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.

TBoD Extra Points – 1 – Favourite RPG

Hey baggers,

TBoD is back with a vengeance, we’re bringing you more content than ever before and we don’t plan on stopping. Here’s the first glimpse of one of our new ideas TBoD exp. Quim and eremenko will be rapping on single topics in smaller bite-sized chunks.

You can check out the video version of this cast over on our YouTube channel or click below to listen now.

TBoD – Extra Points 1 – Favourite RPG <— right click and hit ‘save link as’ to download.

 

It’s good to be back

eremenko

The TBoD Podcasts – 74 – You Look Titan Those Pants

howdy Guardians,

This week The Qum Ninja and myself are joined by ThisIsReklaw and Cut_Masta_C to talk about our early experiences in Destiny. Crinbot makes a cameo apperance as our musical maestro as usual, hope you enjoy the show, make sure you hit us up with your Destiny epic moments either in the comments below or via facebook, twitter etc.

right click and hit “save as” to download

menko out.

Out of this World


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RPG/Movie studio crossovers are few and far between there have been but a handful of titles that have had massive names attached to them. One early effort from Square Enix and Akira Toryiama produced one of my all time favourite games Chrono Trigger a brilliant RPG with gorgeous artwork and character design from the father of Dragon Ball. Toriyama teamed up with Level 5 latterly for the brilliant Dragon Quest 8 : Journey of the cursed King. Not to be out done Disney have also had a go with the hit and miss Kingdom Hearts series featuring a lot of Square enix’ favourite characters from the Final Fantasy series not to mention an .amazing cast made up of some real big hitters (Haley Joel Osment, David Boreanz, Mandy Moore and the legend that is Christopher Lee) I loved Kingdom Hearts and the sequel but I think that ship has sailed now. Continue reading

Fantastical Finale

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Square enix have struggled of late to replicate the success of their flagship series’ 90’s offerings. The failure of Final Fantasies 10, to 14 (not to mention those accursed sequels) to capture the imaginations of their target audiences in the way that 1 through 9 did in such a magnificent manner has been disappointing to say the least. The story lines, characters and worlds in the newer titles just never seem as engrossing as the adventures of Cloud and co, while visually stunning XII felt somewhat devoid of character and atmosphere and nothing in the newer titles has ever re-created that sense of adventure and intrigue that the series is so famous for.

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Enter Final Fantasy Dimensions now available for both Android and iOS platforms. Going back to basics with the pixel art styling which was the bread and butter of the early 90’s snes titles. Including all the classic elements such as the world map, the job system and the active time battles. Could this game be a long overdue return to form for the ailing Square-enix? In short ….. yes. I love the series and have spent the last few years failing to convince myself that the games are just as good as they ever were if anything Dimensions highlights the failings of the new console offerings by reminding us of just how good a Final Fantasy title can be.

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Following the classic scenario of a powerful crystal summoning it’s chosen warriors and gifting them it’s power before being split asunder sending the world spiraling into a chaos that can only be stopped by the chosen few. It takes a certain kind of patience to play a game of this ilk through to the end, in the days before super HD graphics and flashy animation the only way to keep audiences hooked was with a story and characters that made you want to keep playing to find out what would happen next. Pair this with a battle system that is as rewarding as it is frustrating and Squaresoft (as they were known then) had a tried and tested formula for success with which they destroyed the competition and quickly rose to the top of the RPG tree.

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By returning to this basic ideology with Dimensions Square-enix has to pour so much more love into crafting a world and characters that the player wants to be a part of, while this may not capture the imagination of a new generation of gamers who are used to being spoon fed stories and having a game lead them by the hand from start to finish, it will surely delight the inner child in those of us who were around to see those early forays into recreating a Dungeons and Dragons esque experience in a video game. Doing away with the cheesy voice dub’s that plague the more recent titles is as much about the platform as it is a creative choice but for me it really is a saving grace because the hideous level of voice acting in all titles re-dubbed from Japanese is farcical. It’s remarkable the depth you create for yourself while playing this game, to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper “it harnesses the most powerful processor in the world, your imagination.”.

