The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Destiny Dark Below Review and Thoughts

So we got the Dark Below "expansion" for Destiny earlier this month. I wanted to give the expansion a little time before I reviewed it and posted my thoughts. I'm glad I did, because I have changed my opinion about it a couple of times.

When it first came out we were given 3 story missions, although we could only repeat 2 of them so I didn't think that should count. We got a new raid and a new strike (although PS users got an additional strike).

Those lucky PS bastards
 I enjoyed playing the new stuff although I was again saddened at the complete lack of story again. This game has no story at all. Maybe they don't want it to and just want it to be about the mechanics. The mechanics are at least very well done so it has that. It's just sad that a Bungie game has no story when they've had a good history of the opposite.

All the new content can be done extremely quickly and the only reason it takes a few hours is because you have to go back to the Tower to turn stuff in after every new bounty and mission. That gets a little tiring. Also, the new Eris bounties you get aren't really new, it's still just "go there, kill that". But oh well, I'm not sure what else I should have expected.

I want some vehicle missions, or a timed thing where you have to race on your sparrow to get away. Let's see some variety!

But anyway, going back to Eris. She's a new Tower vendor with her own list of items and bounties and her own reputation to gain. Unfortunately, Bungie thought it would be smart to give one of her small amount of daily bounties to specific classes. So every day you get to sit and watch you not gain more rep simply because you are not a certain class. That's dumb. We should have gotten a class specific bounty, but that everyone would get one specific to their class. Oh well, not a huge deal. I am finding that it's gonna take a while to get your rep to lvl 4. I haven't done the math but I wonder if it's actually possible to do before they release the hard raid at the end of the month? In the meantime you can enjoy some new shaders and class items which do look pretty cool.

I think there's a cream for that...
 The new strike is fine. I enjoy strikes and this is more of the same. The last boss, Omnigul, is a bullet sponge like all the others and you are forced to stay in the back room and poke out to shoot like you are for almost all the other strike bosses. There are tons of Hive though and it's fun to mow down tons of enemies while dodging wizard blasts. We also got a new strike playlist although the rewards still suck.

Nothing but hot babes in this expansion...
 Onto the new raid though: Crota's End. I really enjoyed the new raid. I was able to attempt it on day 1 and although I didn't officially beat it until the next week, it was still a lot of fun. I really love the first part of the raid and I think it may be my favorite part of the entire game so far. It's intense and glitch free as far as I can tell. I love sticking together as a group and slogging it out trying to get to the end, all the while getting hounded by enemies and being in the complete dark. You have to choose to stop and try to revive a fallen compatriot, and the joy of reaching a beacon and looking back to see a friend being swarmed and almost taken down, only to be saved by a mass of gunfire from you and your friends is something rarely achieved in gaming these days. And then at the end where you are standing on a glyph plate trying to materialize a bridge and your teammates start going down, and then when the bridge is formed you just rush into the light, all the while being chases by hundreds of enemies. It's great fun.

This never happen. Just run.
 The next part is also pretty fun although now that there is a way you can cheese past it, there's really no point to slugging through to try and beat it legitimately. It's a shame, but when you have a game that simply requires you to do the same thing over and over again for an end goal, you don't care how you do it, just as long as you reach the goal, and you can rationalize using a cheese method in a variety of ways. But then again I think this argument stands in that since there are no directions on how to beat the various parts of the game, anything goes. But anyway, beating this part the way it seems the designers would want it beat is fun and thrilling with everyone standing on summoning plates and then killing sword bearers and rushing over the bridge to kill gatekeepers and the coordination needed is very satisfying when you finally beat it.

You then have a little fun part charging down a hallway destroying some Shriekers on your way to try and jump into a doorway for a nice chest reward.

Then you get to kill Ir Yut, which is the hardest part of the raid IMO and actually the only one that can't be cheesed. Although don't feel bad for Bungie because you also don't get any loot for beating it which I believe is a mistake. In general you have to lure out a wizard on both sides, then kill shriekers on both sides, then finally kill Ir Yut before she finishes her litany of death. It's still pretty fun and with all the enemies being a higher lvl than you it's quite difficult.

If you manage to get this far you get to try and beat Crota. He's a giant knight with a death sword as well as the ability to shoot you somehow. You have no healing in this part and must rely on passing a chalice around (think relic) in order to heal. You also have to kill a sword bearer, grab the sword, and as everyone else drops Crota's shield he will fall to his knees and the sword bearing guardian will go in and hit him to bring down his health. Rinse and repeat several times and you will be rewarded with Crota's End.

Hit him! Hit him!
 There are a number of decent drops in this raid including some fun weapons and cool looking armor that is the only way to get to lvl 32. Also new to this raid are the radiant materials needed to upgrade this raid's armor. You can only get the materials in the raid so it's going to be a while before I will reach 32. Luckily they retooled the drop system to take into account your previous winnings and try to get you something new. I've done the raid 6 times I think by now, and when I've gotten an item of some sort and not just materials, I've gotten something different every time except twice. So I think that's cool. I have gotten everything I need in order to get to 32, I just need the materials now, so back to the grind.

My new goal-weapon
 Alongside the new raid has come the new, and controversial, method of upgrading your old exotics into the new damage ceiling. This has you going back to Xur once a week to see what item he offers an upgrade, then having you fork out 7k glimmer and an exotic shard (which can be bought from Xur for 7 Strange Coins or received from dismantling an exotic item). Then you turn in your old exotic for a shiny new one with its base damage starting out at 300, and then you have to fully upgrade all the perks again to get it to the new damage ceiling of 330 or so, ending with another exotic shard for the last damage upgrade. People shouldn't be surprised at this type of method. It's clearly a way to increase the grind so they can brag about players playing their game, and is an unfortunate part of MMO like games. Most games have some type of system like this, and we all know that 99% of Destiny is a grind so we shouldn't be surprised. It's a shame that Bungie's changes and "expansions" usually are in the form of forcing you to grind some more but that seems to be the pattern. If you don't like it, stop playing.

They haven't released the hard version of the raid yet. This is probably a good thing although I think it's only done for their benefit, not the players'. I believe the reason they did this is twofold: They don't want to be shown up again and see that their hardest content can be beaten in less than a day, which it surely would have been. And they wanted some time to see how people beat it and find cheesy ways of beating it so they can patch it all so to make it extremely hard to beat it when it finally comes out. They also haven't released the raid legendary primary weapons, which will only drop in the hard raid. Oh well. I am still looking forward to trying to get the new stuff as I'm sure they are awesome, but it will be frustratingly difficult I'm sure. If Bungie spent half as much time just improving their game rather than trying to make sure players have a hard time beating it or preventing exploits, Destiny could have been something amazing. It's all part of the business of gaming these days. I also don't really like the new precedent of their definition of a hard difficulty is just to make the enemies be a level higher than you can possibly get. The hard raid I believe will end with lvl 33 enemies, and we can only get to 32. That's not really a good way of making something hard, it's a cop out. Make it hard through gameplay, not simply giving everyone a 20% decrease in damage.

Overall I think the expansion is still worth the money. I will definitely spend enough time playing the new stuff to warrant the cost, even though I have a sneaking suspicion it's more due to the addicting nature of the game rather than actual enjoyment, but I am still having fun playing with friends and meeting new people from all over the world. I really hope Bungie will listen to fans and try to make this game better in good ways and if not with this game, then for Destiny 2, but until then I will slog on towards my quest of getting and doing everything. As of this writing Bungie did make it so we can replay the 1st expansion mission which was previously unavailable, so that's good. It was probably an error but I'm glad they fixed it. Until next time, happy gaming!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Destiny Patch 1.1 Thoughts

We received a patch for Destiny that went live yesterday. Here are the patch notes and my thoughts are at the bottom:


1.1 : The one about Exotics. And the Raid!

