Author Archive: Isey
I think the Aggronaut and I are the main discussors of all things Destiny in this corner of Blognation, (Adding Dragonchasers to this short list) so I won’t continue to link to him on each post but chances are you are already reading him anyway. We are on different paths of our initial enjoyment of Destiny 2 and it will be interesting to see how or if they converge at some point. Will his satisfaction start to wane while mine grows over time? Will he stay strong and I’ll hit some new part of the expansion that surprises and delights me ramping up my happiness with the game? Who knows – it definitely will be interesting to see and we’ll no doubt revisit that in the month(s) to come. Because, for all of my issues with it, I do expect to be playing Destiny 2 the way through. I am about half way through the campaign at this point.
I still can’t ignore the missed opportunities. There are several, low hanging fruit that I fully expect in a major expansion, worth of the “2” label. There are many examples of this – Diablo 3 is very different from 2 or 1. Look at the way major titles have changed and improved over the years. A true sequel should be a major step forward where an expansion is often a small step. Here (in no particular order) are the easy and obvious things Destiny 2 missed out on.
There isn’t much that is more exciting than a new way to experience a game. A new class is probably the biggest. The Titan, Warlock, and Hunter classes are different enough to be worth playing them all in look and feel – but no reason why a fourth class couldn’t have been introduced. The game did introduce a new subclass to each of the main classes but took away one as well – in the end, you have more of the same. I do like the new subclasses but I also liked the old ones that they took away. Why not have 4? Why not add a whole new class to begin with, with another four subclasses? Why not actually invest some time and energy in moving the game forward?
The Humans, Awoken and Exo have always been your options and I am not even that concerned that you needed to add a new player race – but at bare minimum they should have added a new enemy race! No, you are still fighting the fat-bastards from Mars, the sentient microwaves from Venus, the Walking dead on the Moon not-Zombies and the four armed gang members from Earth all over again. Not a single new race. Each got a few minor tweaks (Fallen stealth classes now shoot from range instead of melee with swords, for example) but we are very much in the “you have seen this before. Nothing new. Move along” territory of it all. And that is extremely disappointing. They literally mostly spent time recoloring skins on enemies.
Much has been made of the story being front and center in Destiny 2 and they have definitely upped the production value there. I will give them that. The problem is, the story is just bad. Somehow our defenses that have stood for centuries were easily overcome by a Cabal member and his army and our immortality stolen by a fence put around a moon. For an hour. Then you lose all of your gear and everyone hides on three new planets. You can’t visit the old planets, or areas – they are no longer accessible – magically poofed away – but the new planets have the same enemies with minor changes and soft excuses to go explore them. They didn’t even add voice lines for the hero. They doubled down on the Mute Immortal Zombie Savior story line. It’s weak. It’s bad. It was mailed in. This was their chance to reset this part of the game (and it has always been my biggest complaint) and they did it very poorly.
There is some Good
I don’t have that many great weapons yet but whoever designed the guns, scoping in/iron sights, feel of shooting should get a raise. The guns feel so very different and so very cool – I always enjoyed scout rifles and recently got one that has a scope on it – not as far as a sniper rifle but just enough zoom – and every time I get a new gun to play around with I marvel with how different it feels and how well they have done with that aspect. Each class now also has a third special ability and that does feel new and great (my Titan can make a half wall, and scoping in/out behind it auto reloads my gun – this makes taking out large groups of enemies from range smooth and extra fun. Bonus is that my teammates also get the advantage. Guilds/Clans looks to be an great new feature – hopefully as a solo player I can find one that will take me in.
Destiny 2 struggles because it isn’t a MMO per se, but a shared world RPG shooter. The complaints people had about Destiny 1 were given some attention but not really solved, and in some ways it feels like more was taken away then added. The shooting is still great but I feel like their attempt at a narrative took away from being forced to build your own in D1 – many players probably had a more coherent, believable story line in their own heads for what was going on. I know I did.
When the bosses to date are all re-skins of the old bosses with most of the same gameplay mechanics you can tell this “sequel” should have been called an expansion and they could have introduced these new mechanics on the new planets and left the old worlds around – giving more content for players to enjoy. Instead, we have all bought in on the new title purchase (and many, including myself, pre-bought two DLC packs). I have heard some praise it that this what Destiny 1 should have been and they have dealt with some of the inventory and loot issues (while adding blatant, money grabbing mechanic issues – google “Destiny 2 shaders”) and if you are a new player who doesn’t care about story depth this is an ok place to start in the Destiny IP. If you are a Destiny 1 player who just loves the gun play of D1 and the hunt for marginal, iterative loot improvements this will also make you pretty happy. If you were a Destiny 1 Crucible player you may want to read someone more on the PVP side of things – I know they made smaller fire teams and less control of maps, etc. – but I haven’t done PVP yet. If you were a Destiny 1 player who saw incredible bones of a game with much unrealized potential then Destiny 2 – so far – is the exact same feeling.
I am not giving up on it yet, I will finish the campaign and hope things turn around.
I have. It was called Destiny.
I know it isn’t fair to judge a game solely on the first hour and a half of playtime – but it is definitely fair to comment on that time as the “first impression”. And that is, sadly, that Destiny 2 feels like a poorly done expansion to Destiny 1. Somehow, the graphics feel worse. Everything else feels perfectly familiar except now you are starting from square one. Not sure how an expansion negates the total effort of the previous three years plus feels like a step back in the game overall. It actually kind of felt like a step back from the demo/beta. I don’t think I have felt this disappointed in a game I was very excited for at launch. At least not so quickly.
First off I ultimately decided to get Destiny 2 for PS4 although I was convinced I would save myself for PC. Not because I want to play it on all systems (I won’t – I don’t like the thought of going through all the same motions in 6 weeks when the PC launches. Cross saves / progression should be a thing by now). It was because when I did the ‘beta’ PC version something was missing that I really loved about playing Destiny on the PS4. The haptic feedback. It is missing from the PC version and I didn’t realize how much immersion that adds. So, in order to get all the shiny bonuses, I bought the Digital Deluxe version of the game and it pre-loaded last night when I was sleeping. I was up early this morning and booted up the game for a fresh start at 5am.
Except nothing was fresh about it. The introductory mission was the same we did, except we didn’t get to play with the new super / spec. The whole “you have lost your powers and are weak now” angle lasted for the whole entirety of the first hour. All that changed in the game is that you lost your loot and you lost your abilities. It’s like World of Warcraft deleting all of your character and forcing you to start from level one again, on the old graphics engine, as their new expansion premise. This doesn’t feel new or exciting – it feels like an expansion – but one that does not build off of the past but replaces it. The first “mission” is a slow slog through a decimated city – which has some merit if you stop to look around, but the game forces you to a slow crawl. You shoot 10-15 dogs in the wilderness and then get “rescued”. The second “mission” is basically a reskin of the Destiny 1 mission where you unlock your third sub-spec. You get unlimited supers and get to bash around. That was fun! Except, again, I have already played that mission in Destiny 1 (which was a better, longer and more interesting version of it) It isn’t new. It was a step backwards.
The real kick in the jeans is that there is no new race, no new class, and actually less specializations to start. Again, backwards.
Those are my first impressions. I haven’t given up on the game but am preparing myself to just be playing a new version of Destiny 1. I have no clue how they are going to surprise or impress me at this point, or move away from that. I really hope they do and that it is just a slow start.
My tears aren’t the same as the Aggronaut’s, at this point. Unfortunately so.
I’ll just link it. I’ve never enjoyed one more.
It did strike me as odd, as I played through the Destiny 2 ‘beta’ on PC last night that no other company has tried their hand at taking dollars away from Destiny. This is quite shocking, actually, when you think about it. Gaming studios are much like movie studios – they tend to launch the same kind of movies and themes around the same time to not lose out on market share and dollars. We see this all the time in gaming too. Overwatch and Paladins are fighting for the resurgent twitchy team shooting space originally built by Team Fortress 2, and you can add Gigantic and Lawbreakers to that list as well (among others). Success breeds spawns of similar design, some of which may end up being more successful than the original. There is effort to do this, at bare minimum.
League of Legends popularity spawned DOTA 2, Heroes of the Storm, SMITE, and a whole other slew of MOBAs. There are usually a lot of competition among popular genres at any given time. This is why it completely shocks me that no other studio is battling for the CO-OP RPG-PVE shooter environment that Destiny has built. There isn’t a title I know similar to Destiny and when there is a multi-billion dollar property out there, ripe to cash in on and around, I just can’t fathom why other studios aren’t taking a shot at the space.
There are really low hanging fruit to capture here. Destiny 2 still refused to offer LFG matchmaking for their Raids – arguably the most requested feature by the player base. It was completely ignored in favor of a method of picking up singles into pre-made groups. This was clearly done so they could save themselves the man hours of tweaking the difficulties of the raid and/or reprogramming rewards based on difficulty. The entire rest of the game is already based on auto-matchmaking so we know there is no lack of expertise or network code for it. With their ties to Blizzard there is also internal expertise on how to do a proper casual raid LFG style stystem. I still haven’t seen the raids in Destiny 1 (and I never will) and that will most likely be the same in D2. In this day and age of accessibility it just doesn’t make sense. Less than 20% of players were able to enjoy that content.
The second improvement is still the story. While they plan on much improving the narrative in Destiny 2 they did double down on the zombie narrative, that I made a complete mockery of, way back in 2014 when it launched. The story was so broken upon launch that the best sense we could make of it is that we are a zombie army, arisen to terrorize the universe. It made as much sense as what they were offering at the time. In Destiny 2, Bungie actually enforced silliness that with the Zavala origin story video showing that Guardians are indeed, immortal. He dies, is brought back to life, keeps fighting, dies, rinses, repeats. Not at any one point do the bad guys try to really, really kill him. They shoot him once and then walk away. (cut off the head, burn the body, launch into space… try SOMETHING). I also made fun of this more recently as it continues to be completely absurd. In Destiny 2 the story does revolve around losing the ability to be reincarnated and I sincerely hope that is gone for good, and this is Bungie’s way of finally killing off the immortal zombie apocalypse from a good-guy perspective narrative.
Every time I complain about the story, I feel compelled to mention how every other part of the game works near perfectly – from the missions, to the open world mission opportunities, to the RPG aspects, and tight shooting mechanics. I know it sounds silly to say this next line – but it is a multi-billion dollar franchise that hasn’t even met it’s full potential yet. Which is why I wish another studio would take a crack at it, to build upon the solid foundation. With Destiny 2 feeling more like an expansion than a whole new game at this point there are probably a lot of Destiny players open to a new experience as well.
And for some reason, no one is interested in giving them a run for their money, to take a piece of the pie, or to build something even more coherent, tangible, and fun.
That shocks me more than the terrible story narrative.
