Jiangshi Finally

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One of the issues with Destiny 2 is what I have called the progression problem.  I am stuck in a gravity well right now and finding it impossible to get out of it.  I’ve been sitting at 304 for two weeks now and once again the Tuesday reset has come and given me no forward momentum to break free.  In there were I raiding or doing the nightfall on a regular basis I would be opening up more chances to get unstuck.  However if you are not doing raid, trials or nightfall…  essentially you have three milestones each week to have a shot of improving your overall power level.  Last night I streamed for the first time in a very long time, and on Twitch no less…  so you can in theory see the entire journey of what I do on each character every week.  Unfortunately I got two sets of arms and a chestpiece, all of which armor slots that I already had and also as a result…  I am no closer to 305 than I was at the start of the evening.  Right now I am down to needing helm, boots and class item and unfortunately Destiny 2 doesn’t really give me any options to do some activity that targets those specific slots.  I need to try to get the Nightfall in this week for no reason other than it offers a few more chances at getting some progress.

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To add insult to injury I got nothing really from the Cayde-6 chests including one of them literally dropping nothing at all.  Bungie is apparently still tracking down this bug so I fired off a few responses to them stating what I did.  I literally landed on the planet Titan and started chasing chests, with the 3rd chest I opened in a row producing no results.  I am sure this is some sort of anti-chest farming routine that takes away rewards if you open too many chests in too short of time.  The thing is… do we really need this?  What are they trying to prevent, given that there is no actual economy in this game to protect?  This honestly feels less like protection and more like purposeful throttling of the player base, which is sort of the theme I keep feeling with them tamping down the number of sources we can use to improve our power level.  I am wondering if post TwitchCon this weekend things might loosen up a bit.  My working theory is that they are trying to keep the console community strung along until the PC release happens…  that way they do not have to maintain two vastly different release schedules.  As a result I have this feeling that the PC time table will be accelerated in an attempt to get the two platforms back in synchronization.

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Yesterday I talked a bit about chasing some of the rarer drops from the Gunsmith and one in particular… the Jiangshi AR4 by Omolon.  Other than the fun hanging out while streaming…  last night was a bit of a bummer because it meant that I felt like I made no progress.  As I was winding down the evening… I opted to spend down my Gunsmith packages a bit and much to my shock finally got the weapon I had been questing for.  Granted I am still looking for the Frontier Justice Hakke Scout Rifle… but that is a mission for another day.  I played with this weapon quite a bit in the crucible as I started the weekly grind process on my hunter… and other than the fact that it needs some infusion fuel…  it is so damned good.  I had latched onto Uriel’s Gift and generally use that weapon, but the Jiangshi is also extremely fun and probably going to get some rotation along with The Number.  The big thing this weapon has going for it is the stability and the big strike against it…  it lacks Uriel’s overpower High-Caliber rounds.  I have a feeling that post TwitchCon there is going to be a massive nerf of High-Caliber rounds and as a result the other weapons that are not Uriel’s Gift are going to start to shine a bit more.  I would love to stream more often because I had a lot of fun last night, but not even sure when I would make it happen on a regular basis.

Lowering the Banner

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The first Iron Banner of Destiny 2 is officially over, and in spite of my comments yesterday…  I did legitimately enjoy myself for a good part of it.  It was only towards the end when things started to really grate on my nerves.  Last night for example was a really bad night where a combination of my general fatigue, my left index finger being sliced, and the fact that somehow I had gotten into what Destiny Tracker calls the platinum bracket…  served to lead to a series of not so fun matches.  I had every intent to grind out the daily milestone on each of the three characters, but in the end only managed to complete it on the hunter.  I am a little disappointed that I never got the Hand Cannon, but from what I am seeing my luck was considerably better than most players.  Here is my final haul for the 60 matches of Iron Banner I played over the course of last week…

  • 7 or 8 Unique Weapons – lots of dupes dropped
  • 5 piece set of Titan armor – lots of dupes dropped
  • 2 of 5 pieces of the Hunter armor set

All in all that really isn’t too bad of a haul for the very first running of Iron Banner.  This ultimately gives me the entire set of Warlock gear and most of a set of Hunter gear to get next go round.  Additionally there is still the chase for the Hand Cannon.  That is way more useful loot than I tended to get from several months worth of Iron Banner during Destiny 1.  Sure it was interesting to get a bunch of different weapon rolls…  but ultimately most of those wound up being trash.  The likelihood of me getting that god roll weapon was pretty limited, and in truth I think I like having a fixed point to focus on rather than not only hoping to get an item… but hoping it isn’t a garbage fire stat wise.  There are still a significant number of legendary drops that I have never seen.  For example I am still chasing the Jiangshi AR4 from the Gunsmith, and its not just a collector thing…  I really want to play with it because I loved the green version I got while leveling.

