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So for a while I had been considering the purchase of an Xbox One X ever since it was revealed that Microsoft was planning on making original Xbox and Xbox 360 games backward compatible with their new machine.  I wasn’t really in any hurry to pick one up, but last month when I finally took the plunge and bought a 4K TV after experiencing gaming on the one that my boyfriend has, the desire to pick up the One X intensified until I decided to go for it yesterday.  I’ve spent pretty much all day today re-downloading everything that I had previously purchased on Xbox One, dealing with a lot of lag on Destiny 2 as my Xbox filled itself with lots of digital goodness.

Part of the allure of the One X was – well, is – the idea that I could finally share the world I’d built in Minecraft on PS4 with others.  Since Sony isn’t being friendly with the competition in terms of allowing cross play, I was pretty sure that the idea of my being able to share what I’d built on PS4 was either never going to happen or wouldn’t happen for a very long time (and with a ton of consumer complaints).  I had never intended to revealing this to anyone, but my original intention of my Minecraft creation was so that people had something to remember me by when I had departed this mortal coil and maybe add a few touches here and there as they saw fit.  Once it came to light that cross play wasn’t going to be a thing between the PlayStation ecosystem and others, I began to dreadfully think of re-creating my world within the Xbox ecosystem and establishing a realm that people might be able to access.  The hope that I had was quickly snuffed out.

First, it was brought to my attention that the realms were only accessible by a very small number of people.  But then again, it’s not like I was expecting the whole of the earth’s population to visit my virtual grave, was I?  No big deal, I thought, I only mean for this to matter to a small number of people anyway.  The second thing was something that I was blindsided by and now I’m pretty upset and not sure how to proceed.  You see, when you create a new world in Minecraft (or save file, if you prefer) the game generates the world randomly and gives that world an identifying number, or seed.  My intention was to take the seed number from my PS4 save (found in the title of this post) and plug it into the Xbox game and rebuild my world brick by brick, meticulously switching between the versions of the game and placing things exactly as they were.  However, it seems that seed numbers don’t translate between platforms, so now I’m left with the thought of ‘what am I going to do?’ and ‘fuck it, I’m done.’  It also doesn’t help matters that the Xbox One X version of the game has crashed 3 times trying to generate a new world.

Tooling around with the various choices at my disposal, I came across the option to make my Minecraft world infinite which has somewhat given me some hope that this mess is somehow salvageable.  Rolling the dice one more time before calling it a night, I generate a new Creative/Peaceful Mode seed and spend a few minutes flying around trying to find a new place to being again.  Standing on top of a hill, a whole new world spread before me like a blank canvas – Tomorowland.  Narnia – the world I created on PS4 – I suppose will remain there until such time as I can share it beyond the borders of the PlayStation City State.  For now, it is time to rest and decide where I want to go from here.

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Warmind

Destiny, part 30

So the latest Destiny 2 expansion, Warmind, was released three weeks ago today.  I’m still not thrilled about the unimaginative name, but I was and am more pleased with this expansion than Curse of Osiris.  I do feel that the main story was somewhat rushed because I feel that they could have padded things out and made it a little longer, but overall I enjoyed the tale.

Story

I did have a few problems with the story though.  The first was, how did a Hive Worm God get to Mars without us knowing about it?  How long has it been there?  Did it come during the collapse?  Did it come after and get buried, or did it come and has been hiding and drawing power until this moment?  Second is its companion, Nokris.  We only have mention of Nokris once back on the Dreadnaught in the form of a statue outside Oryx’s throne room.  We believed that he – or it – was dead, but it turns out that all record of Nokris was expunged from Hive archives because he/she/it/whatever dabbles in Necromancy.  Ummm, ok…that’s stretching things a bit far for me because don’t the rest of the Hive also dabble in Necromancy in one way or another?

