Memory is Fleeting

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With all of the recent talk about the World of Warcraft classic server, I have found myself contemplating a lot of things about the game.  We recorded a podcast episode where we basically spent the entire time trying to determine just how vanilla classic would end up being.  The other side effect of all of this is that I seem to be playing my horde warrior over on scryers quite a bit more than usual.  Now if you were to ask me to rank the current expansions to the game that ranking would look a little something like this…

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. The Burning Crusade
  3. Legion
  4. Vanilla
  5. Mists of Pandaria
  6. Warlords of Draenor
  7. Cataclysm

Notice that number one and number two are the second and third expansion, and that weirdly enough I rank Legion above Vanilla.  What you are seeing is that my memory of these expansions and the nostalgia that colors them does not adequately represent the experience of actually playing through them.  I’ve recently leveled through the Burning Crusade content in a fashion given that you end up dinging your way out of it long before you actually finish much of it.  I did do Hellfire Peninsula in its entirety, the majority of Terrokar and a good chunk of Nagrand.  I left the Cataclysm tainted Vanilla lands at 58 and similarly left the Outland at 68 and as a result have spent the last four levels completing pieces of Borean Tundra.  The reality I am straddled with is that the zone design of the first two expansions is simply not good.  I mean at the time it was released it was world better than anything Vanilla had given us and as a result felt like a breath of fresh air, however when you stack it up against modern zone design from say Legion…  it is objectively not as well designed.

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What I mean by this is that the quests don’t flow cleanly from hub to hub and instead it forces you to do a lot of travel time back and forth between a hub and its related spokes.  All the while I was leveling through Outland and so far in Northrend it feels like I am spending a lot of time needlessly travelling between two destinations and this might have been the initial intent.  However after seeing modern quest design it feels like I somehow failed and allowed my quests to get out of sync.  If you fight your way through a micro dungeon with quest A you often find that upon turning in you now have another quest requiring you to go back there.  It is maddening to have to wade through an army of minions to kill a boss that you were already next to and sometimes even killed while completing the first quest.  The other that adds to this feeling of tedium is the mob density and having no real way to get in and out of these destinations without a heavy body count.  Thankfully on my warrior racking up a heavy body count is fun, but on other more fiddly classes this causes the leveling experience to grind to a halt.  The truth is it will probably have taken me twice as long to level through Outland and Northrend as it will have to push through the next three expansions.

As games mature their design ethic shifts significantly and we forget what it was actually like to play these games at the time.  When it comes to Classic World of Warcraft for Project 99 in Everquest… what we are chasing is a feeling not an actual honest moment in history.  I think when players say that they want to play Vanilla again…  they want to return to a time when not everything was mapped out quite so clearly and they had a sense of accomplishment and discovery each time they looted a kobold (and the game subsequently froze).  This is why World of Warcraft Classic is going to be the challenge it will be.  That experience means different thing to different players, and none of the calculations that a game company can make actually take the social component into play.  When I think of Vanilla or Burning Crusade or even Wrath, those memories involve very specific sets of individuals that no longer play the game and I might not even have contact with.  For Vanilla it was the Late Night Raiders, and Burning Crusade it was No Such Raid and when Wrath launched we were excited to be the Duranub Raiding Company.  Three non-guild based raids dominate those feelings and memories and the simple fact that I went through three separate raid groups tells you that there is no way to actually ever join those broken pieces back together again.  All of this said I will have characters on the Classic server, and I will see how this experience actually shakes out in the end.  I just feel like it is going to be exceedingly difficult to please even a fraction of the player base because we all want something different.

Snipers and Hellboars

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

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

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

Accidental Orc

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Firstly I feel like I need to lead this post with a tweet from one of my friends that I received last night.

I did in fact do this thing.  To be more specific I went on a spree of mass cancelling my MMO accounts in early October.  I went so far as to actually uninstall many of the games, which is apparently the surest sign that you are just about to decide that you are going to want to play again.  Thankfully I have super fast internet and downloading World of Warcraft really is not that big of a deal anymore.  I am not exactly sure how to explain this one other than the fact that I have been playing on and off with a friend in Destiny 2…  that I first knew through my horde guild in World of Warcraft.  I guess in theory this made me nostalgic about that guild and planted the idea in my head that I really should level my warrior over there.  When you combine that with the weekend we had which was dreary and overcast…  and my desire to just hang out on the couch in a blanket cocoon and do some comfort gaming and apparently all of that translates into playing World of Warcraft.

