Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Destiny Diaries - Year 2, Week 4

I did a raid! I honestly never thought this would happen. As it was my first raid, we thought we should start with the Vault of Glass. As I've done a couple of story missions in the Vault of Glass already, the first few steps were pretty easy. With the guidance of the others I made it through the rest. The problem wasn't really any of our skill level or communication, although that could do with some clearing up and I can now see why it is important to have close knit raiding group. The kind I was waiting for. Rather than just join with a group of randoms. No, the only issue that we really had, is that we were having way too much fun!

I can't believe we made it through to be honest. We were laughing so hard. I was crying at one point. Hardcore raiders would HATE raiding with us. We didn't take it seriously at all! If you want a real laugh, check out the end of the jumping puzzle at around 1 hour, 46 minutes in. Yes it's bulling. Yes it's childish. Yes is was bloody hysterical! 
At around midnight on the first night, we were getting a little tired and a little fed up of Atheon, so we called it a night. We met up the following night to complete it. A little over three hours in all. Not anywhere near as long as I thought it'd be. My rewards were terrible. A shader and some ascendant energy. But honestly, the cheesiest sentence has just come to mind... The experience was a reward on its own. My clan are just the best and I'm proud to be a Palace Ranger! 

I believe we are going to start the Crota raid tonight. I'm looking forward to that a lot. And then on to King's Fall. I don't believe that any of the group has done King's Fall before. I hope they don't watch too many videos before hand so we can actually work out what to do together.
In other Destiny news, I'm ploughing through the quests with all three of my characters and exotic engrams have been dropping like rain in the Strike playlists. This week actually saw my first ever exotic engram drop in the strike that immediately followed the raid in the second video. And after that, they just kept coming. As a result all three of my characters are now light level 284. I just need some more exotic weapons now. I might save up some Legendary Marks and buy some year two upgrades from the blueprints.

by BloggyDave

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Destiny Diaries - Year 2, Week 3

It's amazing how much Destiny keeps surprising me. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again. Every time I think I'm about to go off it, something else pops up to keep me hooked. This week, it wasn't even anything in the game itself.

I've always read about the community that surrounds Destiny. Fireteams and Clans of online friends, regularly meeting up to do Raids and Nightfalls. I've dabbled in adding random people online and joining up with them to do some story missions or a strike. People have taken pity on me and offered to do Raids with me. But I've always felt that I want to go through these things with a regular team of friends, so that we can all start off from the same checkpoint together that we all helped in getting to in the first place. I've been stuborn in my quest and the stubbornness has finally paid off thanks to sheer luck.

A friend mentioned Destiny to someone in work and it turns out that him and some friends play online sometimes and have recruited another couple of people to try and form a raid team, but were still looking for a sixth regular member as some others didn't work out. So my friend recommends me, introduces us online and Bob is your uncle. As they say.

Over the past week I've met up with my new clan mates, only about three times. But I have found what I knew was always out there. It's so much fun! It hardly makes a bit of difference to the actual gameplay. I'm sure it will when it come to the Raid as I know communication can be key. But I've being playing the game for over a year so I know ever strike backwards by now. We haven't played much crucible that requires communication yet, but I'm sure it'll help being in a tight group when we do. But the guys themselves are such a laugh. Totally my type of people. My sense of humour. I'm yet to open up too much to them, but that's just shy, retiring and socially awkward me. I've spent most of our three sessions so far in tears, laughing. It's great. It is definitely a bonus to have some guys help you take down an Ultra on a difficult strike, but it makes it feel so much easier just having a joke and a laugh whilst doing it. Who cares if die ten times in the same mission, if you're having fun?!

