Shotguns and Game Awards

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desktop-screenshot-2018-12-06-21-07-33-63Last night was a night about two things…  farming Escalation Protocol in the slim hope of getting a shotgun…  and watching The Game Awards.  I didn’t even realize that the later was happening until Pete mentioned something about it on Twitter.  I am not really a follower of awards shows in general because traditionally speaking they don’t actually reflect my interests in quite literally anything.  The academy awards tend to focus on artsy films, and the grammys tend to focus on pop music…  neither of which are really my jam.  I still remember the Grammys where Metallica Performed and was nominated for the new “Hard Rock” category…  against Jethro Tull…  and Jethro Tull won.  Basically I have always sorta considered the awards scene to be grossly out of touch with anything that interested me.  I can’t really say that the Game Awards are all that different given that I don’t really play a lot of the games that they talked about.

It has been however super interesting to watch the show evolve over time.  Each year the “realness” has escalated significantly and last night… it legitimately felt like any other big budget awards show in existence.  Hell they even have a proper theme now, which was kinda cool and did a good job of showcasing the different flavors of gaming.  I also enjoyed how they have this blend of reveals and awards, as well as a meaningful pre-show that instead of watching the “red carpet” used that time to give out the less glitzy stuff like lifetime achievement awards.  There was also a reasonable blend of traditional celebrities, e-celebs, and legendary game devs… all treated as peers to create this weird blend of everything that makes the community interesting.  For example I don’t care about Ninja necessarily, but I do know he is a big deal in the Fortnite juggernaut, and probably a significantly better ambassador to the “normies” than Pewdie Pie.

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The twitch screen had up this “Worlds Will Change” logo prior to the pre-show actually starting, so when we opened the Game Awards with Shawn Layden, Phil Spencer, and Reggie Fils-aime from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo respectively all sharing the stage I momentarily got my hopes up.  I wondered would they reveal that finally all games on all three platforms would be cross play by default?  Sadly however it was just a gesture of togetherness rather than anything meaningful, but still very cool to see that happen as they all appear on effectively neutral ground.  They still need to hammer out those details behind the scenes so that we can all play together without boundary, which is ultimately the thing I think most gamers really want.  Truth be told I just want the consoles and PC versions to cross play given that I am almost always going to prefer the PC version the best.

As far as reveals go the one that was the most interesting to me personally was The Outer Worlds by Obsidian, which appeared to be a Fallout style game set in a Wild West Space Opera sort of world on the outskirts of the universe.  I am always down with scifi blended with westerns blended with what appeared to be bioshock style advertising branding.  It is Obsidian, so we know the story is going to be good… that is the thing they do really really well.  It will also probably be very buggy, because that is another thing they do really really well is generate bugs.  Regardless I am now really looking forward to this game after only having seen a little bit of trailer.

We got a much longer trailer for Psychonauts 2, which is something we already knew was coming but also something that is going to be excellent.  I fully expect to be replaying the previous one prior to this game coming out so I can sorta blend my way into the new story.  It has been a really really long time since I last played Psychonauts.

I am also really interested in Far Cry New Dawn which to the best of my knowledge is the first game in the Far Cry series that is a direct sequel to the previous one?  It also makes me want to play Far Cry 5 if this is where we are going to end up.  There were lots of other reveals and they have posted most of them on the official The Game Awards Youtube, which is super handy.

What games were revealed that you are looking forward to?  Drop me a comment and let me know.  I will be spending the weekend on a mix of still farming for the shotgun in Destiny 2 and splitting time between two big alphas that are also happening.

Destiny Nostalgia

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With my general disappointment I have over Black Armory and the direction the game seems to be going now…  with focusing only on the end game and not actually giving us anything new that we can do the moment a content update drops.  It got me feeling notalgic about Destiny 1 and some of the things I miss that have never quite made it over to Destiny 2.  So I am going to take this morning as an opportunity to rifle through my vault and pull out the things I would love to see over here.  This is mostly just me posting a bunch of pictures of weapons and talking about them, so if that is not your thing then today’s post is likely highly skippable.

Legendary Weapons

Destiny was largely a game about collecting the exotics, but there were a handful of legendary weapons that stood out and that I coveted.  I figured a handful of these definitely needed to be talked about.  There were a lot of them that I liked, but these were the weapons that I absolutely loved.

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We are going to start things off with the weapon that I bring up so many times…  my perfect roll Haakon’s Hatchet, or at least what I considered to be a perfect roll.  It came from Year 2 Iron Banner and still has one of the overall best looking Iron Banner weapon visual aesthetics.  It had Range Finder, Perfect Balance and Counterbalance so was insanely stable and while relatively short range… it could melt targets especially in the Crucible or Iron Banner.  This also doubled as probably one of my favorite PVE weapons for just dealing a bunch of reliable damage to targets.

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The Haakon’s Hatchet was eventually replaced with the Genesis Chain which dropped on my first time through Wrath of the Machine when I was super carried hard by my friends in Tequila Mockingbird.  I admit a lot of why I used this weapon was because it looked cool and it had an interesting perk called Focused Firefly…  which was essentially a much bigger version of the normal firefly that caused targets to explode when you to a precision kill.  It also had this super satisfying noise that it made when you triggered one of these explosions…  which I think is the real reason why I kept using it.  It sounded sorta like the ping of kicking brass out of a Mosin Nagant in all of the WW2 era FPS titles with a bunch of reverb at the end.

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I generally hated the look of all of the Year 3 Iron Banner weapons…  there is just something about having a bunch of bits crudely cobbled together that didn’t do it for me.  This is weird because in general the Fallen weapon aesthetic is very similar…  but somehow works with all of its spiky nonsense.  The main reason why I loved this weapon was its absolutely crazy high impact, and the fact that enhanced battery took the available shots up to 6… and with performance bonus it had a chance of refunding some ammo.  This could just straight up melt any target in front of you, and was a pretty good option to help burn elites.

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My heavy weapon of choice has usually always been a machine gun because it always feels like you have a lot more versatility due to the larger magazine size… or in the case of most of them drum size.  Once again this gets a strike against it for the horrible asethestic of year 3 Iron Banner weapons, but it has a lot going for it when it comes to stats with Extended Mag, Hand-Laid Stock and Counterblance giving me a fairly high impact and very stable machine gun.  Not much else to say about it… it was very much a utilitarian burn option that wasn’t flashy but got the job done.

