Regularly Playing: May Edition

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I had a realization over the weekend as I stared at my sidebar…  that it has been a significant amount of time since I last did the regularly playing thing.  The last one I was able to find was on October 3rd of 2016…  some 210 days ago.  I may or may not have completely fallen off the wagon on this concept.  The original intent was to take a moment once a month to “true up” the side bar and shift out what I was no longer playing for what I was currently playing.  As a result we are going to see some significant moving and shaking in the list as a result.

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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I am still going fairly strongly in Final Fantasy XIV, and while I might not log in every night I am logging in multiple times a week.  I am definitely still making the Tuesday night raid thing, and while we don’t always make progress each week we get together to do something.  Thanks to the wonder of cross server grouping we have been able to pull in our friend Kelesti into some stuff as well.  Largely we are all in a big holding pattern until the release of Stormblood which comes in July, and as a result I am still in the middle of my “level everything” binge.  Right now my Machinist is just shy of 40, and that leaves Astrologian the only thing that has yet to be touched.  The whole purpose behind all of this madness is so that I can purge my vault of anything at minimum sub 30… and the grand hope is to sort through anything sub 50 and be extremely judicious in what I choose to keep.  Still having a lot of fun in Palace of the Dead, just have had other distractions of late.

To the Returning and New

Skyforge

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This is one of those games that has not graced my sidebar in a very very long time.  In July of 2015 I played quite a bit of the game around the time that it launched, and while I enjoyed it… it always felt like it was missing something.  Apparently October of last year an expansion released that added in pretty much all of the features that I am finding myself enjoying now.  Additionally the game just works better with a controller than it ever did with a keyboard and mouse and while I returned primarily on the PS4… I am also dipping my toes back into the PC experience as well.  Both are extremely fun and I am not entirely sure how long I will be splitting time before I officially pick one platform.  Whatever the case if you have ever played this game I highly suggest checking it out.  It has some issues… namely you are limited to three classes at the start with no clear path to add new ones.  However each of the classes is doing something somewhat unique which makes them more enjoyable than the standard Tank, Mage and Healer that they represent.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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There are two things that are shocking about this game gracing my list.  Firstly that apparently I never actually made a “now playing” widget for it, and secondly… that I am back playing it again.  I blame a sequence of nostalgic events happening at exactly the same time…  all of the hype about the next Star Wars movie, the love of Rogue One, and my deep enjoyment of Mass Effect Andromeda has lead to an upwelling of love for both Bioware and Star Wars.  As a result I have returned to an old mission, which is trying to level through all of the class stories.  I managed to finish off the Sith Sorcerer and am now through Hoth so far in the Imperial Agent.  It seems as though I picked one of the best storylines for last, and even though I am not traditionally a stealthy/shooty type class…  there is something extremely awesome about this one.  I largely went Sniper because my Smuggler on the other side of the fence is Sawbones/Healer.  I am having a blast right now, so I am going to ride the enjoyment until it lasts.  The goal is to push forward into the story I have not touched on my Jedi Knight main after finishing the Agent story…  which involves Shadow of Revan, Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne.

Horizon Zero Dawn

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I do not normally put many single player games on the regularly playing list, but we have this sequence of amazing ones being released in short order.  One of those is Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a game that I hit hard at launch… and then for whatever release lost momentum to Mass Effect Andromeda.  As a result I have been slowly playing it here and there as time and desire allows.  I could force myself through the story, but I want to play it when I want to play it… and that is right now involving the occasional hour long session of hunting giant robot dinosaurs rather than pushing forward the main story.  I am still very much enjoying the game, but I need to find some catalyst that really gets me back into it and dying to play the next chapter.  In the mean time however I am still enjoying the “bowplay” if I can coin that term.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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This is very much another “as desire hits me” sort of experience.  When the game came out I picked it up on the Wii U and in the time between then and now I have managed to pick up a switch effecting starting back at square one.  This stalled my progress a little bit but for the most part I have returned to where I left in the Wii U and am once again moving forward.  I have designs on starting to take this to work and playing a little over lunch and on break times.  While I have the switch I really have not done a lot of handheld play with it remaining largely docked upstairs so I can play it with the pro controller.  It is a great game and in spite of having a lot of things that frustrate me about the game… is yet another in a long list of titles contending for my game of the year bid.

To Those Departing

World of Warcraft

While I still have an active account, I am just not really playing at all.  I logged in shortly after the last patch and got bored and logged out again.  I fell off the raiding bandwagon about halfway through Nighthold, and honestly just sort of reached the point I have in so many other expansions.  I think in theory I could come back and play casually and enjoy the experience but there are just simply too many other things I would rather be playing right now.  So as a result this is going to find its way off my side bar, but I did have the forethought to simply comment it out rather than remove it because I am sure at some point around Blizzcon time I will get hit by the bug once more.

