Looks like we'll be waiting a few more days for New World Season 1. April 2nd is the new target.
Video embedded below:
To speedrun the Season Pass, the key is to pre-stage objectives and have items ready to turn in, which many regular players likely already have. Once the player has prepared, they can use a 2x season experience potion and turn in all the pre-staged objectives to receive double the experience. This way, players can maximize their returns within the short time the potion is active and quickly complete the pass. While it may not be possible for every player to complete the pass in just a few hours, this method demonstrates how players can make progress much faster than the estimated 50 hours.
I'm not against maximizing return in a video game, but I think this shows a poor design to the season pass where experience is rewarded lump sum and the potions apply to those lump sums. This is counter to pretty much every "battle pass" I've come across. Just using the Battlefield 2042 Season 4 pass as a comparison; any experience boost only applies to passive experience gained for actions taken. Any mission completed that rewards experience is not affected by the pass. Also you can't save up to "turn in" a mission later on; it just completes when you reach the criteria.
The main two issues with the New World season pass as I see it: passive experience is negligible and there is too much tied to the moment something is turned in (aka lump sum).
Passive experience is what is gained by just playing the game. Kill a wolf; get season experience. Complete an arena match; get season experience. For some reason New World decided passive experience was going to be so small that it would be impossible to use just passive experience to complete the pass (even though they try to say it's possible in their video). Yet, in the "card" system player's can get a lump sum reward for things as simple (and dumb) as eating 10 stacks of food. Not even eating 10 stacks of food over normal play where you have to let the food buff expire; you can just ram down 10 in 10 clicks and be done! Yet going on an open world adventure and fighting through hordes of enemies will barely be noticeable on the progress bar.
Since passive experience from just playing the game is not the way then what is the way? That is the lump sum card system where players get a literal bingo card of objectives to complete (like the eat 10 food). However, the bingo card spots don't autocomplete. Player's get to choose what part of the bingo card are completed after fulfilling the requirement. This is why Lemoni's method works: you just keep saving up completed items to cash in during the boost.
There are also lump sum reward challenges for the season; quite a few as Lemoni notes in his video you can get ready ahead of time since they are all turn-in related actions and thus you can cash in with the double experience. It is so bizarre that lump sum rewards get doubled by the boost potion. Unaware players are going to be punished for not knowing and those that do know are going to progress faster than the developer planned 50 hours. No doubt speed runners will then complain about a lack of content for the season.
The sensible way for this to have worked is that players get passive experience for almost all of their activities and the boost potion doubles passive experience gain for a short period. Lump sum rewards should be static and unaffected by the boost. This would mean players get more rewards for just playing the game instead of putting together a shopping list / completing a task list and lumping it all together for one giant boost.
Also while I have not played the pass on PTR myself just watching the videos I am not a fan of the bingo card system. The game didn't need another system to define objectives; it needs to drive players to existing structures such as town boards. The season story quest line and challenges are fine, but the addition of the bingo card as the proposed main way to progress is overly complex compared to just rewarding us for playing the game.
Season 1 is still delayed from the original planned 3/28 launch so we still have some time to wait. What are your thoughts?
Still no Rodgers news so I guess the answer to the question I posed before vacation, "I wonder if we'll have final Rodgers news before I get back?", was a no.
Trump was also not arrested as he told me he would be.
New World's Season 1 update was also delayed from March 28th to March 30th.
Diablo 4's beta actually ran a day longer than expected so I got to give it a whirl.
I guess I should say thanks for the universe pausing while I enjoyed not catching any fish while on vacation.
I have to admit there is an addictive quality to the game. I found myself saying "just one more level" or "one more dungeon" before I had to finally cut myself off late into the
night morning (oh, the sun is almost up). I haven't binged a beta like this since New World.