I commented on Bhagpuss’s latest post about how I largely agree that loot boxes are a fun mechanic. This was in the context for me that it is a method of advancement and not the sole one. The example I used in Fortnite that it is basically the *only* way you can progress meaningfully so when that is gated behind a hard paywall it is frustrating and not fun. This has caused me to stop logging in execept for the idle game portion – I collect research points per hour and they max out, so I find myself logging in, collecting them, spending them, and logging out. All without really playing. Not sure how long this will go on. They either need to grant a Llama after every cooperative round (LLama is their loot box/pinata) or greatly increase the quality of the items found within it. It is still in early access so I may revisit it once/if they announce changes.
In my last post I complained a bit about Paladins but found myself in a shooter mood last night and time to spare so decided to log in and see how things are. They added another new champion, Strix, who is a sniper with stealth.
I am going to pause there, to let that sink in. Just for people who have ever played games that had a stealth mechanic and how unfun and difficult to balance that is.
Not only does the sniper have stealth, but can shoot from it, and can 1 or 2 shot most characters. Take a guess how much fun that is. The facepalm moment about this is that they already have a stealth character (Skye) who kept getting nerfed because her stealth was so hard to balance – and she had to basically be in melee range to do excellent damage. Now take triple the damage from triple the distance with a better stealth mechanic – PLUS the ability to reveal all of your enemies on the screen in a large radius so you know where to aim (ie: no hiding!) and after the first round I was about to uninstall the game. (I still might). Things got better when every round had one Strix on each side because they had to focus on each other, but it was, largely, the most unfun way to die in a game. When you have zero chance or control to the outcome. Bonus frustration is that he doesn’t have to lead you and the bullet doesn’t path. If he is lined up at the second he pulls the trigger you are dead
This is still about lootboxes.
Paladins is also loot-box based but you can buy everything with two three types of currencies – gold, essence, and crystals. Crystals are mostly cash only (you get 50 a week for logging in 7 days in a row) and crystals are mostly used for skins and cosmetic items, so it’s not bad. I can get behind this kind of loot box. All the important things in games (champions, cards, etc) are available through gameplay – and not even that hard. A purely F2P player can literally play the entire game and unlock everything without a ton of effort. Playing a hour a day, you would unlock a champion at the rate of one per week quite easily. It would take you far longer to master that champion. I paid $20 for the founders pack which gives you every existing champion AND all future ones (plus a bunch of lootboxes for ability cards and customization outfits, etc.) It was a great investment as I have already racked up over 100 hours in the game, and even bought crystals ($35) to get some skins I like. The tough part about their skins is that you don’t buy them directly, you still buy a loot box for a chance to get the skin. These are pretty limited (ie: hold 16 different items) and you can’t get duplicates in special chests. (Duplicates on common, Radiant chests). The challenge here is that you have a min/max on spend, based on chance. When you know you want ONE particular thing it would be better to know that cost and make that decision. In those chests might be many different things that you aren’t interested in.
This just happened to me.
I now play 4 Champions regularly. Lex (Flank), Ruckus (Tank), Inara (Tank) and Ying (Heals). Recently Inara got a skin, which I bought crystals for, and which I ended up getting half way through the chest items (8/16) and it cost me around $9. If I would have received it on the first it would have been $1. That is a big range. I wasn’t stoked with it completely.
Then, Lex got a shiny new skin.
I knew I wanted it and I still had crystals left over from my Inara skin bonanza, the question became – how lucky would I get? Turns out – not lucky at all. I got it on 16/16. To which I immediately thought:
Was that fair?
And not fair in the sense that I had bad luck, but there is no governing body to ensure that video game loot mechanics are based off of real randomization or chance. In fact, there is nothing, anywhere stating that you have an equal chance to get any item in that box. They should be 1/16 but a smart company, not required to disclose, would make the lesser, not as cool items (of which there are many in each chest) have a 4/16 chance of dropping. Sure, the chances get better as the person unlocks the items but it could drive more crystal use and hence more revenues to head office. There is no reason to suspect this isn’t happening, and no recourse or need for the company to provide drop rates.
Unless you live in China, and are selling to Chinese customers. How do the Communists get this more right than the west?
To prove my point further, I didn’t get the two best skins until the last two chests.
The V1-KTOR and L-Exo suit were the two new skins in this patch and chest. What are the chances that they drop 15th and 16th in a pure, random environment? Not sure.
I believe loot boxes need to be upfront, honest, and regulated, so people can make fair purchase decisions.
Ok, I messed that phrase up in a proper context, but I am still using it in the way I originally perceived it – the “lazy” days of summer. It lines up nicely with my mood and current gaming habits. (Here is the NG article explaining what it should mean)
This summer has been lazy gaming. I went through a few interesting phases – Paladins became a darling for me (until it didn’t). Fortnite came in with a bang, and out with a whimper. I realized I kind of stopped playing both. I haven’t loaded up the Battletech early access in months. There hasn’t been an urge or joy to game much. That’s ok, as there is a lot of other things to do in the summer months and I have been camping, fishing, and sailing quite a bit. Something about water and back to nature. Still, there is some excitement with Destiny 2 coming to PC (October) and Yet Another PVE Co-OP F2P Grindfest in Dauntless (sometime in 2017) but outside of that, besides the frequent yet unfilled desires to go play titles I have left on the shelf (GW2 – yes, started again. DCUO was loaded back up. LOTRO. Really? LOTRO?) just shows that I am reaching.
Doesn’t mean I am lacking in insights in the games I was involved in, and those are worth discussing.
Paladins suffered from League of Legends syndrome. In that post of mine I was enjoying League of Legends but found that due to people and matchmaking that the amount of time you had to endure not having fun in order to get to the games that were actually fun was extremely unbalanced. So much so, that while tracking games it turned out that only 18.07% of the games I played were “fun”. I defined fun not as winning, but by a game that was close enough that either team had a legitimate chance of winning. Such is the balance in most games that between troll picks, afks, and complete stomps on either side I had to play. In over 125 hours of gaming, the “fun” gaming portion was 22.5 hours – basically 1 in 5. There aren’t many hobbies I can think of that if I was told I had to spend 4 hours of un-enjoyment to get 1 hour of enjoyment I’d find a new hobby. And that is exactly what I did.
Paladins is feeling very much the same, but I can’t be bothered to spend 100+ hours and do the experiment to see where it lays in the LoL spectrum. I just know that when I hit the “play” button, I am expecting something to go wrong in champ selection which will impact the rest of the game in such a way that it isn’t fun. This always has been a danger in MOBA style games where there are optimum team compositions and strengths of weaknesses of available in game champions while also having strengths and weaknesses. Plus they add a new champion every month and with constant balance changes there is a lot to balance and it is very difficult to get all of those things to line up to have a fair and balanced game. When that does happen, it feels awesome. When it doesn’t – and lately it feels like it is getting worse – that is frustrating. I found Overwatch even worse, just so I could add in a dash that I am still a fanboy comparatively.
Fortnite is unfair-stereotype “gold-digger” good. It’s really pretty. Charming sometimes. Lots of different outfits. Great potential. Fun to hang out with. Undress it all and it is expensive as hell for a long term relationship, if you measure nice things as good progress. World of Warcraft figured this out quickly and Fortnite has not. I only keep “epics” or better “gear”. I have several Legendaries and even two Mythics! The challenge with Fortnite is that in order to progress meaningfully, you need to buy Llamas (loot boxes). They have terrible drop rates for anything halfway decent. And with so many variables, currencies, and playstyles it is impossible to make meaningful steps without a lot of cash and good luck. You can’t go for the things you enjoy specifically and there is so much out there to discover and get lucky with. It seems like – fairly or unfairly – that the game was built ground up with whale-based monetization in mind first. The gameplay is also getting way to competitive and there are a lot of nonsense barriers in the game in terms of collecting, building, and inventory space.
Compounding that problem – if you read the Fortnite Reddit – the devs do not address anything. There are so many threads about the monetization and gating model there that perception will become reality and them putting their heads into the sand is not helping matters. A simple “we are getting great data on these and will make appropriate changes” would be helpful for the crowd.
I can’t even excuse them for it because it’s a F2P game that people paid for to early access for them. When you play it its clearly stable and would stand up fine as “done”. I just finally realized the ridiculousness of paying to early test a F2P title. I don’t mmind EA titles knowing other people will pay (and probably more) afterwards, for a feature complete experiences but struggling on that. I’ll create some kind of justification for my investment =)
Destiny 2 PC beta starts tomorrow, which I will thoroughly enjoy. Outside of that, I don’t know where I am going to spend my future gaming time.
9 years old this Sunday. August 27, 2008 was my first blog post. Since I don’t blog on the weekend and haven’t had many exciting things to share lately I figured I would write my happy blog-day to me post a couple days early. Usually it’s late, or forgotten (oh, hello wedding anniversaries, real birthdays, doctors appointments, etc.) but this year I decided to pay closer attention to the date to ensure I self-loved myself and the blog in proper form. Re-reading that is a bit awkward, but you know what I mean.
I feel bad for 9 years. 10 years, the decade, is often a big measurement – a decade! (See how important that sounds? Feels?) The big 1-0 is recognized as hugely important and a big milestone. Not 9. It’s the “well, if you make it one more year then maybe you will really be something!” year. I think many of us feel stuck on the year 9 as a general life theme. Always around the corner from the next big milestone that in terms of time and importance isn’t really that special. After all, tomorrow is just the next day.
Every anniversary I do reflect if this is the year I stop blogging. I believe many bloggers do this. This is also the pressure of the anniversary, the reflection of what has (or hasn’t) been accomplished, where current interests/emotions lie, the pressures of ‘real life’ and the nagging thought of what I should be doing with this time anyway. I normally blog at work, so in essence I can probably claim that I get paid to blog. Through that lens, quite well, actually. Which is something most bloggers can’t claim. Of course, credibly, that doesn’t really count and is quite the stretch, but I just wanted to say it once out loud – that I am a highly paid blogger. There, done.
(I own my own business, so any time I steal to blog I end up having to make up otherwise anyway) – so don’t label me as a slacker on the company dime. I am only costing myself. Completely shattered the minor joys of faux income AND the possibility of being a rebellious slacker with those parenthesis. I can finally admit that I am just not that cool.
I’m going to continue blogging, at least for another year. I mean, have to hit that decade. Then maybe I will be.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Maybe silly to call it such, but there are people on my blogroll that I have read for more than the 9 years I have been here, still plugging away, creating content and often stimulating discussion and enjoyment for a hobby that I dearly love, no matter how much it changes.
Chris / Isey
Here is a 10 minute gameplay video (non-narrated) from Fortnite. You can watch it without sound and it gives a pretty good idea how hectic things can get when the husks attack. This part is right after we triggered an event – we had built a base and are protecting weather satellite data. The good news is, we built an awesome front part of a base with tons of traps from which we can easily defend (which quickly starts falling apart).. the bad part is that the husks switched attack angles and after the first group there were attacking from a side where we didn’t have traps.
