Lobbing SIVA Charges

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Last night did not go entirely as planned, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty amazing night.  The original plan that I had in my head was an attempt at completing the Nightfall bounty on as many characters as I could for shots at the Icebreaker.  However as the day went on that plan slowly morphed into going to my very first Wrath of the Machine raid.  So around 8pm last night we managed to pull together the six players needed for the raid and I shifted into full on learner mode.  Destiny is one of those games where I am constantly amazed at the level of dedication the community has.  A raid in Destiny is this complex sequence of events that have to be completed in a specific way…  and the first time I step into one of the encounters it is full on information overload.  I find it interesting how fast the community as a whole crowd sources the solution to the fights, sharing tidbits of information and ultimately mapping strategies for how to complete them.  I say this because the fights themselves are actually messaged somewhat poorly as to what you should be doing at any given time.  Since I am very much a “learn by doing” player, it means for the first few raids I ultimately feel completely lost.

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What is extremely interesting about Wrath of the Machine versus Kings Fall is that the “roles” are not necessarily fixed.  In Kings Fall you could essentially put your most seasoned player on the job of doing whatever was the most important task on a given fight.  While there was a certain measure of randomness, like who got chosen to run the spark on the invisible platforms…  others like the person getting Golgoroth’s Gaze were very much something you had in your control.  As a result to some extent it was much easier to carry a new player through and allow them to see the fights in motion, before they were ever expected to take up a key roll in the fight.  That is very much NOT the case in Wrath of the Machine given the game shifts the roles around quickly and while you might be dpsing one moment, the next you might be needing to toss SIVA charges at fixed markers.  The hardest of these fights for me to grok was the Aksis encounter where the raid divided up into three sides, and the game randomly empowered three players at a time…  sometimes requiring you to shift around quickly to cover a side if it did not have an empowered player.  The end result is that new players ultimately have to learn quickly because you never know exactly when that key role is going to fall on your shoulders.

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There were several points during the night where I absolutely know I failed at various mechanics, but while moving through the content I started to get a feel for what I was doing wrong and how to correct it.  Now with Kings Fall, most of the encounters were fairly easy…  but it was the jumping sequences that were the bane of my existence.  With Wrath of the Machine, the encounters themselves seem to be the challenge, and while I died a few times during the much shorter jumping sequences they didn’t see anywhere near as nerve wracking as disappearing ships over of a giant open chasm.  Last night was also important because it marked the first time I had really done large group content with Tequila Mockingbird my clan.  It has been over six months since Axioma clan was dissolved in a fit, and [TQMB] was formed out of the ashes.  It definitely feels like we wound up with the absolutely best natured of folks for the reboot.  Within minutes I felt right back at home, which I guess is a strange statement considering I have been proudly sporting the clan tag since the moment the reboot happened.

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So while I had no real intent of raiding last night, I am super happy to have seen the content now and to have gotten some of the really awesome stuff that drops there.  There seems to be a massive problem with duplicates from the SIVA key caches.  On the first boss encounter I got the Ether Nova fusion rifle… and then turned around and got the same thing from the cache.  From the second encounter I managed to pick up Arms, that I am extremely happy about given that they have the crazy heavy ammo trait.  From the third encounter, I picked up an Artifact which is decent but it is really hard to get excited over an artifact when I am apparently now swimming in 400 light ones.  From the final phase of the Aksis encounter I walked away with the Genesis Chain auto rifle, and then spent a key and got an exact duplicate.  Past that I wound up with three exotics from the run:  4th Horseman, Hereafter, and Crest of Alpha Lupi.  The first two turning into shards since I don’t really like either weapon, and the last from an engram serving as infusion fodder for the Twilight Garrison I had yet to upgrade.

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I spent a bit of time after the raid running around in the Plaguelands patrol zone to play with both the Auto Rifle and the Fusion Rifle and I like both.  The Genesis Chain feels really awesome when you get headshots and cause the firefly to proc since it has a unique sound effect that goes with it.  The Fusion Rifle… largely just feels like a competent Fusion Rifle.  I sincerely doubt I will be giving up either The Branded Lord or Saladins Vigil for it, but it is nonetheless a reasonable weapon that is probably going to get ferried off to one of my alts.  I have heard it works really amazingly in Crucible, so I will have to give it a shot there.  It is bizarre how I have gone from being someone that NEVER used Fusion Rifles, to being someone who largely now favors them over Shotguns for close to medium range engagement.  The other really awesome thing that happened is that I am now flagged to do the Outbreak Prime quest, which honestly could be an entire post in itself.  It turns out that Lexy is also stalled on this quest, so that gives us Hunter and Titan… and we just need to find a Warlock to ride along with us since that quest requires you to group up all three classes to progress.  Wondering if maybe some point this weekend we can knock out the required pieces so that by the time the reset rolls around we are working on the final step which is the run the raid again.

 

Exotic Towels

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This morning is a truly bizarre morning because we went to sleep not even thinking about snow…  and then it apparently happened over night.  I live in a town on the northern border of Tulsa, and I say apparently because there is zero snow on the ground here.  However there was enough in Tulsa proper and the southern communities for the public school system, including the town my wife teaches in to call a snow day.  She is super pumped because it means she has a day to try and play catch up, and me…  I have a weird commute ahead of me because I know at some point on my drive in things will go from peaceful and snow free…  to a winter wasteland.  I promise I did not intend to write three days in a row about Destiny, however that is ultimately what is happening.  Since the launch of the dawning I have not touched any of the supposedly lucrative bounties from Commander Zavala, which are in theory the only way you can currently get the Icebreaker.  Now before I took a break Squirrel, Jex and I had this tradition of running through some content on Thursday nights given that it was a big empty space in our calendars.  Originally the tradition was to run as many characters through the Challenge of Elders as we could in an evening, but last night we rebooted it for the purpose of running a Nightfall.

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From there we chain ran six heroic strikes in a row, because we were already considering doing it…  and I have been sitting on the Champion of the Cult quest for ages.  This is a quest you get when you reach level 25 with any of the given factions, and it rewards an exotic version of your class item.  For Titans this ends up being a rather ornate looking towel…  and I still question the good folks at Bungie for thinking that a flag football towel was a great idea for a glass item especially when Hunters get amazing and iconic looking cloaks.  In order to finish the quest you have to do content while decked out in your factions gear… wearing a shader, emblem and class item for that faction.  The quest ultimately requires you to do the following…

  • Slay 500 Minions of the Darkness
  • Complete 10 Heroic Strikes
  • Slay 250 Crucible Foes
  • Win 10 Crucible Matches

Now this used to be considerably easier because folks were constantly chain running heroic strikes.  However with the changes to the system that essentially make them mini nightfalls…  folks are just not running them as often which meant that if I was ever going to get through this step I was probably going to need a group of friends to do it with.  However since I had already done the more annoying part which involved Crucible wins and kills… there was zero chance that I was going to actually abandon the quest.  So for months it has been sitting in my progress tracker taunting me, until my good friends Jex and Squirrel helped me knock it out by chain running six heroics in a row.