Exotic Weapons

While we have ended up with a large number of carry over from Destiny 1 in the Exotics department, there are still a handful that I really enjoyed using that it would be nice to see reborn in one form or another.

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I have to give an initial shout out to Hawkmoon, which was the very first Exotic that I ever got to drop.  Now rumor has it that we are getting this back at some point in the upcoming seasons… but for the time being an equivalent does not exist in game.  It was a high damage high capacity hand canon made interesting by the fact that two of the bullets would deal extra damage.  Ultimately I replaced this in my line up with the Eyasluna which was essentially the legendary version of Hawkmoon allowing me more leverage in where I chose to use my exotic slot.  It still bears mentioning however for introducing me to how cool exotics could be.

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Another weapon that was also near and dear to my heart that absolutely no one else liked playing with…  was the Fabian Strategy or the Titan exclusive exotic.  I have always been a very run and gun player and as such was regularly closing the gap on a pack of mobs, which triggered crowd control and the front lines perk that increased weapon stability and rate of fire.  The fact that a portion of the ammo was reloaded into the magazine on kills meant I could storm the castle and maintain a killing screen while taking out minions.  This all fits my general play style and made me love this weapon far more than I should have given how many other people kept telling me it was garbage.  Proof again that weapon choice is absolutely a personal preference thing.

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Red Death was my go to for whenever I needed to sustain my life in a situation where I knew I would be taking a significant amount of damage.  This made it the ideal weapon for those affixes that would cause your shields not to regenerate normally, or anything where there was a aura effect that would be slowly damaging you over time.  Sure we got Crimson which is effectively a Hand Canon version of this weapon, but it feels lousy to play with in my opinion and as such doesn’t really count for me.  I would love to see the original Red Death back.  Given the storied past of this weapon it feels like the perfect option for a lengthy chain to unlock it.

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Now for the weapon that inspired this post…  Thunderlord is awesome and does a great job of melting a bunch of minions because of its arc damage proc…  but the best version of that was on the Zhalo Supercell.  Not only was it a really stable auto rifle, but the chain lightning proc made it perfect for clearing waves of mobs.  It also held a special place as one of the few elemental primaries that survived the year one cull, which made it amazing for arc burn weeks.  I would love to see a version of this gun back with a similar proc, especially given how many horde mode encounters we are getting in the game now.

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While I never got to experience the grandeur of year one Gjallarhorn because I stopped playing shortly after launch…  I fell in love with this weapon during Year 3 and it is impossible to make a nostalgic post without mentioning it.  There was just nothing cooler than watching an entire pack of mobs melt to wolfpack rounds.  During much of Year 3 this was pretty much the dedicated exotic that I used for everything because even if it was not solar burn week… it still was the best option for killing all of the things at once.  Sure one might say that made it too powerful, but it was insanely fun to play with so it deserves on this list.

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Another weapon that I would love to have back that we will probably never get back… is Invective or the shotgun that regenerates ammunition over time.  Sure this and the Icebreaker the sniper equivalent were a little broken…  but I loved this weapon so much in The Crucible because I didn’t have to care about the meta of trying to camp the special ammo.  It looks amazing as well which as we all know goes a lot way to making a weapon feel good to use.  Party Crasher+1 was the only shotgun I used regularly other than this one, but for most of my iron banner nonsense it was this in the special, Haakon’s in the primary and some machine gun in the heavy slot.

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Sure we got a version of this with the Curse of Osiris DLC called Machina Dei 4 but it is nowhere near as good as this classic exotic version.  It also looks nowhere near as cool.  I would love to see a version of the original return, because again… this was an epic quest in the original Destiny and would give ample opportunity to make it a seasonal quest to recover the weapon.  Everyone loved the Stranger’s Rifle and this was just an updated version of that, so would love to see it back.

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These next two are largely situational, but I felt like they were unique enough that I wanted to include them as well.  Touch of Malice was a must have raid weapon for the Taken King expansion, given that there were many burn phases where you were given an invulnerability effect allowing you to effectively pour rounds into the target without reloading with this weapon.  It’s special effect allowed you to drain your own life and convert it into a bullet to keep firing after you have essentially emptied your magazine.  This mean’t that it was super useful in a few clutch situations, but also was a great way to kill yourself if you were not paying much attention.  In either case it was fun for the entire family.

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Lastly we have Bad Juju that had two situations where it worked amazingly well.  String of Curses did two things… firstly kills caused your ammo to reload and give you a damage buff.  Secondly this effect when procced caused you to gain additional super energy, allowing you to charge your super significantly faster if you could be put in a situation where you had to kill waves of mobs.  This made this the go to weapon in situations where you needed to have your super up regularly, which came in super handy in Prison of Elders and similar activities where you were both fighting a bunch of stuff and also getting additional credit for using your super.  Other than that I was not a huge fan of the weapon, but I liked it because it filled a specific niche in my armory.

What were some of the weapons that you miss from Destiny 1?  I largely excluded the elemental swords because I would have had to have included all three of them… because they were all great in their own way.  Drop me a line in the comments below about your favorite Destiny 1 weapon that we have not seen yet in Destiny 2.

Disappointing Armory

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Yesterday the doors of the Black Armory opened…  sorta.  One of the problems with hype cycles is that you can often build something up in your head to be way more than it actually ends up being.  Destiny has this traditional of releasing a DLC and with it comes some new storyline and a bunch of new activities, and at some point they decided to get off that train.  I heard the words that they said… but I guess I didn’t take that to mean what we got?  The Black Armory is effectively what would be termed as a “Minor Patch” in literally any other MMORPG, where you effectively get a new activity to do similar to a Holiday event.  This however is supposed to be the major selling point of the Annual pass, that incidentally came with my super duper deluxe version of Forsaken.  Had I purchased the annual pass separately I probably would think I got ripped off.  I’m just setting the tone of the post ahead of time so if you are having an awful lot of fun with Black Armory and the Volundr Forge then by all means skip the rest of my post.

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Effectively the Black Armory DLC adds a new area of the tower that is locked behind a door…  that you apparently need to get a key from Spider to open.  So your first mission is to go over to the Tangled Shore and talk to spider…  or what I call a Forsaken purchase check… meaning it starts in an area that you cannot get to unless you already own the Forsaken expansion.  You take your purchase acknowledgement back to the tower and you will find that there is a door you can now access buried in the bowels of the tower industrial complex…  because apparently no one had a key to the door directly adjacent to Ikora Rey until today.  We get to meet Ada-1 a surly robot that gives us a lecture on Guardian privilege before sending us out into the world to use said privilege to re-ignite the forges that she apparently had stolen from her.

