Getting Started in Destiny 2

I was late to the party with the original Destiny, and I guess you can say the same is true with its sequel. When the first one released I was slightly interested but didn’t get around to purchasing it until after The Taken King came out. I didn’t play much then either, only checked it out for a little while but had a sour experience with a so-called friend and that turned me off from the game for a while. I ended up going back to it and running through all of the main story and side quests through The Taken King, and even purchased the next expansion but didn’t put much time into it after that. I had the intentions of picking up Destiny 2 at release just so I could hit the ground running and play the game while it was still the new hotness. But then when Destiny 2 released, it was pretty universally panned by critics and people whose opinions I trust, so I didn’t bother. Well, at this point the game has just released it’s first major expansion, Forsaken, and Sony decided to give it out for free as part of the Playstation Plus program.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I downloaded the game right when I found out it was available early. I convinced my best friend that he should download it as well, and we have been able to get in a couple of sessions together.

Session 1:

I’m not really remembering all of the issues people had with the game upon its release, as that was a year ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be. Still, having played it myself now I don’t really see much of a difference between this game and the first. There was a little snippet at the beginning when I logged in where my Destiny save game was imported into this game and I got to see the things I accomplished in the first iteration. The two characters that I had played were still there too, one being the Warlock I started with and the Hunter I ended up running through the game to max level. The storyline is a little convoluted but essentially a big alien threat has attacked The Traveler and essentially robs all guardians of their light.

Despite the fact that my friend and I were in voice chat together, we had to play through these first bits of the story alone. We have the big attack and you’re pretty fucked up, you come too and wander about for a bit, then we’re treated to some cut scenes of the storyline and then eventually you wind up in a place called “The Farm” which is shown on the map as a separate place from Earth, but still looks very much like Earth when you are there. Whatever the case, it’s the new Tower, and you get your social interaction here along with some vendors, your bank, mailboxes and the Crucible guy.

The main story pushed us to head to where a bit of The Traveler had broken off and landed near by. We’re warned that it’s a place of death, but after killing off some bad guys, we get our light back and can move on to bigger and better things.

Graphically it’s still a beautiful title. I really thought Destiny was up there with games like Uncharted that can really push this system to its limits. It’s surprising that a game can look this good on a stock PS4, considering most games are a bit more washed out. I assume on a PS4 Pro or on PC it looks even better, but it was free here, so this is where I’m going to play it.

By the end of our first session I was level 3, as we took a couple hours to get to the point where we could even play together, and by that time it was getting late so we called it a day. We got together to play again last night, and ended up pushing further into the story.

Session 2:

More fighting on Earth as my Hunter and my friend’s Titan leveled up and went on Adventures, participated in public quests and followed the story to it’s end here. Clearly there will be more to do on Earth at a later time, but for now they’ve sent us to Titan to help out with some network building.

We also see Cayde being held captive by our antagonist, and because I’m not blind or deaf I have already heard the spoilers about his demise and the plot of Forsaken having to do with getting revenge for him. But since I don’t know the particulars, I’ll play my way through and see for myself. If this ends up sticking like I think it will (we’ve been having a blast so far) I will likely pick up Forsaken once we’ve completed the main story.

When I was playing the original Destiny, I never did end up playing any of the game’s PvP mode, Crucible. I decided that I wanted to try it out. That was probably a bad idea. I assumed that as you entered into matchmaking, you would be paired up with and against other players of similar level/power. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as one guy was level 20 and the other 50 (?) I think. Either way they were much better equipped and felt way to hard to kill. We did get kills nonetheless, but lost the match and decided that we should level up a bit before bothering with that again. It does feel pretty good as shooters go but I didn’t like the level disparity.

By the end of our second session I was level 7 and had looted my first exotic from a quest. Nothing too special but I’ve found my groove. I don’t really like the new subclass that you’re stuck with at the beginning, and look forward to opening up others. I’ve found that while playing in a duo, I can experiment with my weapon loadout more though, and have settled on a Scout Rifle as my primary and a pistol for the side arm. I do like me some auto/pulse rifles and sub machine guns too, but for now these have worked as my friend’s titan is typically using a shotgun so he heads in first and I take out the long range targets. Overall it’s been a blast and I look forward to progressing through it!

Finding A Groove: ESO

For the past week or so the only game I’ve been playing on my PC is The Elder Scrolls Online. That’s not to say that I have played every day, and it’s not to say that I’m obsessed with the game, but I’ve been logging in and continuing progress and that’s more than I can say about many MMOs these days.

In an attempt to write something of substance rather than just “I did this” or “I beat this game,” I thought it would be nice to write something more in the vein of Bhagpuss, where I have some deeper thoughts about something and splash some pretty pictures in between.  A decade ago, I was living and breathing MMOs, to the point where I played every day when I could, and would jot down notes and thoughts while I was at work in order to write out blog posts about the games I was playing. It was mainly Everquest 2 back in those days, but there have been a smattering of other MMOs that I’ve played over the years, but I never stick with one title for long and most of the time I take a short tour to have something to write about and then move on.

