Horizon Impressions

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Yesterday morning I warned my friends that there was a 99.9% chance that I would end up hunting Zoids all night long, and not to expect me for anything else.  This was a completely accurate sentiment.  Sure I popped into Final Fantasy XIV long enough to do my Ixal crafting dailies…  which admittedly take way longer than any other set of quests…  but after that I had a date with Aloy.  Now Monday night I got in for about an hour as soon as the game unlocked, and spent at least a little bit of time getting myself adjusted to the world.  My goal this morning is to give you my spoiler free impressions… or at least as spoiler free as I possibly can while still talking about the game and showing things off.  When I logged in last night I descended into the valley for the first time on zip line to start my first off rails questing, and I have to say…  I was instantly hooked on the game.  Granted from the moment I booted it up and played through the first little bit… the hook was already setting pretty strongly.  One of the things we do as gamers is try and compare every game that comes along to something else that already exists.  The problem with doing this in regards to Horizon Zero Dawn is there is just a lot of things this game is drawing from.  In theory if you took Skyrim and blended it with Fallout…  then mixed in a huge dose of the modern Tomb Raider games with a little Mad Max and in truth a touch of Farcry…  and you end up with a pretty good explanation of this game.  More importantly than that… this game is what I wanted Turok Dinosaur hunter to always be…. stalking awesomely augmented dinosaurs with only my bow and my wits.

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What is most impressive about this melange of different genres is just how damned good it feels.  Not only does the world have a high coolness factor but it also feels like it makes sense.  Things exist for a reason, and as the player and observer… it feels like you understand the whys of the world better than the characters that participate in it because you can theorize about what each and every little Easter Egg laid before you might mean.  In many ways you get the impression that this is an alternate version of Fallout… where instead of returning to the surface and finding the world a barren wasteland…  the first survivors found a world reclaimed by nature and populated by the machines they created run amok and self replicating.  Granted none of this is stuff that I know, just things that I have started turning around in my head.  What is absolutely true is you are existing in a world where the machine and the wildlife are equally at home on the grassy plains, and you as a hunter need components from both to survive.  So with your bow and your spear you set out to scavenge what you need from the landscape.  You play the role of an outcast, someone shunned by the tribe from birth…  and the key driving force of your actions is more than anything to find out why.  The shunning aspect feels a little odd, especially given how many of the tribe you end up helping out along your way as optional side missions.  I was originally wondering if these wound up effecting the flow of the story at all.. but so far having played through the first little segment it really doesn’t seem to other than offering items and leveling opportunites.

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One of my problems with games that put a bow in my hands is generally that bows have extremely limited ammunition.  I love bow weapons, but have always hated either trying to make sure I purchased enough arrows before I left town… or making a trip back to do so in the middle of doing something else.  Given that the world of Horizon is a world of scavengers…  they fix this issue with giving you the ability to craft most of your needs on the fly.  So at any point… even in the middle of a battle which seems a little awkward…  I can crack open my crafting pane and knock out a few arrows so that I can continue the fight.  The same is true with traps when you eventually get the ability to use those, and upgraded ammunition like fire arrows.  Similarly your gear can be modified to improve its stats and tweak its abilities…  but I question if this is going to be a key mechanic or if its just the equivalent of enchanting something and you will keep shifting bows and spears as you travel through the world and get exposure to better armor and weapons.  I wound up getting the digital deluxe edition and on top of the pre-order bonus… I wound up with a bunch of different options for gear that you would not normally start out with.  The only negative here is that there is a moment in the story where someone makes what is probably intended to be a significant upgrade for you…  and it ends up not being an upgrade at all.

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At this point I have finished playing through what could ultimately be referred to as the “starter zone”.  So many times in video games there is a closed off and protected area that you start the game in… and through a sequence of events you are pushed out into the much wider world.  I stopped playing at roughly 11 pm last night and I had just literally crossed this barrier, and figured that I really should call it a night otherwise I would literally be up for another two hours.  That means to complete this “intro” section it took me roughly five hours… one hour the first night and four hours last night, which all things considered seems to be like a fair amount of game play.  Granted I always stop and smell the roses and I attempted to do all of the side quests I could possibly do, as well as spending some time gathering resources to upgrade my quiver and various other inventory elements.  What I like the most about this game is that it feels like I truly am self sufficient.  I can live off of the things that I scavenge from the land… be it herbs to fill my medicine pouch, or upgrading my various pouches to be more effective at gathering.

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The only thing that I don’t really like is that it feels like maybe the game sets you up a little bit to fail.  There are some items that you scavenge off of the bodies of the machines that are clearly marked as “crafting” materials.  So those make complete sense to hold into for long term use.  However there is another category that is marked as “trade to vendors, sell for shards” given that metal shards are the universal currency as well as a crafting material.  So my immediate thought was that these would be vendor trash and I could simply sell them with impunity.  That is absolutely not the case and as I found out from later vendors… certain items require certain scavenged components as well as shards to purchase.  So right now there is a set of armor that I would love to have…  but it requires me to collect two watcher eyes…  something that I have had plenty of in my inventory but had been selling them to vendors for shards up until that point.  Basically…  what I am telling you is to hold onto the various materials that you pick up off the machines unless you find out for certain that you are not going to need them.  The game at least in theory tries to teach you this… but the lesson was not as clearly outlined as it should have been when you trade a part you scavenge for an item.  I am used to bringing all sorts of random crap to NPCs for the sake of a quest… and did not realize that the game was attempting to teach me that this is a thing that could and does happen.