Rift

Much like with Nightmare Tide… I just failed to gain traction with the latest expansion the Starfall Prophecy.  A large part of my struggle with Rift is that I can never seem to find a warrior spec that I really like anymore.  What I ultimately want is a juggernaut for doing PVE/Leveling content that can burn through the mobs with nonexistent downtime.  If I ever find that spec again I will return to the game and happily finish up leveling.  The other huge struggle is that the game lacks a reliable current font of knowledge.  The forums in theory have a lot of the information but it is this blend of current information and ancient and no longer reliable, and I just lack the mental fortitude to sift through it.  I am hoping that after writing this… Muspel or PK will come to the rescue once again with a viable Warrior build like they have in the past.  The other huge challenge with Rift is the fact that none of my gaming infrastructure is playing the game, nor do any of my regular suspects have any interest in the game at this point.

Destiny

It hurts more than a little bit to be adding this game to this space on my list.  The truth is I am just not playing it right now and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.  I have too many other games fighting for my attention, and while I absolutely know I will be returning with Destiny 2…  the amount of stuff that I can do solo or want to so solo is pretty limited.  At this point it feels like I would be working towards something that is ultimately going to disappear.  I also have a lot of questions because as it is right now… I am looking at making the leap to PC from PS4 for the second game… and I am not sure what if anything might transfer.

Guild Wars 2

Adding this one to the list really doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I was only into this game so long as some of my friends were actively playing it.  Once Tam and Ash and Kodra faded away… so did I.  It is still not my favorite game but I have developed a certain appreciation for it.  Most of what it is doing however isn’t really all that interesting to me.  I largely got to play along with my friends only because I had maxed out my Warrior soloing for ages without them.  He was geared and ready to go… and will still be there if it ever has a resurgence.  Much like Warframe this is a game that was not ultimately for me…  but somewhat enjoyable so long as I was playing with friends.

 

 

 

 

A Good Weekend

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This past week was the week of seemlingly smooth and fast clears.  Wednesday night we worked on progression content, which mean’t that we spent the majority of the evening wiping to new and exciting things.  However the end result of that evening was that we downed Odyn and made a decent amount of progress on Guarm.  The only negative aspect of that is that it also means that none of us actually saw progress on the quest chain that haunts us.  We kicked around the notion of having an Emerald Nightmare clear night, that I ultimately decided would be Friday.  I set up a calendar invite and hoped, and then was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks that signed up.  In fact we technically had more than our normal raid nights, and other than some starts and stops while waiting on folks or dealing with disconnections…  it was a very smooth evening.  So smooth in fact that I seriously wonder if we could have cleared the entire place in an hour.  I mean because of the various time spent waiting… that was not a thing that happened however it seemed like we might have been on pace for it.  That general smoothness continued on last night with Karazhan, but so did the whole waiting business.  Thalen got sidelined with family stuff, and we had the option of either filling his slot or waiting.  It turned out we ended up getting started roughly an hour and a half late, but once again things went amazingly smoothly.  So much so that I think next week we are going to make a proper attempt at a Nightbane run.  We would have one shot every boss… were it not for the fact that we tried some madness for an achievement on Medivh.

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Another big part of my weekend was roaming around and exploring the Comet of Ahnket in the Rift Starfall Prophecy expansion.  At this point I am sitting around 66 1/3 and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the Scatherran Forest zone.  Firstly I have to say this expansion is charming as hell so far, namely because of the two companions that follow you around at times… but also because it is a great example of environmental storytelling.  Every area is packed full of little things to be scene and experienced much in the same way the zones are built in Guild Wars 2.  Lots of things are happening in the background and all it takes is you sitting still long enough to experience them.  The best of these vignettes has to be the hedgehogs who are stuck in a ball rolling…  until one of them realizes that they can just let go of their feet to stop.  Similarly there is this adorable sequence where you are playing hide and seek with baby unicorns, and you have to go out and find them so that you can lead them back home.  The only negative so far is that I feel woefully undergeared for some of the content, and there is a bit of an uneven difficulty level happening.  There was an area full of spiders… and they seemed literally twice as tough as any of the other equivalent level 66 mobs.  I could take down entire packs of humanoids… but a single spider was a race to see if I could finish them off before they finished me off.  Getting a second spider meant absolute certain death.  All in all though I am really liking the expansion and it feels much more like Storm Legion did as far as content goes.

