Backlogged: The Fall

20200510183113_1

Time to Finish: 3.5 hours

I’ve had The Fall recommended to me many times over the years. It’s the kind of sci-fi story I like with philosophical questions, a lot of atmosphere, and robots. Who doesn’t like a good story about robots?

I picked this up a week or two ago when the Indie MegaBooth sale was going on. For the low price of $2 I got a short little game with a solid story. It’s a point and click adventure game with some light combat elements.

20200519063503_1

Things I Liked:

Story: The game follows A.R.I.D an AI onboard a military-grade combat suit. After falling from who knows where and landing on an unknown planet, Arid wakes up with the sole purpose of protecting its pilot. We later find out that Arid has crashed on a domestic robot manufacturing facility and anything deemed faulty is disassembled. To get to the medical bay Arid must pass eight tests designed for domestic AI as a military AI.

Arid: It’s a cool idea to have the player be an AI controlling a suite with an unconscious human inside. As an AI, Arid has a set of directives it must follow: Must not misrepresent reality, must be obedient, must protect the active pilot. Arid does all of these things but in a “creative” way. There are a lot of systems locked behind “organic operator approval” but these can be unlocked if Arid finds a way to make them necessary to protect the pilot. Things like getting shot at by a turret to unlock the camouflage system. Technically needed because the pilot’s life was at risk but it’s also a contradiction to put the pilot at risk to protect the pilot. This game is full of interesting decisions made by Arid to achieve its objective.

The Domestic AI Tests: These tasks take up the middle of the game. In order to leave the facility, Arid has to be marked as a domestic AI and in order to do that, it must pass eight tests. Things like cleaning, getting a baby to stop crying, walking an old woman across the street. Except Arid is a military AI so it goes about solving these problems in a “unique” way. I don’t want to give anything away here but if there is one reason to play this game it’s the creative ways Arid gets through these tests.

20200518151246_1

Things That Could Have Been Better:

The Controls: First and foremost this is a point and click adventure game. There are a lot of items to interact with and places to put them. But you can only see these when your pistol and flashlight are out. Eventually, you get a laser sight for your pistol to make it easier to aim. You lose the ability to see the interaction points when the laser site is out so I found myself constantly switching between modes which I found slightly frustrating. Also, while interacting with objects you have to select the X in the middle to get out of the interaction menu. But if you forget that and hit the escape button instead it doesn’t do anything. Which is fine, until you leave the interaction menu the correct way and the main menu opens…this was really the most irksome thing about the controls for me.

Combat:  It’s playable, it does its job, but it’s not great. You can take cover and fire your weapon. It all seems a bit clunky but luckily you don’t have to engage in combat often. I wouldn’t let the combat dissuade anyone from playing the game.

20200518160802_1

Other Things of Note:

This is part of a trilogy. This game came out in 2014, its sequel The Fall Part 2: Unbound came out in 2018. The third game is not out yet and I couldn’t find any information on its development.

With that said, this feels like a complete game. It has an ending that feels final and feels like it could continue at the same time. Some episodic games have a tendency to leave cliff hangers to get you on board for the next one. I would rather have a complete story with room for more. The Fall does this very well. I could never play the other game and feel like I got the whole story.

The puzzles could be challenging at times but I got through them without looking at a guide!

20200518163705_1

Some Short Term Trove Goals

20200514170439_1

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

20200505203405_1.jpg

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.

20200509151140_1.jpg

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.

20200505195539_1.jpg

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.

20200505192028_1.jpg

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.

 

 

Breaking Resolutions

It looks like my New Years Resolution lasted until April. That’s probably the longest I’ve ever kept one anyways. And, to be honest, technically I broke it but I don’t know if I broke it in the spirit of things. I set out a lofty goal to only by a select few games that I was looking forward to in 2020. The problem with that is there are things that I didn’t know about in 2019 or maybe my interests changed a bit. Or maybe I just wanted to lift a self-imposed restriction.

You’re probably wondering what this is all about. I ended up buying 3 games this week, two of which are out of the ordinary for me, all of which are multiplayer. Remember that last paragraph where I said I don’t think I broke the spirit of the resolution? When I made said resolution I had single-player games in mind. I’m making a real effort to go through my backlog. More of a conscious effort anyways. But multiplayer games tend to be on the uncomputable side of things so it’s hard to count them as adding to my backlog.  There’s the whole social aspect too. I didn’t just buy the game to play on my own. I specifically bought them to play with my friend group some of which I rarely get to play with.