Some items of note:
I am playing a soldier. I have the following abilities and gadgets slotted: heal, aerial strike, minigun, grenades. I am using a baseball bat primarily for the sole fact that it is low on durability and I wanted to open up an inventory slot. Funny enough it lasted forever (probably because it is ‘epic’ – ie: purple). I have two legendary guns on my quickbar as well – one a minigun version of a handgun (which I found – I do NOT have the schematic for it so once it is gone it is gone) and the legendary shotgun I do have the schematic for.
Have a watch and let me know if you have any questions – it is really hectic and fast paced (as these attacks should be) and I tried to use all of my abilities and different weapons to show you different glimpses of the gameplay, as well as some repair/building elements. I am going to do a post about procedural generation next (probably another video!) as it does a GREAT job of that.
This is currently getting my Zombie fix, Landmark/Minecraft fix, and card game fix all at once.
Not sure if you noticed, but I was gone for two weeks.
Add to that, my site went down. I was pretty sure it was a foreign oppressive regime – North Korea or Maybe Russia – but my tech guy claims it was just some update error. Maybe the foreign oppressive regime put that there. My time away from work and gaming wasn’t a full vacation, I was teaching at a hockey camp up in the Muskokas. Hockey camp was a ton of fun and it is always great to teach kids about anything. Muskoka is a beautiful cottage area in Ontario full of lakes, cottage living, and bad internet.
A couple quick observations from being away.
- Cottage life is amazing life. Spending days at the rink in the summer sounds a bit like madness, but getting back to the rental cottage at 3:30pm, jumping in the lake, going fishing, drinking beer – tons of fun.
- I didn’t miss gaming that much – I suspect it was because we were so busy the whole time. When I got home this weekend I had a lot of fun booting up Fortnite. Of which, I’ll have another post about soon.
Just letting you know I am back, in case you were wondering. <ahem>
I always get sucked into these things. Early access.
And I have yet to be disappointed.
The big one – Landmark – the complete failure of a game that is now vaporware (along with the hopes and dreams of Everquest fans). I played the hell out of that game.. was it a game? That… interface. Anyway – it was a blast. Darkest Dungeon, Battletech, 5 Days to Die, Project Zomboid, March of the Living, RimWorld – most of the games I have enjoyed over the past couple of years were/are early access titles. It is definitely a thing now. Of course, many of them are/were pretty complete games just hidden under the guise of ‘early access’ to deflect bugs and gameplay criticisms. I think my new job title is going to be CEO – Early Access so I can do the same with my own performance.
I was searching for a game I could play with my 12 year old. He picked Overwatch, I picked Paladins. Very similar games but we both do not like the other one’s choices. Probably not a shock that 30 years age difference and gaming experience has garnered different tastes. We have done some Minecraft server play but it hasn’t stuck as regular. Now, during gaming time, he goes to the basement on the PS4 and I sit on my laptop in the kitchen. Both gaming in completely different worlds.
I watched some videos about Fortnite with him quite randomly, and we were both intrigued. When it launched we read some reviews and did a bit more reading and by all accounts it fits the type of game we both enjoy. It’s a shooter. It has Minecraft-esque building elements. It has zombies. Co-op. Bonus points for a cutesy and fun world, and a Super Deluxe Edition that includes a friend code. Let’s jump in. And we did last night.
The game is extremely polished. It coIuld be “released” today. The big confusion about this game is that it is paid early access now, but free to play sometime in 2018. I feel like that is a long lead time and by the time it launches this game will probably have already peaked. You can’t have content being pushed out for too long when the game is in such a playable state that it seems very disingenuous to call it early access. Either way, I am playing it.
The biggest surprise to me was the depth of the systems and the many layers that exist. This is a very complex and interconnected game. It starts with your home base, that (by all accounts) remains static. You can build, set traps, bring back resources from missions (etc.). Everything in game (but people) end up wearing down and needing to be replaced and you cannot repair weapons (but can rebuild new ones if you gather the materials). From your home base you extend to side missions, saving people, visiting towns, exploring, finding loot/materials, and completing objectives. I’ll run you through the main menu to better explain just how detailed the systems are.
Entering the game lands you on the ‘Play Now’ screen with your current quests and the rewards you will get from it. The quests I have done so far (very early) have three basic phases. First is search/collect (find this item, find this person). The environments are procedurally generated and are VERY well done. There are empty neighborhoods you can explore. Items to find – it really hits on the explorer aspect. This search/find phase has been unlimited in the early go around although on some streams are saw the future ones have timers. There are some randomly generated quests (ran into a survivor being attacked, have to push back the waves, etc.)
The second phase is build/activate – you have something to protect and you have collected resources now build a mini base. Once the base is done to your liking you activate the next phase and the bad guys come, with a defend timer, and you fight to win. The only issues I have seen with this so far is that on co-op games with strangers some are off on their own just collecting, while others might trigger the build phase too early. The early quests have been pretty easy so it hasn’t been an issue but yet again another good reason to try and play with friends.
(On that note, my playername is FOUNTS if you want to add me!)
The map shows available quests (which are repeatable plus your home base and the size of the ‘protected area’. I already had one quest to expand that zone and suspect much of the game will be expanding territory.
The Heroes tab is the current player you use in game. They come in several levels (purple being epic, blue being rare, grey being common… sound familiar?) and I assume you can unlock squads as you expand on Research and Skill trees (more on that soon). I was lucky enough to get a Lengendary hero in one of my loot Llamas (more on THAT later) and he has been the one I have been sticking with.
This is where things start getting a bit more interesting – you have the ability to unlock, build, and upgrade NPC squads.
Here I slotted my best ‘survivor’ (people that join you that you can’t directly control, unlike the Hero slot) but she did not have a leadership capability. I haven’t been able to deploy a squad yet and assuming that is part of the overall mission progression – so far they have introduced all mechanics of the games via missions. This really peaks my interest!
Now here is the meat and potatoes of much of the game and some of these parts will be expanding upon the Survivor and Hero menus I brought up earlier. First: Schematics!
Schematics are found / looted and they provide the recipes of weapons you can build in game – if you have the necessary components. Each Hero can wield 4 weapons (one of which is a resource gathering pickaxe) and each has ammo and durability. When the durability is zero the weapons is broken and you have to craft a new one. There is a ‘recycle’ feature on weapons so you can save some of the materials once the item is almost fully used but that is something you have to keep a close eye on. Even ammo has to be crafted and if you run out of ammo, and don’t have the resources to create that specific ammo for that weapon, you have no weapon! It is something you have to manage. The game keeps it interesting because sometimes you find a weapon in game but you do NOT have the schematic- meaning when the durability of that weapon hits zero you cannot recreate it. Its good to keep a varied amount of different schematics. As you can see, there are duplicates and you can ‘recycle’ a schematic to get weapon XP – which you can then use to upgrade the schematic. (See right side of picture above).
Here is a closeup of the legendary rocket launcher I have but I have not been able to create it in game yet – I haven’t found coal, of which is half the item. I am now always on the lookout for coal.
Defenders are another type of person you can add to missions with you if you want to play solo but need help. The downside is you have to equip the with weapons and they are not very ammo conservative. Someone suggested sticking to melee defenders only, but I haven’t explored using any yet. The early missions are very easy to get by.
Still on the Armory tab is the Survivors – of which, you can make squads out of. Which I haven’t been able to do yet.
Heroes, Survivors, and Defenders can all be leveled up. These give additional benefits and bonuses including new skills and abilities. I currently have around 30 Heroes, Survivors and Defenders – that is a LOT of upgrading potential. Of course, I tend to just pick my favourite ones and keep them rolling up in levels but the completionist in some people will struggle!
The last tab in the armory is the resources tab which holds various XP boosts for yourself, friends, teams, etc. I have been hoarding these for some reason. I really need to start using them. Overwhelmed yet? These are just the menu options! I haven’t even delved into gameplay yet. The next tab on the menu, Skills, really starts getting complex and deep.
There are different Tiers of both research and skills, and the next picture is a snapshot of *some* of the Tier 1 skill tree:
I couldn’t zoom out far enough to get the whole thing and have barely scratched the surface. The fact that there are four tiers to obtain is really blowing my mind.
The research tab seems a bit more manageable. The first tier, anyway.
Loot is fun in the sense that it is another loot box game, but they literally made them Pinatas. Not sure why Llamas. You get different currencies in game (and some with cash, more on that soon).
At least you actually get to swing and hit it too, although it takes no skill. It is a clever way to do a loot box. If you swing and it changes color that means the chance to get something better out of it improves. I have had a silver Llama (which is where I got my Legendary hero from) and they do switch what you are hitting with frequently. I’ve had a guitar, a pickaxe, and this hammer so far. Their eyes dart about before you hit them, which is kind of creepy – but it is a Llama so its ok, right?
Loot bounces up off the ground to see what you received and in this instance I finally got a Survivor Lead – so hoping putting her in the EMT squad will give me an option to do something with the squad.
Zooming in on her here to show they have different traits (curious, explorer) which is yet another thing to factor in.
The second last menu item, which has the most clarity of it all, is the store.
Epic games let you upgrade your founders pack (if you should want to) and also have a lot of early access ways to give them early access to your wallet. I haven’t felt the need to do this yet, having just plunked down $90 for two copies and I hope that the loot boxes are a luxury rather than a necessity. Time will tell.
The last tab is similar to the first page but shows all the quests you have available. I have had at most two so far but I am also doing quests that introduce the core concepts of the game and how to manage various resources.
Future posts will share gameplay experiences but I did want to demonstrate how much is already in this game – before you even play. There are so many systems and how they all balance and work together will be very interesting (and challenging for Epic Games, no doubt).
At the very minimum looking at this as a long term project – there is so much to do, to understand, and the game early on captures many different play styles that if monetized fairly, may be a hit. I am an early fan.
as always, click on photos to enlarge!
As I delve deeper and deeper into Paladins I have made the leap from casual Paladins player to forum poster. Forum poster started off fine, but has since graduated to game defender, common sense freedom fighter, and general anti-anger enthusiast.
Boy, did I get sucked in.
I am not sure what drove me to go to the forums in the first place but there I was, filling out a profile, selecting an avatar, and combing through the various sections on the boards. They make you use your in game name as your forum name so cross referencing games and performance is quite easy. This builds some semblance of justification of opinion (oh, you are complaining about Bomb King? I have 250 wins as BK! Look at my stats!) but in truth I appreciate it because it removes a small layer of anonymity that often fuels negative behaviour online. When it’s harder to hide who you are, it’s harder to act differently than you do “in real life”.
The fact that escapes so many on message boards / twitter / facebook (etc.) still shocks me. Especially on platforms that don’t use aliases. Either way, it’s all out there.