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As far as the weapons go… I am not sure if I really have it in me to do a review of them all.  I spent some time last night while grinding out Io tokens playing with them all… and most of them are completely reasonable.  I realize that is not exactly a glowing review, but in many cases I already have a weapon I just like better in that slot.  The Time-Worn Spire is a really solid pulse rifle, in an era when that entire class of weapons seems to be outclassed by practically anything else.  I’ve become a huge fan of the Forward Path auto rifle as well, but it has some pretty stiff competition for my time with the Origin Story and Ghost Primus.  The real breakout weapon for me shockingly is the Wizened Rebuke, if for no reason other than the fact that you can hit 100 impact with it if you so choose.  That said I feel like the weapon performs better if you are outfitting it for 95 impact…  which still makes it significantly harder hitting than all but the Shock and Awe in my vault.  Sure it has insanely slow recharge rate, but if I am going to use a Fusion it is likely going to be in a PVE situation where the charge time isn’t that big of a problem.  Essentially this just became my legendary fusion of choice when I cannot for whatever reason use Merciless as my exotic.

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The other weapon that I found myself shocked to actually enjoy is Guiding Sight the Scout Rifle.  This lives in the same archetype group as Does Not Compute, Song of Justice VI and Haunted Earth…  and in truth it felt better to use than any of those.  When I use a scout rifle, I want something with really good impact and range because I am effectively using it as a surrogate sniper rifle.  This fits that bill nicely because it will one shot a Vandal and has armor-piercing rounds to help with shields a bit…  though I feel like that perk needs a buff significantly.  Sure it will drop a shield faster than a normal kinetic weapon, but it still feels horrible as compared to even an unmatched elemental type energy weapon.  I’ve said this over and over… that I am not really a fan of scout rifles as a whole, however when I do use one I want something along the lines of this weapon.  Between Guiding Sight and Manannan SR4… I feel like I am set as far as scout rifles go.  Basically at the beginning of the week I had a good deal of time collecting loot in the Iron Banner, but as we wound down…   it started to feel like a house guest that overstayed its welcome.  I opened around thirty packages in total and in the future I really need to tag out significantly earlier when I am still enjoying myself rather than trying to force a grind I was no longer enjoying.

Iron Banner Issues

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This past week for me at least has been all about the Iron Banner 2.0 event happening in Destiny 2.  If Destiny Tracker is to be believed, I have played fifty Iron Banner matches over the last four days.  That was enough to turn in 24 Iron Banner packages so far… aka the equivalent of 480 tokens.  At this point I managed to pull a complete set of gear for my Titan and have collected all but one of the weapons available.  The Hand Cannon is eluding me but I still have faith that I might manage to get it when I run through my daily milestones for Iron Banner today.  To say I have a high tolerance for grinding is an understatement, and the more impressive stat is that every single bit of this has been solo.  I will get into more about that later but suffice to say I feel like I experienced everything that is to be seen in the new Iron Banner.  This month the game mode of choice was Control…  which used to be my favorite mode for Iron Banner but in the 4 player crucible I seem to now favor Supremacy.

What Changed?

Traditionally the Crucible is an event that does some level synchronization to make sure every player is on a level field.  Iron Banner however in Destiny 1 was one of the un-synced events that took into consideration what your gear level was.  In truth however this didn’t really play a heavy role other than maybe dealing a few extra points of damage to someone significantly under your gear level.  The entire event functioned based on the Iron Banner reputation that would reset to zero before the start of a new event.  The ultimate goal was to level from 1 to rank 5, which then allowed you to purchase gear that was available from Lord Saladin.  This generally consisted of two armor slots and two weapons, and then the same items were available as rewards at the end of matches.  In my experience one in five to ten matches rewarded gear at the end.

Now Iron Banner is governed by a token based system much as is the case with all factions in Destiny 2.  Additionally it relies on the same level synchronization that occurs in the Crucible so no more gear level advantages.  Previously the only way to gain progress was to either complete a bounty or win the match.  This meant if you had some really bad luck you could have a long streak of loses where you did not move your reputation forward at all.  This time around you get 2 tokens for a loss and 5 tokens for a win, and it takes 20 tokens in total to get a package.  The packages themselves contain 1 Iron Banner specific item, and on item from a long list of other miscellaneous weapons and armor.  I should have taken much better care in opening my packages and tracked the items I got in each, but I will just say there were a significant number of duplicates.

The Problems

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The issue with Iron Banner is a very nuanced one, that requires you to understand some of the base states of the game to understand how we got here.  In Destiny 1 there was a constant refrain from players lashing out against skill based match making, and complaining about the number of “red bar” players with poor connections that they kept encountering.  With Destiny 2 it feels like they stepped away from a lot of the intelligence that attempted to make decent matches for players.  One of these is that the game no longer attempts to match teams of players against other teams, which is where the issue happens.  Most of the weekend I spent time matched against partial or complete teams of players, and as a result had to fight a very uphill battle to get my wins.

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The games seemed to be really hit or miss, I could go from being steamrolled one moment to being the odd man out on a team of three players that queued and in turn rolling over another team.  In the rare instance when I got matched with a bunch of other random players…  I did good.  Like for example the above screenshot is one I think I will never be able to duplicate where I somehow ended up with a 6.4 efficiency rating…. which is their version of Kda.  This is an issue because it ends up giving players a very uneven feeling experience, to go from ruling the world to succumbing to it…  within the course of a single matching.  The folks that managed to gather up a team, and were on voice chat however seemed to completely decimate all comers.

