Expedition Survived!

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Typically, Saturday nights are reserved for playing Warframe as a group. This week, everyone was in agreement that we needed a break from that. So instead, we spent the night trying our hand at the first expedition, “The Dig”, in GTFO.

The first few runs did not look promising. Mistimed melee attacks alerting all the enemies in the room. Forgetting to turn off flashlights and alerting everything in the room. Moving too fast, making to much noise, opening lockers at the wrong time. You guessed it: alerting all the enemies in the room. Ammo is very scarce so the less of it that you can use between the alarm doors, which spawn hordes of enemies, the better.

But we found our groove again after three runs or so. The objective of “The Dig” is to find two cargo containers and take them back to the extraction zone. Every time we’ve played, we’ve been consistent in getting the first container and bringing it back. The second container is behind another alarm door. This one spawns fewer enemies and only has one cycle of circles to stand in to disarm instead of 3 cycles. It’s easier mechanically but we also had less ammo for our guns and our turrets going in.

After a few more runs we were able to get the second door open with ammo to spare. We grabbed the cargo and took it back. Which then triggered a scan and another horde. We were expecting this but our ammo reserves were low. We put up a good fight but with 50% of the scan completed, we were all downed.

So close!

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We did complete “The Dig” around 10pm last night. About 3 hours after our first attempt. We learned a lot last night about appropriate load-outs and using our tools more effectively.

  • The Bio Tracker is essential. I had been taking the mine launcher because the few times I had taken the Bio Tracker I didn’t see the use of it. It shows you how many enemies are in the room and will show you the location of moving enemy types like Scouts. But that’s not all. If you hold the left click it will scan and mark all moving targets. Helpful for tracking the movement of scouts and extremely helpful for the alarm hordes. Marking enemies puts a little red triangle on top of their heads making it much easier to hit enemies in dark rooms. Plus, you can mark enemies before they enter the room so the group knows what door their about to break down. This allows for additional set up time.
  • C-Foam is not only good for reinforcing doors but if it’s shot on the ground enemies will be stuck for a substantial amount of time. Our newest strategy is to C-foam one or two doors in an alarm room and then c-foam the ground near our turrets.
  • Scouts can be killed but you better do it quickly before they start their own alarm and alert everything in the room and beyond.  We try to kill as many sleepers in a room with a scout before taking it out because the gunshots will wake them. Sometimes it’s better to wake up a few sleepers than have the Scout set off an alarm. A few well-timed revolver shots from a couple teammates will down it. I’m curious to see how many shots it would take with the sniper. That’s something we’ll try next time we play.
  • Communication is key. GTFO will test your group’s communication skills and I’d say we’re getting better at this. We now formulate a plan for each room and the Bio Scanner makes it easier to communicate to the group where enemies are in dark rooms.

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Now that “The Dig” is complete we unlocked 4 more expeditions. I’m not sure if we have to complete all of them to unlock the next tier. At least we’ll have some variety now!

 

Starbound: A Blast From the Past

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The last time I played Starbound was in 2013. As you’d excpect, a lot has changed in 7 years. Starbound was my fourth purchase on Steam. It was also my first experience with Early Access. I put about 40 hours into the early access build before I put it away. Not bad for a $15 game. Over the years,  Steam let me know every time there was a new update but I never had the desire to fire it up again. That is until last night when we started a multiplayer playthrough.

Starbound has come a long way. There are cutscenes now, a whole tutorial mission, quests, NPCs, hoverbikes, and mechs. But it still has the same basic gameplay  I put so much time into before. The current quest system provides some focus and slowly introduces new systems. The UI took a little to get used to again. It’s not the most intuitive interface. Especially the hot bar.  You can put items on the left and right mouse clicks. I kept using bandages instead of firing my gun. I also need to remap the drop item key to something other than Q because I kept throwing my weapon on the ground all night.

Multiplayer was really easy to set up. Once we both made characters I could join the game through Steam, form a party, and warp over to Greg’s location. I was looking into creating a server before we started playing. More so because I wanted to see how it worked than actually play the game from a dedicated server. I had it working up until the point where I had to create user accounts. I’m probably still going to look into it just to see if I can get it to work.