Tonight we're going to test ourselves as we take on our first Raid. As I've never done a Raid before, we're going to start off with the Vault Of Glass. I honestly can't wait. If it's anything like the Heists in Grand Theft Auto Online, then I already know I'm going to enjoy it. I will hopefully be streaming the whole thing. So if you have been following me and are interested or if you want to see someone doing their first Raid, which is a novelty these days OR if you just want to have a laugh with me and my clan mates, then please click the link at the top of the page for YouTube Gaming and join us. I will post links on Facebook and Twitter when we're about to go live.

Oh and if that wasn't enough for you? Our clan is based on the Power Rangers.

by BloggyDave

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Blood Bowl 2 - Review

Do you know what Blood Bowl is? If not, this game is not for you. The developers have made little or no effort in making this game accessible to people who don’t already play the tabletop game from Games Workshop, of the same name. There is no way in. You’re not wanted. Go away.

For those of you who have played the tabletop game or the previous title from  Cyanide Studio, then you do not need me to explain the premise of the game. A game set in Games Workshop’s fantasy Warhammer world, littered with the fantasy staples of orcs, humans and elves. But unlike the Warhammer fantasy battle series, Blood Bowl takes itself far less seriously. Parodying American football with added comic capers. Here you score experience points for injuring or killing your opponents. Players can sneak on secret weapons on to the pitch and the referees are notoriously blind to these acts. The ball is quite often an afterthought. But you already knew all this right?

The second outing for this franchise has even less going for it than the first. With many of the great little flourishes from the original Blood Bowl, being inexplicably left out. Now instead of choosing the colour for you team, you are given a choice of pre set designs. Instead of a campaign mode where you could definitely play your team through various leagues and cups, there are now very limited solo leagues that simply stop after a number of games, you win a couple of “cyans” (the in game currency that allows you to participate in higher ranking leagues) and then you start another one. The sense of progression and continued story for your team is lost. There is now something called campaign, which is the old “Story Mode” (which no one ever played), which no one will play. Blood Bowl is all about making your own team and role playing their story.

The new online leagues are incredibly unintuitive to set up. But once set up they are essentially a full time job for the creator to manage. With no in game communication system, you have to make your own website for your league to manage everyone playing in it. You can’t actually schedule matches however because despite joining a league, the matchmaking is still random within your league. So if you and your friend want to play each other, you have to meet online at the same time and press matchmake at the same time and hope that no one else did that at the same time. I guess this shouldn't be too much of a problem for small, well managed leagues, but there are some leagues out the with over a thousand member teams.

Other small niggles are scattered throughout the game such as having to buy all your players before you get to the “Staff” page (which contains more than just staff). So you don’t know how much money to leave for coaching staff, cheerleaders, fan factor or all important re-roles. The commentary is even more limited and therefore repetitive than the first game. Four matches in and I’d already turned it off. The controls aren't intuitive at all and there is very little in the way of any tutorial. The choice of two camera angles are awful. For a fully rendered, three dimensional game, I don’t understand why we don’t have the choice of a fully functioning spinning camera.

I could actually go on and on picking holes in this game. But the truth is, I used to play the tabletop Blood Bowl. I played the first game to death too. And I’m going to play this one. If you know Blood Bowl, you can have a lot of fun. There is progression for your team, you just need to role play a little harder this time around. I have made two teams already and have plans for another four at least. I’ve set up a small league with just me and my brother where all of his teams will play all of my teams indefinitely in a ladder league, vying for the top spot. I haven’t got time for all the scheduling of a properly run league, but that’s ok. I’ll get what I want out this game and that’s a bit of fun, playing a couple of games a week to pass the time. And my beastman has already mutated to have two heads, so that’s a bonus!

by BloggyDave

Destiny Diaries - Year 2, Week 2

The past week has seen some distractions in my gaming life. The release of Blood Bowl 2 (see my review here) saw me trying it out a few times. It’s not going to be a big Destiny time stealer but it’s there nonetheless. And then my birthday weekend. That saw the addition to my collection of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition and WWE2K15.