Problems With The Grind

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Iron Banner was one of those events that I looked forward to each month, not necessarily because I loved the PVP but because it was an opportunity to move up in the world.  What I mean by that is that in Destiny 1 there were a limited number of events that you could participate that scaled all the way to the level cap, Iron Banner was one of them.  As a result I spent my weekends grinding away at Iron Banner incrementally improving my light level so that I could hang with the big dogs…  but keep my relatively solitary play style.  With Destiny 2 this concept is toast.  Gear drops at the same item level that any other Legendary drop does, which means there is no real way to advance your power level through Iron Banner drops.  Sure there is the random chance of getting an exotic to drop, but that is a once a night sort of event and even then you need some serious luck to get anything that will move the bar forward.

Now the meaningful grind is about the collection of available loot, but I fear this is going to be a very short lived process.  I said earlier in the post that I have collected all but one weapon at this point, and a full set of gear for my titan.  Additionally I have a few items for my hunter now, so currently there are ten items that I have not seen.  Given that it is highly unlikely that we see an influx of new items before the next Iron Banner, then it means that my drive to keep participating is going to be less each time as I whittle down that list of needed items.  Now were I able to keep using Iron Banner as a means to incrementally increase my power level, then more than likely I would continue to participate and even look forward to the event.

The Future

I’ve tried to remain largely positive about Destiny 2 because in a few weeks we will be starting the process all over again with the launch of the PC version.  There are however issues here and there that sort of stick out as annoyances.  The core problem with Destiny 2 is that more than anything it is a direct sequel to Destiny 1.  What I mean by that is in some ways it feels like we took a step backwards to a world where everything that happened in Taken King and Rise of Iron never existed.  It makes me wonder if this project was launched before the release of Taken King, and they simply never applied the good parts of years two and three before launch.  I was a die-hard Destiny 1 player, and I watched that game improve in so many ways over the three years since release.  Similarly I have all the faith in the world that a lot of these rough spots will get ironed out as we move forward.  Destiny 2 is a much better starting point than Destiny 1 ever could have been, but much like I feel sometimes with World of Warcraft…  I get a little wistful when I think about what could have been had we taken all of the good from TTK and ROI into the new game.

 

Advertisers Suck

Okay this is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal content.  However one of the things I get sick of as a blogger is dealing with the constant deluge of people wanting me to link to something, or do some sort of half baked paid content scheme to increase their SEO numbers.  I’m feeling a little vindictive today so I am posting the sort of thing that I deal with on a regular basis.

Hey quick question –

I hope everything is going well on your end 🙂

My name is [Dude You Can Google Keywords], and I’m on the content team at [Cloud Storage Company I Have Never Heard Of].

I just finished going through your article here: http://aggronaut.com/category/games/action/. Thanks for the resource!

My colleague [Some Writer At The Company] recently put together a pretty comprehensive piece on cloud storage for photographers. This really is good information for anyone in this realm. There is a ton of information out there; our guide was designed to cut through the noise a bit.

The post is here: [Link to a post about hosting photography]

Would you consider linking to it in the article of yours I mentioned above? I saw you linked to store.playstation.com in there, so I figured I’d see if you’d link to mine as well. Perhaps your visitors find it helpful, but hey, it’s up to you.

Thanks,

– [Dude You Can Google Keywords]

P.S. I respect the relationship you have with your readers, I wouldn’t ask you to link to anything I didn’t think was an excellent resource for you guys.

So firstly…  my blog is not a photography blog.  Secondly he is linking to one of my categories, this one specifically is for action games so nothing to do with photography.  The reason why he suggests I link to it… is because I link to store.playstation.com???  I mean I do this thing because I am talking about how to claim your Playstation Plus titles without logging into your console.  Anyways this makes zero sense given what my blog is.  As is usually my first line of defense I just ignore the email hoping they will go away.  However this doesn’t always work as is the case with the follow up email that I get.

Hey again –

I figured I’d try one more time 🙂

Did you happen to get my last email? If you have a moment, could you let me know what you think about this idea? Or maybe you could put me in touch with the person in charge of content?

I’d love any help you can give!

Thanks!

– [Dude You Can Google Keywords]

Now one of the things I have learned the  hard way… is that if they ever do this…  email a second time…  you are NEVER getting rid of them unless you give them a forceful shove off.  I had one person from a website on e-sports betting pester me on and off over the course of an entire month through a string of probably twelve emails where I kept trying to politely say that I am not interested… and that they kept trying to get me to allow them to post promotional content on my site.  So as a result I have to end up sending an email like this one…

Hey [Dude You Can Google Keywords],

I had not responded to the first email in part because I just get tired of responding to emails like this one.  Tales of the Aggronaut is a personal blog and anything that appears on it means that its there because I personally suggest people checking it out.  I don’t do paid ad placement nor do I link to products or services that I did not find organically and I am not actually using myself.  Firstly you included a link that makes zero sense given that it is the action games category of my blog and has nothing to do with photography.  Secondly…  the fact that I link to Store.playstation.com also makes zero sense giving that its a tutorial on how to retrieve your Playstation Plus games of the month through the web interface without having to log into the console.  Essentially nothing you wrote me fits in any way to what I actually write about.  Clearly you spent exactly as much time reviewing my website as was required to fill in what is essentially a madlibs style form email.
None of this makes me interested in your product.  Had you actually found a way to relate this back to my readers in any fashion, and simply approached me with an offer of “we have this awesome product, is this something you maybe want to review?  Here is an account to check it out.  Let us know what you think and tell your readers if you like it.” then bam that is a reasonable way to approach a content creator.  This just feels sleazy.
Anyways hope you have a good day.
Bel