I find that one of the biggest draws to ESO for me is the fact that its set in the same world as the rest of The Elder Scrolls series. Having familiar races and places makes a difference and makes me want to explore. Honestly, this isn’t much different than playing a single player TES RPG; you’re still the hero that saves the day and there’s still at ton of quests and places to explore.

One of the issues I took with the game back when I first played it was that it really didn’t feel like it was necessary to have an Elder Scrolls MMO. Most people I knew that had played Skyrim really just wanted to be able to play Skyrim with a couple of friends. Those I had talked to about it thought that a traditional TES game with some co-op functionality would have been better and I tended to agree with them. Having returned to the game after some changes have been made, I find that this feels like that. The game is alive and well, and I find myself running about in solo mode completing various tasks and for random people to just be in the area and helping out to take down harder mobs without the need to group up or even have a conversation. I imagine it would be just as easy to play PvP in the same way or to finish up higher level content. Now that everything scales it seems like you could literally group with anyone and do anything.

It seems though that despite the fact that what I’m doing is still basically the same shit I would be doing in Skyrim, but instead of doing it alone it’s in a shared world, it still affects my attitude towards the game. The simple fact that this is an MMO means I don’t read quest text, I just click through things and on to the next kill ten rats quest because all I care about is vertical progression and not the story. Sure, the game is beautiful and there are some great sights to see. I rather enjoy the combat (though it sucks a bit when you get some lag). There’s just something in me that says “who cares” when it comes to the story that they are pushing at me.

It doesn’t make sense, when in Skyrim I would read the quest text and be enthralled by the things I was doing throughout the game. It felt epic and felt like I was the only person in that world who could complete these tasks. In a shared world, you are still force fed this storyline where you are the “one true hero” but you also see other people doing the same thing you are and at the end of the day it feels less special. But that doesn’t make it less fun.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I’ve found a groove and I’m enjoying myself in an MMO for the first time in a long time. Despite having made a return trip to Norrath at the beginning of the year, I still didn’t really feel at home and honestly the game’s aging graphics take away from the experience. The gorgeous visuals of ESO make me want to play it more, and the fact that I see people everywhere I go makes it feel more alive than other fantasy MMO worlds I’ve participated in as of late. Despite feeling a certain way towards MMOs for the past few years, I feel like this one is getting its hooks into me, and I don’t have the guilt of wasting subscription time at this point because I’m so low level that I’m still working through original game content. I may subscribe at some point just for the perks and all the DLCs but for now I’m happy with this feeling of having something to work towards. A strange relationship I have with MMOs, indeed.

Dwaddling About: ESO

I had forgotten just how big The Elder Scrolls Online really is, especially now that it has had a bunch of DLC’s and two Expansions added to it. I originally purchased the “Tamriel Unlimited” version off of Steam at some point when it was on sale, so right around the time the game went buy to play. This was prior to any of the expansions, and it appears that the highest level character I had was a level 12 Templar. Having been away from the game for a few years, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I enjoyed what I had seen, but several key changes have happened that I had no experience with. First, they did the whole level scaling thing throughout the world, so now it doesn’t matter where you go, the content scales to your level. This is a boon for those that want to group, but in my case being a primarily solo player it probably doesn’t mean much. I had no idea what I was doing on my other characters (also have a Nightblade and a Sorcerer) and never really progressed too far, so I decided it was probably a good idea to just roll a new character. The new Dragonknight seems fine, and it appears that there is a new starting area, as Morrowind is part of the free content at this point.

Tutorial:

It’s still the same sort of tutorial, but it still seemed different from what I can recall from the original game. After leaving the beginning area it seems that we are either in a Morrowind zone or nearby, I’m not really certain. The meat of the game seems to be the same but of course there are a ton of new things to do because of all the xpacks, and apparently you can access them all with the subscription fee, or purchase them in the crown store. I’m not about to spend any money at this point because I know that I have a habit of only playing MMOs for a month or so before moving onto other things, but a bunch of people in my social feeds have been talking about it and I’ve been craving an Elder Scrolls game for a while now so here we are. This will have to do until TESVI.

Dwaddling About:

I’ve been running around the beginning zone doing quests for randos and it’s been pretty fun. I do enjoy the action oriented combat that ESO brings to the table, and it still feels much like Skyrim in most ways so I’m getting the fix I’ve been looking for. The game looks even better now that I’m running it on my 2k monitor, and it’s still smooth as silk even on ultra settings. So far I’ve leveled to ~7 on the DK, and I’m just trying to familiarize myself as much as possible before I go back to some of my other characters.

Housing:

Another new addition since I’ve been gone is housing. I stumbled upon this mudhouse in my journeys and popped in to check it out. Reminds me of the Inn rooms from EQ2, and I’m not even sure what things you can place in a home. I’ve not really paid attention to housing in most MMOs (save for EQ2, which was one of the best at it) so I’m not sure what will come of it but I know the housing in Skyrim’s DLC was worth having if nothing else than for storage, and also to have your wife be a shopkeep and earn you money passively. Not sure if those correlations exist here but I’ll find out eventually.