Shadow of Mordor was a big surprise. I know I’m late to the party on that one and it’s had great reviews, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this good! I’m worried for Destiny. I played Sleeping Dogs on the PS3 when it was a free game as part of PlayStation Plus. I’m afraid to start it again as I know how good it is and how vast it is… WWE2K15 will be fun to dip in and out of when a friend pops in.

Despite all of this I have still found time to play Destiny this week. Calling in some birthday privilege to do so. Last week I started engaging with the Facebook groups a little more and added a load of “friends” online. So this week I have been dipping in and out of random people's games to try to help them out… with varying degrees of success. A patrol on Earth where this guy was helping out a kid to defeat the Taken. Easy. Replying to a request for help in finishing the House of Wolves story line for a new level 25 player. Easy. Popping in to a strike that I’d never seen before with a recommended light level of 260 and my character barely scratching at 230. Vast amount of profanity ensued. We didn’t finish that one…

The Taken King is still finding ways of surprising me. Progression for all three of my characters feels great. I’m somewhere between 240 and 260 with all of them now. All of them have multiple exotics, most of which purchased from two weeks worth of Xur but some as quest rewards. Got some great legendary engram drops too including the Darkblade Helm which I was very please with.

Every time I think I’m coming to the end of the quests, new lines open and and new stories are revealed! I know right? Story! The game still doesn’t do the job of telling those stories very well, but at least it’s there and in game. I love the stories of the three new subclasses and the emerging that the Queen or someone from the Awoken attack could still be alive on the Dreadnaught (I’m sure many of you have already finished this… Or is it setting up the next DLC?). There are so many exciting things. Like the network of tunnels hidden on the Dreadnaught, strewn with worms and chests that need specific items to open them. The Court of Oryx is brilliant. I got sidetracked last night from trying to complete quests and spent most of my night in the Court of Oryx helping out other people and gaining some sweet loot.

I’ve just realised that I’ve only played two games of crucible matches since The Taken King dropped. There’s just so much content! Those complaining about the price tag, surely are eating their words now. I honestly can’t see where the game will end. I know it doesn’t technically end, but when will the quests run out? When will I discover all the stories. Destiny is still very much keeping me in it’s grasp and it’s a happy place for me to be.

by BloggyDave

Horror Games Are Scary!

I started playing horror games when I was 18. I’d watched my friend play through most of Silent Hill and day before my birthday in 2001, Silent Hill 2 was released. A game can have the best graphics, the best story, the best game mechanics but still mean nothing to me unless it is based in a well realised world and Silent Hill sure is. It’s not always an obvious world where you know all the answers, the everything makes sense within that world and it pulls you in with mystery and lore. Silent Hill is still unexplained as a concept and there is an abundance of theory and fan fiction out there offering up opinion on what the Hell is going on. But I like not knowing. It makes it scarier.

I used to love scaring myself shitless of an evening, in an empty house with the lights off, playing Silent Hill 2. One memorable moment just came flooding back to me as I was in my parents house one evening, on my own, lights off. A tense moment in the game… And my cat (aptly named Dopey) simply lost his balance and fell of the back of the chair. I jumped a mile high, switched on the lights, my heart pounding. I loved it! I remember playing it in college every night and then have to walk down the hill from my house to the train station to meet my girlfriend. I’d have to walk past an old hospital that had some kind of air filtration system near the road that consisted of large rusty pipes that clanged randomly. It made every night an adventure, I can tell you.

A seminal moment for me came with Silent Hill 3. To start with, the player character being a teenage girl made the whole experience more scary. But walking through the graveyard in to the church and things popped out at you in real time! In Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2, whenever something in the built in background needed to move, the screen would fade to black and a cut scene would play. Ah here come the scary bit, I’d think to myself and have a little jump when an in game cat would jump out of a cupboard (bloody cats). But now there were no loading screens, things would instantly happen and change around you. That was a big moment in horror for me. It definitely drew you in to the game a little bit more and helped with the scare factor.