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There is some faffing about in the EDZ as we collect some bits with some rather obtuse directions about how to get a weapon core.  To save you all the hassle of trying to figure this out here is an image of what you are looking for, since when you go out there yourself it is likely going to be farmed down…  and you wind up wondering exactly what it is you are hunting for.  To drop the shield you kill the single drone thingy orbiting it and then can loot the weapon core from it.  The other piece will be to kill some Fallen and in truth by the time you get to this location…  you have probably passed enough to complete the quest.  I found my cache in the outskirts near the bridge leading to the area where those first Hawthorne missions occurred. There is supposedly an area in the Gulch that also has caches but I didn’t find any there myself in part because I had no clue what I was looking for.

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There is a bit of killing Hive and getting Multikills with heavy…  and then some High Value Targets…  but essentially you can complete all of this with a few rounds of escalation protocol.  From there you travel to the Volundr forge to create this weapon that you just gathered the parts for… and it is also a new area tacked onto the map.  This time you head to the Sunken Isles drop zone in the northwest area of the map, and head into the tunnel complex which will eventually lead you to a new area of the map shown in the above image.  You would think this works like the various other public events, in that you can just happen into a group completing it and join in the fun… but you would be wrong.  Bungie gave us match making… that inexplicably we have to travel to the planet and wander around a bit to actually enter.

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Interacting with the doodad in the world will dump you into a matchmaking queue, and here is where the frustration begins.  With Black Armory the light cap moved from 600 to 650 which is to be expected, but this first activity you encounter has a suggested light level of 610 which in itself is a bit misleading.  Basically they have thrown us at something that we really can’t successfully pug on day one.  Sure there are folks who are forging their weapons but I would hazzard a guess that it is a really small minority.  Squirrel who is among the most hardcore of my Destiny friends failed out just as surely as I did, in part because the minion class mobs are just bullet sponges and it takes two full reloads of shotgun blasts to take down one of the special glowing mobs that drop items needed for the event.  Essentially you have a minute to ignite the forge by killing glowing bastards that drop the ubiquitous orbs we are constantly transporting… and toss them at  the forge that is conveniently shaped like a four square goal.  Each time you dunk a donut you get back some time on the clock, and to progress to phase two you need to have collected twenty of these mcguffins.

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Unfortunately this is where the bullshit starts a bit because while the suggested light of wave one is 610, it increases difficulty… and the final phase includes a boss that has a suggested light level of 630.  So essentially read this event as something that we are not supposed to be caring about until 630 unless you are willing to bleed copious amounts of blood on this cutting edge content.  The problem is… this is our expansion content…  a few quick quests and then an activity that we are not supposed to be doing until we have pushed our light up significantly already.  It feels like if Warmind had ONLY included Escalation Protocol and nothing else…  because that is sorta what happened here.  We got another world event that this time has a match making system, but nothing much else to show for it.  Maybe in their heads they were counting all of the stuff we got at the start of season 5 as being “part of the dlc” but it feels super hollow when we already got to unwrap that gift, and now all we have left under the tree is a squishy package of socks.  Notice how EVERYTHING is disabled on ADA-1 until I complete this first step of igniting the forge.

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After completing a handful of Powerful rewards bounties/challenges and getting a few Prime Engrams I have managed to push my light level up to 604 in the first night.  That is still woefully short of being within striking range of making a real attempt at this event.  Conversely I remember rolling up in the Archon’s Forge event and succeeding for a few rounds on the first day it opened.  Right now Black Armory feels horrible and if this was how they were going to supposedly fix the Engagement and Monetization issues that Activision talked about in their conference call…  then I think they are mental.  If this is what a DLC is from this point out…  then the Annual Pass is not worth it in the least.  Sure this will be a lot of fun at some point, but when you add tasty pie into the game you expect to be able to at least have a single slice by the end of the night.  The pie unfortunately is mincemeat, and tastes like sadness and soggy raisins.

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So instead of doing the thing that just went into the game… I instead did the thing that I had been neglecting terribly.  I had to do some Vanguard strikes for the poweful reward anyway, so I opted to take along my Ikelos weapon and knock the “do five strikes” step out while  I was chaining them.  From there I went through the process of unlocking 15 memory fragments…  which weirdly enough I happened to have just enough Resonate Stems from grinding random stuff on Mars to be able to craft all 15 keys.  Essentially once you have those it just becomes a scavenger hunt which took a little over an hour to get to all 15 locations.  From there I ran the special quest…  and Xol becomes trivial with the Thunderlord and I finished my night with a shiny new Sleeper Simulant that I immediately infused a 610 rocket launcher into to make it viable for shenanigans.  All in all I still had a good night, but I am sorely disappointing in The Black Armory… and concerned for the state of the game if this is what a DLC means from this point out.  Prior to last night I said that Destiny was in the best place it had been since initial release…  now it feels like this one action took us a massive step or two back.

Haphazard Huntering

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A blank screen is probably the hardest thing to confront when you are not exactly feeling up to doing a proper blog.  I am feeling a bit better than I was yesterday but still not really amazing.  In fact my fingers don’t seem to be in unison this morning and I keep having to backspace to fix issues where I hit the wrong letter in the wrong order.  As such be warned there are probably going to be a bunch of spelling errors.  For much of my day off I was dealing with email that never seems to stop even when I am out of the office, and for whatever reason yesterdays volume seemed to be more extreme than normal.  However in between the email arrival sounds I sat on the sofa playing Destiny 2 and watching a marathon of American Pickers on History Channel.  I grew up as an only child and my default mechanism for not feeling alone is to turn on the television and largely use it as background noise.  Given that for the most part I had whittled down all of the engram options for the Titan I spent my time on the Hunter working on pushing its level up enough to someday be relevant.

