Backlogged: The Division- How We Saved New York

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Last night I saved New York from a mad man with a helicopter. Me and Jay have been making our way through The Division’s story off and on for the last year and a half? Has it really been that long?

We geared up for the last mission a few weeks ago and then proceeded not to play it at all. Part of me didn’t want it to be over. The games cover mechanics and Diablo like loot drops made for a great time taking on all of the street thugs, pyromaniacs, and rouge agents through out almost-post-apocalyptic New York. But last night we decided it was time and walked into the UN armed to the teeth.

For most of the last mission everything felt anti-climactic. We were completing the same objectives and fighting the save wave patterns of enemies that we had been the whole game. Nothing about it felt especially epic or exciting. I mean, having a shoot out in the General Assembly of the UN was a nice touch, how many times do you get to do that?

Regardless of whether things felt mostly the same or not, we died a lot. The Division’s missions all seem to have a spot where we get stuck and almost feel like giving up and it’s always at or near the end. We beat most of the missions just because we didn’t feel like losing a half hour of time by quitting for the night and retrying later. But in this last encounter, we didn’t hit anything like that. Either we had gotten better or our gear was very powerful. Probably a mix of both.

But the end of the mission, that’s an entirely different story. Thus far we had been fighting guys with guns, bigger guys with guns, and occasionally a couple big guys with guns at the same time. The final boss however, was a big guy with a giant helicopter.

Luckily we could turn on some turrets to help us take it down which required us to run around the stage like mad men dodging the helicopters mounted guns. Once we turned on most of the turrets, the helicopter got angry. Now it was both fire lots of bullets and launching blinding flares. And just as we had gotten rid of it’s shield, it started launching rockets.

Now the helicopter boss in itself wasn’t too bad once we figured out where all the switches to turn on the turrets were. The part that kept killing us over and over and over were the ground troops that started to spawn. These guys had a lot of health, like way more than the normal red enemies and they did a ton of damage. After what seemed like our tenth attempt were able to overcome every obstacle and blast the helicopter our of the sky. One big fancy explosion later and we had beaten the base game.

I also hit level 30 which promoted a tutorial of the end game. I really have no interest in playing the end game or collecting all the things I’ve missed on the map.  It was a fun ride and I liked the story missions but farming the dark zone just doesn’t sound appealing to me. I do think that when the DLC goes on sale again for PS4 I’ll probably pick it up but for now The Division can rest snugly back on the shelf.

 

 

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E3: Three Games I’m Hyped For

This is the first year I really paid any sort of attention to E3. Usually I have a vague idea whats slated to come out for the end of the year holiday season and maybe a few titles in between, but I’ve never been able to get hyped for a game years in advance.

I’m also not into sitting down and watching a press conference so I poured over a list of games “revealed” at each conference. I’m not sure how this thing usually goes,I’ve heard this years E3 has been lack luster, but I found a few games I’ll be looking forward to for the next year and a half.

 

Monster Hunter World

I had to reread the list to make sure I was still scrolling down the Sony reveals on this one. I’ve been waiting to play Monster Hunter on something other than a handheld since Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii.

My first experience of a Monster Hunter game was on the PSP with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, and to be honest I hated every minute of it. The camera was awful and you couldn’t lock on to anything. I don’t remember why I decided to give it another chance on the Wii but I fell in love with it. I must have put hundreds of hours into it over a few summer breaks. Then came the 3DS releases which was a system seller for me even before Pokemon.

While the 3DS were great I always wanted the franchise to come back to the big screen. The PS4 has some offerings in the same vein as Monster Hunter, namely God Eater and the Toukiden series. But neither of them quite as exciting as Monster Hunter. Ya I know I could have bought a Wii U for Monster Hunter 3 but there wasn’t anything else for that system that I wanted to play.

Either way the trailer looks slick, the graphics got a much needed update, and if this turns out to be as good as the last few handheld games I can see my friends and I putting in long hours hunting.

