Taming Trove’s Primordial Dragons

20190815194836_1
Za’Hadeen, Heart of the Flame

Last night I accomplished one of my long term goals in Trove: unlocking all of the Primordial Dragons. These are special dragons that not only give stat boosts but boost the Power Rank of the gems associated with each one. These add a ton of PR. When I unlocked Scintilla last night my PR went up by 500, which is a decent jump.

These dragons are more expensive than most of the others. The biggest gate these are behind is the diamond dragon eggs. Until recently, these took a long time to come by. They were rewards based on your combined power rank across your account. I forget what the breakdown was but you had to have a fairly high combined PR to even get 2 fragments a day. The eggs cost 300 to craft, so 100 days logging in to collect the reward to make one egg. You need one for each dragon so a little less than a year to reach if you don’t miss a day collecting the fragments. We’re talking a very long term goal here.

20190815195211_1
Palashien, Soul of the Sea

This has changed with the updates that restructured the leaderboards. Instead of rewards based on power rank, it’s now included in the daily star bar completion rewards. I believe you get one per star bar filled without the patron pass and you can complete the star bar 5 times. So we’ve gone from 300 days to get all the egg fragments from just logging in to 180 days but you have to complete the trove equivalent of dailies. Worth a patron pass you obtain 3 diamond dragon egg fragments for each star bar completed. So now we’re talking 15 a day for a total of 60 days doing dailies for three eggs. That’s still 2 months of playtime. There is a very rare chance these can be looted from an empowered gem box. I got one of my eggs this way, it announces it to the whole server when it drops and the chat is filled with “GG”‘s, it’s very nice.

So on top of this, you also need 400 dragon coins per dragon. They cost 100 more dragon coins than most of the other dragons. These are also a time-locked currency but there are a number of ways to get them. I have 2 tomes that once filled for the week will give me 40 dragon coins. Plus the first hourly challenge completed a day gives at least 5 coins. You can also buy dragon coins from the shop with cubits, the soft cash shop currency of Trove, obtained by completing the daily star bars. And of course you can just buy them straight from the shop with your credit card, but I’m too cheap for that route.

20190815195247_1
Scintilla, Spark of the Sky

Dragon coins and the eggs are the biggest obstacles on the way to these dragons. They make the other requirements seem laughable. 5k gem dust for each dragon is nothing and 100k flux isn’t that hard to come by either.

So was it worth it all? Of course! All 3 dragons account for 5% of my total power rank for my highest classes. I’m interested to see if that number changes once I optimize all of my gems. Za’Hadeen is probably the best mount for dungeon farming and surface mining. While all of the other dragons shoot fireballs when you left-click, Za’Hadeen fires like a machine gun when the left click is held down. Scintilla is nice and shiny and Palashien is basically like flying around on a Dratini.

20190815202402_1.jpg

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Whole Lot of Mummies

 

20190813215400_1.jpgLast night my group wanted to play Strange Brigade. We didn’t have enough time for a campaign mission which can sometimes take upwards of an hour. So we tried out the horde mode setting. Originally, when we purchased the game, this was the only mode we thought there was but it’s taken us a while to play it because we’ve been enjoying the campaign so much.

Horde mode is a solid game mode. It’s a good thing we played a bit of the campaign first because a lot of the mechanics carry over to this mode. But there isn’t a tutorial, or at least not one as good as the campaign. Overall it’s not too hard to figure out. You kill enemies in waves, collect gold and can spend that gold on various items, weapons, and unlocking doors.

20190813220944_1.jpg
Action screenshots are hard to get in this game

Unlocking doors seems to add rooms with puzzles and occasionally health potions. The puzzles are an odd choice. There are 25 seconds in between each round to upgrade your items and spend your gold. So you can spend those trying to figure out the puzzle or just do it during combat. We didn’t end up completing any of them because the rounds were pretty intense by the time we unlocked some of those rooms. I still have no idea what kinds of things unlock when you figure them out. You also have the chance to spend gold to get a special weapon out of a crate. This is randomized so you can get anything from a crossbow with exploding bolts to a machine gun that freezes enemies. I found these essential as we climbed the waves.

