Disastrous DiRT Daily Ep2.

Destiny, I fucking love you!

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I can’t think of another game that has polarized opinion as much as Destiny. When I hear complaints about the game, I usually react by nodding my head in agreement, before returning to work on adding to the 350+ hours I’ve already sunk into it. I’ve even concluded that had I’d been reviewing the game, I probably would have given it a seven too. Despite all that, I love Destiny. Regardless of its many flaws, Destiny is quickly becoming my most played console game, ever. With that in mind, (and before I write about the things I don’t like) I thought I’d go through the things I love the most about Destiny.

Destiny_20141119212713 Hand Cannons. Oh my god, Hand Cannons! I love these bad boys so much, I very nearly made two of these things Hawkmoon and Thorn. Once in a while, I come across a weapon in a game that has the magical X factor, and I fall in love with it. In Halo 3 it was the Spartan Laser. In Gears of War it was the Longshot Rifle. But In Destiny it’s a whole damn class of them. Nothing else feels as good as headshotting enemies with a Hand Cannon – not even killing a Hunter in PvP just after they’ve popped their Bladedancer special. Hand Cannons are so much fun to use, if I had an actual physical version, I would do dirty, dirty things to it.

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Raids. When I first started playing Destiny, all the talk from those further along than I was about the Vault of Glass, and just how good it was. After a frustrating few weeks of no raiding, I eventually lucked in to a group of friends tackling the Vault, and found out for myself what the fuss was all about. Without a doubt, the Vault of Glass is some of the best designed, and most enjoyable video game content I’ve ever played. I could go into more detail, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. What I will say is that in my opinion, the Vault is the perfect example of how you create co-op gaming where every player has a meaningful role.

Destiny_20141124221420 The Iron Banner. Version One of the Iron Banner was not good. All that weaponry and armour we’d been carefully gathering and levelling was more or less meaningless in IB v1, and players were not happy. Bungie went away, reworked the mode, and sent Lord Saladin back to the tower. The first few minutes into my first game, I headshotted another player on the other side of the map with Bad Seed Down, and instantly I was converted. Power finally fucking mattered. Oh boy, did it matter. Since then I’ve taken part in every Iron Banner, and learnt the joy of headshots with a fully levelled Hawkmoon. After a shaky start with destiny’s PvP, I can honestly say that Iron Banner is one of my very favourite parts of Destiny.

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Warlocks. Apart from having an exceptionally cool sounding name, Warlocks are also blessed with having some of the best looking armour in the game. The Iron Banner set for example is simply beautiful. And if there’s anything better than swishing around in robes, firing off Nova Bombs – I’ve yet to find it. I do have a Hunter and Titan, and I’ve found them quite fun to play, but they don’t have the same sort of swagger the Warlock does. Flying electrical fists and golden guns are all well and good, but let’s be honest, they’re not the same as tooling around in a cool outfit, wielding Hawkmoon, and fucking shit up with purple balls.

 

Destiny: Crota’s Cheesy End

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Sorry about the title, I couldn’t help myself.

Cheese. Bungie does not like it apparently. Not if the content of their latest update is to be believed, anyway. If you’ve been following Destiny’s progress, you’ll probably know that the new Raid – Crota’s End, has been suffering from a particularly cheesy odour since it’s introduction as part of the Dark Below expansion. Tales of Guardians using various cheesy methods to run through the raid easily, hoovering up loot, were becoming commonplace, and it was only a matter of time before Bungie stepped in.

Not cheesing this time round.

Not cheesing this time round.

Now that they’ve at least begun that process, I thought I’d talk why I’m glad they’re trying to de-cheese the Raid. Firstly, I’d like to say that I’m not against cheesing per-se. As someone who’s crimes include hiding beneath the stairs in the Cerberus Vae Strike, I’d be a massive hypocrite for a start. But mainly it’s because the whole thing is a massive grey area. Where does cheesing end and exploiting a game bug begin, for example? If its possible (although highly unlikely) to be killed whilst hiding in a “cheese spot”, is that cheesing? There’s no right or wrong answer in my opinion.

So why don’t I like it in the Raid? I’ll explain. Destiny is a strange game when it comes to challenge. Unlike similar games within the genre, its possible to replay the entirety of Destiny’s story mode content whilst being hugely over-levelled. The gear and weapon levelling mechanics eventually render the game’s “normal” difficulty curve meaningless, and beyond the odd Heroic stipulation on various Bounties, the game never really insists you turn the difficulty up. The vast majority of Destiny’s PvE content therefore, relies upon the player choosing to be challenged to remain meaningful, and that’s why I have a problem with Raid cheese.