 

Marvel’s Spider-Man

My favorite super hero game of all time is Spider-Man 2 which I played on the Gamecube. It was my first open world game, one of the first games I ever beat without a guide. And one of the first games I’ve taken the time to hunt down all the collectibles.

We’ve known for a while that Sony had a Spider-Man game coming out for a while now and I enjoyed the new trailer for it. There are a lot of criticisms about it having so many quick time events but I didn’t think it detracted from the game that much. If anything it added a more cinematic feel to the whole thing.

The one concern I have with it is the stealthy looking game play in the beginning. It looked very much like the Arkham games which I’m in the middle of playing through. While that style of play works for Batman, Spider-Man has never  been a stealthy hero to me. He’s more of a flashy, I’m going to make fun of you while beating you up, kind of hero and I didn’t see a lot of that in the trailer.

Regardless of how it turns out I’ll probably pick it up at some point. The swinging and wall running look to fun to pass up even if its full of quick time events and stealth missions.

 

Anthem

Let me start out by saying this game looks awesome. It’s got sci-fi Iron Man suits, it’s got squad based combat, and it’s apparently got RPG-like progression. It’s Bioware’s Very Pretty Destiny and Oh You Can Have A Jet Pack Too.

But I know how these things go and while all of it looks and sounds great when it’s first announced theres always that thought in the back of my mind that says, how are they going to screw this up. This looks like the poster child for the hype trains next wreck. But I’m hopeful and out of all the games I’ll be following the news on this one closely if only to temper my expectations for how insanely awesome this looks like its going to be.

 

Sampling the Borderlands

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For the better part of 2 weeks the only games on my gaming menu have been Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre Sequel. For better or for worse I’ve been bouncing between all three games depending on which one of my friends are on to play. I played Borderlands when no one was around, I played Borderlands 2 when Jay was around, and I’ve just started a play through of the Pre Sequel with Jay and CC.

I wasn’t interested in Borderlands when it first came out in 2009 on the account that I was really into the Nintendo Wii at the time and didn’t like the FPS genre all that much. I remember my friends in high school were eagerly awaiting it’s release. I didn’t even really know what it was until a few years later when I started playing it with Jay. By the time I played it with him he had played it 7 times over and new where do go and what to do andd ended up dragging me through the game. We kept restarting to play new characters and I don’t think we ever got farther than the second boss.

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Fast forward to a few days ago when I decided to fire up the PC version of Borderlands I got from one steam sale or another. The game is brutal I spent more time at the revive station than actually shooting some times. By myself there’s no other focus for the enemies so I’m the one absorbing every bit of damage. It was still fun though if not challenging. It was the first time I actually paid any attention to the story and it turns out I wasn’t missing out on that much. As fun as it was I’ve made it to level 15 where we had stopped in the past and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to finish it.

I bought the Handsome Jack Collection to play with Jay about a year and a half ago and we still haven’t beaten it. Borderlands 2 is much like Diablo 3 where I get in a mood to play it and then it becomes my main game for a few weeks until I get bored. So every few months or so we’d pick it back up and get a lot of story done and some DLC and then we’d stop.

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It’s always been a struggle to get myself psyched to play it that first time after a long break because the co op game play is a lot of fun but the story is kinda boring even with a great cast of characters. And after a few hours the dialogue gets overdone. I love spoofs, puns, and pop culture references in games but when its all of that 24/7 it gets a little tiring.

With that being said me and Jay are currently working through BL2’s DLC Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragons Keep and it’s fantastic. I especially enjoyed a quest line spoofing Dark Souls and the whole setting of being in a tabletop game. In fact both the DLC’s that we’ve played through have been much more interesting than the rest of the game.

