Overwatch

It's been a while since I've written anything here, despite playing a decent amount of games. Time isn't as freely available as it used to be, so, yeah.

One of the better titles this year has arrived in the form of Blizzard's new team based FPS, named Overwatch. This is an extension of the old Team Fortress genre games, but with a bigger variety of classes to play, and abilities I'd suspect being slightly more influenced by the MOBA-genre than FPS.

I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of these type of team FPS games in general, so I figured it'd be nice to actually write something about a positive entry into the genre that I suspect most people would actually enjoy.

The decent amount of different characters is what appeals the most in my view. Each of the characters have very distinct playstyles, so the chance of you finding something you like to play is very high, even if you're not a hardcore FPS fan. The beauty of it is that for the hardcore FPS fans, there are classes playing to their strengths as well, but you can be just as effective for your team if you don't have the twitch-skill of an energy-drink fueled teenager.

I enjoy playing supportive classes in most games, and this is no different - I'll usually run around with my healing beam trying to keep everyone alive, but switching to other support classes or even some damage ones as needed by our team.

So, even if you're not a hardcore FPS fan, I'd still recommend giving this a try - it's a blast to play, and you're more than likely to find something that suits the way *you* like to play games in general.

The game is out now on Overwatch - PC Overwatch - Xbox One and Overwatch - PS4

Warframe - Warframes

So, Warframe is still heaps of fun, playing it a fair bit really, and wanted to write some more about it here. I decided to rate the top perceived warframes in terms of usability and potential group function. Obviously this will be subjective, but at some level it's quite useful in terms of which frames to go for and to put in your arsenal as soon as possible.

Essential Warframes (Alphabetical)

Frost
Enables any difficulty Defense, Mobile Defense and Excavation to be handled without too much difficulty.

Loki
Stealth is blatant cheatery, this frame makes quick running missions a breeze, can also be group utility when specced for radial disarm at higher levels, as bombards without their rocket launchers aren't as dangerous as their armed counterparts.

Nekros
Although a very narrow minded character, this character is the only one that enables you to do any survival mission up to the higher durations without too much effort. Hydroid can also perform this role well, but that requires a sane group.

Nova
Makes everything easier by slowing down all the enemies when you want them to be slowed down, or speeding them up with different mods for efficiency in survival/defense.

Trinity
Two different builds for two different scenarios. Trinity can supercharge your group by feeding them constant energy, enabling abilityspam beyond sanity. The other build is the invincible tank, where you link up with enemies and redirect damage to them.

Vauban
Enables complete safety for melee-defense or survival even at high levels with the swirly vortex trapping mobs.

I feel that if you have these frames and the mods to go with them, you can enter any 3-man group and tackle *any* mission with relative safety and sanity. Other frames will likely do a similar job, but I feel these are the most versatile of the group, so, if you're a team player - aim for these frames initially!

Warframe

So, I'm going to write a little post here about this game I got sucked into - I should warn you that I don't know everything about the game (yet), but feel I have enough to write a little brief at least.

In its core, it's a solo/coop shooter with RPG elements. You have different frames which are equivalent to classes, each with their own special powers and general type of tank, support and/or damage. That's where the "generic" description ends though. You are "Tenno" - which I assume is latin for "fucking overpowered", and you carry around swords or other melee weapons on your back just in case you want to stab things as well.

The gameplay tends to vary depending on which frame you have picked, anything from straight up ranged, sniper stealth, team support to furious melee, but it doesn't restrict you really as you can equip any weapon on any frame. Now, this is where the RPG elements and "leveling" comes into play, each frame has levels from 0 to 30, as does every weapon in the game. Leveling up the frame/weapon gives you more slots to put "mods" into, essentially augmenting and customizing your weapon and frame to your liking or to your given role for the next mission.

The different combination of frames, mods and weapons imply that there's a relatively low chance of two people having the exact same build, and you can have virtually endless amounts of time planning and scheming on how to make your "perfect" character work. Then you realize you need a "perfect" character for support... and for playing with your friends... and for mission X... and mission Y... and so on.

The missions you do are varied enough in objectives to keep you on your toes, anything from straight up kill missions, assassinations of single targets, sabotage, espionage, base control, defense and survival makes the game feel relatively fresh as you alternate through the various game modes.

The "loot" for some of the longer lasting missions like survival or defense, where you face endless amounts of enemies is also done in a very nice fashion, where you *have* to make it to extraction at the end of the mission or keep the defense objectives alive, or lose all the loot (mods, materials, etc) you accumulated. Obviously the longer you play, the better the loot gets, so it requires a very nice balance between greed and safety.