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The biggest challenge however is the fact that in the process of uninstalling everything I also nuked my addons.  Playing WoW with the stock interface is just not a tenable solution.  My previous UI was cobbled together out of several dozen separate addon packs that I had to use the Curse Client now re-branded as Twitch to maintain.  I did not want to go through that again so I took this as the perfect opportunity to try ElvUi that everyone has been raving about for years.  It took some getting used to because the set up process was nothing like I was used to.  However I decided to embrace the difference and by the end of the weekend I had gotten used to it mostly.  The thing that likely won me over however was the AFK screen where the camera spins around you and your character dances in the corner.  They didn’t need to do this thing…  but the world is better for them doing it.  Essentially over the last few days I have chilled on the couch and leveled from 30ish to 61 as of this morning.  I am now knee deep in the Burning Crusade expansion content and having a weird nostalgic trip down memory lane.  I have zero clue how long I will be playing or even how often but for the moment I am enjoying myself.

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In Destiny 2 news I can now hit 302 on my Titan and in theory would love to either get in a raid tonight or at least the Nightfall on my Hunter and Warlock to potentially get some additional item level movement.  The biggest problem that is effecting me in Destiny is the fact that I just am not a night owl right now…  and that a good chunk of our clan are now on the west coast meaning they are two hours behind me.  One of two things is going to have to happen, either we break into a early evening and late night raid, or we start actually declaring some night of the week to be raid night.  Thus far everything has sorta been on the spur of the moment with whoever happens to be around, and sure that is fun…  but also impossible to plan around.  Last night for example they were wanting to pull together the raid while I was watching Walking Dead, which is literally the only television show I watch all week long.  Other nights the potential start time would mean I would be up until midnight which is just not viable during the work week anymore.  Had I planned for this and maybe taken a cat nap when I got home then it might be doable, but impromptu raiding just isn’t working for me right now.  I want to raid and I want to get through the content but I just need some structure to it.  Hopefully with the reset we can do a better job of planning raid nights.  In theory I am going to try and get one going earlier in the evening tonight so I can at least get some tokens this week.

Package Farming

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Games like Destiny trigger the collector part of my brain in ways I will never fully understand.  Here is an example…  in Pokemon or Blizzard Pet Battles for that matter…  I don’t actually like the act of battling pets.  I do however love the aspect of collecting new critters and not so secretly wish there was a way to skirt all of the other aspects and just let me get shiny new pets.  I feel similarly about Destiny when there is a set of armor or weapons to collect, and right now I will be grinding the Faction Rally until I catch them all.  As it stands I still need the Shotgun from Dead Orbit, Sidearm from Future War Cult and both Scout Rifles from New Monarchy.  At this point I have done my weeklies on the Hunter and Warlock and ground out 20 or so loot packages on each, giving me only 10 more chances to get the items I actually need.  I have a similar number of chances for New Monarchy and have just started working on the Titan going through his weeklies.  The thirty packages cap thing is likely put there for people like me… that would have potentially ground their fingers to the bone trying to get that last weapon.  So at least on some level I am thankful that it exists…  but on a totally different level I am frustrated beyond belief that I might not actually get all of the things.

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The truth is however that the shotgun from Dead Orbit is horrible at least compared to Hawthorne’s…  and there has never been a case post Destiny 1 that I have ever said to myself that I want to use a sidearm.  In Destiny 1 I kept an assortment in the vault with various elements just so I could easily complete those kill X targets with X damage type bounties.  There are a few burst and full auto sidearms that are interesting…  but I have yet to see a reason why I would ever choose them over a more versatile weapon in that slot.  So that mostly just leaves me with the two Scout Rifles from New Monarchy that are weapons I would actually use.  It’s bizarre how the precision of the PC version of Destiny 2 has completely flipped me around from not liking Scout Rifles at all, to running with them pretty often.  I am super interested in Good Counsel IX shown above because of the hip fire perk…  given that hip firing weapons is actually a completely reasonable way to play on the PC version.  Stat wise it looks very similar to the Frontier Justice scout I got this week and one that I already know that I like…  so I am going to ultimately be extremely bummed if I wind up not getting it during this faction rally.