Here is hoping that I never hear from this person again…  but deep down in the back of my mind I know that I will.  There is a slimy underbelly that exists when you get to a certain point with a blog, where all of these people start crawling out of the woodwork wanting to use an anchor on your site as part of some network to increase their search engine ranking.  Some offer to pay… somewhere between $50-100 for placing an article laden with links to their product on your site.  Others like this schmuck seem to want you to do it out of the goodness of your heart.  One guy claimed that it was unfair to my readers to only show part of the story, because I had linked to Libsyn a hosting provider that I use myself for AggroChat and have zero business relationship with.  I could go to the trouble of writing a rule or flagging it as spam, but that doesn’t stop the constant onslaught of people just like them.  Writing this post more than anything is for me personally… because sometimes I just want to scream obscenities at my email.  Instead I am creating a post which is at least somewhat therapeutic.  Monday we will return to our normally scheduled posts.

Xur Week Five: 10/13/17

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This week is an interesting week namely because it answers a question I had rolling around in the back of my head.  Since this is the first week Xur is returning to a planet that he had already been to…  I had wondered if he would always appear in the same place on each planet.  While we may not be absolutely certain… he did in fact appear up in the tree in the Watcher’s Grave area once again.  I am curious to see when he goes to Titan next week…  if they do follow the pattern if he also still appears in the little building that he did last time.  I feel like this is going to be one of those weeks where you are either highly disappointed or really excited based on a handful of variables.  So without further delay, lets rip that wrapping off and see what Xur brought us.

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Every so often in Destiny 1 they had an exotic that equipped in the wrong slot…  No Land Beyond the primary slot sniper or Universal Remote the primary slot shotgun are prime examples.  This weeks bounty is the Fighting Lion… an energy slot grenade launcher that has a significant number of negatives that I feel have been placed on it in order to let it sit in a slot that is easier to get ammo for.  The exotic perk is Delayed Gratification that allows you to do a timed explosion sort of thing where so long as you are holding down the trigger it will bounce the grenade around…  then when you let up off the trigger it will explode.  This continues to go into the generally fiddly and unreliable nature of grenade launchers as a whole that I went into a whole diatribe about yesterday.  The most interesting perk is Thin the Herd which causes direct hits with the grenade to do significantly more damage to enemy shields… and then rapid kills to enemies damaged in this fashion cause the weapon to reload.  Given that this is a single shot weapon… I feel like this is actually the perk we should be caring about.  In function I think this weapon is designed to be a shield stripper and for you to swap over to it… hit an enemy decimating its shield in a single hit and then swap back to your kinetic to kill it quickly so that the weapon reloads and is ready for the next encounter.  I mean this is a cool mechanic, but it also means you are losing one entire weapon slot to effectively a gimmick.  I rely way too much on both my kinetic and energy weapons for moment to moment game play and cannot really afford to have a one hit wonder taking up one of those slots.  Your mileage may vary of course and it is probably still worth a pick up if you have not yet unlocked this item in your collection.

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Peacekeepers are an item that I would have purchased…  were it not for the fact that I literally just got a pair from an engram last night.  The perk on these is interesting in that it effectively gives Sub-Machineguns a stronger version of the cocoon perk.  Effectively Mecha Holster does two things…  firstly it causes submacs to reload when you stow them and secondly it causes submacs to swap instantly.  I feel like this is screaming for a build where you are running two different archetypes of submachinegun in both your kinetic and energy slots.  Were I doing this build I would go with a highly stable 600 rpm weapon like the Antiope-D or the Adjudicator in my kinetic slot, and rock something like the Royal Dispensation II in my energy slot.  This is more than likely a PVP build sort of thing given that submacs akimbo is probably not the best idea for PVE engagements because you lose a lot of utility.  This is a cool item that is inspired by the way Robocop drew his weapon, but it just isn’t good enough to probably get me to stop using the exotics I already have in rotation.  Once again this is another if you don’t already have it, buy it to unlock in your collection sort of setup.

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This week we have yet another repeat in the form of the Wings of Sacred Dawn…  that actually last appeared in Xur’s inventory on week one when we were back here on Nessus.  This still is one of the most ornate chest pieces that I have seen in the game and I know a lot of players seem to rock this almost for looks alone.  I am still not really a fan of the Dawnblade sub class nor am I really a fan of the whole hover in air while hurling blades at your enemy that the Exotic perk gives you.  If you like hanging mid air and performing attacks though then this might be the ideal weapon for you…  for me that just seems to make you a giant target and I absolutely love when a warlock is using this in the crucible for that reason.  It is worth the pick up for the unlock and maybe there will be a situation where this sort of gameplay is really needed in the future.

