The Taken King: A returning player’s perspective.

Hello everybody,

It has been a long time since I put fingers to touchscreen, about 2 years actually, but I find myself quite “taken” by Bungie’s latest expansion The Taken King, so much so my blogging bowels are a bubblin’ and I need to relieve myself. But first a little background.

Pre-blog briefing

It’s not unfair to say that one major factor in my purchase of a PlayStation 4 was Bungie’s newly forged affiliation to Sony’s latest console. As a Halo stalwart who loved what Bungie created there I was giddy to see my beloved Dev putting their content exclusivity chips on blue, which they had up until my that point not brought a game to. Superior doohickeys under the hood and my favourite developers endorsement? I think this best sums it up…


Diving deep into a bucket of water.

Launch day came. Midnight purchase. All night gaming. Great fun. Mechanical silk. Graphical glitter. Epic Story? Two out of three ain’t bad…

Beyond level 20, that’s where it unravels somewhat. Now I’m aiming to collect light stats? A frustrating chase where hours of play often come up fruitless. Perhaps I was unlucky but as a man who has flirted with, nay, heavy petted MMO’s in the past the grind to gear ratio was seriously off kilter. Lacking the time and patience to endure the end game shenanigans myself and some friends took an under geared stab at The Vault of Glass. The last nail in the coffin. Game over.

TLDR: I wanted, I mean really wanted to like Destiny. But it was half baked and I was left “vexed”

It seems I wasn’t alone as I know of more people who quit than stayed but, thanks to the likes of Nevin on the Ready Up Live Podcast, I still had an ear to the ground if not a foot in the door.

The King is Coming.

 

In the few months running up to TTK I took my usual passing glance at the morsels of information Bungie served up via streams and interviews,  however my interest piqued about 3 weeks prior to launch when they mentioned a major overhaul to the levelling system. Light and level are now seperate you say? Light is just and average of the attack and defence of any armour or weapon you equip? What’s that? Oh a stream of the first mission and it looks incredible!… Wait. Stop. Don’t pre-order – let’s await the reviews to see just how good it is.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” –Michael Corleone

Jumping back into Destiny in Year 2 is honestly what I expected the game to be from launch, and indeed should have been given the info that floated up from Marty’s court case. The mechanics of course are still there, 30 seconds of fun done by the masters of that gameplay loop, but this time there is a story and characters to care about and root for. Echoing reviewers across the industry, Nathan Fillion puts in a stellar performance injecting his trademark wit into his role as Cayde. Other characters make less of an impression  but, unlike the vanilla game, still do enough to deliver the much improved and meatier script swings your feelings toward the inhabitants of The Tower more into the well acquainted camp and away from the complete stranger container they huddled into before.

The leveling system is leagues better from that of year 1. More attack and defence stats equals better light level regardless of gear rarity, its honestly a joy to see the light ticket go up as it happens with regularity, rather than the fits and starts of vanilla. No longer do I resent that yellow number under my gamer tag.

The simplification of the currencies and materials required to upgrade gear no longer leave your noggin raw from scratching. The quest system UI makes picking an objective clear as crystal, and for me at least it has  helped immensely in indicating my objectives and helping me choose which to go for, like a good website the new layout mean I don’t have to think about how to pick what I want, I just do it. More importantly there is now an abundance of activity to occupy a guardians time with actual useful rewards upon completion of a number of quest lines.

Destiny is no longer we the convulsed barren land whereby only hardcore grinders can earn the best loot. The game’s various systems are still as deep an ocean as before, but instead of expecting players to be record-breaking skin divers desperately holding their breath, Bungie has provided a yellow submarine kitted with all kinds of dials and periscopes to help navigate the swell of enjoyment lurking below.

As a returning player who never really got Destiny despite his best efforts I am glad to say I finally do,  and to anyone who finds themselves in a similar boat to me I would say fuck the boat, get in the sub and dive in. There really isn’t better time.

The TBoD Podcast – TBoDisection – Until Dawn Part II

Until Dawn TBoDisection pt2

Welcome back to the frightfest teabaggers. In this second part of our dissection we talk through to the final act of Until Dawn. Be warned there are many spoilers ahead.