The game has a F2P with premium currency for sale model, which isn't exactly my favorite, unless it's done flawlessly like in Path of Exile, and to be honest, I'm not too happy with the way they've done things here, but after playing for a while, I've come to realize it's not really too bad. You can pay premium currency to unlock frames and weapons which otherwise would've needed to be crafted through the crafting system. After playing a while, I've come to realize that this isn't a huge deal in my view, as the way to power up the individual frames comes from the mods you place in them, and these can't be bought on the market. In addition, there are better upgraded versions of frames and weapons called "Prime" which can't be bought on the market, so, you still have to do some "work" to get to the promised land.

There's also the option of doing private trades with other players, so you can essentially trade some of your loot with other players for premium currency and so on if you're so inclined to remain a free player but still have "pay" options.

So, just give the game a try - a few hours to pass the first few levels. It's good fun, and if you find that you like it, don't feel bad if you want to spend some cash to support it, go for it! When you perform the first sliding sword-kill, you *should* be hooked! :)

Feel free to use my referral link at https://warframe.com/signup?referrerId=549df5e33846320f3a0bd579

Enjoy the game, remember that it's better with friends, and have fun being a space ninja!

Diablo 3 Greater Rifts - THERE IS NO RNG!

A common misconception about the greater rifts once you venture into the madness of 35+, is that you're often at the mercy of crazy randomness in form of extremely hard mobs, empty levels and just general tomfoolery that you never see in normal games.

I'm here to let you in on a secret ...

THERE IS NO RANDOMNESS INVOLVED!

The way this works is that Blizzard has actually employed Diablo himself sitting there, carefully crafting these maps and putting the mobs in that will annoy you the most, and generally just doing everything to fuck you over.

A few examples! After dying excessively at GR 37 due to the "jailer oneshot", I decided to change my amulet to lower my DPS slightly, but become immune to arcane damage. At this point I had 4 GR37 keystones ready to go and I set out to slaughter enemies. Now, if there had been randomness involved, I would've CERTAINLY faced AT LEAST ONE FUCKING JAILER MOB in those 4 runs, but alas, no such mobs were seen. The icing on the cake was how the boss in the last of the instances, once the timer had expired of course, decided to send out a plethora of arcane sentries just to mock me.

Obviously I would have none of this tomfoolery, switched my neck back and set out to annihilate. On the first map of doing this, I encountered 9 elite packs, 4 of which had jailer. I shit you not. This can't be random!

Another observation involves the mob density and elite compositions! I ran a few rifts where the amount of elite mobs was ... well, not enough to have a >50% uptime on Bane of the Powerful (rank ~35), which just doesn't make any sense! I did some quick math and decided to give another gem a try. Sure enough, I enter the next rift and I'm greeted by no less than 3 packs of elites within shooting range of the entrance. Random? I THINK NOT!

The worst examples are when whoever sets up the games tends to be sadistic. They leave you with a glimmer of hope, which fills your heart with confidence, before taking it all away in an instant. 

At one point I was running around gleefully as I was ahead of the timer, slightly concerned about mob density and how it was probably the longest map I could remember running, but, I was focused! At 90% progress, I open the door forward and everything crumbles. There's one yellow and one pack of blues in the room, now, I shit you not, both of them are ghosts - essentially the homing search and destroy mob in Diablo 3, running through walls - no problem! The yellow was obviously Horde, and all his minions were FAST, which essentially implied that I was about to be swarmed by a throng of twoshotters all cranked up on speed, who didn't believe in obstacles such as SOLID FUCKING WALLS when it came to chasing down their target. The blue had probably my favorite combination in the whole world at Greater Rift 35+ Jailer, Frozen and Thunderstorm! Needless to say, I had quite a few 1m30s runs to get back to where I died ... repeatedly.

So, don't blame randomness if you can't beat that greater rift which is just apeshit retarded, it's clearly too much bullshit to be random, blame whoever is sitting there generating these maps of pure evil JUST FOR YOU!

Also, I hope whoever made the Cesspools map combined with whoever did QA for said map is forced to only ever play that over and over and over again. The freezes combined with the fact that you don't get a CHECKPOINT ups the population of frowntown by at least one every time.

*sigh*

But it's too much fun! :(

Diablo 3 - 2.1 Legendary Gems!

A quick post to give some info about the recent Diablo 3 patch, and how to level the new legendary gems in the most efficient way! 

When you first start out, you want to clear the highest torment normal rift you can do safely and quickly at a chance at a trial keystone, the initial testing seems to imply that it has a 100% droprate at T6 and 20% at T1, on a linear scale with the torment difficulties inbetween.

When you have the trial keystone, if you don't have any legendary gems, fail your trial at wave 1. This lets you start at greater rift 1 and just plow through the map in no time. The guardians typically drop 1-2 gems. Keep upgrading your rift keystone until you get the primary gem you want to level up.