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By the time the PC version of Destiny 2 released… I had already ground up three characters to the then level cap of 305 light and struggled to do the same on another platform.  As such my Hunter and Warlock have long been neglected with both having completely the Red War campaign but nothing past that point.  As such I worked my way through the Curse of Osiris content and a few missions into Warmind yesterday when I finally decided to start pushing the story instead of doing nothing but public events on Titan.  I still stand by that as an amazing way to level, because I have a stack of token to turn in on that destination if I ever get this character up high enough to make use of them.  There is something relaxing about playing Destiny as a whole and I can happily run loops around a planet because the moment to moment game play feels like an extension of my mind with little to know translation involved.  I can just perform the actions that I want to without thinking about doing it… the only challenge is getting used to the three vastly different jump patterns.  I still am of the firm belief that the Titan jump is the best, but pretty much every other class devotee would fight me on that.

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Past that I spent a bit more time running around in Final Fantasy XIV and doing some more Palace of the Dead.  It is like I suddenly forgot that no one runs anything higher than 51-60…  because I kept trying to figure out why my 91-100 queue was so damned long.  Once I switched up my tactics and started pushing the 51 bracket over and over the progress sped up significantly.  The only negative is that I had a bunch of runs where we encountered no hidden treasures along the way.  One of my favorite things about Palace of the Dead was how often I wound up with interesting transmog bits as a result.  I am looking forward to pushing the Dark Knight high enough to be able to get into Heaven on High to see if there are also interesting transmog bits there as well.  I figure I will grind up through the brackets at least once to be able to unlock everything along the way.  I remember in Palace you needed to have beaten 100 to turn in any of the weapons, and I figure Heaven does the same shtick.

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Lastly I didn’t share this in yesterdays post because I am not entirely sure what I am doing with it.  However I figure since it is a slow morning I will talk a bit about it here.  I had this weird revelation when someone jokingly referred to me as “Old Man Bel” that all three words had three characters and could be stacked in a pleasing pattern.  So while I was fiddling with making all of the sidebar images this weekend I also knocked this out.  I am not entirely sure what I am going to do with it, but I made it so I thought I would share it.  The illustration behind the lettering is of course by the amazing AmmosArt, and I talked a bit about her ESO Bel commission from awhile back.  I have more commissions that I want to get made, especially a Monster Hunter Belghast but I have to sort out exactly what weapon I want to be using and which of my armor sets to have equipped…  the truth is probably my favorite look is a weird mix of the Dober set and the original Samurai layered armor.  Like I said I have no clue what will happen with this branding, especially since I don’t actually stream on a regular basis.  That is still something I hope to do more of, but I find myself completely out of spoons most nights by the time I get home… so much so that for the better part of this year I have completely avoided voice chat in any form.  It doesn’t help that the majority of my crew are time shifted by 2 hours… and are getting online as I am going to bed.  Regardless I did a thing and I am sharing a thing.

Capped for A Day

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Morning folks… I am struggling today.  Both in the waking up department because there is simply not enough coffee in the world… and in the illness department because I seem to be coming down with whatever the hell is going around the office.  I’ve yet to decide if I can make it to work today, so we will see what happens between now and finishing this post but I am taking a breathing treatment as I type.  As far as the weekend I did a bunch of assorted gaming because that seems to be how I roll right now.  Instead of focusing hard on one thing I seem to be splitting my time between a bunch of things, and as a result I spent a good deal of time making tiny images and updated my “Recently Playing” sidebar.  It mostly follows the post I made last week with the major exception of me apparently forgetting to include Elder Scrolls Online which I still dip my toes into occasionally.

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In the Destiny 2 front I spent a good deal of the weekend knocking out anything that could get me a Powerful/Prime Engram and wouldn’t you know it… I reached 600 light the current cap.  This is a cap that I will enjoy for another whole day…. because when the black armor DLC releases on December 4th the cap is going up to 650.  The truth is I am fine with this.. because the last cap was quite the stretch to get to from the levels I was sitting at when Curse of Osiris released, which is unfortunately the last time I really seriously played the game.  Sure I got in and did the Warmind story content and a little bit of planetary stuff but I really was not pushing myself to cap out at that point.  Additionally Forsaken made it way easier for someone to play casually and reach the cap, so I am looking forward to Black Armory and some of the new open world “Forge” content as I have always dug things like the Blind Well or Archon’s Forge and Court of Oryx from Destiny 1.  I need to get serious about trying to wrangle folks for the purpose of having a raid night… Squirrel keeps volunteering himself but at my count that still leaves us down four people.  So if you are interested in that sort of nonsense on the PC platform drop me a line.

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Since this is the first post of December I thought I would talk a bit about InPiPoMo which just finished.  For years I had not joined in because I largely considered my blog cheating given the nonsense number of screenshots that I post.  I apparently have a problem because the goal was to hit 50 “pictures” during the month of November to parallel NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 word count goal…  since a “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  During the month without really attempting to do so I posted 93 screenshots if my quick count was correct, so yeah…  that is a thing I do.  Like this morning I had a screenshot of Diablo 3 on the Switch that I wanted to post but nowhere really to post it so I sort of shimmed it into this paragraph.  Huge thanks to Chestnut for keeping this going this year and you should totally check out her blog Gamer Girl Confessions.

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Over in Monster Hunter World the Winter Star festival is going on and with it a set of gear that you can farm.  For both PC and Console players this also means that almost every event that has ever been active is active once again allowing you to farm anything you might have missed.  That list is considerably smaller for PC players unfortunately, but it does let you get things like the Wyvern Ignition Great Sword and cosmetic nonsense like the Wiggler head.  From what I can tell the only event that is not active is the Code Red event tied to the Devil May Cry cross over potentially because it just ended right before this event.  You can however farm Kulve Taroth again until your heart is content.  There is a set of lackluster armor that you can craft, or you can do what I did and cash in your tickets towards the layered armor set so you can make ANY gear look like Santa Claus.  I plan on farming up enough tickets to also be able to purchase the super adorable Snowman Palico outfit… or Snow Woman in the case of Kenzie who regardless of the game is canonically female.

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I’ve talked about how awesome the screenshots are at the end of fights, because they always capture you doing something interesting.  In this case it is me dodge rolling out of the way of a line of lightning while everyone else is apparently downhill engaged with the monster.  When you hit Hunter Rank 49, in order to make forward momentum you have to face this monster in particular…  Tempered Kirin.  It took me forever to manage to get this on the console and in truth it was probably only because I was getting carried super hard by Shiana that Ashgar and I wound up getting it at the same time.  On the PC I’ve been dipping my toes into these waters for awhile now, and I have reached the point where it is not me that is fainting and causing us to fail…  but regardless still end up failing out most of the time.  Monster Hunter does this thing where the screen freezes and it can mean either you beat the encounter or someone other than you got carted and caused the whole group to fail.  When the screen froze at this point… I just assumed we failed it… but in truth it turns out with one life left to go we managed to take down Tempered Kirin.  I will probably NEVER fight this again…  that is unless someone who has recently started the PC winds up needing help to get through it.  Super happy to be moving again on the other side… which caused me to instantly shoot up to 58.