Paladins seems to use ELO as a ranking system and I am very familiar with ELO through League of Legends – which arguably is the “best” (most successful?) MOBA out there, and back when I did play seemed to be the shining light of how to do Free 2 Play. Bonus is that it also makes a ton of money. ELO is a grind – lose a match? -12 rating. Win a Match? +13. Because of the closeness of proximity of the scores (typically between 12 and 19) and with base ELOs around 1500 you quickly learn that it is a very long haul to climb the ladder. I actually agree with this system because it smooths out disconnects and general poor teammates/afk’s, etc. Sure, you might get a troll but chances are they are ranked low, so you only lose 12 rating. Next game, with the fully competent team you gain 15. I have played 25 “ranked” matches and have had a troll/purposely incompetent player/afk exactly one time. If it sticks to a 4% rate then this game will be spectacular. Using those small increments getting into the top tiers (4500 ELO) is in the hundreds of games – heck, the top two players have well over 1000 games played. I love that there is a third party website, Paladins.guru, that tracks all of this.
I am a bit confused because in game they have a competitive rating instead. Now I am not sure if ELO is thier system or that websites. I wish there was more clarity. Either way my point is how many people are arguing about the outliers of games that is “ruining” their ranking. The truth about ELO is that it works, and you are placed in the correct ranking when you win/lose 50% of your games. That is great balance. What players tend to forget is that if you are routinely seeing a specific type of player at a general skill level that means you are home. People do not like the ELO system because everyone thinks they are better than their results show they really are. I am not telling you anything new here at all, am I?
I didn’t mean for that comment to come off as passive/aggressive or anything, but trying to illustrate facts to people when emotion are removed from it all. The other, frequent commonality I see on the boards are with nerfs “Thanks DEVELOPER for dropping my damage by 2% This means I am TRASH and now I am QUITTING!” To these I normally get this kind of responses.
I end up having to say this alot. Repetitively. it’s a common misconception that nerfing one character is bad for the game. It is good, it makes it more fun for everyone else who is sick and tired of facing the same overpowered champion again and again. If you are that good with that champion, it might be for a reason (other than you are an elite, master gamer at 1200 ELO).
And of course, when people get angry and attack other forum posters for their counter opinion, and how theirs is more important than everyone else’s:
Needless to say I have been down this road before (ie: every other forums I have participated on in one way or anvother since the late 90s) but this time it feels a bit different. Like I am a wise, old soothsayer dispensing emotionless truth to the needed masses. Or something far less modest and it’s just a Zen like way to kill time. An out of game grind.
I care about my results in ranked (which is where you are supposed to try) but am absolutely getting killed in Casual play for two reasons. First is because I have decided I am going to play every champion to level 6. That takes about three hours of play. Some champions I am just terrible at, so that makes it a long three hours. Still, I do improve but some I just don’t gel with well and once I get to 6 may never play again. The second reason is because few people want to play Front Line and Support, when I am not playing those (which I prefer) it usually means we have a poor team composition. Which makes playing the other roles I am already not that great at that much harder.
This game absolutely destroys Overwatch in terms of flavor, strategy, champion design, in game skill adjustment, builds (etc.). I don’t even understand how OW is still in business when you compare the two. It’s like Vanilla ice cream (OW) vs a full banana split with three kinds of ice creams, chocolate and caramel sauce smothered all over it, and cashews, chocolate chops, and little pieces of peanut butter cups on top. There is no comparison from the amount I have played of each. I hope it has a strong, bright future.
My posting on the forums will no doubt support that.
I am a Paladins fan. I couldn’t enjoy Overwatch and found it entirely bland and boring. Paladins, on the other hand, has depth, strategy, customization and challenge. I have started to flesh out my champions experience and availability quite well. Here is my level with each:
Players get ‘free’ Radiant chests at level one, four and six so to really maximize your opportunity (with better cards, skins, etc.) it makes sense to have level 6 as a goal for all champions. You need several at level 4 to get into competitive so the extra two levels isn’t that much harder. I still have a lot of work to do although I have firmly sorted out that I am only good at two roles – Front Line and Flanking. I can service as a support but do not seem to excel at it. The good news for me is that the ‘meta’ for team composition is two Front Line, one Support, and two Damage and few people want to play Front Line so I pretty much always get to do it. It takes around three hours to get to level 6 so on that basis alone with 28 champs is a lot of game play. Of course this also skews my stats because playing my best champions I have nice stats – constantly learning and jumping between champions takes away the comfort and skill level. The good news is there are two game modes (Casual and Ranked) so I use my good champions for ranked and learning champions for casual. (Sorry, casual players).
Inara is my favourite and I am climbing the ELO ladder in ranked with her. She doesn’t have a lot of flash and her skills are mostly about staying alive which isn’t glorified gameplay for those who want to shine. It is more of an unsung hero type champion which suits me just fine. In a world of Overwatch, I am a big Paladins fan. It’s a fantastic shooter and I hope it can continue to iterate and improve (it is currently in Beta).
Battletech – Backer’s Beta
Battletech has always been a pen and paper game that should have translated into an even better game on the computer. We have a slew of FPS style games with MechWarrior series but not a pure or true translation. This game plans on being more of that. Tesh and I have been talking about the need for this game going on 6-7 years.
It was always known as a very ‘math’ game to work on so using the processing power of a computer should enhance the gaming experience. Early stages are promising but some of the current limitations (4 mechs regardless of budget, map size, etc.) keeps the game really focused. I think there are some opportunities to expand on this to make the game really exciting but it is very early so will give time to see how it develops. Currently you can only play against the computer, there isn’t a ton of customization options, and a map selection of 4. Looking forward to seeing this title expand and grow, and the company (Harebrained Schemes) had some great titles with the Shadowrun series which gives high hopes. Inserting a gallery here of a ton of screenshots of some gameplay for those interested!
(click on any part of the gallery above to get it rolling!)
I continue to play games that aren’t that popular but that I thoroughly enjoy – which tends to limit engagement and page views – thankfully I don’t do this for a living =)
I did a video. My mic was off, so you don’t get to hear me speak but if you are curious about the gameplay or anything of that nature it’s a fun Siege match that goes to 4 points. 1 point for capturing the objective, and 1 for the payload status (if you get it to the end point you get another point, if it is successfully defended the other team gets a point.) This was one of those “wow, we really kicked butt in the first round – I should record this!” thoughts and then I did decide to record it. And then of course the inevitable happened.
Without voice it does lack my paladin-splaining on much of what is going on but I do think most of it is self explanatory. I’ve never been one for streaming or recording and this won’t change much but thought it would be fun for a nice change of pace. I am playing Ying, a fun, illusion based healer.
I love lists and plans and serial gaming – and Paladins really helps with that. I make enough in game gold playing a character to level 5 to buy another character (more or less, so it seems) and that has been my plan. I have one of each type (Flanker, Front Line, Damage, Support) in the leveling process to 5 at any time and I fill the hole most needed for the team. Once they hit 5 I buy another champion of that category and start again. Rinse, repeat. Like most matchmaking games, perfect matchmaking would have you win / lose at 50% of the time when you hit the level where you belong. Much like League of Legends, Paladins uses the ELO system. There is also a really handy third party website (paladins.guru) that pulls your stats.
How am I doing by role?
My flanker win rate was much higher until I started leveling a flanker (Lex) without invisibility or a more clear escape mechanism. I was trending in the 70%+, but coming back down to earth. Not as many players pick support or front lines and I happen to really enjoy both roles. Sometimes in the Front Line role I get stuck playing WITHOUT a healer often which really makes the W/L hard there. Front Liners do not have a lot of built in sustain where a support / healer can still shine healing a bunch of damage dealers. I really suck in the Damage role and I think that is because I lack map awareness. As a Front Liner lacking map awareness is less deadly as you can take a few hits before going down. Support can often heal themselves at least once before it happens. Flankers have escape mechanisms. Damage are more of the sitting ducks and if you get caught on a flank or not paying attention you are a goner. It is also the quickest locked-in role so I don’t get to practice as much. I have a feeling I will have maxed out all the Support and Front Lines before I truly get to dig into the Damage class.
Here is my overall playtime, Win Loss, and K/D/A. Reading this tells me I should still climb to a bit higher of competitive level. It also isn’t a pure indication as I am constantly learning new champions.
I love data. Here are the champs I have been using and how I have done with each:
Based on my previous comment about constantly learning new champions if all I played was Skye, Grover, and Ying it looks like I would be 23-10 with lots of room to climb. Still, I firmly believe that you can’t learn to beat a champion unless you have walked 5 levels in their shoes and I plan on continuing just that. You also get a lot more chests by leveling up (there is an overall level tied to you, and a mastery level tied to each champion) so it’s a quicker and easier path to new cards, skins, and other opportunities for growth. As you can see it takes around 2 hours of playtime to get one to mastery level 5. You need 12 champions level 4 or higher to take part in competitive, so some time left in casual before I can start playing with the big kids.
The business model isn’t bad, but not great either. My most interested part is building out new decks to customize and personalize the champions for gameplay. That costs essence, of which you can only get by getting duplicate cards. Building a legendary card costs 12,000 essence (which fundamentally changes the way a champion plays, and is hella fun) and you get between 250-500 essence per duplicate card. New to the game, I do not get a lot of duplicate cards, meaning I could probably play another month or so before really getting to the point where every card is essence based. There is no way to buy essence – I find that a miss and have since learned that it never existed in the game before open beta 42 or 44. This tells me that the company was not happy with the profitability and are trying to find creative ways to change that.
There are few ways to spend money. The first is $19.99 to unlock all current and future champions. I like keeping focused on my unlocks as it forces me to practice and learn champions as I go. You can buy crystals which you can ‘boost’ your character with, gaining faster XP, money, extra cards on unlocks, etc. I hate the way they do boosts because it is done on a time basis (7 or 14 days) and I feel like I would not be able to maximize my time under boost so I wouldn’t get the same value. I would probably buy a boost if it were for a set number of matches, for example.
Crystals also unlock special skins – some are crystals only while others are gold or crystals. You can also upgrade keys to your Radiant Chests to enhance them, giving you a better chance of getting something spiffy. At the end of the day right now I find myself wanting to give Hi-Rez some well earned cash but not sure where to spend it to feel good, so I am just holding onto it until something becomes clear. I don’t want to buy a skin yet for a character I am only playing for 5 levels – and for the record, in all the loot boxes I have earned i have only received one armor piece (a chest, for Ash, a character I don’t play yet. There are skins and armor sets so you can get weapon, body, or head upgrades).
I think I would spend more if the business model was more like League of Legends (who does F2P the best, in my opinion) as of right now I am still trying to understand the relative values between the currencies and opportunities. The good news is, I am just having a ton of fun with this game and I will continue to play it until such time I can sort out how to support it financially.
Sometimes, I get it right. Every once and awhile I go read an old post – this is normally because someone else read it and it got a hit and I try to see what lead them to that post. Here is the paragraph from what I wrote in 2008
A side thought to this is to change the MMO subscription model a bit while introducing leasing. Drop the “magical” $14.99 per month sub tag to a lower number, and start selling gold to your own players. That way everyone wins. People who want instant items without the lease (and the gold on hand) can buy it from the MMO company. The people who do, subsidise everyone’s subscription fee so the ones who don’t pay a smaller monthly fee. Company wins from increased revenues. Playerbase wins from decreased costs.
