Destiny 2 Beta Impressions

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Yesterday around noon was the official launch of Destiny 2 Beta on the PS4.  I personally got my hands on it around 6 pm after doing various things that needed to be done and taking my wife out to eat.  To call this a Beta however feels like a little bit of a misnomer because in truth we are getting out hands on essentially the same demo that was available to press at e3.  With that comes a greatly limited subset of options that you can take part in.  Functionally right now there are three things available to players:  The first story mission, the Inverted Spire strike, and one play mode of the crucible.  I didn’t get a ton of screenshots because I was actively playing, but I did decide to stream and ultimately record me in game from the moment I started up Destiny 2 to the moment I logged out feeling like I had “beat” the demo.  If you are really curious you can check out my Mixer VOD that runs for a little over an hour.  I opted to go for a silent stream because I was largely just recording this for my own benefit.

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This game is going to catch so much flak for being “Destiny 1.5” and I can see that.  In every meaningful way this is Destiny.  The characters perform as smoothly as the original, and the gunplay feels just as good.  Those who played a significant amount of time with the first game…  might have a little bit of an adjustment period because there are subtle differences everywhere.  This is not simply a “HD Remaster” of the original game… but you can feel that it is in fact a brand new game that has tried extremely hard to capture everything that was great about the first one.  The titan jump feels slightly different, and everything from the pulse rifle to the hand canon are recognizable…  but feel different enough to know at a base level that you are playing something different.  The first story mission is excellent and does an amazing job of providing you a feel for the game and its play… as well as giving you a rich narrative ride through parts of the tower you have never seen before.  It takes everything that was learned through the Taken King and Rise of Iron and distills it down into the purest form.  You are killing Cabal but you are doing it with a constant purpose of trying to save those you can…  with enough nostalgic elements to make it feel like your home is falling apart…  not just some random structure being blown to pieces.  The mission also does a great job of weaving in single player and multi player elements…  with the central section being a sort of defend the tower mode as you and lots of other players fight back against the Cabal along side Zavala.  That is another huge part of this experience…  you are interacting with characters that you already know like Zavala, Cayde-6 and Ikora Rey.  They have personality and treat you in a manner befitting someone who has been leading all of these strike missions for all of these years.  Hell you even get some interesting interactions with Lord Shax and Amanda Holliday.

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The Strike is similarly awesome, and I can see myself running it over and over as part of the strike list.  There were a few annoying jumping puzzle style elements…  namely that giant grinder that we have seen multiple times in trailers and such.  You find yourself trying to navigate through an area while avoiding the spinning wheels of doom.  There is a similar mechanic in the first story mission where you have to avoid certain death while destroying objectives, and made me question my choice of the control jump instead of the height jump.  The only weirdness about all of this is… it felt like grenade and super both charged super slow.  Maybe I am just used to running around with my Armamentarium and rocking two grenade charges…  but it always felt like when I needed a grenade the most it was still on cooldown.  The super when available however was glorious.  Last night I focused on the Sentinel Titan… and I got to run around bashing things with my shield.  I never figured out how to throw it…  but doing the equivalent of the old striker titan shoulder charge with a void shield was amazingly fun.  While sunbreaker is supposedly back for Destiny 2… I can absolutely see me maining Sentinel.  The thing that surprised me the most is the fact that I didn’t really seem to use the portable shield capability that often.  It was useful for setting up essentially a gun nest, but for the most part I just ducked in and out of cover like I always did.

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The only negative of the night was the crucible.  I am just not a fan of the changes they made.  For starters they have reduced the number of people in standard crucible matches from 6 vs 6 to 4 vs 4.  As a result they have created a series of much smaller maps with much tighter choke points.  What this does is make it feel much more frenetic in a style of game-play that I equate with Call of Duty.  Crucible always felt like a thinking mans game… where it was as much about how you moved and when you chose to fire or not fire…  rather than just charging forward into the fray every few seconds.  It could be my experiences were deeply colored by the fact that in both occasions I ended up on a team of randoms fighting against a team of people sharing the same clan tag.  Functionally all I know is that the changes did not feel as good as the original crucible does, and as a very casual player of the crucible it is not really something I look forward to participating in.  Which leads us to the other problem of the night…  I am more or less a Patrol player.  If you believe Destiny Tracker I spend something like 70% of my time playing Patrol missions where I wander around aimlessly and kill things in the open world.  As such with this demo “my Destiny” was not open for business yet and after doing the story mission, the strike, and a few round of crucible I considered myself largely done for the night.  That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself… it just felt like a very shallow experience without the open world content and without character progression.  I am sure I will boot it up a few more times…  but this did nothing to really satiate my desire for the actual game.

 

 

The Future Is Now

Other Peoples Drama

Yesterday my wife and I went on an adventure to Northwest Arkansas.  We have a deep sense of nostalgia about the Fayetteville area, because I guess it was one of the first towns we knew nothing about and wandered around together in.  This is a thing we like to do, go to a new area without any real warning and see what all we can find.  Combine this with the fact that my wife has a really awesome cousin in the area, and it is a location we try and get to as often as possible.  For whatever reason however it had been a few years since we had managed to make the trek.  I mean its not extremely far, but it still ends up being roughly a two hour journey from our home… so something we don’t exactly undertake lightly.

One of the coolest things about going up there is hanging out at our cousins place of business.  She is a tattoo artist of some renown and the shop is always an interesting place.  It gives us a window into lifestyles that are just somewhat hard to fathom.  I guess I’ve always thought it was important to expose yourself to other ways of thinking, but there are times that I just sit back and cannot quite follow the logic that lead down some of the paths.  I mean  the family is awesome, but the shroud of drama that surrounds it is one part really bad luck and one part less than stellar decisions made in the midst of that bad luck.  But what I love is just how valiantly they fight back against whatever circumstances they are thrown into.  While constantly in struggle mode, you can feel the love and the life that they embrace.

The Future Is Now

6922-walmartpickup-459 Northwest Arkansas is known for a lot of things, but probably the biggest is that Bentonville is the headquarters of the Wal-mart corporation.  As such you see some interesting machinations take root there that will likely filter out into the rest of the country.  Yesterday while roaming around town we saw something interest, a Wal-Mart Pickup Grocery.  In essence it looks like a non-descript warehouse building with a series of bright green drive in stalls similar to a drive in restaurant like Sonic.  The idea apparently is that you order your groceries online, and then pull into the stall and punch in some code letting the folks inside know you are there.  At which point they bring out your groceries and help you load them into your vehicle.

I have wanted exactly this same concept for years… and I am pumped to see that it even exists in a test market.  For years I have wanted to be able to do my grocery shopping online and simply pull up to the store and load what I just bought.  I really hate everything about grocery shopping, from the journey from cold to humid within each store, to the slow moving shoppers, to the desperate for small talk and validation cashiers.  I mean I try my best to be pleasant through the average shopping trip, and keep from biting anyone’s head off…  but it is a frustration that I would be more than happy to abandon.  The prevalence of self checkout lanes greatly improved my shopping experience, and this is just the next step.  The only thing that would improve it beyond this is maybe if robots delivered my groceries.