Yes, I know, I don’t have to justify anything to anyone. Except maybe myself. So without further ado, here are the games I picked up this week.

TemTem

20200411112818_1.jpg

Pokemon on PC? Yes, please. This is one of those games I didn’t even know existed until a month or two ago. Since then I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether I should get it or not. As a rule, I tend to avoid early access games but the reviews mentioned there were about 30-40 hours worth of gameplay here. What pushed me over the edge was one of my friends picked it up. The possibility of co-op Pokemon was just too good to pass up.

GTFO

20200409214019_1.jpg

Look, I know, I didn’t expect to buy am early access, survival, shooter that’s difficult just because either. But when two of your friends buy it and say it’s too hard with just two you have to be a good friend and help them out.

Hunt: Showdown

Because I didn’t learn my lesson from the last 3 battle royales I’ve played. But this one’s got some PVE mixed in with PVP. It also looks like it’s meant to be played in duos which is the biggest selling point for me. I actually don’t know that much about it but Greg does and wanted to try it out. Since I was buying games anyways I threw it in there.

Out of all of these, I have the highest hopes for TemTem as something I’ll be playing regularly. I think GTFO will be a great game to play with some people I rarely get to play games with. I’m curious about Hunt: Showdown. I have a feeling I’m either going to play it once and never touch it again or have a great game I can play with Greg regularly. We’re playing later today so we’ll see how it goes.

 

 

On a side note, I’m downloading Call of Duty Warzone as I write this. Just add that to a list of things I’d never thought I’d say. 

Things are weird

It’s been about a week now since Ohio went into quarantine. Last week felt like that part in a made for TV disaster movie where you’re getting to know all the characters. This week feels like when the storms on the horizon and all the main characters are waiting for it to hit.

Fortunately, I haven’t been impacted by this too much. I consider myself lucky that I work for a company that can function with a fully remote workforce. I’m thankful that I’m still working when a lot of people I know are not since everything is slowly shutting down. I started a new job about 4 months ago and was just getting a handle on how everything was working.  everything is completely different but with new challenges come new opportunities to grow.

The biggest change for me has been learning to work from home. I always thought it’d be hard to do. I thought there would be too many distractions. It turns out, it’s not that much different from working in the office once I get going. The only difference is my cat would like to help me work now…Even when my wife is home it’s easier than I thought it’d be.

No, it turns out the biggest challenge for me is when work is over. Most days, I’m playing games on my PC after work. Now that I spend all day in my home office, it’s the last place I want to be at the end of the day. As a result, the Switch has been getting a lot more playtime in my house. Also, a lot more reading and Netflix has followed.

It’s a weird time we live in right now. We’re living through a historic event, one we will hopefully never have to live through again. I still can’t wrap my brain around it. How the whole world has shut down and how the most mundane things like going out to eat just don’t exist right now.

I hope all of you stay safe and healthy out there.

 

Nearing the End of Amalur

20200208095845_1

I’ve finished up the desert zone Detyre and I can confidently say it is my least favorite zone. The Gnomish city of Adessa wasn’t only confusing to run around, there were a bunch of Gnomes there who thought they were better than me and kept saying so over and over again! Detyre itself was, ok. Each zone had it’s own story again and most of that story was helping a Gnomish mining corporation kick people out of their homes and businesses….the Gnomes are wonderful people in Amalur. I enjoyed the Red Marches the most. The whole zone takes place in a big canyon which leads to some great screenshots. There’s also a tunnel system you have to go through to get to places you can see but can’t reach any other way. I thought that was nifty.

20200209114005_1

The main story leads me to find Fomorus Hughes, who raised me from the dead, in some cave trying to recreate the Well of Souls. It turns out the gnome templar who was funding his operation also wants me dead…I hate these gnomes. After finishing up with that quest like and the zones of Detyre it was off to Mel Senshir to break a siege.