My second problem with the story, and this is a SPOILER if you haven’t finished the main quest of the Warmind DLC yet, is how the hell did Zavala get to Rasputin’s room before Ana and myself?  How did he know where it was?  Ana said that she’d been searching for it for a while now but Zavala seemed to know where it was and got there before we did.  (And once we got there, he proceeded to scold us as though he were an angry parent.  Hmph!)  That one I find a bit hard to swallow as well, but, I’ll go with it for the sake of moving the story along.

Speaking of Rasputin, the reveal with him at the end when he states what it is he wants and what he’s going to do was rather mind blowing.  His “voice” is both fascinating and frightening and immediately commands your attention.  I’m both optimistic like Ana but a little fearful like Zavala.  I’m wondering how much help Rasputin will be able to provide when the next threat comes along, or even if he’ll help us at all.  I’m fantasizing that when those weird ships from the end of vanilla Destiny 2 arrive that he’ll launch an all out assault against them, for what that’s worth.

Rasputin himself.

I did find it to be a bit of intelligent design that they built a super computer on the polar ice cap of a planet.  What better place to build a computer than somewhere that’s extraordinarily cold?

Collectibles

I was a little disappointed in the fact that there are only two Lost Sectors in this expansion, but, there’s a lot going on in both of them.  I like the new Exotics and the updated/remade ones that made it into this expansion.  It’s nice that there are more Regional Chests this time around too.  Gives me something easy to hunt for and collect.  Speaking of collecting, there are also these things:

This is the very first one that you’ll come across during the course of the Warmind campaign.  Shooting it yielded nothing so then we began to think that perhaps there was something related to the main story line that we had to accomplish or unlock.  It wasn’t until later that we realized that they were each of a specific element: solar, arc and void!  We also discovered that there were three of them that could only be broken by the Valkyrie.  Once you find all 45 of them, this Exotic Sparrow and Exotic Sword are your rewards:

I was (and am) also pleased with the tantalizing bits of lore that are scattered throughout the expansion:

After reading all of these, I wonder what Divergence was?

Along with the lore objects from my inventory pictured above, there are quite a few scattered through out the Hellas Basin region of Mars.  The one item that was of the most interest to me was found in one of two Lost Sectors on Mars, and that item was Prince Uldrin’s crashed ship.  The last we saw of the good prince, he was helping to fight off the Hive invasion during The Taken King.  Once Oryx fires the main weapon on the Dreadnaught, that’s kind of the last time we see Uldrin.  I just wonder what’s in store for us regarding him and when we’ll meet him again…?

I was also very pleased with the changes to Eververse.  Every week, you’re given a free random item from a menu of ten items called the Prismatic Matrix and you’re guaranteed NOT to get any duplicate items on the matrix menu if you already have then, essentially making the Prismatic Matrix a sort of collectible checklist.  I like this because it gives players a better chance to get the Exotic ships, emotes and Sparrows unlike before.

I like the new multi Emote system, but the interface for accessing and changing your Emotes runs a bit sluggish and at times is nearly unresponsive.

Environment

I love the environment and the new spaces we get to explore.

Right outside Rasuptin’s room.  The structure is HUGE and a bit intimidating, and definitely gives me flashbacks of the end of Wrath of the Machine.

The outside, the surface of Mars, is interesting in and of itself, but the place that I like the most is Alton Dynamo.  I like the industrial and technological feel of the place, as well as it’s grim emptiness and overwhelming feeling of loneliness and solitude.  I can imagine that, long ago, this place was buzzing with Clovis Bray faculty as they struggled to get Rasputin up and running before The Collapse consumed them all.

It’s nice that they give us a “map” of the place.

I love this server room.  It feels like they took the server room from Wrath of the Machine and sort of refined the design, re-writing the script so to speak, giving the place a nice paint job and making it equally as eerie as its predecessor.

I imagine during the Golden Age that this transit system was bustling with activity.  

Admiring the front facade of Braytech Futurescape.  I like how the glass in the front is reminiscent of the Titan helmets.

Same place, just after the sun has set.