Playstation TV

Today I am wrapped up in my fuzzy little cocoon on the sofa, with cats napping beside me.  After two days of heavy activity, I am ready to just be mostly comatose today.  I got home late enough last night that I didn’t really get much chance to do anything.  I did take a bit and hook up my Playstation TV and so far the results are mixed.  I feel like I need to probably hard wire my ps4 into my network, so that only one of the two units is using wireless.  Playing Destiny there was a noticeable lag to the gameplay.  I mean it is probably no worse than when playing on the vita, but playing on a tiny screen with already awkward controls seems to make it less noticeable.  I didn’t experience any of the graphical glitches that Pete Smith on G+.  I am hoping if I hardwire my PS4 that it will help out the latency a bit.

I essentially need another HDMI hub downstairs as essentially I had to unplug my Chromecast to plug in the PSTV.  The other thing that I guess I was not prepared for is that I would need another Vita memory card.  So I have an HDMI hub and another memory stick on order that should arrive tomorrow.  The base unit only has 1 gig of storage so there really was not much that I could even download to play on the unit.  I will likely keep the chromecast hooked up until I get the rest of the bits to connect things up.  Thankfully it recognized my Dual Shock 4 without any issue, and was able to play using that.  The only problem I see there is that the PSTV doesn’t seem to take advantage of the touchpad at all, which makes some of the “Vita” interactions a bit awkward like the motion to “swipe away” a current application to close it is performed by holding down a button as the corner slowly peels away.  I think once I get used to it, I will enjoy it more as it will extend the PS4 to yet another television.

Electronic Gaming Monthly

Tied to Screens

At least once a week I see a report in the news talking about how we have become too tied to our screens and we have lost social interaction.  While I agree that as a culture we are pretty damned addicted to technology, this view point that not interacting face to face is aberrant or strange seems to be a pretty extrovert centric.  For the introverts the era of instant non-face to face communication allows us to leave far richer lives than if we were left up to our natural curmudgeon tendencies.  I am not one of those people that goes out seeking face to face interactions, and while I can handle it in short doses…  it completely drains me and causes me to retreat inside my shell.  Whereas digital interaction, doesn’t really cause much stress at all as I can interact when I feel like it, but withdraw just as easily as closing down a chat window.

Dealing with people simply causes a lot of anxiety for me.  We have various friends that we will go out with semi-regularly… but even then I struggle.  When we make the initial plans it sounds like a great idea, then as it creeps ever closer to the time of the event… I start looking for ways out of it.  It goes from something extremely fun, to something I am dreading.  Then finally when I force myself to go through with it I have a good time in spite of myself, but this whole rollercoaster I put myself on is something I would rather simply avoid entirely.  It takes a lot out of me to go through it each time.  So when I see someone complaining that we are losing social interaction, I feel they simply are not taking me into account.  Sure there are fewer people for the extroverts to get their warm fuzzies from, but for us extroverts it means we are forced into a lot less awkward interaction as a result.  I feel like thanks to the internet I live a far richer and involved life than I ever would have on my own.

Electronic Gaming Monthly

magazine-electronic-gaming-monthly-super-street-fighter-ii-turbo-v7-5-of-12-_5-page-2 While on an oddly introspective tear this morning, I thought I would talk a bit about a little back and forth I had yesterday about something I miss.  In my travels I stumbled onto the Podcast A Life Well Wasted again…  which tragically only ever released seven episodes.  It is this great This American Life for Video Games feel, and I would love to have more of it.  I re-listened to the first episode talking about the death of EGM magazine and was struck with waves of nostalgia for that time in video gaming.  Electronic Gaming Monthly at the time was this inch think omnibus devoted to all things video gaming covering arcade, consoles, hand held and even on rare occasion PC gaming.  I read the magazine pretty religiously from roughly 1990 to around 1996.  It and White Dwarf were the magazines that I waited each month to arrive, and before I actually subscribed I would anxiously watch the news stand at my local grocery store for the next copy.

Back then a lot of my fervor for the magazine centered around them giving me the dirt on the next arcade fighting game.  I remember it was the first magazine to post full moves lists for Street Fighter 2, and I memorized them like some arcane text.  The arcades were this crazy place where people speculated about potential moves, and by the time Mortal Kombat 2 arrived there were all these unofficial moves sheets floating around the arcades with half of the attacks speculative or complete and total bullshit.  EGM was the voice of authority, only publishing things that they had verified as working.  At the same time they had this irreverent review style that appealed to me greatly at the time.  Gaming was still very much an insider thing, and an excluded subculture…  so it just felt awesome to have a magazine talking about the things I actually cared about.

I really don’t know why I stopped reading the magazine, other than maybe the internet got better at reporting the news I cared about…  or simply that I got busy and poor in college and could not long shell out the then $7.00 price tag for a magazine each month.  Before this episode I was acutely aware that Electronic Gaming Monthly no longer existed, but I never really knew when exactly it happened.  In fact the last time I went to a news stand I didn’t see any magazines devoted to video games, so I am guessing that is entirely a bygone era.  Once upon a time I used to think that working for EGM would have been the coolest job in the world.  There were times I day dreamed about becoming a “video game journalist”.  I guess in some way with my blog I have been, or I am at least as legitimate as that term ever really was.  I do miss an era when the magazines did not feel beholden to the manufacturers to make sure they got at least a 6 out of 10 score.  The aspect of the scoring system that I appreciated the most was that you usually got three different reviewers points of view, instead of just one.

Quite honestly I think a lot of what made that time in gaming history so magical is the actual lack of information we had about anything.  Right now we know everything about the games that are being made before they even exist.  Hell we obsessed over Titan and all we really knew about it was a name, but still folks managed to dig up little nuggets of information about it.  EGM worked, because we were starved for information on our hobby.  They were one of the few sources of this information, and while they might only give us 100 words on a single game… that was far more than we were getting anywhere else.  The wild speculation, the misinformation, the rampant rumors all got laid low by a single issue of this magazine giving fertile ground for the next crop to spring up until it arrived to quell them again.  I miss that era… and I think in a way that’s why the 16-bit games are so important to me… because they are wrapped up in that shroud of mystique.  I miss Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Beginning the Real Grind

Destiny_20140929175725 Last night I accomplished one of the goals I had set out to do Sunday and finally pushed through to level 20 in Destiny.  At this point I feel like the real leveling curve begins as I start searching for gear with +light on it.  Right now I have managed to find a blue chest piece with 5 light, so I am barely if at all moving in the right direction.  Similarly I started working on the Queens Bounty and managed to knock one of them out for killing Fallen Ultras.  I am roughly halfway through the 200 headshots one, so hoping I can grind that out in the next couple of days.  I am really not sure how many of these I can complete before I actually get to take my swing at the loot piñata.  I could really use an upgraded hand cannon as the level 18 green one I have been using feels not quite so epic any longer.  I have to say I am really digging Mars so far.  I find the Cabal extremely satisfying to kill, like even the relatively weak Legionaires.

Destiny_20140929174412 At some point around level 18 I got sent to the shipwright again, and she let me pick a new design.  I have to say I am digging this one a lot more than I did the collectors edition version.  The paint job is okayish, but I am really loving the design of this ship.  This is the first design I would have likely picked on my own.  I absolutely hate the style of the first ship, and the collectors edition ship still has enough elements that it annoys me.  This however is finally a good looking star ship.  I think mostly I extremely dislike asymmetrical designs, so as a kid I loved the X-Wing and A-Wing… but the B-Wing and Millennium Falcon frustrated me.  I could forgive the Millennium Falcon however since it was essentially cobbled together out of a bunch of other ships… but that B-Wing…  man no mercy for that.  In any case I am still digging destiny, and it is beginning to remind me more and more of Phantasy Star Online.  That was really my first venture into online gaming, so there is a large bit of nostalgia there as well.