Then something happened to me. I still don’t know what. But I couldn’t finish Silent Hill: The Room. It was too scary. My heart beat so fast, I thought I’d have a heart attack. I got pretty far but one day as I was wondering around the apartment block that had now all fallen in to the Hell realm, I got a bit stuck and didn’t know what to do. So I used this excuse never to back to Silent Hill…

A few years later and a game that combined sci-fi and horror, two of my favourite genres, was slated for release. It was hailed as Silent Hill in space. I lapped it up and bought my copy of Dead Space. I think I played it for about half an hour. Wow. I tried going back a few times, but as soon as I died I’d switch off thinking “This is too hard”. A few years later and I somehow managed to get a free copy of Dead Space 2. I never played it. Then again, a free copy of Dead Space 3. This time for PC. I had played the demo on PS4 and was amazed as the whole environment changed around me as the player character had in game flashbacks. It reminded me of the feeling I got when first walking through the graveyard in Silent Hill 3. Another amazing advancement in horror story telling. I started wondering whether this was a good thing. When I played the actual game, the PC level graphics and the fact that I had to play in the dark with headphones, not to scare my children, made it all the worse. Maybe twenty minutes this time?

That was my last foray in the to the world of game horror. Almost…

P.T. The playable trailer for the doom ridden Silent Hills from the “what the Hell is going on over there?!” Konami studios. I really wanted to dip my toe back in to the horror game genre. I girded myself. I turned the lights off. I enjoyed the sensation of expectation. I walked through the same house about three times. I opened a door and a hand reached out and closed it in my face. “Right. That’s it!” Controler down. Light on. I’m playing Disney Infinity from now on!

I still enjoy the odd horror film. But games add that extra element of you being the protagonist in the story and you having to fight or run your way out of situations. With a film you can just think, yeah they’ll do it, they’re the main character. Or shout at the screen thinking, you idiot, why would you go that way!? With a game, the responsibility for the safety of the character is yours and yours alone. Is it that sense of responsibility that has increased in me with age and especially so with having children, that is stopping me from enjoying my old favourite? Or is it simply that graphics and technology have got so much better that they just seem real? Is it the fact that I vier towards the sub genre of psychological horror rather than gore fests like Resident Evil or The Evil Within. I’m definitely buying the new Doom when it comes out next year. That doesn’t look the slightest bit scary to me.

I don’t know the answer but I know I won't be going near any horror games again any time soon. Which is a massive shame. I love what I’ve seen of the likes of Until Dawn and SOMA. But I think I’ll have to stick with watching PewDiePie playthroughs as his comedy commentary makes it a little easier to bare. And I’m not responsible for the characters inevitable deaths.

by BloggyDave

Destiny Diaries - An Introduction

I’ve been gaming for twenty eight years. I love gaming. It’s my primary hobby. I am now a father of a two year old boy and a five and three quarters (as she’d have me tell you) girl. So my gaming has now become somewhat unpredictable. As a result I’ve recently had to cut down on the number of game franchise that I follow. In August 2015, I cancelled my order of Destiny: The Taken King.

I hate first person shooters. Doom was freeware that came with one of my first PCs way back when. I enjoyed it, I loved it, it was too bloody hard and I stopped playing it. I didn’t play another FPS until February, 2011. I’d watched a friend play through most of Killzone 1 and 2 and I liked what I saw. The sci-fi elements, the story and role playing game-like leveling system. So when Killzone 3 came out, I bought it and I played it to death. I finished the story mode and I spent months on the online mode. It felt like an RPG, it wasn’t too hard and most importantly, it wasn’t that competitive.