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Now I present the diamond in the rough…  Knucklehead Radar.  There has been this trend in Destiny 2 of bringing underutilized exotics from Destiny 1 into the game, but this one sort of breaks that pattern.  Knucklehead Radar has always been useful because it grants an insanely good exotic perk in the form of Upgraded Sensor Pack.  What this effectively does is grant you radar 100% of the time regardless if you are aiming down the sight of your kinetic, energy or heavy weapon.  The shine off of this item tarnished a bit during year three, when they introduced the Memory of Gheleon artifact… that effectively did this same thing.  However for now…  this is the only exotic that I use on my Hunter and if you do not already have this in your arsenal you should do whatever it takes to buy this item this week.  Sure there are items that are functionally better in different situations….  but I like the fact that this is legitimately always going to be useful regardless of what sub class you are using or what situation you are in be it PVE or PVP.  One of my favorite Destiny 1 items… and still one of my favorite Destiny 2 items…  I just wish there was an equivalent for Titans.

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Another thing I have started trying to do on my Friday morning post is show of what Xur is selling in Destiny 1, since no one seems to still be doing this thing.  This week he can be located on the Reef, and apparently talked to his Destiny 2 counterpart as he is also offering the Knucklehead Radar.  I am not going to talk a lot about his offerings but instead just list them out for any players who are still trying to complete exotic sets from the first game.

  • Legacy Heavy Weapon Engram – 31 Strange Coins
  • Helm of Inmost Light – Titan Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Knucklehead Radar – Hunter Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Nothing Manacles – Warlock Gauntlets – 13 Strange Coins
  • Hereafter – Sniper Rifle – 17 Strange Coins
  • Last Word and Sequel Ornament – Hand Cannon – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust
  • Truth and Prototype Ornament – Rocket Launcher – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust

Autos and Grenades

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Apart from the recent jaunts back into Final Fantasy XIV brought on by our amazing Free Company house…  I have been spending most of my time this week with the Iron Banner.  There are a whole lot of things that have changed from Destiny 1…  most of which for the better.  For me at least in D1 Iron Banner was this holiday event in part because I knew that I could get gear that would help bump my light level up.  Unfortunately that is not the case with D2, and this is all part of a larger discussion I want to have at some point about the general problems with the way progression feels.  In D1 the only way you made progress through the ranks of the Iron Banner reputation was by winning, which meant that if you hit a frustrating unlucky streak you could stall out complete.  Gear drops were rewarded as part of bounties that you could get on each character, and as random drops at the end of matches.  On average I seemed to get a new piece of gear every three or four matches… but you also had dry spells where you could go upwards of ten games without seeing anything.  In D2 this situation is largely resolved by shifting everything to token based loot.  It takes 20 tokens to get a package with one iron banner exclusive item and then the potential of getting a random filler legendary and/or some shaders.  You gain 2 tokens for a loss and 5 tokens for a win, so if you can manage to get on a streak you can rack up several packages in a row.  Additionally there are challenges that can be completed each day and turning those back in to Lord Saladin rewards 15 faction tokens.

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My goal so far has been to earn at least 2 packages a day, and in part this is only because I cannot really handle a bunch of crucible in a row.  So far in Destiny 2 the length of time I can reasonably play crucible matches back to back lines up almost perfectly with the amount required to get the Call to Arms engram.  My biggest problem is that I need a breather every so many matches because I notice that my own abilities start to wain greatly as the stress and anxiety sort of catch up with me.  As a result I notice that I am completely all over the map when it comes to my ability.  I also have certain maps that I am just not good at, or do not fit whatever it is that my play style actually is and as a result my Destiny tracker profile is a mess.   The biggest problem for me is that the core reason why I spent so much time playing Iron Banner was the overarching goal of increasing my viability in the game by getting more powerful gear and infusing it into stuff.  With this gone…  some of my drive to keep playing is largely toast and at this point my goal is to get 10 packages so I can unlock whatever it is that I earn by doing so.  Right now I have opened five packages and gotten the same auto rifle twice…  which admittedly was the primary weapon I was interested in… as well as helm, chest and a grenade launcher.  I thought I would take a moment this morning and talk about the two weapons I have seen so far.

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The Forward Path looks like the Origin Story which is ultimately what initially got me excited about the weapon, but winds up being a vastly different weapon archetype.  It lives in the 600 rpm bracket which means its most direct competitors are Scathelocke, Ghost Primus and Martyr’s Make…  at least of the rifles you see in regular rotation.  All of these weapons are really closely grouped on most of the stats but The Forward Path has significantly more handling than most of the other weapons in this class.  The big take away from me after using this a good deal is that it feels really reliable and easy to hold on target… especially with a moving target.  It benefits significantly from the Tap the Trigger perk which grants increased accuracy and stability the few moments after pulling the trigger.  When I am taking down targets at max range I tend to habitually pump the trigger firing off short bursts… a habit that I picked up from playing the early FPS titles and this weapon plays directly into that instinct.  The only negative is… this feels like a PVE weapon… that is being rewarded by a PVP event.  There is just not a case where you would not choose to take Scathelocke or Origin Story in your kinetic slot because High-Caliber Rounds and Rampage are just that good.  However Armor-Piercing rounds makes this thing a beast for strikes and other PVE content where the mobs are shielded because this gives you the ability to easily break shields with both Kinetic and Energy weapons.  I am super glad to add this weapon to my arsenal, but it is right now a weird mixed bag for me… and in truth I am probably going to rock Ghost Primus/Scathelocke in a lot of the situations I would normally use it.