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Now earlier I mentioned that the weekly bounty from Commander Zavala was supposedly the only way to get an Icebreaker currently.  Unfortunately however this week was not my week, and instead of getting an exotic I wound up with a relatively decent version of the Shadow Price legendary auto rifle.  Now I had been sitting on one of these in the bank that I was using on my warlock, and it falls into the medium rate of fire/medium category.  The biggest problem with this archetype is the fact that it generally has a low magazine size… for example this weapon has one of only 25 which is really too small for most Auto Rifle friendly activities.  This roll however is good enough that it bears further notice since in the first slot I have Range Finder which greatly boosts the range while aiming down the sight…  something I am never not going to do.  In the second column I can choose between Perfect Balance or Hand-laid Stock to give it extra stability…. and after playing around last night I think I prefer Perfect Balance.  Finally in the last column I have Third Eye, which is a way for me to break my dependence on my crutch…  the Memory of Gheleon and equip my far better itemized artifact from Year 2 Kings Fall raid.  Once you get used to having tracking all the time while aiming your primary… it is really really hard to go back to NOT having it.  I still do not think this is going to come close to replacing my beloved Range Finder/Perfect Balance/Counterbalance Year 2 Haakon’s Hatchet… but it will make a decent primary to swap over to my Warlock and Hunter alts.  The real take away of the evening however is that I had a blast… and I am hoping we can get back in the habit of doing the Thursday night shenanigans.

Finding the Forge

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bel-colorsFirst off I have to start this mornings post by talking about the surprise I got last night.  For awhile now I have had my friend AmmosArt working on a series of avatars to use for anything AggroChat related.  When I do the title cards it always somewhat bugs me that we don’t have a set of Avatars drawn by the same person, because I think that would end up looking a lot nicer.  As a result I commissioned her to create a set for the main cast, and we kicked it off with mine…  however I think she has a few of them waiting in the pipes as well.  Since I have “Fantasy Bel” thanks to the project that Tam started, and now “Realistic Bel” thanks to the prize commission from Faebelina I thought it would be kinda cool to have a “Sci-Fi Bel”.  So when she asked me what I wanted drawn for my AggroChat avatar I sent her this overly complex idea for me wearing a bunch of named armor pieces from Destiny.  Here she has expertly rendered that idea with me, a giant flaming Iron Lord axe, my Sunbreaker hammer and Nolandroid.  I could not be happier, and while she was concerned about how the fire effects would feel… I think they work amazingly well.  Thanks once again Ammo for taking mad ramblings and converting them into a picture format.  You should also check out some of her other works on her website or on her daily art tumblr.

I have to say… it is truly bizarre getting back to the task of blogging in the morning.  It is 6:23 and I have consumed my first cup of coffee and am trying to get on about the business of blogging like I know what the hell I am doing.  Today is a day I have been dreading because it means that I have to give up the comfort of my sofa blanket cocoon and venture forth into the cruel and now very chilly world.  Of note… I have been off work since Friday December 23rd.  So I have had two blissful weeks that have allowed me to get completely out of the habit of functioning on any sort of a schedule.  Those weeks have been shockingly busy with only a couple days where I could truly hang out dawn til dusk in my flannel pajama pants and pretend the world didn’t exist.  During that time we dealt with a handful of crisis that involved changing out a leaking faucet in our bathroom… and then ironically rushing some big air mover fans to my mother in law who had a major leak in her front bathroom.  In between that there were numerous Christmas celebrations, and an attempt to properly recognize my father’s birthday…  which also coincides with New Years day.  I have not even really gotten around to making some proper resolutions, and while I don’t really buy into them much, the New Year is a decent time to start new things.  At the moment however my mind has turned towards preparing for Pax South which is coming up in a few weeks.

The Forge Trick

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Yesterday I posted a mammoth Destiny guide of sorts that I had been meaning to create.  I have a number of friends in various stages of getting sucked into the game… and when I try and give them advice it often comes off as mad ramblings filled with a bunch of topics that they don’t quite understand yet.  The guide was my attempt at writing something for someone just getting started but also still focused on pushing through the light levels as quickly as possible.  As I said yesterday…  I failed to do 99% of the things mentioned in the guide but I am following a similar thought process on my Xbox One account since it is largely starting from zero.  One of the things I mentioned doing was Archon’s Forge… and you might of thought to yourself “But Bel, that is a Group Activity… how did you solo it?”.  Some time ago my friend Shadoes gave me some tips on how to reliably make Archon’s Forge spawn with a group in progress.  Firstly you have to understand how patrol zones in Destiny work in order to make this happen.  Each named area is essentially a match made zone that the game tries to pair you with other players also in that area.  However you usually zone in and out too fast for the game to effectively do this, so there are things you can do to force the game to match you up with other players.  Inside of the Archon’s Forge there is a path behind the forge that leads down to an area that a number of missions and patrols send you to, but is effectively open at all times.  You can see this path as the opening with the ride SIVA cables coming out of it in the above image.

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What I find works is to run down this tunnel to the next area, you will be able to tell you have transitioned by a title card coming up identifying that you have entered “The Warrens”.  From here I tend to kill the various splicer mobs that spawn in… which may include a handful of 2-4 Vandals, 2-4 Stealth Vandals, 2-4 Dregs… and potentially a Captain.  The mix varies slightly, but essentially I spend enough time in this area to clear out whatever happens to have spawned.  From there I slowly walk back up towards the Archon’s Forge, and for me personally it helps for me to crouch while walking just to force myself to slow down.  In Destiny I am so used to constantly sprinting that I find myself doing it without realizing it.  Essentially you are trying to give the game plenty of time for it to notice that you are entering an area with an event… and that it should match you up with additional people.

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If it works, you should hear the familiar Fallen Klaxon as you near the tunnel leading out of the area and into Archon’s Forge.  If you make it to the Forge without getting matched into an open world group…  then simply head back down to the Warrens and start the process over.  I would say 99% of the time by the moment I reach the top I hear the Klaxon and am up and running with a viable open world team doing Archon’s Forge.  The longest so far it has ever taken to get matched is three trips up and down the tunnel but your mileage may vary depending on the time of day you are trying and your platform.  I’ve not tried this on Xbox Live, but considering the person who tipped me off to this method plays there I am going to assume it works fine as well.  Basically doing this method is going to allow you to hop into the Plaguelands and farm the forge until your heart is content, just remember to keep going to orbit every so often to make sure you are not losing loot.  Your mailbox can only hold 20 items… and while it takes longer for your inventory to fill up now that greens turn immediately into materials…  it still happens frighteningly fast while doing the Forge.

400 Light Solo

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This mornings post is something I have been kicking around in my head for awhile.  If you have read any of my blog over the last few years, you will already know that I am nigh obsessed with Destiny.  I am not exactly sure what it is about this game that draws me to it so much, but I am smitten.  One of the big problems however is that it can be more than a little obtuse for new players.  There are so many things that you COULD be doing… that it is sometimes hard to identify what it is that you SHOULD be doing.  One of the key goals in the game is the improving of your light level, which is for all intents and purposes exactly the same thing as the modern MMO concept of item level.  Higher light level means you simply perform better, in having slightly better stats on your gear… as well as doing more damage.  Your light level also dictates how well you will perform against the various levels of content in the game from Patrols, to Strikes, to Raids each with their own suggested light levels.