Definitely cheesed this one

Definitely cheesed this one

Players solo-cheesing their way through Crota’s End are rendering the most meaningful content in the game meaningless. They’re rendering the achievement of earning Raid gear meaningless. And in a game that relies upon the player to keep content relevant, I don’t understand why you’d do that. What is the end game anyway? You cheese your way to a full set of Raid gear, and then do the Raid as intended? That doesn’t make any sort of sense. Destiny is all about the gear you’re wearing, and the guns you’re wielding, and I personally don’t know how you can take any pride in that when you’ve cheesed your way there.

As I’ve said, cheesing is a ridiculously grey area, and something I myself have partaken in, so I don’t want you to go away thinking I’m making a judgement here, because that’s not my intention. This is an expression of bewilderment at the specific issue of soloing Crota’s End to short-cut your way to Raid gear and weapons. So by all means, feel free to ask me why I’m not also questioning whole Raid groups cheesing bits of the Vault of Glass, or to tell me I’m taking a bunch of pixels way too seriously. I won’t mind. Yes, its ridiculous the Raid can be solo-cheesed. Yes, Bungie should fix it PDQ. But also yes, I think the players have a responsibility to resist the cheese, no matter how fragrant.

 

Video: PS4 UI

Just a quick post this morning, to highlight this new video of PS4’s UI. It all seems like good stuff to me, not too bloated, quick to navigate through, and functional. One thing I really did like was the trophy rarity rating. Being able to see how rare unlocking a trophy globally is just the sort of thing we trophy hunters need to know!

The Game Jar Files: Guild Wars 2 – The game of the year that you probably won’t play

Originally published on thegamejar.com July 6th 2012

PC gamers and Console gamers. In many ways they’re like Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, longing to be together, doomed to forever be apart. The problem was of course that Romeo was console gamer, and Juliet was a PC gamer. It’s the age old tale, boy meets girl, girl doesn’t like boy’s joystick, girl leaves boy for more sophisticated gaming. You see like all console gamers, Romeo liked his gaming quick and dirty with very little commitment, he had no time for the long term demands that many MMO-playing PC elitists enjoyed, and as such he paid little attention to the whole PC scene. Juliet wanted a gamer who could satisfy her demands, play the same game for whole weekends without rushing to the climax, and not trade her in for the latest release a week later. Thus society dictated that the two could not be together, and poor old Romeo was left hanging around underneath Juliet’s balcony, wishing he could be up their with her, playing awesome PC games and putting his hands on her mouse and keyboard. Juliet on the other hand was content to count off the days till August 28th, the day that massively multi-player online games would change forever. I tell you this tale as an introduction to my explanation as why you’ve probably never heard of Guild Wars 2, or why it’s going to be game of the year. But before all that, a little potted history.

Twelve years ago  in 200o a small video game company called ArenaNet was founded by Mike O’Brien Patrick Wyatt and Jeff Strain, three former Blizzard Entertainment developers who had previously worked on titles such as Diablo II and Starcraft. Formed with the goal of  “creating a state-of-the-art interactive game network, and developing premier multiplayer, online games”  they released Guild Wars Prophecies in April 2005. The game would be described a “competitive online role-playing game” with the description based upon Guild Wars unusual blend of a greater emphasis on Player versus Player (PvP) combat and (often instanced) Player versus Environment (PvE) questing and exploration. The way the game played wasn’t the only thing that set it apart from the usual genre tropes either, it’s payment model departed from norm by eschewing a monthly subscription fee in favour of just charging the initial purchase price of the game, then followed by charging for future content. Two campaigns were released, first, Factions in 2006 and then Nightfall in 2007, both of which expanded the number of missions and professions available. By 2007 releasing subsequent campaigns was deemed too restrictive creativity wise and Guild Wars first proper expansion, Eye of the North was released. A second expansion was planned but it soon became clear that Utopia (the second expansions name) wouldn’t allow ArenaNet to do the things they wanted. It was scrapped in favour of developing a whole new game.