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Song of Justice VI is a weapon that I have on the console version of Destiny 2 and like it fairly well but it always felt like it was at least under performing slightly.  I am primarily interested in getting this weapon to see how different it feels with the precision of the mouse and keyboard.  I cannot mention enough that the weapons feel vastly different between the console and PC platforms, and there are so many that I did not like at all on console that I know really enjoy using on PC.  It is ultimately my hope that this is going to be the case with Song of Justice.  Hakke weapons in general so far have worked better on PC so I am hoping this continues to that pattern.  In other positive news… today is my Friday so I should be able to poke around in the game tomorrow during the day.  I might even get so bold as to stream a little.  I’m going through a deluge of changes right now and my natural instinct when that happens is to go into super turtle mode.  Piddling around Destiny solo mode has been something I have been doing for the last three years so it is definitely comfort gaming.  That said I really do need to get the Nightfall done and hopefully make some attempts on the raid.  I am going to try really hard to make myself available to shenanigans tonight, but no promises.  In other other news…  I popped into Diablo 3 last night and cleared my mail box in prep for the season start that begins soon.  They have roped me back in with more cosmetic rewards… that of course trigger that collector instinct in me.

For Azeroth

So last weekend was BlizzCon and over the last few days I have been dealing with the announcements made there.  On the morning before the festivities started…  I threw out a flurry of tweets of things that I would have liked to have seen, and then one that was my nightmare scenario.  Essentially…  the nightmare scenario is what happened.  As a result I’ve spent the last few days going through the stages of denial and have finally reached a point where I can talk about it.  World of Warcraft for me is a story about being artificially cut off from a chunk of my friends regardless of the decisions I make.  When the game released in 2004 we had a group of players that wanted to play Alliance and a group that wanted to play Horde, and while we attempted playing both sides after a point folks wound up greatly preferring one over the other.  This was a completely foreign concept to me and felt just wrong to have choosing a side mean you were also saying goodbye to a chunk of your friends in the process.  Everquest had factions but they were all personal choices, and even Dark Age of Camelot had Gaheris the Co-Op server that let us all play what we wanted together without the artificially faction boundaries.

For the last thirteen years I have carried a torch in hopes that maybe just maybe the two sides would get their shit together and realize that there is way more at stake than their own petty grievances.  We have come so close so many times as we worked together with the other side to tackle the big bads of the world, but always we are artificially drawn back in to the big dumb red versus blue narrative.  Battle for Azeroth is doubling down on this tired formula and apparently that is what the player base wants.  I have no real faction pride because neither faction has actually done anything that I am proud of.  Sure the cinematic they released for this game is epic, and there are moments I feel shivers of excitement from each side.  I am just wired to be nostalgic about all of this even though it signals the death of the dream I have held for so long.  The faction wall will never fall, and my friends list will always be artificially segregated.  We could do so much more if we were allowed to work together, and bring our Tauren and Orc friends along with our Dwarf and Worgen friends to do awesome things.  I guess that thing that frustrates me is just how tragic and pointless it always is…  all it would take is some communication between the sides and we would stop killing each other and start killing things that deserve to be killed.  Fuck “For the Horde” and fuck “For the Alliance”…  it should be “For Azeroth”…  because the planet is dying while we are fighting .

All of this said…  there are a lot of things that they are talking about that do excite me, but it has been a lot of soak given the first massive blow.  I love the concept of Allied races because it gives the players something that we have requested for so long…  sub races.  From the moment I first knew that the Dark Iron Dwarves were a thing…  I wanted to play one.  The only only problem is that in my perfect scenario they would have been on the Horde.  In truth in my perfect scenario all of the sub races that we are getting…  would have gone to the other faction.  I want to see High Mountain Tauren fighting along side the Alliance and Dwarven fighting along side the Horde.  I want to break down the barriers between the two factions and blend them all up together to where your faction choices are just that…  choices and not something you are locked into.  Basically I am down for anything that degrades the barrier between the camps of players and lets us all do things together.  Unfortunately I am having to come to the realization that it will probably never happen, but in the meantime I guess I am going to be leveling a bunch of new characters to take advantage of the new races.

