Mechs and Multiplayer

Daemon X Machina was free last week on the Epic Games store. I was surprised it was being offered so soon after release. However a quick Google search fixed that. The game is almost 2 years old on PC. It’s also a PC port of a Switch game which released in September 2019. I added it to my Steam wishlist in May 2021 which is probably why I thought it was a newer title. DXM offering 4 player co-op was an instant pick up for the squad. If only just to play it once and see what it was all about.

I had booted up the game  last Thursday to create a character and try the first mission. For a console port, playing with a controller was not a pleasant experience. The controls feel floaty and I found it hard to aim (even with aim assist) which makes fighting difficult. Fighting controls are important for a mech game since all you’ll be doing is shooting things.
 
By the time we all got together on Friday, I had touched the game once while CC had completed the whole story…

This time around I opted for keyboard and mouse controls. These are much better but take a bit to get used to. There is no cursor. All of the menus are control through the keyboard, like I said, it’s a console port. Menus aside, the actual flight and fighting controls were much more enjoyable.
 
Multiplayer is available right after character creation. The tutorial doesn’t even have to be started before you’re allowed to group up. I always love to see that in a multiplayer game.

We had a hell of a time getting connected to each other though. There isn’t a join or invite option in the Epic Launcher, instead someone has to make a room and the others have to go to the in-game friends list to join whoever created the room. We kept getting errors when trying to join rooms this way. We tried creating a public match and had everyone search for the room at the same time. We would either get a random person or no one could connect to the room a all.
 

After a about 30 minutes of trial and error, we found if SuperToast hosted the room we could all join on him. I have no idea why this is the case, but it worked! A similar issue happened when we tried to play Remnant: From the Ashes together. I’m not sure if it has something to do with launching the game through Epic.


There’s two main types of missions available for multiplayer: Exploration and Missions. 
 
Exploration involves running around a map killing enemies and collecting parts from fallen mechs until the party reaches the boss room. The bosses are big ol’ damage sponges and take some time to down. Afterwards the mission completes, you have a minute to run around and pick up any loot you missed before getting sent back to the hub. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.
 
The mission mode, from what we could tell, let’s you team up for some of the story missions/bosses but isn’t a true co-op story mode. CC noted that some of the bosses either don’t appear in the story or have more difficult encounters in multiplayer. 

Missions come in two flavors, fight a big, bad, mech killing, robot boss or fight 4 mercenary mechs. We fought the Gunfort, which looks like a cross between the Spike Walker from Trove and the Profit Taker from Warframe. We fought a giant train with guns. I think we might have fought some sort of final boss in a mission called the Nightmare. It was a big, presumably evil/antagonistic, mech that fired all sorts of laser beams at us. He was by far the hardest encounter we had. We had to run it a few times before we took it down.
 
The mech parts from the Missions are no where near as good as the parts from the Explorations. In Exploration, it seems like the whole loot pool is available to drop. CC was getting multiple pieces of new gear even though he’d already completed the story. Missions, on the other had, award progressively better parts as the difficulty increases, as you would expect. This means running Exploration is the most efficient way to get the best parts for your Mech. The issue is there’s only two exploration missions and they both take place on the same map. At least there’s variety in the Mission locations.

The HUD took up way to much screen real estate. The cross hare overlay took up the majority of the center of the screen…There isn’t a way to scale it down but you can disable individual pieces of it. Having not done the any of the single player, I had no idea what half the stuff on screen was anyways and turned it all off. Not only did it make things easier to see but it also let me take way better screenshots!
 
Despite the technical hiccups, the weird controls, and the giant sized UI, I had fun. It does what it sets out to do, make big robots fight other big robots. There isn’t much else to it. There always seems to be a new part, weapon, or decal to collect and put on your mech for the next round. I don’t think I’ll be playing this one solo but I think everyone had a good enough time to warrant another session in the future.
 
 

No Welp’s Sky

I just had to be the weird, bird/lizard creature.

The squad and I found ourselves playing No Man’s Sky this weekend. I’ve owned this game for a while on PC and even longer on PS4 but this is the first time I’ve played it with other people. 

Previous attempts were made. Blades and I played the multiplayer once on PS4 when it first came out. I’ve owned the game on PC for a couple years now and the rest of the squad have acquired through Steam sales since then. 

Last weekend we decided to give it a go. I had a character that was an hour in and had done a bit the tutorial already. The rest of the squad were at various points in their own saves. CC had been playing  more than the rest of us and was out of the tutorial. Supertoast had a save that was in somewhat the same tutorial step as me. Blades had just purchased the game and was starting fresh.


Our session last weekend was all us figuring out how to play the game again. What controls do what, how do you scan, how do you access the menu, that sort of thing. No Man’s Sky is a console game that happens to have ended up on PC. This is apparent in the UI where there are  menus that are meant for a controller and end up being awkward on a mouse and keyboard. The quick access menus were a particular offender. Pressing x brings up the menu, you scroll through with q and e, or the scroll wheel, press x to open the sub menu, press x again to do the thing. It’s going to take some getting used to.


But as awkward as the on ground controls can be sometimes; the flight controls are even worse. I’ll admit, I’ve been spoiled by my many hours in Elite: Dangerous with my HOTAS setup. I cannot stand the keyboard and mouse flight controls in No Man’s Sky. I feels like flying a spaceship through sludge. Thankfully, this is fixed by plugging in a controller. 