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Now we’ve just started the story in the Pre-sequel and it’s nothing new in terms of story telling or game play. But the Pre-Sequel, despite the story outshines the other 2 in terms of co op for one reason. I can be ClapTrap who is simultaneously the trolliest and most supportive character all in one. I can dish out tons of helpful buffs and abilities to my allies one moment and then turn us all into bouncing rubber ducks the next moment. Much to the chagrin of my friends. Since the game is set on the moon there’s very little air and apparently there’s a mechanic my friends keep talking about where they have to fill up their air canisters every now and then or they die….but I don’t really know because as a robot I don’t need air.

So after this intensive few weeks of the crash course to the Borderlands series I can say that its much more fun to play with friends than alone, the story is nothing to write home about, but the game play and co op is top notch. Your always one drop away from a gun that will change your entire play style or make you super overpowered for your level.

New Dungeon Jitters

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While I’ve been continuing through the 2.XX main quest line I keep getting distracted by quest that unlock things. As a result I’ve filled up my quest tracker and journal with a bunch of quests that unlock more parts of the game. Most of the ones I’ve picked up have led to unlocking more dungeons and primal fights. While a few of them have been new dungeons most of them are Hard Mode of the rest of the ARR dungeons and trials.

New dungeons are exciting but there are always those new dungeon jitters. These are so old that most of the players in the Duty  Finder have already done them many times over which results in being dragged through which isn’t an ideal way to experience new content. That’s just how it is though coming in later, which I totally understand. But I also don’t want to slow them down too much as I’m learning the dungeon.  What still surprises me is that even though these Hard Mode dungeons are being run as efficiently as possible by the more experienced players they still stop and explain things when I ask, which is awesome.

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In the regular story dungeons in ARR there is some skipping of rooms and alternate paths but the group typically kills everything in its way. What’s throwing me off with these level 50 dungeons is that the tank will either pull everything and their mother or just skip entire packs of mobs. It feels faster passed and more rushed than the regular story dungeons ever did.

Now I know I could possibly get FC mates or a PUG together to this stuff slower but I know eventually I too will be running these dungeons again and again so I might as well learn how its usually run.

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Other than new content I’ve been leveling up my pugilist through the daily leveling roulette. It’s going pretty well I like the class much more than I did the last time I played it. It’s fun moving around the enemies to land those positionals. It feels like a very active class. After being in greased lighting for a while and losing it the GDC skills feel like they take forever to reset. I’m also enjoying the class quest story line and Hamon Holyfist is such a delightful character.

 

 

I Risked the Rain

Risk of Rain_20170122162045A very rare occurrence happened last week. I bought a game and within the span of a week I beat it. I guess “beat” is a relative term for risk of rain because while I got to the final boss and killed him there is still a whole lot to unlock.

I’ve been eyeing this game for a long time. It’s been on my steam wish list for as long as I’ve had a steam wish list and for some reason I never pulled the trigger. Part of this was I heard it was a great multiplayer game and could never convince my friends to get it. This past PSN  Flash sale the game was a mere $4 and I thought to myself if I don’t get it now I’ll never get it. As it turns out one of  Jay and I’s mutual friend had it too so I had someone to play multiplayer with. That and the fact that it was a PS4 and Vita cross buy it was finally time to get it.

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I knew going in Risk of Rain was a rouge like, I knew it had pixel graphics, and I knew it was highly acalimed. What I didn’t know was that there were so many classes to unlock, the difficulty increased with time, and that I would be facing a relentless onslaught of tiny creatures for an hour or more.

I really like the fact that the difficulty goes up as time goes on. It adds a little more to the rouge-like formula. You can spend time after you clear the map looking for the chests and power ups you might have missed or you can go to the next level and have a slightly easier time on the next world.

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Playing this through in multiplayer has kind of ruined the single player experience for me. With 2 people the game is challenging but not seemingly impossible. I can only imagine how fun and chaotic three or four players would be. I played the first 2 hours in single player and only managed to make it to end of the third world. But when I was playing with a friend we beat the game twice in one night. I

Being a rouge like it has a ton of replay value that’s only added to bye the many classes available to unlock. So far I’ve unlocked 4 and they all have a unique feel to them.  also think some of the classes make more sense when playing with other people. There’s just no way I’m playing through the single player with the sniper with his single shot rifle that needs to be manually reloaded. Therese also artifacts to unlock that add interesting mechanics to the game like being able to choose which power up you get out of a chest or enemies dropping bombs when they die.