The biggest obstacle between me and playing the horde was the fact that I didn’t like most of the races.  The reason why I didn’t like the races was the bestial hunch that the male versions of each seemed to be permanently stuck in.  Apparently there is a posture system that is coming that will allow us to go to the barber shop in game and change this…  and in truth that breathes new life into all of these races that I refused to play.  In theory if I can get an upright Orc like the modern Thrall model…  it is going to feel awesome.  Similarly Trolls and Undead become perfectly viable options for me to play.  The number one problem I have with Worgen is that they too suffer from this forced lurch, and I am wondering if maybe just maybe that might be a thing of the past as well.  I love my Horde family, but what always ends up being a problem is the fact that I have years worth of characters on the Alliance side and a handful of false starts on the Horde.  I like being self sufficient, and only on one side do I have an army of alts that can craft anything that I could ever want.  In theory if I enjoy the races more…  I could start working on the same on Horde side.  The draw to either side is the people who play there… not the story.  I am just frustrated that it seems like I will always have to choose one path over the other when I really want to do both at the same time.

 

Shirogane Extreme

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For most of my journey through Final Fantasy XIV, my home has been The Mists Plot 13 where we managed to snag a small house and turn it into our Free Company house years ago.  The sad thing at this point I can no longer seem to remember what ward we were originally located in.  Once we placed that Aetherite shard in our lawn…  I stopped needing to care about which one I was intending to visit.  Over the years we contemplated trying to move houses to something larger, but we were so ideally situated in the ward that nothing ever felt right.  We were across the road from a market board and retainer bell, and just a few short paces away from the vendors located centrally on the zone.  Similarly we were only a row of houses away from the beach making it feel like everything was close at hand.  One of the key problems with housing in Final Fantasy XIV is that it is extremely expensive…  and secondly it is completely unavailable most of the time given that it is physical housing rather than instanced.  Each Ward having a limited number of potential spaces divided up among small, medium and large plots, and unfortunately Square Enix has been extremely slot to add additional resources.

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With the launch of Stormblood came a golden opportunity because they announced that they would be adding a brand new housing area in the city of Shirogane.  It was about this time that we started talk of actually finally moving to a new area, especially after seeing that this new zone had beach front lots.  There was still the logistical problem of having to sell one house and then immediately turn around and try and buy a new one… all the while hoping you didn’t get sniped and end up without a Free Company house in any form.  However at some point along the way they announced that they would be adding in a relocation system that allows you to move houses and everything in them.  There has been a standing joke online over the last few days of the opening of the Shirogane housing area being the ultimate extreme battle… and reading reddit it definitely seems the case.  Functionally how we got the house was having Tam and Ash both online at 3 am PST when the housing area opened… both with enough money to buy a house in the hopes that one of them would be able to get in and purchase something.  Tam absolutely nailed it and got us Ward 7 plot 49, which is a great medium house right off the beach and beside the entrance to the zone.  The nearest Market board is up the hill from our house making it still a short distance away, though I have to admit they have done an amazing job of trying to make sure ALL of them are a very short distance away.

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This is a different shot of our new home, and the one that Tam posted when he made his “we got one” post.  It is a freaking nice location and the only problem we have right now is dealing with trying to decorate it given that we moved up from a small…  and this thing seems massive with three floors.  There is currently some sort of a bug hitting a bunch of us with our private rooms, but I put in a ticket and am hoping they can do something to fix that.  The Free Company house has been this hub of activity for our members over the years, and while it is going to feel weird to be in a new location… I am sure given a short amount of time it will feel just as much at home as the last one did.  I’ve not really had time to meet our neighbors but I am hoping they are as cool as our last batch was.  It seems however like we were the lucky ones, given that everyone is clamoring for more available properties.  I think if you were not awake at 3 in the morning when the plots went on sale… you didn’t get a home simple as that and it reminds me of the land runs that happened in Horizons each time a new housing area opened up.  This is the problem with physical player housing, and one of the reasons why I tend to prefer implementations like Everquest 2 or Wildstar that have unlimited instanced housing.  I will say the feeling of a physical neighborhood with other players that you get to know over the years as you hang out at the market board is pretty great.  It just sucks that so many players have to go without housing because of this.