I wrote that way back in 2008. in this post, about a stupid idea about leasing items but hey, is that close enough to say ” I called it?”
Probably not. But for a brief moment it made me feel like writing here all of these years hasn’t been a complete waste. And yes, I barely remember writing it.
(click on pictures to see big ones in new windows, I know my frames are small.)
The initial title of “Team shooter perfected” was a bit of a click-bait title and I am far too early in on my Paladins journey to give it that much credit this early. They are well on their way, however, and have definitely solidified themselves as my favorite entry into this genre and deservedly so. Of course, before talking about the present, let’s talk about the past.
I played team shooters back when it was real tough. Rainbow six had message board ladders (nothing in game for rankings, matchmaking, etc.) and a punishing play style. I did do a lot of Counter Strike back in the day as well. Then, for years, there was nothing. I skipped Team Fortress 2 for the most part (which I suspect most would argue is the true inspiration for the new group of bright and cartoony team shooter offerings) and when I did try to get into it the matchmaking was so poor and everyone else was so far ahead of me that I couldn’t find fun or get a foothold. I spent years not playing small map team based shooters, and instead stuck the to the Battlefield 2142’s and Project Reality’s of the world.
My son started playing Overwatch with his friends and in true Blizzard fashion it looked slick, interesting, and fun. I tried to get into it myself only to find things a bit bland for my tastes as well as matchmaking being completely broken (when you are level 14 playing against a guy who is level 314 you know there are issues.) So much clutter onthe screen, claustrophobic maps, lack of customization options and enemies that were just so good it also felt like there was no chance to catch up (already) and that things just weren’t “fair”. Add to the whole buy + microtransactions model that I fundamentally disagree with I just didn’t stick with Overwatch. It wasn’t terrible but just wasn’t a place I wanted to dedicated any more time learning in or trying to have fun in after 20 hours of ‘meh’ gameplay. I gave it a fair chance.
Enter Izlain, and his recommendation for Paladins – the F2P team shooter option from Hi-Rez Studios, and it does everything that Overwatch doesn’t and then some. I have over 7 hours played and this is my new go to game. So much to discover, to unlock. So much fun. While it isn’t a huge departure from what we know (and what is popular) it does have some neat options which make it a bit more complex and fun. Let’s talk about those after a general explanation about how the game works.
Like most team based shooters there are a lot of different champions. In Paladins they are split into four groups – Damage, Front Line, Support, and Flank. Those are self explanatory for the most part (Damage, Tank, Heal, Light Armor Damage). There are four modes currently (three standard, and a new one being tested) and they are also very similar:
- Payload (moving an object from a starting point to an ending point). Swap from offence to Defence. 1 point for objective, need 2 of 3 to win the round.
- Siege (battling for a position on a map, which, once won spawns a Payload phase). Need 4 points to win. 1 point for securing the objective, 1 for the payload.
- Team Elimination (die once, no respawn) first team to 5 full team eliminations wins.
- Onslaught (control point time + kills). Game is over when the total points hits a threshold.
They are all fun. The maps are varied. Where Paladins truly wins is in the customization. First, characters – you don’t only have different weapons and outfits to equip, you can fundamentally change the way a character plays using the card based system. Here is the best example of this, with Skye.
Skye is flanker. The flanking play style revolves around sneaking around the back (or side, literally, flanking) and while big heavies and damage dealers are focusing on an objective swoop in and cause havoc from a different angle. Skye has a stealth on a high cooldown (15 seconds). This ability has huge gameplay ramifications as it gives you the freedom to move around the map. The first three cards are the legendary cards and you must choose one before the match. The picture above shows the new card I built (you can loot them or spend in game resources) which changed her default gameplay style from “Do 30% more damage to enemies hit by poison bolts” (secondary attack) to “Reduce all cooldowns by 100% when getting a kill or elimination”.
Totally different playstyle. Striking from the shadows, and immediately entering back into the shadows, versus applying a shred that can take down even the tankiest of enemies fast, but far more exposed. The third legendary option for Skye is an Alpha strike option, doing 300 more damage on the first hit out of stealth. So, now you have a themed character that you can change to better suit a map or playstyle you prefer. The other cards allow you to further personalize your abilities. I am going to use Ying, my first support character, as the example here.
Ying heals by creating illusions of herself that cast heals every second to the most injured team member in their range. They are stationary. Her other abilities are to swap positions with her furthest away illusion (escape), do damage, and “shatter’ her illusions – they charge the nearest enemy and then blow up. It is a really fun kit and I am having the most fun healing with her. With all characters you get to select up to 5 cards, and use 12 points (you can improve each card – so if one says increase health by 100 as a base, you can spend three additional points and make that 400. As an example) to make your character yours.
Here is the base Ying.
This impacts her gameplay.
- Spring Bloom (4) Illusions are on a 5 second timer, and have health. If one dies the counter goes down 2 seconds faster.
- Squadron (4) Her illusions are a lot beefier with 4 points (+400 health)
- Disappear (1) Ying can move faster out of combat with a 7% movement speed increase (and if you added a point there, would most likely be 14% faster).
- Efficiency (1) Reduces the cooldown of Dimensional Link (the teleport swap skill) by 1s.
- Tangible (2), increases personal health by 100 (Tangible 1 would have been 50. It moves it very round numbers).
This kit its focusing on personal and illusion survivability with good movement. It’s the base Ying everyone plays. I found that I was ‘shattering’ (exploding) my illusions a lot and that if someone got in my face and I teleport swapped then they would kill the illusion. I also wanted more than one illusion up at a time effectively I loved the theme and mood of Ying but wanted to create a playstyle that was a bit different. This is what I came up with:
- Mesmerism (3) increases the range where you can deploy illusions by 30% (Now I can stay safer and further away)
- Squadron (2) increases health by 200 (I didn’t need 400 because I was blowing them up a lot anyway to do damage)
- Rewind (1) swapping to the spot of a dead illusion spawns an illusion with 25% health (great emergency heal escape if low)
- Carry On (4) – your illusions last 4 sec longer (now I can layer them better)
- Spring Bloom (2) – when illusions die to an enemy reduce the cooldown of illusions by 1 sec (get them back up faster)
I absolutely loved the new deck, and my first game, kicks some nice butt with it too. There are a few tweaks I might use (taking a point off of Carry On and adding it to Spring Bloom) but that is what is great about this game – you can make the champions your own in a controlled environment.
Here was the results of my first game with Ying v2.0
Remember, Ying is a support/healer. I had the highest kill streak, most objective time (escorting the payload), comparable damage, and only healing in the game. My 11/4/13 KDA outshone most of my team (who were all playing pure damage dealers). It was a great round for me.
The customization doesn’t start there. In game you can also customize your champion further based on who you are facing in game and how the match is going, through an in game item store – of which, you score points during the match and then spend. Remember that Skye I told you about, that could stealth after every kill and is a great harasser? A skilled player could see that happening and adjust in game to better deal with her by buying the Illuminate skill (increase range you detect stealthed characters). If Ying’s illusions are taking you down during shatters get the Blast Shields – they lower AOE damage. If your support isn’t healing, buy Life Rip – which gives your damage a leech effect. Against some big tanky front lines with shields? Wrecker takes those down fast. The item shop gives you more options to strategically support your success. It is pure awesome. You can lower cooldowns, increase ultimate charge, lower healing on players you did damage to – all sorts of steady states. It is limited to one item per line (Defence, Utility, Healing, Offense) but you can also upgrade the item in the same category for more money. When I was trying to increase my illusion uptime on Ying I would go with level 3 Chronos builds (30% cooldown reduction).
There are a lot of other topics of discussion to discuss about Paladins and I will more deeply explore them – it is my definite new go to game for the forseeable future. If you feel like picking it up (it’s free) add me as a friend and I’d love to learn the game with you. My in game name is “Founts”. Looking forward to exploring and understanding this title better – and already absolutely in love with it.
There was something very disturbing and satisfying ripping an opponents head and spine out in Mortal Kombat. It was a fun arcade based past time when you put in a quarter and beat the snot out of your friend. I also fondly remember emptying my bank account (at an actual bank, for cash. Had to stand in line, talk to a human being, everything!) and running to the local gaming store to buy my Super Nintendo, arcade-joystick emulator, and Street Fighter. Running home and playing for 12 hours straight against Darryl, a friend of mine. Oh, the glory days of youth and fighting games. I did not remember the last one I played until I bought Injustice 2.
I was on the fence about it. I read overwhelmingly positive reviews about it. I never played the original Injustice, I have always preferred Marvel over DC and memorizing complex combos that had to be executed flawlessly and twitch-quickly hasn’t been my cup of tea for years. Still, my newfound interest in Green Lantern coupled with my newfound love for Wonder Woman, with a dash of a discovered $80 Best Buy card lead me to the purchase choice. And let me tell you, I am not disappointed. Quite the opposite, elated!
The graphics and gameplay are really fun. The heroes are varied, interesting, and exciting. The differences between them are immense but how you play them is not always – for example, L1 is a grab move (for everyone). Of course, everyone’s grab move is completely different. This gives some consistency on how to execute moves and the variety between superheroes keeps it fresh. The PVE mode (which is all I have played) is really great. First, there is a story mode. Yes, a fighting game story mode and quite surprisingly the story is pretty good. I am not even half way through the story mode and each chapter has you using new superheroes and learning them as fighters first, but some flavor and attitude as well. The second PVE mode is the Multiverse – these are small, PVE challenges that change based on which earth your are visiting and they are extremely varied and most that I have done have been incredibly fun.
I haven’t played against any human beings yet. I am going to finish the Story Mode first as this has introduced me slowly to all sorts of heroes allowing me to understand various strengths and weaknesses of each. I fully expect to get destroyed online by leet chillins.
It has been a fresh revisit to a gaming category I thought I was done with. The best part is the incremental growth nature of it – you get a lot of “Mother Boxes” by doing your favorite activities and each reward 1-4 pieces of gear of varying rarity. This is a complete crap shoot (I have 12 pieces for Catwoman, someone I have only played in the Story Mode) but each piece has a unique look and unique stats and this allows you to mix and match your costumes for both maximum efficiency AND maximum coolness. Bonus points is that you can transmogrify a look into a higher piece so if you find something you absolutely love you can carry it with you. Only downside to this system is that the gear is level locked regardless of what level you get it, and you have to wait to use some of them until you are the appropriate level.
I’m smitten. It’s a fantastic game and comes highly recommended for anyone who loves the genre, but also for someone who wants to try something out of their comfort zone – or revisit some old (but new) stomping grounds of a genre of misspent youth.
I am not big on social media. I have a couple twitter accounts (of which, my tagline is “consumer of tweets” – I read there but don’t engage. I don’t like the platform). I do have Facebook which chronicles my life in positive facing, bite sized pieces. I tried Snapchat for oh, a week – and still get ‘snaps’ from some people and rounding out all of that is my Instagram account, of which, I have very little of myself in there but a lot of what I look at. I have different opinions about all of the platforms and the two I like the most are IG and FB.
