Deathbrand & More

This is part of my playthrough of the Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim. You can find my playthrough of the Dawnguard DLC, and earlier bits of this adventure on the Ongoing Series page.

When we left off, I had just been told by Frea’s father that I needed to head off towards some other dungeon and blah blah blah. You know the drill. Here’s where he told me all that good stuff:

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I looked at my map and realized that one of the other side quests, where I was to find some sort of buried treasure, was nearer to me than the main story quest. Long-dead people and treasure are my forte at this point, so I figured I might as well do that first. So I headed to a small island off the norther coast, where I found a small camp of pirates who were also looking into this whole buried treasure thing.

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On one of the bodies I found the treasure map marking the locations of more buried treasure, all surrounding this dead guy named Haknir Death-Brand. Coincidentally, these guys had already dug up the first treasure chest, and the Deathbrand helmet was found inside. There were 3 other X’s on the map, which had to mean that more armor was to be found. The set itself didn’t have huge stats, but the bonuses for wearing the complete set seemed like they would be well worth my time. So I was off.

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I didn’t take a bunch of screens during this portion, because really I was just fast travelling around and finding the chests, which were all already dug up, and usually guarded by something nearby. I killed things, I got the loot, and soon I had a full set of DeathBrand armor.

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It appeared that with all of the set bonuses I might actually be able to upgrade from my Dragonbone armor, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Perhaps when I get a moment and upgrade this gear, it might be an upgrade after all, but for now I tucked it safely away in my Breezehome in Whiterun. I did try it on. I don’t think blue is really my color though. What do you think?

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The quest didn’t end there though. I actually found a key to a place called Gyldenhul Barrow, so there was more to find. It was fairly close to the Skaal village, so a hop skip and a jump got me to the entrance.

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There were some baddies outside, though they were easily dispatched. From there, I unlocked the door with the found key, and found a very small chamber inside, that was distinctly lacking in good stuff to loot. There was a dead adventurer inside, and on him I found a note.

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It seems he shared my sentiment for the lack of loot, but unlike him my pickaxe could chip away at the Stalhrim. There were a couple deposits, and one opened up a passage that lead further in. Of course, I was ready to check it out. Not too far beyond the entry, I found the jackpot.

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NICE. Not that I really need the gold or anything. Still, LOOT. So I moved on beyond the door and found the remains of Mr. Death-brand, along with a nice looking sword. As soon as I picked up the sword though, I was attacked by Death-brand’s ghost and his ghostly crew! Apparently they didn’t want to give up there stuffs.

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In the end, he and his crew were piles of ghostly ash/ectoplasm. Something. His remains held another sword, and the two of them wielded together would make for a nice dual-wielding setup. But I don’t roll that way, so they won’t see much use. It was still a fun adventure though, and during the battle, I dinged level 50, finally.

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That netted me one of the last two trophies I needed to get the platinum for the game, and since I’ve been working on it for so long, I decided to break from my Solstheim adventures to complete the final trophy. This ended up taking a lot longer than I expected, but the end result was well worth it. See I had nearly completed the Thieves Guild quest line long ago, but it turned out that I made a terrible mistake. At some point I had upgraded beyond my thieves guild armor, and I sold it. At that point in time, there was no way to get it back, and that would keep you from being able to complete the quest chain, as you needed to give the armor to an NPC to upgrade it. They either patched in the fix, or it just took a while for someone to discover it, but a while back I found a YouTube video showing you where to pick up a new set of armor. I found it, and said I’d get back to that chain later on. Well, the time had finally come.

So I headed back to the Thieves Guild and I needed to get petty tasks from a couple of the members in the Ragged Flagon. They would give you options as to what quests you wanted to do, and I always picked “Numbers” and “Shill” jobs. The former involves forging ledgers, and the latter involves planting stolen goods in various people’s houses. Essentially it’s framing people for crimes so clients will be able to get ahead. You have to do 5 jobs in 4 cities (20 quests) in order to grab the attention of someone prominent in each of those cities. Then you’ll get a special request which amounts to another quest that is a little more involved. From there, you get to become the guild master, and you get the “One with Shadows” trophy, which was the last one I was missing. After getting that, the Platinum trophy popped! Sweet!

