Disappointing night in The Division. Going back to Witcher 3

I had a decidedly un-fun night in The Division, so I rage quit and went back to playing Witcher 3. The first problems were glitches, while the final straw was people.

After being unable to get to Manhattan on Monday night due to Ubisoft’s servers being melted into puddles of goo, when I started the game last night, I was stuck in Brooklyn without any obvious way out. The missions were all done, so there were no pointers to get me out of the map. Luckily, I found a guide on YouTube that showed the way to go through the streets to activate the final cut scene (and why did that Osprey blow up, anyway?) and get me moved on to Manhattan. So that was the first glitch, but not the most annoying.

Next, I set up my Base of Operations and started the first mission in Madison Square Garden. Then I got bitten by a bug that also bit me in the beta and has obviously not been fixed: I got glitched into a wall. In this case, as I was evading some enemies, I glitched inside a wall and furniture. No movement I did could get me out, so the baddies walked right up and killed me. In the beta, I glitched into a column in a subway station, and that state persited even after reloading the game (luckily I had grenades so I could kill myself and respawn). So the night started on a negative and got worse.

Then a friend and someone else joined me in the game, and we quickly proceeded to start the second mission (one that wasn’t in either beta). This was a pretty hard mission, but we were going along pretty well. Then the other guy separated from us to do who knows what, and he was higher level, so he was practically carrying the other two of us through the mission. So my friend and I started dying, then my friend went AFK for quite a while. There was no communications during this time. so I had no idea why everyone abandoned me. So I punched out of the group, decided I wasn’t having fun, quit the game, and went and played Witcher 3 on my PC.

I presume I’ll try The Division again sometime soon, but I’m pretty sick of it at the moment.

Unsure about buying The Division after playing the beta

I played the beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division on PS4 over the weekend (not sure why they need to keep flogging poor old deceased Tom Clancy to promote the game, but I understand Red Storm Entertainment was involved). I liked it quite a bit. It was atmospheric and tense, and I felt like I had a real sense of purpose in the game. But I’m not sure that’s enough to convince me to spend $60 on the game when it comes out.

Comparisons to Destiny

Many folks compare The Division to Destiny, and they’re not wrong. Both are always-online shooters where the player controls one of the few good guys left in an effort to save the world (or New York, whichever). The gunplay in Destiny is a lot more fun than that of The Division, but some of that is because Destiny can have crazy interesting future weapons, while The Division has gun models much like we have now. The Division is a bit finicky when it comes to aiming down sight (ADS) and scopes. As with Destiny, left trigger (L2) brings the gun up so you can sort of see down the sights, but if you have a scope, you need a stick press to actually bring the scope to your eye. This is unwieldy and slow (though perhaps more realistic than Destiny’s rapid scope movement), so scopes may not get as much use as in Destiny. Perhaps this is because of the shift from 3rd person view to the through scope view, while Destiny is already first person, so the shift is less significant.

Destiny has a player vs player (PvP) mode in which players compete against each other in the Crucible. This is somewhat tacked on and distinct from the normal missions in the game. The Division, however, has the “Dark Zone” area of the city which looks like all the others, but PvP is enabled. In the Dark Zone, you still fight NPCs and get loot, but you can also fight other players and get their stuff too. Loot from the Dark Zone is contaminated, so you need to airlift it out. This involves calling down a chopper, waiting for it, and attaching your stuff. Well, during all that time, you’re a huge target for both bad guy NPCs and griefer players who know exactly where you are and what you’re doing. Once you shoot another player, you’re marked as rogue and other players can shoot you without penalty. But, it is way too easy to accidently hit someone, and sometimes I’m certain I was shooting a rogue player but it thought I was shooting at a non-rogue one, so I was marked rogue even when I didn’t want to be. The Dark Zone play was fun and intense, but a lousy solo experience (because of the griefers that are waiting for you). As a group, it is good.

The normal missions are ok solo, but are way more fun as a group, but they got very “same-y” quickly. The impression I got from the beta is that it will be big, dynamic, and fun game, but mostly for group activities. Since I tend to like playing solo at least some of the time, I’m not yet convinced that The Division will be ideal for me. I realize it was just a beta, so there is obviously much more content that they didn’t show us, so I’m reserving judgment for a while yet.

Getting towards endgame in Fallout 4 and I’m not exactly pleased

This post contains spoilers for Fallout 4, though because I haven’t finished the game, it doesn’t contain endgame spoilers. If you don’t want spoilers, go back to Twitter and read about Blade and Soul and its boob physics.