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Up until this point I have really only talked about the game play, which is generally a safe spoiler free den of information to dwell on.  Now I am going to attempt to talk about the story, which is a section where I am going to get a lot more vague and general.  For lack of better phrasing… as good as the game feels when you are fighting robotic dinosaurs… it also feels equally good when you are dealing with story elements.  The game has created a world that I instantly want to know more about, and populated it with a bunch of interesting characters that I have feelings about be they good feelings… or bad feelings.  I already care far more about this game than I do many others that I simply go through the paces because they are mechanically enjoyable.  I really like that the game allows me to tailor the Aloy I want to play through giving me a series of dialog choices that are reminiscent of the Bioware games.  There will generally be an option marked with a fist, an option marked with a heart, and an option marked with a brain.  So far I have not really chosen the fist that often, but I tend to alternate between the heart and the brain depending on how I feel about a given character.  These choices do at least somewhat effect how later interactions are going to work out…  based at least in one small part on how I interacted with someone when I was a tiny babby Aloy.  I chose to use the brain option… and sure enough the game remembered it and brought it up at a later time.  The game does a great job of giving you characters that you are going to hate… and other characters that you are either going to genuinely like… or at least begrudgingly respect.

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All in all this game has lived up to every expectation I had for it.  I wanted an awesome post-apoc game where I roamed around on an awesome bow lady and took down robotic dinosaurs.  This game has paid that off in spades, but also given me a really interesting world that I already deeply care about, as well as giving me just enough call to action to make me want to move forward in the quest chain.  This is where so many games fail for me when it comes to open world adventures.  In Fallout 4… I simply did not give a single fuck about the main story arc.  All I wanted to do was explore the world surrounding me and build up the settlement of Sanctuary.  I didn’t care about my baby being stolen, and I most certainly didn’t care about trying to track it down.  The game completely failed at giving me enough motivation to keep moving forward…  however already in Horizon I care… I want to know more about why this world is the way it is and how exactly all of these different pieces that it keeps exposing me to fits together.  Guerrilla games has somehow managed to create an open world with an infused sense of purpose behind everything you are doing…  and I like it… I like it a lot.  I am sure there will be some slow spots… as happens with literally every game but I feel both the desire to keep moving…  but also at the same time the freedom to wander about and explore whenever I want to.  At this point I am super hooked, and am fighting every desire to boot the game up and play some this morning because it would without a doubt make me super late to work.

Working Weekend

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Well this morning is not getting off to a glorious start.  File this under the category of more issues with web hosting.  I seem to be unable to upload any new files to any of my blogs.  Some sort of permission issue, and unfortunately not one that I can remedy myself with the level of access that I have.  We had an issue over the weekend where my sites got peppered with a bunch of bad files that were being used to send spam mail.  As a result I think the web host maybe locked things down a little too tight.  I spent the bulk of my Saturday morning going directory by directory and deleting this fishy files that had gotten uploaded through some exploit somewhere along the line.  However in the meantime I can’t upload any new images… which kinda derails the whole process of blogging for me.  Instead of writing a proper post I have spent the last forty five minutes trying to resolve the issue on my own with zero luck.

As far as gaming this weekend I was all over the place.  I played some Rift and made it to level 67 in the Gedlo Badlands, and also partook of the weekend mount sale to pick up a couple of the previously lockbox only mounts including the back warmech thing.  Early in the week I had set my goals on leveling the Deathknight in World of Warcraft to 110.  Then I found out that the frost hidden appearance that drops from this weeks world boss… also requires Artifact Knowledge 4, which was not something I could hope to finish during the timeframe.  That said I still have been having an awful lot of fun on the Deathknight and even casually playing without a serious push… I managed to get him to just shy of 108.  In Destiny I worked on getting all three of my characters through the various weekly quests available from Shiro in the Iron Temple.  I now have all three classes at 385 or above with my Titan being the highest at 387.  Other than that I started Dishonored 2 and am struggling to get into it.  I am not sure what it is about the setting but it is far less interesting to me than Dunwall.  I am not terribly far in so I am going to continue giving it a shot until hopefully it clicks.

Other than all of this… my weekend was perforated by a lot of things happening at work that I ultimately had to log in and deal with.  A prime example is that I had been trying to finish a dungeon needed by my Deathknight when I had to drop the dungeon finder group… and hop on a conference call for an hour to try and sort out what was happening.  The problem with being salary…  and not having an official on-call rotation is that it means you are always on call.  We sorted it out but it was a something looming over my head because you are never quite certain when you are really “out” for the day.  I thought I put things to bed at 11 am… and I kept getting pulled back in until around 7 pm my time.  Something similar happened on Saturday as well, and I had to stop what I was doing and drive back to the house just to get in for thirty minutes to fix something.  As a result it felt like this really strange pseudo working weekend, and with us skipping the recording of AggroChat something felt off the entire time.  It is funny now our rituals ground us… and now badly I needed mine to make the weekend feel normal.  Raiding Karazhan I guess however helped to serve as a great cap to the weekend, seeing as we once again had a pretty smooth clear.