Today's patch includes the long-awaited arrival of Exotics weapon buffs, additional acquisition paths for destination upgrade materials, along with additional changes to exotic gear node upgrading in preparation for the soon-to-be-released expansion, The Dark Below. We're also correcting issues induced by our more recent update to the Raid.

Exotic Weapons are designed to look, feel, and sound overpowered. At the same time, they are not supposed to break the balance of the game. We hope these weapons challenge the way players think about their loadouts. Exotics will be a constant work in-progress!
  • In preparation for the Dark Below, Exotic Armor and Weapons no longer require Ascendant Materials to upgrade
  • The final upgrade node of all Exotic Gear will require an Exotic Shard
  • Exotic Shards can be obtained by one of the following means:
    • Dismantling unwanted Exotics
    • Purchased from Xur for 7 Strange Coins
  • Exotics now start at a higher base Attack value and have a narrowed upgrade range to compensate
  • Projectiles now briefly highlight targets on impact
  • Mark of the Devourer DoT (damage-over-time) upgrade increased against PvE enemy targets
  • Reload Speed increased
  • Magazine Size increased
  • Ammo inventory size increased
  • Stability and Weapon Handling increased
Bad Juju
  • Magazine Size increased to 8 bursts (was 5)
  • Ammo inventory size increased
  • String of Curses now also decreases the cooldown of your Super on kill
  • Adjusted effects to not block first person reticle
Hard Light
  • Stability increased
  • Perfect Balance upgrade replaced by Fitted Stock (increases maximum possible weapon Stability)
Suros Regime
  • Lowered total damage at the end of the mag on SUROS Regime upgrade to be more in line with the Glass Half Full perk on Legendary Auto Rifles
Monte Carlo
  • Stability increased
  • Range slightly decreased
  • Monte Carlo Method upgrade now also has a chance to fully charge melee ability on kill
MIDA Multi-Tool
  • MIDA rounds now have increased knockback against targets in both PvE and PvP
  • Send It upgrade (which was redundant) replaced by Speed Reload
Red Death
  • Rate of Fire increased slightly, but Burst Damage reduced to compensate
Plan C
  • Weapon Handling speed increased
  • Player Speed increased while Plan C is in hand
Pocket Infinity
  • Speed Reload upgrade replaced by Extended Clip which allows the option to increase magazine size (5 bursts)
Vex Mythoclast
  • Attack Power increased to 323 (from 300)
  • Base Damage increased, fixing bug we introduced in previous patch
  • Enhanced Battery upgrade by Extended Mag (this change still allows for a significant upgrade to Magazine Size, but less than before)
  • Reload Speed increased significantly, auto fires slightly slower
Ice Breaker
  • Send It upgrade replaced by Lightweight (which was redundant as Icebreaker already had maximum range) 
  • New effects for enemies killed by Ice Breaker upgrade
Patience and Time
  • Snapshot upgrade replaced by Custom Optics (provides a lower zoom option)
Super Good Advice
  • Stability increased
  • Magazine Size increased to 3 (was 1)
  • Fixed an issue we introduced in a previous patch, in which Atheon did not correctly send 3 players through the time gates
  • Fixed an exploit where the Templar could be forced off its platform
Daily Heroic Story
  • Destination Materials now drop from completing the Daily Heroic
  • Removed the ‘Relic Hunter’ Bounty 
  • Destination Materials now drop from completing the Daily Patrol Bounty 
  • Reduced Cryptarch reputation gain from Engrams, but reputation reward packages now have an increased chance for Legendary Engrams
  • Players will now be able to use Vanguard Marks and Crucible Marks to purchase Spinmetal, Relic Iron, Spirit Bloom, and Helium Filaments from the Vanguard and Crucible Quartermasters in the Tower
  • Xur now sells a new material, Exotic Shards, to upgrade the final node of Exotics for 7 Strange Coins
  • Faction Class Items (ex: FWC Cloak, Dead Orbit Mark, etc.) are now replaced by Faction Emblems in the rank-up reward packages from Faction Vendors

  • Networking fixes, which should reduce the instance of the Bee family of KTOs
  • Fixed an issue in which using Xbox One party chat induced a slower frame rate

Okay, so a lot of stuff there. Let's start at the top with the decision to remove the need for legendary ascendant materials to upgrade exotic weapons. It makes logical sense since the materials say legendary, but it's rather silly to have to get them via Xur. Yes, you can get them dismantling exotics, but let's face it, you pretty much only get exotics from Xur anyway. Sometimes you get them from the nightfall or raid but it's fairly uncommon. Now if you have everything fully upgraded you may need to wait until Friday in order to get the exotic shard you need. Hopefully it won't be too annoying. It would probably be smart to stock up on a few each week just in case. They only cost 7 strange coins so that's nice. I personally think a permanent vendor should sell them but whatever.

Now the various buffs to the exotics you can see for yourself but a couple of points are that the Thorn is finally decent! You practically couldn't use it in light of a number of other hand cannons that were flat out better in every way. But now the Thorn is a beast and I love it.It's such a cool looking gun and I'm glad to be motivated to use it. Now I just need to get an exotic shard ;).

They buffed the Bad Juju but I still don't think it's very good, which is a shame because I think it might be the coolest looking gun after the Mythoclast. The damage and impact are just too low, especially when compared to a number of other guns.

The Suros actually got a nerf, which may have been needed, but I hardly used it outside of crucible anyway. Now I definitely won't.

They actually buffed the Plan C which I am surprised, as that is pretty much universally considered to be the best fusion rifle. If you had it, you used it in crucible. Making it better is rather silly, but whatever.

They boosted the Mythoclast which was necessary. I wish they boosted it more as I am finding it hard to not use the Vision of Confluence and Ice Breaker combo, which in my opinion is the best in the game. It is nice to have a gun that does over 300 damage though, plus it looks amazing.

The Truth upgrade is a little silly since it actually has a magazine size of 2, not 1. So they just increased it by 1. That gun is not going to get used as long as the Gjallarhorn is around.

Now onto the raid fix. They fixed the teleportation glitch. Finally. You can't be too happy about stuff like that because it shouldn't have happened in the first place, but at least they did their job. I must ask why they didn't fix all the other crippling issues that the raid has though? Random minions regenerating health, the relic shield turning off or not working, the glitch where you don't get to go through the gate unless you slowly walk and take turns with people, Oracles not getting killed even though they should have, etc. Baby steps I suppose. They fixed the Templar glitch where you could push him off. That was probably necessary as it was kind of cheap. Now it will just make the raid a little more annoying. I wish they had fixed the crippling issues before fixing something that made the raid easier but it shows where Bungie's priorities are.

The daily Heroic story missions now also drop Destination Materials. And for those of you, like me, who had no clue what they were talking about: Destination Materials are the crafting materials like Spirit Bloom and Relic iron. That's a nice plus. And speaking of the crafting materials, they finally made it so you can purchase them at the Tower! That's awesome and was greatly needed. You can buy them with crucible or vanguard marks at a 2:1 ratio.

All in all it was a good patch, fixing several issues. There are still a lot of things that need to be fixed but I'm still glad for this. It does show that Bungie cares about their game. Now we just need some more content. Hopefully the DLC gives us that.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Destiny Iron Banner 2.0 Tips, Tricks, Strategy, and FAQ

So Destiny's Iron Banner is live this week, and apparently only for one week. That's a lot of gaming that needs to get done if someone wants to reach rank 5 and get those new guns and beautiful shader! Here is a ton of information I've compiled through digging forums and playing enough matches to be rank 4 (so far).  The tips and tricks are at the bottom so read everything!

The mode is control. This means you capture the various points on the map, and for each kill, you get some points and the most points wins. The trick is that for EACH point you control when you get a kill, you get a bonus 50 points.