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Our time early in the night was spent dying of hunger until we figured out how to cook. Once we learned how to use the hunting spears this became less of a problem. Cooked meat fills the hunger gage faster than eating raw plants. There’s this obnoxious noise when you’re starving that can be heard by you and your partner so we both knew when the other was on the verge of starvation. Even so, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it as your character pops and gets respawned on the ship.

We found a premade structure fairly close to our initial spawn to build a little base. We set up all of the initial crafting benches and started exploring the caverns below us. We found a weapons chest with guns. At first glance, the guns seemed better than our starting broken swords. But I still have that broken sword equipped since it’s good for dealing with swarming enemies.

On this first planet, there doesn’t seem like there’s a reason to hide inside at night. I don’t know if this is different once we leave the first planet. I just remember not going out at night last time I played.

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Our first objective was to find core fragments to power up a communication device we found on the planet. These core fragments were pretty deep underground so we had some exploring to do. I am not a careful player and fell to my death several times before I realized that I can craft rope to jump down into the caverns. The rope is now my favorite item. It makes me feel like Indiana Jones. Of course, it’s not very useful for getting back up these cavers…but that’s what building stairs out of dirt blocks are for.

The highlight of the night came when we discovered a portal door underground. Accessing the door said it would take us to another, dangerous, dimension. It appeared to be a small room with two chests and no enemies. I opened one of the chests and found a Cat I could wear as a hat. Thank god there are cosmetic slots so I never have to take it off!

We’ll be playing this again soon.

I Only PVP Socially

20200414184202_1.jpgNow that I’m playing more Hunt: Showdown I’ve been thinking more about my relationship with PVP games. If you would have asked me a week ago I would have told you I avoid them and I’m a PVE carebear all the way. But that’s not entirely true. When I reflect back, some of my best gaming memories come from PVP with friends. And that’s the key: I find myself only enjoying these types of games with friends.

My first encounter with PVP was in the wilds of Runescape. A zone you could go to fight other people and then lose most of your stuff when you died. I don’t remember if there was another reason to go into that zone.I spent very little time there. I do remember going in there with one of my friends and a friend of a friend and getting killed by a said friend of a friend….that was probably my last visit.

Then there was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. All the kids were playing it, seriously. That’s all my circle of friends talked about for months. All we did in our free time. During this time, I went to a friend’s birthday party who’s parents ha rented out one of those gaming arena’s with 50 or so gaming desktops inside. It was a lock-in where we played this game for probably 15 hours straight.  This is the game that taught me a) I’m not great at aiming and b) I get really tensed up when playing against other people. This still persists today and I recognize that I make bad gameplay decisions because of it.

College was the year of League of Legends with my friends. Long nights of matches against randoms. When we had enough people we’d play 5v5 against each other. We’d watch the LCS together on the weekends. I never did get into the ranked mode and I rarely played solo queue.

Most recently, I played a lot of Apex and Battlefield 5 last year with the boys. Up until playing Hunt: Showdown this past week I don’t think I’ve touched a PVP game in months.

I haven’t found a PVP game I’ve gotten enjoyment out of on my own. Part of this is that I don’t want to get yelled at people online for poor performance. It’s not something that I particularly enjoy. It helps to know I have one person on my team I know. I love League of Legends but I can’t play it on my own without turning off all the chat options. The other part is I get overly frustrated on my own. It literally brings out the worst in me and I’m not sure why. I lose at PVE games I’m fine but the second I get beat by another player my temper flares up. Which is weird because I don’t consider myself a highly competitive person.

The little part of my brain that always wants to take up new hobbies is fixating on finding a PVP game on my own. I thought of maybe trying to get back into Black Desert or some sort of PVE mixed with PVP game and try to take a calm approach to it. But I also know that in a week or two that feeling will probably pass.

A Bit of Filler

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I read Belghast’s post this morning about just writing and a topic might jump out at you. That’s an approach I should take more often. Even if it doesn’t lead to something riveting  at least I’m sitting down and interacting with my blog.

Today is one of those days where I don’t feel like writing. Normally, I brush these days off and say I’ll have something to write tomorrow which sometimes work but most of the time leads to very long periods of inactivity for me.

The main reason I like events like Blaugust and Blapril is that it’s a little added pressure to sit down and write. I’ve mentioned it before but after I have a few days straight of writing I start feeling like a blogger instead of a guy who writes blog posts sometimes.