 

Playing Dress-Up

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Quest for Bank Space

Be warned, I am really not sure how much this mornings post is actually going to be a proper topic… and how much it is just going to be show and tell.  Essentially last night was spent sifting through so many characters on so many different servers to unlock all of the appearances I seem to have available to me.  From there I started cleaning out the banks one at a time starting with Belghast my Warrior and for the time being my main.  This was shockingly hard work, and I ended up installing an addon to help give me some confidence to actually go through with getting rid of an item.  What I really wanted was a clear thumbs up or thumbs down on every single item much like Rift has stating that “you have this appearance”.  Caerdon Wardrobe works at least in a way that is most critical, but still I really wanted to see that message for every soul bound item “just to make sure”.  What the addon does do that is useful is for non-soulbound items it tells you that either you don’t have the appearance, or you have collected the appearance from another item.  As far as the soulbounds… I just took the plunge and accepted that over a decades worth of accumulated stuff really was in fact added to my account appearance collection.  This admittedly was a hard step, and one made no simpler by the fact that apparently Ark Inventory changed greatly…  and with every character I logged in I had to do a bit of remapping of some of the styles to get things to load correctly.  So I spent the night with Grace as moral support trudging through my bank…  while the rest of the AggroChat crew listened in while playing Final Fantasy XIV thinking we were absolutely insane.

Honestly Tam thought this was some sort of limited time event… but I somehow doubt that the rest of the crew takes appearance items nearly as serious as Grace and I do.  I mean Tam always has a spiffy glamour in FFXIV but he only has the one glamour and is not constantly rat-holing appearance items just in case someday he MIGHT want to use one for an outfit.  I have joked and said that wardrobes are the true end game… but I am being serious.  I have been more motivated in games when there is a cool piece of armor or a weapon on the line, than literally anything else you can dangle in front of me like a carrot.  As a result one of my favorite activities has been doing old raid content and collecting nifty appearance items to line my vaults for another day.  The problem being that quite literally on my Warrior I had seven inventory slots, zero bank slots, and zero void storage slots.  Every last corner of that storage was filled with weapons and armor that I under no circumstances would be willing to part with.  So a whole lot of my simply not playing the game… is because I had no room to keep accumulating items.  Last night had been a long time coming, and was a bit of a purge of my digital hording of stuff.  So in many ways selling all of those items was a liberating experience… but also one that terrified me at the thought that maybe just maybe the system would fuck up and I would end up losing everything.  Of note… I got every single fashionista achievement other than the shirt one from logging in my first character.  As the night went on the shirt achievement happened slowly while logging in a long list of alts that have otherwise been abandoned to the sands of time.

Show and Tell

Essentially the order of operations went a little something like this.  I first logged in every single character on my account…  which includes numerous characters on other servers that I have only ever played once or twice.  From there I focused in on chewing through my mains…  where I decided to sell off any gear that was not the current “best in bag” for my current spec.  I figure with the expansion only a few weeks away, I was going to be just fine being confined to a single spec per character for that moment.  I burned through my salvage crates and learned the appearances I did not already have… and mailed the extras off to Grace for her to sift through as well.  Of note she is doing the same thing, but I just realized that it might not work as well as I thought it would… given that I think you can only learn an appearance on a character of that armor type.  We will sort out the details of that later though.  Then I started tearing into the bank, offloading anything that did not have a nifty and unique use effect and selling it.  The only real speedbump here is the fact that a lot of the Naxxramas and Ulduar era class gear can’t be sold… so I will have to manually delete that at a later date.  The final thing I did before logging out of any character… was to set my talents and give my character an outfit for the occasion.  The rest of this post is ultimately going to be me posting pictures and talking about the outfits.

Belghast – Warrior

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This is my “Ready for the Legion” outfit, rocking the Illidari tabard and shield, and using the red/fel green version of the Icecrown Deathknight look-a-like armor.  As to whether or not this will remain my main for the coming expansion has yet to be seen, but for the time being I think I look awesome.

Belgrave – Death Knight

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Character number two on the list was my Deathknight, and also the point at which I learned that I can apparently now transmog legendary weapons?  I wanted to go with something fiery looking to match the Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros legendary weapon.  So I ended up landing on the black hand armor set from the garrison appearance vendor.  To go with it is one of the trading card game tabards, the Flame one to be specific.

Lodin – Hunter

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When this game launched I tried to make Melee Hunter a thing, and wound up tanking a bunch of the instances with a combination of myself and my gorilla pet.  Now that Survival is the honest and true melee spec… of course I am going to freaking use it.  As a result I wanted to come up with an outfit that worked with the new PVP gear I picked up.  This is one of those situations where it “sorta matches” or at least well enough to make me happy in combat, however as I look at it now I am starting to pick it apart a bit.  I am going to be “happy enough” for the time being.

Exeter – Paladin

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I tried a bunch of different things before finally settling on this outfit.  I wanted something purple for my paladin, but didn’t want to use the purple judgement set that I have often used in the past.  So I started with the purple tone deathknight icecrown set, and started shifting around bits until I was happy.  Once again I am using one of the card game tabards, this time the purple Tabard of the Arcane.  The end result is almost my favorite of the night… which is ultimately the next one.

