Holding Pattern

Since the beginning of the month I’ve been putting off starting new games that require a large time investment. This is due to the announcement that Phantasy Star Online 2 would come out sometime at the end of May. Up until Monday, this still hadn’t been announced. Now that I have a date, May 27th, I’m even more reluctant to start any new games.

It’s not that I have these high hopes that an 8-year-old game is going to rock my socks off. Phantasy Star is an IP that I really enjoyed on PSP. It always felt like a single-player MMO and well…here’s the MMO version of that. I think it’s going to be something fun and a bit nostalgic for me. Plus my friends are excited about it and that means it’ll have more sticking power for me as long as they stick around.

For the most part, I’ve avoided spoilers of any kind. Just this week I’ve been looking into what class I might want to play and what the monetization looks like. There’s a premium subscription with some boosts so I’ll probably end up getting that. Subs are my preferred spending in free to play games anyways.

I did see that there’s a talent point reset for purchase. That brings me back…way back to the days where I played Flyff. That game taught me always to look at a guide before I messed around with stats on a character. I couldn’t afford a stat reset so my first character there was a mess of stat points and low damage.

It’s a little weird that I’ll be getting the launcher to form the Microsoft Store. It’s not a place I think of when I think of video games. The only game I’ve bought from there was Forza Horizon 4 and until just now, I forgot I even owned it.

So for now, I’m sticking with games I know. Lots of Trove and our weekly GTFO runs until Wednesday. It’s too bad it releases on a Wednesday, I have Monday and Tuesday off!

 

Some Short Term Trove Goals

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It safe to say I’m back into Trove. The new update has breathed new life into the game for me. There’s also the added benefit of having an excuse to listen to podcasts again. I bought my patron pass for the month and have been happily plugging away at a few new goals.*

Level the Lunar Lancer to 30

The original idea was to level a new class specifically for delves instead of changing the stats around on my Dracolyte. I’m still leveling my Lunar Lancer to 30 but I’m not sure I want to completely switch over. I like the different play style but I know how long it takes to get a class to the stats I’ll need and it might just be easier to try and get my light up on my Dracolyte.

One of the added bonuses of the new class leaderboard rewards is having a reason to play another class. Originally, you just needed above 10k PR on every class to guarantee 12 empowered gem boxes a week. This lead to slapping a whole bunch of bad to ok gems and gear on classes and never playing them again. With the new system, playing them for a short time is the only way to get your Weekley boxes.

This week it’s the Shadow Hunter, the Revenant, and the Boomer Ranger. The Shadow Hunter is my second highest class and main farming class so that’s easy enough. I haven’t’ played the Revenant or the Boomer Ranger since they came out a few years ago. It turns out the Revant is quite fun and I may look at leveling him up after the Lunar Lancer hits 30. The Boomer Ranger still isn’t for me but I’ll run a few dungeons and challenges with him to get my boxes.

Level the Knight to 30

The knight is one of the original classes. I’ve disliked the Knight for as long as I’ve played Trove. But he does have one thing going for him: his subclass.

The subclass for Knight grants faster ground mount moving speed and up to 6 extra flasks. The ground mount speed is meh since you’re flying most of the time, though it could be useful for delves now.  The flasks are huge. Not only will it allow you to live longer but since activating flasks activates your emblems as well, it gives you more DPS. And if there’s one thing you want in Trove it’s more DPS.

Lucky for me, his class gem makes him much more fun to play. He’s been sitting at 20 for years but I’m finally getting around to leveling him to 30 for the extra flasks. I don’t enjoy it enough to want to play it often though. So I wait until Saturday, which is XP boost day, and pop a double ex[erience potion which has been working quite well. He’s currently sitting at 25. I should be able to get him to 30 either this week or next.

Erimatra, Scourge of the Everdark: +250 Magic Damage, 1% crit hit, +50 Magic Find

This is the next Dragon I’m after and only for that 1% crit hit. Sometime between the last time I played and last week I lost 3% crit hit. I’m not sure why but I’ve been slowly using the gem stat boost items to get my crit hit back to 100%. This will make it that much easier to do. It may not be the most important permanent stats to go for right now but I’m tired of seeing 99% crit hit…

The only thing I need to craft it now are 180 dragon coins. I should be able to get those through daily challenges and using my cubits to buy Dragon coins this week.

 

*This is definitely a post more for me to keep track of the things I want to do than anything else.

 

 

Delving into Delves

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I wanted to give the new Trove update a try last week but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Both Wednesday and Thursday the server was taken down for hotfixes which started right as I was able to play and ended after I was able to play. I finally had some time this weekend to spend time with the new content.