We started Round 1 with only pistols and good ole’ fashion fisticuffs. The next round I was able to buy a weapon upgrade to a bolt action rifle. The enemies were the same ones we had been facing in the campaign for the first few rounds. Round 5 they minotaurs started spawning, probably the most challenging enemies we had fought so far. They’re tanky, run really fast, and hit like a truck. By round 10, I was starting to get the hang of things. Some new enemy types were spawning. The ones I particularly liked were skeletons with purples hearts that explode and kill other nearby enemies.

It looks like weapons upgrades are tied to your progress in the campaign. I was only able to upgrade to the third tier of bolt action rifle which I had bought during the story missions. I was only able to buy 1 extra grenade type that I had also unlocked earlier. I don’t mind this, I like the campaign mode enough that I know I’ll be playing it and unlocking things.

20190813220950_1.jpg

We ended the night after round 11 where we faced off against 3 giant minotaurs with swords. After killing all the normal enemies in the wave we had to take these bad boys out. The key was to shoot the glowing crystals on them until they fell over. Then a player had to run up to them and hold the left house to charge up their amulet that somehow damaged the giant sword-wielding cows.

We did all of this in about 45-50 minutes. The rounds are quick but very hectic. I found it to be a good mix of difficulty with the enemy density being overwhelming even with a 3 man group. After exiting there was a message that said I unlocked new starting spawn locations and that this was the highest wave reached on this map. I don’t know if we will have to start at Round 1 when we play again but I’m interested to see how the new spawns change things up.

Backlogged: Oxenfree

 

Oxenfree 7_5_2019 10_18_33 AM.pngOxenfree was, uh, free a few weeks, maybe months now, ago on the Epic Games Store. Jay has been telling me for about 2 years now how good Oxenfree is. So I immediately picked it up and, in true fashion, didn’t play it for a month or two. He’s also the one who recommended SOMA to me and that is now one of my favorite games of all time. While Oxenfree doesn’t fall into the same caliber of the game for me, it was very good.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A group of teenagers go to a haunted island to drink and party. There they discover a mysterious cave and set off an event that has them being chased by an evil entity the rest of the night. There’s a mystery, time travel, and scary ghosts in the PA system! Yes, it’s a generic horror plot but Oxenfree’s biggest strength is it’s cast of characters.  Every line of dialog is voiced and the characters are written so well that I actually started to miss them after the credits rolled.

Oxenfree 7_5_2019 10_29_40 AM.png

Oxenfree isn’t a game as much as it’s an interactive story.  Like a TellTale game (RIP) with less quick time events. There aren’t a lot of choices to be made other than what the main character, Alex, will say next. It’s a very on-rails experience and while I’m sure I could have taken a slightly different route and had a slightly different experience I didn’t feel the need to replay it….until I went to go take screenshots for this post.

I completed the game in 2-weekend play sessions. In all, it took about 8 hours from start to finish. Like I said, I loved the cast of characters and the story had some fun twists and turns. Playing through Oxenfree felt like binge-watching a very good show, I just had to know what was going to happen next. The setting is a tourist island that seems to be closed for the season. The only full-time resident has recently died so you will end up in her house looking for answers. The characters manage to awaken some sort of ghost trapped in what appears to be a radio signal. Throughout the night this ghost possesses Alex’s friends as it tries to get back to the world of the living.

The visuals in Oxenfree are perfect for the story it’s trying to tell. Everything is lacking just a little bit of detail, it’s colorful, but also mostly covered in fog. I found that it set a great atmosphere for the whole story. I think if they were any more cartoony or realistic they wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. I also love that the loading screens show the polaroids that are taken in various parts of the game. These add a little more detail to the graphics and always feel like an intimate moment between the characters

Oxenfree 7_5_2019 10_24_26 AM

There is a bit gameplay in Oxenfree besides choosing dialog trees. Alex carries a radio with her that when tuned to certain frequencies can trigger events. Each zone on the map has some unique radio stations that are interesting to listen to, so it’s worth pulling it out when you enter a new area. Also, there are a few collectibles. I found a lot of them but I didn’t go out of my way to look for them all. I’d would recommend Oxenfree if you’re looking for a laid back game with a very good story.