Rasputin’s housing

Happened to catch a Warsat fall from the sky and crash and just the right moment.

The Grind

Now lets talk about the “endgame” for this expansion.  First off, there are these things all over Mars:

Sleeper Nodes.  In my opinion, they are this expansion’s Prophecy Tablets.  The only difference is there were a small number of Prophecy Tablets where as there are 40 Sleeper Nodes.  In Osiris you needed Paradox Amplifiers and Radiolarian Cultures in order to complete each tablet and you only had 3 tablets to choose from each week.  You could only get these components by doing Heroic Strikes and a handful of other in game activities.  Once the tablets were done, that was pretty much it.  You only got one copy of each weapon from each tablet (at least I did) and the end game grind was over with after a few weeks.  This time around you have to grind for Resonate Stems and you get them by doing public events, patrols, lost sectors, adventures and killing random high value targets that happen to wander by.  Once you have four Stems, you can craft an Override Frequency key.

Four of these…

…to make one of these.  And you can only have one at a time.

Once you have the key, it will give you a three word hint as to where its corresponding Sleeper Node is located.  Once you get close, the node will open and start playing music and if you can’t really see where it is, a somewhat annoying orange/yellow oval will start to fill your field of view if you happen to be looking in the direction of the node.  Once you find the node and claim your (usually disappointing) loot, you start the process over again by crafting a new Override Frequency key and starting the search again.  There’s a few problems I have with this system.  The first is that the only thing you’re doing all of this irritating leg work for is an Emblem.  That’s it…and Emblem.  Why?  The second problem I have with this is that the nodes once found and opened, don’t disappear.  They remain in the field of play and can actually be opened again and again and again.  If you’re a completionist (like someone I know) this can be a huge problem.  I feel like this definitely needs to be addressed.  The third is that when you create an Override Frequency it has a tendency to unlock a Sleeper Node on the other side of the map.  Seriously?

The second part of the endgame for this expansion is Escalation Protocol.  Escalation Protocol is a new type of public event that players can either initiate (assuming you’ve completed the Warmind campaign) or participate in if someone else has started.  It takes the entire server to cooperate in order to succeed.

You can start the fight at any of these access points scattered across Mars.

What you have to do is fight off waves of Hive in each Level of Escalation.  There are four waves for each level and a total of eight levels to complete.  At first it was a little bit of a struggle for players (including myself) to get anywhere in the first level.  But now, three weeks later (and assuming there are enough cooperative players around), it’s becoming much easier to reach levels two, three and occasionally four.  From what I can tell, it’s the same routine for each level:  wave one is to kill the Hive, wave two is to diffuse the Shadow Rift and then destroy the three crystals that surround it, wave three is to kill more Hive and then on the fourth wave is the boss encounter for that level.

Pictured on the left are the four waves of Escalation Protocol.  In the distance you can see the Shadow Rift and the crystals that surround it.

Sounds easy enough, and as long as you’re of a high enough Light Level it is, it’s just that the entire time you’re fighting you’re under a time limit.  And as you progress through levels the enemies becoming progressively harder.  At the time of this writing, the farthest that I’ve managed to get was wave four of level four.  That was both exciting and extremely difficult as the fourth level and wave was seemingly nothing but bosses.  It was also disappointing as you get rewards for finishing levels four and eight respectively.  I have a bad feeling that finishing Escalation Protocol in its entirety might be one of the Moments of Triumph for this year.  If it is, I hope that we can come together to complete it.

And old favorite Public Event from the original Destiny made its return in this expansion: Defending The Warsat

Only this time around, as is the case with all Destiny 2 public events, there’s a twist.  The Warsat is surrounded by three Hive Shriekers and each one must be destroyed in succession in order to make the event Heroic.

And then a couple days after the release of Warmind, there was this.  I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually but I’d like to do the other two parts of Leviathan first.