At first, Blades and I were worried. With Shadow Towers basically gutted we didn’t know how easy or hard it would be to obtain those needed rewards from Delves. We actually miss read the patch notes and thought it said you needed to clear 25 levels of delves to have a chance at getting a Shadowy Soul Cache to get a chance at these rewards. Which would have been insane considering each level takes 6 -9 minutes on average to complete. Turns out these actually spawn randomly after a boss fight after Delve level 25. Which is way more reasonable.

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I think the old shadow tower rewards are actually much easier to get with this update. It’s the same limit as before on Despoiled Divinity, Titan Souls, or Lunar Souls. Since Monday’s “Delve Day” bonus doesn’t increase the amount of these rewards like “Shadow Tower Day”  you end up getting the amount you used to get on Monday any day of the week. Plus you can run these by yourself if you don’t want to find a group that adds less friction to getting these rewards.

We ran exactly two public delves to see how they were and to gather enough crystals to make a private delve. It went exactly how I thought it would. Most people either ignored the objective, were AFK, or spent the time mining instead of fighting. It’s new content so it may get better once people understand what their suppose to do. The problem is the delve level is based on the collective level of everyone in it. If there’s not 100% participation from everyone it’s almost impossible to progress.

Private delves are where this whole update shines. The private delve portals are a one time use and the level is based on who places them and who joins them. Delves are broken into two parts: The first is the delve objective which can range from kill x number of creatures, kill x number of a specific creature, clear x number of rooms of creatures, mine x amount of ore, or find and activate 4 monoliths. The second part is defeating the lair boss that spawns at the end of the map once you complete the objectives. The delve objective is on an 8-minute timer and the lair boss is on a 3-minute timer.

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Jay and I were placed in Delve level 118 using our highest Power Rank classes. We were able to make it to level 124 before we couldn’t kill the boss in time. The trickiest parts were the monolith objectives. Once the monolith is activated a bunch of creatures spawn and you have to kill them all to complete that monolith. The issue becomes when you think you’ve cleared it and move on. I can’t tell you how many times we ended up in the boss room and then had to rush backward to find the one enemy we missed hiding under the stairs…

We also found a bit of cheese here too. If you open a private delve with a low power rank class and have another low power rank class join you’ll end up at a very low-level delve. Once inside the private delve, you can switch your class to a high PR but the delve level won’t change. I’m not sure if this is intended but I’ll tell you it very easy to get all your rewards for the week when you start out at level 85.

Private delves don’t let you use mounts or wings that aren’t bought with inert geodes. I had forgotten just how painful it is to navigate Trove without these things. Once we got our mounts we were in a much happier place with the update. Now we’re working on getting wings so we can glide around in the caves which will make traversal even easier.

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Delves also attempt to mix the combat side of Trove with the Geode non-combat side. There are some utilities from the Geode tool kit that are nice like a grappling hook and increased movement speed but I haven’t found a use for much else. Jumps and mounts can replace these for the most part so I don’t find myself switching into Geode mode very often. There was a new vacuum utility added that seems useful so I may have to do some Geode to get that.

All in all, I think Delves is a fantastic update with a lot more to do than the Leviathan update. I was a bit worried about Trove for a while there. The last few updates had been nothing to write home about after Gamigo took over. Gardening was overhauled which was needed but wasn’t something I was interested in. Leviathans added randomly spawning mega bosses to Geode Topside which had some rewards but wasn’t something that pulled me back into the game. Delves give me some new goals to work toward and I already have a few projects in mind. I’m sure I’ll be able to get a few month’s worth of playtime out of this.

 

 

Trove’s Delves Update

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The last time I played was just after the From the Deep patch dropped. Before then, my interest was already winning but I stuck around to see what the new update had in store. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep my interest. Random events that require cooperation from 10 plus random people in Trove…no thanks.

Just yesterday I learned that a new update was coming. And by coming I mean launched on the day I heard about it. Looking a little farther back, I’m actually surprised it launched so quickly. I found patch notes from the PTS server dated March 30th and a trailer was dropped sometime last week saying the update was coming this spring. I guess it is spring now. So, I messaged the old Trove crew and let them know we should check it out sometime this week.

You can find the full patch notes here.

 

Delves

Delves are the biggest chunk of content/ change in this update. I’m sure that surprises no one. These are procedurally generated endless dungeons that can hold up to 8 players. These dungeons mix the Geode side of Trove and the combat side of Trove as the players race through the dungeon completing an objective under a time limit. At the end of each floor, there’s a boss that must be defeated in under 3 minutes to progress to the next level. This, of course, comes with its own currency to collect for mounts, wings, banners, and allies.

There are 3 types of Delves: Public, Private, and challenge. Public Delves can be queued for in the Hub and will pair you with players of your similar power rank. You can craft portals for Private Delves at the Delve crafting bench which allows you to for premade teams of up to 8 people. Challenge Delves are generated each week so that players are on an even playing field for leaderboard competition. Rewards will be based on depth level reached in the Challenge Delve and for clearing 3 consecutive tiers the fastest.