Tallow – Shaman

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When Cataclysm introduced the ability for Dwarves to be shaman… I immediately race changed my then Draenei Shaman to be a proper Wildhammer Dwarf.  Ironically I also then turned my Dwarf Paladin into a Draenei one… but that is a different story.  I have always been enthralled with the whole idea of the Wildhammer Clan, and for this transmog I wanted something that felt almost wildhammery but still looked nice and armored.  So I ended up shifting to using one of the Warlords leveling sets… that I just happened to have the perfect set of hammers to go with.  I then decided to go with the Fel Goggles to bring out the Fel coloring of the hammers.  This was the last one I did last night before crashing but is hands down my favorite so far.  So that was ultimately my night, and tonight I will hopefully do the rest of this server.

 

Tricksy Shotgunner

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Surprise Banner

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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.

Goal Failing

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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.

 

Flowers and Rank 5s

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Backyard Whim

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One of the interesting developments that has happened this summer is that we are spending a good deal more time outside than we have ever before.  I mean we have lived in our house for seventeen years now… and we’ve never really taken advantage of our backyard.  My wife and I tried to sort out why this was, and I think in truth it was that the back of our house looked bad.  Before moving in during the inspections they found a lot of termite damage on the wooden siding, and the bulk of this was located on the back of the house.  The repair job looked adequate at first, but as it aged… the back wall ended up looking like a patchwork quilt that even with a fresh coat of paint just looked “wrong”.  So in many ways I think it just put us off from being outside and having to look at it.  With the recent renovations and new siding, we also had a door installed off of the bedroom.  Years ago we created a quick and dirty patio with pavers, and now it feels like everything has finally come together.  Sunday morning for example by the time I had woken up and gotten out of bed, my wife was already on the patio off the bedroom reading.  There have been many times during the weekends that we end up eating lunch on the back patio as well.

Now I am not exactly certain where it came from… but recently we have talked about trying to put flowers sprinkled around the backyard.  Granted we have always had a brown thumb, but this resurgence of backyarding…  has made us want to at least try it.  This reached a boiling point Saturday when while running errands we found a couple of planters that we really liked at Sam’s Club, and you can see one of them in the foreground of the above image.  Given that Sams always has a rotating stock we went ahead and picked them up, thinking that if we waited they probably wouldn’t have two of the color we wanted later.  Now I had zero intention of doing anything with them this weekend… I mean because I had Iron Banner and Diablo Season 6 to play.  However before I knew it Sunday we were making a trip to go get rock and potting soil, and plants.  We are massively cheating in that the start of each of the pots is a hanging plant, but so far so good.  Now we just have to make sure they keep watered, but the hope is that since we are spending so much time out in the backyard anyway…  that it won’t be that big of a deal.  For those that are curious I created a nifty panoramic shot of the entire back yard.

Rank 5 For All

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Even though we spent a chunk of the afternoon working on flowers and such, I still managed to make it upstairs on the PS4 by around 4pm.  This allowed me some dedicated time to play the Warlock, and push forward towards Iron Banner rank 5.  I closed with the weekend with my Titan and 333 light, Hunter at 324 and Warlock also at 324 which is significant movement.  I have a feeling that those last two points of light on the Titan are going to end up being pure hell.  However on a similar photo from the 22nd… I was sitting at 324 on the Titan, and 314 and 304 on the Hunter and Warlock respectively.  So I have to say… I am pretty damned pumped about the rapid progress.  The Iron Banner as a whole was very good to me, especially in the equippable gear and infusion material categories.  I managed to get all of the available gear for this week, minus a pair of legs for the Warlock.  There are numerous copies of the Auto Rifle, Rocket Launcher, and even managed to pick up a sidearm and sniper rifle from Rank 5 packages.  It has been interesting playing all three classes this weekend, and I have to say that in truth… I think maybe the Warlock and Hunter are just inherently better at crucible than my Titan.  It feels like they have a lot more tricks up their sleeve, whereas the Titan is just pure brute force.  Warlock Blink seems to be the best escape method for getting out of an engagement, and Hunter throwing knives seems to be the best finishing move ever.

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As far as the sniper rifle goes that I managed to pick up, I am not exactly a huge fan.  It has Eye of the Storm, Speed Reload and Spray and Play which in theory would make it an insanely fast sniper rifle, but given its low impact…  I question how useful it really is.  For crucible at least you would have to land so many shots to make the kill, and it is hard enough to nail a single shot let along multiple at range.  I will probably end up holding onto it just because it looks really cool, but I have a feeling that sooner or later this will get infused into something else to bring up its light levels.  As far as new snipers go, I am still a much bigger fan of the 333 Her Fury that I managed to pick up from my Challenge of Elders this week.  High impact, paired with Triple Tap and Armor Piercing rounds makes it something enjoyable to use.  Tonight I have plans to hang out upstairs at least for a bit and try my luck at getting more of that tasty Iron Banner loot.  It would be amazing if before the end of the weekend I manage to get more of the 335 items to help push up other gear.  As far as the rest of my Destiny schedule for this week it feels a little up in the air.  I did not set foot into Kings Fall last week, and I would really love to remedy that this week.  The thing that sucks is that I am now in a position where the only benefit I will see is from a hard mode run, given that all three of my characters are now over the 320 light level that normal drops.