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I also spent a good chunk of the weekend fiddling around in Final Fantasy XIV… which frustratingly has started doing this thing where it does not exit cleanly and strands a black fullscreen window that seemingly has the power to block task manager.  This is really only a problem for me personally… since I have been streaming every bit of gaming recently from gaming desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs.  When this happens I have to go upstairs and fiddling with it in order to restore functionality, which can be a bit maddening considering how regularly I am hopping games in a given evening.  Regardless I have reached my first wall gear wise in the Main Story Quest and it requires me to get to 335 I believe which means I either need to buy my way out of that hole or start doing enough content to farm up some gear.  I am probably going with the later given that I never was rich in Final Fantasy XIV terms.  In the meantime however I have decided to revisit my old friend the Palace of the Dead to push my Dark Knight up high enough to be able to do the Heaven on High content the rest of the way to 70.  Probably a significant amount of my time will be spent catching up classes so that they are ready when Shadowbringer releases tentatively next summer.

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All Things  Geekery is a great podcast by my friends Detached and Victus that among other topics tends to be a great source of Destiny 2 related conversations.  They have been doing this thing recently where they highlight a member of the community at the beginning of their show, which I thought was a really great idea when they started this concept with the very amazing Chestnut.  However I am now starting to question their mental state because apparently they saw fit to include me in this construct as well.  This week I apparently am leading off the show, but really you should probably just fast forward past that and listen to their interesting discussion of Red Dead Redemption 2… a game I am super interested in but waiting to see if it releases on the PC given that is my platform of choice and I have a bad habit of rebuying games for it.  You can find the podcast at…

Finally there is of course the podcast we recorded this weekend where we talk about Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter World Winter Star event, what happens when MMORPGs close down, Tetris in Virtual Reality and a few other topics shimmed in between.  I tend to be really bad about promoting the thing that I actually do, so I should get in the habit of talking about it more on this blog so there is some cross pollination.  I am still shocked anyone reads this thing… let alone listens to me ramble on the other thing.  At this point I have decided to stay home and crash this morning because I had very few things on my calendar for today.  If I had a packed day of meetings I might have struggled through it and probably infected the rest of the office.  Now I am going to get in some fuzzy pants and forget the world exists.

 

 

Bright Engrams Revisited

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Over the last few nights I have been super engaged with the start of the new Destiny 2 season.  One of the things I dig so much about it is how I can focus in on a different activity each night and vary up what I am doing…  but still enjoy whatever it is that I am doing.  I am not so much into the Crucible so I have not touched that this week yet, but one night I focused on the Planetary Flashpoint, another I really focused on Gambit, and last night for example I mostly focused on completing stuff in the Dreaming City including a bunch of Blind Well.  At some point I am sure I will at least do 3 strikes and 3 heroic story missions to get the powerful engrams included.  The only complaint I have to be honest is the fact that I keep getting Helmets instead of pieces of 600 gear that I actually still need for a given slot.

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One of the things that came up in my little social community was some comments about loot boxes and how a friend of mine did not like the Destiny 2 implementation.  On one level yeah… it is less than optimal, but after living with it for awhile and having them tweak the formula… I no longer feel it is anywhere near as heinous as some of the loot box schemes I have seen.  What changed is there are a bunch of tweaks that were made, not the least of which is the fact that once you have earned an item you can always go into your collections tab.  This is any weapons that are static rolls, so basically anything pre-forsaken…  any ghosts, sparrows, ships, shaders, etc so essentially anything has less need for permanence which is making me way more liberal at scrapping things.  As a result I almost always have a decent balance of Dust… which you can see in the above picture is like 6044.  This morning I opened one of the Bright Engrams and got a skin for one of the Titan exotics, 3 shaders, and a bounty note.  The skin could be scrapped but I have not collected it yet so that was not going to happen, the shaders scrap at around 10 dust per… and the bounty note is turned in for Tess Everis specific bounties that reward glimmer and dust.

Essentially I feel like the game is giving us a bunch of options to get cash shop goods without spending any real world money.  There is always the problem that everything coming from a Bright Engram is super random…  but that is mitigated by the fact that each week during a given season Tess is offering a bunch of items for direct purchase.  Last week they had a ton of the exotic items but this week it looks like they are mostly selling legendary stuff…  2 emotes, 2 sparrows, 2 ships, 1 ghost shell, one armor piece and a couple of the exotic weapon skins.  Basically this helps to mitigate the randomness of the engrams and allows you to just straight out buy the item you were wanting.  Unfortunately this also means you need to be logging in each week to check out and see if Tess is selling that one thing you really wanted.

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In a night of casual play I tend to get one or two engrams as the bar feels like it fills way faster than it used to.  You can see in the above shot that I am pretty damned close to getting one, and that happened to be the one I opened this morning and screenshot its contents.  One night this week I got 3, and last weekend there was a really heavy play day that I got four of them in a single day.  Essentially I am saying that they are way more generous with said loot baubles, at least compared to how it felt when the game initially launched.  This isn’t a “Belghast Luck” thing because experience game is experience gain for everyone, and sure maybe the fact that the first engram I opened this season gave me the sweet ghost rider sparrow…  is luck.  Anyways I just wanted to take a moment to talk about the cash shop in Destiny 2 and how it has gone from really horrible… to completely manageable.  Having a cash shop in a game is always going to incur some problems, but the tweaks they have made since launch have turned this one into a completely manageable situation.  The biggest change for me personally was when I realized I could re-buy shaders… which has made me way more cool with scrapping them knowing that if I really want a specific color I can buy it again.