Each win in IB gives you 50 reputation

Each loss gives you a medallion, and you can hold up to 5 medallions. When you finally win a match, your medallions get redeemed at around 30-40 rep a piece.

The IB emblem, class item, and shader provide a 10% rep buff each, so make sure they are all equipped! It does not seem to matter which shader and emblem you have, they all give the same boost.

You can buy the Tempered consumable buff every 12 hours from Lord Saladin. It's the little coin looking icon at the bottom of his store. It costs 1 mote of light and lasts for 12 hours. When consumed it gives you increased rep gains. The rep gains are also greater the later in the week it is although it is not known exactly how much it changes from day to day.

You can get exclusive IB weapons and a ship as a drop after you reach rank 3

IB weapons can be reforged at 2 motes of light a piece. This resets your progression on the gun and changes the abilities and element of the gun permanently. You can do this multiple times as long as you have the motes

Here are the costs (in rep), for leveling in IB:
Lvl 0-1 costs 100 rep
Lvl 1-2 costs 1200 rep
Each level after costs 2400 rep

Here is Saladin's store:

Rank 1
  • Unlock Iron Banner Emblem (Sigil of the Iron Lords) - 2400 Glimmer
 Rank 2
  • Unlock Iron Banner Shader (Million Million Shader) - 7500 Glimmer
 Rank 3
  • Unlock Iron Banner Armor Item (Greaves/Boots) - 9950 Glimmer
  • Unlock Iron Banner Embelm (Scar of Radegast) - 2400 Glimmer
Rank 4
  • Unlock Iron Banner Armor Items (Gauntlets/Sleeves/Gloves) - 9950 Glimmer
  • Unlock Iron Banner Class Item - 4500 Glimmer
  • Unlock Iron Banner Weapon Item (Perun's Fire - Solar Fusion Rifle) - 11500 Glimmer
 Rank 5
  • Unlock Iron Banner Weapon Item (Gheleon's Demise - Scout Rifle) - 11500 Glimmer
  • Unlock Iron Banner Shader Item (Goldspiral) - 7500 Glimmer

Here is Perun's Fire:

Here is Gheleon's Demise:

Iron Banner Tips, Tricks, and Strategies

Before the game take note of the map you are playing on and change your gear/upgrades to match. Are you playing on a mainly indoor map, maybe shotguns are the way to go. Is it open, maybe snipers. You get the idea.

In the beginning of a match only 1-2 people need to claim the objective closest to you. Everyone else should be running for B since it is B that the game revolves around.

Only capture 2/3 zones. Zone B is the most important on every map. The team that controls B will most likely win. If you can get B and another zone you will earn double the amount of pts for each kill than the other team. DON'T capture a 3rd zone though, as that will randomize where the other team will spawn and there will be a higher chance of them getting multiple zones off you.

When it comes to heavy weapon ammo:
- Get it! It's very important and easy to get kills with them
- If you can, wait until a teammate or two come before you open the ammo box, as it will give the ammo to everyone there. If your whole team is using the heavy ammo, you will crush
- If you kill an opponent and that opponent dropped heavy weapon ammo and you already have heavy ammo DON'T pick it up. Use the ammo you already have. If you die, you can respawn and find the heavy ammo still on the ground, and now you can use your heavy weapon again!
- You can also use the spawn point of the heavy ammo near your opponent's side as a fish-in-a-barrel situation. Everyone blindly goes running for the heavy ammo and it makes for easy pickens

If you only have 1 zone you really need to capture a 2nd, but don't go crazy and throw yourself into the meat grinder that your opponents have created in the path to the 2nd zone. If they have B, go get their A or C, and then after you get it mount an attack on B as they try to go get it back. Let your opponent get A or C, it's B that matters.

Although people on the forums will complain that Bungie should nerf this and that, I will really say all the weapons are great if used correctly. All the classes are great if used correctly. I have been killed by every class and I fear all of their supers(except for maybe Sunsinger).

I will say, however, that if someone is using an assault rifle, they are most likely using the Suros Regime. Every match it seems over half the people are using it. It's a great weapon and it works. It's not invincible though. You can beat it with any other weapon. Don't freak out and rage quit or start demanding Bungie to nerf, just work on your aim with your favorite weapon.

Aim for head shots! Although they say that weapons and gear matter in IB, the biggest deal is who is accurate with head shots. Head shots drop an opponent more than anything else, so go for that noggin.

Spread yourselves out a little bit when capturing a zone. Not only do you want some space for strafing in case you are shooting at an opponent, but you don't want everyone to be wiped out by a rocket or a super. If you are more spread out there is a better chance one of you may survive. Heck, I might even go so far as to recommend you staying away from the capture zone, and just watch for opponent's using their supers. If there are multiple teammates trying to capture a zone just stay a little back, and wait. I have gotten many kills and captured zones by waiting and letting someone use their super, only to have my come in and kill them and then finish capturing the zone.

Be a team player. You need to capture 2 zones and then get kills. Obviously your k/d ratio is important, but if you only have 1 zone you are getting half the pts your opponent is. Don't just sulk or camp, actually go out and help your team. Also, if your teammate is taking fire, jump in and help, don't go hide or run away. If you help you may take some fire off of them and then you can team up and kill your opponent. I've seen this dozens of times. 2 people running around get a lot more kills than just 1. Work with each other and help each other.

Lastly, have fun. this is just a game. Enjoy playing with people and take it as a challenge when your team is down. I have played several games where my team has come back from a several thousand point deficit. It can be done, trust me. And nothing feels better than doing it.

That's all I got. Quite the list and congratulations if you've made it this far. Happy gaming!

Iron Banner 2.0 and Level 30

Boom, I'm level 30 (as my Warlock)! And I reached it actually without needing the Iron Banner gear. In a last ditch effort to get the remaining gear I needed (either the gauntlets or the helmet), I desperately tried to get a group together to do the hard raid. We started at Oracles and went all the way through Atheon. Despite 4 people being lvl 30 we had an annoyingly difficult time defeating Atheon, but in the end I was finally rewarded with 2 copies of the raid helmet, lol. Oh well, I'll take it. There are still a lot of things I would like from the raid, but I was finally able to reach lvl 30! I quickly did random bounties and anything I could to immediately become lvl 30. Now I can play Iron Banner without freaking out.

Now onto the Iron Banner 2.0 discussion: There have been a couple of changes, and they are all for the better, although I still don't think it's where it needs to be. Although I'm lvl 30, I'm still not seeing that much of a difference in the levels. If I, as a 30, am going up against a 26 or 27, they shouldn't be able to do a thing to me. Bungie probably didn't want to penalize lower lvl players as much but I thought the point was that your armor and weapons mattered? It doesn't seem to.

I have been pretty decent in Iron Banner, finishing in the top 3 almost every time. Although I will gladly finish last on my team if we get a win. That's my primary issue with IB. Although it is better than last time with you getting a loser token for every loss (up to 5), but it's still not great. Bungie managed to fit in even more RNG into the game in that it doesn't really matter how well or poorly you do, if your team is good, you will win. That's a good and bad thing. Good in that it stresses you need to play as a team, but bad in that you are punished for simply being a part of a bad team. If I do amazing, I should be rewarded. But in IB I could be thrown in with campers and other horrible IB control players that don't play correctly and we lose, and I get nothing until I happen to win by being placed on a good team. I personally think you should get limited reputation for being in a losing match, and a lot more for winning. I also think you should get a bonus if you are number one on your team. That would motivate people to do more. I've seen too many games where people will sit there idly when they start losing because they know they will get something at the end no matter what. And I get tired of working my butt off only to get the exact same thing as someone who either did nothing, or just joined and did nothing, then to top it all off the last place person frequently gets rewards. It sucks.