When you have the gem you want to level, get a trial keystone and then set your target wave. When you finish a greater rift run you get 3 upgrade chances, and you ideally want 100% success-rate at this. To get this you need to be 10 levels above the target rank. Say you're starting out with a gem at rank 0, the target will be rank 3, which means you need a rift level 13 or greater to get 100% success chance on all your upgrades.The trial run is designed to give you a greater rift 5 levels below the wave you ended at, so if you're trying to upgrade the rank 0 gem, you want to stop at wave 18 in the trial run.

Then rinse and repeat, one normal rift, trial rift at target gem rank + 15, quickly clear greater rift, upgrade gem!

Dark Souls 2 - Update

After having played through Dark Souls 2 now, I have to strongly encourage everyone with a controller to pick up the game and give it a go. If you don't have a controller, buy a decent one and get the game - or simply get the game for console!

The rewarding feeling of beating some of the challenges in the game is simply the best I've had as far as I can remember. Whenever I die I "learn" something and improve my game - and I think this is the first game I can remember since Knights of the Old Republic 10 years ago where I finished the game and jumped straight into a new game. The added difficulty playthroughs are also very well done and ensures challenges and actual replayability.

The PvP in this game is also a lot more fun than I initially anticipated. I should record some of my way over the top backstabs with my strength character and put it out there, but in short, this game is probably the first of its kind where I actually *really* enjoy 1v1 duels.

The start of the game is slightly harsh, but once you get into the mechanics and realize the customizability of your character, you're in for a very fun ride!

Dark Souls 2

I decided to challenge myself slightly and pick up Dark Souls 2 a short while back, and after watching and laughing at everyone getting slaughtered in Dark Souls, I decided it was my time now.

I have to say, this is actually an extremely fun and rewarding game. I'm trying to remember the last time I felt the same sense of accomplishment that I do when I kill one of the bosses in the game. It's also very weird coming from an mmo-mindset how they've managed to balance out stuff fairly well in the sense that levels aren't really that important, but knowing mechanics and reacting to events is.

I played my first Cleric-character for a bit, and then decided to try more of a straight up sword/shield fighter, and it's just really cool to see how quick and efficient I was able to bypass most of the tricky parts, through my past experience, not really due to any difference in gear/playstyle.

I strongly recommend this game if you're able to persevere through some adversity, and, if you have a controller. The keyboard/mouse controls are quite horrible, but it's quite decent with a controller.

Tropico!

One of my favorite strategy games that manage to bring fun through comedy into the relatively serious genre is Tropico! If you're a fan of strategy and city-builders in particular, and especially if you haven't tried this series before, give Tropico 5 a go. The pre-order on Steam gives you Tropico 4 for free as well, so you can get into the universe a month before it actually releases.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/245620/

Enjoy, El Presidente!

Path of Exile

I've relocated the blog and upgraded from SubText to BlogEngine, and wanted to give a quick update on general gaming progress!

I strongly recommend that everyone give Path of Exile a try, especially if you're a fan of the Diablo genre. The slightly hardcore approach to the well known genre makes for heaps of fun in terms of flexibility, character customizability and innovation Diablo 3 players could never even dream of.

There's not much more to say, other than not letting the skill tree scare you, give it a go! It's also a great example of how a company can implement a proper free to play title, without falling into the traps of giving paying customers and advantage gameplay-wise.

A couple of my videos showing various test-builds (unlisted videos as I'm just showing them to friends initially)

Then I've recorded my main character doing some of the endgame maps, this is an exceptionally tanky build I've made for soloing purposes primarily.

http://pathofexile.com/ just go, sign up, have fun! Or grab it from Steam, it's a good game!

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written something here, and wanted to attempt to write a quick intro to the new Final Fantasy game, as I’ve been spending some time with it over the last week.

The game is a re-launch from the earlier FFXIV – which was horrible, with everything revamped and to a certain extent optimized. When I played the previous game I just couldn’t bring myself to like it regardless of how much I wanted to, and I actually ended up playing FFXI for a while instead, that’s how horrible it was.

The new version is a huge step up from the previous one, although it’s still being marketed for PS3 as well as PC, and have slightly more clunky UI than regular MMOs, it’s not horribly apparent like it was in the previous version. There’s still signs of the insane things that Square likes to do, they have a Sony type mindset where they don’t want to do something simply because others are doing it, even if it makes perfect sense, and their own way is just insane. Note that this isn’t exclusive to the game, take for instance when I decided to actually pre-order the game from their official page, I actually had to navigate around for close to 45 minutes to satisfy all their requirements and update my account with all kinds of information. I’m fairly sure new accounts wouldn’t suffer these issues, but still, it’s harder to give money to someone that makes you jump through hoops to actually give them the money.