I have been really enjoying Fallout 4, but I think I’m getting near the end. I’ve spent the game recruiting settlements to the Minutemen, grabbing Technical Documents and Viable Blood Samples for the Brotherhood of Steel, killing synth enemies of the Railroad, and, in general, hating the Institute for kidnapping my son and killing my wife. Now that I’ve finally made my way into the Institute, I think they’re a bunch of misguided dopes that need to be stopped, but not necessarily to all die. Unfortunately, based on the way I see the upcoming conflict, they and perhaps some of my other current allies are going to have to be killed.

It looks to me that the game isn’t going to give me a way to make peace between all the factions. Hell, I’m the General of the Minutemen, I hang out with the leader of the Railroad, I am the father of Father of the Institute (there was a helluva spoiler, so don’t say I didn’t warn you), and the Brotherhood of Steel likes the cut of my jib. If anyone could preserve the peace and make all factions get along, it would be me. But as far as I can tell, I’m going to be forced to choose a faction, and that will make me some enemies. Already, both the BoS and Railroad are a little pissed that I chose to enter the Institute with the help of the Minutemen. I’ve been asked to undertake missions against the Railroad for the Institute. The Battle at Bunker Hill had me going in with an Institute tough guy to recover some synths from the Railroad that was trying to hide and protect them. This turned into a huge battle between the BoS, the Railroad, and the Institute with lots of deadies and lots of loot to be collected. I managed to stay neutral by not shooting anyone, so I haven’t ruined my reputation with the factions yet, but clearly I didn’t like to go up directly against the Railroad and BoS.

In the long run, I’m going to have to betray the Institute, since I think they are the worst of the bunch. That dick at the head of the BoS may make me go up against them too. So all in all, I’m not happy that the game is forcing my hand to make war, when I could be a peace maker..

Disaster in Destiny

For the first time in weeks, I played Destiny last night, and I made a huge mistake. My Warlock had a bunch of the SRL helmets that I’d won during the excellent Sparrow Racing League matches in the mailbox, since I don’t have a ton of vault space. Now these were nice helmets, ranging from about 310 to 318 light, so I could use them to infuse into my combat helmets to raise their light level. Alas, I didn’t have enough armor materials to do that, so I left them in the mailbox as storage. (Anyone who plays Destiny sees where this is going.)

A friend and I did three Heroic Strikes, which resulted in a bunch of lousy blue engrams (mostly arm armor – why does Destiny think I need more of that?). These crappy blue engrams pushed the valuable high light level SRL helmets into /dev/null. All I have left are 2 helmets with light 212 and 213. Oh NO! I was pretty bummed… Oh well, easy come, easy go. Now back to Fallout 4.

Enjoying the Heck out of Fallout 4

Since I last wrote, I played a lot of Destiny. I would even say too much Destiny, with the terrific Sparrow Racing League (getting all 3 characters a Class S license, but never getting any 320 gear), followed by Iron Banner where I got all 3 characters to rank 5. And that’s pretty much the last Destiny I played (other than getting the nifty Warlock helmet from Xur this weekend).

I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout 4 and enjoying it quite a bit. I loved Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and I’m enjoying this just as much. The combat is pretty good as are most of the missions. One of the things I most appreciate about Fallout 4 is the writing. I love finding notes and holotapes from people that survived the war but were then trying to find each other or get home. Some of the stories are quite convincing and moving. The developers didn’t need to add so much flavor to the wasteland, but I’m sure glad they did.

I mostly like the four factions (though I have not met the Institute yet – more below), though some of the missions get a little tedious. Some of the escort missions from the Brotherhood of Steel are annoying, because the escortee tends to like running up to Deathclaws and the like. [Spoiler alert – don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want a minor spoiler.] While looking at the Fallout 4 Wiki, which is a good idea to make sure I don’t miss anything in the buildings I explore, I saw evidence that in the endgame, the factions will turn hostile to each other and, for example, try to attach the Prydwen, the BoS’ airship. I’m disappointed that I’ll be forced to make a choice to attack or protect one of the factions if I want to see the endgame content. I’m pretty happy being the General of the Minutemen, a Knight of the Brotherhood of Steel, and a Railroad operative. Having to choose and making enemies isn’t something I’m looking forward to.

I like the voice acting quite a bit, especially Tim Russ (Star Trek’s Tuvok) as the captain of the Prydwen. Some of the NPCs, especially the guards on Diamond City, have too limited a phrase list, so it gets a bit tedious. It’s almost as bad as the “arrow to the knee” of Skyrim. But overall, the voice acting and behavior of the NPCs and the player’s companions is good and convincing. The background stories are well done too, though I heard Cait’s story last night and it was quite disturbing and sad.