 

Oxenfree 7_5_2019 10_23_37 AM.png

 

Alright back to the screenshot thing. See there’s a little detail I missed after the game returned to the screen. What I assumed was the new game button actually said “Continue Timeline?”. I needed screenshots so I went back in for some pictures and the opening scene was a little different than I remember. So I played on…for another few hours actually. I may need to go back and go through the whole story again and see what I can change the second time around.

 

 

Taking Down Ultra Hydra

20190730210745_1

This week Jay and I took down Ultra Shadow Hydrakken with just the two of us. We’ve been stick on Ultra Vengful Pinata God for a month or 2. We try to clear the shadow towers on Mondays when the bonus is in effect for the Titan’s Treasure. It helps keep the flux fund up for the rest of the week. These are supposed to be for up to 8 players but Jay has enough power rank on his gunslinger to carry us both through the lower level ultra towers.

It was a whim dicision to try the next Ultra tower. I have gotten my Dracolyte’s Power Rank up by a few thousand over the weeks and I thought why not? Getting to Hydra was a bit rough, the mobs in the towers were a bit more difficult, taking flasks with almost every hit. Once we got into the boss room we switched up classes. Jay had his revnant with a tank build that netted him just over 10 million health. My 27k PR Shadow Hunter provided the DPS. It took us about 10 minutes to down Hydra. When you’re used to taking out these shadow tower bosses in under 30 seconds it felt like an eternity.

20190730211231_1

One of the advantages of not burning the boss  is that you get to see the mechanics. Yes, there are some mechanics to the bosses in Trove. Hydra spits out green slime that coats a wide area and spawns adds. Luckily for me, Jay took most of the adds. The few that escaped his range hit my squishy shadow hunter for a lot. When Hydra gets down to around 40% health he starts sucking every player underneath him. After the first time I had to hang back the rest of the fight after one hit took 15 flasks.

20190730214423_1

We tried Ultra Darknik Dreadnaught. We were feeling underpowered on our run to the boss room.  To my suprise we almost had him but just didn’t have enough power to finish the last eigth of health. Out of the two fights, this one was my favorite. Draknik has 2 different sheilds, a bunch of rockets that leave fire you shouldn’t stand on, and one move that forces players to run to the corners or be one shotted.

So now I have another goal for Trove: to two man all of the shadow tower difficulties. I definatley need to put some more PR into my shadow hunter and my dracolyte. We’ll see what we can get our time down too on Ultra Hydra over the next few weeks. I’ve been lacking some drive to play Trove lately but a new goal is just what I need to get me back into the game. Plus, I still have plenty episodes of the No Sleep Podcast to listen to while I play.

 

VAST Horizon: Adrift- Ghost

44616020-4ff7-0137-f266-1d245fc5f9cf (1)

Dr. Nolira Eck is finally able to open a communications channel and hear a distress hail to the Bifrost.

S1 E5
Released: July 22nd, 2019
Length: 31 minutes

If you’re keeping track you might be wondering where episodes 2-4 are. Truth be told, I ran out of time to get my thoughts together for those 3 episodes before this new one came out last week. Even this write up is a bit later than I would have liked it to be. They’re good you should listen to them. Norlira does some crazy stuff, we learn there’s another life form on the ship, and she names the AI Ali.

I still like how the world-building happens in bits and pieces throughout the episodes. This week we learned that humanity has spread far a wide throughout the galaxy via a lecture. Expansion to the point where the lecturer questions if we should be expanding even more

.Where episode 1-4 were fast-moving and action-packed, episode 5 gives us a bit of a breather with a more reflective tone. Even though it’s not as exciting, it’s an important mommnet. So far the dynamic between Norlira and the AI has been built around survival. Ali is calculating the best routes to take, the amount of time Norlira has to get things done, constantly reminding her that there is no one available to help her. In this episode and even a little bit in episode 4, Ali seems to be trying to understand Norlira more and questions why she does some of the things she does. Tanja Milojevic does a fantastic job with Ali. There are times when she seems almost human. Other times I’m reminded it’s only an advanced computer when it repeats words and phrases the exact same way.