Now throughout Taken King I raided with then Axioma Clan and now Tequila Mockingbird, but with the release of Rise of Iron I simply haven’t been able to align my schedule to be available for raiding…  given that for a lot of it I have been raiding in two other games.  That did not however change my desire to keep improving and bumping my gear towards the currently light cap of 400.  Over the break I managed to push my Titan main to 400 light, and my Warlock and Hunter are lagging slightly behind at 399 and 398 respectively.  I managed to do this entirely through doing solo content with a few hours per sitting of time invested, and honestly…  I did it mostly wrong.  The problem with Destiny information is that most of it that you will find are either in insanely long and difficult to parse Reddit posts, or in a plethora of YouTube videos that you have to listen to a few times to really grok what they are saying.  What doesn’t really help is that most of the “get to 400” information is targeted at folks who ground it up as soon as the game came out and are now trying to explain how it was that they got there.  I have the benefit of having just reached 400 light on my Playstation Main…  and am now slogging my way back there on my alternate Xbox One account.

New To Destiny

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One of the problems with Destiny is that it is really bad at on-boarding new players.  At this point there are likely two different categories of players that might be looking at this guide.  Firstly they purchased the game at launch, played it… got frustrated and are now contemplating coming back.  Second is that they never got into it… and want to get started but find all of the options for purchasing the game confusing.  Regardless you are likely honestly wanting the Destiny Collection, which is a set that includes all content released to this point and will upgrade existing accounts to bring them current.  Please note that you absolutely want to be current because honestly Destiny does not function nicely if you are not up to the latest version of the game.  Largely speaking you are simply limited in what you can do… and this guide of sorts is going to focus on players you are caught up to the Rise of Iron release of the game.  The other confusing thing is that long term Destiny players like myself tend to refer to things as years.  So for the sake of clarification…

Year One

  • Destiny Original Release
  • Dark Below Expansion
  • House of Wolves Expansion

Year Two

  • The Taken King Release

Year Three

  • The Rise of Iron Release

Now your first instinct is going to be that you need to play through all of the original content, then all of the Dark Below content, then all of the House of Wolves content, then the Taken King content, and finally end up with Rise of Iron.  On this I am torn because I absolutely think it is worth playing through all of the content available, especially the two expansions from year one because they are going to give you bits of information that will help to fill in gaps in your knowledge as you do various strikes.  However started at Year One and leveling your way slowly to Year Three is probably the least efficient way that you can be playing this game.  From the standpoint of getting to 400 light… literally everything that happens in Year One is going to be of no long term use to you other than taking up space in your vault as a collectible.

The Infusion System

For the most part Year One was full of a lot of mistakes on how to make content that ages gracefully, and with Year Two they introduced the infusion system allowing you to essentially grow your weapons and armor with you by infusing items into them.  Thankfully if you are coming into the game now, you also missed a completely frustrating grind that was the infusion calculation system because during most of Year Two this was an extremely lossy system.  For example if you took a 300 light item and infused a 308 light item into it…  you were likely going to end up with a 304 light item as a result.  With an update in 2015 they shifted this so that infusion was a one for one increase… meaning if you took that same 300 light item and infused a 300 light item into it…  you wound up with a 308 light item.  However this only applies to items that dropped from Year 2 or Year 3 content…  meaning everything from Year 1 will functionally be locked at the gear levels from that era.

Boosting to the Rescue

The other main problem with playing through content as it was designed is that your light levels are going to increase extremely slowly.  Destiny is confusing in that it has physical levels…  and light levels.  When you finish the base game you will be sitting at around physical level 14… and completing both Dark Below and House of Wolves should be able to take you to level 20 without much issue.  Taken King content opens at level 20… and takes you to physical level 40.  However upon exiting the content you are going to be sitting somewhere around 180-200 light.  The Rise of Iron content expects you to be at a minimum of 280 light level, which was the Year 2 floor for being completely outfitted in beginner Legendary gear.  If we imagine that you are at 200 light, it is going to take an awful lot of grinding older content to get to 280 and again… that is largely going to be wasted time since the goal has moved on you and are looking at 400 light as the new target.

Buying either Rise of Iron or the Collection both give you a boost that you can use to take your character to level 40… and also outfit them in a full set of 280 blue gear, instantly giving you access to start the newest content.  If you want to see the older content, I honestly at this point suggest going ahead and boosting and then just playing through it for the sake of seeing the story…  knowing that the only thing of use that you are going to get out of it is some engrams.  For the sake of speed and getting you on the path to 400 light fastest… I also suggest playing through the Rise of Iron story as soon as you reasonably can.  I did it last night on my 280ish geared Xbox One character and had no real problem making it through the missions.  That said… I play a lot of Destiny and there are a few places where the missions can be a little brutal like during the final fight of the opening Rise of Iron mission.  However completing the Rise of Iron is going to outfit your character in a full set of 320 blue gear, putting you on a much better ground for starting the push to 400 light.

Level Plateaus

Another concept that you are going to need to learn is that the game rations how much light you can get from certain content.  As a result I am going to give you some advice that is going to seem counter intuitive at first.  Don’t decode Blue, Purple or god forbid Orange engrams while you are leveling.  The temptation is going to be great to rush over to the Cryptarch and see what new and shiny loot you get…  but that effort is going to be wasted for the most part until you are at least ready to begin the light push in proper.  You are going to ultimately thank yourself later once you reach certain light plateaus that you have a much needed boost waiting for you in the bank.  I am going to lay out the various light plateaus and then talk you through them.

  • Blue (Rare) Engrams – These Max out at 365 light
  • Purple (Lengendary) Engrams – These Max out at 385 light
  • Faction Package Loot – These Max out at 390 light
  • Orange (Exotic) Engrams – These Max out at 400 light with some caveats
  • “End Game Activities” – Max out at 400 light

The general theory being that you hold all of your engrams until you are at least to the 320 light level that you exit Rise of Iron with.  From there you decrypt your blues and do so in a slow and methodical faction.  Light level is an average, and your engrams will decode to the same light or slightly higher than whatever your current light level happens to be.  So that means as you decode them you want to be doing so as evenly as possible.  So you might decode a helm… equip it, and then decode a chest piece… equip it…  then a weapon…  equip it.  Essentially you are trying to stair step up your light as much as you can before decoding the next engram.  When you hit 365 light in every slot… you start working on your purples and do the same stair stepping manor until you have everything sitting at 385.  Then… you really do not touch your exotics until you have hit 390 loot off of faction packages.  Finally and this one gets awkward quickly… you decode exotics until you reach around 399.  There seems to be a bug in place where once you get past 399 you stop reliably getting upgrades from Exotics.  Sure you can get 400s… but during my most recent slot I would say 80% or so of the exotics I decrypted sat at 399 light instead of going on up to 400 making it heartbreaking.  I saved the remaining exotics for after I actually hit 400 to use as infusion fodder.