My favorite experience with it so far has been when a friend and I wentaround seeing how many drones we could collect at once. We took our massive drone army and obliterated everything on the last level just by getting close enough to be in drone firing range.

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What I like most about the game is that there is a real sense of progression throughout the game. I think this has to do with the fact that the difficulty is always increasing and with it the number of enemies on screen as well as the distribution of power ups. In the beginning its fairly easy with low level monsters spawning leisurely. In the middle you are getting your bearings and are facing situations that get dicey. By the end of the run you’re done actively dodging individual monsters because you have so much health and can take out big chunks of their health. Until you get to that final boss fight and you have to dodge.

This was the best purchase I’ve made in a while. I’ve already gotten my moneys worth out of the game and still have so much to unlock. It’ll definitely be one of those games that stays installed on my system for a while.

 

Finishing Up A Realm Reborn

I’m back to playing Final Fantasy 14 after a month long hiatus. Patch 3.5 doesn’t really do anything me in the right now as I’m a long way off from reaching the current content, but  at least now I can queue up for the Duty Finder and have my trusty chocobo by my side.

I’ve changed things up a little since my return. For one I am no longer playing a hulking mountain of muscly man meat and have changed Kluwes into a female Au Ra. Now I have the pleasure of looking like mostly everyone else in the Duty Finder.  That’s ok though, every once and a while I like to play other races and genders. This isn’t the first time Kluwes has had a total DNA make over, he started out as a Duskwhight Elezen with long flowing locks.

It’s taken a little while to get used to my drastic decrease in character size after adventuring so long with the Roegadyen. I no longer have an over sized chocobo and I feel like the camera is lower to the ground than before. Also, it’s weird having NPC’s actually look down to me when I talk to them.

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Once I got my character set up I decided to see how much longer I had in the Main Scenario for ARR. At first I was going to level my Ninja to 50 and then do the Main Scenario but an FC mate encouraged me just to get it done.

It turns out I wasn’t actually that far from the end anyways. I had about 3 quests and 2 dungeons to complete. One of my least favorite parts of FFXIV is that story is delivered through cut scenes in the dungeons. I like the idea  because it makes dungeons all that more cinematic but trying to watch a cut scene in content that old is a sure fire way to get left way behind by a group. Luckily I on’t mind skipping the cut scenes and watching them later in the inn. Actually I found that watching the last cut scene for both Castrum Meridianum and  Praetorium was enough to understand what was going on.

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I’m not sure how I feel about the last 2 dungeons in ARR. On the one hand the scenery and backdrop for each is really pretty. On the other, especially in Castrum Meridianum, my screen ended up looking like a field of purples and greens when the group made huge pulls.

I enjoyed the Praetorium more than Castrum Meridianum. It seemed like there was more to do in the dungeon rather than just pulling everything in sight and demolishing it. A brief moment of embarrassment came when I  couldn’t figure out how to get into the Magitech so I ended up huffing it on foot the whole way while my teammates destroyed whatever horror were along the way. Turns out it was kind of fun watching my mechanical chicken teammates clear things from the ground.

The Ultima Weapon was a fun final boss and since this is a Final Fantasy game of course he had three forms. He didn’t seem all that challenging but I’m sure that had something to do with 7 people whaling on him who knew what they were doing.

With ARR finished I can start working my way through the last of the 2.XX content on my Dragoon. I still want to level up my Ninja but for now I’ll reserve that for the Daily Roulette. What I’m most excited for is the 2.XX Main Scenario to be all level 50 quests so I don’t have to take a break in the story to get a level up or three.