I still would say I'm enjoying IB though. Control is my favorite mode to play in multiplayer, even though I still don't like multiplayer as much as anything else in Destiny. I really like the rewards for this one. You can boots and gauntlets that can help you get to 30! Although I don't need them for my character I'm glad they are giving people a chance to "earn" that last remaining gear they need. That will be a big help for the next expansion. I also like how they aren't as good as the raid gear in that they don't have all the other nice perks. They just add to your light level. That seems fair. I also like how you can buy some special IB guns and I hear there are a couple that can dropped while playing that are exclusive to IB once you reach rank 3 and above. The thing I'm working hardest to get now is rank 5 so I can get the gold shader.

Reaching what will end up being rank 5 is a ridiculous process though. I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of time on my hand lately (usually late at night), to play, but I can't imagine someone who is even a little bit busy getting close to rank 5. Now Bungie has given us a consumable that costs 1 mote of light each that can be bought every day, and every day the event goes on the buff gives you more reputation for the IB. I don't know how many hours I've poured into IB this week but it's considerable. Easily over 10 hours, and I'm only lvl 3, almost lvl 4. I'm hoping I can do it but I actually won't be able to play for the next couple of days so that will be hard. I might have to depend on a late night Monday streak. Also, I need to play some single player to get some glimmer as I have run out purchasing various upgrades.

So if you have the time get in to IB and give it a try. It is much better than last time and hopefully it will be even better next time. Get your gear to get to lvl 30 asap because it's awesome!

Monday, November 10, 2014

You know you play too much Destiny when... are driving and you keep looking for little green lights on a loot chest item that's green angers you, but you inexplicably become happy when you see purple or gold

...someone shows you something new and you think: "they didn't earn that, they got lucky off RNG!"

...your week officially starts on Tuesday look for craftable items in the real world see a ton of people walking out of a store and think "maybe it's the new loot cave?" try to shoot the Sun down before you get marked mistake the Moon for the Traveller

...the lights dim and you get excited for an incoming Public Event see a green traffic light and try to think of a way to get up there to accept a patrol mission

...your hours played in Destiny is tracked by the week instead

Monday, November 3, 2014

Destiny level 29 and the daily grind

Well Destiny has been out for a while and I'm still level 29....with two characters. I think a lot of people are in the same boat as I. I've gotten to the point where my destiny is now in the hands of the almighty RNG. I need a chest or head piece raid gear in order to get to 30, and the only way I can get that is dropped in the raid, and it's completely random. I would also love to get the Mythoclast but that can only be gotten for beating the final boss on hard mode. I've beaten the raid tons of times by now but just haven't had the luck. I've received the same sniper rifle 4 times in a row, and the Chatterwhite armor shader 3 times in a row, along with countless ascendant shards and energy.

This is almost identical to my Hunter. So much for looking unique...
 The RNG system is something that has bothered me a while when it comes to Destiny. Now I understand the need for it and am fine with it existing. But I have a problem when Bungie claims that they didn't put trading in the game because they wanted each item in your arsenal to tell an epic story. I don't want trading in the game but the various items that you get are hardly gotten in an epic way. It's completely random.

"AAARGHRHGHGH!!!!" -Every gamer ever
 I've gotten an exotic sniper rifle from a random grunt while on patrol. I've gotten lots of legendary items from leveling up the Cryptarch and other minor things like that. When RNG is involved, it isn't skill or an epic story, it's just dumb luck. I played with someone in the raid when it was his first time and he got 2 different raid armors. It has taken me countless times going through the raid to get 2 items. I've played the hard raid and people have gotten their 5th Mythoclast, and they are angry because that's all they get, meanwhile I'm stuck with another Chatterwhite. It's hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when everything you get is just dumb luck. The only thing that would feel like an accomplishment is your faction rank, as that actually can only be required by playing the game and isn't up to luck.

I always find it funny when people on the forums start getting angry at Xur when he sells various exotic equipment at the Tower on Fridays.

That Cthulu/Nazgul slut...
 People will claim that they earned their equipment, while others will say that it's welfare for unskilled players. I have gotten plenty of items by "earning" them in game, and I've bought several items from Xur as well. I actually would lean towards saying that people that buy items from Xur are the ones that earned them, honestly. Because of RNG I have randomly gotten exotics from the Nightfall or the Raid. I was lucky to get them, I could have just gotten ascendant materials. Meanwhile, if I bought it from Xur, I had to play long enough to earn all those Strange Coins, which aren't easy to get. But then again the RNG has a lot to say when it comes to how many Strange Coins one gets, but still.

What's strange is thinking about what Xur does with them when he gets them
 There hardly any earning in Destiny, it's all RNG, so stop complaining. I for one am glad that Xur is around because it helps to limit the negative effect of the RNG system. There are plenty of people (like my brother), who have had horrible luck with getting legendaries and exotics. If Xur or the faction venders didn't exist, my brother would be stuck at level 20 with rare gear if he was lucky. Instead, he has been able to play the game, earn the reputation or Strange Coins, and buy some stuff that has helped him level up.

So do whatever rain dance or sacrificial ceremony you think will help you on your way to becoming legendary in Destiny. Appease the RNG god!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Destiny Patches and "Improvements"

So Destiny has been out for a good while now, and Bungie has had time to take in comments, look at their game and how people are playing it, and then implement changes they think benefit their game and player base.

For the most part I have agreed with a lot of the little tweeks: Auto Rifles are too powerful and although it saddens me because they are my favorite (not just because they were powerful), it probably needed to be done. Most recently they've said they will add "baby bumpers" to the Atheon raid to prevent players from pushing him off the edge. This is a good idea. That's clearly a bug and an exploit that defeats the spirit of the raid, I'm fine with that.  Bungie has also made it so engrams will give you at least that same rarity in item (ie green engrams will give you at least a green rarity item, and so on). Before you could finally get a purple engram, only to give you a blue item. It was frustrating.

However, there have been a number of changes that I have disliked a lot. For one they have decided to make it so 3 random players are teleported during the final fight against Atheon, instead of the furthest 3. This is ridiculous in my opinion. Now they have stated that they want everyone in the raid group to be able to do everything, so it's at least in line of what they said they wanted to do, but I personally think it's a mistake. During the raid everyone has a role. You have your groups of 2 players (normally) that take care of various sections like mini fireteams. During the Templar fight you have your various roles including the dedicated relic holder and Atheon-teleporting prevent-er (worst title ever). Then for the final boss we had roles of 2 portal guardian, floater, 2 oracle killers, and a relic holder. And now Bungie has stated that they are making the last boss choose 3 randoms and now anyone can be teleported and now everyone must be able to be any one of roles. Now that does make it more difficult, and a raid should be difficult, but I think it will just cause more panic and frustration. I imagine the hatred for certain poor players, that just don't happen to be good with a relic or guarding a portal, will be so great as to turn them off to the whole thing. I now dread taking in a new player to the raid for the first time, as I will have to cram so much information into their skulls and demand so much skill for it to be enjoyable for anyone (as nobody wants to fail tons of times). We had our roles throughout the whole raid, why not allow us to continue doing that, instead of implementing yet another RNG (random number generator) aspect to the game.

Second, they nerfed the Mythoclast. The Mythoclast is the hardest gun to obtain in the game (It can only be gotten as a random drop for beating the raid on hard) and is rightly the most powerful. I personally don't have one, but I would love to. Bungie reduced it's damage by 34%. Ouch. At the time of this writing they have announced that they will modify it further saying that they didn't want to hurt the PVE aspect of using this weapon as much, as they mainly wanted to nerf the gun from a PVP standpoint, but that brings me to my next point:

It seems that Bungie is mainly listening to former CoD players and little kids. Most of the changes in the game have been in the form of modifying weapon damage because of the multiplayer aspect, but it has spread to the PVE section as well. The forums and multiplayer in general are filled with what I'm assuming are little kids (whether they are immature kids in body or mind), who just whine and complain when they get killed in a match, screaming that everything is "OP". So instead of Bungie just calming down and letting those players either learn from their mistakes and become better, or just quit the game to everyone's relief, they are catering to them and going overboard on their modifications, almost ruining the best gun in the game. As I said they are trying to fix that mistake, but it just goes to show how impulsive they are being to cater to the biggest whiners.

