Friday, February 27, 2015

How Destiny's End-Game is Driving Me Away

There was an article not too long ago on Kotaku about how Destiny has progressed over the past four months:

"The player's greatest adversary in Destiny isn't an alien warlord or a reanimated moon monster, it is Bungie themselves"[1]

I purchased Destiny in the middle of January, after hearing that critics bashed it but fans of the game really enjoyed their time shooting through the alien hordes. I had a friend who was already raiding end-game and offered to help if I ever needed it. All the pieces were in place for this to be a hit that I would absolutely enjoy.

Then I hit level 20, the cap off for experience gain progression, and reached the situation so many found themselves in; grinding over and over to gain rep and procure gear for the end-game content.

If you have never played Destiny, the only way to level up past 20 to the level 32 current cap is to get gear with "Light" attribute. The more light you have, the higher level you go. This acts as a gear check so you cannot simply hop into the first true raid, Vault of Glass, with a few greens and too little damage to matter.

Vaults made of glass should be easier to get into

After hours of grinding reputation and getting a few lucky drops from the regular Strikes, I had finally reached level 26, the minimum requirement to run Vault of Glass. I was pumped. Finally I could see what Destiny was about, finally I could play fights that required more coordination than the simple bullet sponge bosses of the heroic strikes.

I formed up with a group using a third party site, let them know it was my first time running it, and dropped down to face the unknown. The foreboding feeling I had was similar to my time in World of Warcraft instances, wandering into a dungeon with no clue what to expect and only the guidance of experienced players to assist you. I had watched a video before on the raid, but actually playing it is the only true way to get an understanding.

The first encounter was by the book, and with higher levels in our squad it was no real trouble. These guys had a "been there, done that" mentality about them, like most I would encounter on group events. We finally progressed to the first real boss. The first phase was by the book but after that we were instructed to all hop off the stage. They instructed me where to stand and what to shoot for the next two phases. The tactical, legit method I had watched before suddenly transitioned to standing on a cliff and shooting things from afar.

I am not sure what surprised me more, the fact that I am standing on this cliff clearly in view of the boss, out of range of all attacks taking potshots when his shield drops; or the fact that Bungie has nothing to safeguard players from doing the boss this way. No curse that requires a cleanse, no enemies spawning to ruin your dreams...nothing from stopping the simple tactic of standing high and away from the boss.

I would have preferred to do it legit, but hey, not my raid. Not my place.

 He went behind the pillar! Let's wait here for him and not move!

The rest of the raid featured far less exploits, but the frustrations of the experienced players began to shine through. We wiped a few times on the final boss, and the leader of our group groaned and raged at some of the deaths that occurred. A lot of our deaths were...unexplainable. These were usually followed by the rebuttal "Yeah that happens sometimes" or "It glitched, again".

The mentality to exploit the game didn't stop there, even the friend I mentioned was kind enough to run me through a Nightfall Strike and Crota Raid and used every cheese method and exploit possible to make the run a breeze. I actually confronted her about it at the start of Crota to which she replied, "You see, Craig, you don't understand what we've gone through. Playing through launch I have poured a lot into this game to get good gear and in one day it was all worthless as new players just bought better gear. I felt cheated."

...I don't....I don't understand...

She was right...I will never know that feeling. I do not know the feeling of running a raid at launch from Destiny, dying over and over to get vault of glass just right, and celebrating the victory of finding an exotic. I was that new player, gaining really good gear with ease and being able to run the big raids with minimal effort required. It was not fair. Vendor gear is now more powerful than anything you get from the raid. So why waste the time and effort wiping when we can sit back and breeze through to get materials to purchase new guns.

The general populous of Destiny hate how Bungie treats the game, and are showing it by taking advantage of every cheat the game can offer. Just google search "Destiny cheese method" and you will find thousands of guides, walkthroughs, and "whats up guys" YouTube videos of how to exploit every single encounter. It is insanely large in scale.

I enjoy the raids of Destiny, and as a whole, the game can be fun. The more I play, the more frustration from the community I see as people get awarded the same gun the sixth time in a row, work hard to finish a raid just to get more materials for upgrading something they already upgraded, or throw their hands up as the player with the most kills gets nothing but the player with two kills gets an exotic. I remain hopeful that Bungie's decision to delay the DLC will improve the next set of raids, because as it stands this is a game that people play out of frustration, and much less for enjoyment of the gameplay itself.

Yet, here I stand, the new guy; and right now I feel like a optimistic soldier in the trenches, surrounded by a unit that is already defeated.

[1] Full article on Kotaku - Destiny Review Update: Four Months Later

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monty Oum Passes Away at Age 33

I have always loved Red vs Blue, but will never forget the particular scene when the traditional format was broken as a warthog broke through a concrete wall. I was stunned, as a series I had watched for years took a dramatic turn toward breaking the trend and produced some of the best action scenes I had seen in a long time.

The man responsible for that? Monty Oum. He continued this work with Rooster Teeth with RWBY.

Monty Oum always seemed like the most hard working, creative individuals that continued to push the bar and make every action sequence better than the last. He was quite an individual, and upon hearing of his death yesterday, I was overtaken with a sense of loss. Here was this incredible mind lost so early in life.