 

Backlogged: Titanfall 2

 

Titanfall™ 2_20161201103021The last time I thought to myself “you know what I need in my life right now, a multiplayer fps” was in 2007 when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out. Well after a 9 year hiatus I decided I needed a new shooter in my gaming rotation. Enter Titanfall 2.

OK maybe it hasn’t been that long, I played a lot of Destiny’s multiplayer, I played Battlefield 4 for a while and I did get Rainbow Six Siege at the beginning of the year. Destiny was always kind of a side thing when I was bored of the PVE, I didn’t really play Battlefield 4 all that much, and my time with Rainbow Six Siege was mostly spent in the Player versus AI Terrorist Hunt. I will admit this was kind of an impulse buy. I wanted something with quick matches and I wanted to shoot things with Mechs. Plus, who’s game would capture the feel of Modern Warfare better than Respawn, the guys who made Modern Warfare.

It came out on the heels of Battlefield 1 like just a few days after. Kind of a weird plan releasing right after one of the most anticipated shooters of the year but it looks like its doing OK. I really hadn’t heard much about it before release. but afterward the internet was hailing the campaign as one of the best in years and praising the multiplayer for fixing the problems the last game had. The internet was also full of “lol this game will die in 6 months gg scrubs” predicting the fall off of players that plagued the first game.

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The campaign took me around 10 hours to beat. I’ve never been great at shooters even against AI so I died a whole lot even though I was playing the easier difficulty. The story is pretty forgettable, as in I beat this 3 weeks ago and faintly remember what its about. It’s story of a generic solider turned elite Mech Pilot who has to stop the bad guys from using a weapon to destroy the world. To Jack some credit, he was training to be a Pilot before the battle that wiped out most of the landing party. His mentor, the Pilot of the lovable Titan BT-7427 doesn’t make it and gives Jack the reins to BT seeing as he’s the only one still alive there isn’t much of a choice.  BT is your typical computer AI that takes everything too literally but he’s endearing and I never got tired of hearing him talk. The banter between BT and Jack is great.

So you may be wondering, if the story was meh why has the campaign been getting all this praise. Well, it’s the levels, the levels are really unique and I haven’t played anything like them. Each level comes with a mix of shooting things, stretching your platforming muscles, wall running, and using BT to shoot even more things.My favorite two are the factory level with all of its platforming goodness and the time travel level which adds something wholly unique to Titanfall 2.

One of the best things about the campaign is collecting all of the Titan Kits as you progress. These correspond with the Titan load outs in multiplayer so you can get a feel for each Titan before diving in. It’s also really fun to switch load outs on a whim in the campaign. One titan not working for the particular boss fight? Switch to a different one. Since theirs not cool down penalties for switching in the middle of a fight you can pull off some interesting combinations. Too bad you can’t do this in multiplayer.

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Speaking of multiplayer, Titanfall 2 has an interesting take on it. I didn’t play or follow the first one so when I jumped in to Attrition, the main game mode, I was  surprised to find AI enemies as well as other players. This really helps less than talented players, like me, contribute. They may not give as many points as an enemy player but they stand still long enough to shoot. Later in the match they seem to gain the ability to aim and do plenty of damage where they can almost kill you which just adds to the fun. At that point you most likely have your titan and are ripping through them anyways. The movement is really well done and it constantly makes you feel like an elite solider wall running and sliding around the battle field. There are constantly those moments of “whoa did you see what they just did”.  From my experience, even if your at the bottom of the score board you’re still getting your titan pretty often in battle which is nice because I don’t feel like I’m missing out on part of the game because I’m not doing well.

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All in all, I’m happy with my purchase. The campaign was short but fun and the multiplayer is fun even if your bad at shooters. The multiplayer definitely has that one more round feel and the matches are short enough that you can’t get too mad about losing. I’ve been playing for a few weeks and learning and improving has been the main hook. But that level up bar is always fun to watch fill up at the end of the match. Who doesn’t love a good level up bar?