Bridging the Gaps

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Quite simply put… there is no way you are going to have enough engrams to get you all of the way through the light leveling process.  This is where all of the other activities come into play.  I personally did a ton of bounties to help start getting me faction packages along the way.  In the above image you see three types of bounties, the first row being the new Strike Bounties that will give you reputation with the Vanguard and your chosen faction that you should have joined by now…  Dead Orbit/Future War Cult/New Monarchy.  The middle row are the traditional Vanguard Packages that can be completed anywhere in the game and these give Vanguard and Faction reputation same as the strike bounties.  The last row are the Crucible bounties that give you reputation with Lord Shax, but pay special attention to these because some of them require you to be a member of a fire team…. and while technically every group is a fire team…  they mean one that you formed yourself.  Here is an attempt at a list of the things that you can do to get past various light plateaus.

365 Light Barrier

  • Blue (Rare) Engrams
  • Siva Crisis Strike List

Side note during this grind…  Siva Crisis Strike list also has the ability to drop Skeleton Keys used to open the Hoard Chests at the end of the strike.  Once again hold these in reserve because you are going to need the light boost to hit 400 and each chest you open will reward you one Legendary and one Rare item up to 400 light.  So start stockpiling keys now as you go through this process.

385 Light Barrier

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  • Purple (Legendary) Engrams
  • Archon’s Forge event in Plaguelands Patrol Zone
  • Heroic Siva Crisis Strike List
  • Normal Mode Wrath of the Machine Raid

While this is a guide largely targeted at soloing your way to 400 light… I did include the raid content in the list because it also bridges the gap if that is something you have the opportunity to run easily.

390 Light Barrier

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  • Package Loot
    • Vanguard – Tower
    • Crucible – Tower
    • Faction (Dead Orbit/Future War Cult/New Monarchy) – Tower
    • Gunsmith – Tower
    • Eris Morn – Tower
    • Variks – Reef
    • Petra Venj – Reef

Now of note… while you are getting to this point you are going to start getting package loot already.  There is no real way to hold multiple packages in reserve, and you need to be watching your faction ranks manually because as far as I know when you gain a new rank… and have not collected the previous faction package it is lost.  Now I have not experienced this personally, but it is the wisdom of the community that this is apparently a thing that can happen.  This is especially important when you are grinding out a bunch of Crucible matches or Strikes in a row… because the faction goes quickly if you are not watching it.

400 Light Barrier

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  • Orange (Exotic) Engrams
  • Archon’s Forge – Ghost and Artifact slots only
  • Crucible Matches
  • Strike Hoard Chests – Requires 1 Skeleton Key each
  • Iron Banner – Monthly Crucible Event
  • Nightfall Strike – Once Weekly Per Character
  • Trials of Osiris – Serious Team vs Team Event
  • Hard Mode Wrath of the Machine Raid

So something important of note…  Rise of Iron came out in September and I am just now hitting the level 400 light cap.  I am slow as hell and I did not do things in the most opportune fashion.  I broke every single rule that I lined out in this guide, because I was not super focused on getting there as quickly as possible.  However expect that each step in this ladder is probably going to take twice as long as the last step, with the last 10 points taking easily the longest if you don’t have access to something like the raid… or a team that can carry you to the tower each week in Trials of Osiris.  Your absolute best bet is going to be something like the Iron Banner which has a really good drop rate for gear.  The gotcha there however is that each month the Lady Efrideet (pictured above) only brings a few items to the tournament.

This past Iron Banner for example she brought Class Items, Helms, Fusion Rifles and Scout Rifles, so when you add to it the chance of an Artifact or Ghost Shell dropping which is always the case with Iron Banner that gives you six possible items you can get at the end of matches, out of the total 10 slots that you eventually need to raise your light.  There are also four bounties that you can complete each time the event runs, and two reward gear drops, and the other two reward weapon drops… that can drop something that in the current months assortment of items.  The absolute best case scenario is that you save these until the end of the week because they will reward you based on your current equipped light levels… and hopefully by the end of the tournament you will have bumped up your light a bit.  There is also a catch up mechanic that makes gaining faction with the Iron Banner faster on your alts, so in theory I try and run multiple characters through at a time to get more than one set of these packages.  However you are going to have to stomach the crucible, so if you are a strictly non-pvp player this might be a step too far for you.

The Missing Pieces

Ultimately whatever path you choose, there is likely going to be a point where you cannot get the drop you need to take you from 399 to 400.  For me that item slot was my Heavy Weapon, and nothing I did seemed to be willing to drop one.  I finally got it from decoding a Legendary engram, which of note… there is always a slight chance that Rares upgrade into Legendary and Legendary into Exotics.  Hell yesterday I even managed to pull a 400 Mida Multitool off of a Rare Primary Engram… so that is also a thing, but just don’t bank on that actually happening.  Where the Hoard Chests at the end of strikes come in handy is that each one of them has a chance of dropping a specific set of loot, with a loot table of generally only a couple of items per chest available.  The below image is from an excellent reddit post where they took the time to format all of the information in which item drops from which Hoard chest in table form.

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If you are interested in which specific drops come from which specific chest… then I suggest you check out this visual guide both of these I am simply referencing for the sake of space and my sanity rather than recreating in blog form.  I have recently been chaining strikes in the effort to get an Imago Loop with a decent roll for example.  Regardless you should be able to target specific strikes in spending those keys that I hope at this point you have stockpiled and get yourself the rest of the way to 400 in no time.

But What About Xur?

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Honestly I largely left Xur off the initial list… because honestly you never know from week to week if he is going to bring something useful.  When you take that can combine it with the fact that for the last two weeks Xur has not brought Three of Coins…  it feels like his purpose is a bit up in the air at the moment.  Previously Three of Coins was a bizarre stacking buff system that made it so that you had an increasing chance of getting an exotic engram to drop any time you killed an ultra, or completed a crucible match.  Traditionally this was the thing that I saved my Strange Coins for… and popped one anytime I was chain running Crucible or Strike content.  It has problems but it is a nice way of increasing the chance especially new players have of seeing interesting loot.  As far as the items he brings, in Year 3 they are all 350 light level and I absolutely abused this fact on my Xbox One account to get a short term boost in light and also provide me with a decent weapon to finish content on.  Each week Xur brings one weapon, one warlock armor, one hunter armor and one titan armor.  The combination of things you can get however are like I said at the start totally random… and some of the exotic rolls are notoriously bad like bringing items with straight intellect or discipline rolls making it hard to balance your gear around that.  They can of course be re-rolled using Glass Needles that he also sells, and recently he has started selling Exotic Shards making upgrading those Exotics lining your bank significantly easier.  Essentially I check one of the many youtubers Xur videos Friday morning, or hit WhereIsXur.com to see what he is selling an determine if I care about it for the weekend.  Traditionally speaking Saturday night after we recorded our Podcast I would pop over and liquidate my stock of Strange Coins into Three of Coins.  He arrives in the wee hours of Friday morning, and disappears in the wee hours of Sunday morning, so you have a limited chance to get items from him, but it is definitely something worth checking out.  I just wouldn’t count on actually getting something you needed from him.