#Destiny

Leopard Print Paladin

Susceptible to Grind

Destiny_20140920104852 This weekend I played a good bit of Destiny because it is the perfect game for those moments when I don’t feel like I am get into something terribly detailed.  I play this game much in the same fashion as I play Diablo 3, in short bursts with the ability to jettison out if needed to go do something else.  As such this has become in many ways the game I play when I know we are going to be leaving the house soon.  I am never more than just a teleport to orbit away from safety, which makes me consume the game voraciously in small doses.  As such I have mostly been running the game in private mode with my fire team locked down to keep people from popping in at random.  I feel like I don’t want to deal with the expectations of others when I am playing a game in this fashion.  Generally speaking I am either moments from leaving the game, or playing the game while camping something in Final Fantasy XIV…  and in either case I am not exactly responsive enough to be a proper group mate.

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The bulk of my gameplay has been doing either patrols on the Cosmodrome or on the Moon.  I finally got a blue engram to drop, but unfortunately it was for my class item… which is essentially just decoration.  Instead of the traditional “flag football” towel, this one is a series of 3 banners that hang down from my waist.  One of the things I am learning about myself is that I am deeply susceptible to grinding.  I find it super easy to zone out and just wander around aimlessly in an area.  I seem to be able to get infinite amounts of entertainment value from simply wandering around killing Fallen and Hive on the moon and accepting the little mini-quests.  As such I was level 16 before I actually finished the Moon this weekend and got the quest chain sending me to Venus.  I am sure I will be 20+ before I finish Venus, because as soon as I unlock the next patrol zone… that is more than likely what I will be doing quite a bit of.

Destiny_20140920112437 I think part of the problem with Destiny is the fact that it has relatively little to go with as far as Story goes.  As such I find absolutely no sense of urgency pushing me forward to keep completing missions.  In a game like Mass Effect 3 I felt like I was moments away from doom at all times, so I just had to keep pushing forward and trying to turn back the tide in a war larger than myself.  In Destiny they have failed to infuse the narrative with any of this.  Sure things are going horribly wrong out in the galaxy, but we have this last city that seems completely immune to the effect of what is happening.  Sure The Traveler is “dying” but I don’t feel this happening, I feel like that is generations away and I have just been drafted into essentially a science fiction stalemate.  So I have zero issue wandering about and taking time to smell the “helium coils” as it were.  The moment to moment gameplay are what keeps me engaged with this game, and the story line and as such story quests could not exist at all and I would still be happy.

Leopard Print Paladin

ffxiv 2014-09-22 06-44-52-320 At the beginning of the weekend I was a level 40 newly christened Paladin of Uldah.  Over the course of the weekend I managed to push my way through to 46 and get the first of my spiffy gear.  For those who are not familiar with Final Fantasy XIV, at 45 you complete a class quest that will reward you four pieces of “Relic” gear that represents the defacto look for your class.  This means you get a full set of gear minus two slots.  The belt is not terribly important because no belt really changes the look of something drastically.  However the other missing piece is the chest piece and it is essentially the item that always ties a class set together.  On the Lalafell the paladin “short shorts” look is minimized by the total lack of height, however of anyone else it looks like you are wearing white boxer shorts without the chest piece that gives you the plate skirt that is so characteristic of a paladin in this game.

There is a full set of gear that drops in the dungeon Dzmael Darkhold, that rarely sees much use since it is level 44, and at 45 everyone gets their class set.  However the one piece that is extremely useful is the chest, which thankfully in all of my journeys I have gathered up a few of these.  The problem is that for pretty much every class there is something goofy going on with this set.  For the tanks the set features an inexplicable leopard print inlay, with no way to “dye” the pattern away.  So as a result for the last few levels you end up looking a bit goofy until you finally ding 50 and get that class chest piece.  Thankfully for me I also managed to pick up a nice pink quality chest for 47 that should make the outfit look a little bit more put together for the last few levels.

Red Bunny Samurai

ffxiv 2014-09-22 06-46-10-323 The other thing I am realizing is just how much of my other gear will work for Paladin.  Almost all of the dropped pieces and jewelry from the endgame levels worth for Marauder, Warrior, Gladiator and Paladin.  The problem with this is that I have several of the pieces glamoured to look like the Warrior class set.  Apparently this will not show as such when I equip them however, and quite frankly the Syrcus tower set looks like crap for plate wearers.  So I am wondering what set I am going to glamour to that can be neutral and work for both classes.  The most important thing after all is that I still have a proper bunny hat.  While I freely admit that I stole wearing this helm from Tam, I think I have more than made it my own… since it was clearly designed to be worn by a Lalafell.  He tends to favor the white one with the full face mask, where I am enamored with the red one that allows my full face to show through.

My goal for the coming days is to push the paladin to 50 and get it fully geared in 90 or better items.  I’ve been stockpiling hunt marks to be able to do this the moment I ding, but I am really not sure how many pieces I will actually need to buy.  All of my jewelry is dual class, as well as my chest, belt, and boots.  That just leaves three pieces of gear that I actually need to purchase, and then again I will need to spend the requisite 1125 tomestones of mythology to get the zenith weapon and shield.  Right now I have a dilemma I suppose in that I am really close to being able to purchase my next Animus book, but I am also really close to 50 at this point.  I don’t have the tomestones to do both.  In theory I can get the book and the process of simply getting my relic weapon should give me more than enough tomestones to be able to at least craft the relic.  Then I can deal with grinding out the rest as a paladin if I so choose.  In either case I should have another animus book and a 50 paladin soon enough.  Then I suppose my focus turns to finishing off my White Mage.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Booking Dungeons

Final Fantasy Roadtrip

This week the Tokyo Game show is happening and we are starting to get a trickle of goodies out like the long awaited updated Final Fantasy XV trailer.  After watching it, I have to say this looks like it might be a Final Fantasy quite unlike the others.  My friend Kodra mentioned how unusual it was to see an automobile in the Final Fantasy setting, and I had not really thought about it until then but he is right.  It has almost been as though they have denied the existence of Automobiles in pretty much every setting other than Final Fantasy VII.  Even in the super futuristic VIII they had the requisite flying airships in the form of giant aircraft…  but they still lacked anything even resembling an automobile.  Let alone a crazy sedan with suicide doors like they are touring the countryside in for this game.

From the video this seems like the game is going to be more like Final Fantasy XII was in the form of a more “Action Combat” approach to the JRPG.  This has its fans and its critics, but I have to say one of my favorite Final Fantasy “cousins” was Vagrant Story that featured a very action combat game play style.  I even liked Final Fantasy XII for what I played of it, at some point I want to go back and finish the game.   What intrigues me the most about the game is the way it feels like the monsters are almost part disaster movie, like they are taking a road trip to survey the countryside like some sort of awkward rubberneckers.  I just hope I can control which ever character I choose, because man I am all about the big dude with the beard and the knock-off buster sword.

Castlevania Dark Souls Edition

Another game I have been looking forward to on the PS4 since this years E3 is the game Bloodborne.  At TGS they released a new trailer with some more tasty bits about the gameplay featuring what looks to be multiple classes for the player to choose from.  I’ve somehow almost entirely missed the Dark Souls madness, but I am looking forward to this game as it feels more firmly in my wheelhouse.  I love Castlevania, and I love  the dire battle against the things that go bump in the night feeling that this game has.  I just hope that the gameplay is every bit as fun as it looks like in the trailer.  For a game like this to work for me, the moment to moment gameplay has to feel amazing… and from what I have played of Dark Souls my problem tends too be the wonky feeling control scheme.

