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.