 

Christmas Basebuilding

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My friend Grace calls today Super Xmas…  or the day that you get to chill out and rest after the manic running around that happens around attempting to make everyone happy on Christmas and Christmas Eve.  This absolutely used to be the case for me, but over the last few years Christmas has become a much more low key affair.  I’ve talked a bit about the concept of an anchor household, but for me most of those are now gone.  Instead we have to sort of make our own new traditions, and one of those recently has consisted of going out to dinner on Christmas Eve with my folks, and then coming back to our house and doing gifts together.  For years there used to be a strict schedule of… my folks and mothers side of the family on Christmas Eve, and my Dads side of the Family early early Christmas morning…  then my wife’s family for Christmas lunch and eventually another gathering Christmas evening.  Over the years deaths in the family have taken the corner stone of each of those gatherings to where there really isn’t a whole lot going on during the holidays on either of our families.

There were of course a few options…  one of which was the household that introduced me to the term “titty milk” a few years back and we opted out of that one.  Instead for the most part we just chilled out at home and enjoyed the fact that it was freaking 70 degrees outside for Christmas.  In the afternoon between thunderstorms we went out for a walk, which is something I need to start doing every day in an attempt to get myself prepared for all of the walking that is going to happen at Pax South.  As far as gaming goes… I spent a lot of time not actually gaming yesterday but more in an extended state of transitioning between games… as I checked twitter and surfed the web.  I did play a significant amount of the Sparrow Racing League, but largely playing remotely through the laptop.  I am getting surprisingly good at dealing with the input lag that comes from playing PS4 via PC, so much so that it actually takes a bit to get adjusted to using the real console again.  I am now in this place where I need two items to hit 400 light…  Ghost and Heavy.  I’ve since gotten two Exotic Heavy Engrams… but both of them decoded to 399 light instead of bumping on up to 400.  This seems like a massive bug because every engram seems to decode at 399 rather than giving me what is usually a level bump.  As far as the ghost goes… I tried some more forge only to have it bug out on me with the waves sitting at 100% for 10 mins and then eventually failing out without actually spawning the boss.

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Another thing that happened yesterday is that I fell into a giant Minecraft shaped hole as we hung out and watched some shows on demand.  It has been several years since I had legitimately played Minecraft and as a result I went back to pure vanilla for the moment at least while I get my bearings.  Before long I was back into my standard operating procedure which is digging a big hole and then eventually erecting some large structures.  I decided to have my main base out over the open water with a big tunnel leading from what is ultimately turning into my quarry.  I used the seed “BelChillingChristmas2016” and wound up with a pretty cool spawn.  My original cave opened into a giant chasm underground and I have been building the infrastructure needed to explore it more properly.  I wound up digging down into the rock and laying a bunch of ladders as I went which ultimately allowed me to create a shaft straight down to the chasm floor.  I have a hut of sorts down at ground level that lets me get down there in relative safety and at least see what monsters happen to be around.

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I plan on building a dock of sorts under my base that should allow me to launch boats easily for exploring new areas, and I also plan on building another big land bridge/tunnel to the other nearby coast giving me access to new areas.  Right now a lot of my time has been spent simply quarrying cobblestone and hollowing out the mountain side for that purpose.  There is a bunch of gold in the chasm, but I don’t really have much need for it yet.  I have not seen any of the more useful materials like Diamond or Red Stone so at some point I am probably going to have to do the whole dig down to bedrock thing and start some branch mining.  At this very moment however I am trying to expand my base of operations and make more safe space for me to travel in.  Minecraft is one of those games that triggers my base building instinct to the extreme, and I am ultimately falling back into the familiar patterns I do when I always play this game.  In truth I should be playing Diablo 2 since we plan on recording the game of the month show this coming week… but for now I am indulging myself in a little bit of structured madness.

Hopscotch Pilgrim

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Yesterday was a pretty great day.  I am still pestering the folks that I tagged in the Icecrown Challenge tweet to do their Icecrown runs…  and last night I managed to get Nik to do his.  I kinda feel bad though because apparently he never actually raided during Wrath.  That means he had no clue where to go and what to do… and we failed miserably at trying to direct him while streaming.  The biggest problem came with the boat… because he somehow failed to take down the boat before the cannons froze.  There is no quick and easy way to reset the boat as far as we could figure out… so he had to simply wait for our ship to die a horrible death and end the encounter.  The end result is that it took him around 50 minutes to complete the raid…  and I feel zero sorry since he was one of the ones egging me on to take on Dreamwalker as a warrior if I remember correctly.  Thankfully the British pound has recovered a bit… so that is 40 of his currency for charity.  That in itself was its own hassle because I had to give him my address for him to be able to make the payment… it seems like the charity website has no clue what to do with a UK zip code.  I want to thank Nik for being such a good sport about this and helping out a good cause.

While attempting to help Nik out… I was in Destiny playing Space Diablo.  I spent a good chunk of the night farming Archon’s Forge because prior to last night my two lowest items were my Artifact and my Ghost Shell.  Since the forge has a chance of dropping level 400 on both I spent most of the night there and didn’t even notice when I actually got the Artifact.  Of note… check those blues over carefully because apparently instead of getting a legendary artifact I got a blue one at light 400 and was this close to deconstructing it.  I had zero luck with the Ghost Shell, but did manage to get a 400 titan’s mark while grinding away.  I also picked up a But Not Forgotten with a reasonable roll…  but unfortunately I am just not a huge fan of that archetype… and prefer my Devil’s Dawn or my trusty 1000 Yard Stare that I have had since the moment I hit 40.  In any case I made a lot of forward momentum and while the above image doesn’t quite show it… I am sitting at 398.5.  Right now my sub 400 items are Ghost at 394, Heavy at 397, Helm at 398, Chest at 399 and Boots at 399.  Every single one of those slots can be obtained during the SRL event… I just need to get lucky.

My lucky draw of the night has to be my Hopscotch Pilgrim… a weapon that gets an awful lot of shade from the community right now because Bungie changed up its Archetype significantly in Year 3.  It went from being a high impact Pulse Rifle to being a medium impact variant like the Apple of Discord, Herja-D or The Villainy in the 66 rate of fire, 14 impact category.  This causes folks to kick and scream and declare their favorite weapon dead… but honestly…  for me personally I am loving it.  For whatever reason… I never seem to like the “in meta” weapons and prefer the ones sitting just outside of the bubble of what the community has declared as “good”.  For example I swear by my Year 2 Haakon’s Hatchet that sits somewhere between a high and a low impact auto rifle, but has stat and perk package that just “feels right” to me.  After a few hours of playing with the Hopscotch Pilgrim last night… I feel like I have finally found my equivalent to the Hatchet in Pulse Rifle format.  This roll in particular has Counter Balance, Perfect Balance and Glass Half Full.  That means I am going to have to get used to simply not spamming reload like I am used to so that I can get those bonus damage late magazine shots.  If nothing else… the SRL has provided a couple of really good feeling weapons.