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Grenade Launchers need a great deal of work.  As it stands this is my least favorite weapon type and is voted most likely to get sharded on sight when one drops into my inventory.  I’ve found exactly one Grenade Launcher that I actually like using and that is the one from the crucible/packages Play of the Game.  The reason why this weapon shines above all others is because of a single perk…  Proximity Grenades causing the payload to detonate when it gets close to a target rather than hitting it.  Grenades are insanely unwieldy and bounce like mad… making them completely unreliable other than being used “for funsies”.  The Day’s Fury suffers from all of these problems with grenade launchers in general… but is increased by having a fairly small blast radius and perks that don’t really help make up for the weaknesses of the genre.  You have Mini Frags which increases reload speed and magazine size at the cost of blast radius, or Spike Grenade that inexplicably increases stability.  When I think Spike Grenades I think some sort of a claymore mine action where it hurls shrapnel into nearby enemies when it explodes…  which would have been awesome and maybe would have made this weapon reasonable to use.  As it stands this just ends up being vault clutter that I will end up holding onto because it was hard to get… hoping maybe they will turn Grenade Launchers into something useful in the future.

Have you gotten anything cool from the Iron Banner?  What are your thoughts of the event so far?  Drop a line in the comments and let me know.

Shirogane Extreme

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For most of my journey through Final Fantasy XIV, my home has been The Mists Plot 13 where we managed to snag a small house and turn it into our Free Company house years ago.  The sad thing at this point I can no longer seem to remember what ward we were originally located in.  Once we placed that Aetherite shard in our lawn…  I stopped needing to care about which one I was intending to visit.  Over the years we contemplated trying to move houses to something larger, but we were so ideally situated in the ward that nothing ever felt right.  We were across the road from a market board and retainer bell, and just a few short paces away from the vendors located centrally on the zone.  Similarly we were only a row of houses away from the beach making it feel like everything was close at hand.  One of the key problems with housing in Final Fantasy XIV is that it is extremely expensive…  and secondly it is completely unavailable most of the time given that it is physical housing rather than instanced.  Each Ward having a limited number of potential spaces divided up among small, medium and large plots, and unfortunately Square Enix has been extremely slot to add additional resources.

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With the launch of Stormblood came a golden opportunity because they announced that they would be adding a brand new housing area in the city of Shirogane.  It was about this time that we started talk of actually finally moving to a new area, especially after seeing that this new zone had beach front lots.  There was still the logistical problem of having to sell one house and then immediately turn around and try and buy a new one… all the while hoping you didn’t get sniped and end up without a Free Company house in any form.  However at some point along the way they announced that they would be adding in a relocation system that allows you to move houses and everything in them.  There has been a standing joke online over the last few days of the opening of the Shirogane housing area being the ultimate extreme battle… and reading reddit it definitely seems the case.  Functionally how we got the house was having Tam and Ash both online at 3 am PST when the housing area opened… both with enough money to buy a house in the hopes that one of them would be able to get in and purchase something.  Tam absolutely nailed it and got us Ward 7 plot 49, which is a great medium house right off the beach and beside the entrance to the zone.  The nearest Market board is up the hill from our house making it still a short distance away, though I have to admit they have done an amazing job of trying to make sure ALL of them are a very short distance away.

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This is a different shot of our new home, and the one that Tam posted when he made his “we got one” post.  It is a freaking nice location and the only problem we have right now is dealing with trying to decorate it given that we moved up from a small…  and this thing seems massive with three floors.  There is currently some sort of a bug hitting a bunch of us with our private rooms, but I put in a ticket and am hoping they can do something to fix that.  The Free Company house has been this hub of activity for our members over the years, and while it is going to feel weird to be in a new location… I am sure given a short amount of time it will feel just as much at home as the last one did.  I’ve not really had time to meet our neighbors but I am hoping they are as cool as our last batch was.  It seems however like we were the lucky ones, given that everyone is clamoring for more available properties.  I think if you were not awake at 3 in the morning when the plots went on sale… you didn’t get a home simple as that and it reminds me of the land runs that happened in Horizons each time a new housing area opened up.  This is the problem with physical player housing, and one of the reasons why I tend to prefer implementations like Everquest 2 or Wildstar that have unlimited instanced housing.  I will say the feeling of a physical neighborhood with other players that you get to know over the years as you hang out at the market board is pretty great.  It just sucks that so many players have to go without housing because of this.

 

Beyond the Light

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For the last few weeks I have been making contact with a lot of players in preparation for the launch of Destiny 2 on the PC platform.  One of the patterns that I have noticed is that while there will be a ton of us playing, there are a significant number of different clans in the works.  Even among my own guild-mates it has been decided to go with a Greysky Armada clan rather than joining another, so I will end up splitting time between that on the PC and Tequila Mockingbird on the PS4.  Basically the common theme that I kept seeing was that we were going to be a pretty fragmented bunch going forward.  Ages ago I created the Beyond the Light discord, and then never really did anything with it.  The theory behind it was to have a clan agnostic place for folks to come together and get help doing stuff in Destiny.  Since the early marketing material for Destiny 2 talked about us losing our connection with the light… it seemed like a really fitting name.  The idea is to create a sort of hub for our little corner of the gaming verse, and facilitate cross clan activities.  The channel names themselves are pretty general purpose and I decided to follow a pattern of the various weapon foundries for voice channels.  The idea being that anyone can use any channel for any purpose that is needed at the moment.