The official Rooster Teeth announcement can be found here.

Wishing his family, friends, and everyone at Rooster Teeth the sincerest of condolences during this time. Monty's work will live on and inspire other creative minds for ages to come, but no denying the world lost an incredible person.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

EVE Online - This is EVE

EVE Online has been out since 2003 and since then has undergone upgrades, changes, and re-releases but is still going strong at 500,000 subscribers. Their latest video promotion "This is EVE" manages to promote the game in a new light.

Instead of focusing on features or doing a highlight reel of scripted moments, they concentrated on what makes the game great: its players. Unscripted actual conversation highlights a barrage of glorious space battles in a trailer that has been going strong since 2003 stand up to its next gen competition.

EVE Online offers a 14 Day Free Trial from their official website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hyrule Warriors - Video Review

Hyrule Warriors Review - Come out to Play

Score: 7.75 / 10
Hyrule Warriors
Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo
Release Date: September 26, 2014

  • Cinematic special attacks never lose their flair
  • Gives the feeling of being an all powerful warrior
  • Hundreds of different missions to complete
  • Variety of characters to choose from 
  • Co-op can be a blast
  • Gamepad potential is tragically lost
  • Every mission dilutes to killing things quickly
  • Repetitive nature can wear on you over time
  • Frame rate drops when too much action hits the screen

When you think Zelda you think dungeons, puzzle solving, and heroic quests with memorable boss battles. The most you recognize in Hyrule Warriors will be characters and locations, and that is where your familiarity ends. Koei decided to take a different approach to the Legend of Zelda copyright with this game, focusing on massive armies and powerful warriors taking on hundreds at a time. Those familiar with Dynasty Warriors series know the gameplay experience offered. While the Legend of Zelda characters can be fun to play around in a Dynasty Warriors setting, the lost potential with this game is hard to shake off.

Surely this will hit one of them...

The story for Hyrule Warriors is anything but canon and I remain thankful for that; because what you play out makes no sense in any way. It begins familiar enough with Link gaining the hero clothes and triforce of courage, but his path to quell the swarm of evil forces is a peculiar one. Introducing a pair of twin sorceresses, Hyrule Warriors involves their abilities to open rifts to the other Hyrule eras, bringing in characters from Ocarina of Time to Skyward Sword. You then close the rifts, but takeover as Ganondorf, undoing everything you just did. You further complicate that by taking over Link again to undo what you just undid. Confused? I was too. The story is a mess, shoving as many iconic characters as you can shove into one title, repeating elements of previous Zelda games (seriously, how does it take you five levels to figure out Shiek is Zelda?), and ultimately culminating in a mess of a story.

The basics of Hyrule Warriors is taking control of a all around awesome general who charges into hundreds of AI, overtaking bases by eliminating the enemy presence in each one. While the story mode bottlenecks you into taking specific towers for victory, most will open up and allow you to venture all across the battlefield, moving to where you are needed most. Sometimes the enemy will send out waves of enemies to take your bases, in which you must plan out what takes priority; attack or defense. It is the bread and butter of Dynasty Warriors saga, but with Legend of Zelda characters. The most disappointing feature is the potential lost over the gamepad. The most you can do is see current missions, see fellow AI's health, and select items...that is all. You cannot control your armies to attack certain points or even get a gamepad view screen of the map.

No more horsing around!

Amidst the thousands of clone enemies you go against are some formidable baddies, and that is where your character and weapon choice have an impact. The character roster continues to expand as you play, eventually unlocking a total of 13 characters with DLC offering even more. Though the heroes will all feel powerful, they did have significant differences in their approach. Link is your basic all around, Shiek attacks fast and fierce, and Zelda utilizes stored power to unleash devastating area attacks. No one hero felt similar to the other, but all felt like powerful machines capable of turning the tide of battle. No matter who you choose, a selection of items such as bombs and boomerangs are at your disposal with the potential to power them up for more of an effect.

In addition to a Story Mode, there is a Legend mode in which you navigate the classic NES map square by square, completing missions and getting a rank based on your performance. Missions have more variety here with altered rules like one-hit KOs or participating in a "battle quiz" to progress to the next room. Your ranking is generally based on time, damage taken, and enemies taken eliminated; and each rank opens up different paths that can lead to new weapons and rewards.

Déjà vu...

At the end of each mode you will be rewarded with a stash of rupees and materials. These materials can be used on each character to add an additional special gauge, up their defense, and improve their overall performance. Rupees earned assist in this upgrade, but can also be used to level up a hero you have been neglecting, saving you from grinding each individual character one at a time. There are even golden skultullas that appear in every level dependent upon meeting certain battle conditions, and must be killed mid-battle to collect them. Combined together, it creates a huge checklist for competitions on the sheer scope of things to complete and collect.

Hyrule Warriors at its core is Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin, but still, I found myself having fun with the game. Even after the hundredth mission I would find special attacks still left me a feeling of satisfaction and the overall brunt of the game was a joy. The hack and slash nature of the game just wears on you after a time. It is unfortunate that more was not done with utilizing the Gamepad, but being able to play on it was also great for times when the television was needed. This game is no Legend of Zelda staple, but it is enough of a fan service to hold you off until a new Zelda title hits the console in 2015.