Sleeper Simulant

During the lead up to the release of Warmind, there were rumors that one of my favorite Exotic weapons from the first Destiny – Sleeper Simulant – was going to make a return in this expansion.  I feel like this would have been a pleasant surprise had I not known about it before hand.  This quest chain back in the first Destiny was a fun surprise when it arrived.  I remember the community being excited to be working together to try to figure out what the hell was going on.  Once the mystery was solved and we all had this new and unusual gun to play with, we went about our merry way blasting holes in everything that got in our way and occasionally killing ourselves when a stray shot would ricochet and come back to haunt us.

This time around, much to my disappointment, there wasn’t much in the way of a mystery or anything in the way of a community effort to try to figure out what was going on.  This time around, you were pretty much just handed the quest chain and sent to go and grind until you got what you were after.

And what a long grind that was too.

I was happy to have Sleeper Simulant back considering what I had to go through to get it in both games, but ultimately I’m a little disappointed since there wasn’t much of a mystery combined with the fact that this new version of the gun only holds two shots in the barrel making it somewhat useless or not as versatile/powerful as its former self.  I’m holding out hope that once the Masterwork Catalyst for this weapon is added to the game that the ammo issue will be upgraded.  I sort of feel like it was only really added back to the game to silence the constant complaints of the community.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I’m mostly pleased with Warmind, I just feel like some parts of it could have been better.  I’m looking forward to seeing whatever it is that Bungie has in store for us at E3.

 

Who Was I?

Destiny, part 29

Guardians aren’t supposed to investigate their past, that’s the rule.

Yesterday was the reveal of the next Destiny 2 expansion, Warmind.  I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed in the DLC’s title, but that’s a complaint for another entry.  What’s rolling around in my head right now isn’t the new space we’re going to inhabit or the new armor and weapons and other goodies that are in store.  No.  What’s keeping me awake is the first line of the trailer, spoken by Ana Bray (or Anastasia Bray if you’re nasty):  Guardians aren’t supposed to investigate their past, that’s the rule.

Not once in the years of playing Destiny did it ever occur to me that I was somebody during the years of the Golden Age or the horrors of The Collapse.  I was a person.  I had a life.  And all of that was snuffed out when the agents of The Darkness came to destroy everything that we had built.  I ceased to be, for a time anyway.  Then one day, my Ghost found me among the numerous dead and brought me back from the hereafter to defend the last vestiges of humanity from extinction.  Why?  Why was I chosen?  Was there something special about me back then?  Did I do something amazing?  Or did I just have the right connections?  If I’m not allowed to investigate who I was, I’ll never know.

Resurrected for what purpose?  To be another killing machine for The Traveler?  And who is it that makes this rule that we aren’t supposed to investigate our past?  And more importantly, I find it hard to swallow that any information from the Golden Age about Joe Smith is on file anywhere in the ruins of the present, so why even make this rule in the first place?  I believe someone else, someone powerful, had something to say about the past recently which has also been rolling around in my head for weeks:

Let the past die.  Kill it, if you have to.  That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.

Maybe not knowing who/what I was in my past is for the best and letting it go is a good thing.  Maybe being chosen by The Traveler and Ghost is a form of redemption of past sins.  Maybe all of the Destiny universe is actually Purgatory after a fashion.

Maybe in all these variant universes, there’s information on who I was……

And maybe I shouldn’t take video game trailers so seriously.  Goodnight.

Times Completed

So I’ve had this old box of blank cards that belonged to my deceased father laying around my house since I moved in, and for the longest time I had no idea what I wanted to do with them.  The box recently found its way on top of the small stand near my front door and has been sitting there next to the router since.  Then one day, when I was using the box as a hard surface to sign my pizza delivery receipt for the umpteenth time, it hit me:  I would use them to track how many times I finished a retro game!

A relic from the past

That’s a lot of games to track

So today, in an effort to keep myself entertained, I took out my handy dandy new label maker (just picked it up over the weekend and I’ve been dying to use it) and started making the cards while binge watching The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes on Netflix.  It’s only a 4 episode series but I love watching Piers and Caroline critique these amazing houses around the world.  It’s definitely made me love New Zealand even more than I already did.