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At some point while I was running around, I was met by a courier who gave me the following note:

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Remember when I paid 1000 gold to that guy who was excavating on Solstheim? Well it appears that he made some progress. I set off back to the island to meet up with him and see what he had found. When I arrived, he wasn’t happy. I could see that they had definitely dug deeper than when I first ran into him, and a makeshift camp had popped up. He was intently staring at plans when I approached.

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As you can see, Dragur were awoken, and he went on to explain that his entire crew was killed. He was the only one to escape. He implored me to deal with the Dragur problem, and I agreed. The excavation site awaits! What will I find?

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We’ll find out, next time.

#Skyrim #Dragonborn

By the Numbers: Week 9, 2014

I managed to get my correct picks up from my previous high of 10 out of 15 to 11 out of 15 this last week. Not bad, though I wish the Packers would have won their game (biased) and a couple of those other incorrect picks seemed to come from out of nowhere. That’s ok though, as this week there’s only 13 games, and my Packers are on a bye week, so I can relax and not have to worry about my team losing, along with having the possibility of a higher correct percentage due to less games played. So without further ado, here’s my picks for week 9 of the 2014 NFL season:

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

Man those Saints really came out in the second half last weekend. I really don’t want to give them credit for that, because it was mostly due to Rodgers pulling his hamstring and a couple of volleyball passes off receivers hands that got picked off, but it is what it is. The Saints won in the end, and that’s what counts. I still don’t think Carolina is a good team, despite having done so well last year, so I think the Saints take advantage of the steam produced from their previous win. Plus, it’s the day before Halloween and black cats have bad luck round that time.

Saints 31, Panthers 17

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnatti Bengals

If I were feeling froggy I might pick the Jags to upset the Bengals. I’m not feeling it though, the Tigers want to win.

Bengals 21, Jags 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cleveland Browns

I’m going to go with the Browns, because they feel like a better team than the Bucs, despite both teams being bottom echelon.

Browns 17, Bucs 10

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys showed they aren’t invincible last week and Romo was out of the game for a while with some sort of injury. Perhaps that injury affects his game this week, or maybe we’ll just see how much better of a team the Cardinals are. Either way I’d like to see the Cards on top of their division and for the Seachickens and 9ers  to be out of the playoffs.

Cards 27, Cowboys 21

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans

I just don’t see the Texans doing it against the Eggles.

Eagles 24, Texans 10

New York Jets vs. Kansas City Chiefs

I think Vick is starting? I don’t think Rex Ryan has any clue what to do with his team. He just can’t win at QB. Chiefs take it.

Chiefs 17, Jets 3

San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins

I really don’t think the Chargers will lose this one… but I could be wrong. I’ll take my chances. Fins lose.

Chargers 31, Dolphins 17

Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings

RGIII is said to start this week, so I think they’ll take out the Vikes. Unless he gets injured again, but even then, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: The Vikes aren’t the same without AP.

Redskins 21, Vikings 17

St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers

I really want to pick the Rams but I just can’t. They suck. I hate the 9ers, but the Rams just suck.

49ers 27, Rams 13

Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots

Sigh. The top two seeds from the AFC, and two teams I don’t want to see win anything. One of these two teams will most likely represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, so I guess it doesn’t really matter who wins. Probably Denver. I think it will be a shootout.

Broncos 31, Patriots 27

Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

I thought the winner of the Super Bowl was supposed to have the hardest schedule of all teams the following year? Someone let this shoo-in win slip in there. Shame on them.

Seachickens 42, Raiders 3

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

This matchup is almost always boring. I like the Ravens. I couldn’t care less about the Steelers. I’m going with my bias.