Delves can be done by anyone at any level but this looks like more of an end game activity. Delves are replacing the previous end game dungeons, Shadow Towers, and all of the rewards from Shadow Towers are now obtainable in the Delves. I like this change, I was getting bored of killing the same bosses every week. Now I can run these and mix it up a little. Shadow Towers still exist but with no rewards. Shadow Tower portals will take you straight to the boss room now.

 

Tomb Raiser

I used to love the Tomb Raiser pre-Mante of Power update in 2016. That update took him from a viable class to the bottom tier. I haven’t touched him in 4 years. This patch brings much-needed buffs to the class. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s a playable class now.

 

Minor Updates

There are a lot of little things that were updated in this patch. Things of note were Class Leaderboards are no longer based on the Power Rank of the class and now “require effort on the class”. I would argue, getting enough power rank on a class to get rewards on the leaderboard was effort enough but it looks like now you’ll have to play the class to get rewards. There’s a whole list of activities in the Patch notes that boil down to things you’d typically do in Trove on a Weekley basis anyways. This is a little disappointing as a majority of my empowered gem boxes came from the class leaderboards every week.

Bomber Royale no longer gives Tome Experience. That’s a shame, it was an effective and fun way of getting those tomes done every week when your sick of running dungeons.

Legendary Tomes now nag the player once every 30 seconds if they are still equipped after being fully charged

This is my favorite patch note. So many times I haven’t noticed this was filled up. I welcome a notification that will “nag” me to change my tome out.

Thoughts

This looks like a decent update with content I can sink some time into again. I haven’t had a chance to test out any of the new features yet but I’m sure we’ll be playing sometime this week. The Public Delves are either going to be great or it’s going to be a few people trying to do the objective while 5 guys sit AFK. It’s Trove after all.

Apparently, the Shadow Towers were one of the main sources of lag in the game due to how they spawn a zone for each person doing them. I’m interested to see if the lag has improved. I’m not holding my breath though. Trove just wouldn’t be Trove if you weren’t rubberbanding every 5 minutes.

TemTem: It’s Not Exactly PC Pokemon

 

20200428070644_1.jpgI want to start this off by saying I know that TemTem is early access. It’s very difficult to forget as it’s plastered everywhere. There’s also this giant notification that you get when launching the game. I also know that early access games can change a lot from the time they “launch in EA” to the time they “actually launch”. You can see the roadmap here. There’s a lot still to come.

So I wasn’t expecting a finished game. From most of the reviews I expected a not quite finished but very playable game. And so far that’s what I’ve gotten.

This weekend I spent some time re-acquainting myself with the game and working towards beating the first Dojo. I bought this a few weeks ago after a friend picked it up. The main draw for me was a Co-Op pokemon game so I wasn’t too interested until someone I could play with had it. I played around 2 hours that first day and didn’t touch it again until last week. At the time of this writing I have 12 hours in the game but I haven’t done enough Co-Op to form an opinion on it yet.

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For the most part, TemTem is a reskinned pokemon you can play on PC. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After so many years of learning which pokemon are which type and what those type match-ups are, it’s refreshing to have to learn something new. This leads to situations where using certain attacks will do very little damage. But after a while, I’m starting to learn what moves to use when and when my TemTems are about to be at an extreme disadvantage.

I was going to list all of the similarities and realized it would just be easier to list what’s different: The Battle System. While it’s still turn-based and relies on knowing type match-ups it has a few key differences that make it it’s own.

The first is that every battle is a doubles battle. With two TemTems out at all times there’s some interesting strategies and synergies. My favorite is to use Chain Lightning with a partner who’s resistant to electric damage. Chain Lightning hits 3 TemTems clockwise so you hit both of your opponents and your partner. When you forget your partner is a water type things don’t go so well…

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Then there’s the stamina system. Instead of PP in pokemon where each move has a limited number of uses TemTem has stamina amounts for each move. Each TemTem has a different stamina pool based on their stats. You can use a move if it exceeds your stamina pool but it will take a chunk of your health depending on just how little stamina you have. If a TemTem overexerts itself by using all of its stamina it needs to rest for a turn. I find this adds a bit more strategy to battles. Do I go for the big hit and hope for a knockout or do I reserve my stamina for a few rounds with little attacks? Do I sacrifice some health and take out the opposing TemTem this round or take 2 rounds to KO?

I will say that TemTem is harder than recent Pokemon games. There is a lot of grinding involved to level up a newly added team member. In the first few zones, there aren’t a lot of effective type match-ups so battles go on longer. After the first Dojo when you h have access to the water, leveling new TemTems is easier but still slower than recent

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The whole game feels tougher thanks to the doubles format and the stamina system. I find that I have to switch TemTems mid-battle a lot more than I do in Pokemon. Beating Sophia, the first Dojo leader, took me two tries with about 2 hours of leveling in between. Unlike Pokemon’s gym leaders, Sophia had different types of TemTems so I couldn’t exploit one type match up the whole time.