I started as a Barbarian but found melee to be rough in this game. Ranged attacks seemed like the way to go and after a few jaunts through the Diablo 4 sub-reddit and a couple YouTube videos it was clear ranged was the way to go so I restarted as a necromancer.
|heartlessN - N for Necro!|
It was playing as the necromancer that the game grabbed me and didn't let go. A satisfying drip drip drip of loot flush with constant upgrades. Ranged combat that was far more manageable than up close melee. A map filled with points of interest and "go here" indicators.
There was also a story which from the community accounts is pretty good, but within 30 minutes I was back to "skip". It is the rare game that catches my attention for story and in an "action RPG" the last thing I am diving into is story. It was also a beta and I needed to avoid FOMO on the beta rewards for reaching level 20. I still got the gist of the story.
Action combat and story aside there is a lot else going on in Diablo 4. There is "crafting and gathering" in a sense as you can upgrade gear and gather nodes throughout your adventures. It does not seem like there is a cradle-to-grave crafting system and it's mostly focused on upgrades.
There are "open world" zones you inhabit with other players; a little MMO to go with the action RPG. These zones can have dynamic events where multiple players can participate, but rarely did I run into that scenario. Towns featured other players and the lag to go with them. I am lukewarm on this feature and not sure it fits.
While the game was binge-worthy there were some things that didn't sit quite right with me and in my post-binge clarity have kept me from hitting that pre-purchase button.
Chief among things that didn't sit quite right was the theme. The opening cinematic (along with some of the early story) is pretty gruesome. This is not a game I would feel comfortable playing in front of my 13 year old or letting him play. Maybe it is old age, and I am not sure what I expected from a game in the Diablo franchise, but I have a hard time saying I am going to sit through this dark and drab world for hundreds of hours.
The other major issue I had was the zoom level; it is way too close. There were multiple boss battles where I legitimately could not see what was going on. Playing as a necromancer with lots of pets I often found my pet skeletons at the edge of the screen chopping down what was next. I would jump in with ranged attacks at screens edge with little idea what I was even hitting. The game needs to zoom out.
Also I found a lack of reward in getting rewards. The constant drip of loot is great and the pace at which upgrades come is excellent (at least in the early leveling we got in the beta), but other than some numbers going up I found little in the way of variety. Sword better than the wand you had? Equip it. Scythe better than the sword and shield you had? Equip it. While that can be satisfying it also meant that I was never really attached to anything.
Maybe this changes with the legendary loot (see Dragon Spine of Empowering Reaper on right) and the special ability it comes with (which you can extract and stick in other gear), but as it stood in the beta I never got a sense of being rewarded for my play style. There was a distinct lack of attachment to the weapon and armor I was obtaining and thus a distinct lack of feeling rewarded.
Last, a quick note on balance. The classes were not balanced for this beta. RIP anyone trying to play on harder difficulty as melee. Melee is weak. Playing as a necromancer was a cakewalk in comparison to barbarian. I trust they will tune this up for launch, but it is worth noting because it was that imbalanced in the beta.
I haven't paid attention to Diablo in a long time and had mostly written off Blizzard since the Activision merger. So I was not keeping tabs on the game coming and it was honestly only through some streamers I follow that my interest got piqued. This was a similar trajectory that brought me to New World (where I've spent thousands of hours now). There was a lot to like about Diablo 4 and it's on my "possible" list, but I do struggle with the theme and whether I really can stick that out for any length of time.
Diablo 4 comes out in June so I've got some time to think on it.
Like other games I did not choose to revisit Arkham so just going to share some thoughts (see past posts tagged Batman:AA).
The first memory that jumps back to me is "dark... black". The game hit the mark for the cliche Batman "black". Everything is dark and brooding. I don't think "daylight" or "bright light" exist in the Asylum.
I also remember the combat and it was fun; albeit I do remember it being a little harder to master on keyboard/mouse than I expected. That did push me away from finishing the game (as well as having a young kiddo taking up my free time). With more time this is one I'd probably revisit to finish at some point.