They are also the ones that are screaming about the RNG element in this game, and are crying because they don't have every exotic in the game. Destiny has an RNG system in place and is very similar to an MMO in that aspect. That means that getting the various good loot is random. I have run the raid many times and I've only gotten one of the raid armor pieces, and that's what has kept me stuck on lvl 29 with over 50 ascendant shards waiting. Am I crying about that? No, that's part of the game, that's part of the grind. But instead we have a bunch of immature and impatient players (the staples of the modern gamer it seems) demanding that Bungie just give them everything that they want. This is the reason the Queen's Bounty event was such a disaster. We had little kids crying over not getting any legendary armor (even though they could guarantee themselves to get armor if they just played strikes or multiplayer enough and built up the marks and just buy it). Bungie just gave it to them. And to make matters worse, they removed the only reason us veterans had for playing in the event by removing the rewards we could get by destroying the said armor for ascendant materials.

Bungie also removed the loot cave in the game. I also think this was a mistake. Or mainly I think that this has started a chain of events down a slippery slope. In games like this people will be looking for the easiest way to level up or to get materials or money or kills or whatever. That will never change. The loot cave was the easiest place to get various engrams (although personally I never got anything decent but it was nice to upgrade my Cryptarch with all the worthless green and blue engrams), but Bungie took that away because they didn't want people to exploit the game I guess? The problem with that is that it wasn't really an exploit. Players were killing enemies in the game and hoping that through killing a ton of them, they would get a couple of engrams and maybe some good gear. That's just playing the game. Now people will just find the next "loot cave" (ie the greatest concentration of enemies) and use that to get better stuff. Will Bungie keep nerfing the game to the point that enemies only spawn every hour? What do they want us to do? If you want us to play other modes or strikes then you should make it worth our while. Strikes right now take too long and the bosses are just bullet sponges. I personally still love playing them but I understand that if you are trying to get some new gear, that is not the best way to go about doing that.

This brings me to my last point, and that is that although Bungie has been making a lot of little changes in the game, it has never been about adding anything, only taking it away. All of the hotfixes and patches seem to come from Bungie saying "you are not playing the game the way we wanted, so we're going to take something from you". Games need stuff like that, and it's good that they are trying to fix bugs and glitches, but that shouldn't be the only thing. Where's the stuff that makes our game better through addition? I have seem many good suggestions on the forums from players who are honestly trying to give good feedback and info on how the game could be improved (ammo synthesis quick-use buttons or raid matchmaking for example), but stuff like that hasn't been implemented. So much of what Bungie promised us has been a huge let down. The game isn't the sprawling open world that if we see it we can go to it. They story has been very lackluster so far (almost nonexistent). And although I keep hoping they will add stuff to make it better, I have not seen it.

Despite all these complaints I have I still enjoy the game. But I want it to be better. I want it to be the game we all thought we'd be getting. I just hope Bungie actually starts putting some stuff into the game that makes it better.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hearthstone Review

Have you heard of Hearthstone? It's officially called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft so that should clue you in a little more. It's the next thing to come out of the industrial mogul Blizzard Entertainment, who has been riding on the coattails of the World of Warcraft forever it seems. At the time of this review, Blizzard has announced that it has cancelled its huge, multi-year project that was called Titan. Theories abound with why this was done but my money is bet on them realizing that a little game with fewer designers can turn quite a profit. Now enter Hearthstone.

That orc totally just pwned that gnome

Although this game is still relatively new being released in March, 2014, it has quickly risen the ranks to become a dominant force in esports. As of September the game has over 20 million registered accounts, including yours truly. Hearthstone is called a free-to-play digital collectible card game. It's available on the Microsoft and OS X systems as well as the iPad and Windows 8 touch devices. I believe iPhone and Android will be coming soon. The key point in that description is free-to-play or (f2p). That really does means you can play the game for free, and is obviously a great way to get people interested in your game.

New games frequently can have an issue grabbing onto a new audience. You either have to ride on an awesome game with great mechanics, you need to have a very popular IP, and you need it to be cheap or free to grab players. Hearthstone does it all. Set in the colorful and exhaustive universe of Warcraft, Hearthstone is simply an addictive 1v1 card game that one can play for free.

Now of course the next question everyone asks is if it really is free? Sure you can play for free, but what about micro-transactions or the concept of pay-to-win, which means that in order to be competitive one must spend money to actually succeed in the game. I am mixed when it comes to answering this question. On the one hand it really is free to play, you can play the entire game and even do it professionally without spending a dime. It might just take a long time.

You can get new cards by doing a couple of things: For one you start out with a considerable amount of basic cards as well as 5 cards for each class. There are certain cards that can be achieved by leveling up a hero, of which there are 9 classic Warcraft classes that include Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Warrior, Warlock, Priest, Rogue, and Shaman. At every other level up to 10 you unlock a pair of basic class cards. Once you've gotten all of the heroes to level 10 you will get a bonus pack of cards, which consists of 5 expert cards that can be any type of the 4 rarities (common - white, rare - blue, epic - purple, legendary - gold) but will at least include one rare. You can also craft individual cards using Arcane Dust (more on that later).

Why does the Paladin have a quest above his head?

There are a few ways to get packs: They can be gained as a reward from completing certain quests, or through the Arena (more on that later). They can also be bought with either gold or with real money. Packs cost 100 gold or $1.50 each (although you can buy the packs in bulk for a discounted price with real money). There is also the first expansion called the Curse of Naxxramas, which was a little mini single player campaign where you could face off against AI and get a lot of very decent cards by slowly unlocking the various stages.

Unlikely to ever happen...
There are also a couple of ways you can earn gold. 10 gold is awarded for every 3 games won in Play mode (vs real people, not AI), up to 100 gold max per day. There are regular quests that net you gold, which act more like achievements, such as unlocking every hero or winning 100 games. You can also earn gold through daily quests. Each day you get a new quest, and there is a variety of ways to complete them such as winning 2 games with a certain class or play 40 spells. These daily quests usually give you 40 gold but it can go up to 100 depending on the quest. You can also get gold from playing the Arena, where at the end you can get gold and packs and cards depending on how well you do.

So in theory one could spend 45 minutes a day playing, assuming that in that time you could finish your daily quest and win an average of 5 games. You'd make around 450 gold in a week, which is 4 and a half packs per week. However, keep in mind that you will get at least 1 rare in every pack, but most likely won't get a ton. So in order to get those really good legendary or rare cards will require quite a lot of packs.

So all that is the long way of saying that it is technically possible to earn every card by not spending any money, but it will take a long time. So it depends on how into the game you want to get.

Alright, I actually haven't even talked about gameplay! Yeesh. So the game is 1v1 and turn based. You choose a hero to play, build a deck of 30 cards, and the goal is to lower your opponent's hero's health of 30 to 0. Each turn you draw a card and get 1 mana crystal (the game's resource). During your turn you can play minions, equipment, and spells to attack your opponent or opponent's minions. Each card requires a certain amount of mana to be played, with the pool refreshing each turn (no carry over). With your mana crystal pool increasing each turn, this means that the big guys shouldn't be coming out until later in the game. Minions have attack and defense ratings and will lose health when they are hit and once they hit zero, they are discarded. Once you win or lose, you gain experience, which goes towards leveling your hero.