Ravens 17, Steelers 10

Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants

This one is tough to pick just because you never know who’s going to show up with these teams. If Eli gets hot the giants win. If Luck gets hot the Colts win. Either way, someone has to win. I’m picking the Giants.

Giants 24, Colts 20

There you go. I’m outta here.

Dragon Born-Again

This is part of my playthrough of the Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim. You can find my playthrough of the Dawnguard DLC, and earlier bits of this adventure on the Ongoing Series page.

Having cleared the last few side quests and earning a house on Solstheim was a great accomplishment, but I was then left with a choice. The current quest chain had ended and there were others in my journal, but all were on the far end of the island and it was starting to feel like I should either start on the main questline or wander around until I found more quests that were closer to “home” as it were. I decided that I wanted to get to the bottom of the case of the missing Miraak. When my quest began I headed in the direction of the Temple of Miraak, fully intending on entering it straight away. But then I came across a solitary building and had to know what was inside. Skyrim has that effect on me.

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When I approached the entrance, a Riekling (which appears to be a goblin-esque race) stopped me and said “You. Fol. Low. Me” and I figured I’d see what the little guy wanted. Even if the place was swarming with the little bastards I figured I’d be able to decimate them. Inside, I was taken to their chief, king, or whatever they call their leader.

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The leader recognized that I’m a bad ass, so he sent me off to recover Bilgemuck, their prized boar. Apparently the boar had broken out of his pen and was wandering the wilds. I first had to hunt down some meat so I slaughtered wild animals until I found some (it’s not something I typically carry around, since you know, bad asses don’t need to eat). Bringing some meat to Bilgemuck, he then followed me and I put him back in his pen. Easy peasy.

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Returning to the chief, he then asked me to collect some “red weed” so they could make “God-dance” or something to that effect. I’m not sure how my strength plays into fetching boars or picking weeds, but I decided to play along — for now.

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Thankfully these weeds were all over the place, so collecting ten of them didn’t take long. Returning to the chief, he said that there were “evil men” nearby that wanted to take this building from them, which sounded a lot like “we stole this, and we don’t want to let them have it back.” For the sake of continuity, I followed along, and we killed some Nords. I have no allegiance to either faction really, so who cares.

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Funnily enough, right after killing off the Nords who threatened the tribe, the chief turned on me. First he acknowledged my strength yet again, then he proceeded to rant about how I might try to take his place. I simply told him yes, I want the hall for myself, and he attacked. He was easily dispatched. The tribe then moved on, leaving the Mead Hall empty. Perhaps I’ll come across the original owners and let them know that I cleared it out, which will probably come with a reward. Oh how I love the way this world works.

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Now I was near the Temple of Miraak and hadn’t seen anymore quests come my way so it was time to get in there and see what the fuss was about. Between hearing voices and seeing a bunch of workers who seemed like mindless zombies (much like those near the Earth Stone in an earlier segment) it seemed like I wouldn’t get any real answers. Then I heard shouting from a female who seemed relatively sane, so I talked to her.

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Frea was her name, and she also wanted to enter the temple, recognizing that the temple seemed to be the source of magic power that was controlling all of the locals into constructing this building, and enshrining the stones on the island. I took her along and our party grew to three (which really made this dungeon run super easy). Inside was the typical dungeon running tropes, traps, beasties and treasure. Cultists seemed intent on our destruction, and Dragur were ever present. Soon we had made it to a point where one of the Dragur dropped a key to the interior of the temple, which seemed a little more “homey.”

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We descended deeper, and Frea was concerned that the temple would go on forever. She also couldn’t figure out how a long dead person could convince so many people to build all of this. We would get our answer soon enough though, as we came upon a shrine with a book upon it, and I was instantly reminded of the book that transported me to one of the planes of Oblivion.