The TBoD Podcast – Until Dawn Spoilercast – Part 1

Until Dawn Spoiler Cast < right click ‘save link as…’ to download.

Hello Everybody,

Quim and eremenko are talking spooky stuff this week, in the first of our two part special dissecting our decisions in Supermassive games’ PS4 exclusive Until Dawn.

For those who don’t know Until Dawn is an interactive horror adventure starting Hayden Panitierre and Brett Dalton, heavily influenced by epic genre slasher films and the recently popular adventure games like Telltales The Walking Dead, Dotnod’s Life is Strange and many others.

Tune in to find out how we fared and compare our first run through with yours.

Halo Echo: Chapter 3

I know it’s been some time since my last post. Life gets in the way at times. Here is the next instalment of my piece. Please leave any constructive criticism or even shoot me a like if you enjoyed it. Previous Chapter: https://teabagordie.com/2015/02/09/halo-echo-chapter-2/

 

“Where in the hell do you get off telling me how things are going to work.” Admiral Parangosky scowls in a condescending tone. Aaron stands in front of the Admiral unfazed at her verbal assault. No one has ever dared to question the Admiral much less tell her how things were going to work. Aaron turns to the rest of the team and signals for them to leave the office. He turns back to Parangosky, removing his helmet and placing it ever so gently on the desk between himself and the Admiral. He looks at the Admiral as she gives him a furious scowl. He looks back down at his helmet and takes a deep breath contemplating his next words very carefully. These words could determine, not only his future in the UNSC, but his very existence. The power the Admiral wields is great and typically unforgiving. Not many have gone up against her and survived to tell the tale. He slowly raises his eyes to her and begins. “I said, I am now the leader of Echo team and any orders or battle plans come through me for approval. If this is a problem then you can find yourself a new team of spartans.” The Admiral looks at Aaron and rolls her eyes in frustration realizing the predicament she is in. Where would she get a new team of spartans? Doctor Halsey had all of the other spartans training on Reach. It would be impossible to acquire a new team now. Aaron knew this and used it to his advantage. Parangosky grits her teeth together as she realizes her worst fear has come true, Aaron now ran Echo team. “Listen Aaron, I need to know I can count on Echo team to carry out their missions. Can I count on you to carry out my orders?” she looks at him questioning. “Till my last dying breath Admiral, the problem lies in the execution of your orders. Due to faulty ONI intel, we ended up being surrounded. I saw it coming but Jack insisted on following your orders. We need the ability to think creatively and change battle plans as needed. We don’t operate in a vacuum out there,” raising his voice as he speaks. The Admiral looks down at the helmet on the desk and ponders for a second on what to do. She reaches into one of the desk drawers and pulls out a set of lieutenants’ bars. “Very well, I am giving you a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant. Echo team is yours now Aaron.” The Admiral leans over and pins the bars onto Aaron. She then leans out the door and signals the rest of Echo team to once again enter the office.

The Admiral reaches for her data pad to bring up Echo’s next mission. “The planet of Harvest has been out of contact for several months. Efforts to contact the planet have failed and the only message received was from the scout vessel Argo which confirmed arrival and went dark as well. Battlegroup 4 was sent to ascertain the situation. Upon entering orbit the Heracles spotted a ship of unknown origin that proceeded to open fire destroying the two ships accompanying the Heracles in a battle that lasted less than one minute. The unknown ship was said to have taken no damage. The Heracles managed to get to slipspace but only after sustaining heavy damage. I need you men to join the Point of no Return on a scouting mission to get a better idea of what we are dealing with.” Aaron nods in acknowledgement and the team leaves for their ship.