This is probably going to to be a title that I end up trying before actually picking it up.  I am sure this is blasphemy here but I actually thought Dragon’s Dogma felt much better than Dark Souls as far as moment to moment gameplay.  As such I am really hoping that the control scheme is more similar to Dogma.  In any case it is a grim dark game about slaughtering the undead and such, and that along makes me a happy camper.  We need more games where we roam the country side slaughtering baddies for fun and profit.  The only negative that I can see from the trailer is that like Order 1886 it looks a little bit “on rails” for my tastes.  In any case I am watching both of those titles closely.

Booking Dungeons

ffxiv 2014-09-19 06-45-54-737 Wednesday night we had tried to run Pharo Sirius for my friend Waren to complete this first Animus book and wound up failing miserably.  In my infinite wisdom I attempted to bring along two of our lowest geared players, one of which was the healer… and quite simply he didn’t have the mana to heal the place at just barely ilevel 48 the bare minimum.  Last night however we changed up the mix and brought in a very seasoned healer and cleared the dungeon with minimal effort.  That really became the theme of the night, cleaning up dungeons both myself and Warenwolf needed for our Animus books.  So in total we ran Pharo Sirius, Lost City of Amdapor, Tam-Tara Deepcroft and Stone Vigil.  For the last of these we managed to grab one of our up and coming healers that still needed experience and got her roughly a level in doing the place.

Essentially what we learned through the failure that was Wednesday, and the success that was Thursday is that pretty much you can only afford to have a single player in the mix that is significantly undergeared for the content.  There were other issues Wednesday night, like the fact that the player had not completed the level 50 quest and was missing both the piece of armor from it and more importantly the critical ability you get that for white mages is your full heal.  I cannot impress upon new players enough that the moment you ding 50…  go complete your last Job quest.  It always gives your class something that you will desperately need from that point onwards.  The game assumes you have these abilities, and will throw things at you that often times require them.

As far as leveling goes I managed to get my Paladin to 39, which let me equip a sweet new Grand Company weapon.  Since I got Zantetsuken waiting on me in the bank, I thought I would take this opportunity to glamour my weapon to look like the Blazefire Saber.  This might literally be the only time I get to use my spiffy gunblade from the Lightning Returns event…  since seriously there is no weapon in the game nearly as cool as Zantetsuken.  Additionally I have been banking the Hunt Seals needed to buy my Paladin a full set of gear the moment I ding 50.  I am not sure what exactly happened, but at this point I have definitely changed focus from leveling the White Mage to pushing up the Paladin.  I think more than anything it was my realization that I lacked a class to easily grind additional Atma bits on, now that I screwed up and got my Warrior Atma weapon first.  Atma grinding does two useful things for me…  firstly I get the chance at atma bits, but more importantly the steady flow of company seals keeps my ventures running.  Hopefully at some point this weekend I will have a brand new paladin ready to go.

#FFXIV #FFXV #Bloodborne

Destiny is Gorgeous

Squandering the Morning

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-09-24 This morning I have absolutely squandered my morning away, because today the servers for Destiny came up.  In truth the servers came up over the night, and there are already a large number of folks milling around in Tower that are level 10 or so.  This morning my overriding goal was to get a character created and get it to tower so I could eventually meet up with friends and play.  This formidable mug you are seeing represents the new version of me in Destiny.  At character creation you are given the choice between Human, some sort of translucent skinned humanoid, and robots.  Generally speaking I tend to heavily favor humans but there is a fatal flaw in the character creator…  no beards.  Since I can’t have a beard then I pretty much have to go robot.

All in all I am fine with this because I feel like a badass with the green glowing eyes.  I played robotic characters in City of Heroes and Champions Online, so I guess that fits my motif anyway.  I ended up rolling a Titan again, because I have to admit I like having the insane attack that slams the ground and knocks all of the enemies away.  Additionally I found I liked having a jet pack better than some form of a modified jump.  In theory the titan becomes more tanky over time, which also definitely fits my overriding goals in pretty much any game.  Similarly I know that there will already be a lot of Warlocks and Hunters among my friends, so I figure it is best to stick with what I know and enjoyed playing in alpha and beta.

Destiny Is Gorgeous

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-29-14 The thing I keep forgetting after large blocks of time being out of the game is just how damned gorgeous this game is.  I guess as a habitual member of the PC master race, I have a hard time realizing that the consoles have finally caught up.  Always in the past there was something wrong with the console images, either they were grainy or washed out or blurry.  They lacked the saturation and definition that I was so used to from playing on a PC.  The PS4 however playing destiny looks amazing, and I doubt it would perform any better on a PC, or at least not with the mid range video cards I generally purchase.  The big difference of course is that I am running around this landscape with the joystick rather than a keyboard and mouse.  This is the biggest adjustment for me, because I still don’t quite feel comfortable without the precision control to make headshots that a mouse gives me.

My Great Capture Screen Shot 2014-09-09 06-19-04 Thankfully Destiny has more than a fair amount of aim assist, and while I can’t really draw a bead and get head shots reliably, I can chew down encounters with body shots.  I managed to make it through the first tutorial level in pretty good time, and as I now idle in Tower to write this… random people keep landing and dancing with me.  I am not exactly sure when I will really get a chance to start this game properly.  I know we have plans for this evening, but I might pop in after that to at least run the first couple of missions.  This is one of those games that I don’t mind being behind the curve.  I am not really competing with anyone to get to max level first.  I feel like Destiny is going to fill the same role that Diablo 3 does.  Fun game that I can get into quickly, kill some stuff and pop back out without many hard feelings.  I like the big open world areas in Destiny for this, in that I can land and make my own objectives or simply run around looking for interesting stuff.

Beginning Coil

ffxiv 2014-09-08 21-07-18-237 The picture is completely unrelated here, but I look adorable like always in my White Mage outfit.  I mentioned earlier that we already had plans for tonight, and primarily that is because we have decided to start raiding Binding Coil, and this evening is the time that seemed to work the best for most people.  I honestly figure by the time evening rolls around Destiny will be completely unplayable, so I thought this might be a good idea to give us all something to focus on other than the inability to play with our new toy.  For some time we have been gearing up and wanting to start Binding Coil fresh as a guild.  I believe that mostly we will be going into this one completely fresh, in that none of us are really doing research ahead of tonight.  One of my biggest joys is figuring out content with my friends, and I think we will do just fine.

One of the most awesome footnotes about the community however is the reaction folks have had to us beginning Binding Coil.  Now this raid in one form or another has been out for a year, and they simply keep adding new turns to it.  So as I have talked to some fairly serious raiders about our guild starting the Coil fresh, I’ve received a completely unexpected reaction.  Were it World of Warcraft, I would have  gotten reactions like folks chiding us for being “Months Behind”.  Here I have gotten nothing but positive responses, talking about how they wished they could go back and see the Coil with fresh eyes again, and that we would enjoy ourselves.  This overwhelming sense of others wishing us well and being happy for us is extremely refreshing.  I am glad that this same strong community attitude extends to raiding as well as the dungeon content we have experienced.  Hopefully we will go in, clear the first turn and walk away with some awesome memories.