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Of course, as soon as I picked up the book I was transported to that plane, though this time I was unable to move about freely. Floating masses of tentacles surrounded me, and a dragon swooped in a dropped off an armored figure. He was Miraak, and though he was not fully alive, he was not dead. It seemed he was contained to that plane until all of the stones and the temple were completed, but he did admit to being a fellow dragonborn, and told me he would see me again soon. I was then banished from the plane and returned to the shrine room.

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We exited the Temple shortly thereafter, and Frea asked that I accompany her to Skaal village, where her father was keeping the village safe with a magical barrier.

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It appeared that the barrier would be held for much longer. The “Wind Stone” was nearby and that was the source of corruption. The village was scarcely populated due to the mind controlling effects of the stone, all stemming from Miraak’s power. Frea’s father implores me to go to Saering’s Watch where I can learn a new word of power that might come in handy in the potential battle to come.

At this point I paused the playthrough, but I have a feeling there may be other side tasks to be done in this village. I’m unsure if I will continue the main story or get side tracked again, but you’ll have to stay tuned if you want to find out!

#Skyrim #Dragonborn

Bragtoberfest Final Recap

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October is almost over and that means that Bragtoberfest is coming to an end. It actually feels like it has already ended, and as such this post is going to be a short one.

For the past three weeks I have recounted our weekend event that would be hosted by either me or J3w3l, and then go on about either what achievements were earned or what was upcoming. Finally, I would give a round-up of all the posts I could find about the events or people’s individual bragging points. Today, I scoured the community and saw a single post. J3w3l reported that this past weekend’s event saw one participant. That’s either due to the fact that the game chosen was ArcheAge and no one wants to play it (even though the community voted it in), or because on the same day everyone and their mother were doing Extra Life gaming marathons. We did not anticipate that, so I’ll take the blame there. Either way, Bragtoberfest feels to have ended early, and as such there isn’t much else to report.

I think that the event was fun, and I hope that people enjoyed playing games together, and writing about them. Due to the extra organization (on top of maintaining a blog and podcast) of this event, I’m ready to be done with these sorts of things for a while. I intend to do this again next year and maybe it will be even bigger and better then, but I’ll judge the community’s interest level when the time comes around again. Otherwise it’s looking like we’re on our own until the next NBI, unless someone comes up with something the interim. I love the community building feel of events like this, but when something seems done it’s best to leave well enough alone.

I still have a bunch of games that I was planning on giving out to those who earned achievements during the event, and I’ll do finally tallies at the end of the week. I’ll contact you if you won something. Otherwise, it’s back to business as usual. I hope you all had a great month!

State of the Game: Some Old, Some New

This week I fell back on old habits. I’ve spent more time playing MOBAs and the like, doing dailies and such, along with spending time with one in-depth single player game. This seems to be the best way for me to slowly clear out my backlog, since each time I beat one of those in-depth single player games, I replace it with another. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get bored with whatever that game may be and switch it out prematurely, but I still have beaten quite a few games over the course of the year. My Pops was nice and gifted me a few games this week as well, but thankfully they’re games that don’t really add to the backlog, as they are games without a lengthy campaign mode or in the case of one it’s still in early access. For my regular readers, you’ll know that the in-depth game I’ve been playing is Skyrim, or more specifically the DLCs for the game. For those of you who are new here, or maybe missed those posts, here’s the recap for the week:

I started the playthrough of the Dragonborn DLC.
Then went through a smattering of side quests.

I already have enough screens to do another post from some playtime yesterday, but that will be saved for a further post. In other news, there have been patches for Awesomenauts and League of Legends that brought some changes and that gave me reason to play the hell out of those games. In Hearthstone I’ve just been doing dailies when I listen to podcasts. What podcasts do I listen to? If you guessed the ones from my partners over at TGEN, you’d be correct. Don’t know what TGEN is? Check out my side bar for links. Anyway, I had amassed something like 1300 gold and because I wasn’t in the mood for doing Arena runs, I decided to just buy a bunch of packs. That didn’t play out as well as I would have liked though. Out of the 13 packs I bought, I didn’t get a single legendary. From all the people I play against that have every damn legendary in their decks, I don’t see how I haven’t gotten more, but it is what it is. I did get a few rares, including a 2nd Molten Giant and that Paladin sword that gives +1/+1 to each summoned minion. I’d still prefer some more orange cards.