I am going to be really sad when this event ends.  There is something relaxing about coming home and racing speeder bikes.  I uploaded this image because I am kinda proud of this victory.  It was a come behind after a few remote play lag spikes caused me to take a few bad turns….  and at the end of the match I hit one more gate than the person in the lead and zoomed past him at the very last minute to take first.  Racing with the lag built into Remote Play… has made me much better when I am actually upstairs playing on the physical PS4.  I has taught me to predict the track a bit more… and race a little more proactive rather than reactive to the terrain.  Also it is teaching me to exploit the shit out of the short cuts that are built into the map to catch up and make up for the fact that remote play occasionally lags out and causes me to miss something.  I mean I wouldn’t want to do crucible in this fashion…. but for simply farming loot like I have been it is a good option.  It lets me chill on the sofa and make attempt after attempt for those pieces I am needing.  At least at 398.5 I am pretty consistently getting 400 items whenever something finally drops.  I am spending Three of Coins like it is going out of style… just hoping for the right slots to drop.

Shaders and Eyasluna

We have one week down officially for the Sparrow Racing League… and I have to say I am still having a blast.  There is just something about this game mode that makes me happy… and the bounty of rewards available only serves to sweeten the pot.  It seems that when SRL goes away officially… it will still be available through the private match list so there is even talk of organizing an unofficial league of sorts to race during the off time.  There is just so much to like about this event that it hard to place my finger on what exactly makes it special.  You have entire sets of gear up for grabs, with light levels up to 400.  I have to admit a lot of my drive to keep on racing is for the glimmer of a chance at finding some light 400 items.  So far I have gotten one, that I ultimately infused into my best fusion rifle that I am not pretty partial to.  A good amount of my gear is sitting at 399 light with my two severe hold outs being my artifact at 393 and ghost shell at 394.  There are technically ghosts available through the SRL but I have not personally seen one.  As far as the Artifact I guess my option there is probably doing some Court of Oryx because I have heard they drop there up to light 400.

Probably my personal favorite thing about the event is the availability of all of these interesting shaders.  You can check my twitter feed for a shot of one I found last night called “Ghast” which given my name seems a little fitting.  The above shader is my current favorite called Krokos which is mostly white with purple accents… that just happens to look really cool with the PS4 exclusive Jovian armor set.  There are fourteen shaders up for grabs… and I have managed go get thirteen of them with the last one tied to the record book achievements.  According to Destiny Tracker I have raced 68 times and played a total of 7 hours 38 minutes of the Sparrow Racing League…  which is pretty much entirely this year given that for whatever reason I only raced last year on my Hunter and Warlock.  Generally speaking I do a few runs to clear up the bounties and then retire downstairs to racing through the remote client, because really…  me winning or losing doesn’t much matter when I am largely in it for the possibility of maybe just maybe hitting 400 light level.  The goofy part is that even with the input lag caused by remote play… I still generally end up finishing in the top three and have even managed to win a few maps in this fashion.

The other huge perk of the SRL is that it levels your crucible rep while at the same time giving you access to some older legacy crucible weapons.  Of these the one I have been wanting since initially coming back to Destiny during Taken King is the Eyasluna.  This weapon is essentially a legendary version of the Hawkmoon, a personal favorite of mine in the exotic hand cannon category.  Over time I strayed away from Hand Cannons due to the ammo issues, but have recently started getting used to them again and even bought the vendor Palindrome last time I was capped on Legendary Marks.  When I saw this weapon was on the list of available items…  it has been my hope to see it show up on my end of match rewards list and finally last night it did.  I am not really sure what a god roll looks like on this weapon, but I can make the one I got work with Triple Tap, Braced Frame and Grenadier.  While this is going to drop me down to 9 instead of 10 shots in the magazine… it gives me 5 points from maxed stability which should make it insanely easy to headshot with.  The range of 38 is pretty solid for a Hand Cannon as well and the 81 impact is nothing to complain about.  I spent some time running around with it last night… and I think I am going to like it.

If you were not around for the Sparrow Racing League last year, I highly suggest you get in on the Dawning event while it is available.  We still have two more full weeks of racing…  but at some point soon I am going to have to care about the other side of this event… which is the strike list scoring if I hope to complete my record book.  Playing SRL really has made me realize how much I miss games like Wipeout, and the fact that we will at least get to play this game type in private matches going forward gives me some solace.  The only thing that worries me is that a lot of my enjoyment right now absolutely comes from the fact that I have a shot at interesting rewards at the end of the match.  With this carrot removed… will I care about it nearly as much?  As a final side note….  I have to thank Playstation support for taking care of my issues yesterday quickly.  It took some doing… but I finally managed to find the correct link to get some resolution with.  Within a few minutes and a few questions answered… they reset my compromised account back to the original email address and I was able to get in and take control once more.  Additionally when I got home I added the two factor authentication…  which I did not even know they offered until yesterday.  I guess when they introduced it they didn’t make much of an announcement.  In any case… after talking to some folks who got compromised there was a pattern to these attacks.

  • They transferred 50 of whatever the local currency was to the wallet… for me it was Dollars for others it was Pounds Sterling or Euros.
  • They changed the Sign-In email for the account…  which frustratingly invalidates the links being sent out in email that allows you to quickly contest these actions
  • They created a sub account and set it up with unlimited purchasing rights.

What they were planning on doing from there is unknown because I think I maybe got things stopped in time to be able to find out.  I had already put in a Paypal dispute, and Sony asked me to cancel that and they refunded the $50 taken from within their system.  They were quick to point out that they had no legal requirement to do this… since all sales are final…  and that they were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts as a one time exception.  Whatever makes me feel better at the end of the night, because in the end I got my money back without having to claw it back through paypal.  The gotcha however is that instead of refunding it to the bank…  they just placed it in my PSN wallet, which in truth I guess is fine given that I was going to pre-purchase Horizon Zero Dawn at some point anyways.  It was a frustrating start to the morning, but in the grand scheme of things everything seems to be restored to normal.  The only thing that I am going to do as a follow up is to get them to completely remove the sub account.  For now I have changed its password and decimated it through parental controls so it really can’t do anything.

Warlock Banana

Last night did not go exactly as expected, but I am pretty pleased with the results anyways.  Last night was a good night, and it started from the moment I got home and got a bunch of things accomplished while waiting on the rice cooker.  After a furious round of chores, my wife and I sat down to eat and then I was off to play some PS4.  With my leg in its current mauled state it hurts to sit on the couch given that in order to use my laptop I need to use the recliner.  This ends up putting pressure on the four wounds and while I can take it for a few minutes… it doesn’t exactly make for comfortable gaming.  As a result I am largely upstairs right now, and other than being isolated from my wife it does give me access to my gaming consoles and my legit gaming desktop. The original goal for last night was going to involve running around and doing stuff  with some friends in Destiny, but while waiting for that to happen I decided to start doing Iron Banner on my Warlock.  I had not actually touched the Banner on either the Warlock or the Hunter during Year 3, and as a result I had the Lady Efrideet quests to complete which also reward some gear.  I managed to exit the week long even with my Titan main at 393, Warlock caught up to 391 and my Hunter lagging a bit out of disuse at 389.