 

Leveling Addendum

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A few days ago I wrote a post entitled “How I Should Have Done It” where I attempted to lay out the way I plan on leveling with the release of the PC version.  Today I am going to talk a little bit about a brief addendum on how I should have been pushing my light levels all this time.  Yes I realize it is now called “power” but after three years of the original Destiny I just cannot bring myself to say that.  Functionally for me I have one class that I care about significantly more than the others… and that is Titan.  I am what you would call a Titan main, and some other players may or may not have similar inclinations.  After 270 the only real way you make forward momentum is through the weekly milestones and the Luminous Engrams that they drop.  I am running at least three milestones on each of my three characters, and as a result I am slowly ratcheting up the light levels of them all.  However I noticed a pattern…  I would start out on my Titan and then slowly work my way through my other two characters and the gains from each would help push up the next character.  What I should have done is started doing these every week in effectively reverse order of preference.  That way my Titan main gets the maximum benefit from the other two characters Luminous Engrams.  Instead what is happening currently is my last string character… usually my hunter… winds up reaping the bounty of potential light level increases because I wind up handing her all of my weapons that got upgraded while pushing the other two characters.

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The other thing that I wanted to talk a little bit about this morning is some more of that “Dark Math” that I spoke off some weeks ago.  This is one of the things that drives me insane with Destiny 2 is that the math doesn’t always work out like it should.  Part of the confusion is that the light level on your character sheet is a lie.  What I mean by this is that all of those legendary mods that you may or may not have in your gear are artificially inflating the total.  You can use a third party tool like Destiny Item Manager to see what your “base” power level is, but generally speaking it is 5 light lower than what is showing in your character sheet.  So right now on my character sheet I show 301 light, and in DIM it is telling me that my actual base level is 296.4.  When things get really confusing is that drops don’t work entirely like advertised.  In theory as I have seen it explained it should work something like this…

  • Blue/Purple Drops/Engrams/Faction Packages — These should drop -5 light levels from whatever your current base power level is.
  • Exotic Engrams — These should drop at base light level +5 so effectively somewhere around the same level as shown on character sheet.
  • Luminous Engrams/Powerful Rewards — these should drop base light level +10 or 5 over what is shown on your character sheet.

I’ve been told that the Exotic Quests that you can complete reward an item that is 18 levels over your base light, but I didn’t throw that in the bullet point list because I don’t with 100% accuracy that this is actually a thing.  The problem is that these are largely just guidelines…  and you are going to see +/- 1 level when actually getting gear to drop.  For example the above shown engram is decoding at 291 as it should…  296 base light minus 5  gives you 291.  However all last night I got handfuls of 290 items instead of 291, and each time I have been at a plateau it sort of fluctuates back and forth between the number it should be and just slightly lower than that number.  Its the fudge factor that I find maddening, because no matter how locked down you think you have the formulate there is always this chaotic nature to it.  Side note…  I am superstitious and feel that Tyra Karn gives me better loot if I go back to the farm and decode my engrams there.

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One of the big positives of the night is that I managed to get my first max light item.  The only problem is… it is kinda a crappy one.  I mean I am not a huge fan of the grenade launchers in Destiny 2, and while there are a few really good ones like Play of the Game…  most of them are awkward to actually get to perform.  Fighting Lion is one of those awkward to get to perform ones… and even worse it is by some quirk of exotics an energy slot weapon and not a heavy.  Sure it is cool to have the damage potential of a heavy weapon in your energy slot…  but I like energy weapons.  When I am not rocking either The Number or Uriel’s Gift I miss it horribly…  so I am largely holding onto this only because it is the highest available light item for that slot I have.  I have yet to do the Luminous engrams on my Warlock and I am hoping maybe just maybe I get another max light weapon while doing that.  I really need to get some nightfalls in this week because I could use the extra chance at decent gear that they offer.