One of the things I don’t like about Bethesda games, and this one is no exception, is that enemies attack on sight, even if I am so much higher level that they are but gnats to be squashed. I remember in Oblivion when I was the Champion of Cyrodil and had braved Oblivion, but stupid bandits would attack me everywhere I went. So tedious. LOTRO has a nice system where if you’re several levels above the enemies, you can walk through and they don’t attack unless you attack them. Freelancer, from way back when, had a neat system where you could hear the radio chatter from other pilots, and I remember a bunch of baddies scanning me and saying “Nope, not gonna mess with that guy” or something similar, followed by them steering away. Why a modern game can’t do such things at least as well, I have no idea.

 

Started the Destiny King’s Fall Raid on Hard Mode

Last night, thanks to a great bunch of Guardians, I managed to take my roughly 300 light level Titan in the hard mode raid in Destiny. While I was clearly the weakest player, we managed to do quite well up to the Deathsinger sisters. So this is not an article about the raid per se, but rather about the crazy “random” number generator Bungie seems to have employed (much like the one in the old Dilbert cartoon that keeps repeating the same number over and over).

I started the raid with a 310 chest armor that I’d managed to get my first time in the normal raid (lucky!) and a 303 raid hand cannon. I also had 310 exotic arms on for a while, but had to switch them out so I could don Saint-14’s helmet for the actual combat portions. Since all my other items were in the 290s, the best I could do was either 299 or 300, depending on what gun I needed (my sniper was low 290s, sadly).

So at the totems, I got nothing interesting, but I don’t think anyone else did either. The Warpriest dropped two machine guns. Yes, two machine guns, one 305 and one 314. I presume that’s because I was getting the normal and hard loot at the same time, but seriously, two machine guns? Then, Golgoroth dropped two chest armor pieces, one 315 and one 305. Well, I was already wearing a 310, so this was the least helpful to my overall light level, but I’ll take it, since now my other characters can infuse stuff up to over 300.

Because my light was so low, I wasn’t good at keeping Golgoroth’s gaze, as the multitude of death balls he was shooting at me quickly killed me. So I was able to jump down and somewhat help kill him from the puddle of goo. I was almost always the lowest damage dealer to the bosses in the raid, sometimes only by a little, but always about half the damage of the highest players. So light level really does make a big difference. I died more easily too, as my armor was less effective.

So now, the Deathsingers. I got picked to be the jumper at least 6 times in a row! No randomness there – the damn game was totally out to get me. And while I tended to make the jumps okay, I kept getting turned around once I slammed the first sister, so I was slow getting to the rest of the team to protect them with the aura. So it went badly and was freaking stupid that it kept choosing me rather than a more capable Guardian. I had to leave before we could succeed, which likely greatly increased the chances for the rest of the team.

So thanks to a very supportive and friendly (and very capable) team, I managed to experience a lot of the hard mode raid, which was great. On the other hand, the crazy duplication in drops and repetition in the selection of the jumper make me think Bungie has it out for me. Oh well, they have it out for you too, so at least I’m not alone.

What did I play last night? Destiny, of course…

This is an example of how far my Destiny mental illness/addiction has progressed:

Last night when I got home from work, I had a few minutes to kill before dinner. I sat down at the PS4 and thought “I’d like to play Elder Scrolls Online, but I’m concerned I don’t have enough time to clear a dungeon, so I’ll just play Destiny.” And I did play Destiny for 10 or so minutes.

But then later in the evening, I sat back at the PS4, launched Destiny, played for a couple hours, got the Sleeper Simulant by doing the strike with some friends. Then, as I was going to bed, I realized: I didn’t even consider playing a different game like I did before dinner. Launching Destiny was an automatic action, an impulse even.

Wow, those guys at Bungie know how to make stuff addictive. When I play LOTRO, the combat is so boring compared to Destiny that I feel the urge to go back to Destiny (yet the lore is so much better that I suppress the urge, at least for a while). I did manage to break free of Destiny for a month before The Taken King came out, so I’ll need to make myself do that again. I’ve got too many good games that are actually rewarding to be stuck in Destiny, which is more like a slot machine for the rewards.

Left Behind in Destiny

I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny. Really, too much Destiny. But I’ve become left out of end-game content, because of (presumably) unintended consequences of choices made by Bungie’s designers. They’ve had to deal with unintended consequences before: they made a couple of neat hand cannons, The Last Word and Thorn. They were so good that they were all that people used in the Crucible. Heck, even I was able to get kills with Thorn sometimes. So they nerfed them in particular and hand cannons in general, and now hand cannons just aren’t much fun.