Work on the sequel began in 2007  with a formal announcement in the March of that year. Fans had to wait two years before they got their first look at the new game, and in August 2009 ArenaNet showed off Guild Wars 2 for the first time. From that moment on anticipation has been building with each new reveal, and in my humble opinion Guild Wars 2 will be a revolution in mmo gaming. Playing it requires a new mind set, one that demands you forget all about the overly familiar routines we’ve fallen into by playing the many, many mmo’s that follow the World of Warcraft blueprint. Fighting monsters by standing still and spamming the same skills over and over is gone. Combat in GW2 allows you to use your skills on the move, combine that with a new dodge move and fighting NPC’s (Non Player Characters) requires some thought.  The so called “holy trinity” of Tank (the player tasked with taking all the damage for the group), Healer (the player tasked with healing the group), and DPS (Damage Per Second – the player tasked with dealing damage) is gone. Every class has it’s own self healing skill, and running dungeons doesn’t involve waiting around for the right classes turn up, any group of professions can band together and get to work. Gear grind via raiding is gone. The very best gear statistic wise is crafted by players not dropped by monsters, so there’s no need to grind away doing something you hate, just for the coolest armour. The list of mmo conventions made obsolete by Guild Wars 2 is a long one, and it’s something most MMO gamers have been clamouring for for a long while now. Just speak to any Guild Wars 2 fan (including myself) and they’ll tell you that they are ready to experience something new. We’ve done the “kill ten rats” quest hundreds of times over, and we’re tired of finding that the game completely changes at level cap, switching to a treadmill of re-doing the same high level content over and over. Guild Wars 2 Does none of those things.

So why am I getting a PC MMO all up in your Game Jar? Well partly because I’m a fan of the game and love talking about it, but mostly because I don’t want you to miss out on playing the best game of the year when it’s released in a few months time. I simply don’t have the time to cover everything that’s great about the game, so hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite with my enthusiasm. Any gamer that enjoys a well crafted role playing game owes it to themselves to try this game, so visit the official site and check out the stunning concept art, watch the videos on the various races and classes, if they don’t pique your interest, nothing will. Guild Wars 2 really is a revolution within it’s genre and gamers as a whole should be paying it more attention, because very probably in the near future the term “WoW clone” will be gone, replaced by a new standard, the Guild Wars 2 way. So trust me on this, forget about the next Call of Duty and the next Halo, you’ve played those games before. You know how they work, and you know they won’t offer any thing new. Take a chance and play something that lasts a little longer, dip your toe into PC gaming with Guild Wars 2. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Ashamed to be a Gamer.

I’ll start this post by up front with you, I don’t really want to write this one. It really depresses me that in 2012 I’m blogging about racism, anti-Semitism , and homophobia in gaming. And not just from 12 years old looking to be shocking on Xbox Live either. But here I am, a not far off forty year old gamer, wondering whether I’m crazy to think that the next generation of gamers are just a bunch of racists. Rewind to last year, I’m looking for a community of gamers to hang out with. I find what looks to be a solid bunch, sign up to their site and have a nose around. All looks well. They have a podcast too, it has an explicit tag but I’m a big boy, I can cope with swearing, so I give it a listen. Three quarters of the way in, someone makes a “joke” about getting gay men to have sex with women and I switch off. Obviously not the community for me. Return to the present and I’m listening to another gaming podcast, also tagged explicit, this time containing a “funny” quip about Jews in gas chambers.

Am I going mad here? Is homophobia and anti-Semitism in your podcast perfectly OK if you slap an explicit tag on the front? Do gamers really exist in a bubble, one where they don’t know right from wrong? Maybe they skipped school the day tolerance was taught. I’m grasping a straws here because this genuinely makes me want to cry.

For the first time in my life, I understand why some people are ashamed to admit to being a gamer, because in future I will be to.

 

Video: Kil2 PvP Video

Just a quick post today to highlight this sweet PvP video from Alliance Tournament commentator Kil2. Enjoy the vid, check out his streams, and listen to the Bringing solo back podcast.

Endgame! Legendary Weapons!

It’s been a bit quiet here for a couple of weeks or so, but I do have a good excuse! In addition to this blog, I’m now writing for The Game Jar site and it’s taken me a little time to adjust to doing both things. I think I’ve gotten my head around it now, so normal service will resume. Hopefully.

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Guild Wars 2! It’s been literally one whole post since I talked about this game, so it’s high time I wrote about it again. Or more precisely, it’s high time I posted another video. This time we have a vid from ArenaNet’s Twitch TV stream containing all sorts of lovely details on end game content, and some very cool sounding legendary weapons. Suhweeet!

Guild Wars 2 endgame talk

 

Guild Wars 2 – Launch date announced!

I know the internet is blowing up already with this news but I had to post something. I’ve taken part in both beta weekend events and one stress test, and without a doubt, Guild Wars 2 is hands down the best MMO I’ve ever played and finally it has a release date – August 28th 2012, with one final BWE July 20th – 22nd. So, watch the video announcement and get excited.

Eve Online: More V3 Goodness

We’re still in quarantine lockdown here at HQ, things haven’t quite gotten back to normal so this post is going to be brief. Today’s subject? More Eve Online V3-ing of ships and a slight re-jig of the Drake.

The Minnie ships don’t look all that different to me, maybe a little sharper, and thankfully they haven’t messed with the Rifter too much. The Drake is one of my favourite ships in Eve, and they’ve finally altered it to match the new missile turrets.

Enjoy the videos.

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