Time to get to gaming!

First I thought I would write the date I beat the game on the card, but thought that after a while it would take multiple cards to keep track of the completion record.  So I’ve decided to just make tally marks which will take up less space on the cards.  Ultimately the dates that I beat a game don’t really matter anyway.

But I digress.  While watching the series for about the third or fourth time today and making more cards, a question came to mind:  when and why did I start to think of my retro games in terms of how many times I had finished them?

Labels, labels, labels

I suppose that idea was planted in my head when I decided to join Matty in the 52 games in a year challenge.  There’s only so much time in a year and replaying a game, such as an old NES or SNES title, would definitely help in padding the number of games you can finish in a year.  If it’s a game you know well, know where everything is and possibly know how to speedrun it, you’d be able to reach 52 quickly.  But if you’re playing nothing but new release titles, you don’t really have any idea when you’ll be finished and there’s always the possibility you’d be stuck on a game for longer than you anticipate.

The finished product.  Time to start gaming!

Sadly, this year has been kind of a bust so far in terms of games completed.  Emotional setbacks combined with equipment failures don’t exactly motivate me to get back up and keep trying, but hopefully soon I’ll get back on track and continue my trek to 52!

A Crack

Destiny, part 28

Imagine being in a dark room, perhaps a prison cell with no windows or doors.  Maybe even a deep, dark cave.  You’re there alone and all is silent, but miserable.  And quiet.  So very quiet.  Suddenly, off in the distance, or perhaps not so far, there is a crack.  It is small at first, and the light it emits is dim, but it is there none the less.  It is a sight that stings the eyes, for it is foreign and unfamiliar.

A crack in the darkness

It’s late at night and a couple members of the clan and I decided to play some Destiny 2 since the Bloodborne servers were down, probably thanks to the game being free this month for PlayStation Plus members.  I’m actually interested in playing Destiny 2 again now that the Nightfall isn’t a nightmare to complete anymore.  Last week, with the new system implemented, we tried it out and finished with a score around 20,000.  This week, we improved our score and got up to 26,000.

This week’s Nightfall is the Pyramidion again, but it’s at least not a total nightmare anymore.

What they’ve done – and should’ve done all along – is let you decide how hard you want to make Nightfall for yourself.  The non Prestige version has no modifiers, just a score and a clock that shows how long you’ve been at it.  The Prestige is where it gets interesting.  Now you can choose how hard you want to make the enemies you face and what burns you want to activate, if any.  Tonight we tried a Prestige run and managed to make it with minimal fuss.  Getting the Aura now is going to be just as difficult as before, and probably still not worth the effort.  Also, there’s specialized Emblems for each new Nightfall that can be customized assuming you hit the required score for each variant.  I’m happy with the way Nightfall works now and hopefully this means we as a clan will gather to do it each week now.

In other news, the latest Iron Banner is happening and I’m actually excited to participate because the Warlock armor is beautiful and looks very Asian inspired.  At least this time around I won’t be going in alone.

Now, let’s go get those treasure maps and head for Nessus…

Gaming Goals in 2018 – Update 2

And now…

  • Participate in the ’52 games in a year’ challenge to see how many I can finish.  Last year I think I clocked in somewhere in the 30-40 range.
  • Get 100% in Super Mario Odyssey
  • Finish routes C, D and E in Nier: Automata (even though I already know how the game ends) and maybe work toward the platinum.
  • Finish finding all the Korok Seeds and Shrines in Breath of the Wild and maybe give Master Mode a shot (though I doubt I’ll have the patience to stick with it).  Might also revisit the Champion’s Ballad DLC.
  • Start a New Game+ playthrough for Horizon Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy 15, and the DS version of Chrono Trigger (gotta get the rest of those endings!)
  • Play more retro games!  I’ve started rebuilding my collection, so I think it’s time to give those old games a replay and see how I feel about them after all these years.
  • Start a fresh game of Fallout 4 with all the DLC.
  • Play more PSVR games!  Hopefully I’ll be able to overcome my bouts of motion sickness soon.