The trip from Arcadia takes several weeks but when they reach the Epsilon Indi system the Point of no Return exits slipspace well out of sensor range of any ship as to avoid detection. The ship is able to use its stealth design to slowly venture toward sensor range of the planet. In orbit of the planet is a large purple vessel. This was the vessel that had destroyed Battlegroup 4 in under a minute. Captain Tolbertson decides to take a cautious approach and keep the ship in a synchronous orbit on the opposite side of the planet. From there the ship can freely move pelicans to the surface so Echo team can investigate properly. Once they reach the planet’s surface the marines are horrified at what they find. The entire city is burned to the ground and the planet’s surface is solid glass. Only shells of the very largest buildings still stand and no signs of life are evident. Echo team moves into the city’s central square in hopes that there are survivors in the city evac shelters. Fire and smoke fill the area choking the air completely out. The entire city center is deserted and desolate. Ryan begins accessing the cities central network in hopes of getting some information of what transpired. “I’ve got something Aaron,” Ryan states. The team converges on the monitor to see a video stream from the cities central vid net. The team watches as ape like creatures, covered in long fur, wielding spikers, plasma rifles, and the ever dangerous brute shot, charge at the colonial militia as they make a vain effort to repel the onslaught. The overmatched militia is quickly defeated and the city is overrun. A few units of UNSC marines make valiant stands but are outnumbered and quickly fall back. “It looks like most of the civilians made it out,” Ryan observes on the video of the evacuation through the space elevator. “Good, these brave soldiers did not die in vain at least,” Aaron responds. Ryan downloads all of the video feeds that were still useable and they destroy what’s left to prevent anything from falling into enemy hands. Echo returns to the ship and with the help of the ONI operatives, compiles a loose organization and threat assessment of the new alien faction. The aliens call themselves, The Covenant.

Before leaving Harvest, the Admiral radios with one more mission for Echo team. Outpost Gamma is an ONI research facility in the Vigrond highlands. ONI was conducting top secret research on some ancient artifacts found in the area. Echo was to secure the data for transfer and destroy the building and all its contents. When Echo arrives the building already has visitors. These were new creatures, tall, agile, lizard like creatures that wear protective armor. They carried the same plasma rifles that the brutes had but they also carried something else, a four foot long sword made of hard light. This weapon could slice through anything like a hot knife through butter. Aaron knew these creatures were not to be trifled with. Echo manages to enter the building without detection and they find a spot to watch the new enemy for possible weaknesses. Aaron radios the ship about their new discovery. “Echo one, do you copy?” asks Captain Tolbertson. “Go ahead Captain,” responds Aaron. The Admiral wants you to complete your mission and if possible capture one of these new enemies. She has some questions she’d like to ask.” “Roger that Captain, Echo will execute.” Aaron turns to his team and signals them to move out. Echo makes their way down into the bowels of the base. They get positioned on both sides of a narrow corridor as thee elites make their way down. Aaron is the first to make a move as he reaches out to grab one of them by the throat. The elite quickly reacts and pushes free from Aaron’s grasp as he pulls out a plasma rifle. The rest of Echo team opens fire on the elite. The short bursts of bullets ricochet off the energy shields harmlessly. “They have some kind of shielding, suppressing fire!” Aaron barks at his team as they open up with a hailstorm of lead. Aaron strikes outward at the elite in front of him with the butt of his rifle striking it in its large mandible jaw. With a small  pop, the shields of the elite collapse and the elite falls to the ground in pain. Aaron pulls out his M6C magnum pistol and puts a single round through the back of its skull. The elite slumps to the ground in a lifeless heap as bright purple blood flows from its cranium. Echo takes cover behind a wall as more elite’s converge on their position. Echo begins a suppressing fire forcing the enemy to take cover themselves. The two sides exchange fire for several minutes while neither side gains an advantage. Aaron moves around the flank of the elite’s and manages to kill three of them using his DMR rifle. The DMR has surprising effectiveness against the enemy shielding as he moves to turn their flank. Aaron is about to move forward when suddenly a team of new elites enters the battle. These elites wear a muted pink armor with a helmet of great prominence. They move like a pack of wolves, in perfect synchronization. Aaron begins firing on them and quickly finds their shields to be of greater strength. Aaron orders the rest of echo to move forward to suppress the oncoming threat. One of the new elites charges at Aaron with his energy sword drawn. Aaron raises his rifle to stop the sword from coming down and striking him. The rifle stops the sword but is disabled in the process. Aaron quickly spins to the side of the elite and with a quick thrust, submerges his spartan knife into its side. The elite writhes in pain and lets out a scream as he falls to his knees. The others are quickly taken down by the rest of echo and the elites begin a full retreat. Aaron bends down to retrieve his knife as the zealot lays on the floor struggling to breathe. “Looks like we have our prisoner, radio for evac, they’ll be back soon,” as he struggles to catch his breath. The pelican lands quickly and whisks Echo back to the Point of no Return. The ship’s crew works at a furious pace as the covenant ship approaches them. The Covenant vessel closes into weapons range as the Point of no Return narrowly escapes to slip space.