Despite giving FPSs a wide birth up until now, I was aware of the culture that had grown up around Quake, Counter Strike and Call Of Duty. It was pretty much eSports before eSports were invented. There were people that spent their lives on these games. And the phenomenon of little kids totalling owning everyone in the game and shouting obscenities at anyone who didn’t match their unmatchable skill levels. It was a world I didn’t understand and it quite frankly intimidated me. If I ever was interested, I still wouldn’t go near it. Killzone 3 wasn’t like this. It was friendly and accessible and everyone leveled up a little at the end of every game, no matter how bad you were. It felt like there was progress. Then came Killzone Shadow Fall. I got it bundled with my PlayStation 4 on release day. I think I played it for a day and then I traded it in.

I honestly can’t remember what drew me to Destiny. It was obviously very well marketed and it had it’s roots in the mysterious Halo background. I’ve always been a PlayStation guy so have never played Halo, but knew it was huge and everyone loved it. Also PlayStation pushed Destiny hard. More than I’ve seen them do so in the past with any game. Regardless. I was in. I pre-ordered my copy and absorbed all the hype.

I’ve been playing Destiny since it’s alpha stress tests, back in summer of 2014. I loved it. I loved it mish mash of sci-fi and fantasy, the worlds, the design, the sound, the music. There was so much to do. I played through the story, I completed bounties, I felt like I was doing well, I even enjoyed the player versus player. Then I hit a wall. The Light wall. For those of you who don’t know, in the original Destiny you could only level up to level twenty with normal experience points. Then you could only level up if your armour was good enough. Each piece of armour had a Light rating and this would add up to give you your Light level.

It was a long slog. I don’t have many real life friends who play video games and even fewer that play Destiny. Being a dad limits my time on the PlayStation and so to this day, I’ve never done a Nightfall or a Raid. I just simply can’t organise enough people together to do them. I know all about the forums and the sub Reddit and the “find a fireteam” sites. But waiting around to find people to do something that’s going to take more time than I’ve got right now to play, I’d rather just do some strikes thanks.Also I encountered some of the old school FPS negativity when it came to players bemoaning noobs. And as far as Nightfalls and Raid were concerned, I was most definitely a noob. Everyone else was crowing about soloing Nightfalls and having done the raids so many times, it was “easy”. If I’m being honest, it kind of put me off trying. I was so proud when I got all three (one of each class) of my characters to Light level 32. Only ever buying exotic item from Xur when everyone was cursing him on forums for selling the same old thing, I had just about enough Strange Coins to buy one thing a week for one of my characters. I only had a Gjallarhorn because Xur sold it during the last week of year one. And then it was made redundant.

Back when I was enjoying the game more, I bought the season pass and so graduated on to The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansion packs. They added just enough to keep me playing. But I finally put the game down when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out. After a three month break of Destiny, I decided to give it up. I cancelled my order of The Taken King.

Then I watched a YouTube clip of The Taken King. And another and another. I watched the Bungie Twitch reveals and IGN and PlayStation Access previews. I was back in. I pre-ordered again and took to YouTube gaming for the week before release day. Here I met a wonderful man going by the name, Dammed_Prophet. He told me and the other viewers that it was okay to be in your thirties and a dad and to be playing Destiny. It was okay if we didn’t have as much time as the eleven year old kids who are stuck to their consoles day in, day out. As long as we’re enjoying ourselves. We don’t have to measure our success against all the other players. We just enjoy what we get out of the game. We’re playing for ourselves, not for other people. And that was it. I’m a fan for life. Bungie you need to get this guy in as one of your ambassadors. He’ll do the trick when it comes to my demographic.

So there you have it. A little introduction to my Destiny Story. Not the archetypal one, but familiar enough to a small minority I’m sure. It’s now week two of year two of Destiny. I have three level 40 and nearly 230 Light level characters. I’ve finished the story with all three and am finding so much to do with all the new quest lines. And it’s here where my story will pick up next time. Over the coming weeks and months, for as long as Destiny hold my attention and then again later when I inevitably come back to it, I will be chronicling my adventures around our solar system in the distant future… Or at least the ones I have in my living room with my trusty old PlayStation.

by BloggyDave