Bleh.  Played a few more VR games/demos over the last 24 hours.  Played the demo for The Last Guardian VR and the rat/bird thing freaks me out.  Played the demo for Tiny Trax and I hate the steering controls so I don’t think I’m going to buy it after all, and finally I also played the demo for Fantastic Contraption.  I didn’t think it was all that much fun but maybe a price drop will convince me to buy it.  The 2 demos that I did enjoy were Moss and Star Child.  Both are amazing 3D platformers in VR and I can’t wait for them to be released.  Definitely day one purchases.  The only other VR game I played from start to finish was Gnog.  It’s an enjoyable little puzzle game about solving puzzles that are in the shape of boxes.  I’m sure that playing it in 2D isn’t as detailed as the VR but it’s still a lot of fun either way.  Now that I’ve beaten the game, I’m going to lay down.  Apparently my VR nausea hasn’t worn off.

What I’m Playing, part 24

Infamous: Second Son

Four years ago, Infamous Second Son was released during the PlayStation 4’s first year.  I had never seen anything like it at the time and thought the game was fun and amazing.  I enjoyed the destructibility of the environment and the fluidity with which Delsin moves about with the smoke dash and later on, his neon dash.  I was all set for Infamous to be my first PS4 platinum when tragedy struck.

One night of marathon gaming while playing Second Son I had unlocked several trophies and when time came for me to call it quits from exhaustion, I went to sync my trophies only to be met with an error and was forced to start over from scratch re-unlocking everything that I had already done.  At first I was horrified thinking that all the trophies were glitched and that my efforts were in vain, but once I started re-unlocking everything that I had done it put my mind at ease.  I had finished 2 playthroughs in a row:  one as good Delsin on normal difficulty and one as evil Delsin on Expert difficulty.  The good playthrough was the one where I “lost” some of my trophies and had to start over from scratch.  This was also the point where I just totally ragequit the game altogether.

Fast forward to 2018.  Since I am riding on the natural high from collecting all 900 Korok Seeds in Breath of the Wild and solving all 120 Shrines, I figured I might as well go back and finish one of the things in my backlog that’s bothered me since it happened.  I’m currently at good karma level 3 and working my way toward the first trophy I need – reaching level 5 good karma – fairly quickly.  The only other trophy I need is where I redeem Fetch once I find her.

As far as gameplay goes, this game isn’t as glamorous as I remember it.  Delsin still moves about rather fluidly, but I had forgotten that he’s not indestructible when it comes to combat.  I also had forgotten just how janky his movements are when it comes to climbing up walls.  This rendition of Seattle is just as cool as I remember it, and I still wonder why the city is rarely used as a setting (the only other thing I can think of right off the bat that used Seattle as a setting is the Shadowrun tabletop RPG).  I was stoked this time around because I found the infamous wall of chewed gum!

For future reference, the wall of gum can be found here.

I like how the weather and time of day changed based on the chapter you’re on in the main story.  The first chapter with rain was rather relaxing and the second one where the sunset is perpetual is pretty.

After a few hours, and a little bit of a scare (I thought I had progressed far enough to unlock the trophy but I hadn’t), I managed to unlock one of the two trophies I needed for the Platinum.

I love Fetch’s power!  But trying to subdue enemies with it is still as irritating as I remember it being.  I also love the infinite running at the speed of light ability.  It’s so fluid and quick.  It definitely has me ruined as far as traversal powers/abilities in other games are concerned.  I mean, it’s not often that you get the ability to straight up run up a wall, am I right?

Very cool scene but also very sad at the same time.

After reaching something like the game’s midway point in the story and a little more grinding, my for year long quest was finally at it’s end:

Platinum trophy #8 is finally mine.  Until next time Seattle, stay cool.

  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN: 100% including the Platinum