Goals for now are to just level up a character and see more of the world. I’m glad that I can play through the Morrowind areas without having to buy anything or pay for a sub, so I’m going to try and work through what I can without the subscription. If I stay hooked then I might spring for the sub just to play the wealth of DLCs, but I believe I have to pay for Summerset, so that is probably the last thing I’ll do. They did add a new race (which I’m not really interested in) and class (Warden, which I would like to try) which can be purchased in the store, so I’ll probably spring for that eventually. Or I’ll be done with the game in a week. I guess we’ll see, won’t we? If anyone is playing this and has a guild they want to invite me to or wants to do some group content let me know!

Thoughts on Torchlight Frontiers

It’s been almost a decade since the first Torchlight released on Steam. It essentially boiled down to being a typical Action RPG in the vein of games like Diablo or Fate, and borrowed ideas from other ARPGS on the market. It was a little more light-hearted and colorful than its brethren, and had some interesting ideas. It’s sequel expanded upon its established formula, and both were well received by gamers and critics alike. I played both, and enjoyed both though I think the sequel was a little bit more polished. Each had some nice ideas like having a pet that not only helped you in combat but could also be sent back to town to sell unwanted loot. There was an endless dungeon mode that gave some replay ability, and the ability to retire characters and pass on goodies to a new one. For the most part it wasn’t so much that Torchlight did things differently than other games in the genre that set it apart, it just did everything well and was nice and polished. It also came during the time frame between Diablo II and III, so there was room for other developers to get their idea of what an ARPG should be out into the marketplace.

It was rumored that the developers were working on an MMO version of the game for some time, but that pipe dream was essentially squashed and if I remember correctly the original development company went under or was swallowed by another company. Whatever the case, the MMO wasn’t going to happen and we also weren’t going to see another game in the series. So it goes. Then at a recent gaming convention, we got the announcement that in fact there is an MMO version of the game in development right now! What?

The video shows off a variety of classes doing typical ARPG things, but it looks just like the Torchlight of old and that isn’t a bad thing in this case. Apparently the publisher is Perfect World (which doesn’t sound great) but the developers Echtra Games seem to be industry vets that are passionate about the project, so there’s that. This does seem to be the only game they are working on according to their website, but at least they’ll be able to focus. Let’s just hope their MMO company overlords don’t rush out a shitty project. Also, you can sign up for the beta here, I’ve already done so. It also appears that the game will be coming to both PC and Console, but these types of games don’t play so well with a controller, so I’d recommend getting it for PC.

I’m curious to see what happens. I enjoyed the class selection of the first two games, but it appears that the classes in the video are completely different. I’m not sure how this will be an MMO though, outside of playing like Marvel Heroes? I can see larger hubs where people break off into groups to grind out dungeons, or maybe it will be just like Diablo III where there’s global chat and only a handful of players playing together. I guess time will tell, but I’m looking forward to getting more information about this one for sure!

Thoughts on Defiance 2050

I wrote about the original Defiance back in 2014, which was about a year after it released. A game put out both for PC and Consoles that ties into a TV series seemed weird at the time, and honestly the TV show was probably the better of the two. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of the SyFy Original series, but then it started to get lame and was cancelled. So it goes. The game continued on however, despite the fact that I literally knew no one that was playing it. I got it on sale on my PS3 and played it for a few hours. I compared it to Borderlands, but only wrote a few paragraphs in some of my State of the Game posts and didn’t post a single screen shot, so my comparisons here are strictly from memory. Back in July, the new, revamped version of the game, Defiance 2050 was released by Trion. Why it was decided to essentially rename the original game I’m not sure, because this still feels like the same exact game. Changing some marketing materials around does not a new game make. I’m not sure exactly what was promised, but the game has been pretty universally panned as just a reskin of the original with nothing new to add. I wanted to see for myself, and this time around the game is free to play instead of buy to play, and I saw it pop up on the Playstation store a while back and downloaded it.

I fired it up the other day and finally got around to checking it out. Yeah, the story line starts off the same. You get a cameo from two of the main characters from the TV series. Nothing has changed. I guess you could say the graphics look a little sharper, as the PS4’s processing power is definitely better than the PS3’s, but I’m sure on PC it probably looks identical. It runs alright but there are quite a few buggy areas and hitching in the animations. Your character looks really wonky when running and I don’t know why that is. Overall it literally is a reskin of the same game. The map appears to be the same and doesn’t have new areas that I would have expected of a game that is this old. Remaster or not, this is the same damn game from 5 years ago and it doesn’t look like much in the way of new content was added. I’ve probably put in about the same amount of time into 2050 as I did the original, and I honestly don’t see anything different. I also don’t see anything here to hold my attention.

The real reason I decided to download it is because my old roommate and I used to co-op our way through the Borderlands games, and this being somewhat similar to that I thought this might be a game we could play together with no entry fee. I did want to test the waters myself first though, and having done so I’m not even going to suggest downloading it to him. What a waste of time that was!

Final verdict: Don’t bother.