The problem now is the light level system and the new hard mode King’s Fall raid. In order to be successful at the raid, we need to have light level 311 or better, but there isn’t a way to get gear higher than Light 310 except in the hard mode raid. So the die hard raiders that struggled through the hard mode raid and are now 315 or more don’t want to deal with us 303 light players. 303 isn’t enough to be effective the hard mode raid, so there’s no point in trying.

The way to get closer to 310, so we can be effective in the hard mode raid, is to do the normal mode raid. But since the hard raid gives all the loot from the normal raid, the group I hang out with has no need or desire to go through the normal raid with lowbies like me so I can get better gear. So I’m in a Catch-22: I can’t do the hard mode raid because my gear is too lousy, and I can’t get better gear because everyone only does the hard mode raid.

This problem is different from the last two raids. In the Vault of Glass and Crota’s End, even in normal mode, we still got top-level raid gear, so we could equip ourselves with good stuff that would be capable in the hard mode. Sure, a few special items were only available in hard mode, but at least we could prepare for hard mode. This new way has essentially put up a road block between light 300 and 310 that will be very challenging to overcome. I doubt that’s what the designers intended, so that’s why I think it is an unintended consequence.

So what would I do to fix it? I’d suggest the following:

  1. Make an incentive for people to run the normal raid in addition to the hard raid. Perhaps make some gear only drop in normal, or add legendary marks or some other reason for people to play normal mode so we lowbies can join them and get better gear.
  2. Speaking of gear, the normal raid should drop light 315 or 320 gear, just as the normal raids in the past dropped full-strength gear. That way we have a hope of being able to participate in the hard raid.
  3. Make PvE loot drops have higher light limits. Now, rare and legendary engrams are limited to 299 (I think), so let them roll to 310 so we can get gear that could be helpful in hard mode even from normal PvE activities.

I’m disappointed, yet not particularly upset about not being able to participate in the raid. I did the raid in normal mode on my Titan, so he can be 303 light, and I got my Touch of Malice to use in future raids, yet the likelihood that it will get used is low.

So what will I do? Probably get bored with Destiny soon and get back to Elder Scrolls Online. I also have Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V ready to be played. And there’s always LOTRO and Star Trek Online. I will keep myself amused even if it isn’t with Destiny.

I Played Destiny’s Iron Banner and All I Got Was a Lousy Wolf Cloak

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Note: See below for an update!

I’m not a great Crucible player, but when I saw the promotional pictures Bungie put out of the Hunter Wolf Cloak, I decided to play Iron Banner so I could get it. Well, I got it, and it is pretty awful. I think it looks lousy in game, but in the App, where the picture above came from, it just looks odd, particularly with the second wolf head.

So, yeah, I regret the time I spent in Iron Banner and the Legendary Marks I spent to get the hideous thing. Oh well…

In other Destiny news, my Titan finally got through the King’s Fall Raid, but got an underwhelming loot haul from it, including 2 butt-capes from the same drop. Why did I need 2? I didn’t. I got the raid hand cannon, which is kinda nifty, but takes forever to reload. Very odd design, Bungie.

Update: The cloak is more cool than I first thought. The rendering from the app hints at it with the two heads. When I am in the tower and have chosen to show my Hunter’s head, it uses the back wolf head to show that the cloak is off my had and it can show my face. Of course, that’s the way I kept seeing it, so I assumed it was that way in combat too, which was not what the promo material showed. Well, in combat, it uses the upper wolf head, which now covers my helmet and does look like it should. So Bungie was, in fact, very clever, and a rendering error in the app is the only problem.

Destiny Iron Banner – Mediocrity Perseveres

I had more PvP success in Destiny last night, this time playing in the Iron Banner tournament. Between this video and the last one I posted, it may seem that I’m trying to say I’m good at the Crucible. I’m not. I’m very often nearly the worst on the team, but sometimes things come together and I can do well and help the team to victory. Here, I had a nice shotgun that made a difference.

I’m doing the Iron Banner with my Hunter because I need that fancy Hunter cloak with the Wolf head! It’s amazing how much fancy fashion-forward gear is for the Hunters. I already have Taniks’ cloak (which is great, because it doesn’t have a hood), and I think the Flayer capes look pretty cool too! I don’t know of anything quite as fancy for my Warlock or Titan.

I’m also posting this video because I like the map. They’ve made an abandoned town in Europe a battleground, so it is familiar and looks good. I thought it used to say that it was in the “European Exclusion Zone” or something like that in the intro screen rather than just putting “Widow’s Court” twice at different font sizes. In any case, here’s a video of me not playing particularly well, yet coming out on top in a very close match.