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£13.99 may seem a little steep for a game which is so similar to the games of yester-year but when you consider that in encompasses 40+ hours of gameplay along with a compelling story-line beautiful music and a unique adventure for each player you can’t really argue that price tag. It may have a few minor translation issues, it may not be super sparkly and it may require a certain level of patience but If you love Final Fantasy old or new, if you love rpg’s, if you want to send Square-enix a message that we want the Final Fantasy we love to return or if you just want something to while away the time on your mobile device then you must own this game.

ermenko

Pawn to raise Hell

Hi folks,

If you’ve read Dossers latest post then you’ll probably be asking yourself “what has elth been doing whilst dosser was splattering heads all over the shop in Max Payne?”. Well with my Spartan teammate otherwise occupied and the Woaf temporarily out of action I’ve been making the most of my free time exploring Gransys in Dragons Dogma.

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I know what your thinking I can totally see Japanese rpgs are a bit of an enigma at times, I do love the traditional turn based, story driven, visceral experience you get from a final fantasy, Dragon quest or Tales of .. game, whilst I equally understand peoples frustration at the slow pace such titles can take at times. This game should not be confused with any of those titles though. With DD Capcom targeting a market that has been swamped with western offerings of late the Japanese giants have the likes of Bioware, EA and Bethesda firmly in thier sights with this offering.

So how does this adventure of a hero and his/her pawns stack up against the western giants? Well it doesn’t have the fully immersive world of Skyrim nor does it have the epic story of Dragon Age, the visuals are not quite as vibrant and exciting as Kingdoms of Amalur but what it does have is pawns.

One of the really impressive features of Capcoms very own western world style of rpg (W-rpg?) is the character creation system.

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Here are four good examples of what the system allows you to do. What it doesn’t show is the level of detail you can go into (Capcom even used the the same system to create all the additional characters) allowing you to make anything from a tiny stooping, shriveled sourcerer to a bulky, behemoth, bruiser, creating a character that’s as hilarious as another is imposing or anything inbetween, its delight to use. Then you get to do it all over again for your own custom companion (pawn).

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An a-typical ranger and his ramshackle gang of pawns.

Now we have our hero and a loyal supporter game on right? Not quite you also get to hire in two further pawns created by other players all over the world. This method of team building is at the heart of this journey and you will find yourself becoming increasingly attached to your artificial allies, resulting in grave disappointment when your pawn returns with a negative review from another hero in another realm.

The right combination of pawns can really make or break any journey and as you level yourself and your trusty pawn you’ll find that the others you are hiring become more useful and effective, even offering handy tidbits of information for the quest you are trying to complete, but the main job of a pawn is combat and lucky for you they can prove pretty capable under pressure.

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Battle in Dragon’s Dogma can be tough at times but work with your pawns and you can vanquish even the most powerful enemies. Shadow of the Colossus proved that there is little more satisfying (out of Mjolnir armour) than felling a beast more than ten times your size and this proves equally true here. Scrambling up the back and onto the head of a fearsome beast and unleasing a series of strikes to the head or face before leaping and rolling out of the way before it crashes to the ground is made all the more fun when a beast is being set ablaze by a mage or peppered with arrows from the bow of a ranger.

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Story never really seems to be the focus of this game the world is driven far more by the beasts that inhabit the plains, woods, valleys and dungeons outside the walls of Gran Soren, the bustling capital city at the heart of Gransys.
The creatures on show look great but also move and act intelligently meaning even repeat encounters don’t feel like a chore, you can never tell what a wild animal will do.

There are issues with the game of course, in particular the constant desire of the pawns to describe anything and everything you come across “look master a bridge”, “watch out, dragon!”,
“does this chainmail make my bum look big?”.
It gets pretty annoying at times and it isn’t helped by the utterly appalling voice acting which is standard practice for any translated video game now.
The graphics are decent but not beautiful, the animations aren’t slick more Resident Evil than Bayonetta.
But if you like a chunky combat system like those found in Dark Souls or Monster Hunter and want your rpgs to be more about adventuring than politics this game is a must play.

But remember kids a pawn is for life, not just for Christmas.

Elth.