As I said, Awesomenauts saw a new patch (2.7) that brought me back into the fray after having been away from the game for a while. In it was a new playable ‘naut named Scoop, balance tweaks, and a new menu system. Over the course of the past couple patches they also redid the stats system and added a new map that I finally got to try out.

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The new menu is pretty clean. Scoop is an interesting support character that has a snaring hammer throw and a self heal that damages nearby enemies. I really tried to do well with him but just couldn’t. I have seen opposing team Scoops do rather well, and have had a couple on my team that got the job done. I think I’m too aggressive in Awesomenauts to play a support class, as I don’t really like any of them. As I said they redid the stats system, so all old stats were relegated to a separate page, and as you’ll see in this shot, they said they will be removed at some point so here’s a screen for posterity:

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I wish I could add in all my stats from the PS3 version, as I know I still have more hours invested in that. Plus it would pad my numbers all around. Anyway, the day the patch went live the balance tweaks that they put in felt way out of line. Scoop felt weak, and ‘nauts like Raelynn felt over-buffed. So obviously I played Raelynn a bunch after that and wrecked face. I managed to get two games in a row without a single death, and that’s something brag-worthy in my opinion. I’m not at the top of the leaderboards, but I am in league 3, which is still filled with some challenging players. Here’s my 9-0 and 10-0 games:

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In League of Legends, The Harrowing has come around once again, so that means new skins (WuKong and LeBlanc), new summoner icons (1 in store for 1500 IP, one earned from game mode, others bought/earned with gifting), legacy skins (all the old Harrowing skins from previous years including bundles) and a new featured game mode. The mode is Hexakill, and though that isn’t exactly new, instead of being on Summoner’s Rift, they’ve decided to put it on Twisted Treeline. 12 players on a map designed for 6 is pure chaos. I’ve been having a blast with it, as I have with most of the featured game modes because they break up the monotony of the usual play. I’ve had the most success with Caitlyn on the map, including a game where I had a ridiculous 7.1 KDA but still somehow lost the game. That was frustrating but I was proud of my performance. Here’s a spread of the games I’ve played the past couple of nights:

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One at the bottom was cut off where I played Sona, that was a victory as well. Really the only reason that I’ve had any defeats is because of players going AFK or a poor team comp due to idiots not realizing that we need a tank or a carry or something. For instance, in the game where I was twitch, not a single person but me bought any MR items, when we were fighting a stacked AP team. I mean, come on people, FUNDAMENTALS. For fuck’s sake. Anyway, here’s a closer look at that beastly Cait game that I almost single-handedly won, but one of our teammate’s toaster was on the fritz and they kept putting us down a man.

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That’s what a 7.1 KDA looks like

On to the new games. One that was on my wishlist and that I was really excited to get my hands on was Ziggurat. It just recently came out of Early Access and I actually only heard of it a couple of days before it was gifted to me. You know I have a penchant for Rogue-likes and this game is an example of what makes and excellent one. It’s as if Heretic/Hexen, Delver and The Binding of Issac had a threeway (fourway?). It’s in first person, it’s fantasy based (you play a mage), it has level design much like Issac, and it reminds me of Hexen in that it’s got bullet hell with fantasy mobs. Of course Hexen was more like Doom in that it had a story and was linear, but they speak the same visual language. Here’s a look:

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I love the graphical style, it’s somewhat stylized but still semi-realistic. The UI reads well, with health and mana levels promptly displayed, exp bar on the bottom, alternate mana bars on the right. The “Minions” bar up top gives you an indicator of how many more mobs you need to kill before clearing the room. The map system looks like TBoI, where you have various rooms that are randomly filled with monsters or events like danger rooms (filled with traps), rooms where you can make offerings to the Gods, the mystery box room, and then a room where you find the “portal key” which will open the portal in the boss room.