Crusaders and Guardians

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Season Six

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While I greatly enjoy the concept of the Developer Appreciation Week… I am always somewhat happen when it is over.  During the week I feel like I have to be making posts along that them, so when things happen that I want to talk about…  I end up pushing them down until the week is ultimately over.  Now as I sit here for the first unfettered post in awhile…  I am finding it super hard getting started.  The biggest happening of this weekend is that Friday evening at 7pm my time the newest Diablo 3 season began.  For season six I opted to roll a Female Crusader, because I had so much fun playing as one last season.  I have this general goal of getting a male and female of each class eventually, but that also means that someday I will have to finish playing that mage and attempt to play a witch doctor.  The only problem I am running into is that it feels like what made the crusader so amazing last go round… was the fact that the Invoker set was just phenomenal.  Now that I have my six piece Akkhan set, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as powerful as I did last season.  In fact while the set dungeon was a breeze for me last go around, this one is only causing chain wipes.  Granted I am not nearly as geared as I was at this point last year, in part because I am not getting drug by Carthuun.

When the season started we ended up with six people on the guild discord, and as a result we split into two three player teams.  Ultimately ending up with me and Grace playing together, with Solaria and Kodra joining up for short periods of time.  Towards the end of the evening Kylana was with us as well as the other three player team ultimately disolved with Ashgar got pulled away for work, and Callalil went to bed.  I myself only lasted through level 60, because that was ultimately the point at which I was starting to fall asleep at the keyboard.  So I went to bed around 11pm and the rest of the group pushed onward.  Yesterday morning Grace and I ended up playing together, and she helped me get the rest of the way to 70, and unlock my gear set.  She was sitting over 100 paragon levels, which means that more than likely Carth is sitting around 300ish.  At some point I will join in his Torment X shenanigans because I really need some gear.  All in all it was a great start of the new season, and at some point I will sort out my spec and with gear should be able to solo more stuff.  Right now the challenge is finding thorns on gear, and I have ended up burning through all of my materials trying to enchant away useless stats and turn them into thorns.

Banana Split

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Another awesome happening this weekend is that yesterday while waiting on folks to show up for the AggroChat game of the month show, I managed to push my Hunter to rank 5.  This is the first month that I managed to get to characters to rank 5, and I’ve since started working on getting the warlock there as well.  My hope is that after I finish knocking out this blog post I will head upstairs and work on that.  Iron Banner has been really damned good to me, letting me amass a lot of gear and weapons that will ultimately either get used as is or serve as infusion fodder.  In theory I should probably be doing matches on my Titan with the hopes of getting more 335 items, but it feels good actually working on my other characters.  After playing the hunter I can absolutely see why they do so damned well in the crucible.  Throwing knives are amazing, and I had so much fun yesterday finishing off people with them.  I still feel like golden gun however is the least exciting of the supers, but I am getting used to using it to optimal efficiency.  There was one point where I managed to get three kills in a row with it and earned the way of the gun trophy.

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Over the course of the week I have picked up so much gear, with the latest acquisition being a 335 Tormod’s Bellows.  The only challenge here is that I am not sure if I will keep it or infuse it into one of my heavy weapons.  I could really use a 335 sword… just saying.  The funny thing is… I got the 335 drop on my absolute lowest level character while working on the Warlock yesterday.  So I am wondering if maybe the buff in faction that you get for pushing up additional characters does something as well to the chances of getting max light drops as well?  In any case another Iron Banner has come and almost gone, and I have loved every minute of it.  I finally sorted out why I like PVP in Destiny and never have in other games.  There is something about getting real loot at the end of matches, as opposed to a currency in lieu of loot that can maybe someday add up to be enough to get something interesting.  I love random chance, and I love being rewarded with interesting stuff.  More so than that… I love getting not quite perfect items… and then trying to figure out how to use them to my advantage.

Purple Hand Cannon

RemotePlay 2016-04-22 06-16-04-07

Challenge of Connection

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There are some nights where things don’t go quite as planned but ultimately work out okay in the end.  Last night was one of those nights.  The original plan was to do some Challenge of Elders with Squirrel and Sagacyte.  I got home at my normal time, but I couldn’t really commit to doing much of anything until after we ran some errands.  So the plan was once my wife got home, we would go run errands, and then grab dinner on the way home.  After munching some food it would be challenge time.  Unfortunately my wife got home significantly later than I had expected, and then our errands themselves took significantly longer than expected…  and when we went to grab food there was a longer line than expected.  The end result meant I didn’t actually get upstairs on the PS4 until a little after 8 pm.  By that time Squirrel was having all manner of connection problems.  While sitting in voice chat together we were getting only every third word he was saying, making it damned near impossible to understand what he was trying to say.  We gave it the good college try and made an attempt at doing the Challenge of Elders without him on voice chat.

However a few minutes into the match he disconnected which lead Saga and I to end up having to try and solo Sylok the first boss.  We attempted to duo the Cabal boss but had absolutely zero luck there, and ultimately went to orbit.  It was around this time that in the clan channel that Broken and Havel were asking for a third for their own CoE shenanigans.  I felt like a dick leaving Saga, but he assured me that I should grab the open spot.  Last week the bonus was primary ammo headshots, which was super easy and lead to allowing folks well below the suggested 320 light to be able to complete it without much issue.  This week however the bonus was grenade kills, making it significantly harder.  I went in as Sunbreaker because the Simmering Flames perk meant that so long as I had a super ready my grenade recharge was greatly increased.  To that I ended up swapping all of my gear so that I was sitting around 360 discipline.  On top of that I wound up getting a 324 Armamentarium moments before the first attempt at the Challenge, meaning that I also had double grenade charges going in.  Both Broken and Havel did similar steps to allow them to get super grenade action, and as a result we managed to get 108k score over the course of two matches.  So while it sucked that I didn’t get to run with Squirrel and Saga… it is pretty awesome that I managed to finish on my titan regardless.  During the course of the weekend my new goal is to make sure that both Squirrel and Saga get through as well.