I’ve tried a whole slew of weapons and honestly nothing makes me nearly as happy as my Year 2 Iron Banner Auto Rifle… the Haakon’s Hatchet.  So for the most part playing on my Warlock meant swapping this over via Destiny Item Manager.  For those who are not using this I highly suggest installing the chrome plugin, because it greatly improves the utility of being able to swap gear while playing the game.  Essentially I swapped my Auto Rifle and my Gjallarhorn over and was off to the races.  There is a part of me that is sad that this Auto Rifle just simply doesn’t exist any more.  I wish there was something you could do, like a weekly bounty for Lord Saladin that rewarded the year two weapons… just a random draw at the huge vat of available options.  Range Finder is one of those perks on a weapon that I feel like gets overlooked a lot, but given the normal crap range on this weapon… with that perk it allows me to melt targets an entire map away it seems.  Counter Balance and Perfect Balance on the same weapon always makes it feel great and I think a huge part of why I keep favoring this weapon… is that I have used it so much that I can predict exactly how it is going to behave in pretty much every situation.

Throughout the course of the evening I managed to go from Rank 0 to Rank 5 and complete all four of the bounties on my Warlock along with the three one time Lady Efrideet quests.  That meant I saw an awful lot of gear as a result.  Most of it was largely “more of the same” but I am picking out a few items to talk about.  Firstly I am not a huge fan of Sidearms, but I am trying to learn how to use them.  They play this interesting role of operating somewhere just outside of shotgun range but largely something you swap to when you empty your primary.  Normally speaking I would just infuse this into a weapon I am more familiar with but for the moment I am holding onto it largely because I think the perk package looks interesting.  With Hand Loaded and Range Finder… this means my side arm is going to have a massive operating range, and with Quickdraw I will be able to swap to it extremely quickly.  Combine this with the already insane Stability and Rate of Fire on the weapon… and it might be useful if I can learn to use it well.

One of the strange things about Iron Banner is that your drops seem to be extremely character dependent.  For example this time around the drops that were available were Class Items, Helms, Artifacts, Ghost Shells, Scout Rifles, and Fusion Rifles.  On my Titan I got Fusion Rifles almost exclusively, save for a single Distant Star Scout Rifle drop.  On my Warlock…  the Scout Rifles were raining down upon me.  I still think that more than likely I am going to be using the vendor roll which includes Full Auto… giving me a crazy high power auto rifle hybrid thing.  However I did manage to get a few other interesting rolls, including the one above that I thought were worth talking about.  Firstly to spec this out I would end up taking Braced Frame… which I really don’t like doing because it reduces the magazine size.  For the second pick I would ultimately take High Caliber Rounds to give some stagger and a bit more impact, and lastly would probably go for Firefly…  just because right now I don’t have a decent scout rifle with that on it.  For the un-initiated Firefly makes it so that when you kill a with a headshot… it causes it to explode dealing damage to all other mobs around it.  Firefly does a really great job at helping with wave clear and it is just fun to watch all of these things explode.  All in all it was a pretty great week in the Banana, and I am hoping the next time it comes around I can maybe push my army of characters up to 400ish.

Literal Ankle Biter

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LET IT DIE_20161211164207

This was a bit of an odd weekend.  Lets get the bad out of the way.  For several months we have been trying to figure out how to get Luna to a point where she does not attack the other two cats on sight.  We’ve kept her sequestered in my wife’s office and each night I grab her and we hang out in my office while I play games.  She almost always ends up snuggled on my desk, and in truth is just about the sweetest cat ever…  when not around our other two.  This is an important distinction before I tell you this next bit… because she is adorable and cuddly…  when she is by herself.  In my infinite lack of wisdom I decided that I wanted to make one last attempt to socialize them since she had seemingly bonded with me so tightly after our many many weeks of chilling in my office.  We locked our eldest cat up in the bedroom and brought Luna out, at first carrying her and holding her on the sofa.  Before long thought she wanted to explore… and for the most part our youngest and her were not interacting at all.  However there came a point where we were moments away from a cat fight, and I tried to gather Luna up and carry her off to my office.  She struggled to try and get away but I got her up to the office without much issue.  I turned to shut the door and I felt this searing pain on my leg around my lower calf.  She had bit me… and now I was left with the decision of how the hell to get out of my office without letting her out so she could go after Kenzie.

I snuck out and by the time I got downstairs I was bleeding pretty badly.  There are five marks…  so I am guessing one is maybe a claw mark or she drug off of me and raked me with her fang again.  Two of them are about a half inch in length and pretty deep… and two others are deep puncture wounds where she chomped down hard on my leg.  It hurts quite a bit to walk and just generally exist in the world right now, but I don’t think there is any real damage.  After going through the crap with my wife when she got bitten we are being extra cautious, and using the super duper antibiotic creme that they gave us back then.  Walking is not comfortable and today is going to be interesting.  I had to venture out to get more extra large band-aids, because in theory you can hit all of the spots with two of the largest size.  After getting bandaged up I went back upstairs where she seemed as freaked as I was by the event.  She sat on the floor in the back of my office up against the accordion closet door for a long while looking freaked.  Eventually I peeked down underneath the desk towards where she was at and said “it’s okay, I’m not mad” and almost instantly her demeanor changed and she bounded over and hopped up on the desk laying down beside me.  The thing that is breaking my heart is that I now know that this is probably never going to get any better, and we really do need to find her a new home.  Unfortunately the friend that we thought was going to take her… had her landlord say no.  It was in their contract that they could have pets if landlord approved… but I am guessing the asshole is biased against cats, because he assumed they were talking a dog.

Other than the cat thing…. and hurting…  I streamed a lot of Iron Banner.  I think it was Friday night at some point that I managed to hit Rank 5 with the Banana, and from that point on it was just gravy as far as loot went.  I guess in theory I should have been swapping to the Warlock or Hunter to get them to Rank 5 but instead I simply made a poor attempt at farming some more gear to increase my light levels.  This last 10 points is going to be slow as hell, but I entered the weekend at 390 and exit at 392 which I guess is reasonable.  According to beam I have now streamed seven hours of game play, which I guess isn’t a bad start for my first week.  Now a good chunk of that on Sunday at least was to an empty audience, but I entertained myself and have a bunch of footage to sift through.  There was one Iron Banner match where for whatever reason I started humming the Super Mario Brothers theme song inserting “Nope” instead of some of the notes.  All in all I think I like Rift for an Iron Banner match type, but like I said before I struggled a bit at first because the game play feels so vastly different from anything I had been used to.  The best item I got all weekend is still the above Branded Lord with Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery and Range Finder… which I now have fully leveled and am almost using exclusively.