Facebook is easy, because I wish my grandpa (and his grandpa) had Facebook so I could go back and look at the amazing things they did in their lives. While you get told a lot of these stories as kids, seeing and living them would be so much better. It is kind of a diary of your life.
Instagram I like because I am a visual person. I find recipes there, get workout tips, etc. etc. Now, I don’t know the rules of Instagram but I always did some simple things, such as follow for follow. If someone follows me, I follow them back. I held true on this except in two regards – clear spam only accounts, and porn accounts. At first I was shocked at the number of naked Russian women that wanted to follow me on Instagram. They don’t get the follow back. I even started reporting these accounts to Instagram, an annoying process due to the frequency of them and after a while I just stopped to bother reporting – firstly, because they need to find a better way to stop these accounts to begin with (sheer volume of them indicate the seriousness of the problem) and secondly, like most companies, they don’t tell you the results of the notification.
Until now. And let me tell you, HALLELUJIAH!
Instagram is now my most favourite social media platform. I am tired of the excuses by Blizzard and other big companies when I report people for harassment, racism, cheating (etc.) that they hide behind the veil that they can’t share the action on the account. Of course they can. And they should. Every time. They just don’t want to because they don’t want to cut off their revenue streams. It is inconvenient when some of your big spenders may also happen to be harassers, racists and homophobes, and who take joy in ruining the experience of others through non-gaming methods. I know it is expensive to build a stronger community in terms of technology and manpower but it is worth it. Invest in good people playing your game.
I had stopped reporting to IG because there was no feedback, and now that there is, you can bet I will more often and with great enthusiasm. I will help ensure spam and illegal accounts don’t exist. I will do it frequently. I will do it for free. It is a wonderful win/win.
I think MMO (especially) and gaming companies should take a page out of this book and start sharing when they get rid of community detractors. We need to make common decency commonplace in our virtual worlds. That happens by clearly demonstrating acceptable behavior in words and actions. Currently, most just share the words part.
Side note – If you have Instagram you also need the ‘Unfollowers’ app. It tells you when people un-follow you. This is particularly useful for the “follow for follow” crowd. People do this to get their numbers up and then unfollow you a few days later. You have no clue who does that, but that app is completely free and helps you keep track of those sorts of things.
Wonder Woman was a very powerful movie. I tried for a bit to sort out why I felt that way. It has been a rough few weeks. I went in hopeful after reading some good reviews, and left it feeling great. It felt like WW was the first shot at building a superhero movie around love. I am not Mr. Sappy pants and I love me the clever humour in the Marvel Universe as much as the darker, more serious tones in the DC Universe. Wonder Woman cut out the jokes, and the darkness, and brought an awesome movie around doing what is right, love and nurturing.
In someways an innocent girl growing into womanhood seemed a bit cliche as she discovered the world as it is for the first time, but I felt the writing and directing did it enough justice by keeping her learning of the world and society intelligent and based on discovery and wonder instead of immature silliness or stupidity. It felt like they did her justice. They didn’t even use the words Wonder Woman in the entire movie which as a modern day macho man feels like a condescending term created in the 40’s due to lack of creativity (it was, right?)
Of course, coming from a man, I honestly have no clue if women feel the same way on feminist themes and discussion around the film. I read the UN took away Wonder Woman’s Ambassador status because of her sexualized nature and unattainable body image.
Outside of all the good there was one scene that I did not agree with and I am putting a picture up AS A SPOILER ALERT (stop reading here if you haven’t seen the movie)
Ok. Here it goes.
The scene where it is implied that she had sex with Mr. Trevor. I mean, she just went full on goddess-beast mode and took down the top of a church with her shield charge. He was not worthy. He knew it. the audience knew it. She had to have known it. I suspect they did it to further explain her connection with humans and why love was enough value to save mankind, and perhaps a woman may have viewed her losing her virginity (to the first man she met?!) as some sort of rite of passage or necessity to be more human – I just felt like it took away from the story instead of adding to it. But what do I know. Either way, it was a minor thing, and the only small gripe I had with it.
The irony here is that the movie actually had a real world effect on me. I struggle foundationally with the world and how humans are basically slaves to their jobs for the majority of their lives – many of which are just to survive. Ironically, I am a capitalist and make great money (and also pay well with many benefits for my teams) but consumerism as a purpose to live doesn’t jive with me. It’s okay for things to change, but I am a romantic at heart in one regard – there has to be more to life than work. It doesn’t always feel that way and the structures and systems that keep the common person down are bigger and stronger than ever. At times, I wonder if it is even worth it – the insignificance of human life as part of the 7+ billion person ecosystem. I know people say the human connections make it worthwhile – and I see that in my son – as I have already sold myself on the idea that my new adventure is ensuring he gets to have better ones than I did, or ever will – but at the end of the day most of us will never be remembered and will not do anything of grand significance outside of the family we may have. And with society seemingly getting worse and more impersonal (and violent, and uncaring) it just feels like a shitty world to be a part of. This has been my struggle, and that of a general introvert made/makes it feel even more lonely sometimes. Sorry for the dose of sunshine here, just typing my thoughts as they come.
(Edit: After re-reading that paragraph it was pretty ‘sad’, but not a cry for help. Just an emotional tangent.)
Wonder Woman, by the end of the movie, had given me a different perspective that maybe the small things are enough – and they really have to be – but I didn’t really feel that way prior to the movie. When the three friends, out of bullets, and ready to die huddled around each other and hugged there was a certain beauty in it. One that made me think I could better translate that into my real life. It’s so strange to me that this movie actually had a noticeable positive impact on my view of the world and my small part in it.
A superhero movie. Who would have thought it.
My son and all of his friends play Overwatch. Typically that style of first person shooter (spammy, jumpy, TF2-ish is probably a fair description) has never been high on my list. And yet, I find myself playing it. The oddity of this isn’t the fact that I am playing it (I play all sorts of games) but the fact that I am playing it and still haven’t figured out if I like it or not. It is a strange beast. After 10 hours or so and getting into online matchmaking there are some things I know I DISLIKE about it, but I am having a hard time putting my finger on the things that I DO like about it.
I dislike that you can change characters upon death. While that makes sense for matchmaking purposes, I find that it helps the winning team more. As soon as you switch thinking you are bringing a counter to the table to balance it out more the other side just does the same thing. There is no strategy behind this and it becomes a guessing game of who is going to pick who. I would change this to the losing side can only change at any given time (to balance it out) or not have it change at all. Of course, the game is not up for changing something as fundamental as that design choice. It is pushing me away from the game. I yearn for a mode like League of Legends where people pick one at a time and stick with it.
I also dislike the lack of customization options. The skins, for the most part, are just re-coloration on the low end and things like tags and voice lines you don’t get to really enjoy. If you stop to check out a cool tag you are dead, plain and simple. If you are paying attention to interesting or fun in game speak you are dead. The game is too fast and spammy to enjoy the majority of the loot box items – emotes, voice overs, and tags. The only weapon customization that I have seen is golden guns which feels like a HUGE miss.
I dislike the lack of strategy. Things happen so fast that there is no time to work out any sort of fundamental strategy outside of spam here and spam there. Objectives are won and lost so quickly that it’s simply run back, try to find a group, and spam/shoot away. I know you are probably thinking “well duh, that’s the beauty of it!” but I don’t see it that way. I wish there was more to it but it feels very shallow in so many ways.
And yet, I play it. I don’t know if it fits in mindless zen grinding for loot boxes territory (which I do like, actually, but think you should get one for every match – not level – as a B2P game it’s a bit crappy) or the semblance of semi interesting characters (albeit devoid of story or purpose). There is definitely some sort of hook to it that I just can’t put my finger on. Maybe someday soon I can explain, if I continue playing it.
Enter the competitor, Paladins.
Izlain over at Me Myself and I made a post that included Paladins and when I checked out some reviews and videos it hits a lot of the check boxes of things I dislike about Overwatch. Player is locked in for the match, but they are further customized by cards you collect as well as in game gear you can buy (much like League of Legends). There is a loot box pathway in the game that doesn’t also charge you a box fee. The gameplay and characters also look varied semi interesting. I also have nothing to lose by trying it, so I will. Will be interesting to comp the two.
Bonus here, as a PS4 noob that I could get the game and download it to my home PS4 from the PS store in my browser at work. I didn’t realize it had that functionality and quite frankly, that is awesome. I was honestly thinking that I wished I could do that from here, and tried it for the heck of it, and sure enough it worked. Makes so much sense and removed another barrier to purchase. This could end up being a costly and dangerous feature for me.
What do you think? Do you play either? What do you love about it? I am going to continue to explore this further and any tips or suggestions would be helpful.
Hot off the heels of me ranting about the ridiculousness of the base premise of Destiny – I am happy to report I spent most of my rainy, Canadian long weekend playing Destiny. It is not hypocritical to me because as a PVE shooter it is a wonder and a beauty to behold. Which is why I think I get ever so frustrated with the invincible zombie premise. If you are in no danger of dying, as per the video last post, then you are in no danger of losing. Which means just keep dying and pushing through and eventually you will win. There is not a good story premise – it takes out any sort of drama from it. It is a foregone conclusion, story wise. Just keep eating brains, immortal zombie.
Man, is it ever such a great game if you ignore that part though. I started the weekend at 320(ish) light level and got to 385. A lot of zen grind in there and I loved every minute. I just had to suspend the provided story and create my own. At 385 the gear grind gets very tight (as a non raider) as only purple engrams (the drops that loot-box into items) give upgrades. And each is giving a 386-387. Which means the going from here on out is just going to get tough and in tiny increments. With the Destiny 2 beta coming in the summer and the game itself in less than four months there isn’t a ton of desire to get to 400. We will lose everything anyway. Still, with being uninspired by other games right now – and not having a “go to” game – it is filling fun gaming time nicely.
I am now working on my Titan. Of which, I suspect will be my “main” again in Destiny 2. They redid the sub-classes for D2 and the Defender Titan will now have a Void shield (a la Captain America) which they can use not unlike the Captain – blocking things, chucking it to bounce in between enemies and the like. With the armor style above it is not hard to imagine an Iron Man / Captain America combo. It looks like a blast. I hope it plays as fun as it looks.
I have never played this, up until last night. My son (now 12) plays it with his friends. I was never a big fan of Team Fortress 2 and other spammy shooters but watching him play a lot made me curious to check it out. I only played against AI to sort through the various characters available and it wasn’t bad shooting mechanics wise but there is so much going on and so little feedback I felt quite lost for some time. For example – I was playing a healer who had the ultimate skill to ressurect any dead team members in the vicinity – but I couldn’t find anywhere if team members were dead. You should have a team profile in a corner somewhere to show who is dead and/or alive, and where they are. At one point it DID tell me two were dead and I am not sure if I missed it the first time or whatnot – so I hit it and it worked, but I was very confused by it. I played bots on Easy and Medium and was fine, got some nice kill streaks and won rounds (as you should against AI, right?) As soon as I put the AI match to ‘hard’ we got destroyed. Utterly and completely. I felt very inadequate.