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Finally I spent a good deal of time playing Destiny this weekend and was able to push my Titan to the 385 barrier.  This is the point where you stop getting upgrades from legendary engrams, and are stuck relying on faction rewards that stop at 390… and exotic engrams that will take you all the way to 400.  This means I am hoping tomorrow starts a small arms week for the heroic strike list because I absolutely need to spend some time farming.  In theory I believe the Archon’s Forge will go up to 400 when it comes to end of event rewards, but not anything coming from an engram.  I spent some time working on my Hunter and Warlock and getting both of them through the Rise of Iron story so I can have three sets of world bounties to work on each week.  I realize they just reward engrams at this point… but if nothing else it can be infusion fodder to help work up additional weapons and armor.  I need to find the free time to try and sign up for one of the machine raids so I can see the content and get some more tasty gear.  However 385 is a completely respectable place to be, and in theory during the next iron banner I should be able to make a decent dent into pushing that number up into the 390s.  It was a great weekend and especially considering we have a short week ahead of me.

Weasel Town

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Last night I was having one of those nights where I needed to just blend into the background, and largely avoid human contact.  That said I needed to schedule an invite for a potential Emerald Nightmare raid tonight, and finish up my Emissary quests that I had hanging out there.  However before long I had done just that and was off to Rift to explore some more of the Starfall Prophecy expansion.  This is the point where I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I never got the opportunity to play through the Comet of Ahnket 10 player raid instance, and learn more about the story of what is going on here.  From what I have been able to glean, Ahnket is this sentient creation engine of sorts that seems hellbent on destroying Telara.  I am sure at this point Captain Cursor is cringing like mad and will pop in and correct me, but like I said having not played that raid I only have impressions to go on.  This expansion we take the fight to the comet, which has grown into a landmass.  It seems like every time Ahnket crashes through a plane on the way to Telara it picks up a chunk of that world and carries it with it.  At this point the comet has traveled through the planes of Fire and Nature and as a result we have two new zones themed after each, and a fifth zone that seems to be a place where everything clashes in conflict.  We as ascended are sent here to try and stop Ahnket once and for all and help the friendly folk who have gotten uprooted as a result of the comet passing near their homes.  All of this is irrelevant however because all I really want to do is hang out with this lovely bunch of weasels.

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The other thing that has changed is this time around we have companions that tend to roam around with us as we complete the quest content pretty regularly.  Firstly there is Shyla Starhearth that you might recognize as being the formerly half naked lady hanging out in the throne room of Sanctum for the Guardians in the room.  This time around she managed to find some proper armor and is apparently now a super tanky badass.  Next up we have Tasuil the Dragon, that we last saw in the Dendrome… and has shrunk down a bit to make adventuring with a little easier.  At some point in the quest line you find someone who can Corgify him at which point he is both hilarious and adorable.  Then during my current sequence of quests I also have Windflower the babby Unicorn hanging out with me.  So I am hanging with a Corgi, a Unicorn, and a heavily armored elf lady…  who could ask for more?  It seems like with the impending doom the Guardians and  the Defiant have set aside their grudges because in the new hub town you can also find Asha Catari leading the offensive, which makes my little Defiant heart crackle to life.  I apologize for the image quality in the above two shots, but at some point during the evening I transitioned from my desktop upstairs to hanging out on the sofa with my laptop…  that cannot run the game in nearly the same graphical fidelity.

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In truth I feel like I have not experienced enough of the new content to give it a proper review at this time.  Overall I like it considerably more than I liked Nightmare Tides, but I think that is because this content brings back familiar landscapes.  Goboro Reef was just a completely foreign and alien looking zone, with its angry technicolor vibrancy.  These zones are similar to what I have been seeing in the game since launch, just subtle variations on the planar themes.  Of not I have only actually ventured very far into Scatherran Forest, as you are presented with two possible choices at first… and I could have similarly gone down the Gedlo Badlands path if I wanted to see a lot of fire themed landscapes.  Even then I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of the zones, and in the few hours I played I pushed about halfway through my first level.  The leveling is slow, but it feels not quite as slow as it did during Nightmare Tides which is definitely a good thing.  As far as crafting and such…  I have only barely scratched the surface because I am competing with everyone out there for ore pops.  If anything that would be my one complaint so far that the spawn rates maybe need to adjust up a bit to deal with the influx of players.  Completing any of the “kill x” style quests seem to require either a lot of luck or patience.  The best part so far however has been the music, which is more technological in nature… and it comes with an amazing remixed version of the main Rift theme.  If you have been a long time fan of the franchise, I feel like this expansion is already well worth checking out.  That said expect it to still feel more like Storm Legion or Nightmare Tides than the original content.