As a side note, I’ve tried flying with my HOTAS set up in NMS and I can confidently say Elite has ruined that for me. It’s no where near as good.


This weekend’s adventures were more about getting everyone to the same point in the game. SuperToast and I were able to get caught up to each other since we were a mission or two out of sync. We’re both sitting on the mission to go to another star system. But we have to wait for Blades to get caught up to us.

I forgot how tedious the begging tutorial is. You start with nothing and have to make all your gear. Then once you do that you have to fix your ship, learn how to build a base, and a whole bunch of other stuff that prevents you from just playing the game. As far as I can tell, there’s not a great way to skip it but you can help another player through it by giving them the materials they need.

 Blades set out to work on the tutorial while the rest of us went our separate ways in our Star System. What I quickly realized last night was four people can play NMS together without actually doing anything together. It’s a different multiplayer experience than I’m used to where everyone needs to be on the same page and to get anything done you have to work together. Not so in No Man’s Sky it would seem.

At least this is true on this first starting planet. As we get farther in to the game I’m sure there will be more for chances for us to work together.

Ancient bones in their natural habitat

For my own little adventure, I set out to find as many natural burial sites as I could while we were playing. These contain ancient bones which sell for a pretty penny at the galactic trade terminal. The price range anywhere from 60k to 700k depending on how old they were and the rarity. I started out the night with very little money to my name and ended the night with just over 5 million credits.

I manged to buy a ship with 4 extra storage slots for 660k. All the other ships with massive upgrades and storage had equally massive price tags. And here I thought I could afford most things with my 5 mil. Apparently, I’m not even close.


Backlogged: Titanfall 2

 

Titanfall™ 2_20161201103021The last time I thought to myself “you know what I need in my life right now, a multiplayer fps” was in 2007 when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out. Well after a 9 year hiatus I decided I needed a new shooter in my gaming rotation. Enter Titanfall 2.

OK maybe it hasn’t been that long, I played a lot of Destiny’s multiplayer, I played Battlefield 4 for a while and I did get Rainbow Six Siege at the beginning of the year. Destiny was always kind of a side thing when I was bored of the PVE, I didn’t really play Battlefield 4 all that much, and my time with Rainbow Six Siege was mostly spent in the Player versus AI Terrorist Hunt. I will admit this was kind of an impulse buy. I wanted something with quick matches and I wanted to shoot things with Mechs. Plus, who’s game would capture the feel of Modern Warfare better than Respawn, the guys who made Modern Warfare.

It came out on the heels of Battlefield 1 like just a few days after. Kind of a weird plan releasing right after one of the most anticipated shooters of the year but it looks like its doing OK. I really hadn’t heard much about it before release. but afterward the internet was hailing the campaign as one of the best in years and praising the multiplayer for fixing the problems the last game had. The internet was also full of “lol this game will die in 6 months gg scrubs” predicting the fall off of players that plagued the first game.

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The campaign took me around 10 hours to beat. I’ve never been great at shooters even against AI so I died a whole lot even though I was playing the easier difficulty. The story is pretty forgettable, as in I beat this 3 weeks ago and faintly remember what its about. It’s story of a generic solider turned elite Mech Pilot who has to stop the bad guys from using a weapon to destroy the world. To Jack some credit, he was training to be a Pilot before the battle that wiped out most of the landing party. His mentor, the Pilot of the lovable Titan BT-7427 doesn’t make it and gives Jack the reins to BT seeing as he’s the only one still alive there isn’t much of a choice.  BT is your typical computer AI that takes everything too literally but he’s endearing and I never got tired of hearing him talk. The banter between BT and Jack is great.

So you may be wondering, if the story was meh why has the campaign been getting all this praise. Well, it’s the levels, the levels are really unique and I haven’t played anything like them. Each level comes with a mix of shooting things, stretching your platforming muscles, wall running, and using BT to shoot even more things.My favorite two are the factory level with all of its platforming goodness and the time travel level which adds something wholly unique to Titanfall 2.

One of the best things about the campaign is collecting all of the Titan Kits as you progress. These correspond with the Titan load outs in multiplayer so you can get a feel for each Titan before diving in. It’s also really fun to switch load outs on a whim in the campaign. One titan not working for the particular boss fight? Switch to a different one. Since theirs not cool down penalties for switching in the middle of a fight you can pull off some interesting combinations. Too bad you can’t do this in multiplayer.

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Speaking of multiplayer, Titanfall 2 has an interesting take on it. I didn’t play or follow the first one so when I jumped in to Attrition, the main game mode, I was  surprised to find AI enemies as well as other players. This really helps less than talented players, like me, contribute. They may not give as many points as an enemy player but they stand still long enough to shoot. Later in the match they seem to gain the ability to aim and do plenty of damage where they can almost kill you which just adds to the fun. At that point you most likely have your titan and are ripping through them anyways. The movement is really well done and it constantly makes you feel like an elite solider wall running and sliding around the battle field. There are constantly those moments of “whoa did you see what they just did”.  From my experience, even if your at the bottom of the score board you’re still getting your titan pretty often in battle which is nice because I don’t feel like I’m missing out on part of the game because I’m not doing well.

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All in all, I’m happy with my purchase. The campaign was short but fun and the multiplayer is fun even if your bad at shooters. The multiplayer definitely has that one more round feel and the matches are short enough that you can’t get too mad about losing. I’ve been playing for a few weeks and learning and improving has been the main hook. But that level up bar is always fun to watch fill up at the end of the match. Who doesn’t love a good level up bar?