#FFXIV #Destiny

Cannot Be Tamed Questionnaire: Part 1

Packaged with a Bow

I am not sure if this was intended to draw out posts during Blaugust or not, but yesterday Jasyla over at Cannot Be Tamed posted a survey.  I seem to be able to rattle on every morning without much issue, but I am always thankful when a ready made post is handed to me so neatly.  In part my hope is that through my own blog post and Liore’s (who turned me onto this) we will get this one spread through out the Blaugust community and get Jasyla a bunch of responses.  I am really not sure how far I will make it into the survey in a single post, but we will see.

Cannot Be Tamed Gaming Questionnaire

You can see the full text of the survey here, but I will attempt to answer all of the questions

1. When did you start playing video games?

2260351657_5c4ea18a61_z I honestly do not remember a time when I was NOT playing video games.  I would have to say age three or four maybe?  The earliest memory I had of video games was that my parents owned a Sears and Roebuck Pong clone.  More than actually playing it… I remember the desire to play it.  Like from the moment it got hooked up to the television I wanted my hands on it.  Though being as young as I was, my parents were super reluctant to let me play.  It was finally my Uncle Billy who I think let me play for the first time, and I remember losing almost immediately.  The thing is it intrigued me so much that I kept wanting to try over and over.  That early experience pretty much imprinted my brain for video games permanently.

2. What is the first game you remember playing?

seaquest6 Well like I said in the above answer the first game I remember playing is Pong.  The first game I remember absolutely loving however was probably Ms Pacman.  My aunt was the first to get an Atari 2600 and all of us cousins played it nonstop over most of our formative years.  I ended up getting a second hand Atari system not too long after that.  The game I can remember playing the most of however was Seaquest a game where you rescued drivers from sharks in a little sub that could fire a weapon.  It was also the first game I can remember playing that didn’t have just a constant repetition of levels.  As you progressed through levels the colors would change and new enemies would be added, and we wove a complex storyline through these simple transitions.

3. PC or Console?

EverQuest-10 I am primarily a PC gamer, but it hasn’t always been that way.  In fact I have a ton of rare console systems stored away in my closet including an 3DO, a NeoGeo and a TurboDuo.  In fact during the years before I got hooked on MMOs I had a video game loft with all of my consoles hooked up and “on tap” through a complex series of A/B switches.   I have spent large swaths of my time shifting back and forth between them.  Prior to 1992 I was a hardcore console gamer and mostly an Super Nintendo JRPG fan.  Then we got a PC and I got hooked on Wolfenstein, Doom and Civilization.  As I went through college the 3D graphics changes were happening and I was all about playing everything in “GL”.  It was during this time that I played Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, Fallout, Quake, Baldur’s Gate and pretty much anything i could get my hands on.

When I got out of college however I had a massive console resurgence with the Sony Playstation, Dreamcast, and Saturn systems.  I didn’t really make the journey back into PC exclusivity until I got hopelessly mired in the original Everquest around the release of the Scars of Velious expansion pack.  It has been my love of the MMO that has kept me glued to the PC, and while I have dabbled with the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and PS4…  I still prefer the PC.  While until recently it was the MMOs that had kept me there, it is also the fact that I can modify my games freely.  Everytime I install a new back of mods in Fallout 3, it makes it a completely new experience for me and I go through another 50 to 100 hour play through running back through all the content with fresh eyes.  So when given the chance I will almost always gravitate back to the PC.

4. XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

playstation-4-controller1 I started off my gaming life as a Nintendo Fanboy, but over the years their consoles have gotten less and less practical.  All I really want is for them to release a good solid console without a gimmick controller.  I don’t want new ways to play my games, I just want new content.  I am admittedly these days a Sony Playstation fan.  I have owned two different Xbox 360s, but it is really the value of the Playstation Plus subscription that keeps me attached to Sony.  Over the last few years they have come off as the good guy in the console wars, and Microsoft coming off as the part of the stodgy corporate power.  I realize that both are huge corporations hell bent on parting me from my money, but I feel less horrible about supporting Sony.  Right now I have the PS3, PS4 and Vita in my office and they are hooked up so I can livestream the PS3/PS4 so I guess my alignment is pretty clear.

5. What’s the best game you’ve ever played?

273154-castlevania-symphony-of-the-night-playstation-screenshot-in The game I constantly keep coming back to over the years is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  The game represents pretty much my perfectly crafted game.  For starters it is lovingly drawn 2D animation and not 3D.  It has an amazing soundtrack with awesome rock versions of the Castlevania classics.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Castlevania franchise, despite how many false steps it has taken over the years.  I love the idea of hunting down Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, and all manner of things that go bump in the night.  Castlevania is one of the first games I purchased for myself on the original Nintendo.  I remember saving up my money and making a trip to Toys R Us to get it… and that was quite the pilgrimage considering the closest one was an hour away.  Symphony of the Night was pretty much the pinnacle of “metroidvania” for me.  It had roleplaying and leveling elements to keep me hooked, and an awesome world to explore and find all sorts of secrets.  I have repurchased this game at least four different times, on various platforms and I have it installed on my Vita at the moment.  When I am feeling horrible this is the game I boot up to take me back to a time when everything made sense.

6. What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?

et2600Screen2 I have played so many games since the days of the Atari 2600, but no game has ever absolutely confounded me as much as E.T. the Extraterrestrial.  This game is the game that began my fear of movie tie-ins regardless of what they might be.  I was still in elementary school when the movie came out, and absolutely loved it.  So when they released it on my favorite console system the Atari, I had to get it right?  There was nothing at all about this game that made any sense what so ever, and still to this day I cannot reason what the hell I am supposed to do.  You alternated between getting humped by men in trenchcoats, to picking up piles of poo on the ground that were supposed to be Reese’s Pieces… to falling into trenches for no apparent reason.  To make things even stranger…  sometimes the trenches had things that looked like record players… that gave you credit of some sort for collecting them.  But the most frustrating part was trying to get back out of the trenches, which involved extending your neck and levitating out…  but you had to do so in exactly the right spot or you fell back down again.  This was the first game to ever make me want to throw my controller across the room.  After all of these years I still get angry thinking about the disappointment I felt as a kid playing this game.  I have to say that the Ghostbusters Atari 2600 game redeemed movie ports somewhat, because I remember that game was really good.

Taking Longer than Expected

So at this point I am only 6 questions in…  and there are a total of 21.  This is going to take awhile, so hopefully you can bare with me as I answer a few questions each morning.  I simply have run out of time this morning so I have to cut this off here.  I blame the fact that I just had to look up images to go with each of the paragraphs.  In any case tune in tomorrow for the next set of questions, where I hopefully make it through more than six!

On Exclusivity and Microsoft

GamesCom Bombshell

rise-of-the-tomb-raider Yesterday was the first day of the GamesCom conference in Cologne Germany, and generally speaking during past conferences we have for the most part seen a repeat of what was just announced at E3 a few months before.  This year however we got quite the bomb shell dropped during the Microsoft press conference, in the form that they claim that Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be an Xbox One exclusive title.  This of course caused a wave of outrage through the community in part because up until this point all signs pointed to this being yet another Square Enix multiplatform title.  In fact during the E3 event, this appeared as part of the Sony PS4 press conference and was not even shown during the Microsoft event.  The outrage that I see so far is far less about Xbone vs PS4 but the fact that at least on initial pass it seemed like it would not be coming to PC either.