Starfall Prophecy

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Expansion Teaser

For a little bit now there have been rumors about the impending announcement of Rift 4.0, namely due to some data-mined zone names floating around.  Nightmare Tide and I had a bit of a rocky start and it was only recently that I managed to level through the content and hit the level cap.  Originally I thought that this expansion might be based on the Plane of Fire, given a few of the leaked zone names.  However it seems like this expansion ties directly into the last raid of Nightmare Tides the Comet of Ahnket.  Based on the teaser information on the Starfall Prophecy promotion page, it seems as though the Comet Ahnket has been picking up bits and pieces of the planes as it hurdles towards Telara, and as a result this inhabitable world has been created that we now need to go to in order to find a way to stop it.  This combined with some of the artwork shown on the site makes it seem like this expansion will be an amalgam of elements, or at least Life and Fire.

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I have to say some of the new assets that are seen on the site are really damned cool.  Prime example is that I have zero clue what sort of machine this thing is, other than it seems to be themed with a similar face to the Comet of Ahnket content.  It looks amazing and I will be more than happy to fight it, and I am hoping that this is some sort of zone event boss.  Mostly it seems like this expansion is going to be a huge world with lots and places to explore.  I think one of my big issues with Nightmare Tide is that in the grand scheme of things… the color palette was extremely difficult to get used to.  It isn’t nature to see a landscape of violent purples and oranges everywhere, and trying to read that as something to roam around in.  While places like Goboro Reef eventually grew on me with time, it was a long adjustment period.  This on the other hand seems more familiar, like the same sort of zone treatment we saw in Storm Legion, but this time instead for a much more fire influenced setting rather than death.  Between now and launch however I either need to actually find a group to do Comet of Ahnket raid, or watch a play-through so I can soak up some of the information about what is happening there.  One of the things I love about Rift raids is that they are so full of story, that plays out around you as you move through it.  Unfortunately there is not a “Chronicle of Ahnket” or Intrepid Adventure for it… so that means I will actually have to try and find a pick up group to see the story-line.

New Features

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On the promotion website it lists a whole slew of stuff under the title of “Claim the Power of Ahnket”, and some of them are pretty interesting sounding.

  • Increased Level Cap: 70
  • Legendary Powers
  • New Zones
  • New Dungeons
  • New Raid
  • Planar Assault Adventures
  • Fortress Sieges
  • Looking For Raid
  • Individual Reward System
  • Active Upgrades
  • Eternal Item Rarity
  • Planar Fragments

 

These all sound interesting, but we don’t really have a ton of information to go on yet.  It is my hope that between now and the expansion release, they start showing off various features of the expansion during the Friday streams.  Unfortunately I have other plans today, and the time shift means that it is happening while I will be in the middle of a family dinner.  However I am fully expecting this weeks stream to be epic, showcasing a lot of new features but in limited detail.  Of the above list the two that stand out the most are “Looking For Raid” and “Individual Reward System”.  Now these have caused drama in games that implemented them, but I have to say after having lived with them for awhile…  I’ve become a fan.  There was a time when I was strictly against the whole content of LFR, and probably said some things against it.  That was also a version of me that had a dedicated raid team, and access to the best gear said raiding could provide.  The current version of me however just wants to experience the content and play all of these various games that I want to play.  For example in Rift I don’t really have a large group of friends who happen to be playing the game, or at the very least not in the density that I have elsewhere.  As a result it is extremely hard for me to figure out how to get anything started, and I would absolutely lean on LFR like a crutch the same way I do currently on the Intrepid Adventure system.  Because of this.. the Individual Reward system only makes sense, that way you are not trying to roll against other players but are instead getting your own personalized loot.

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The other things on that list that really interest me are Planar Assault Adventures and Fortress Sieges.  The Planar Assault Adventures sounds like absolutely something that would be down my alley, and I am hoping these are somewhat like chronicles in that they can be completed solo or with a group either one.  I mean I know nothing about it other than the name, but they give me ideas about leading a strike team of NPCs into various planar tears to complete objectives and get back out.  Hopefully the reality is even half as cool as my imagined version  sounds.  Fortress Sieges on the other hand seem like they might be able to go one of two ways.  If they are a PVE siege of a fortified position held by Planar forces, essentially a Planar Stronghold taken to the next level… then they sound completely amazing.  The other direction I could see something named like that going is some sort of open world pvp objective, and that is the point where they would lose me.  I have enjoyed world objective pvp in the past, but generally speaking when a game does this… it almost always degrades into deathmatching and ganking rather than focusing on objectives.  Essentially right now I know next to nothing other than a bunch of names, but regardless I am extremely excited about the prospects of what this expansion might bring.  As you can see from the above image.. I have already proudly put in my pre-order and am now riding around on my very awesome drake mount.