20200212200530_1

Mel Senshir feels like where the game should have ended. It’s this massive battle where you’re completing objectives and hunting down the big bad Niskaru Balor who you must stop or Mel Senshir will be burned to ashes. The fight with the Balor is the first time I’ve actually lost a boss fight. I mean, this one has mechanics that need to be avoided, I couldn’t just meteor strike my way through it. The battle culminates in a thrilling conclusion where I rip the beast apart with my magic Fate powers and am celebrated as a hero!

20200214221418_1

And then I’m told I have to go to a swamp. I can’t even enjoy my time as the “Hero of Mel Senshir”, which the locals now address me by,  because Gadflow still has to be stopped. I had mentioned that I was excited to see the zones of a Klurikon and Alabastra. The zones have cool names like Cursewood and The Twighlight pass. I though Klurikon was going to be more of a spooky foggy place but it’s actually a rotting swamp. The winter Fae live over here and while their counterparts, the Summer Fae, represent life and growth, they represent death and decay. So this swamp is their holy ground. The Midden is my favorite zone in Klurikon. It’s supposed to be a fae graveyard celebrating decay. But the Tuatha are using it as a graveyard for the mortals they kill. The most interesting set piece here is the Gallows Tree which takes up most of the zone and has hundreds of bodies hanging from it. Again, it’s supposed to be a celebration symbol as the Fae do not actually decay when they die. But the Tuatha stuck a bunch of mortals up there who do. Everyone in the zone keeps complaining about the smell.

20200216102118_1

Klurikon and Alabastra have fewer locations and fewer side quests than the previous zones. This was a blessing as I’m starting to get a little burnt out on the game. There is a new faction questline for the House of Sorrows in Klurikon. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the point of it was but I did a lot of running around to collect “Sorrows” before someone else did which was supposed to aide in my fight against the Tuatha. It runs you through some dungeons throughout Klurikon but nothing really interesting comes out of it.

20200216124558_1

Alabastra was even shorter than Klurikon. It’s actually very streamlined and I believe I only did one or two side quests here. There are some tunnels that will bypass some of the zones and get you closer to the final boss. I didn’t take many screenshots of the place as it’s just various shades of gray rock and blue crystals. At this point, I also stopped delving into dungeons. They were marked on the map and I kept expecting quests to lead to them but they never did so I never went in. Also at this point I’ve stopped looking in chests and even looting enemies because I haven’t seen single gear upgrade since Mel Senshir.

20200212194747_1

I’m always surprised how long these zones take to get through. They don’t look that big on the map but by the time I finished Klurikon I had added another 5 hours to my playtime. Alabastra took another 3. I’m not complaining, I enjoyed my time but I also felt like both zones should have been over sooner.

 

 

 

October Gaming Goals

david-menidrey-MYRG0ptGh50-unsplash.jpg

Yes I’m still here after all!

Towards the end of every year, I have periods where I totally lose all interest in gaming. I’m never sure when it’s going to be but it’s usually around November/December. I never know how long it’s going to last and it’s usually because my interest shifts to reading more. I think sometimes I just need a break from the hobby. I always come back though, and with a renewed vigor. This year it happened to come in September and it turns out it’s hard to post to a gaming blog when you don’t actually play any games. It’s safe to assume I didn’t hit any of my gaming goals last month. Well except for Trove. Getting dragons isn’t too hard when there are a ton of podcasts I wanted to catch up on.

But alas, it’s October. I love October. In the beginning, Fall is starting to get underway and all the colors change., in the middle we have horror movies galore, and we cap it all off with Halloween,

As much as I love the horror genre, I’ve never played through a horror game. I picked up 2 in the summer sale this year, Outlast and Observer, for just this occasion. I’m hoping to get through at least one of them. They aren’t too long, 5 and 7 hours respectively, so even an hour a night I can finish them by the end of the month. I’m leaning towards playing Observer first due to its sci-fi setting.

Progression in Trove has been slow going. I’m still working towards getting more dragons that I already have the eggs for. Upon the docket this month is Aurym, Keeper of Histories andDraccolatl, The Mellower. Aurym because he looks cool and Draccolatl because the fragments have been sitting in my inventory for a good 6 months.

Finally, I plan on puttering around Star Wars the Old Republic a bit this month. One of the books I’ve been reading in September is Champions of the Force by Kevin J Anderson. It’s the third book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy and it’s reminded me how much I like the Star Wars expanded universe. Plus with an expansion on the way at the end of the month it seems like a good time to dip my toes in.