The game itself is quite pretty! The graphics are very typical Final Fantasy, and when you throw up the details to their extreme levels, it’s very hard to move away from the wonderful sunsets, lush forest and skimpy females in character creation…

The gameplay isn’t too horrible either, although I suspect some ADHD kids will find the 2.5 base global cooldown on skills to be slightly over the top. The UI isn’t 110% responsive either, so if you cast a cure, it’ll land, and you’ll see the results roughly 0.5seconds after it lands. In tense situations, this isn’t ideal obviously, but once you get used to it, it’s not too bad.

One of the primary selling points of the game is the emphasis on story, which is thoroughly underlined by having the main story arc be what unlocks most of your useful utilities. There’s also the flexibility of the job system, where you can level all the different classes/jobs on one character, and swap between them simply by swapping your main hand weapon. In theory, if you’re smacking a monster, and he’s very resistant to physical damage, you can break out a wand instead, which switches your class to Black Mage, and rain fire down on him instead. This obviously requires both of those classes leveled to a similar level to be efficient, and there’s also a skill-lock delay, so you can’t hotswap in combat… but it’s still an option!

Up to roughly level 30, I wasn’t thinking much of the dungeons and instances you do, as they seemed to be sane enough. The main story quest actually forces you to do some of these to progress, so you’ll end up in some parties whether you want to or not. The party configuration is a 4 player party, with 1 tank, 1 healer and 2 dps. I didn’t really think much of it one way or the other earlier, but after finishing the last boss fight, it struck me how different this makes this game, with the boss encounters designed around this.

Based on the last fight I did, I’m fairly confident that, this is *not* a simple game. The fight had mechanics which meant that every player had to do exactly what they needed to do, or the fight would be a wipe. In WoW, I could usually load up a sane tank and healer, and be 99.9% sure that the dungeon would be cleared without incident, but let me describe exactly what the mechanics in this fight were…

Every now and then, the boss would jump up into the air, dash down and deal damage, and at the same time chop away at the platform the fight was on. If you were in the middle of the platform when he landed, you’d die. If you were on the edge of the platform, it’d get crushed, you’d fall, and die. If you were almost at the edge of the platform, you’d “only” take 40% of your hp as damage, and you’d live on. That’s not so bad, but let’s move on to the specific party roles!

The tank actually had it quite easy in comparison, he simply had to keep agro on the boss, and avoid any charge attacks. The boss would do a line attack, where he’d knock back everyone in it, and deal roughly 60% of their max hp as damage, this is avoidable, and if someone by chance gets trapped in it, it’s very likely a wipe.

… as the healer has to conserve mana while trying to keep everyone up. There’s not a lot of different healing options, you have a basic heal, a better heal and an AE heal. The problem is that the better heal costs twice as much, but only heals for 50% more than the basic one, so if you just keep spamming the top heal, you’ll run out of mana long before the fight is even close to ending. The boss deals unavoidable AE damage to everyone just to keep you on your toes, huge hits from 25-50% to the tank at times, and obviously the huge leap where everyone drops to 40% provided they were at 100% to begin with. In addition to this you need to avoid the line attacks, and if you’re the target, you need to stop whatever you’re doing and just run. This is especially rough if you’re halfway through your heal, and you need to cancel it to run and save yourself. In a bad spot, this could actually be a wipe on its own, needing to run out of a danger zone to avoid a certain wipe. When we managed to beat the boss on my healer, I was completely out of mana and had just died, think one person had been hit by the avoidable line attack once, and I had been spamming the basic heal like crazy to make sure I had best sustained healing possible.

The DPS people should technically have it easy, but not today. In addition to needing to avoid the obvious damage, the boss would spawn a part of him that needed to be burned down on a relatively short timer, and at the same time, trap another person. Whenever one DPS would get trapped here, the other one *needs* to shift focus immediately and blow everything to get the other guy out of the trap asap, or there’s simply no chance of burning down the part in time, and it’s a wipe.

Essentially, if either player is not on their game, it’s a wipe. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it be as obvious as this, but cutting the party size down to 4 people really makes it tougher on everyone when they implement mechanics like disabling one DPS, who then is dependent on the other DPS and so on. The challenge is also level capped, so you will be down-scaled to be level appropriate for these fights – so no use getting help from overgeared maxlevel characters here!

Now, the slightly worrying part is that if you can’t beat this fight, you’re not able to progress the storyline, which again locks out areas with quests and potentially other benefits, so, it’s probably not the best move for attracting casual players, as I’m fairly sure some people will get really discouraged when they get to that point, but it’s also refreshing to see that they actually dare to put something that’s challenging to a certain extent in a very central role.

All in all, I think there’s a place for the new FFXIV – I’m not sure what it will look like when it comes to endgame, as my preference for arena PvP makes most other endgame content seem boring – but we’ll see when that time comes!

Link to the boss fight described at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bATN5hI4fTA