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I’ve played several times, as there is permadeath, and since every game is random, I’ve had more success on some runs than others. Each time you start the game you’ll have your basic wand and then get a random starting weapon/spell. There are 4 item slots, one for your wand and three that take one of the other mana sources. Blue is for spells (like fire/ice), Green is for staves (with varying abilities) and Orange is for alchemy, which is usually grenades but there’s also a pretty cool pistol weapon. Bosses seem to be random too, as I’ve only made it as far as the 4th floor, yet I’ve seen different bosses on the first floor many times. Here’s some of the baddies I’ve seen:

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Most of them were pretty easy to beat once you figured out their gimmick, but they do a lot more damage that the normal mobs and I died to a few of them, though I’ve beaten them all at least once. Leveling comes with perks that you can pick in the form of cards. Each card has an advantage, or a mix of advantage/disadvantage. Completing certain objectives also opens up new characters with which to play through the game. I’ve only opened one so far, but he has better skill with the basic wand at the expense of less mana for the other pools. This can be countered with perks though, so he feels stronger overall. You can also find perk cards randomly in the dungeon, so sometimes you’ll get extra. At the end of each run your score is applied to a pool (I’m guessing) and you earn various rewards, including new spells/items that will randomly spawn on your next run. That’s how you end up with grenades and differing spells for your arsenal, so there is an overall progression that isn’t seen until you start over again. I’m not sure how many levels there are but as of now the 4th is the furthest I’ve made it, and here’s my high score (along with some perks):

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The other two games I was gifted I haven’t spent as much time with. The first is called “Yet Another Zombie Defense” and it’s an arcade-y zombie shooter. It’s 3/4 perspective, and rather simple. You can play solo or with a small group and basically you have some fences you can place, and some weapons you can buy, and you kill zombies. There really isn’t anything else to it (what do you want for a $2 game?). It’s still rather fun but does get old after a while. Definitely more fun with more people. I got into a multiplayer game last night, but it was with a Russian group so the communication was a bit lacking. I didn’t take any screens but you can easily look it up on Steam. If anyone has it and wants to get a game going let me know.

Lastly, I was also gifted “Fight the Dragon.” It’s been labeled as “Diablo meets Little Big Planet.” I would say that’s a little overboard, as in Little Big Planet you could actually go as far as to recreate other games inside of that game. This game is more of “Diablo with a level editor.” However, the game is still in Alpha, so there’s still plenty to be added I’m sure. Graphically the game is sort of blocky, but not pixellated. The characters feel like Lego men, and the scenery is distinctly square:

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Combat is kind of limited. You have a basic attack and a special attack. There’s dodge, sprint and block buttons as well. It appears later on you’ll get more skills but to start it’s just that. There’s a few missions that were created by the devs, but they equate to a tutorial. Apparently there are over 2k player-created “adventures” which I’m guessing are just one-off dungeons. Watching a video of the editor, it appears pretty powerful and the newest patch notes state that campaigns are now available, in that you can string together individual adventures. It’s looking like the devs have created the tools so that the community can build the game for themselves. That’s cool and all, but I’ve found that usually means wading through a lot of shit to find the good stuff. As you can probably tell I haven’t spent much time with the game so far, so I’ll get back to you once I do. I’m intrigued, but as with most Early Access games, I’m hesitant to spend too much time with it because of all the changes that will come in the months between now and release. I do want to try out the editor though. More on this later.

Ok, we’re over 2k words now, so I’m gonna wrap this up. Until next week, happy gaming!

#stateofthegame #roundup #mobas