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LET IT DIE_20161211162544

Lastly I played some “Let It Die” as evidenced by the first screenshot in the post today, and streamed it as well…  except for whatever reason my audio was being overpowered completely by the game audio.  I will have to fiddle with that and adjust it some.  This game is just strange as hell, and I guess in many ways it feels a little Dark Soulsian, in that the mobs that you encounter are somewhat brutally powerful at times.  There will be times that you get stunlocked to the point where you simply cannot do anything to deal with the encounters other than die.  The strangest part so far is the types of weapons you encounter…  hot irons, router drills, hammers…  firework launchers.  As you ascend the Tower of Barbs you encounter all sorts of monsters that should be in a silent hill game with bizarre implements that are trying to kill you, all the while you are using a zombie corpse thing as your avatar.  You start out buck naked each time and have to scrounge up armor and weapons to be able to survive for terribly long in the tower.  This is of course a “free to play” game and where the money aspect comes in is that in order to resurrect yourself using “death insurance” you need to spend a rainbow skull currency, that the game gives you a handful of to start out.  However in the brief period of time I played yesterday I wound up using two of them before realizing… that in truth I had not really made any actual progress and should stop doing that.  I’ve not quite figured out what the point is yet…  as far as how you actually improve your character.  I thought after I cleared a level I would be taken back to the lobby… but apparently I have to do that manually so I essentially lost all progress on that character and had to grab a fresh corpse to start the climb all over again.  It has some deep rogue like elements, all the while mixing in bizarre Neo Tokyo and Silent Hill tropes…. with a dash of Dark Soulsian difficulty.  Given that several of those checkboxes are things that Kodra likes, I think he maybe should try this game out.  What I am wanting to know is if you can play it multiplayer, because this would probably be super enjoyable with friends.

 

Derpy Banana

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mpc-hc64-2016-12-07-06-37-19-46

Last night I moved a little bit out of my comfort zone and decided to do what I had hoped to do some time ago… and test Beam.pro.  Firstly you have to understand that I have gone around and around with streaming services because none of them really seemed to fit me.  Twitch is the ten ton juggernaut in the room, and in a way that generally makes all other services irrelevant.  That said… I feel like it is a generally inferior experience for both the viewer and the streamer.  The lag delay between video stream and chat is horrendous and it pretty much makes any attempt at having a conversation with someone watching you impossible.  Hitbox seemed really cool other than some weird issues I had regularly with stream quality.  It however had little to no lag between video stream and chat and made it super easy to have conversations over.  They also seemed to have way better back end tools to support the day to day management of your stream and syndicating it to various social media platforms when you go live.  Beam however entered the ring some time ago, or at least came into my general consciousness when my friend Maeka decided to switch over to streaming on it exclusively.

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Braced Frame – Snapshot – Range Finder

So Beam represents a more twitch like experience in quality, but with far better chat delay and an interesting reward model for viewers and streamers.  Watching streams earns folks sparks, that can then be spent on either unlocking features for your own channel… or spending those sparks on other streamers who often offer weird things like sound boards for you to play with.  I admit the gamification aspect of the streaming interested me, and I find myself way more connected to the concept of letting a stream run while I am doing other things because I know that eventually it is going to benefit me.  For example… something I have always wanted was the ability to create an AggroChat team, and that functionality apparently unlocks when I hit 5000 sparks… to which I am sitting at roughly 2000 currently after a few days of usage.  Over the weekend I got my setup rearranged and organized so that things were going through the appropriate devices, thinking that sometime in the future I might maybe start streaming again.  However a thread on the That Gaming Forum Imzy was the catalyst needed to go ahead and push me across the line to trying to stream something properly.  When I got home last night I quickly assembled a fresh OBS install and pulled in the artwork I had from the previous attempts and before long I was up and running.

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Perfect Balance – Snapshot – Headseeker

The end result is me playing some of the absolute worst Iron Banner ever, but you can check out the VOD here on Beam.  I spent way more time turning my head to the left and checking chat than I did actually playing the game.  This is compounded by the fact that before last night I had played a half dozen Rift matches period, and it is a vastly different style of gameplay than I am used to in the Crucible.  Generally speaking I am used to the “rush to the choke point” style of game play that comes from Control or Supremacy, and in trying to play Rift that way… I died a lot.  Later on in the night after I chilled the hell out and started taking things more slowly… I started doing better but unfortunately this was LONG after I ended my stream.  I was still recording, however when I configured OBS I ended up accepting the default flv format… which Adobe Premiere seems not to know what to do with.  So I am either going to have to find a plugin that lets me import them… or find something to convert that to a format so I can actually properly edit it.  I did get one really solid match recorded, and I would like to edit that up and post it on my youtube channel at some point.

Perfect Balance - Extended Mag - Zen Moment
Perfect Balance – Extended Mag – Zen Moment

One of the big positives about Beam is that they are now owned by Microsoft which in theory means they are going to get more support.  The negative there is that Microsoft has a long and storied history of abandoning products…  zune anyone?  However the killer feature seems to be that it integrates perfectly with the Xbox One… which also adds to a little platform bias.  Most of the streams I have watched were streamed from an Xbone… so it confused my viewers when I said I was playing Destiny on the PS4.  Ultimately I have a pretty cool setup that I am happy with in that in my office I have my desktop beside what is essentially a console gaming area.  In a storage cabinet beneath my 48 inch television I have a PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and now Xbox One all connected through an HDMI switch that then goes through a splitter before going into an Elgato HD that I picked up off craigslist for around $35 used.  That then feeds into my PC and is served up by OBS using the Elgato streaming tools.  So that means quite literally anything I can connect to my television through HDMI can then end up getting streamed out.  At one point I had my WiiU connected here, but I took that downstairs so I could hang out in bed and play on the weird remote device.  Also Nintendo has some pretty draconian practices surrounding streaming and youtube videos so I figured it was probably a good idea NOT to do that.

consolestreamingsetup

At one point I drew up this diagram quickly to show how my set up works.  The key element there is the splitter and you can read more about that in a previous post I made back in June 2014 when I got the setup running.  As far as Iron Banner itself… I have interspersed some of my best rolls from the night in amongst the paragraphs.  In total I am sitting 3/4 of the way through Rank 3 and have picked up 3 fusion rifles, 1 scout rifle, 1 pulse rifle, 2 legs, and a helm… that I then bought the 100% roll from Lady Efrideet and infused that into it.  I feel like I made a decent start to getting to Rank 5 and I finally grasped the unique rhythm of the game mode as I went through the night.  I suddenly stopped being the lowest person on the team to vying for the top spot once again.  I am not terribly great at crucible but I am generally not as bad as I am in the stream test.  However that wasn’t really the purpose of the stream… it was to test out Beam.pro and I think so far I am saying it passes with flying colors.  I accepted the absolute default settings and it performed admirably.  Now is the time for me to actually set my channel up properly and try and sort out how precisely is the best way to use the service.