Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – The Second Time Around

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I spent most of my gaming time this weekend on Kingdoms of Amalur. I’m trying to make a real effort in playing games I already own this year. And what better way to start that off then playing a game you already know that you like? The benefit of playing a game 7 years after you last played it is that you don’t remember much. Go figure, it’s almost like playing for the first time again.

The last time I played this for more than a half-hour was in 2013 on PS3. I don’t remember why I stopped playing I must have had to go back to school or something. I got decently far and then never touched it again. I endedup buying it at the end of 2018 in a Steam sale with all the DLC since the PS3 has been long since deceased.

Actually, I’m surprised that I can remember so little from it’s had a lasting effect on me. I’m always quick to recommend KOA to friends when they’re looking for a great RPG. What I do remember from playing the first time is the excellent combat and the class system which allows for a lot of flexibility.

There’s also the tutorial which I could run in my sleep at this point. What ends up happening in RPGs for me is it takes at least 8 tries before I’m happy with my character. Sometimes I don’t like the hair or the face. Sometimes I don’t like how a race looks walking around. Sometimes I just want to play a different class after playing for 3 hours….So I get very aqauinted with RPG starter zones.20200118094615_1

The original plan was to make a hammer-wielding melee character. So Boris here was born looking like he was born with a hammer in hand. Unfortunately, halfway through the tutorial, I found a staff that has a very satisfying move set. So instead of starting over at character creation I know have one burly looking mage. The more I look at him the more OK I am with the whole thing.

With this in mind, I also decided to do something I wouldn’t normally do. When you level up you are given a skill point to put into one of 9 different noncombat skills. I wanted to see what happened if I put as many points as I could into Persuasion. So far all this has done is given me a 3rd conversation option that involves convincing people to give me the quest items I just found for them. Which is very useful and sometimes hilarious. At one point I convinced two thieves the hat I stole was cursed and they just believed me and left. Another encounter the option was simply to tell the quest giver that I’m keeping this ring and you’re going to pay for my trouble.

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I’m also not investing in skills that require foraging for items in the world *cough* Alchemy *cough*. I did this last time I played which turned exploration into flower picking simulator. I tend to be cheap in games opting to do everything possible to not spend my hard-earned gold on health potions. But I’ll suck it up this time, I think there’s a heal skill in my future.

I decided to play a pure mage this time around. Last time I was a Finesse/ Sorcery hybrid so I didn’t want to play the same class again. This is yet another odd choice for me in RPGs where I usually roll some sort of DPS melee character. I figured if I’m going to make all these other new choices I might as well switch up the playstyle too. Though this decision was heavily influenced by the Chakram weapon type. Still to this day my favorite weapon in any RPGs. They’re a kind of magic throwing disc that comes back to the user and they are so satisfying to use. I’m glad that the combat is as good if not better than I remember. Its fluid, it feels good, and it makes me feel like a fantasy action hero.

 

 

 

 

A Decade of Games

 

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I’ve played Trove now for almost half a decade. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

These lists are something I’ve seen around the internet in recent days. They got me thinking about all that’s happened in the last 10 years and all the games I’ve played that will hold a special place in my heart. It’s crazy to me when I think about how much things can change in just a year and even crazier when I think about the decade as a whole. In 2010 I had just graduated high school and was starting college in a different state. 10 years later I’ve somehow become a fully functioning adult with an actual career, an amazing wife, and a cat of my own. And through all of this, games have been a huge part of my life. So I wanted to take the time and go through games that have stuck with me over the past decade because I think lists like these are cool and because it’s a great way to take a trip down memory lane.

Here’s a quick top 10 list of the decade from me:

  1. Journey
  2. Monster Hunter Tri
  3. Pokemon Sword and Shield
  4. Trove
  5. Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
  6. Oxenfree
  7. SOMA
  8. Elite: Dangerous
  9. FFXIV
  10. Monster Hunter: World

Here’s a longer list of everything played this decade. My process for this was looking through all the games released in a year (Thanks Wikipedia!) and picking ones that I a) actually remember playing and b) remember more fondly than “yeah I turned that on for an hour or two”. As a side note, I’m just looking at what came out I didn’t necessarily play it that year. The bolded games are the ones I had something to say about and don’t necessarily correlate to the above top 10 list.

2010

 

  •  Monster Hunter Tri: I ended up playing this with my best friend the entire summer between high school and college. Some of my best memories of gaming are because of this one game
  • MAG: Where I learned I was better at being a medic than playing Call of Duty
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce
  • Pokemon Heart Gold /Soul Silver:  I distinctly remember the guy at Gamestop not letting me
  • APB Reloaded.
  • Phantasy Star Portable II

2011

  • Skyrim: I got this as a Christmas gift from my mom. I don’t think I left my room until I had to go back to school that winter break. Needless to say, I still haven’t beat it.
  • Rayman Origins: The first game I ever played through with my wife.