My son did tell me he struggles against those bots too, which was oddly comforting coming from a twelve year old.
I am not sure if I am going to continue much – I will try my hand with online play against ‘evenly matched’ humans and if the fact I am a year behind is grossly evident (even at same level) there isn’t much hope of me sticking with it. I know from other shooters high ranking players get bored and start new characters just to auto-faceroll noobs like me. Hopefully Blizzard has solved that problem (which would be VERY EASY to solve) but if not it’s fine – but whether I buy it on PC or not depends on my PS4 experience.
Side stepping games – I love the Green Lantern. This is odd because I grew up a Marvel ‘guy’ and didn’t spend much time, effort or money in the DC universe. I do not know where I became interested in Green Lantern but I do remember being in a local hobby/gaming store and seeing “The Sinestro Corps” graphic novel – of which, I heard was quite well done. I bought it and read it – and it IS quite well done. Now I have the desire to learn more and become more deeply involved in the Green Lantern lore. This lead me to thinking of buying other, critically acclaimed graphic novels (Blackest Night) but also look at gaming options. First, and most obvious – is DCUO – a game I have never played. I have installed it but have not fired it up yet (on PC). I have googled tutorials on how to build a Green Lantern character but have also read that you have to buy an expansion first in able to do so. I had this same issue with the Warden class in Lord of The Rings Online – the one character type I was most interested in playing was gated behind an expansion of which, I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy because I wanted to play that character to BEGIN with to decide if I was going to invest in the game. It took me years (literally) to make that decision in LOTRO and I finally broke down and bought the expansion on a big sale to get the Warden. It still remains the only reason why I am considering playing LOTRO, and the biggest motivator for me to dip my toe into DCUO. I am not sure if that is a fair expectation on good old Hal Jordan.
The second option is Injustice 2 – the fighting game from the DC Universe which as been reviewed incredibly well – so much so that when I went to go buy it at Best Buy they were sold out of the PS4 version. I didn’t buy it online because I have a $70 GC from Best Buy and wanted to use it for that, so I have held off. I have not played Injustice 1 and I am still mildly hesitant to buy a game for a single character that may be a terrible experience as anyway.
That is where I find myself at odds – I am making great money and in a part of my life where I have the most disposable cash ever – but am less likely to part with it on odd grounds – on principle, rather than on reason. Perhaps that is a sign I am getting old. Maybe just unreasonable. Maybe a little from column A and column B.
I still don’t have “that game” right now so remain in an uncomfortable position (like the back of a volkswagon? – bonus points if you know where that is from) of bouncing around half interested in various games, all loaded and ready for me to enjoy at my whim. In the past week I have logged into and/or played (in no particular order or reason) – GW2, LOTRO, EQ, Destiny, The Division and have loaded up many more in the background – Wildstar, DCUO, EQ2. I don’t do well playing the field and need to commit soon for maximum enjoyment. When is Secret World Legends out again?
Destiny is a game that I loved everything about except the story. I made a ton of fun of the story. It ate me apart from the inside just thinking about it. Trying to understand the story was equal to drinking a bottle of acid. Maybe it goes down okay in the first instant, but the longer it goes the worse it gets for you – and quickly. It breaks down all the systems and organs that make you live, until you are just a hollow, former shell of a human being. Destiny is, without a doubt, the best PVE shooter out there right now. It does a lot right – pretty much everything! (except the story. Did I mention that?)
Hello, Destiny 2. You can get better! Guess how?! Re-read my first mini paragraph and take that wild guess. I am not even going to dignify it by making it rhetorical. I have faith in you dear reader.
Let’s start with a really nice origin story for one of the lead NPC characters in the game.
I made fun of the plot of Destiny because basically you are a zombie. I suspected that the true twist in the story is that we are the bad guys – the evil zombies and the rest of the galaxy is trying to rid us of our ways. I have a whole post about it here, complete and using grimoire entries to try and make sense of it all.
I never once suspected we were immortal zombies. Yes, immortal zombies. That is what Destiny 2 and the video above is showing.
Have you heard anything quite so stupid lately? (In before you say yes because you read my posts here. Touche.)
But really. Watch the video. Guy comes back to life. Gets killed. Left there. Brought back to life. Gets killed. Left there. Brought back to life…
Now, I know that the enemies are some sort of sentient life – they can fight, they stand upright, they communicate, they build and fly space ships, advanced technology, etc…. so we can agree there is some semblance of intelligence. They also know about the zombie (Guardian) outbreak because they have been fighting them for years. So here is a tip. If you know that walking away from a zombie without cutting it up into little pieces, destroying the brain, burning it into little ashes, etc. that it is just going to come back and kill you, then why walk away?
I know games try to build believable stories about how you die in games and come back. Instead of spelling out the immortal zombie theatrics in an expensive CGI narrative, just have the Guardian brought back to life once, chosen. That is a cool backstory about being selected. If death happens then just rewind to where you were still alive (the save game state, waypoint, etc.) and try again. In game – story wise – you never did die. Game wise and player wise, you did, but how in the heck are you supposed to explain how you were blown to bits, and reappeared near the same spot at the same (or similar) moment in time? The Player is supposed to learn from their mistakes and take their redo, and just imagine that they didn’t die in the first place.
Or, I guess, you could just be an immortal zombie.
Take your pick.
I do not watch a lot of TV. I find I get interested in some shows and find them really well done, and get engaged in early seasons. Eventually, and pretty much always, writers on the show change, TV studios realize they have a hit and do everything they can to stretch out what might have been a 3 year planned show into a 5-8 year planned show for commercial purposes. In TV the longer a show goes the more the show provides revenue – and more often, the lower quality it becomes. It is rare that I am gripped by a TV show. I currently only watch one regularly, a comedy (New Girl) which will have it’s final season next year. Besides that I watch sports or documentaries. I prefer to be engaged in my entertainment which is why I play video games.
I started watching 13 Reasons Why on a rainy day after I read about the controversy. If you haven’t heard of it the premise is simple: a high school girl kills herself but before doing so records 13 tape recordings. Each tape is about a person who helped push her towards this decision. The tapes were meant to be listened to in order by the people she put on the tapes – so the first person to receive the tapes was meant to listen to all 13, and then pass on the tapes to the person on tape two, who would listen to them all and then pass them on to the tape three subject person, and so on, until all 13 people heard all 13 tapes. The show is told through the perspective of Clay, who has a tape, as he listens and explores what happened. I am not going to give plot spoilers here directly but will be talking about general themes about it, briefly.
Through the first seven episodes I found it interesting and worth continuing. It was fascinating to read about experts and schools tear the show apart for glorifying suicide when I watched it from two very different perspectives. One was that of a parent and the show did not hide the the many “signs” of a struggling youth. It did it in a very clever way, through Hannah’s tapes (who we know from the outset did end up committing suicide) but also through Clay’s behavior as the tapes and their content change him, his habits, and actions. The viewer knows Clay isn’t suicidal but to a parent much of how he is acting is similar to that of Hannah in several regards. Just for very different reasons. It was an obvious way to show that warning signs might not be true – or they might.
The second way I watched the show was through the lens of my own High School experiences. I didn’t quite fit in any group but jumped in several at any given time. I always felt like an outsider because of that but also managed to fit in “enough” with wherever I happened to be at that moment. I was a good hockey player, so I fit in with the “jocks”. I was on the school computer programming team ,so I fit in with the nerds. I had a whole separate group of friends that I played PnP RPGs with so I fit in with the geeks. I was a skateboarder, so I fit in the ska-loving half head shaved skater kids. I was a social chameleon that fit in everywhere and no where at the same time.
I was very lonely. I empathized with Clay and felt like I understood how he felt. I also understood the different dynamics in tribal actions and thinking in High School. They existed in my days there too.
13 Reasons Why resonated with me – too much. Episodes 8 through 13 became more and more difficult to watch. I cried. A lot. I think it was just a challenge to watch as I have struggled with my own mental health issues for most of my life alone and in silence. The combined pressure of living the show through the eyes of my high school self and the fears and trauma of watching it as a parent of an eleven year old who may face these struggles as well was just too much. For me. I haven’t had a show make me feel, well, anything in so long that when it was done, and I was trying to pull myself back together I just let myself… be. For a little bit. Then I started thinking about the whole experience.
The show is good, and well acted. There are some plot points and moments where you (might) shake your head but they are few and far between. It is very consistent and engaging. I believe it is a good show to watch, especially if you have kids, because they are watching it. It is very popular among the teen crowds. Watch and understand it so you can talk about it. I also think that despite warnings from schools and suicide groups that this may encourage people to commit suicide I believe that the more kids that watch it the better – because it shows how sometimes little, daily interactions can tear someone down piece by piece until they feel they have no other option. It also tackles far larger and more serious interactions. Maybe it will make kids try a bit harder to be positive and engage their peers, instead of doing some of the things in the show that we know are happening in our schools everyday. Maybe it will make people better understand the impact their actions can have on other human beings – both big and small actions. It should raise awareness of signs when someone is struggling – and if people are aware then that is the first step to getting help.
When I heard they were doing a sequel, a second season, I did get angry. There isn’t a second book. The characters were all honored to the source material and everything was tied up nicely. The only reason to do a sequel is money. The producers realized they have built these characters and connections and have a great setting for another young adult show – a more depressing version of 90210 and feel that needs to be fully exploited. I do not understand why viewers are not allowed to use their imagination on what comes next to completely close off what is most likely going to happen. It’s bullshit and cheapens how I was made to feel throughout the series. It cannot be better, it cannot get better. It can only get worse. I have never been so disappointed in a television show (and sequel announcement). I will not watch it as I fear it will ruin the whole experience for me.
As angry as I am about the sequel announcement I do recommend the series and thank it for forcing me to take a closer look at myself, and outward to my friends and community.
I have always been sympathetic to ‘liberal’ social causes. First, I am Canadian and we have a supportive society with a distinct world view. We are just friendly people, for the most part, to use the stereotype. Most of this came from attending a liberal arts university that back in the 90’s was considered ‘gay friendly’. That is a pretty progressive label to have back in the 90’s. I came from a rural town in Canada and while homosexuality was very foreign to me I was in such an accepting and open minded environment that I learned quickly how normal and natural it was. It was even cool, in our little circle of friends and spheres of influences. There was still hate, and bigotry (there always is), but there was also hope and acceptance. Turns out my favorite uncle ended up being gay and hid it until he was able to move away from hick-town and go somewhere where he could fall in love openly and get married. . I use the term ‘hick’ as a term of endearment here. Very small town folk we were/are.