If you dissect the message that was delivered you can see something subtle happening.  Every single time they mentioned that this was exclusive they played with the words a bit.  They kept repeating the carefully constructed phrase “coming exclusive for holiday 2015”.  Over and over at least four separate times they used that exact same wording.  So that screams to me that they are putting a lot of hype behind something that may or may not be the case.  There are always a number of 100% platform dependant titles on a console.  The best example of these are the classic titles that you can only get on a Nintendo console like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Kirby and Kid Icarus to make a few.  Then there are titles that come out first one a given console, but later on ship on every other console.

On Exclusivity and Microsoft

This is after all a card Microsoft has played for years, trumping the supposed exclusivity of a given title that then not only comes out but in part becomes far more famous on another platform.  If you remember both Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect were XBox exclusives, yet in both cases the franchises came out on the PC and with Mass Effect it now exists on all of the consoles and was a massive sales juggernaut.  Similarly even during this generation both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome were supposedly platform exclusive titles but in both cases they are being released on the PC.  There was even the situation of Ninja Gaiden II that was a platform exclusive, and then later Tecmo released the game as Ninja Gaiden Sigma II so that they could break their exclusivity agreement.  All of this leads me to believe that this is just more marketing chicanery from Microsoft and not actually a platform exclusive title.

Ultimately games are developed to make money, and right now with 5 million Xbox One units being dwarfed by 10 million Playstation 4 units, it simply does not make sense to ignore the larger platform.  Ultimately this was a master stroke on the part of Microsoft however if they manage to pull it off.  I wouldn’t exactly call Rise of the Tomb Raider a platform selling title, but it certainly helps to buff up a console that has floundered a bit in its first year.  A good friend of mine has this rule that he refuses to buy a console before there are five titles that he wants to play on it that he cannot get anywhere else.  I personally have found this to be a pretty good rule so far, and ultimately this lead me to purchase my PS4.  If I reached a point where I had five titles for the Xbox One… I would consider getting one, but for the time being I just don’t have any interest.

Results of Poor Messaging

Microsoft has reached this point out of some phenomenally poor messaging.  When the console was announced they made a series of blunders in trying to guess exactly what their console buyers would want.  All of the touting of its television features really lost me in the process.  I barely watch television, and when I do it tends to be for a specific purpose… to watch one show and then move on to the next thing.  The only channel I watch with any frequency is Cartoon Network, more specifically Adult Swim.  Even then the last time I sat down in front of the television to actually watch television on purpose was well over a week ago.  So the focus on the initial marketing message of the console by demonstrating all of the admittedly interesting things it can do with television…  really landed off in left field.

Since then he has been struggling to out message Sony who has quite frankly dominated the news cycle with some pretty innovative features.  For sake of fairness I personally own right now 2 Xbox 360s, a Playstation 3, a Playstation Vita and a Playstation 4.  So I am not exactly an unbiased observer here.  I have clearly chosen the Sony Platform over the Microsoft one in part because all of these consoles work so well together.  The other thing is that Sony has focused in with laser precision on a very specific message.  “This is a console about video gaming, and we want to provide you an awesome gaming experience.”  So far this message has worked and resounded with folks looking for a next generation gaming console and not necessarily a next generation media pc.

It’s About the Value

The primary reason why I jumped allegiance during the last generation is admittedly just how amazing of a value Playstation Plus is, or more so how disappointing a value Xbox Gold was.  PS Plus is a $50 dollar a year subscription that gives you tons of free content as a result.  I just made a list of titles I have gotten in the two years I have been subscribed to the program.

Dust 514, DC Universe Online, Ratchet and Clank Collection, Dead Nation, Unit 13, Gravity Rush, Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hitman: Absolution, Outlast, Resogun, Pinball Arcade, Infamous 2 , Little Big Planet 2, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Malicious, LIttle Big Planet Karting, Uncharted 3, Mod Nation Racers: Road Trip, Thomas Was Alone, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, Lone Survivor: The Directors Cut, Zen Pinball 2, Worms: Battle Island, Labrynth Legends, Zombie Tycoon II, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD, Hotline Miami, Grid 2, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Payday 2, Metro: Last Light, Closure, Knytt Underground, Dyad, Bioshock Infinite, Darksiders, Saints Row: The Third, Batman: Arkham City, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Poker Night 2, Joe Danger 2: The Movie, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Borderlands 2, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Tekken 6, Galaga Legions, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Castle of Illusion, Jet Set Radio, Binary Domain, Vanquish, The Cave, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Street Fighter X Tekken, Dragon’s Dogman: Dark Arisen, Remember Me, DmC Devil May Cry, Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection, Mega Man 9&10 Combo, Tomb Raider, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, Battlefield 3, Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Trine 2, PixelJunk Shooter, PIxelJunk Monsters , Velocity Ultra, Soul Sacrifice, Stick it to the Man, Limbo, Puppeteer, Surge Deluxe, NBA 2K14, Warframe, Flower, Strider, Towerfall Ascension, Doki-Doki Universe, Terraria, Muramasa Rebirth, Vessel, Dead Space 3, Fez, Dragon’s Crown, Metrico, Rogue Legacy, Proteus, Road Not Taken, Crysis 3

That is 94 individual titles that I have gotten for free through either the console itself or the Playstation Plus service.  In many cases those titles are available on multiple platforms and as a result I get a copy for every platform it is avaialble for.  This is a huge deal for me, and not only do most of the titles have what Sony calls “cross buy” where if you buy a copy for any platform you get it on ALL platforms… you also get “cross save” on the newer games.  Lately I have been playing quite a bit of Rogue Legacy, and I can start a game on my Vita and then pick it up later upstairs on my Playstation 4.  On top of that if I have a game I want to play on my PS4 I can pick up the Vita and use it as a remote screen and even play it remotely.  Admittedly playing from your PS4 while not on the same network is a bit laggy, but the simple fact that it exists is mind boggling to me.

Now I realize that “Games With Gold” is a thing that exists now and they have been fighting to catch up, but at this point there have been 35 titles to Playstation Plus that has released 148 PS3 titles, 14 PS4 titles, 48 PS Vita titles and 87 psp/psone/minis titles.  I am admittedly bitter however for having paid for years of Xbox Gold subscription for what amounted to the permission to play games online and watch Netflix.  Since then they have reversed this decision and made Netflix a free software, but when I initially got my Xbox 360 you had to have the full gold subscription to use it.  Sony is just as much of a corporate monstrosity as Microsoft, but they have been doing a much better job of disguising that fact and giving me warm fuzzies along the way.  Since I still have all three of their most recent platforms, and even a PSP if we want to go back that far…  they are doing an awesome job of giving me reasons to care about each and every platform and more specifically the interoperability between them.

Share Play

Hands down the most interesting thing to come out of GamesCom for me was the announcement of Share Play.  The Playstation Now game streaming service has been announced for some time, and it is currently happening playable in beta, but for the time being it just is a poor value.  What Share Play does is take that same game streaming technology but flip it around to make it extremely useful.  Right now if you want to play with a friend, you both have to own the same game and log into it at the same time to meet up and play.  What Share Play proposes is that you can be sitting on your couch and your friend on theirs, but be virtually playing the same copy of the game together.  The idea is that you send your PlayStation network friend an invite to join your current game session.  At this point the game is then streamed to their console and you are playing together in the same session.