Third Week Summary

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Today is reset day in Destiny 2 and brings a close to the third week of gameplay.  At this point my maximum power on the Titan is 291 and I am really hoping to get some good luck in week four with the luminous engrams.  At this point that is realistically the only way I move the needle forward other than the occasional extremely lucky exotic engram or loot from nightfalls.  This week in particular seems like it is going to be interesting for the Nightfall because there is no way to extend the timer.  The really interesting thing happening in the tower however is the faction rally, where the three faction leaders return and ask you to pledge your loyalty.  The rally itself involves collecting faction tokens for your respective faction in the hopes that at the end of the rally your side has gotten the most.  Most of my clan has chosen to go Dead Orbit… and in truth I think they are likely going to win because at least in Destiny 1 you saw a lot more of those faction emblems than literally anything else.  I personally have been a huge fan of the Future War Cult starting with the No Time to Explain quest line, and in Destiny 2 it is the only faction that has weapons I am extremely interested in.  As a result I went FWC on my Titan main,  New Monarchy on the Warlock and Dead Orbit on the Hunter.  Of the weapons available however…  the only one I have any interest in is the FWC Pulse Rifle with the new version of firefly.

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The real important happenings of the week is that I leveled my Hunter to 20 and wrapped up the main story last night.  Then after doing that I managed to unlock flashpoints and knock that out as well as the clan xp luminous engram.  That means for the week as a whole I finished up a grand total of eight luminous engrams, pushing my total power up slightly across the board.  I am amused at just how fast you can pull up a second or third character.  Functionally what I have done is latched onto a single item from Xur and then all of my higher level weapons from my main.  This has allowed me to get to the 260 or so power level point extremely quickly, and then keep pushing it up by carefully infusion gear.  Similarly this time around I had legendary mods to rely on which is something I didn’t quite have when I was doing this for the warlock.  Granted I don’t have them for every slot, which is why for example I still have some blue boots on the hunter above.  However I feel like I am in a really good place to be going into the faction rally.  Before sitting down to write this post I knocked out a single heroic event on Io and got 8 faction tokens, so I am wondering if we are just going to be flooded with new loot from the faction vendors.  I am perfectly okay with this is that is the case, and I plan on doing a bunch of heroic events tonight to get some of those sweet sweet future war cult weapons.  I am specifically after the omolon auto rifle, because it looks like it might be the same class as my beloved Uriel’s Gift.

290 Power and More Weapons

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Last night I pushed through and hit another Milestone in Destiny 2, and that is hitting the 290 light barrier.  While our clan lead seemed to hit this practically over night… it has been a long slog for most of us.  I’ve talked about this before but the gearing process slows down greatly at 265 and then each additionally point of power seems to be a struggle to obtain.  This is going to be the phase of the game that loses most people because if you have never dealt with how rough Destiny 1 was to get light…  then this is going to seem like a chore.  For the most part I am enjoying the process because I like watching the numbers go up.  For frame of reference however…  the game was released on September 5th and sixteen days later I have logged roughly 57 hours of play according to Destiny Tracker.   Now for additional point of reference I spent just shy of 500 hours playing Destiny 1 on the PS4 and just shy of 50 hours on the Xbox One.  Basically all I am trying to say here is that 290 power level is a significant investment of time, but in theory you could probably also get there just by focusing on the few powerful gear rewarding objectives that you can do each week.  My process has involved a lot of doing random stuff hoping to get exotic engrams that then push me up every so slightly.

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As far as things to talk about this morning I don’t have much.  I thought instead I would share a few new weapon pickups that I am enjoying.  Each week I do the crucible milestone so that I can get the luminous engram associated with it.  During one of the many matches I had to play to get 100% completion to get my loot…  I managed to get this gun to drop.  As far as I know this is only available from the crucible itself or from turning in crucible tokens for faction with Lord Shaxx.  This gun is amazing in PVE and I imagine similarly amazing in PVP given its propensity for one-shot killing almost anything but yellow bars, and even then a single shot will usually strip their shield.  I was using it last night while running around on Io and straight up 2 shotting Vex Minotaurs…  one to drop the shield and one precision shot to kill them.  It did similar magic on Taken Centurions, except their shields seemed to take to shots to drop them.  If you get this gun, I highly suggest you play with it a bit before sharding it because I think you are going to like it.  I also love the name because its a play on two infamous guns from Destiny 1:  The Devil You Know and The Devil You Don’t.