Wildstar Thoughts

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I am having one of those mornings when I am not entirely certain I have thoughts that are worth sharing.  However because of the ritual that I have built up for myself I am going to share something anyway.  I consistently have a chorus of “no one wants to hear about that” running through my head as I write most of my posts.  I think that is in part why I struggle so hard when someone says something nice to me about my blog or any of the other things I do.  I feel like I really have no clue what I am doing and even more so why anyone would care about it.  I am super appreciative that people do seem to care, but I feel like one of these days everyone is going to pull back the curtain and realize what a boring person I am.  Worse I have an unshakable fear that I am a fraud and that some terribly clever person is going to write a lengthy essay on medium pointing out this fact and cause you all to hate me.  Medium feels like it is a site entirely about writing lengthy essays about exposing harsh truths about the things we love.

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Sometimes I start writing and things just veer wildly off course, and I have a feeling that is precisely what is happening this morning.  Yesterday afternoon at 2pm pst Wildstar went dark as a game and I have some weird feelings about it.  This was not an important game to me personally, in fact I struggled to figure out why everyone liked it so much.  That said I realize that it was a very important game for an awful lot of the people who I care about in my life.  This is in part why I kept trying to unlock the puzzle about what made it feel good to play.  Probably the happiest I was with the game was when I was playing my Chua Engineer and even then…  largely because of the adorable bot army that I drug along with me.  The core problem there is… that the vast majority of the friends I had playing the game on the regular were Exiles not Dominion.  Sure this eventually changed so that you could cross faction until your heart was content… but I think by then it was too far past that golden time in which a game really has to hook me on its charm.

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There was something about the game that caused me to struggle with it.  There was a certain sensory overload that I felt each time I played, with too many things going on with the UI and the telegraphs that just left my eyes feeling immensely tired after playing it for a short period of time.  I realize this is weird given that I have always been one of those people who prefers to have a massive number of UI elements on screen in World of Warcraft, but the combination of this and the action combat proved to be more than I could handle most of the time.  I am regretful that I never managed to make it to the level cap or really experience any of the endgame content.  I had multiple characters largely fall off the face of the leveling curve in Whitevale…  and I am not entirely certain what specifically about that zone caused me to lose all forward momentum.

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All of that said I have to tell you that Wildstar had quite possibly the best housing system I have seen in a game, namely the way you could set up your little pocket dimension to be whatever you wanted it to be…  along with interesting minigames to play.  It also had an excellent cosmetic gear and dye pot system that I hope going forward more games pay attention to.  It was a game that gave its players so many nice systems, and I think that is in part why it had a generally thriving social structure.  There are a good number of people that I met through the game that have become fixtures of my Twitter feed in a daily basis, and I am thankful that I got to meet all of them.  Said feed was completely breaking my heart as I watched so many emotional posts scrolling by in the last hours of the game before they finally shut things down.  I think what probably makes this worse… is the fact that Wildstar lasted far longer than anyone actually expected it would given NC Soft’s track record of shuttering still relatively popular franchises.

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At this point however I am not entirely certain which is worse.  Watching a game get shuttered, or having a game purchased by a company that you are almost certain is going to do bad things to the game.  I watched Hellgate London be bastardized by Hanbitsoft and then get regurgitated back onto Steam in a form that is at times barely recognizable to the original.  Recently Trion Worlds was purchased by a company that has games in its stable with literally temporary inventory bags that expire after seven days.  So I have nothing but the worst fears about how Rift is going to change under their stewardship.  So I am not sure if it is worse to see a game completely close its doors, or to watch it flop around in a zombie state for awhile muddying your memories of it.  As I have said before when this sort of thing happens…  these MMO games that we love are fleeting.  Grab on with both hands and enjoy them while you still can, because eventually…  they are likely going to shut their doors either replaced by something shiny and new or because the players disappeared over time.  In the case of Wildstar we can only hope that a Server Emulator is far enough along to be able to create a fan run server like the thriving Star Wars Galaxies community or the Age of Reckoning Warhammer Online community.

 

 

Season of the Forge

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For the last few days I have been on the cusp of coming down with something I think, but the problem is my schedule does not really allow me to take a day off right now to recuperate.  If I were to take off right now, deadlines would suffer… so as a result I have been taking some over the counter stuff to try and limp along until I can collapse.  Last night however I probably should not have taken that NyQuil, because this morning…  I am groggy as hell.  Last night however was the beginning of the 5th season of Destiny 2 and it seems like they are mixing things up a bit.  For the last few seasons in Diablo 3 there has been an overarching theme to a new season… and it seems like maybe Bungie is borrowing this concept.  The latest “This Week At Bungie” blog post goes into more detail about this, but there is a fairly packed roadmap content wise that we can look forward to.

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As far as last night…  I focused on starting the Pinnacle Weapon quests that I actually feel like I have a shot at getting before the end of the season.

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Pinnacle Weapons are more or less a unique weapon that you can grind for during the season.  There is one tied to Vanguard Strikes, another tied to the Gambit event, and another tied to how far progressed you make it rank wise in the Crucible.  Given that I love Autorifles because I am a noob…  I decided to spend a good deal of last night working on trying to get the Gambit based weapon called Breakneck.  I think in part I just like the old world feel of the weapons that The Drifter offers.  As you can see you need to play a minimum of 40 matches of Gambit, and also do a bunch of other things in the process.  Now my hope is that by the time I have played my 40… I will have long since completed the other objectives.  My goal is to play a handful of rounds of Gambit and run a few Strikes every night to begin whittling away at this objective over time.  The truth is that will probably hold for a bit and then I will spend a weekend grinding nothing but that activity so I can get the weapon.

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With a new season, comes a new set of cash shop engrams… and throughout the night last night I unlocked four of these…  one of which happening to give me this sweet Ghostrider themed sparrow.  I also pulled an exotic ship that is themed after Warmind/SIVA but it isn’t anywhere near as cool looking.  This however immediately became my new main sparrow as I ride around on flaming nonsense.  All it is missing is a bunch of skulls.  I really like the Scorn as a faction, and I love how all of their tech seems even more improvised than even that of the Fallen.  All in all it was a good night and a largely quiet one as I slowly whittled away at collecting powerful and prime engrams.  I have finally reached the point where I am pretty regularly getting 600 light items…  so my hope is in the next few days to be able to hit that item cap before Black Armory bumps it up by 50 again.  It really is a great time to be playing Destiny 2.

If you prefer to consume this information from a Bungie Vidoc… they also have you taken care of as a nice one released yesterday attempting to differentiate between the content players will be getting for free and the content locked behind the Annual Pass.