The most memorable aspect of Bastion was the narrator. It narrates every action the player takes and makes it feel like it was designed commentary when it is actually dynamic; ever-changing based on what the player is doing.
"The boy moves forward to smash the thing."
"The boy smashes the thing."
I didn't have to smash it. Did it know I was going to smash it? Was it leading me along? The narration is phenomenal in that regard and I can still hear the voice in my head. The game world, story, and combat itself was a ton of fun, but the narrator put it over the top.
At one point the game had me thinking hard about MMOs as well. Narration was a big idea; Bastion showed me that dynamic narration can work and that is exactly the type of narration an MMO would need. Then more aspects of the game spilled out of my brain into that blog post and if you told me tomorrow that a Bastion MMORPG was being developed I would be the first person in line. So much of Bastion make sense for an MMORPG.
Now that I've written this post I think I may have to revisit this gem!
The initial run was great, but I never got anything going with any gamer groups which I think is why I didn't spend more than a couple hours stabbing/getting stabbed by random internet strangers. Eventually I found it more entertaining to watch groups play than to play myself.
Among Us. Fun for a few, but otherwise a flash in my Steam backlog.
The dude did not cover baby Ellie's ears up.
The hint that the timing and circumstances of Ellie's birth is why she is immune is as dumb of a solution as that vampire movie where they found the cure to being a vampire by the dude flying through his windshield and being burned by the sun and that specific duration of sun exposure is a vampire cure.
Giraffes. Because apparently people are hungry enough to eat each other but not hungry enough to eat giraffes that apparently have no fear of humans.
Joel in earlier episodes: losing hearing, "losing my edge", gets easily flanked. Joel in episode 9: terminator.
The doctor's and nurses didn't hear WWIII breaking out in the hospital? Ellie clearly wasn't that important if no one was left to guard her. Good try by the doctor though; he almost had Joel there.
Excellent! Another functional vehicle for Joel to escape in.
Ellie might be developing trust issues.
I don't think Joel is the good guy.
The podcast did nothing to help
Oh so now we want to go back to Tommy's place and be safe? Should make for another season of "Finding Tommy".
theHunter: Call of the Wild (don't worry I get confused to on what part comes first; theHunter or the CotW) has released it's Showcase Update. I enjoy this game but don't follow it closely. What I wanted to check out with this update were a) the free trophy lodge, b) gear load outs, and c) the change to spook range. So I jumped in and shot some animals.
|Promo image for the new lodge|
I already owned a lodge (which I bought as an add on) so the lodge system was not new to me. I am glad to see that they've added a free lodge because it's a great part of the game that every player should get a chance at without having to buy extra. While I don't make my lodge public it is fun to browse through my lodge every time I revisit the game (and this is a regular on my "return to" list).
I jumped in and checked out the lodge and the free lodge is amazing. Forget for a moment the trophy slots and just the visuals (see the promo screenshot above) of this lodge are spectacular. It feels like the quintessential hunting lodge: rustic, wood everywhere, and all the accessories. I loved it so much I had to grab a trophy from my main lodge and slap it over the fireplace.
|My trophy moose in the new lodge|
Next on the list to check out was gear load outs.
Spend less time prepping and more time hunting with Loadouts
Shorten the time between hunts by saving your favorite configurations of weapons and equipment into different loadouts. You can switch between them at any time by heading to your nearest Cache.
I will admit my interest was influenced by the drama from New World over gear sets coming in the New World March update. Combine that with Ashes of Creation recently talking about user interface and gear sets as part of the interface and it seems like gear sets are all the rage in my gaming circle.
Load outs (yes with a space; what the bleep is the problem with these devs and using spaces properly... the SPACE Hunter.... load SPACE outs) are a great addition to theHunter. I will admit that I have never sang the praises of the UI in theHunter; getting gear from storage and into your inventory is a nightmare at times. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into the field without the right ammo, guns, or accessories.