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I’ve struggled with motivation and consistency since I started this thing. You would think I’d hang it up. The fact is, that I like it here and I like the fact that it’s here when I want to use it. It enhances my hobby and gives me a creative outlet I wouldn’t normally have. Even if that creative outlet is simply writing about what I did the following night. I’m going to test out this “filler” approach and see where it leads. If nothing else I think it will keep me interested in writing.

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I’ve been making decent progress through Tales of Berseria. I’m past the point I put the game down last time so everything now is new to me. It’s very relaxing and engaging at the same time. When I sit down to play, I get the same feeling when bingeing a good show. The story isn’t ground-breaking but it’s got the familiar tropes I know and love. I don’t need a story to be wholely original to enjoy it. Tropes are tropes for a reason: because they work. The game is mostly cut scenes anyways. Many of which are filler themselves. Actually, a lot of the skits and cut-aways don’t advance the story but do focus on characterization. That’s what I liked about Zestiria too: by the end all of the characters had they’re own arcs and relationships to the group. It wasn’t just a story about the main character but the party members goals too.

The combat is as complex or as simple as you want it to be. I’ve opted for the simpler route playing on normal and not worrying about the intricacies of status effects and chaining effects. Just let me hit stuff and let me look cool while doing it and I’m happy. Just like Tales of Zestiria, I’m still getting tutorials for combat systems after 12 hours of playing. There’s a lot of systems to dig into here but for the most part as long as I use artes that match up to an enemies weakness I’m good to go!

 

 

Hunt: Showdown First Impressions

 

20200411135715_1.jpgNext on the list of games that are outside my normal genre we have Hunt: Showdown. Or as I like to call it Bayou Zombie Simulator 2020. Greg has wanted this game for a while and its made for duos so I figured I’d try it out too.

First impressions: wow I suck at this but it’s fun! I can best describe this as a mini-battle royale with some PVE and mostly PVP. Each match has players hunting for clues to find the bounties. Which are very large creatures with tons of health. As you find clues, areas on the map are greyed out to show you where the bounties aren’t. The ultimate goal is to kill the bounty, grab the coins it drops and run to extraction before anyone can take you out.

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This is not my typical cup of tea but it has a lot of things I like. First and foremost it’s a duos game. There’s an option to allow teams of 3 to join your match but you can leave that unchecked. Matches are a mix of two-man teams and solo players. Second, it’s set in the 1890s. When’s the last time you played a game set in that time period? Ok fine, Red Dead Redemption 2 was 1899 but still, it’s a unique setting. The time period also means that the gunplay is a lot slower. We’re talking some guns can fire 1 round and then have to reload. Which is a plus for me, I’m terrible at FPS games but the slower gunplay gives me a fighting chance. Third, there are a ton of unlocks not only at the character level but at the account level too. I’m getting new guns and perks left and right. Yay progression!

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Hunt: Showdown has features I’ve never seen in games before. Like the fact that if your character dies in a match they’re dead for good. You lose all the equipment and guns on them too. Hunters and weapons are cheap so it’s not so bad but it’s always in the back of your mind if you want to stay and fight or extract and keep your stuff. Also, everything makes a unique noise. Run through the woods and twigs will snap under your feet. Run past some crows they’ll take off and make a really loud noise. Sound is almost more useful than what you can see when you’re trying to find other players.

I will admit, I’m surprised that I want to play more of this game. I thought for sure I would play it and return it before the two-hour mark. But I’m having so much fun with it. We managed to extract a bounty once which skyrocketed our account levels and I’ve been getting better at aiming and hitting targets. There’s a lot to learn and I hope it remains as fun as it is in these early stages.

GTFO or Trying to At least

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We’ve been experimenting with GTFO this weekend. And by experimenting I mean dying over and over and over again. But hey, losing with your friends is better than losing by yourself, you always have someone to blame!

With approximately 4 hours of gameplay under my belt here’s what I can tell you. GTFO is a tough as nails, early access, co-op, survival shooter. It’s a game scaled with 4 players in mind and doesn’t appear to scale down if you have a group of less than 4. The objective of the first “Rundown” at least is to get cargo and bring it to extraction. Along the way, you’ll run into a menagerie of nightmare creatures that make equally horrifying noises.