My general viewpoint on equality is that I unequivocally support the exact definition of the word in all societal senses, labels and freedoms even though I am an outsider to many of them. Religious equality (I do not participate in organized religious constructs, but I am spiritual in my own way) Gender equality (Women should be equally empowered. I am a man). Sexual equality (Love whoever you do, openly and without harm. I am cisgender) Racial equality (Humans are humans! I am white). I am an outsider because I embody the privileged, middle class, white cisgender male that is the root cause of what ails the world today (if you read the news). I could only be worse if I was a christian as well, I suspect. This is not my fault – it was the way I was born and brought up, I did not have the choice in this. Please do not judge me based on who I am and my skin color.
As much as a good natured, open minded and progressive cisgender white male that I strive to be I cannot draw from experiences when it comes to racism, or sexism, or most ‘-isms including the own privilege I enjoy. I know it exists, but my cisgender white friends and families are also as afraid of the future as our more diverse friends and families. They are scared about good work and providing for their families. The world is changing in many ways and most of it not good for middle and below home incomes, regardless of what color of skin you are or how you self-identify sexually. I think no one really feels safe anymore. Not even the rich, because we common folk are coming to get them. (This is part of how I think a guy like Donald Trump gets elected, but another story, and I try to keep this blog politics free).
I try not to get on heavy topics here. I don’t write particularly well enough to ensure I am getting across what I am feeling so typically leave this space to my gaming whims and child-like hobbies. Still, I do have a point coming up. And that point is that I finally had a moment where I understood how visible minorities have felt for some time about representation in games. Because it happened to me – finally. The difference is that when I felt it it wasn’t a reflection of the struggles I have had in my real life, or a disappointing ‘yet another time” I was made to feel small, or an outsider. It was an “A-ha!” moment. One of small triumph. Because I finally had what felt like a more honest and true understanding of the movement for more diversity in games that I have already supported in thought only. It was nice to be able to draw a direct experience to how that made me feel – so I could, for an instant, and on a very safe level- have a small glimpse of understanding.
I am going to be clear here that I do not think it was wrong, and for me that didn’t matter – it was just a moment of realization and understanding. And because it is such a sensitive topic in general, as you can tell, I am really trying to be clear and cautious about how I present this, because I am petrified to have it come across the wrong way. One more table to set before sharing.
People who read here often understand by now that I am a terrible roleplayer. I do not roleplay. When I am engaged in a game (with a story for the most part) I insert myself into the story. I am not playing as Scott Ryder, I am a my real life counterpart, thrust into the situation by whatever backstory/justification I could think of. When I insert my present-day self into my games I find I can more deeply be moved by them and feel more closely to what is happening to my characters – because it is happening to me.
With that, and the rest of what I have written, in mind, Prey.
Having protagonists with clear Asian decent is progressive, right? I am unsure of how many First Person Shooter games that have. My immediate thought was “this was different – good for them!” and then I wondered how it would be accepted by the gaming community. And then it hit me:
“They don’t represent me. I don’t feel connected to those characters visually.”
That’s the AHA moment, as silly as it is. Those four words (They don’t represent me), probably felt by millions of non-white gamers over decades of being forced to play as white, male characters as the norm and I felt it for my first time. I haven’t even played the game and I doubt that racial selection of the Prey protagonist has any sort of real impact on the game either, but there is the realization that I understand it just a little bit more.
Funny to note I was afraid to write this post – silly, right? I spend so much time reading things on the internet that I felt that just presenting this thought could have negative consequences in this friendly little gaming space. Would people think I am racist because I feel those characters don’t represent me? Would they attack some of the phrases or words that I used? I don’t have much hope for the internet, of course. I do know that I am not perfect and am just a human being, trying to be cool to all other human beings, and learn and get better along the way.
I understand that people who are good at roleplaying might not understand this line of thought and relish the opportunity to be different people, sexes, aliens, etc. Any tips on how to build that comfort? I feel like I am missing out on huge opportunities. Even when I played PnP games in the good old days I stuck to male humans. Boring AF.
I have decided to go against my serial gaming nature and play the field a bit. Mass Effect: Andromeda was all I could play/think about and consumed all of my gaming time and energy. Right now I have several, small interests in some older titles and instead of committing to just one have decided to go where my mood fits me at that gaming time. The Division is my third person shooting itch, and Guild Wars 2, freshly loaded this morning, is my MMO itch. I am going in lightly and starting fresh. I last played over three years ago and played a Guardian to level 37. I really wanted to play a Mesmer back then (thematically) but wasn’t doing very will with it. Hopefully it is better balanced and I can do fine as a fresh character.
I do love the art style of Guild Wars 2. I didn’t play the original Guild Wars and even trying to recall my prior experience with which Guilds are at War. I don’t remember that being a central theme at all come to think of it. I am sure it isn’t that important. I remember my gripes being pretty minor and maybe even petty (to a degree, of course) of the way weapons and skills worked in the game. Either way, time for a fresh start. Logging into a new character gave me several rewards that I have no clue are exactly for or what I can use them with, but that is normal for returning to a game after many years. Even if I don’t remember what they are for I am certain they are valuable / useful. I did get a costume right off the bat which was a bit over the top to put on, but hey, I look like a city guard! The things were appreciated and I am sure I will sort out what to do with them all in time.
This is one of Bhagpuss’s favourite games and I love visiting his blog and reading about his adventures so going to give this the good old college try. What is nice about MMOs is that the base familarity of them all are vanilla enough that you pretty much can find and correct all of your issues based on prior knowledge. A simple example of this is that my mouse was inverted at the get-go (which I dislike) but of course that is a quick visit to settings and a checkbox. The options were not under the picture of the mouse (which was keybinds) but simple enough to find while looking around.
I believe that familiarity is helpful for all MMOs when you start. It’s like driving a car – they all look and feel different, but in the end they basically work the same fundamentally. I was surprised with the number of people in the starting area – especially during a workday, before lunch (I swear I was just testing to see if the install worked, IT snooping guy!) There were probably a dozen or so new characters running around. I was impressed for such an old game.I do also like the cinematic chats in the quests which is a nice bridge from pure text reading.
I am off to the races in GW2 again and am looking forward to better exploring this game. With no subscription fee, and no hard end goals to race to (besides level, learn class, have fun) I can dip in and out and try to find the magic this game has to offer. To the GW2 fans out there – any starter tips to enhance my enjoyment?
I am still stuttering along looking for a new home. I almost bought MLB: The Show (I love baseball and it has been a few years). I almost bought Horizon: Zero Dawn based off of Blognation recommendations. I almost bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands with it being a top seller and in a third party shooter mood. In the end of it all none of them jumped out to me as a ‘MUST PLAY NOW’ title and I decided to reload a game I didn’t get to finishing – The Division. I have three posts about The Division, one that uses an example of their ’emergent’ game play (2014) that made me question where new features come from – player demand, or designer curiosity. The second (2014) was questioning why they would want to compare themselves to Destiny (and subsequently failed as a comparison to Destiny, now in real time) and the third was when I was actually playing it – a year ago (2016) and what was holding me back from loving the game. Until I get a really hard motivation to play something in particular, this is what I am going to try.
Logging in shows that I am level 20 with almost 18 hours played. (Not sure where that picture gets 7D, 18H played – the outside menu says 18H. I have not played 7 days…) It also shows I am 61% through the main story line so I already have my main goal established. It will be nice to finish that. I remember fondly enjoying the main story arc but quickly reminded that The Division suffers from “that game that would be awesome as a single player game but need to make it multiplayer for a check mark and future revenue sources so will make it less good to fit that mold” immediately. The skinny of it is that an outbreak hits New York, and you are a part of a deep, undercover network of operatives who only get activated when all other support systems break down. It is a great premise. The types of things you get to do is clear out gangs, rescue hostages, support groups such as the police and JTF, re-establish services such as power (etc.) – all the while trying to solve who started the outbreak (and why). See? Told you it is a very cool premise.
It falls short on two main areas. The first is the forced multiplayer element. They have a nice map of New York. As we clear out parts of the city and support the Military and Police, those areas should stay “safer”, unless the various groups and gangs of criminals make a deliberate push. Working through “rescuing” parts of New York until the entire city is saved as you solve the mystery could be an award winning narrative. Instead, roaming gangs “repop” right outside your base every 5 minutes. It’s a waste of a setting.
The second is the gear grind / bullet sponge effect. I am level 20 with blue and purple gear. (Simply saying there is blue and purple gear makes everyone reading right now understand the rarity quality. That is issue one right away). As a level 20 in decent gear, I went straight to the next story mission which has level 20 enemies. Level appropriate content with a fast travel option – hurray! I did half relatively smoothly and then hit a “boss” battle. The boss had 2 higher level henchmen with her. One took me over 400 bullets to take down.
Over. 400. Bullets.
If you build your entire game around a modern day premise then that needs to match up. I don’t care if you are wearing a bullet proof vest, there is not a bullet proof vest on the market that can take 400 bullets from an assault rifle at close range, (plus 4 grenades, did I mention that?) before taking a guy down. That suspension of disbelief is at levels of ridiculousness. Once again, showhorning in RPG and MMO mechanics into an otherwise great game has a ruining effect. The way to “win” these battles isn’t to be tactical or a good shot. It is to unload a clip / use cooldowns (yes, cooldowns.) retreat far enough to reload clip, reset cooldowns, heal up. Unload. Run away. Unload. I almost ended up at the beginning of the map to take the guy down. Once he was down, I now have to run all the way back through the map to get to the end again to properly exit and “win” the instance/scenario. How that is supposed to be fun as a tactic is beyond me.
The key is to greatly out level the content. In order to do that you have to hit all the side missions, etc. which isn’t so bad. But the pacing is horrible. Absolutely dreadful.
But yeah, I can stomach that for 39 more %. I think. Guarantee I am skipping all the DLC though. You can judge me for being that upset about the ridiculousness about it all but still want to play. There is a lot of good here. The graphics are great. The menus and information settings are very “alternate reality” and super cool. The setting is captured wonderfully. As you can tell from the pictures above, there are some really graphic moments but New York definitely feels under siege and I have a purpose in game. The gear upgrades and clothing options are fun. Modding out a weapon is fun and useful. I love the clothing options (chose a suit with a scarf – all of that is customizeable with things you find in the world). The regular gunplay and gameplay is fun, things are just broken on boss battles / “epic” enemies (which just shouldn’t exist). In Destiny I get it (aliens, monsters, etc.). In The Division you are just shooting humans, some of which may be monsters in actions only. The stories have been great (from tracking down other missing agents, to learning how the outbreak virus was distributed to the population, it’s all very good and I am connected to the world and the well-being of the people there).
I hear Ghost Recon: Wildlands keeps much of what is good about The Division but bakes in more realistic enemies, and I hope I am not wrong on that. In the meantime I am going to give The Division a bit more time and attention unless it is able to turn myself off of it completely. Solving the outbreak will come down to my willpower to battle bad design decisions, which in itself may be harder than saving New York.