Spoils of War

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The result for me is that I walked away with an interesting Hand Cannon that I am not quite sure if I will actually use.  I spent the rest of the night doing bounties with it to see if it was something I actually enjoyed using.  For ages I swore by the Hand Cannon, but then I got used to Auto and Pulse Rifles… and quite simply never use them.  The state they were in after the serious round of nerfs held me back from really enjoying the experience.  During year one I used the hell out of the Last Word, and then for the first part of year two I largely rocked the Hawkmoon… enjoying both weapons greatly.  As far as Her Revenge goes… I like how it feels and it has an interesting sequence of perks so for now I plan on leveling it up and seeing how I enjoy it in its final form.  As for my armor piece, I ended up getting a 328 chest piece…  which was below my current 329 so instead of keeping it I wound up shipping it off to my hunter.  As I talked about yesterday, there has always been a pecking order when it comes to gear… which generally falls in line with Titan > Hunter > Warlock.  My hunter is closer to being viable for things like Challenge of Elders so my goal is to buff him up enough to be useful when it comes to the current “end game” content.

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That said I did also manage to throw a few handmedowns onto the Warlock, bringing the light level up by a few points.  If I can keep stair stepping them up with no more than a 10 light level difference between them I think life will be pretty grand.  I think the mission for tonight is to try and run some content on either the warlock or hunter with the hopes of bringing their light level up a bit.  The biggest thing I need right now are legendary artifacts for both.  The best route to that is of course the Court of Oryx, but neither of them has an antiquated rune to make that possible.  I do have a few skyburner keys and wormsinger runes… so in theory I could burn through those hoping for some drops.  The other awesome thing from last night is that I managed to get another Sublime Engram which takes my set piece count up to three… with 2 chests, 1 helm, and now 1 Titan Mark of the new Jovian Guard set.  I really love the look of that thing, and while I am not sure it would win out over my Iron Banner set… it is still something that I would proudly rock.  Speaking of Iron Banner, Bungie has apparently announced the next bits of gear that will be available and I am super pumped.  I should finally be able to get legs to complete the Iron Banner look, and it also seems like I will be able to get a Titan Mark in the process.  Other than that this round is offering the Auto Rifle and Rocket Launcher, both things that I am super interested in.  Right now the goal is to push both the Titan and Hunter through, so I will be trying to do daily bounties on both of them.

Light Improving

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Catching Up

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One of my favorite things about the April patch is that I finally feel like I am catching up to all of the folks who have been playing since the dawn of time.  More important than that… I feel like I have a clear path to be able to reach 335.  There are things within my control that I can do solo that will allow me to slowly but certainly make progress.  Namely one of the big ones right now is faction packages.  Many of the factions have the code that make sure an item that comes from that package is better than your current light level.  So this means I am constantly getting upgrades that I can either use as is, or infuse into my existing item from doing Vanguard and the three Tower faction missions.  This also means that those daily bounties are more important than they have ever been, and the same goes with the crucible bounties whenever I am feeling my Wheaties and decide to do some serious pvp.  More importantly than any of this… I feel in control of my own “Destiny”…  pun intended.

Much of my early frustration with this game is it felt like there were missing rungs on the ladder that I had to have someone show me where I should be climbing.  Now I feel like there are objectives that I completely understand that I can be knocking out regularly to better myself.  At this point as the above image shows I have managed to take my Titan to 321, Hunter to 310 and as of last night Warlock to 302.  The Warlock and Hunter will likely always be second stringers for me, but I do want to spend more time pushing them up.  Namely I would really like to unlock all of the stuff on all three sub classes but that simply requires a lot of play.  As for now I am still very much enjoying the process of infusing up old weapons and dusting them off to enjoy them once more.  I have a lot of really great weapons, that were just lacking light level to be used on a regular basis.  At some point however I am going to have to reconcile a bunch of the stuff and figure out which versions of which weapons I intend to keep permanently.  For example I have six different Havoc Pidgeons sitting in the bank and five different 1000 Yard Stares…  as well as a large assortment of Zarinaea-D.  I don’t really need ALL of them…  just keep the best rolls and swap weapons as needed via the web site or mobile apps.

Pipe Dream

Every so often I come up with an idea that while I lack the technical know how to actually build it… I know it is functionally possible.  Within the server services world.. there is a marvel of modern science referred to collectively as the IP KVM or remote keyboard/video/mouse switch.  While remote desktop is a thing that works great most of the time… there are times when you need to literally lay hands on a box because something has hung on boot up.  This is where the IP KVM steps into play, because it emulates sitting physically at the keyboard from quite literally anywhere on the network that can reach it.  The other awesome thing about them is that generally speaking they are almost as good as sitting on the box with many of them getting to the point where you can hardly tell the difference.  What I want is for some budding entrepreneur or kickstarter campaign to come up with this technology… but for consoles.  Sure PS4 Remote Play is cool, but I also want to be able to play remotely from my PS3… or even say older analog systems.  The idea would be a rack mounted type system so in theory you could dump all of your consoles in the equivalent of a server room.  Instead of harddrive arrays you could build special four unit high rack cases that allowed you to plug in a whole slew of console games and have them selectable remotely.