Whether or not it’s worth the $35 price tag right now remains to be seen. Judging from the steam reviews there are 30-40 hours of PVE content right now. 12 hours in, I’ve only beaten 1 dojo and there appears to be 4 in the game right now so I’d say that’s about right. The game also just got competitive matchmaking, if you’re into that kind of thing, which is sure to extend the time you can spend with the game.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Warframe

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A quick look back shows I have exactly 0 posts about Warframe. Which is weird because I have 120 hours in the game. Making it one of my most played games. But that’s because my gaming group has never stuck with it long enough for me to form any kind of opinion on it.

3 years ago when we were getting into streaming we wanted a game we could all play together regularly. Warframe seemed like the perfect match. The group size was 4 and there were four of us. And thus began our on-again-off-again relationship with the game. We’d play for a month or 2 abandon it and then someone would get the bright idea to play it again. We’d all wonder why we didn’t keep playing it and then BAM! everyone loses interest again.

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This time is different though. The benefit of streaming Warframe is that the community likes to help people out. Warframe has a lot of moving parts and the game is notoriously bad at explaining how any of them work. So you get great advice and tips from veteran players who don’t mind showing people the ropes. We have a much better understanding of how to progress and what we should be doing. It only took 3 years…We’re finally on Uranus. Which, for the record, is not very far.

We’ve started playing as a group on Saturday nights consistently which hasn’t happened in a while for any game. Our play sessions center around progressing on planets until someone has to log off. Then the rest of the group spend the night grinding materials or Warframe / weapon parts. It’s a slow road but it’s always a great time to get everyone together.

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Warframe also makes a good podcast game. I’ve been sorely lacking a good podcast game since Trove. A game where I can turn the in-game sound off and keep my hands busy while I listen to The No Sleep Podcast.

Warframe and Trove have a lot in common. They both feature classes with small skill bars that turn into press “x” to win. They both feature a heavy material and experience grind. Both feature the gameplay loop of rush to the objective to get your reward and do it all over again. And you can do TONS of damage! Warframe is prettier though, and get’s updated more, and is more fun to play right now.

 

 

 

Starting up in Neverwinter

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I’ve been dipping my toes into Neverwinter for the past few weeks. It’s one of those games that I kind of forget about until I see it has an update. And it seems like it’s updated consistently. It’s also a game that I’ve never given a good chance. What initially got me interested was Telwyn’s posts about Neverwinter. Then I read some posts from Syp and more recently from Bhagpuss. What can I say? I’m easily swayed by the opinions of others.

For starters, when I logged in I was met with 2 characters who hadn’t been touched since 2014. I could have sworn I had made a bit of an effort to play Neverwinter on a 2 handed Weapon Fighter, turns out that wasn’t the case as he was sitting there at level 4. Well maybe level 4 harder to get to in 2014 but I doubt it. The other was a Dwarf Cleric who I played maybe once. Both of them were promptly deleted.

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The first character I made was a Halfling Ranger. I played her until level 19. I wasn’t digging the weapon swap mechanics. If I’m going to play a class with a bow I want to play with the bow all the time. Plus there were 3 extra skills to keep track of and I just don’t have time for that right now ok?….

Thus, Kadjik Kard, the Half-Elf Paladin was born. I like the Paladin class for two reasons. The first being he only has 3 skills I need to worry about. The other being I wanted to play a healing class and also wear heavy armor and carry a shield. Plus, with my own healing spells, I don’t have to spend money on potions!

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I’ve gotten to level 28 so far. I’m pushing for 30 so I can specialize and queue for dungeons as a healer instead of a tank. Speaking of dungeons, I’ve done two of them so far and have rather enjoyed them. I was actually surprised that the queue for a tank/healer and DPS were about the same length for the first dungeon I unlocked. It was a rather low key experience that I quite enjoyed.

Neverwinter has not been what I was expecting. For some reason, I thought it was a lobby based dungeon game. Nope! There are in fact open areas and instances that quests take place in. I remember hating the sparkly trail last time I played but I’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity it brings to questing. The biggest surprise is the lore pages are actually well written and I read them every time I find a new one.

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I feel like Neverwinter is the B-Movie of MMOs. It doesn’t quite have the production value as other games and the animations and character models are questionable at times.  The voice acting is also…questionable. There are some NPCs who’s voices completely change from quest to quest. There are some NPCs who are over the top and some that sound like they’re reading straight from a piece of paper. But I love them all! I find myself laughing sometimes when I probably shouldn’t be but I am very much enjoying my experience every time I log into this game.