The reason why I chose a discord rather than a slack or even a new Blizzard Social area… is the fact that Destiny 2 PC based voice chat is horrible.  I am not sure how many of you actually tried using this during the PC beta, but it was horrific.  Currently we only have about fourteen members, but I figure the discord will grow as we get closer and closer to the PC launch.  There are break out channels for the various classes and we’ve already gotten into some discussions on Warlocks and Titans thus far.  I’ve largely treated the PS4 launch as a sort of extended paid beta process for the eventual PC launch, and I have attempted to gather up as much information as I could along the way.  If nothing else it should be a good place to find people to go do heroic public quests with and maybe even eventually pick up raids.  There are already Destiny themed discords out there, but honestly they felt huge and impersonal…  or in the case of the one associated with the reddit…  fairly toxic at times.  I wanted to create a happy place to hang and enjoy this game with all of the people who may or may not share the same banner as me.  Effectively everyone is welcome pending they behave themselves.  There isn’t a lot of formal structure right now but I figure that will come with time.

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The other big news of the week is that Iron Banner is back and its reset day!  Like every other activity this one is going to be based on a token system, and I have to say I really like this.  There are a lot of complaints from players who like seeing weapons drop, and technically they still do in modes like the Crucible.  However I would far rather have a predictable path to get rewards that I can work my way towards than to rely entirely on luck.  The other aspect of this that I absolutely love is the fact that tokens go into the shared account inventory, meaning you can grind out the rewards on one character and then swap over to another character to consume them.  I personally plan on holding all of my Iron Banner tokens until I have completed the powerful rewards milestones for the week so that I can potentially get items at a higher light level than where I am currently standing.  Right now I see a handful of weapons that look really interesting, including an Iron Banner themed version of my beloved Origin Story.  Additionally I think the gear set this time is amazing for Titans at least, so I hope to gather up most of a set there as well.  This evening my goal is to eat some Tikka Masala that I have going in the crock pot…  and play a bunch of Iron Banner.  Side note you should be able to double dip the Call to Arms weekly milestone while doing Iron Banner so if you have not unlocked that… I highly suggest you do Lord Shaxx’s two early crucible milestones so you can start working towards yet another luminous engram.

Megafauna Rider

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I spent most of my weekend playing Horizon Zero Dawn instead of Destiny 2 for a change.  On Saturday night we recorded our September game club show and as a result I pushed myself to beat the main story quest in HZD.  Firstly…  this is really a foreign mode of play for me and in many ways it takes a lot of fun for me out of the game to focus fire on the main story.  I remember bowing out of the FFXV show in part because I didn’t want to ruin the game by forcing myself to ignore all of the side stuff.  With Horizon Zero Dawn I am sorta glad that I forced myself past this hump and buckled down on finishing.  This might be some of the best science fiction that I have experienced regardless of form factor be it book, movie or game.  The problem is it takes a really long time into the game before the hooks are set and you get enough of an inkling of what might be happening just beneath the surface.  There is this place that a lot of people seem to stall out, where you exit the sacred lands of the Nora and before you are handed the reins to the real story of the game.  I personally stalled out here as did Void and I have a sneaking suspicion SquirrelPope did as well based on some comments last night.  Once you get past this hump however it is an amazing roller coaster of a ride all the way to the finish.

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Since I was forced to play in a manner that is really not my style, I spent some time Sunday going back and meandering my way through the world.  The game does the whole hand wavy “the final events have yet to happen” thing after you finish the credit roll.  I feel this obligation to sit through the credits as a sort of homage to all of the people and work that went into making the game.  This one however tested my resolve because it is quite possibly the longest credit roll I have seen, but it just shows how much effort goes into making a modern AAA blockbuster.  I do however highly suggest you wade through because there is a massive payoff at the end that explains one of the weird little things that happens in the world as you explore it.  I think more than anything that is what I love the most about this game… it is constantly planting seeds that do in fact grow into something cool by the end of the game.  There seems to be nothing placed in this world that does not at least eventually lend its way to a larger purpose.  The secrets of the game are revealed to you at the same time as they are to your character Aloy, and as a result the experience is really interesting.  There were several times I thought I had guessed how this was all going to play out in the end, but the game kept throwing me curve balls.  The end result is a mythos as rich as any of the big tenets of geekdom, and I am absolutely rabidly looking forward to the expansion that is coming in November.

 

Xur Week Four: 10/6/17

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Happy Xursday!  Since this seems to be a fairly popular feature I will be doing a run down of what Xur has this week.  Since the Flashpoint is in the European Dead Zone he is found over in the winding cove area.  For characters who have yet to hit 20… you can get there by just going west out of town and winding along the coastline…  but in truth I would warn against doing this because his items degrade in power based on your level.  This time Xur is a little tricky given that the previous three weeks he has been in some sort of a sheltered area, and this time he is up on top of a cliff that you are going to have to do a bit of wall jumping to get to.  Another thing to watch out for… the area he is in is patrolled by a group of dregs on pikes.  Additionally there may or may not be a public event active at the drop zone in the winding cove area.  Essentially this is probably the most dangerous area Xur has been so far, just be careful if you AFK because Vandals could in fact hit me with their wire rifles from where he is located.