The other idea would be that each console had custom hookups and the hardware KVM device would allow you to configure emulation of the devices.  So you could remake your Nintendo controller to be fully functional from something like a PC connected Xbox 360 controller.  Now there are oddities like the Wii/Wii U that would be difficult to emulate but in theory most controllers work just fine for other controllers.  For years I’ve loved this idea of having all of the games I want to play “on tap” and thanks to both the Twisted and official PS4 Remote Play app I am using the hell out of this functionality.  It is cool as hell to be able to sit downstairs on the sofa with my laptop and have full access to all of my PS4 games, and be able to play them with minimal latency.  I just wish this same concept worked with everything.   It feels like this is the sort of thing that would be doable, just no one has tried to make it work.  Even if you started with only consoles that supported USB controls and HDMI output… that would give you a decent base unit that could then maybe be expanded with retro modules that daisy chained onto the base unit.  So here you go… I give this idea freely to the world… just someone make it happen because I want to throw money at you.

 

The Banner Falls

Plans Change

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When I left work I had every intent to go home and play Iron Banner on the Titan all night long, in the hopes of getting some really awesome drops.  That didn’t exactly happen, but I did end up playing Iron Banner up until the point when I decided to go to bed a little early.  The change however was that I ended up playing on my Hunter.  There is a clear pecking order between my Destiny characters.  The Titan gets all the really good stuff… the Hunter gets the next tier of stuff… and the Warlock survives on scraps from the other two.  Since I had already gotten the Titan to Rank 5, I was curious just how fast I could get the Hunter up there in levels.  I had heard there was some sort of an alt bonus, that helped to push your second and third characters up faster, as well as now having access to both the rank 5 shader and emblem which also increase reputation gain.  I made significant progress and after a half dozen matches I was sitting at Rank 3 staring down the barrel of Rank 4.  Had I stayed up a little later I might have been able to hit Rank 5 all in one night.  The big part was that I simply did not have the skill or the time to be able to complete the “brown” bounties on the Hunter since they take a lot of repeated effort.  In theory next Iron Banner I might work on the daily bounties for both the Titan and the Hunter each day, and by the end of the week I should have enough progress to turn in those weekly bounties.

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The huge positive however is that thanks to the gear that managed to drop while running matches, I can now hit 302 on the Hunter.  In total I managed to pick up both a chest piece at 306 and a set of arms at 285… the later I will probably push up whenever the infusion changes happen.  I really like the Iron Banner armor look, and I have a feeling that before long that is what my characters will be decked out in.  However the upcoming taken look stuff, will probably be what I put on my Hunter since of the three looks that is the one I like the best.  Honestly of the Taken  gear the only one that I really don’t like is the Titan, and that is largely because of the dumb helmet.  The horns on that helmet look like the radar array off of a cruise ship or something.  This gets into a complaint I have with Destiny as a whole.  It is MMOish but only sorta… and the thing I wish it offered was a true cosmetic system where you could actually customize your appearance without changing your gear.  That is one of the things I like the most about The Division is the ability to change my look and have it largely be independent of what I happen to be wearing.  Sure there your only options are various pieces of clothing, but in Destiny you could create some really unique armor sets.  However I guess with the lossless infusion system, it will make customizing your appearance significantly easier.

Ponytail Titan

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Tonight is yet another Rookie Raid and it has become that night of the week that I really look forward to.  There is of course a certain amount of trepidation as well, namely when it comes to the damned jumping puzzles.  As I have said before Destiny manages to trip my vertigo worse than any game since Mirrors Edge.  However I push through it in order to be able to get the tasty drops.  This go around what I am really hoping for is to be able to walk out of the raid with the machine gun.  I realize that I just put a bunch of effort into pushing up my Bretomart’s Stand to make it raid viable…  but I just keep hearing that the raid machine gun is pretty much better in every way.  You get hooked on guns with the Cocoon perk, and knowing that whenever you swap weapons there will never be an awkward situation where you have to reload.  This would definitely make dps time in the light bubble on Oryx more efficient since you could swap weapons and pour shots into him while waiting on the machine gun to load itself.  Cosmetically I am going with a sort of White Knight meets Hive Knight look, and I dig it… even though I kinda wish I had the rest of the Iron Banner gear.  When the infusion changes go in I will likely be swapping over to the Iron Camelot shoulders that I picked up from Saladin.  I am hoping next go round he brings boots so I can finish out the appearance.

The only regret from this past week is that I didn’t actually connect with any of my friends to talk them into helping me finish my sword quest.  It is not like I can actually use it in the raid, since on several of the fights I actually need to use an exotic primary.  However it would just be nice to know that I am done with it.  I also missed another opportunity for the Black Spindle, because I believe that was last Friday night.  I was so focused on Iron Banner that I didn’t even notice until I got an email from another friend asking if I was around to make attempts on it.  I have a bit of a mental block now about that mission, since I have failed so many times at it.  The other side project that I would love to work on is finding someone to recruit, so that I can get those sweet sweet recruit a friend bonus items.  I absolutely want a Tron Sparrow, but unfortunately I can’t just do the World of Warcraft thing and set up a second account.  A lot of the achievement steps require you to be doing stuff together.  I’ve wondered for awhile now what it would take to get my friend Vernie hooked on this game… because I think he would absolutely like it.  The only problem is he is a die-hard keyboard and mouse guy… just like I was before the siren song of Destiny.  The thing is… all the joy I used to have playing PC shooters when we would do LAN games after work…  I am having with Destiny.

