Mass Effect: A Conspectus

In the wake of the release (an in my opinion, subsequent disappointment) of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I feel like it’s time to go back, and replay the franchise in its entirety and examine exactly what this series does right and wrong.  I’ll be playing and writing about each game from the original trilogy, plus Andromeda and cataloging my thoughts along the way.  Stay tuned!

Missing Persons

Destiny, part 18

After playing the beta, I decided to compile a list of all the NPCs from Destiny that I will update as I play Destiny 2 once we are aware of their whereabouts.  Until we know, I will consider them missing or killed:

The Tower

  • Master Rahool
  • Banshee-44
  • Xander 99-40
  • Tess Everis
  • Eris Morn
  • Lord Shaxx
  • Arcite 99-40
  • Ikora Rey
  • Cayde-6
  • Commander Zavala
  • Roni 55-30
  • Arach Jalaal
  • Amanda Holliday
  • Lakshmi-2
  • Eva Levante
  • Executor Hideo
  • The Speaker

The Reef

  • Petra Venj
  • Variks, the Loyal
  • Master Ives
  • Brother Vance
  • Sentha 55-30
  • Berg 99-40
  • Mora Sov

The Iron Temple

  • Micha 99-40
  • Shiro-4
  • Gabi 55-30
  • Lord Saladin
  • Tyra Karn
  • Lady Efrideet

Destiny 2 Beta

Destiny, part 17

So today is the first day of the Destiny 2 beta for those of us that pre-ordered the game for PS4.  I've been chomping at the bit all day at work to get home and give it a go and after being lucky enough to leave 30 minutes early, I've finally had a chance to sit down and play.

After watching the opening cinematic that was shown back at the Destiny 2 reveal, it was finally revealed that our guardians weren't even at the tower when the Cabal hit us: we were out on patrol.  Playing through the opening mission – Homecoming – was both a joyous moment and one filled with sorrow as I witnessed firsthand my home of the last 3 years reduced to ruins at the hands of these bastards.  It was also very much a shock to witness the trap the Cabal set for us when they put up their shield around the Traveler thus cutting us off from his Light.  My only hope is that my Ghost isn't dead…watching it fall from Gary's ship was a definite punch in the gut.

I'm definitely loving the new user interface, it seems very slick.  I like that I can get to the sub screen much faster by simply pressing down.  Switching weapons and sub classes and class abilities works like it did before, only it feels a lot smoother.

Each class has 2 sub classes that I plan on trying out before the beta ends.  I've tried Dawnblade first, then Arcstrider and then Sentinel last.  This time around I might actually play a Hunter because they seem pretty fast and the Arcstrider super is definitely overpowered (I'm sure those assholes will nerf it once the Crucible babies start complaining about it.)  The Dawnblade super is a lot of fun and is very powerful, but it only seems to last about 3-5 seconds but it sure feels good to rain down fiery swords on the Cabal.  I felt pretty dumb trying to figure out how to use my 3rd ability (the healing circle.) When random button pressing didn't work, I finally thought to go into my sub class menu and actually read the instructions. You know, like a smart person would. I can see that the healing circle is going to get used a lot when we finally start raiding and running strikes frequently. The Sentinel I'm not sure about.  I tried to use its super a couple of times and I guess I fucked it up trying to throw the shield because all I was ever able to do was use it like a melee weapon (or the way you use the relics as a melee weapon in the Vault of Glass).  I'll give the other sub classes a try tomorrow after work.

The Inverted Spire

The only other thing (for me) to do in the beta is the new Inverted Spire strike.  Set on the Vex controlled planet of Nessus, the Cabal have been digging around for stuff when they stumbled upon a very powerful Vex that is reminiscent of Atheon from the Vault of Glass.  We like to refer to him as Atheon on crack.  I love the new environment!  It's so lush and there's so much to see and do and find.  I can't wait to start my new journey in this land.  Anyway, back to the strike.  You're basically tasked with going down a very deep cavern and fighting off a lot of Cabal and even more Vex.  We also saw some Fallen and I gotta say that everyone's updated character models are amazing!

After falling down into the caves for what seemed like forever, we finally stumbled upon the infamous drill we all saw in the preview trailers. I managed to jump glide around the perimeter of the pit, narrowly avoiding the drill…until I fell into a small alcove and was ambushed by Vex and a few of the Cabal "dogs" though I managed to fight them off. After that it was another careful jump glide to the exit and we were at the boss's chamber.

We were barely prepared for this fight.