I have no clue what the ramifications of this technology will be and what sort of internet connection you will need to make it work.  Thankfully however most of my friends that I hang out with on a nightly basis also have some pretty beefy internet connections.  So I can see us getting a lot of play out of this feature.  Want to try out a new game, awesome… pop in my game and play with me and see if you like it.  Want to work together on some achievement, awesome…  let me send you an invite and we will work on it together.  That is the thing I like the best about the PS4 experience so far is that it feels very socially connected as I am constantly able to see what my friends are playing and especially during the Destiny betas we have been able to pop around freely.  The only negative I have so far is that the voice chat system is horrible, and as a result I still prefer to use teamspeak.

Wrapping Up

I realize that I am not an unbiased voice about the whole Microsoft versus Sony debate.  In truth there really isn’t much of a debate to be had in either direction.  Buy whatever console has the games you want to play on it and ignore everyone that is spouting off about your choice.  I made my choice based on the fact that it had more games that I wanted to play on it, and with the Playstation Plus service from the day I brought my PS4 home I already had a half dozen titles to play on it that night.  PS Plus and all the other consoles do an amazing job justifying the purchase of MORE Sony Consoles.  As far as Rise of the Tomb Raider, I am taking a wait and see attitude.  I think right now that this exclusive agreement is just a carefully marketed and cleverly worded announcement.  Will it ship on Xbox One first?  More than likely… but will it be followed up within six months to a year on every other platform?  Almost assuredly so, because so far if it is popular and demanded enough most Xbox titles see a PC release…  I am looking at your KOTOR, Mass Effect, Fable, Dead Rising and I imagine every other blockbuster that gets released for a Microsoft Console.

#XboxOne #PS4 #RiseoftheTombRaider

The Devil’s Lair

Bad Decisions

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-06-16 06-08-24-229 I am still feeling pretty lousy from this allergy induced stupor, so last night I just was not really feeling Wildstar and interacting with other human beings.  I ended up logging out about 9:30 and attempting to lay down.  I hung out in bed for awhile snuggling with our cats but sleep just refused to take me.  So as a result I ended up getting back up and decided I would begin my four job fiesta run.  My intent was just to go through the process of backing up my savegame files from the previous draft run we were doing, and simply start the game going… maybe get to the first crystal.  Next thing I know it is midnight and I am moments away from getting the fire crystal.

Now however I am paying the price because I feel nice and groggy to add to my allergy induced stupor.  It is funny how a game you have played so many times can be so enthralling.  So far I am off to a pretty good start.  My first job was the Knight which lead to a really easy start to the game and me just being able to roll over the top of almost every encounter thanks to the power of “Two Handed”.  The second pick from Gilgobot was the Red Mage, which still worked okay since I did not have either the black or white mage in the first round.  Also the Red Mage can totally use a Two-Hander if equipped with that ability, so still pretty much rolling over the top of everything without having to cast any magic at all.

Since I am just a little ways from getting the fire crystal I went ahead and requested my fire job.  Now is when things start to fall apart.  I wound up with the Geomancer, which is one of my least favorite classes.  This means I do have a use for bells…  but I’ve always felt the geomancer was somewhat of a useless pick.  Basically I have a couple of options… I can either deal with it and struggle through or I can donate money to Four Job Fiesta to buy my way out of geomancer hell.  I have yet to decide what to do, and ultimately this is why I chose to request my job a little early so I could mull it over.  Basically I have to make a decision before I collect the fire job crystals with which way I am going to go.  I would have far rather had ninja or ranger, but then again I would have rather had mystic knight than red mage. but more than happy to roll with the punches there.

Destiny Group Play

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615142316  Yesterday afternoon after I had finished editing the podcast and writing my morning blog post that almost turned into an afternoon one, I opted to do some Destiny with Tamrielo and Ashgar.  At this point Tam and I were both completely sold on the game, but Ash however was not really feeling the game.  While I was finishing up my blog post, Ash and tam ran through the first mission in good time and the three of us entered the “Explore Cosmodrome” map point which was a free roaming version of the Old Russia area you visit in the first static mission.  We wandered around out there for some time getting both Tam and I to level 7 and Ashgar to level 6.  The mobs we encountered ranged from level 2 near the entrance to the area, to level 4 in the instanced areas… and finally level 8 or 9 deep in the zone.

I had the forethought to set this up and stream while we ran around.  The interesting thing about the playstation party communication is that apparently it ONLY records my voice.  This leads for some odd one sided conversation going on as you watch the video.  After having a blast running around in a free form area, we decided to take it to the next level and do what is in essence  their first dungeon set in the same basic area.  I have to say the concept works… like the boss fights in Borderlands 2 were interesting, but they never really reminded me of the level of complexity found in an MMO boss fight.  Destiny seems to bridge that gap and provided us with a number of extremely challenging encounters.  The first one was a sort of “hold this spot” fight where we were flooded with really horrible things in the room with us.

The Devil’s Lair

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615152929 The first encounter essentially involved setting off one of our ghosts to work on scanning an objective, while it does this we have to hold the position.  During this time we encountered a brand new mob type that we had not seen to that point called a “Stealth Vandal”.  These are the sniper type mobs but they spawn in stealthed and remain so until they actually strike.  Now their form of stealth is not truly hidden, but they blend in with the background “predator” like.  It took us several tries to get a feel for how the encounter worked and manage to place each of us strategically around the room.  Even after doing so it still involved a lot of running around chaotically looking for a safe bit of cover to attack from.  Every so often one of us would have to stay alive long enough for another one to spawn back in.  This becomes a crucial skill since when the last player dies… the entire team respawns back at the checkpoint and you have to redo the encounter from the start.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155733 The second encounter was the one we had been waiting for.  Periodically when in the open world version of the zone these group encounters spawn in.  One of them is this insane walking tank that has a blast attack that you simply cannot hide from effectively.  If you are on the other side of the wall when it goes off, it will still very much one shot you.  The idea behind the encounter is that you have to take out a piece of leg armor, which causes it to fall down temporarily and expose a weak point behind the red cockpit looking shell.  You can only whittle down so much health during each one of these phases.  So the biggest problem we ran into during the fight is that we simply ran out of ammunition.  Every so often another drop ship lands, and periodically it spawns the little drones… all of which are decent sources of ammunition.  But this also forces one to make a suicidal run dangerously close to the walking tank to be able to gather it up effectively.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155846 I wish I had thought to fire up the stream before going into the mission, because I swear we were fighting the tank for a good thirty minutes.  Once we got to the other side of it, things started to get super creepy.  You walk through an area littered with hundreds and hundreds of bones strewn everywhere.  I started to wonder if I accidentally teleported into a Doom game, but I have to say I am loving the atmosphere so far.  I really have no clue what exactly the “Fallen” are yet, but they seem to be some sort of incectoid baddies similar to the Prothean/Collectors from Mass Effect.  Honestly there can be parallels made between those two games in many ways, as the atmosphere often feels like you would imagine Mass Effect would feel if the Reapers came and decimated the planet.  So far I am hooked, and looking forward to getting to play more of it.  Right now we have managed to hit the cap allowed in this first alpha test, which sucks a bit because each of us have gear that will never be equippable as we cannot get higher than level 8.  That said it was a really good time, and I hope to play some of the other classes to see if I like them better.