 

A Matched Set

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Holiday Goals

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270 After Sifting Through Bank

There are a lot of folks that have goals going into the holiday season, for me… these tend to involve some gaming feat that would normally take a silly amount of time to do.  One Christmas break I played through Mass Effect 3, and then started over from scratch and played from 1 to 3 again trying to control the outcome.  The Christmas break that SWTOR was released I leveled as part of a duo from level 1 to 50.  Other years my mission has been to level a character from start to finish in World of Warcraft, and I made a decent dent in that with pushing the druid from 1 to 40 so I could use that Yeti mount.  This year one of the things on my list has been to finish leveling my Warlock who before this week was sitting at level 30 from the last time I got the urge to level.  I am not exactly sure why but I have wanted to have a matched set of level capped characters in Destiny for awhile now.  I think largely it is because when I am farming exotics, I hate the concept of items going to waste… and I pretty regularly got exotics for Warlocks in spite of not having one.  So sitting in my bank I had 3 exotic helms and 1 exotic chest that were warlock only, as well as a few legendary warlock only items as well.

Throughout the course of yesterday afternoon, while the ice was falling outside… I was sitting upstairs in the warmth of my office plugging away at my warlock.  Originally I started doing the House of Wolves content, since I tend to like it better than the Dark Below.  However I quickly noticed that I was leveling way faster while simply working my way through the back log of bounties I had accumulated.  As a result I spent most of my afternoon meticulously narrowing down the number of bounties I had until finally I was a sliver away from 40.  I hopped down to Mars and completed a few missions and dinged.  After sifting through my bank and spending a few legendary marks, I managed to push my overall light level up to 270 which is not too shabby for a fresh 40.  The only negative is… some of my exotics are really specific to sub class and the only one I have made ANY movement in thusfar is Voidwalker.  I really like jumping up into the air and throwing down three bombs at people…  but at some point I need to push up sunsinger because for group activity that seems to be the best option.  Self resurrection is slightly overpowered, but I figure it is something you save in reserve for when it looks like your group is going to wipe.  However it should do well to feed Tlaloc whenever I get one.

Matched Set

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One of Each

It feels nice to have a matched set, and the funniest thing is…. every single one of my characters is an Exo.  Mostly I had issues with not liking the other races character creation options.  The humans were out because they lacked a beard…. because seriously…  I cannot ever bring myself to play a human that doesn’t have a decent beard.  The Awoken were out because well…   space elves…. and I have a pretty deep hatred of most things elven.  I am fine if other people want to play them… but they are very much not my thing.  The best elves ever… were both from the Elder Scrolls setting… because Cannibal Wood Elves and Nasty Vile Dark Elves…  are the only ones I can embrace fully.  That left me with one race left to play… and since Destiny ultimately reminds me of playing Phantasy Star Online… and Exo is about as close as I can get to my Cast it was the clear winner.  The awesome thing is though that each of my classes has a very fitting look and feel for their class, even though they are all technically just big robots.

I’ve not dwelled on it too much, but I really think that Phantasy Star Online being my first MMO… has greatly shaped how I feel about Destiny.  The games have a very similar feel, with a lobby system of sorts being the tower…  which equates pretty similar to the tower like area you ran around in PSO.  Then you go out on missions that involve you going to planets and often times retracing the same areas over and over with slightly different features and creatures dependent upon your mission.  I played the hell out of that game, up until the point when I got hooked on Everquest.  The funny thing about it is, that as melee heavy as I was in other games… in PSO I always played a Cast Ranger.  So the fact that I really enjoy Destiny doesn’t seem that shocking.  It feels very much like the spiritual successor, minus the anime skin.  At some point I really want to get into the raid in Destiny, but similarly to WoW….  I mostly just want to do it for the gear.  Downing new content is cool and all, but the force that always drives me forward in these types of games… is the acquisition of new and cool things.  When you take loot out of the equation, like in Final Fantasy XIV it is a serious hit to my enjoyment.  Most of my dungeon running in FFXIV was in an attempt to complete cosmetic sets, and ultimately was still gear driven…  just gear as an appearance not necessarily as function.

Next Mission

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At this point I really need to buckle down and finish Fallout 4 main storyline, because this coming weekend we need to record the review show.  I am not sure what exactly has happened but I have simply not been playing Fallout much over the last few weeks.  I think we can blame most of it, on my re-entry into World of Warcraft and my desire to play “catch up”.  Then this week has been a bit of a resurgence in Destiny, this combined with the only machine I have that plays Fallout 4 well enough is my upstairs computer.  Over the course of our movie and television marathons I have largely been downstairs on the sofa in my comfy blanket cocoon.  This has meant that Fallout sadly has been abandoned for the moment.  I tried last night to play it some over steam in home streaming, and once I sorted out the many technically difficulties, I finally got it up and running.  The only problem there was that the video stream would artifact out anytime I encountered much action, making it questionable if it is really worth playing it on my desktop… or if I would simply be better playing it on my laptop with greatly reduced graphical fidelity.  My laptop will run it after all, but with a somewhat potato quality.  In any case… I need to pick up where I left off and make some forward movement.