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As the reward from completing the nightfall, I managed to pick up an Origin Story.  I have no clue what weapon I chose at that step in the quest chain…  but I know it was not this gun and whatever I did wound up as infusion fodder somewhere along the way.  At this point in my life I was deeply connected to Scathelocke and could see no other weapon taking that primary gun crush position for me.  However after hearing people talk about this gun, I decided to play with it a bit before using it as power level fuel.  I am certainly glad that I did because my god this gun is amazing.  It is a much slower rate of fire archetype as compared to the Scathelocke…  so if that is the Haakon’s Hatchet then this is closer to the Suros Regime or Genesis Chain.  This has quickly taken my primary slot and the only time I am not using it… is when I am rocking Better Devils.

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A weapon that I have loved for awhile but was not using a lot at the time of the last post is Uriel’s Gift.  I try really hard not to run double auto rifles because it limits the things that I can do, however there is a period of time when I did.  Now that I have started using Better Devils a lot more this is filling in as my secondary slot.  Similarly I am using this a lot in crucible because it just has an insane time to kill.  Out of the gate the gun has really good stability in spite of what looks like on paper a relatively low stat… or at least it has a very predictable recoil pattern.  This allows me to choose High Caliber Rounds to get the stagger effect against enemies.  This has been the game where I suddenly greatly favor Omolon weapons.  In Destiny 1 I always thought they looked cool, but never really liked the way they felt.  This time around I am digging both.  Functionally my two primary setups are Origin Story/Manannan or Better Devils/Uriel’s Gift and I swap back and forth between those as needed.

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This has been the version of Destiny where pulse rifles are just not that good.  I’ve tried a bunch of them and none of them really feel like they used to…  or have the ability to shred enemies like they used to either.  Of the pulses I have tried, I have largely standardized on using the Nergal because it feels the best and seems to perform the best out in the field.  I’ve actually used it a bit in crucible and it works well enough…  the problem is it is just outshined in every way by the Auto Rifle options I have now.  I have this feeling that we are going to see an Auto Rifle stability nerf which will clear the way for the pulse to shine a bit more.  Previously Pulse was the stable multi shot option… and Autorifle was all about learning how to ride a bucking bronco into battle.  If you are looking for a pulse however I highly suggest you check this one out.  I get it regularly from the gunsmith, and it seems to be on a pretty generic drop table.

 

 

Convenience Items

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Generally speaking I am pretty neutral towards “cash shops” in MMORPGs.  I’ve come to look at them as a sort of necessary evil in a world where the subscription model is largely broken.  When monthly subscription revenue stopped being able to support MMO titles… they were forced to branch out and look in other directions to figure out a way to pay for the development of new stuff.  There are times where this feels largely okay… and there are other times when it feels exploitative when more limited time cash shop only content is coming out then patch content.  All in all the model gets a lot of crap from the gaming community, but there are times when the benefit gained more than makes up for the generally icky feeling inside you get by having to deal with it.  In the case of a game like Guild Wars 2 where there is no “player plus plus” sort of system to entice you to go back on the monthly subscription plan to get additional access to shiny baubles…  it probably feels better than a lot of options.  There is a lot of stuff on the gem store…  most of it of no interest to me.  Generally speaking the Guild Wars 2 shop is full of a bunch of convenience items and cosmetic items.  The value of both is extremely personal, but this morning I thought I would talk about a handful of items that I have picked up over the years that have made my life in game more enjoyable.  Something of note… in all cases I caught the items when they were on sale and did not pay the full market value.