Wildstar

My plan is tonight to play Wildstar, and work on finishing Auroria on my Engineer.  Right now I have reached a point where I am just tired of that zone and want to move on.  The southern area of the zone is extremely nasty, and I feel like I am almost underleveled to be able to complete it successfully.  I am wondering if I need to go back and finish some of the challenges that I didn’t quite make to see if I can finish off 22.  I am also considering making myself a secondary hotbar setup with non-tanky abilities to see how much more smoothly questing goes.  Right now my biggest problem is that it takes forever for me to kill anything, and while I can stay alive for a really long time… that time is not infinite.  I feel like I am high center right now on my engineer, so I need to do something to get back into the swing of playing it.

#Destiny #DevilsLair #FourJobFiesta #FinalFantasyV

Manifest Destiny

The Doldrum

Last Tuesday my wife flew off to her first conference of the year, and for the most part I had been unaffected by this.  Sure I’ve missed having her around, but during the work week my time is so metered that I barely notice that I exist, let alone another person.  However the first Saturday is always the day it really hits me.  It doesn’t help that we are struggling with record pollen counts and the cottonwood is blowing with a vengeance that means I cannot breathe at all… and feel generally shitty.  As a result I have completely fallen off the walking wagon, I am sure Monday I will get back into the swing of things, but the last several days I have walked a rather pitiful amount.

Right now I feel very lonely, and as a result have been forcing myself to hang out on Teamspeak as much as possible.  For the most part the whole dumping of mumble thing has gone relatively smoothly.  The folks I chat with on a nightly basis have just transitioned cleanly, leaving only a few stragglers on mumble.  I am looking forward to Wednesday when she flies back into town, and in the meantime I am trying to busy myself and surround myself with as many friends as possible.  My natural instinct is to “turtle” and pull my head up inside my shell, never to be heard from again.  But I know based on past experience that is exactly the wrong reaction to feeling a bit depressed.  I just have to get through a few more days for this current salvo.

Manifest Destiny

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140614185716 Literally within moments of posting yesterdays blog entry, I had a friend of mine hook me up with a Destiny alpha code.  I love our community so damned much, and I am not sure if this person wants to be named by name… but yeah thanks so much.  After a 6.9 gig download that went remarkably faster than I expected and next thing I knew I was logging in and creating a new character.  My instinct was to go human, but for whatever reason they do not have any facial hair options.  I cannot create a “proper” Belghast without a beard, so instead I choose to go their robot option called the Exo, which had some really slick configuration choices.  The other racial option was some sort of tank grown looking protohuman called an Awoken that seems to be based on vampires/ghosts/elves in appearance.  If you are familiar with Defiance, they feel a lot like the Castithans.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615113330 So this won’t be the only comparison I make the Defiance, because really so far Destiny feels like Defiance done better.  I feel like Defiance was an MMO with Shooter elements, whereas Destiny is a Shooter with MMO elements.  Subtle difference there, but being a really solid shooter first… and gear swapping mmo second seems to make all the difference in the world.  Defiance was a cool idea, but the moment to moment gameplay felt unexciting, because it lived halfway between two worlds.  Everything about the shooter elements of Destiny is solid, and while I fail miserably at playing console shooters… I was able to pick up the controls quickly and felt like I had more control that I normally do with a gamepad.  Right now I am somewhat hooked, and hope to get in and play with some friends and explore the ruins together.

I still do not know quite how to hook up a mic and get it working, but I streamed most of my gameplay yesterday to twitch and then dumped it to my youtube channel like I normally do.`  In the beginning I was super uncertain of the controls, but by the end of my play session I was starting to feel far more confident with aiming the dual analog sticks.  Destiny is a title that I went from mildly interested in, to really looking forward to the release.  I fully expect to pre-order this title and play it when it launches in September.  I chose to play the Titan which is the closest thing they have to a tank in the game.  I’ve you’ve played Mass Effect, it feels really similar to the paragon, in that you have a mix of ranged weapons with super powerful melee attacks.  I would like to see how this plays with a group, because I kept encountering things I definitely could not take by myself.  At this point I’ve beaten the first “on-rails” mission and opened up the more open world missions.  Look forward to playing this a lot more over the next months.

Dances with Orcs

WoWScrnShot_061514_115209 While I was piddling around and streaming things, I also spent a good chunk of yesterday playing Warlords of Draenor.  I figured since I have been granted the ability to play the Alpha, I should probably be testing it.  Also in a way I am playing it in memory of River, since he was so amped about being invited to the alpha.  The game is trying super hard to be modern and relevant, but under the covers it still feels like a ten year old game.  I am still working my way through the quests which have the added benefit of building my Garrison.  Yesterday I completed a sequence of quests to unlock the Alchemy Hut and in theory the ability to run alchemy crafting missions.  I have not however gotten enough Draenor era herbs of the right kind to be able to complete this.

WoWScrnShot_061514_115151 Something I am highly enjoying is the fact that while I am out in the world, I am constantly gathering new followers for my Garrison.  Some of them are even call backs to the TBC era Draenor.  If you are like me and completed the netherwing dailies to get those mounts, you will remember the fel orc that buzzes past the tower constantly…  Mulverick!!!!  Well one of the early quests involves rescuing him from an Ogre strong hold.  When you do he agrees to join your garrison as a follower.  While I spent most of my time playing alliance, I am really hoping when that content opens up that we see similar nostalgic references.  Ultimately that is going to be the hook for people if they can manage to wield it correctly.  Nostalgia is a pain, and even as jaded as I currently am about the experience… this game can still manage to hit me in the feels occasionally.

So while streaming yesterday, some random stranger in the channel suggested that I run the first instance… and while I had nothing better to do, I figured sure… what the hell.  So I joined a group in progress that had cleared to the first boss of Bloodmaul Slag Mines and apparently lost their tank.  It got off to a bit of a rocky start as as soon as I pulled the boss I disconnected from the server.  Warlords of Draenor is very much an alpha, and as such I have had more than my fair share of issues staying connected.  However once I got back in the run went relatively smoothly from that point on with zero deaths.  I still am not sure how I feel about the current state of Deathknight Tanking.  The rotation feels off with large empty spaces where I can really do nothing at all.  I am slowly moving things around, using soul reaper a lot more and using death siphon each time it is up… and things are starting to feel a bit better.  I will continue to test and see if I can hit on the magic feel good spot for the class, but in its current state… I am considering going back to warrior tanking.

AggroChat Talks E3 2014

This week we were without Kodra and Ashgar because of various real world commitments, so once again we grabbed Dallian and Tam and talked about the various things that happened during this years E3 show.  I have to say I thought this years show was strong enough that I actually went out and bought a playstation four at least in part to what I was seeing.  We talk about so many different things that it ends up being a bit more disjuncted than normal, but overall upon listening to it and editing all morning… I think it is a pretty strong show.  You can hear our take on what is coming down the pipe gamewise.  Right now the game I am looking forward to the most is No Man’s Sky, and we talk at length about it.  I would be curious to find out what you thought of this years showing as well.

Four Job Fiesta 2014

One last quick blurb… this years Four Job Fiesta is now open!  I have officially registered by not started.  It looks like this year I will be starting as a Knight, which should be pretty simple.  If you are interested at all in Final Fantasy… or better yet are interested in making money for a great charity… you should totally sign up and play along with us.  I will likely be streaming good chunks of my gameplay.  I am pretty much forced to play this because Ashgar holds a gun to our heads and makes us sign up each year.  We love him dearly and do not want to face his wrath.  But really it is a pretty fun time, and there is a lot of community spirit going on as folks complete the game.  Here is hoping I do not get stalled and actually finish this year.

#FFV #FourJobFiesta #AggroChat #WarlordsofDraenor #Destiny