Players get 5 load outs to start and 5 more can be unlocked for a total of 10. This feels like the right number for the way the game is designed. The average hunter needs load outs for small, medium, and large game animals so 3 was the minimum. Throw in that most folks like to dabble with bow and then most of us have our "fun" load out (like black powder) and five meets most players at how they play the game. *cough* New World developers can take note on this front *cough*
Lastly the spook range changes
The distances at which animals will spook when hearing gunshots have been adjusted.
Not a lot of detail to go on. After reviewing the community feedback it seems like the range is shorter (i.e. less likely to spook). I nabbed about five harvests when I played earlier and it did seem like nearby members of the same herd were less likely to bolt when you nabbed their friend. I could not tell if I was spooking them less by my movement but I am also lazy and sprint/4-wheel all over the place.
Jumping back in and stalking some animals reminded me how much I enjoy this game. The visuals are great and the hunting balances perfectly between realism and arcade. I've bought quite a few add-ons now for the game but I feel like I've gotten more than my money's worth from every one. If you haven't tried the game out I'd highly recommend it!
Does anyone ever look at the LIBRARY tab of their Steam client and wonder what is all hiding under it? If it is anything like mine it is a long list of games you've bought and never played (or barely played). I've been contemplating working through this backlog.
It is actually a bit crazy when I look and see the size is 150+! Some of this is sprawl from games I've tried over time, but the majority are games I've bought and quite a few that haven't gotten much attention (some not at all!).
A quick shuffle through the list and by my count I have not played approximately 40 of the titles! That is 25% of games I've bought that I've never played. There is a much longer list of games that have been installed and played but not for any length of time.
So I am considering reviewing this backlog with a few goals in mind:
This is also cheat mode for next week when I will be away from posting. I will queue up a few posts from the backlog.
Do you play your Steam backlog? If so; leave a comment!
I've been enjoying Season 4 of Battlefield 2042. The game is in a really good spot. I wanted to take a break from my normal "support" role and play the more aggressive play style with the Assault class and specialists. I've become a big fan of Zain and landed some great matches; either topping the scoreboard or landing in the top squads.
While I am more "aggressive" playing assault I am still "support" in my non-existent heart so I spend a lot of time watching flanks for the team. It is surprising how many kills you can get when you learn the spots where better players flank and just wait for them. They never expect someone to be waiting for them and I have been able to wipe entire squads.
Oh and the new sticky grenade is mucho fun.
|Look Mom! First place again!|
|Look Mom! The team carried me!|
|2nd place is the first loser... err wait!|
Unfortunate news; Ghostcrawler is stepping down from Riot Games and thus stepping away from the Riot MMORPG that was in development. A big loss for the MMORPG community.
Ghostcrawler, of World of Warcraft fame, was seen as one of the few lead voices in the MMORPG space. Similar to the "Yoshi P" of Final Fantasy 14 or Steven Sharif of Ashes of Creation: single people that the community puts on a pedestal above all other developers.
It will be sad to see him gone from Riot and will no doubt cast more doubt on the legitimacy of Riot's MMORPG. The game was confirmed as in development but never promised it would make it to the finish line. Ghostcrawler being gone is a strike against it.
Ashes of Creation's monthly update focused on the user interface (UI) and it featured screenshots! I used an exclamation point so I must be excited. Right? You may want to read on.
I know, I know! Ashes of Creation is a work in progress so if I don't want to follow a game in development then I shouldn't follow it. I shouldn't be here complaining about it either but if you know me then you know I can't help myself.
The reason I choose to dig into Ashes of Creation is twofold. One: it is the promised one; the savior of this MMORPG genre that I love so dearly. Two: it has no issue taking money from people all while saying it doesn't need our money. If a game developer can take the time to sell calendars for an unreleased game then it can stand up to some criticism about taking its damn sweet time to release a game.