Echo’s prisoner sits in a chair in a dark, cold room, feet chained to the floor and hands bound together behind him. The elite’s breathing is heavy and labored no doubt from the six inch knife wound in its side as bright purple blood drips to the floor making a subtle pitter patter. Silas and Vince stand at the door with weapons drawn, at the constant ready. Aaron enters the room with the rest of echo in tow. He looks down at the elite and with an almost psychotic look speaks to the elite. Artemis, the ships A.I. translates, “You’re going to tell us everything we need to know, aren’t you?” The elite replies by spitting a mouthful of blood at Aaron, splattering his face shield. Aaron turns toward the communication terminal where Admiral Parangosky is watching in person. “You sure you want me to do this?” Aaron questions. “We need any information you can get, by any means necessary,” the Admiral replies in a cold and emotionless tone. Aaron turns and strikes the elite in the face breaking the creatures jaw. The crunch of bone is slightly muted by the blood oozing from the elite’s mouth. For the next several hours Aaron and Vince take turns beating and torturing the elite. Ryan and Silas stand outside the room listening as the elite lets out blood curdling screams. Ryan and Silas didn’t have the stomach to watch. The door opens and Jack exits with a scared look on his face. He looks toward Ryan and Silas and says, “Had to take a break,” with an exasperated look. Suddenly a gunshot rings out followed by a thud to the floor. The door flings open as Aaron is holstering his pistol. “We got what we need. Open a comms channel to the Admiral.”

 

BUSY GAMING SEASON APPROACHES

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HERE IS THE INTRO .. WHICH I SHOULD PROBABLY FIND SNAPPY THINGS TO SAY IN…

Being a sports fan, or at least fan of certain sports, I always use sports terms and organization in many facts of my life. I use a ‘bench’ model every day at work to grown my office better, fellow employees are teammates and we use ‘game strategies’ tackling projects.

So when I look at the next 4 months, I see an incredibly busy ‘season’ for the gaming part of my life. While I am thoroughly excited at the new tiles coming out, the more I sit and think about it, the more I worry.

HAPPY FACE

So what makes me happy going into the season? Halo 5, Rainbow Six Siege, Star Wars Battlefront, Black Ops 3, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.. plus a few others to lesser extents. Normally my son and I have 3 maybe 3 titles we look forward too in the fall and Christmas period, but now we have overload!

Now that’s a lot of games, but then I realize the backwards capability for the Xbone will kick into high gear in the same period &  2 of my 360 favorites are coming to the new Gen in Halo Reach and Halo Wars.

Now for these backcap games, they are only gravy, the main course of new releases is gonna leave little time for them.

Even the new releases will leave little time for each other. When you couple in the most important factor for basically all of these particular new games coming out, multiplayer,  then we have a problem.

Insert sports analogy here. We’re down by a goal with a guy in the box, it’s 4th and long, 2 outs bottom of the 9th with 2 strikes needing a run, the ball is in the sand trap.

SAD FACE

What will happen to the numbers in these gaming communities?

Face it, back in the day Halo 2 was king on large part to lack of true competition.  It’s why to many gamers lucky enough to be around then, that this was is considered the golden era of their community.

But even fan boys like myself with Halo will admit, we now have so much choice to cycle to other games, at the very least between new Halo releases and updates.

But it’s no longer a sign that a fame is ‘bad’ when on release you’ll see tens of thousands of players in lobby count, go down to a few thousand 6 weeks later. It’s fairly normal.

So when you have so many multilayer games out in short period of time, there will be communities that simply will get shafted on numbers game.

Make no mistake, COD with BO3 will have huge numbers consistently this season, and I believe Halo 5 will have solid numbers at least better than Halo 4 did.

