap out of them.  I admit that I did not know this was even possible until I got to run the Wrath of the Machine raid in Destiny year three, so I went that long effectively using them wrong myself.  The scorch cannon at face value looks like a rocket launcher with a lot of ammo, but it is way more than that even though the bosses that use it never actually use them to their full power either.  With Titan being the weekly flashpoint planet, you are going to encounter a lot of scorch cannons considering 2 of the 3 available events on that planet involve Fallen Walkers.  The weapon has a somewhat hidden alternate fire that involves holding down the trigger after you have fired the round and letting the munition grow in size before releasing and letting it explode.  You are going to have an auditory and visual queue to this and while you can continue to let this go and keep gaining strength as Squirrel pointed out last night, my personal experience is that the 4 second rule seems to be the most efficient for killing those walker tanks.  What I do is fire a round and then duck behind cover while holding the trigger allowing the munition to grow in size and about 4 seconds into holding it visually doubles in size.  At this point I let it go and let the damage get dealt while lining up a shot for another round.  Basically doing this will burn your target faster and easier I might add than spamming rounds and also give you more than enough ammo to take out both tanks with a single Scorch Cannon.  The AOE explosion is also fun for dealing with waves of yellow bar captains and such, but unfortunately this is a tidbit of ancestral knowledge that has not yet circulated through most of the population given that I see most players wasting these weapons.  As a result I just wanted to toss this thought out there and hopefully it sticks.

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As far as last night goes however…  after my crushing disappointment of being in sniper rifle hell…  I decided to chill out on the sofa with my new favorite orc.  At this point I am just shy of level 64 and am still in the Hellfire area cleaning up the quests.  In theory I should be able to completely skip Zangarmarsh and go to Terrokar, doing the every other zone leapfrog across Outland much like I have done with Legion content.  There is something extremely relaxing about Warrioring it up and all the while chatting occasionally with the Facepull crew horde side.  Mostly World of Warcraft is serving as this super relaxing comfort gaming time for me, and with work being as stressful as it has been lately I guess I am finding I need it.  Right now it is looking like I won’t really get to take much time off for the holidays other than the default days they give us off.  I have too many deadlines crashing in together at the same time, and this is also throwing a massive monkey wrench in my traditional Pax South plans.  Right now unless something massively changes I will not be attending this year which is a bit of a bummer considering I’ve gone every year since its inception so far.  It also means I will miss out on meeting up with friends and hanging out… and the biggest bummer of all is that I just found out my friend Cuppy is on a panel this year.  I would have loved to have seen that, but then again I am absolutely horrible at actually attending panels at Pax.  I tend to miss them while wandering around doing other things.  Even if not for Pax I am hoping to make it back to Austin as some point in the future.