I was not pleased to see the return of the Vex Harpies (though they do look cooler now) at the start of the fight. The fight had 3 phases. The first was fairly straightforward, just deal damage to the boss and do add control as necessary. Phase 2 was a bit scarier. This time the boss would energize the floor and if he did you either had to jump and float or stand atop pillars in the room. Phase 3 was where shit really hit the fan. In the last area, the boss moved around a central platform surrounded by Vex goo and would occasionally blind us. As he neared death, he would send in Vex Fanatics like the ones from the Vault of Glass. It was pretty terrifying seeing them rise from the liquid and approach us. In the end we were successful.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no end screen as there was in Destiny with additional loot; what we picked up from killing the boss was all we got. Maybe the finished product will be different but I'm not going to hold my breath, I'll just wait and see when the time comes.

A World Without Light

I'm pretty angry about what the Cabal have wrought. They've killed our friends, destroyed our city, and scattered the rest of us to the four winds. But we'll come back and we'll come back hard for these fuckers. We may be without our light and powers from The Traveler for now, but that's not going to stop us. I'm excited to enter this World Without Light and see what new mysteries it holds.

What I’m Playing, part 17

GAMES!

Since I’ve played quite a bit this weekend, I decided to cram all the things I’ve played into one post, so let’s get started:

Little Nightmares

This game is, so far, pretty eerie.  It’s like what would happen if Tim Burton decided to make a side scrolling video game.  So far I’m a huge fan of the art style (it looks like Nightmare Before Christmas) and how well the game plays, but I’m not a fan of how the game doesn’t tell you how to control the character.  I personally hate it when any game does that to be honest.  Don’t want me to play your game?  Don’t tell me the controls and that will be that.

RiME

Think The Witness meets Journey meets ICO in this graphically beautiful, yet somewhat frustrating, puzzler.  The number one rule about this game is that your perception of things is not what it appears at first.  The game is highly dependent on it’s visual and audio cues, making for a memorable experience if not a bit frustrating (in terms of not being able to jump high enough)

Blade & Bones

Imagine what it would be like if the Souls games and Rouge likes had a kid.  At least that’s the vibe I’m getting so far from Blade & Bones.  This is yet another game that does not explain controls to you in a good way, it took me several minutes and random button presses to figure out how to get in my inventory to change weapons (pro tip: it’s not even a button press, you have to click in the left thumb stick and go from there.  So annoying.)  The story is a bit cheesy, but lays out your objective in order to beat the game – find the 7 swords.  There’s a day/night cycle that you can manipulate which is cool.  Here’s where the Rogue like aspect comes into play: you start the game with 7 Purity and when you die you lose one.  After you re-spawn, you get a pop up that tells you that if you lose all your Purity, you lose your save file.  I can tell this is going to be a very frustrating game for me to try to complete.

Friday the 13th: The Game

Friday-The-13th-The-Game-Logo

Definitely a game better suited to playing with friends instead of a pick up group.  It’s both fun and a little scary at the same time since it’s so campy but it’s hugely entertaining and has a decent replay value, but those trophies…ugh.

 Killing Floor 2

Another game that’s a lot of fun and best with friends (and a full compliment of 6) I’m definitely looking forward to more nights of making fun of the French weapon vendor and being the only German guy in the Motorhead reunion tour.

Polarity:  Ultimate Edition

Managed to finish this one in one sitting!  It’s a satisfyingly short first person puzzle game that does collectibles the way I like:  there’s only 3 in each level and you can see them all in plain sight, you just have to figure out how to get to them.  The bare bones story here is that you’re a hacker working for a mysterious benefactor and the levels represent the computers that you’re hacking (similar to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s intense Breach mode, only without any stealth elements).  The only thing left for me to do in this game is get the co-op trophies and I’m finished!

Destiny 2

Destiny, part 16

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since the gameplay reveal of Destiny 2, and I figured it was time to put in my 2 cents on what we’ve seen so far.

I am freaking excited to play this game!

It was a little soul crushing to see the Tower in ruins, my home for the last 3 years, gone.  It was exciting to see the Vanguard in action;  Ikora blasting the Cabal ship with her Nova Bomb, Cayde firing the Golden Gun and Zavala using his Ward of Dawn to try to save everyone in the Vanguard room when the Cabal attack.

I’m excited to see what is (or was) in the north part of the Tower when I get my hands on the game and to explore what’s left of the Tower before we leave it behind.

IMG_2372

Definitely going to main one of these guys first!

I’m also excited to play the new classes and learn how their abilities work and interact with each other.  I’m a little bummed that Warlocks can’t self resurrect anymore, but I’ll trade it for being able to rain swords of fire from the air.  It’s definitely going to make things interesting trying to raid without the usual linchpins of self rezzing Warlocks, bubble Titans and tether Hunters.

I also can’t wait to explore the new planets and zones.  I’m happy that public events will have on screen timers now instead of having to rely on 3rd party apps that may or may not be accurate.  I’m looking forward to exploring the places and seeing what I can find.

Like this lovely place for example.

I’m happy that the director got a face lift and looks pretty snazzy now.

Slick!

And I’m so happy that we don’t have to go to orbit anymore to go to a new location.  We can just pick a new place and BAM! off we go.