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The first experience I had with the game was a 2 person Co-Op run with Greg. We were able to clear the rooms with enemies effectively after some time learning how everything works. We ran into enemies called sleepers that wake up and attack if they detect you. We quickly found that the easiest way to deal with these was to sneak up with a melee weapon and bash them in the head.

The big problem we faced as a duo was the alarm door. We were tasked with finding a key for this door first in the various rooms of the first area. Once found, inserting it into the door triggers a blaring alarm that starts spawning enemies to attack. While the horde is attacking there are circles on the floor you need to run and stand in to turn off the alarm. More often than not these were in the middle of the enemies which makes it challenging to stay in one place for the 10 or so seconds required. We were able to get to this point every run but couldn’t get past this stage. Now, I’ll admit that I do not have the best aim. Perhaps if I was better at shooters we would have done better as a two-man team but I just don’t have the skill.

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On Saturday we did a few runs as a three-man team. The extra gun helps a lot and these runs went a lot better. We discovered that the C-Foam launcher is a must-have because it reinforces closed doors which makes it harder for enemies to get through. This paired with the sentry turret and mine launcher lead us closer to opening the door. I found that while I’m not the best shot I can run around to the circles while my teammates kept the enemies off me. With a little practice, I think this is absolutely doable with 3 people.

On our final run that night we managed to get the door open. We all rushed through it assuming it would close behind us. It didn’t which lead to us getting mauled by the remaining alarm enemies and waking up the enemies in the next room. Good times.

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We roped one more friend into getting the game so we could play with a group of 4. Again the extra tools and guns help a lot with the alarm doors. Getting past the room enemies is a little harder since 4 people have to manage to not be detected by enemies while they take them out. Multiple times when we played as a group of 4 we got past the first alarm door and made it to the second area. The main issue we were running into was ammo and the lack of ammo refills. This is a game where every shot counts and if you’re out of ammo there’s not much you can do.

I’m looking forward to playing this more with our 4 man group and seeing what else the game has to offer. There’s no character progression or unlocks but the gameplay and atmosphere keep each run engaging and intense  From the looks of it, there are multiple rundowns to complete and we’ve spent 4 hours in the first 2 areas of the first rundown. Something tells me we’re going to have a lot of game time here.

Bunny Day has Arrived

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Over the past two weeks, I’ve been slowly working towards crafting all of the Bunny Day recipes for Animal Crossing. Lately, the main bottleneck has been water eggs. I felt like I was getting more eggs than fish during the first few days of the event but I’ve been hard-pressed to find them this week. My wife, on the other hand, has been catching 3 or 4 water eggs in a row. Go figure…

This morning, I went down to the plaza to see Zipper Right out the gate, he tells me that I can trade him three of the same type of egg for one egg that I need. Which means I finally had a use for the 60 or so Leaf Eggs I’ve accumulated and didn’t need to worry about the water eggs. Zipper also mentioned that I don’t need to craft any of the recipes I discovered myself. That would have been nice to know in the beginning so I didn’t throw all my eggs into the eggshell outfits. At least they sold for some bells so it’s not all bad.

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I only had 3 more recipes to make including the Bunny Day Arch from Zipper. Unfortunately, Zipper only trades one egg at a time so I spent a good 5 minutes running through the same dialog to get all of the eggs I needed. After crafting everything, Zipper threw in one more recipe, a Wobbling Zipper Toy. It looks just like Zipper, lifeless eyes and all.

After crafting the toy, Zipper gives me a DIY recipe for a Bunny Day wand. After some research, it turns out the Bunny Day wand isn’t any different from the other wands which store 8 outfits and let you quickly swap between them. I would have made one but they require the Wobbling Zipper Toy and I like the toy more than the wand. Could I make another toy after making the wand? Sure but then I’d have to spend even more time trading eggs which I don’t have a desire to.

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Earlier, I said that Bunny Day wasn’t a bad event and I still stand by that. I enjoyed tracking down eggs and crafting the recipes over the last two weeks. Most of the recipies were not worth keeping but they sold for a decent chunk of bells. I ended up keeping the Bunny Day Clock, The Bunny Day Rug, and the Bunny Day Backpack. I’m keeping the Wobbling Zipper Toy too. It’s just creepy enough that I think it’s funny to have at my house for a while. I’m a bit disappointed the final reward wasn’t a Bunny Ear hat, or even better, a Zipper hat but I’ll take the toy as a consolation prize.