Powerleveling Gun

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Last night I did not join in FFXIV Eureka shenanigans, largely because I was not feeling terribly sociable.  This is was and will probably continue to be a trying week, as is often the case when we come back from a significant break.  In my case I was out five days, and while I spent a good chunk of the first day at the hospital…  it was still enough time to get thoroughly out of the habit of going to work on a regular basis.  Instead I spent my night roaming around in Destiny 2 and doing puttering sort of activities, in part because I had knocked down the vast majority of the major stuff over the weekend.  The thing I did not realize however is that yesterday was also the final day of the season, and I am a little bummed out that this was apparently the first season that Greysky Armada will not have maxed out guild rank… and will not be earning the banner pole.  I myself have done next to nothing to contribute to this, so in the grand scheme of things I am okay with this… just a little sad.

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Instead of doing things on my Titan main, I opted to instead piddle around on my Hunter who has not really been dusted off since the launch of Curse of Osiris.  It is really weird to have the start of three different content blocks…  Curse of Osiris, Warmind, and Forsaken all on the director map.  I play this game incorrectly… and what I mean by that is my preference is to level to the new numerical cap before starting any of the story driven content.  My thought process is something like this…  if I grind the levels on something like strikes or heroic public events… I can use the story as a light leveling experience, meaning anything I happen to get along the way is actually useful gear instead of something that I immediately relegate to the shard bin.  This may or may not be worthwhile but it is the pattern that I find myself falling into over and over again.

Traditionally I have focused on doing nothing but Titan public events, since by the time you down one of them there is often times another one just about to spawn on the other half of that relatively small map.  With the advent of planetary bounties, I have started focusing on those instead and knocking out a full round of the planets that I have access to.  Each time you turn in one of the bounties it appears to be a significant jump in experience and as a result I am sitting at level 37 out of 50…  and wondering if the Black Armory is going to bump up both Light Level cap and Level Cap.  Grinding in Destiny is my jam, and I find it extremely peaceful to roam around and knock out patrols and public events.

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This process has been bolstered by the fact that apparently the gun I ground for during the Halloween event, may not have a minimum level cap to equip or at least it is equipable at my lowest level which is 30.  I was swapping gear around through DIM…  and if you don’t know about Destiny Item Manager you should totally stop what you are doing and check it out.  Without really realizing what I was doing I swapped my 600 item level Horror Story over to my Hunter…  and it equipped without issue.  This means that immediately I started getting gear that is way higher than I probably should at the equivalent level.  Sure some of it isn’t necessarily usable due to level restrictions… but some of it is and as such this weapon that is an arguably worse version of the Origin Story…  serves as a light level booster.  Similarly I tried it out on my 289 Light Level Warlock… and once again I could equip it just fine.

With the opening of a brand new season….  I will likely be putting the Huntress to bed once again, however the sheer fact that I am interested in playing my alts tells you a lot about the improvement to the current state of Destiny 2.  When the PS4 version released I ground up all three of my classes to 305 light, and used them as a sort of spring board each week to help me level up my weapons…  which in turn then drug up the level of my armor.  With the PC release… I only had the oomph to get the three characters leveled… but never spent time gearing them other than the Titan.  I lost steam… and Curse of Osiris did not really help that, and at which point I seemingly became a player that only really played my main.  Now I am back in the mood to fiddle with the other classes and see what sorts of trouble I can get up to with them as well.  Essentially the desire to play is greater once more than the total package of content available to me on any one character…  which is saying an awful lot given that there are so many opportunities for Powerful/Prime engrams.

Like I have said before…  Destiny 2 is in its best state ever, and one that I feel probably rivals the state of Destiny 1 during Year 3 (and honestly the current state since it has largely been frozen in time).  If you have access to the game I highly suggest checking it out again.  If you have any questions or need help, feel free to holler at me through one of the many channels folks have to holler at me through.

 

Regularly Playing: Late November 2018

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One of the constants of Tales of the Aggronaut is my sheer inability to keep any form of a series going for any length of time.  There is a thing that I used to do semi-monthly where I trued up the regularly playing widget on my blog’s sidebar and talked a bit about the games that I have actually been playing.  I would talk about the things that I was adding to the list, the things that I was for whatever reason still playing… and then talked about the things I was removing from the list and a bit about why.  Unfortunately based on a quick search of my blog…  this is not something that I have done since August of 2017.  A lot has changed since then and a lot of games have come up and gone away, and quite frankly I am not sure how valid any sort of a comparison might be.  However I wanted to get this started again.  So from now on I expect to be updating these towards the end of the month rather than at the beginning of a new month.  I’ve also decided to start including the platform I am playing on, since in a few cases that actually does matter a lot.

Destiny 2 – PC

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I’ve been having a bit of a renaissance with Destiny 2 and I spent the vast majority of the weekend hanging out downstairs and playing it while remoted into my desktop upstairs.  My nonsense Parsec setup is amazing, and this really has become my default gameplay method most of the time.  I mean who doesn’t want to play sitting on the sofa, wrapped up in fuzzy blankets…  with two cats snuggling into them?  I got the Trinity Ghoul to drop after completing Ikora Rey’s bounty objective, and it is awesome…  unfortunately I will probably never actually use it.  The fact that we can only use one exotic weapon pretty much means that choice is always going to go to the Thunderlord.  If they introduce some legendary HMGs into the game again…  that decision might shift…  but for now it feels damned good to have access to one again.  For the most part I am spending my time knocking out various things that award Powerful/Prime engrams, and other than that I started leveling the Hunter last night while watching Walking Dead.  The game really is in the best state it has been in period… and I am probably counting all of the awesome stuff that was available during Year 3 of Destiny 1.  If you are not playing this game you owe it to yourself to check it out again.