But games like Battlefront and Rainbow Six Siege which have been years since last releases, will no doubt suffer greatly.

While I have read some negative things about Battlefront, I’ll judge it when it comes out. I feel alot of the negative vibes are from people who didn’t play original versions. While dated compared to modern day mechanics, I still occasionally fire up the old PS2 to play BF and love it. If the game plays same with new graphics, he’ll that’s enough for me!

Now with Siege it’s interesting for me. I never was into the previous versions. Vegas was a little too vanilla for me. Yet when I played Siege at Montreal Comic Con, I was blown away. Now yes, it was MLG type 5 v 5 with full teams all with headsets, massive monitors, free Red Bull and screaming fans. But it rammed home the true team multilayer experience that for me and literal millions of others is core to our game play experience. Communicating while going for clear goals, strategy and understanding.

But how will what are essentially new communities (due to time between games for Battlefront and Siege) expected to grow? Too many other games to pull one away to give it a fair try.

Another contribution to why there are lack of headsets on most multiplayer lobbies, and half the time those with them nearly trash talk teammates or we are forced to listen to their music blasting in background? Well its a bi product in large part (I feel) to the migration of players to and from different games thanks to choice and competition.

 

EXHIBIT A

Let me differ to Titanfall. Where on the Xbone it released in March. The XBone was still very new and there were a limited number of games to compete with it. Plus at its time of the year for release was one of the only new ‘new hotness’s’ out there, overall and especially in its genre.

So Titanfall for new first few months had a really great community resembling a bit more of tighter old communities. There was alot if players, alot of headsets being worn and a surprisingly low amount of disrespect when people chatted. But when the fall came and new releases were abundant, the community faded to that of what is more typical of our current time.

 

IS IT ME? DOES THIS FRIENDS LIST MAKE ME LOOK FAT?

Now do not get me wrong, choice is good. Also, l’ll be honest, as a middle aged guy who is sometimes lucky to find a couple of hours an entire week to play any games, I don’t have a huge list of XBL friends. This means of course I can’t go online and say “Oh those 3 guys are on and we play Payday 2, those 2 play Far Cry…” then simply send invite. My son can jump in and out of any game because he does have a comprehensive fiend list and knows these type of dynamics. So part of my rant your reading is part of my own demographic placing.

Funny though eh, cause my demographic is the guy who buys 2 xbox ones, an extra hd tv and closing in on 2 dozen full priced games for the Xbone in short period of time! The demographic with a larger expendable income compared to a 19 year old!

MONEY?

Did I just mention money? Oh yeah… those 5 new games we have targeted in our home cost money. While Halo 5 will have free map packs for once (After MCC fiasco it’s the least they could do) it’s still 80 bucks before tax. Siege will set me back 115 more… and the other 3? Ugh!

But there is no gun to my head of  course!

Alot of people who are tighter on money (And I am not set financially by the way) are being more practical by picking and choosing priority games and buying those lower on list later. But my fear in approaching this angle is that any of these individual game communities I hope to be a part of will be gone by the time I finally join too far after initial launch.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?

But hey, overall console communities are strong. At the point we are now in the new Gen,  more units of PS4 and Xbone have sold compared to same time 360 and PS3 were launched, & obviously more than the original Xbox and PS2. So numbers wise, one could argue the overall number of players can support more communities with larger than previous Gen numbers had at this point in time.

Of course that last statement I am saying there is hope to make me more optimistic. That this season’s bevy of games all have a shot at a decent heyday. Not doomed to deflate to nothing like Sunset Overdrive. (Thank god I never bought that)

I have to go on record that if all these games are major bug free,  I wish that they have dedicated fans like Destiny does, so instead of rushing to play all these games as soon as they are out to get best community,  I can look at the following 6 months after release and not worry.

Good lord, I kind of complimented Destiny, not the game thank god, but the community around it.

Take note as a hockey goalie for many years, I took many pucks to the head. (And other more sensitive parts)

YET AFTER THIS LONG RANT…

It will be a busy season, and honestly while I have concerns,  I think, hope & dare I say pary… we all will be winners.

Glass half full… game isn’t over till fat lady sings, there still is time on the clock.. insert sports cliché here.

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