Now we can get back to our regularly scheduled activities of paying off loans and accumulating a horde of furniture and clothes!

Home Sweet Home

Today I’m officially moving into my first house!

We started looking in January, found a house at the beginning of February, and have been going through the long process that is buying real estate. It’s a weird time to move, that’s for sure, but as long as I’m going to stuck at home I won’t mind being stuck inside with more space.

We’ve been living in apartments since we graduated from college 6 years ago. We’ve moved 4 times in those 6 years and I’m sure looking forward to staying in a place for longer than 2 years. We’ve been in our current apartment for about that long and when we were packing this week I kept thinking “Didn’t we just do this?”

It wasn’t until this week when we signed all the paperwork that it hit me that we actually bought a house. The process has taken so long that it didn’t seem real. Now, I’m super excited to get in there, decorate, and not have to worry about neighbors below us! I will admit, it’s a little scary though. Now when things break I’m going to have to fix them instead of calling maintenance. Good thing Youtube exists!

Alone Together in Animal Crossing

For the last 2 weeks, we’ve been playing Animal Crossing every day. Between my wife and our little island is coming along nicely. We’ve just built the tailor shop and a campsite and are currently working on paying for another bridge.

Animal Crossing’s local multiplayer leaves a lot to be desired.  For one, the first character created is the only one who can progress the island. It’s like Tom Nook is too good to talk to anyone but me which is frustrating because at this point my wife plays more than I do. I and she would love if we could both be the Resident Representative. We’ve been taking turns placing buildings and choosing infrastructure to work on but it would be nice if her account could initiate these things instead of waiting for me. What bothers me is the dialog for a lot of these options says all residents can chip in. But by all residents, they mean me because he refuses to talk about it with anyone else…

And then there’s the “two-player” option. It’s there, it’s an option, but it’s not a great option. All the second player can do is collect things that go to a recycling box. They can’t access their pocket, they can’t talk to anyone, they can’t interact with anyone. It’s like when you gave your younger sibling a controller and said: “Look you’re playing now too.” We were playing this way for a while but now we just play on our own because it’s not fun to be the follower. Thankfully, switching the leader is as easy as shaking the controller. We now use this feature to trade DIY recipes we don’t have or materials that Nook needs.

In other news, Leopold moved on to our island. There was no choice in this. Tom Nook demanded it! Neither my wife or I cared for Leopold’s attitude or Nook’s master plan to lure a celebrity to our island by filling it up with residents so we’ve placed Leopold’s house on a ladder accessible area without an incline. We’re hoping we’ve banished him from the town for the time being. Only time will tell if he’s able to get down from there.

Deja vu

 

20190121113830_1.jpgIf there’s one constant in my gaming habits it’s this: if I start a game and leave it for a few months, the next time I want to play I will start over. I can’t get back into it from the point I left off. Reasons being I won’t remember what’s going on in the story, won’t remember how to play, or won’t know what half the stuff in my inventory is for. Starting from the beginning always seems like the best option when my last save says I was 9 hours into the game.

I’ve started playing Tales of Berseria again which is the last one on my shortlist of games I wanted to finish. The problem is I haven’t played it in over a year. I vaguely remember what was going on and there happens to be a nice synopsis menu tab but still, I felt the need to start over.

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What intrigued me about Berseria is that the main character, Velvet, is an anti-hero. But the first hour and a half of the game you play as Velvet before she got turned into a demon. She’s just an ordinary woman trying to take care of her sick brother and provide for her family. If the story started with her being introduced as the woman who’s singular goal is revenge and she’s also a demon who eats other demons I would have rolled my eyes. But that first hour of gameplay makes her a very likable character and then she’s thrown into a prison for 3 years after witnessing her little brother being sacrificed by her father figure. It makes a whole lot more sense why her character is a little on edge.

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I never feel like I’ve wasted time when I start over. I remember some story beats, some characters, but for the most part, it’s new to me all over again. I have this ability to be engrossed in a story be it in a game or a book while I’m playing/reading it but talk to me about it a month after I finish it and I probably can’t even tell you the main characters name. I can tell you how much I liked or disliked it and some of the reasons. I liked Tales of  Zestiria for it’s cast of characters and it’s a focused story. Playing these first few hours of Berseria I get the same vibes. It feels familiar because I’ve played through this part but there’s still a ton that’s been new to me.