When it comes to deck building Hearthstone takes a unique and refreshing approach in that you cannot have any more than 2 of any specific card in your deck (except for Arena mode). Also, you cannot have more than 1 of any specific Legendary card in your deck. This goes a long way to making the game accessible in my opinion. No more will you have to grind and hope to get lucky to get 4 or more of any card. It can still be a grind to get 2 but at least it's a little easier.

Another way Hearthstone does a great job of making the game accessible to new players is their crafting system. Using a resource called Arcane Dust. You can get Arcane Dust as a reward in the Arena, or by disenchanting (destroying) cards. So you open a few packs and get 5 copies of a Leper Gnome? Well just disenchant 3 of those for some Arcane Dust. You can now use that Arcane Dust to craft any card of your choosing. With enough Arcane Dust you can craft any card in the game (except for promotional or basic cards) and that is awesome. What isn't awesome is how much Arcane Dust you need. For example disenchanting a common card only gives you 5 Arcane Dust, while crafting one is 40. Of course there are the legendary cards that while disenchanted give you 400 Dust, crafting them cost 1600! So obviously you won't be crafting entire decks soon after you start playing, but I'm glad that the system exists at least.

So much Dust!
 There are 5 modes in Hearthstone that you can play: First there is Practice mode which allows you to play a deck vs AI. You can choose an easy or hard difficulty as well as the choice of which hero you play against. This is the easiest way to learn the game without consequence and a great way to level up your heroes in the beginning. Next is Play mode, where you will be matched up against a real player with "equal" skill. You can play a friendly match or a Ranked match. The latter consists of a 26 tier rank system in a month-long season that can get you cosmetic alternate card backs but not much else at this moment.

Next is Arena mode (finally) which is my favorite. It costs 150 gold or $1.99 to enter. You are given a random choice of 3 heroes to play with, and then you draft a 30 card deck and then play matches against real opponents until you lose 3 games. While drafting you are given a choice of 3 cards at a time, pick one, and then continue. It involves a ton of luck but I really think it's a great equalizer as everyone is picking from the same pool of cards, meaning it doesn't matter if your opponent owns all the legendary cards in the game, what it comes down to is a good draft. You get rewards based on how well you do before you lose those 3 games, with the higher tiers (up to 12 wins) getting you enough gold to pay back the entry fee, a pack of cards, as well as the possibility of single cards and Dust. You are always awarded with one pack so at worst you will lose 50 gold (and you usually get some gold even if you don't win). This is the best way to get packs in my opinion. My current record in Arena is 9 wins and I got almost 300 gold and a pack as my reward so that was pretty slick.

Mmmmmmm loot

Then there is Adventure Mode, which is Hearthstone's answer to single player content. You fight against various bosses who have unique powers and cards. They are a fun puzzle to solve and I really hope they add more stuff like this. The Curse of Naxxramas was an Adventure Mode and it was great. Plus, there are some really good cards you can get by unlocking everything. Unfortunately, it costs gold or real money to unlock the various stages of Naxxramas, but the cards you get are totally worth the trouble in my opinion.

You beautiful OP Sludge Belcher you

You can also Duel people on your friends list but I have not been able to do that yet. I've wanted to, but I must have missed something about it because I was not seeing a way to play against a friend. So far I can only talk to them.

Although I have loved Hearthstone, and expect to play it a lot more, I do still feel like it's a young game that needs some more stuff in it in order to last. There needs to be a tournament structure built into the game. There are ways you can have tournaments outside of the game but it's always through a third party, and it's not intuitive to a layman like myself. The ranked play is fun but it just isn't enough. I want to see brackets and rewards that go beyond an alternate card back (although those are still fun).

Nothing says "I play this game a lot" like a good alternate art card back

I also have issues with the grind aspect of the game. Yes it is free to play and yes you can eventually get all the cards, but the game still feels like you have to grind a little too much. But then again since it is free maybe that's too much of the entitled gamer in me.

I love how quick the games are though. You can finish a match in 5 minutes and that's awesome as a filler when you have some spare time. It's very easy to just pick up and play this game as well. The concepts and strategies are simple to learn, and difficult to master. I like that in games. Heroscape, although being a board game, did that. A little kid can play Hearthstone and have fun, but there is room for a professional community in the game where the best usually win. That is a hard balance to get and I think Hearthstone's gotten it.

The game is also beautiful despite being able to be played on most computers. Warcraft has always managed to be a very pretty theme with the cartoon aspect of it's characters, but they are rendered beautifully in Hearthstone with good battle animations on the cards. You can even get lucky and find gold versions of the various cards that have fluid animations on the cards themselves, adding a collectible and bragging rights aspect to the game.

All in all, however, Hearthstone has provided many hours of entertainment and I'm sure there will be many more. Apparently there is a new expansion that should be coming out before the year's end and I can't wait to see where they go from here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review

So I've been so excited about Shadow of Mordor ever since they first released info on it. Lord of the Rings themed game focused on brutal action and showcasing a new Nemesis system that allows your foes to remember you? Count me in! Naturally I pre-ordered it and eagerly awaited its release.

                                                                 I am death incarnate!

I have managed to play the game for about 15 hours by now and I beat the game the other day. I still have many more abilities I want to unlock in order to become the ultimate BA but I feel as though I have enough information to put forth a general opinion of the game.

So far I am loving the game. The graphics are beautiful and it's just fun walking around admiring the landscape; From the arid Mordor crags to the more lush, farmable area of Mordor that apparently exists. From the quaint goblin towns to the vast fortresses where you have to sneak from parapet to parapet to avoid the wrath of a hundred orcs. It really is a fun world. That being said, I of course would have loved to see more areas. A more dedicated forest area or northern area would have been a lot of fun to explore, and maybe we shall see that in the future as a DLC or a second game, who knows?

The action is awesome. I can't get enough of the swirling melee. You have so many different ways of fighting that it never gets old. Building up a hit streak in order to pull off an execution is always entertaining, but you can always get in some arrow shots and vaults over shield-bearers to mix it up. You can really create your own style when it comes to combat. Want to just go in and start wrecking people in close combat, you can do it (good luck). Want to sit back and snipe everyone in the head, you can do it. Want to use the environment to your advantage and just sit back and watch the carnage as orcs go running from Mordor flies and get mauled by Caragors (think Wargs but half lion instead of hyena), go for it. Want to sneak around like one would in Assassin's Creed, slowly killing off the orcs in a stealthy approach, that's also possible. There are many other ways that you can go about doing this with combinations up the wazoo. I love everything about it.

 There is not a ton of customization in the game there is still a lot to do. You can upgrade your 3 mains weapons: You dagger Archan, your sword Urfael, and your bow Azkar can all be upgraded with various runes that can be collected in the world and from fallen enemies. You also have two skill trees to upgrade: One from your wraith side, and one from your ranger side. These 2 skill trees allow you to become the great BA ranger/wraith everyone wants to be. There of course are tons of little trinkets and hidden lore artifacts and relics throughout the world that you can find on your quest for 100% completion.

Although the game is accurately portrayed as an Assassin's Creed with a Lord of the Rings theme, it feels refreshing enough for anyone to enjoy it as something new. There's a lot more to the combat and from what I've heard that is similar to the Batman Arkham games. The game is also at the same time both more forgiving and more punishing. It is more forgiving in that there is no falling damage because you are a wraith, and you can even unlock abilities that allow you to "teleport" to an enemy for the kill. This is a thematic way of making the game just more fun to play. Who wants to struggle around trying to find a safe way to climb up or climb down? Just let me do it and get on with the action! The way it could be less forgiving is because of the Nemesis system.