Copper-Fed Salvage-o-Matic

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This is hands down the single best purchase I have ever made in Guild Wars 2.  One of the biggest problems I have with the game is that it has a constant upkeep cost…  namely that you have to keep running to a vendor to buy more salvage kits and as I will talk about later…  harvesting tools.  Now there are times when I care about what I am getting from salvaging an item… in those times I either dip into my stock of Black Lion Salvage kits that I have accumulated… or my Mystic Salvage Kits that are extremely reasonable to make.  However most of the time if the item is green or lower I just want to grind it into bits to get it out of my inventory.  In those situations you are largely just going to use basic salvage kits that you can pick up off the vendor cheaply.  What the Copper-Fed Salvage-o-Matic does is save you that trip and simply charge you 3 copper per item salvaged.  This is ultimately a savings over the 3.52 copper per salvage from Basic Salvage Kits… but you would ultimately need to grind down something like 3 million items before saving enough money to have it “pay for itself”.  The convenience however makes it well worth the normally 800 gem price…  and when it goes on sale it is significantly cheaper.

Unbreakable Gathering Tools

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In a similar vein to the Salvage-o-Matic…  my next favorite purchase is something lumped in the general category of unbreakable tools.  I harvest everything in this game, because you never know when you might need all of those Strawberries.  As a result I used to have to constantly run to vendors and buy new tools… or in my case I used to carry around a stack of them taking up inventory space just in case one broke…  and I was standing beside a rich mithril node.  There are lots of different individual tools that have various effects on them…  and I managed to pick up my first set of unbreakable tools by slowly snagging them one by one as they went on sale.  As a result I have a mismatched set of a Clockwork pick, Molten Axe and Mad Scientists Foraging tool, but the functionality of never having to worry about running out of resources makes me extremely happy.  They also have a way less frilly set of tools simply titled Unbreakable Gathering Tools that gives you normal looking versions of each of the tools that simply never break.  This basic set normally goes for 2400 gems but over the weekend due to the Anniversary sales was going for 1680.

Mistlock Sanctuary Passkey

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One of the things that Guild Wars 2 added in is a number of cloistered areas that require some sort of access pass.  All told there is the Captain’s Airship Pass, Lava Lounge, Mistlock Sanctuary, Noble’s Folly, and Royal Terrace…  and with Path of Fire they are giving us another one called the Lily of the Elon.  Functionally they all serve the same role of giving you instant access to a condensed area that contains every possible NPC that you would need to interact with.  What makes Mistlock interesting is that it doesn’t exist in the normal world map…  so instead they give you a portal merchant that will take you to any capitol city in the world…  or return you to the zone you were just in.  I find this functionality to be amazingly useful especially when I need to just step AFK for a bit, and the ability to return me to almost exactly where I standing before is insanely useful.  Where this really comes in amazingly well is on alts that maybe don’t have access to the rest of the world yet.  There is one weird glitch however…  if you take an alt to Lion’s Arch before the story actually takes them there…  it will play the intro video as though you had just zoned in every single time you go there.  The weird bit of Mistlock Sanctuary… is that it is rarely actually for sale.  When it is you can pick it up for 1000 gems… but you have to watch the store like a hawk for when it is listed next.  There are limited time passes available on a regular basis…  but I personally only care about something like this if it is unlimited use.  This may or may not be why I have a bank full of short term convenience items that I will likely never actually use…. and wish I could put up on the market board.

Shared Inventory Slots

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I don’t really have a relevant image to this one… but one of the super handy things you can pick up in the game that is super cost prohibitive is shared inventory slots.  Sure your bank is shared by your entire account but starting with Heart of Thorns they started giving us the ability to add a special bag at the top of our inventory with items that are shared between all of my characters.  This becomes extremely handy when you say… put your Copper-Fed Salvage-O-Matic up there… or your Mistlock Sanctuary Pass.  Then every single character you log into can easily benefit from access to these items.  I wish the unbreakable gathering tools could work similarly… but unfortunately for those you either need to hot swap them between characters or own multiple sets.  When I say these are cost prohibitive…  you get one for purchasing heart of thorns and another for purchasing path of fire…  then from there they cost 700 gems per slot with price breaks if you buy 3 and 5 at a time.  You can in theory have 18 total per account…  but I imagine most players have significantly fewer given the cost.  Right now I largely use them as a way to give my Salvage-O-Matic, Mistlock pass, and my growing stack of Teleport to Friend items to all characters. In theory if I ever managed to pull one of the unlimited use bank or market passes…  they would go there as well.  Combined however all of these items have lowered the amount of day to day upkeep I have to deal with when playing Guild Wars 2… and as a result have greatly increased my overall happiness with my gaming experience.