—-Spoilers Ahead—-

At the end of the last episode, Norlira had reached the communications bay and was receiving a distress signal. We learn that this distress signal is coming from an escape pod of a seemingly different ship that also ran into something. The child, Po Yano, is the sole survivor.

Norlira desperately tries to contact Po but it seems the escape pod can only broadcast out. What resonated the most with me is this scene where Norlira is determined to let Po know that she’s not alone which is something that Ali can’t understand. There’s this great exchange between the two where Norlira keeps arguing she needs to try to help this girl and the AI keeps calculating the chances of saving Po at zero. And even when it’s revealed that this broadcast was just a recording, Ali doesn’t understand why Norlira is still upset.

Norlira has overcome incredible things given the circumstances. She’s gone outside the ship, she’s traversed areas of the ship with no life support, she’s crawled through maintenance shafts in the dark, and yet she can’t save this scared girl trapped and alone in space. To me, it seems Norlira is trying to come to terms with just how helpless she is in her situation. You can hear the defeat in her voice when she says “…She tried so hard and there was no one here for her, she was alone, she died out here alone. Just like I will.”

Backlogged: The Last Door: Season 1

20190705075411_1

I love horror. Across all media, it’s my favorite genre. My favorite kind of horror isn’t in your face slashers and monsters. It’s the psychological, creepy, unsettling horror that not only makes your skin crawl but makes you think as well. That’s exactly the kind of horror the Last Door is.

Originally released episodically, Season 1 provides the first 4 chapters of The Last Door. It follows Jerimiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old boarding school friend Anthony Beechworth. Devitt arrives at the Beechworth Estate,  in Victorian-era Sussex, only to find that his friend has hanged himself. He discovers another letter instructing him to seek answers at his old boarding school which has been turned into an end of life care facility. There he remembers the events of him and 4 others conducting a ritual to see “beyond the veil”.  Throughout the game, Devvit sees a huge bird eye and there is a heavy emphasis on crows. There is another story with 2 psychiatrists talking about their patient Devvit. It is unclear whether this is taking place before, during, or after the events of the game.

20190704132555_1

 

20190704132210_1

I didn’t think a game that looked like this could be unsettling. If there is a game that proves you don’t need fantastic graphics to convey a great story and have a great gaming experience it’s this one. The sound design makes the experience very immersive. In fact, the sounds are the scariest parts. The auditory jump scares they are placed sparingly and in just the right moments. The original music by Carlos Viola carries the game. The piano is haunting, sad, and creepy. Plus, there’s a different track for almost every room.

20190703174755_1
Okay, that’s a little creepy
20190704132506_1
And that…..

20190704142044_1

Point and Click games are hit or miss for me. Sometimes the gameplay gets in the way of the story. It can be frustrating when I can’t figure out a puzzle but I want to continue the story. That isn’t the case here. The items and their use are very logical. There was only one time, in episode 4, that I had a hard time figuring out what to do next. after about a half an hour using objects on anything and everything, I ran to the internet for help. Turns out I had missed an entire area and a lightbulb had to be used with a dead deer to make a light for a photography darkroom. Other than that the puzzles were logical without being too easy.

20190704132027_1

20190704132025_1

My favorite part of Season 1 was in episode 3. There’s an area that is covered in fog and throughout the episode, the characters tell you it cannot be traversed without a map. It turns out the map is actually a poem and you have to match the sound clues in the foggy area to lines in the poem to make it through. This section highlights the best parts, the sound design, and the writing.

20190705075642_1

After the first 4 chapters, there are 4 mini-scenes in the extras.  They don’t give any answers to the original chapters and provide a lot of questions for the next season. I wan’t expecting these when I finished the game and clicked the extras menu. It was a nice touch.

It took me 5 hours to complete Season 1. That’s more time than I initially thought I would get out of it. I’m very much looking forward to playing through season 2 and seeing how the story plays out.