2012

  • Journey: As of right now, this is my favorite game of all time. You can experience so many emotions in just an hour and a half.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Orcs Must Die! 2
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • Warframe

2013

  • Pokemon Y
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • Dragons Crown
  • Battlefield 4
  • Knack
  • Final Fantasy 14: Not having a capable PC for a few years made this my go-to MMO for a number of months. I still haven’t gotten past ARR yet….maybe this year?

2014

  • Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition: I have put so much time into the PS4 version of this game. It’s still the only game I’ve ever gotten a platinum trophy. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this much more than the PC version.
  • Tomb Raider
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Rouge Legacy
  • The Swapper
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Xeodrifter
  • Elite: Dangerous: When I try to explain Elite it sounds so boring but when I’m in the mood to play it I get really into it.

2015

  • Trove: You know that feeling you get when you check your /played in a game and it’s way more than you thought……626 hours in this game.
  • SOMA
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection: It literally took me and a friend 5 years to beat this game
  • BloodBorne
  • Pokemon Rumble World
  • Dragon Quest Heroes
  • Tales of Zestiria: As of this moment, my favorite JRPG of all time
  • Fallout 4
  • Helldivers
  • Hatoful Boyfriend
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

2016

  • 7 Days to Die:  I have mixed feelings on this one. I played co-op with a friend and when it was good it was good. When we had to stockpile materials for hours it was unbearable. This is one game I have a lot of good memories with but will never play it again because I feel like I’ve seen all it has to offer.
  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • XCOM 2
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time
  • Layers of Fear
  • Rocket League
  • Grim Dawn
  • Stardew Valley
  • BroForce
  • Salt and Sanctuary
  • Epistory -Typing Chronicles
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Job Simulator
  • Stranger of Sword City
  • God Eater Ressurection
  • No Man’s Sky: When this first came out this was everything I thought it would be and everything I wanted. It just turned out that what I wanted did not make for a very exciting game after all.
  • Tales of Berseria
  • Mad Max: I put 30 hours into this game when the save file got corrupted. Now I always save twice…always.
  • Titanfall 2: Yes, the single-player campaign is THAT good.
  • Killing floor 2
  • Let it Die

2017

  • Pokemon Duel
  • YS Origin
  • Rime
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Lego Worlds
  • Fortnite
  • A Hat in Time
  • Oxenfree: I binged this game in a weekend. When I went to write about it and grab screenshots, I ended up playing through half of it again.
  • Destiny 2
  • Portal Knights

2018

  • Monster Hunter: World: Funny enough I played this very little in 2018 but I’ve been playing it hard the last month and I can see that it’s the best thing to come out of 2018 for me.
  • Laser League: I wish this game had become popular…I was actually good at it.
  • Hollow Knight
  • Forza Horizon 4

2019

  • Pokemon Sword and Shield: This one snuck in there at the last minute but it’s my favorite game of the year. This game gives me the same feels pokemon red and blue gave me when I was 9 years old.
  • Slay the Spire
  • Apex Legends
  • World of Warcraft Classic
  • Spyro Reignited
  • Borderlands 3
  • Planet Zoo

October Gaming Goals

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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.

Audio Drama Sunday: The Black Tapes Season 1

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The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

The Black Tapes is all I’ve listened to this week. It’s consumed my commutes, it’s taken over my gaming time, I can’t stop listening to it. I finished up season 1 on Friday and I’m on the first episode of season 2 now.

What’s keeping me hooked is the style and the consistency with how the story is told. It sounds exactly like a documentary podcast and sometimes I find myself forgetting that it’s fiction. The cast does a great job selling the authenticity of the story.

So let’s talk about that story. It starts with Alex Reagan, the host, going on a ghost hunt. While she’s talking to ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, the name Richard Strand keeps coming up. Strand turns out to be a skeptic in the field and has an institute that’s sole purpose is to disprove proof of the paranormal. There is a million-dollar prize offered for those who can provide unrefutable proof of the paranormal. Alex set’s out to interview him and in his office, he has a set of black VHS tapes. These are videos of paranormal occurrences that can’t be proven false yet because the technology isn’t there to do so. Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me…

The show focuses on Alex and Strand revisiting the Black Tapes and talking to people who were involved in them. The first few episodes lead you to believe that this is going to be the format of the show. But as Alex reveals more Black Tapes content the more connected they all seem.

What makes this show work for me is the opposites that are Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand. Alex is the journalist with an open mind and although she says she doesn’t believe in the paranormal it seems very clear that she wants to believe. Strand on the other hand, is a full-blown skeptic. Everything can be disproven with science and logic. Every time Alex brings up a piece of evidence that seems like it’s irrefutable, Strand is there to knock it down.  The show wouldn’t be as interesting without that dynamic. It would be like countless other horror shows and movies. It leaves me waiting for evidence so compelling that not even Strand can disprove it.