Ashes is under a glacially slow pace of development. Years (yes, years) ago you could buy the "indie studio" but Interpid Studios is way past being a small indie game developer. Ashes makes a lot of promises and yet shows very, very little in their updates which is concerning for a game this long in the pipeline.
Which brings me to my main gripe: Ashes should be showing us more at this point. If they can't then this game is so far out in the future we shouldn't be talking about it and the team definitely shouldn't be wasting cycles on calendars or monthly live streams.
Look at Pax Dei coming out of left field and generating buzz and showing more in a short intro video than the entirety of six years of Ashes updates. Pax Dei seems much closer to an alpha than Ashes. This may seem a poor comparison. How long has Pax Dei been in development? This is a fair criticism, but Pax Dei isn't asking for my money and isn't clogging up my feeds with lackluster updates. If Pax Dei hits the 6 year mark of monthly updates without showing anything close to a finished game then we can revisit it.
Back to Ashes.
As with the recent class updates the UI update this month was a typical lackluster update. A developer was brought on and talked about their team and their approach. Then some screenshots were shown of different UI components which were followed by yet more screenshots of sample user interface windows which were followed by... more screenshots.
I don't think once during the UI update we saw an actual functioning UI overlaying a game being played. That is concerning. There is a place for showing the static components of a UI, but the magic of a UI is seeing it and how it interlaces with the underlying game. How a UI functions is as critical as how it looks. All we got from this update was how it may look because we didn't actually see it in the game.
There has been a lot of praise in the Ashes community around this update and how "good" the UI looks. I am not sure if these folks are playing ancient games or are that detached from current offerings, but the UI screenshots shown were as generic of a UI as I could imagine. There was nothing to write home about. If anything I'd of said the UI is a little too artsy; I prefer a utilitarian approach. The game can be beautiful and awe inspiring, but the UI needs to be functional.
If it's not clear; I was not impressed. This adds to the mounting concern I have about Ashes. Each update is lacking in substance on the promised topic. We had an entire UI update and didn't see the UI being used. We heard more about promises of the UI: customization, sizing, and accordions. Did we see these in action? No. It is like anything else with Ashes: promises. Promises that may or may not be delivered. This was not an update that screams to me that the game is approaching any state of release.
Let me know how wrong I am by leaving a comment.
I don't need the podcast to break down this one. Congratulations to everyone that had cannibalism on your apocalyptic bingo cards! Game players knew we would get here but it was a shocking awakening for TV-only viewers. Episode 8 was an uncomfortable episode to watch, but don't worry Joel is back so we're good.
I will have to admit that the show got the pacing and tension-building right in this episode (a top critique of mine for past episodes). This episode had a solid reveal going from a "something's not right here" to "oh sh!t!" in a slow, dreadful series of events. It is unfortunate it had to feature a miraculous recovery by Joel that required viewers to suspend disbelief yet again in a show that does nothing but expect viewers to suspend disbelief.
Also I am not sure if this is what the show was going for, but in an episode starting out with bible reading isn't it cliche our savior Joel rises from the dead. Anyone that thought Joel was ever in any danger (or Ellie for that matter) has never played a video game with side quests.
I do want to harp on the "sense of danger". As uncomfortable as this episode was to watch it was more from the creep factor than it was from any sense that something bad would happen to our main characters Joel and Ellie. Like a video game its just a case of finishing the side quest to get on with the main story.
Can we dispense with the cannibalism as well please? It is uncomfortable to watch and detracted from an otherwise great tension builder of the creepy preacher targeting a young girl. We could have gotten all of the drama of this episode without taking the cannibalism.
Anyways, Joel is back to a full healthbar so on to new adventures.