Monster Hunter World – PC

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The other primary game that I am spending most of my time playing is Monster Hunter World on the PC.  This game is so much more enjoyable with a mouse and keyboard, and I have recently been grinding away for the Dante weapon and armor set that came in with the Devil May Cry cross over event.  I also had no clue how often I use the term grinding… until this weekend when a Chinese Cutting Wheel and Grinder company reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a paid product placement.  It is weird how things like that happen… how the  gaming sphere takes a perfectly normal and reasonable word and shifts it into something else.  I still have yet to get over the level 49 hump that is Tempered Kirin…  but I figure in the coming week I might start devoting some of my play time towards doing that.  I would really like to be uncapped again by the time the Winter Festival starts up, so that all of the time spent doing those events can bolster my hunting rank.  The highlight of the weekend was the Code Red match when three of us were using Kulve Taroth Paralysis weapons…  and it was shocking just how often we had the mob locked down tight…  even Teostra.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

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Somewhat shocking to me… I am apparently back playing Final Fantasy XIV regularly after my extremely long absence?  The last update from August 2017 was just about when I started to peel away from Stormblood, because that was also the month that I played a significant amount of Guild Wars 2… enough to probably consider it my main game back then.  In the year and some change that has passed since that post… I really have not spent all that much time playing the game.  I came back a few times attempting to get caught up with the main story quest, only to stall out in this place or another.  However lately it has felt really good to roam around and play something like this, especially when paired with my more action oriented main squeezes of Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World.  I can only take so much of that in a single setting and need to retreat back into something slower paced…  and for now at least hotbar combat works nicely for that.

Diablo 3 – Switch

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Another game that I have been enjoying the hell out of is Diablo 3 on the Nintendo Switch.  It is a really great platform for the game and I had never really given the console version any serious play prior to this.  My only gripe is the way it requires connectivity to play seasonal characters.  Essentially if you want to play these in a disconnected state, you need to have the forethought to start up a game before you leave the safety of WiFi… and then place your switch into Airplane Mode.  From there the game will allow you to continue playing your seasonal character, and eventually synchronize everything when you get connected once again.  This is somewhat maddening, but at least I have the ability to tether to my phone if for some reason I did not think ahead to do this thing before I left the house.  I am spending a lot of my “while trying to fall asleep” time playing Diablo 3.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee – Switch

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While I did not play much of it this weekend, I am still very much enthralled with Let’s Go Pokemon.  When I last played I had just beaten the third gym and was grinding my way towards the next one.  However when I get back into game I want to do some backtracking and train my Eevee with some of the silly named abilities that the mentor is offering.  Based on Ashgar’s suggestions, these are apparently really good moves.  This is the biggest problem that I have with Pokemon games in general, is that I never know what moves I should be allowing it to learn and what ones I should be ignoring.  As a result I tend to largely favor straight damage attacks and ignore the more fiddly nonsense of raising and lowering accuracy and such.  Pokemon is a game about collecting cute pets for me… and the combat nonsense is largely just something I have to deal with in order to collect said cute pets.

Fallout 76 – PC

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This game is still very much on the list but I have not devoted near enough time to it.  Largely this requires me to be upstairs… and since I have been spending most of my time downstairs it just isn’t getting played.  I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stress and that makes me turtle and avoid doing any manner of group activity that requires voice communication.  This is coupled with the fact that I don’t really have a great comms set up downstairs, and as a result simply avoid joining voice servers.  I could of course go into “listen only” mode but that doesn’t really work in situations where the in game chat is not amazing.  I did spend some time this weekend hanging out with Rae and walking her through the finer points of Monster Hunter World… or at least answering a bunch of the questions anyone has starting that game.  I know Tam, Kodra, Shiana and Waren have been having a massively fun time running around in a big group… and as cool as that sounds… I just can’t bring myself to be that interactive.  I am hoping when the private servers release that there will be a second awakening of this game and I can hop on the bandwagon at that point.  In the meantime however I am playing a very quiet and crafting-centric version of the game as I expand my nifty roadside base.

Hellgate London – PC (Steam)

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As generally “not good” as the Steam version of this game is…  I find myself still regularly booting it up and playing around with it.  I did however dig out my copy of Hellgate London on DVD, and plan on going through the nonsense to install it and get set up to use the London 2038 emulator servers to see just how well that version of the game plays.  In the mean time however… it is still Hellgate London,  no matter how cludgy it might be and I love this game.  I am guessing this would be on my list of guilty pleasure games that no one else really understands…  like Vagrant Story…  or Simon’s Quest.  Remember kids…  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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While this is not necessarily an every day thing anymore… I am still very much playing Dragalia Lost on a regular basis.  At this very moment there is a special summon event going on, and I seem to have missed the guaranteed five star adventurer summon…  and currently it is a wyrmprint.  No one gives a shit about wyrmprints…  so I will wait to use mine until the five star dragons kick in at the end of the cycle.  The current event is somewhat enjoyable, but I do greatly prefer the cycles where we have a raid open and a new character that we can gain faction with.  So far it seems to alternate back and forth between kill a boss and get bonus loot…  and earn a new character and do a raid.  Since this is a wind event and that tends to be the crew that is the least used overall… I am using it to work up their levels and have largely coalesced on using Melody the Samurai Maid as my main for the event.  Admittedly I mostly like her because it reminds me of my friend PizzaMaid… only because she is a maid that kicks lots of ass as well.

Pokemon Go – Android

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With the connectivity between Let’s Go and Pokemon Go… it has also spurred me to be a lot more active in this game as well.  I don’t have an awful lot to say about it other than the fact that I am regularly checking what “Mons” might be around when I am out about in the world.  The fact that I got a Google Wear watch has also increased this experience because I am now getting credit via Google Fit for the time when I don’t have the app open.  As a result I am hatching a lot more eggs than I did previously, since it seemed inconvenient to keep the app open all of the time.  Mobile games are generally a massive drain on the battery, and none are harder on it than Dragalia and Pokemon Go… so as a result I tend to play them sparingly when I am at fear of running down my battery and without a way to charge it again.

Walking Dead Our World – Android

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This game is barely holding in there and since being punted from the clan I was in…  a lot of my reason for playing on a nightly basis has disappeared.  It was enjoyable to feel like my little bits of play were adding up to larger objectives, but without that incentive…  I am just not motivated to play that often.  The game has a problem of not making it really reasonable to acquire better characters or weapons.  99.9% of the activities you do will give you white cards, which might as well go straight into the dumpster.  The only things worth using really are purple or orange the highest tiers, and they have tied a number of objectives to doing things with specific legendary weapons making it really hard to knock those out each week.  They really want you to spend money on the game, and I feel like I am just not getting enough joy out of the game to do so.  I’ve lucked my way into a few items and they were running a special where Legendary Morgan and Rick were super cheap to purchase with one of the in game grindable currencies.  I fully expect however that by the time I do my next update this game will be on the outs.

There are other games that I might boot up here or there but for the most part this is the crux of games that I am playing regularly as the title of the post suggests.  What are you my wonderful readers playing lately?