A new raid, new strikes, new locations, new classes.  I can’t wait for September to get here.

In spite of all the negativity floating around the internet about the game, I can’t wait.  All the haters and trolls can suck it.  If they don’t like what they see then they can play something else (like the next Call of Dudebro)

IMG_2373

I can’t wait to play one of these guys either!

What I’m Playing, part 16

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

This post is entirely about Sandbox Mode.  Story Mode may or may not be covered in a future post depending on if I feel like being bothered or annoyed by this game again.

So there was another publisher sale on PSN this week, this time for Capcom.  As usual, I browsed the sale and looked to see if anything was a must buy for me, but as is usually the case, everything that was on sale was something I already had – except Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.

From what I had seen previously about the game, it didn’t look like they had iterated much on the series (like some other franchises we know) so I figured a $10 price point was just about right since memories of the irritation from the first game still annoy me to this day.  More on that in a minute.

So for this weekend’s bite size gaming, I decided to give it a shot and right off the bat, I remembered why I haven’t been back to this series in years.

Rehash Rehash Rehash…

At the start, you are greeted with 2 options:  Story Mode (nope) and Sandbox Mode (oh hell yeah!) and since I didn’t feel like having every minute of my playing timed like in the first game, I went with sandbox mode.  I was greeted with a little older (and fatter) Frank West jumping out of a helicopter just like he did many years ago to take on the zombie horde.  And, just like many years ago, I was met with a janky camera and a character that controls like a tank and apparently doesn’t run (at least not that I have figured out from experimenting with the controls.  No wonder Frank got fat.)  I was also met with the age old task of saving your progress yourself, which I don’t have a problem with until I get careless and die and have to redo several minutes (sometimes hours) of gameplay.

Not off to a good start kids…

Our setting this time around is Fortune City, which if I remember correctly was the setting for Dead Rising 2 (I never did play it even though I have it.  I know, I’m a bad gamer.)  Once I got my bearings and was greeted with the tutorial on how challenges worked, I was off to start killing.  Challenges are marked as purple stars in the environment and the handy dandy map and are, of course, rated on a scale from bronze to silver to gold.  There are many Challenges to play, scattered all over the place, but they aren’t all immediately available, they must be unlocked by killing enough zombies and the amount you need to kill caries from Challenge to Challenge.  I think at the time of this writing, I’ve tried maybe 2 out of the ones that are available to me.  I’ve been having more fun just crafting the absurd weapons and seeing how many zombies I can kill with it until it breaks.  Another noticeable change in Sandbox Mode is that the survivors all are trying to kill you.  The first one I came across was a shotgun and bomb toting mailman that, after trying a handful of times to kill, I eventually just left him to die at the hands of the zombies.  I hope they found him tasty.  There was also the psycho bride with bad makeup, a James Bond wanna be and the crazy chef in the food court full of overweight zombie women in moo moos and hair curlers.

Other things that they rehashed from the other games were the stat boosting magazines that you could carry in your inventory and those oh so annoying to find PP Stickers.  It actually took me a long time to remember that I could photograph the enemies and environment for bonus experience points, I’m embarrassed to say.

Great, this shit again.

Also, Capcom decides to still punish players with a poor targeting system when it comes to guns, making them pretty much useless in the game.  I know, I get that the idea is to use items in the environment as weapons and craft the absurd weapons from things laying around in the shops and safe rooms, but it would be nice if players had the option to be a gun toting maniac at the end of the world if they wanted to be.

At the time of this writing I’m currently level 10 with a body count of 2,727 that has taken me about 8 or so hours to acquire, with a break for lunch in between sessions.  I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to platinum this game, but if I ever feel the itch to just kill zombies with silly weapons, I know where I’m going to turn.

  • Is platinum attainable?  Yes but you’ll need a co-op buddy
  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN: 11%

What I’m Playing, part 14

What Remains of Edith Finch

This is by far one of the shortest and most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had this year.  I think it took me a little under 3 hours to complete and it was worth it.

You play as a young woman, Edith Finch, who is returning to her family home after the death of her mother to learn the history of her family.

Along the way you’ll learn the tragic fate of each family member in turn in a house that’s as much a character in the story as the family itself.  The controls are very simple, utilizing only the R1 button and the thumb sticks to traverse a house that’s equal parts eerie and has that homey, lived in feeling.

I kept expecting it to turn into a survival horror game at any moment but was thankfully proven wrong when that never happened.

All in all, I feel like the price point versus the amount of time I got out of the game was just right and if you enjoy a purely story driven experience then this game is right up your alley.  I have a lot to say about the game but after my last couple of spoiler filled posts, I feel like keeping this gem a secret that you should discover for yourself.

  • Is 100% attainable?  Definitely if you don’t mind replaying some bits of the story to farm for the trophies
  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN: 50%