I’m glad I’m listening to the show after it’s finished so I don’t have to wait between episodes. Especially between season 1 and 2. Season 1 doesn’t end with wrapping any of the plot points up. In fact, there’s even more questions raised. It’s not a satisfying finale but luckily I can just press play on the next episode.

I’m a bit worried though. I’ve heard from friends that the podcast ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. The Black Tapes released it’s final episode on November 7th, 2017, it’s not coming back. But that worry is offset with just how well this story is told so I’ll take a disappointing ending to be able to listen to 2 more seasons of this.

 

Backlogged: Borderlands 2

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Me and Jay have been playing Borderlands 2 on and off for 5 years. As of Saturday night, it took 5 years to beat our first playthrough.  In fact, it probably took more than that, I think we started a playthrough on PS3 before the PS4 version came out. Our playthrough predates this blog. I had just moved into my second ever apartment, and I was working like 3 jobs. 5 years later I’m married, I have an actual full-time job in a field with a career path, and I feel like I’m somewhat established as an adult.

When we beat it Saturday, we both breathed a big sigh of relief. It’s been on the back burner for so long, one of those games we said we’d play and then we don’t. In the beginning, we were on track. I bought it when it first came out and we played it almost nightly. At some point, we got sidetracked with DLC. I will say that I think Gearbox makes way better DLC than they do games. There is still a ton more DLC that we could have played but Saturday we were determined to get to the end.

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See, I like Borderlands as a whole. The looter shooter aspect is compelling and the dialog is off the wall, albeit sometimes kind of annoying. But I’ve felt like I’ve been held to it for too long. It’s always been nagging in the back of my mind when we decide what we want to play.  Most of the time, I didn’t want to play it because I don’t like shooters on PS4. I’ve never been good at aiming with a controller, it frustrates me. But the time was right to beat it now before Borderlands 3 comes out. And we are 100% getting it on PC.

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We were going to try and play through the DLC that ties 2 to 3 that came out in June. That is until we discovered it was no longer free. I’m trying to phase out purchasing games for ps4 so I wasn’t about to buy it.

All in all, I had fun with Borderlands 2. I would have liked it a lot better if I hadn’t spread it out so much. I would have liked it a lot better if it was on my preferred platform, but 5 years ago I didn’t have a capable PC. We had some good times with it over the years but ultimately, I’m just glad it’s finally over.

I am very much looking forward to Borderlands 3. I will be beating this game much quicker this time around.

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WoW Classic is Not for Me

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Rogue Stuff

I’m gonna be that guy. That guy that comes out and says, I’m not into WoW Classic. I tried,  I really did. I put in some hours over the long weekend and most of the time I asked the question: “Am I having fun?”.  That answer was no far more often than not and I’m trying to figure out why.

I managed to get an undead rouge to level 10 by the time I packed it in. At first, I liked the novelty of no quest markers on the mini-map. That ended fairly quickly when I had more than a couple active quests and couldn’t figure out where the NPC was for the turn in. Those quest markers have become such an integral part of games now it’s hard to imagine a game without them.

I tried a few characters. Before the undead rogue there was a dwarf priest who I got to level 9. I wasn’t enjoying having to wait for my health and mana to come back up after one or two rounds of combat. I rolled an Orc Rouge to check out their starting area. I stuck with that for a level or 2 until I had the idea that I really wanted to play an undead rogue.

I can see where everyone else is coming from. The sense of community in the game is great. General chat is full of people talking and sometimes even being helpful. There are roving groups, random invites, and even some conversations to be had while leveling. I joined a guild and had a good time chatting with the people there but that isn’t enough to hold my interest.

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I spent a good chunk of time on my priest like this.

I know a lot of that is because I don’t have that nostalgia to get me into the game. I don’t have friends who want to play it with me either. I came in curious to see how it all began, what it was like 15 years ago. Turns out, games have come a long way in 15 years, I’m sure to no one’s surprise.

I would have loved this game in 2006. I was a freshman in high school, this was exactly the kind of game me and my friends would have loved playing. Many of us were playing Runescape the year before and I think most of them would have been playing World of Warcraft if they could have gotten a subscription. Classic is grindy in a way my highschool self would have loved. Grinding weapon proficiencies, joining groups to level, finding quests in a giant world, and working on professions. There’s a ton of time to be sunk here and that’s just something I don’t have as much of anymore.

And I think that’s what it’s really all about. I spent a good 10 or so hours playing to get to level 10. Unshared tags make it hard to get quests done. Grouping up is a way around that for sure but the quests still take a while because others are also doing the same quest that isn’t in your group. Everything feels slow and I just don’t like the pacing.

Right now, I can’t see myself putting a ton more hours into Classic. I may dabble a bit more in the coming weeks, I still have a full month subscription after all. Or maybe I’ll go try out retail again and see how that goes. In the meantime, I look forward to reading everyone else’s stories from their time in Classic. I’ve said this before, and it may just be true, I enjoy reading about WoW more than I like playing it.

Taming Trove’s Primordial Dragons

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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.

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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.

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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.

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