If you haven't heard of this, it's basically the draw that the game uses to get in any gamer. This system randomly creates your foes and gives them several different strengths and weaknesses. These various captains of Mordor can be viewed in a kind of pyramid hierarchy. You can gain intel from various foes and allies in the game and learn what the strengths and weaknesses are, and then you can exploit them. In the beginning of the game you will be basically learning these things in order to find the easiest way to kill the orcs, but later in the game you have the ability to brand the orcs and command them to do your bidding. The Nemesis system also can create personal stories within the game in that your foes will remember you. Did you run away from an orc, he'll remember that and taunt you the next time you see him. Did you throw him into a fire or stab him in the eye? He will sport some nasty burns or a sweet eye patch. Did he kill you? Well then you have successfully leveled him up, making him harder to kill as well as giving him ammunition to make fun of you the next time you see him.

                                                         Just look at that cute mug

I haven't run into the same script more than once, and I've killed thousands of orcs so far. Although it's only the captains and war chiefs that have this system, even your run-of-the-mill orcs can get promoted if they should kill you. They get some flashy new armor and a cool name, as well as some new strengths and weaknesses for you to exploit. I love branding orcs and sending them to go betray their master, or to go get initiated as a bodyguard for someone else. You can brand someone and watch them climb the ranks as you help them destroy their rivals, successfully go on hunts, and generally thrive in the unforgiving orc society.

What also is interesting is that anytime you die, or anytime you fast forward the game, you can see the world really come alive. The orcs have their own agendas that they will carry out with or without you. Say you get killed by a random orc. Not only will that orc get leveled up and become a captain, but all the other orcs in the army will have done stuff too. Some may have taken it upon themselves to become the war chief and have killed the top orc and taken their place. Others have warded off enemies or gone on successful missions and leveled themselves up that way. And then there are just some other random baddies that have shown up on the board, awaiting your swift justice. It really makes the world feel real and alive. It's a fun system to just watch.

 One main point I'd like to make that other reviews have not mentioned is that the Nemesis system "punishes" a player in weird ways. Let's say you are not very good at video games, or you are just impatient and like to ignore in game hints and start fighting. You will most likely die several times in this game and because of the system, all the enemies around you will grow stronger. The game "punishes" you for not being good. Now you can always just go around and level up by killing orcs and doing side missions, but I find it interesting that you can constantly make the game harder by continually dying. However, you will take advantage of and see the Nemesis system really shine. Most reviewers have great tales of that one orc that constantly bothers them and keeps on returning (remember that an orcs not officially dead until you decapitate him). This brings me to my next point: The Nemesis system also "punishes" you for being too good. I am not a professional gamer, nor would I consider myself one of the best casual players, but I am decent enough and in this game I have played the game in what I think is the way it was designed to be played. I mean this in that when there is a powerful orc I need to take care of, I learn the intel on the orc and then I exploit the weaknesses and avoid the strengths so I can take him on while I have the advantage. I do not just charge in when he has 50 other orcs around him and several bodyguards and hope to just win. I cause him to run away scared when I find out he's afraid of Caragors and I unleash them in his area, then I chase him down so I can deal with him one on one and easily dispatch him. Now while I have been very successful in doing this, I feel as though I am missing out on the fun parts of the Nemesis system. I have not built any fun lasting relationships with any orcs. Sure there has been the random orc that has killed me, or an orc that I killed that somehow actually survived and now remembers me, but those are few and far between and the ones that do are properly killed in our next matchup. I almost want to just go up to an orc and get myself killed just so I can build up a fun rapport, and that is odd and doesn't seem like what the designers had in mind.

The story was entertaining enough. You are a ranger who was "killed", and then possessed by a wraith, and now you want revenge for the death of your family. A simple enough story that has been told before, but nonetheless a tried and true classic that I don't mind playing again. The story delves (not too deeply though as we don't want to awake the Balrog), into some previously unmentioned lore when it comes to the Rings of power. I have loved this part of the game. The main story, as well as the countless little hidden tidbits thrown about the map as collectable items, have really shown some more light into the Lord of the Rings history. It even goes into some stuff only talked about in the appendices of the books, which I as a Tolkien nerd find amazing!

                                              Wow Bert really went through a spike phase

I have some questions about the lore in the game that I think should be mentioned (without using major spoilers): In the game all the various animals you can kill/dominate are new to the world as far as I know. There are Caragors, which are basically bigger Wargs, who are half lion rather than hyena. There are Graugs, which are huge troll/Rancor beasts that could probably eat trolls for breakfast. Then there are little cousins of the Fell beasts flying around not really bothering anybody, but something you can shoot out of the sky for hunting rewards. The orcs in the game aren't really orcs either but rather are referred to as Uruks. Why did they do this? Were wargs and trolls just not BA enough? I can understand from a lore point that you don't want trolls roaming around in the light seeing as though the Hobbit ones turn to stone in the light, but we've seen plenty of other trolls in the Peter Jackson series (which is obviously where this game gets its art), that can be in the sun. I'm assuming that they wanted bigger and badder things to fight, but it seems a little video game gimmicky. The orcs turning into Uruks at least have some lore validity since Uruks in the books are the leaders of orcs that aren't afraid of the light.

Another minor issue is that the major villains in the game are not really built up enough. You CAN build up a relationship with the various orcs in the game, but you don't really do anything with the main villains. Sure, they murdered your family and cursed you to undeath, but you quickly forget about them as you go about killing the other random orcs. This, and the fights against the villains were very forgettable, which to me is a little sad considering how awesome the fighting is.

However, the sidekicks and allies in this game have been decently fleshed out and have been some of my favorites in gaming. The little sniveling orc Ratbag that introduces you to a lot of the game is hilarious and I love the dynamic between he and Tirion. The wraith that occupies your body is also very interesting in more ways than I care to talk about because of spoilers. There is also a dwarf in the game that is highly entertaining as you go around with him hunting various creatures in the wild. I wish there were even more story bits and interactions with these characters and the time you spend with them is far too short in my opinion.

                                                                    Silly Ratbag

There is of course a season pass with this game that will be adding some fun new story elements that I obviously cannot wait for.

Despite the minor issues I have with the game I must say this has been a very entertaining experience so far. Even after you finish the game you can still roam around the world killing orcs. I am tempted to just kill all my war chiefs and fast forward the world so I can kill new ones all over again. I can easily see myself replaying this at random points in my life when I have an itch to kill some orcs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Destiny Farming Issue

First off, this is my opinion, so obviously everyone can disregard it. Second, I hope that maybe I'll make some good points and that people will consider them before they get very angry. For more reference, I am not some 12 year old immature kid but rather I'm 29, married, a college graduate, with a kid and a house. I am blessed with the opportunity to work from home and take care of my infant son, who has slept so much it has allowed me to play this game a lot.

Okay, a little background when it comes to this game: I am a lvl 29 Hunter. I got to lvl 27 without "farming", and got to lvl 29 by getting through the raid. I have played this game for over 3 days (check my profile if you don't believe me. The only exotic I've ever gotten was when I bought one from Xur or when I completed an exotic bounty. So if anyone has cause to be angry at people who can quickly get through the game and use an exploit to get high end gear it is I.

I am NOT, however, angry.

In any game that exists, many people will do what is optimal over what is fun. This has been found to be fact with any number of games ranging from video games like WoW and Destiny, to even card games like Magic. People like to win, even if it is against the computer, and will do anything to do that. With that being said, it should be obvious that if there is an optimal way to play the game and "win" at it, then people will take it.

So is that a bad thing? Well it seems that Bungie has wanted people to take it slow. That makes sense as the longer it takes to play their game, the more people will stay interested. It's business, but that makes sense. So what do we want them to do? We want them to remove various exploits in the game that allow you to get stuff quickly? Now, knowing what I said before about how people will do whatever is optimal, do you really think it will be solved once the cave exploit is removed? People will just find the next best thing, and the next best thing after that.