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First off he is offering the Vigilance Wing, a weapon I am extremely excited to see because I have yet to get one from an engram.  This is an odd Osiris themed weapon that you occasionally see in your “killed by” notes in the crucible and now that I see the perks I understand why.  The exotic perk for this weapon is Harsh Truths which does several things.  Firstly it fires a five round burst which is a bit unique because most pulse rifles fire three round bursts, and hakke weapons are the outlier with four round bursts.  A five round burst for reference means a single precision burst kills a second tier mob like a Vandal.  The second part of the perk is that when a nearby ally is killed you gain health regeneration and increased movement speed…  something that happens constantly in the crucible.  Seeing as I just literally got this weapon today I have yet to take it into the crucible so I am uncertain how much difference this makes.  I did however run around the EDZ and complete a public event to get a feel for it and my opinions are a bit mixed.  Statwise it is probably most similar to the Lincoln Green, with a very odd 530 rounds per minute rate of fire and surprisingly high 33 impact for that rpm.  Traditionally the high rate of fire weapons have an extremely poor range but this one has 68 and a medium range sight to go with it making it fairly decent in longer range engagements.  The other side of the coin though is the unique sun themed sight means it is extremely annoying for close range fights.  The last stand perk plays well with harsh truths in that it gives the weapon improved performance if you are the last member of a fire team.  It seems like it is well worth the legendary shards if for no reason other than to get the unlock and a good Kinetic pulse rifle is a bit of a rare item to find.

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The Insurmountable Skullfort is another of a list of items that has returned from Destiny 1.  Its bizarre because almost all of them were considered second tier items, which makes me wonder if the devs were simply unhappy with the amount of play time that they got and carried them over to potentially give them some new life.  Transfusion Matrix causes kills with arc melee abilities to trigger health regeneration and restore melee energy.  What this means in play is that there is a really interesting build you can do with a Striker Titan where you have near 100% up-time of the insanely powerful arc shoulder charge ability.  This is literally the only reason to use this exotic and is probably well worth the pick up so that you have it in case you ever want to try that build out.  Personally since I love my Auto Rifles… I am likely to almost always use the Actium War Rig because it benefits whatever spec I might be in at that time and doesn’t hamper me from switching freely.

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Nezarec’s Sin is another really limited use case item because its exotic perk does one thing.  Abyssal Extractors causes void damage kills to increase your ability energy recharge rate.  I feel like the primary use case for this item is going to be in the crucible and specifically in control or similar modes where you are wanting to stand your ground or camp out a location.  This is of course a useful for Void warlocks, but also is triggered by void weapon damage.  This means you could in theory build a specific layout with a void energy and a void heavy and be constantly dropping your healing puddle on the ground.  I ran this item for a bit of a time and the ability recharge rate increase is significant.  Overall however I tend to prefer Eye of Another World that highlights priority targets and has a flat increase to the recharge rate of melee, grenade and your ability.  The helm however is well worth a pick up in case you really need to be the one providing an on demand puddle.

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And we have our very first repeat item of Xur in Destiny 2.  Foetracer helm was offered in week two and my feelings are probably much the same.  The exotic perk is Relentless Tracker which causes any mob you scope in on to acquire an X target that you can see through obstacles.  Additionally marked targets like this take additional damage when they get to low health range.  This is a generally useful item and I am sure there are specific cases where it is extremely solid especially for low health target damage.  Personally I am a huge fan of Knucklehead Radar because I like having my radar up while I aim down sight regardless of the weapon I am using.  The Foetracer however is probably a much better damage option because at least it does something to increase your output.  I didn’t pick these up in week two, but I did this week largely to get a collection unlock.  Probably a solid item if you are needing a reasonable exotic to use.

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All in all I feel like this was a pretty solid week for Xur.  I’ve been wanting to play with the Vigilance Wing as it is an exotic that I had never seen from an engram, so I am super happy about him offering that.  The two weapons you can get from an engram that I am still missing is the Sweet Business Gatling gun auto rifle, and The Prospector grenade launcher.  As far as armor pieces go… there are still a sizeable number of unlocks on each character that I will hopefully see Xur offering in coming weeks.  I am mildly annoyed that on week four we are already getting duplicates, which reminds me all too much of the number of times we have seen weapons like the Hawkmoon or Last Word being sold.  What are your thoughts?  Are you impressed with what Xur has been offering or are they all old news to you by the time you can get your hand on them?  I am interested in your thoughts.  One last thing… I decided to start including Destiny 1 Xur in these posts because I feel sorta bad about that incarnation stuck in a game that people aren’t hyped about anymore.

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In Destiny 1 Xur is located in the Vanguard area of the Tower.  I am not going to go into a lot of detail on this, but the major items he has to offer…

  • Suros Regime Auto Rifle – 23 Strange Coins
  • ACD/0 Feedback Fence Titan Arms – 13 Strange Coins
  • Celestial Nighthawk Hunter Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • The Stag Warlock Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Legacy Primary Weapon Engram – 31 Strange Coins
  • Monte Carlo Weapon Bundle with Superspy Ornament – 30 Strange Coins and 25 Silver Dust
  • Zhalo Supercell with Not A Toy Ornament – 30 Strange Coins and 25 Silver Dust