20190705080545_1

 

 

Steam Sale 2019: And Actually Playing Them

screenshot-12.png

I’m trying something new with the games I own. Play them as soon as I buy them. I know, what a novel idea. I haven’t bought many games this year because I know I don’t play them. Then like clockwork, the steam sale comes around and suddenly I have 8-10 new games that then sit there collecting virtual dust while I play something else.

I remember when I first discovered Steam and the magic of that first steam sale. Texts and calls would be flying among friends about which games we have to get right now because of the amazing flash sales. I ended up with a lot of games that year because they were cheap, not necessarily because I wanted to play them.

After a few years of being a PC gamer, the steam sale loses it’s excitement and just becomes a fact of life. Don’t buy any games in June/July because that big sale’s coming. I for one am glad they did away with the flash sales. Sure the discounts aren’t as big but there’s no fear of missing our and constantly checking steam for the game you want.

These days I don’t buy much on steam unless there’s a sale. I browse games, I wishlist them, and then when the big sales come around I see what still interests me and I buy it. God forbid I ever buy a game at full price. I rarely go off my wishlist now unless a friend gets something they want to play with me. I even cleaned some games out of my wishlist this year. If I haven’t bought it in the 5 years it’s been sitting in there, I don’t think I ever will.

My biggest change this year is how I organize Steam. Before I had a bunch of genre categories and placed games accordingly. When I beat a game I  put it in the completed category and hid it from my library. This year I decided to make a new category called Current, place all the games I just bought in it and collapse everything else. I’m only going to play these games until there aren’t anymore on the list and then add more based on what I feel like playing. I like it better this way. There’s artificially less choice in what I want to play. We will see how it turns out

Steam Sale Games 2019

Agarest: Generations of War – A strategy JRPG series that I’ve been eying for a few years now. The bundle with the 2 other games wasn’t that much more than the first game so I picked it up.

Dragon Cliff – I’ve been into idles games this year for some reason. This game bills itself as a semi idle game where you manage a guild of adventurers. From the few hours I’ve played, it has a story and some interesting mechanics.

Elminage Gothic – I’ve been craving an old school dungeon crawler ala Wizardry for a while now. I had read that this one was pretty good. The interface is a little weird, I believe it’s a port from the PSP.

Stranger of Sword City – Another Wizardry style dungeon crawler. This one is supposed to be more beginner-friendly and I like the art style.

Fictorum – I don’t remember where I first read about Fictorum but it’s been on my wishlist for at least a year. From what I understand it’s a wizard simulator with a great destructible environment.

Has-Been Heroes – So far this is my favorite purchase this year. It’s a rogue-like and the combat system is amazing. You have 3 heroes and each one occupies a lane. They all have spells and basic attacks with various cooldowns so you have to swap them between the lanes to deal with the encroaching enemies. It feels a little like a tower defense game.

It’s A Wipe – A parody simulation of MMO raiding. I love the tagline: “All the fun of leading a guild without the people.”

The Last Door Seasons 1 and 2 – a pixel art point and click horror game. I’ve been playing a lot of story-heavy games recently and I’ve heard this one is good.

Observer – a story-heavy game with a sci-fi setting.

Outlast – I’ve never played a proper horror game. SOMA is the closest thing I’ve played. It was $3 and on my wishlist so why not.

Sanctum 2 – I’ve looked into getting this game for years now. A friend and I put a ton of hours into Orcs Must Die! 2 and this looked just like that but with guns. Plus it’s up to 4 players which is perfect for my gaming group. I bought a 4 pack so everyone could play. After playing it together we also got the DLC.

Strange Brigade – 2 of my friends got this and it looked fun so I picked it up too. Played it once so far and this is my second favorite purchase this year.

Valkyria Chronicles – I wanted to play this when it came out for PS3 and never did. Then I wanted to play it when it came out for PS4 and never did. Then it was on PC for a while and I still never bought it until this year. There are apparently 4 games in this series now. It’s just such a different concept, JRPG anime World War 2.