Bungie could keep getting rid of these exploits (side note: I do mean exploits rather than glitches. Glitches need to get fixed, but an exploit is simply using the game's mechanics in order to do something optimal), but doing so will create an ever lasting cycle of patches. And to what end? When does that stop? Does it stop when the only way to get an item means to complete 3 raids and kill 2,000 enemies? Obviously there has to be a line, but my point is that we would forever be searching for that and be butting heads with the designers, rather than playing the game.

Another point: We can agree that farming for items is not the most fun thing ever. I know some people can enjoy it, but honestly it would be more fun to get items by playing missions and stuff. If that is the case, and we want Bungie to get rid of the various exploits, we are asking Bungie to make the game less fun. Keep in mind people will do the most optimal thing, no matter what.

Why do we want Bungie to make the game less fun? I can hear people now saying that farming isn't fun, but playing the game as it was meant to be played is fun. How is the game meant to be played? There is obviously farming that needs to be done. You cannot just go through and play everything once and be at the top level. So obviously Bungie has created a game that requires farming, so why are we hoping that they remove farming, or make it harder?

I think a main crux of the issue is between people who claim to have "legitimately" played the game and gotten high end gear vs people who have "exploited" to get it. It comes down to a time issue and that line is very blurred. Am I a better player because it took me 3 days to get my stuff, vs someone who got it in a couple of days? That actually sounds like the other player is smarter. It's a better spenditure of time.

As I said I have "legitimately" played the game and got my stuff, but I am not complaining. Not everyone has as much time as I do. I want people to have fun with this game, and if they have fun doing this, then why not allow it? The only other stipulation is when it comes to Iron Banner, where your gear actually matters in a PVP setting. I don't know how to fix it, but then again it simply comes down to a definition of "legitimacy" of playing, which hopefully we can agree is a very blurry line and mostly comes down to personal preference.

If you made it this far congratulations, I hope I made some good points and I hope to see you guys (who farmed and who didn't), starside. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Destiny Vault of Glass Raid

Okay, so the first week that the raid came out was an exciting one. I spent a lot of time on the forums seeing which clan would beat it first as I was sure someone could beat it day one despite what Bungie said about it being really hard. Although I was ready to go on Tuesday my clanmates would not be lvled up or have the time ready for the raid until Saturday so I was forced to sit back and watch. As it was we ended up having to grab 2 people from the forums to help out.

                                                               The fabled entrance

Saturday morning finally came around and we were ready to start playing. At approximately 11AM we started playing. During the week I had read up and watched some videos in preparation. I was going to keep my mouth shut for a while during the raid and only answer questions as I wanted it to be fresh and new for the other players. But if we had a question we didn't have to spend a ton of time trying to look it up because I had a good idea of what to do.

We got through the first gate easily enough. We split into 3 teams of 2 and covered the 3 rings. It got a little hairy at times but we were never wiped and eventually got through. I believe I got some ascendant shards for my trouble.

We then got into the area where the Templar was. The first thing we had to do was to protect the 3 areas from the various spawns as they attempted to overwhelm us and sacrifice themselves. This part we lost several times as we were just having too much trouble doing enough damage to the Minotaurs that would charge into the sacrificial ring. We didn't have trouble with the green goo-spawning goblins though so that was nice. We eventually beat it and then moved onto the Oracles part, which was also beaten.

                                                                      The Templar

Then we had to beat the Templar himself. This one took us the longest time. Someone had to pick up the relic shield and use it on the various harpies in the area, charge the super ability, and then shoot it at the Templar in order to take down its invulnerability shield so we could damage it. We went through several different relic carriers. I started out but after a few runs we decided we needed my DPS on the boss (I was the highest lvl character with the only legendary primary weapon). We learned a little more after every death and started getting very good at spreading ourselves out to cover incoming Oracles and prevent the Templar from teleporting so we could shoot at him longer. It took a ton of coordination but after a couple of hours of intense gameplay we finally managed to beat him. It was a huge relief. I got a legendary rifle that could be upgraded to do bonus damage to Oracles. Other more lucky players got the legendary raid armor pieces that are needed in order to reach lvl 30.

We managed to find one of the hidden chests in the raid and I got some more shards which allowed me to upgrade my armor and got me to lvl 28.

We then had to get through the Gorgon's Labyrinth. This part was highly entertaining and I'm glad they put this in as it was a fun break from the regular combat. You have to navigate through the Labyrinth without being seen by the Gorgon. If ANYONE is seen you all die. It was intense and the Gorgons have a nice creepy sound and look about them that really added to the tension. This took much longer to complete than normal as the servers for Bungie went down right in the middle of this and we had to wait for people to sign back on. But eventually came and we mapped out the path to get through unseen. It helped that most of us were Hunters and could cloak ourselves so we couldn't be seen. I kind of wish the path was more elaborate and long because it is pretty easily done and very easily done once you know how to do it.

                                                          Gorgon and their horrible gaze

The next part was the jumping puzzle which didn't take too long. It wasn't as difficult as I originally thought it would be. A part of me is disappointed but then again I would get very frustrated about losing at a jumping puzzle as they are not very much fun. I was entertaining myself by sitting on the other end and watching my clanmates fall to their doom over and over again though.

We finally made it to the last room. The first thing we had to do was kill the Gatekeeper which was easy. The next part, however, was very difficult. We had to activate a time gate one at a time, send 2 guys in to destroy a relic keeper and grab the relic, then come out and do it again. All the while everyone had to protect a conflux in the middle of the map from sacrificial Vex. We got wiped quite a lot of times trying to do this. It took us a while to find a good team of 2 to go in and get the relics (eventually was myself and another player), and then it took even longer to figure out a way of just surviving and killing the various minions. But eventually we finally got through it.

By this time we had been playing the raid for around 7 hours I think. We had the final boss to complete, but we were starting to get weary and tired. I, myself, was still recovering from a midnight Magic release tournament that I went to with a friend (I went 2-1 and got 6 packs of cards thank you very much), but I got home at 4AM and didn't get very much sleep.

This last part was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. I will spoil the ending and say that we did not complete it. We got close though and I am confident that given a week's time until Saturday will allow us to be ready to beat it then. We had to beat Atheon. Atheon spawns kamikaze harpies throughout the battle and he teleports the 3 furthest players into another dimension. Those 3 players need to grab the relic and constantly heal the debuff on all the players or else we all lose. Those same 3 then have to destroy 7 Oracles as they spawn very quickly or everyone loses, all the while being attacked by various Vex. Meanwhile, on the outside, the remaining 3 players have to keep the 2 gates open to allow the original 3 to get back, all the while dodging Atheon attacks and kamikaze harpies.
Once the original group is back everyone gets a damage buff and can start to unload on the boss. After the buff wears off the furthest 3 players are teleported and the process starts again.

                                                                Atheon in all his glory

 It took many many deaths to figure out a good combination and strategy in order to get through even one rotation of events. Myself and 2 others went through the gate to destroy the Oracles, but several times we either got killed by a Vex sniper or Minotaur, didn't kill the Oracles quickly enough, got debuffed so bad we couldn't see, or the people on the outside died or failed to open the portal. It was crazy. Oh, and if you don't beat the boss in 8 minutes, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose as he gets enraged and crushes everyone. We managed to go through the rotation several times but we never could do enough damage before losing, or a little mistake by someone cost us a wipe.

I think we just weren't lvled up enough. I was lvl 28 but I think everyone else was 26 and maybe one 27. That just isn't high enough. Also, nobody had any exotic weapons or even legendaries. We just couldn't do enough damage and couldn't stay alive easily enough. We gave up for the week but I am very confident we will beat him next week, and then I can finally say I've beaten everything Destiny has to offer. It was a ton of fun and I can't wait to do it again, and I hope they make many more raids. I just love the coordination and planning that is required as well as the new mechanics you don't run into while playing the regular game. I highly recommend finding 5 other people and giving it a try.