Pax Dei is generating a lot of buzz, and in my opinion, it should serve
as a warning to games like Ashes of Creation. The first trailer offers a
glimpse of combat and the user interface, all from the perspective of
the in-game engine. If games like Ashes don't launch soon, titles like
Pax Dei may swoop in and steal their audience. The first look of Pax Dei
is pretty impressive, and it has convinced me to join the queue for
Not only were the visuals striking, which is to be expected with the Unreal Engine, but I felt like shots were taken at games like Ashes that have been hesitant to show combat and user interface as both were featured in the Pax Dei release trailer. Granted it is not in depth but it gives me hope the game is further along than just being a set of ideas.
Also impressive in the video was the support for cross platform. They showed the game on a tablet which is exciting. I don't do much gaming on mobile platforms but that is because most games don't offer it as a supported option; the more I see games like this support it the closer I get to jumping into gaming on something other than my big rig.
I didn't know this game was out there working its way towards an alpha, but after the trailer and some of the interview videos I am firmly in the camp of "excited to see what comes next". Again, I got the sense Pax Dei is closer to reality than games that suck up a lot of community buzz currently and the MMO market is ripe for some disruption.
Flashback episode! You know; because the show was over when we found Tommy last episode so we needed something to make more episodes out of.
One of my main issues with the show is the representation of the world "20 years later" and this episode did nothing to quiet the screaming in my head. These folks are awfully lucky that everything just keeps on working 20 years later. Just throw the switch and every light, arcade cabinet, and whatever buzzes to life. There is no chance over the 20 something years since the world collapsed that any of the items in a mall would have been scavenged.
One major issue I have with the show is its lack of ability to build tension. Although I will admit that the mall was a pretty cool setting, we knew something related to the infected would happen since the show is too formulaic to let the infected not ruin the moment. However, the show fails to put the pieces together in any sort of dramatic way.
Similar to Episode 5, the big showdown at the end of the episode gets minimal setup, and when a single infected interrupts, it feels like nothing more than a reason to ruin the moment. In the game, as I gathered from the podcast for this episode, there are multiple fighting sequences in the mall. These fighting scenes give weight between "scenes" and help build tension.In the show we get a quick cut of an infected coming to life (which is baffling; in prior episode these static mushroomed infected are NOT a concern at all) and a couple doom-y camera pans, but otherwise there is not much more going on here than a trip to the mall until a rustling is heard.
In the show the more the infected show up the more it makes me as a viewer laugh at "what the heck is this infection? People are really scared of this?". Again, these mushroom sprouted dead bodies were of no concern just a couple episodes ago but now are coming back to life. How hard was it to just have an infected stuck in a closet that they opened? Give us a jump scare after making us feel safe all episode. We didn't need a poorly "whats that noise" character moment when we knew what the noise was.
What about Joel? Sorry, almost forgot we left the last episode on a cliff hanger in the present timeline. Glad the episode sorted that out and that he will be OK after a gnarly stitch job by Ellie. I am sure Joel will be back to normal next week. This game, err show, really does love the cliche "video game solutions" whether a flashback scene or a magical cure all solution scavenged nearby.
Patch 4.0 is out and Season 4 is here. A couple screenshots from last night's session.
|LOOK MOM!!!! I'm in first place!|
|I'll pick you up when you are down (seriously it's what I love to do!)|
In my And Nope post the news broke that New World would not be introducing the ability to upgrade 590+ randomized epic (purple) gear and the patch note was struck from the record. The patch note has now been unstruck from the record with a few modifications (for now; we are still getting the whole thing it sounds like in the future).
Still some details to hammer out with the statement. It says OPR gear already does this but last I checked that was only Rusher weapons and not just your random 590+ purple armor or weapons from OPR caches. War is still a cool kids club; one that really honestly doesn't need any more of a reward than it already gives but I can let this slide. Invasion reward upgrades are a good deal though; it is honestly getting hard to field invasion defenses. Gear from gypsum casts is the real big one for this change and I am glad I have 100+ orbs saved up!
As noted it sounds like they want to bring it to the rest of the pile of junk items in the game (at least the purples) so holding some outside optimism on where this is going. I for one love the idea.