PC Games

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Payday 2: Crime is Very Hard

Tue, 2015/03/03 - 1:59pm -- Samuel Tow
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PC GamingPC Games

So last time (that is, two weeks ago), Eagle and I tried a Very Hard mission and it failed spectacularly. That was probably my fault, since the Hoxton Breakout heist is probably one of the hardest ones out there on higher difficulty setting - it's very easy to get overwhelmed. However, there are far easier heists to try on Very Hard, which will be made easier still if we can get a team of three. I want to try Very Hard again just because that's where Payday 2 becomes really interesting and a lot less boring. I've been watching over both Truss and Eagle, and I can say with a great degree of certainty that you're both pretty good players. We can pull this off, I'm sure of it.

And if not, eh. We can always go back to Hard and do that. No harm in trying, right? Smile Next week, I should be back to in-character event descriptions. I'm not going to get my minigun until next Thursday, so I'll only be able to bring it to the next event over. If it's any good, mind you - it's entirely possible it's a gimmick weapon. We shall see.

Event Date: 
Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 4:59pm

Payday 2: This gun has too many bullets in it

Sun, 2015/02/15 - 11:40am -- Samuel Tow
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PC GamingPC Games

Do you ever have that problem? You look at your badass gun and it's so nice and shiny, but you think "Man... There are just too many bullets in this gun! I need to do something about that!" Or is that just me? Well, either way, a life a crime is the perfect solution that. So, this Saturday, how about we go shoot some guns. Possibly at people, I haven't decided yet. I'll bring the ammo bags - I got tons of the things, they're so hard to get rid of. I'll bring the ammo, you guys bring the guns... And I suppose we can rob a bank along the way, if that's so god damn important to you. Also grenades. I'll bring some. I have a bunch about to expire. Might as well use 'em.

Event Date: 
Saturday, February 21, 2015 - 4:59pm

Pax's New Years Eve Extravaganza

Mon, 2014/12/29 - 9:00am -- Orion Pax
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PC GamingPC Games

So another New Year's eve is upon us...anyone up for some gaming?  Let's gather up those of us who are still around, and message some of our other long-forgotten friends, and get some gaming going on to celebrate the New Year!  My suggested games include:

Sonic Racing Transformed

  • PayDay 2
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Hoard
  • Dungeon Defenders

Anyone else interested?  Other gaming suggestions?

Event Date: 
Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - 8:30pm to 11:59pm

Titanfall

Wed, 2014/11/12 - 11:29am -- Samuel Tow
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So I installed Origin. Yeah... Yeah, I'm sorry. I'll go sit in the corner. A priest is on his way to exorcise my computer as we speak. However, my deal with the devil had a point - Titanfall is a pretty good game it turns out. In fact, browsing through EA's catalogue of games, it's almost one of a kind. Their catalogue mostly consists of Battlefield, Battlefield, Battlefield, Dead Space, Fifa, Fifa, Fifa, Fifa, Fifa, Fifa, Mass Effect, The Sims, The Sims, The Sims, The Sims, The Sims and Spore. Let's just say that there's practically nothing else in there that I want. But Titanfall recently announced a new free update which gave the game a PvE horde-like mode, which got me and NT interested. That, and EA's CEO must have hit his head because I scored the game on a discount. In fact, that discount's still in effect, but I'll talk about prices at wrap-up. Let's get started for real.

Introduction:

Titanfall is a first-person arena shooter with a slight militaristic tinge, multiplayer-only and has no single-player story campaign. Up until the Frontier Defence update, all the game's modes were PvP-exclusive, but now there's a PvE mode, as well. Titanfall's selling point is multi-faced. For one, you have the Titans - giant walking almost anime-esque robots armed with big guns and lots of armour. You can call those down every so often and they'll fight on their own when you're not in them. The game also sports a pretty robust and easy-to-use parkour system, allowing to you run on walls, climb and jump from rooftop to rooftop. It's a lot of fun to do and gives on-foot players a pretty solid fighting chance against Titans. For another still, the game uses very small teams - 6v6 in PvP, 4 players in co-op. The rest of the map is filled with AI-controlled soldiers who fight their own little wars around you, who will shoot at you (and can kill you) as you pass and whom you can sometimes kill for points. Suffice it to say that this is a VERY different arena FPS game like you haven't seen in quite a while.

Graphics and design:

In boring technical terms, Titanfall uses a heavily modified version of - I am not joking here - Valve's Source engine. This is a blessing in that the game performs remarkably well and easily hit 120 FPS on my machine. By this point Source is a pretty solid little engine. On the downside, however, this does lead to some graphical fidelity issues, most notably on the Titans themselves. Every time you mount up your Titan, you will actually go into it from a first person perspective, getting a face-full of some of the worst textures I've seen in years. It's understandable, really - you're getting a face-full of the Titan's character model, and character models are always janky when viewed up-close. Luckily, this only lasts for a literal second so if you sort of blink and don't look at it, the rest of the game looks pretty good. Beyond this, though, the maps are large and detailed, texture work is extensive, player models are pretty solid and there are even little touches like the various NPC critters having their own little grappling fights as you pass by. The graphics won't blow the top of your head off, but they run well and look pretty good. For the PC master race.

Design-wise, the game's a bit of a mixed bag. Players on foot - so-called "pilots" - are actually pretty boring. They wear basic military fatigues and use guns which look like modded out conventional firearms. You have the pistols, the rifles, the SMGs, the LMGs, the sniper rifles - all the boring stuff you've seen a zillion times over, all of it pretty... Pedestrian. There isn't even that look of sleek, futuristic guns that made Battlefield 2142 so cool to look at. That's for the pilots, though. The Titans are another matter entirely. They're pretty amazing. Giant metal humanoids who must stand 15-20 feet tall, their designs are intricate and reflect your weapon selection. As they have hands, they use giant "hand-held" guns. Stuff like a semi-automatic 40mm grenade launcher, a full-auto 20mm machinegun with a 90-round magazine and even the spinning rocker launcher from Unreal! The gun designs themselves are VERY creative. They look beautiful, futuristic and over-designed as all hell. There are three classes of Titans (by which I mean there are three Titans), and each of them is very distinct. From the skinny fast one, to the generalist, to the fat tough one, you can tell what you're fighting at quite a distance. It's impressive, put it that way.

Special mention must be given for character animations in this game, both first-person and those of other people. Gun firing and reload animations are pretty detailed, ESPECIALLY on Titan weapons. Another game would just have you slap on a drum of grenades on your drum-fed grenade launcher. Not Titanfall. Here, you put it on, the thing has to self-spin up to its initial position, then a clam descends to secure it in place. You attach a new container of chaingun ammo, only to see a cage descend to guide the ammo, then a chain of rounds being pulled out of the box. Yikes! Every time you get inside your titan or leave it, there's an aimation for it. Several, in fact. You can just run into the cockpit and sit down if you're boring, but there are so many other ways. You can jump at the Titan and it catches you mid-air with its hand, then stuffs you into its belly automatically. You can lump from above and enter through a top hatch. You can slide between its legs and it'll pick you up, stuff you in. Someone put in A LOT of effort making the game seamless, and it shows.

Gameplay and Systems:

In Titanfall, you can either play as a Pilot on foot, or as a Pilot inside a Titan. When on foot, the game feels a bit like Unreal Tournament. Movement-wise (and this is important), pilots have a very high jump, a double jump, the ability to run on walls and the ability to vault up on top of ledges that they can't quite step on. This, combined with a very fast sprint ability, small size and devastating anti-Titan weapons makes Pilots just as dangerous when on foot as they are in a Titan, both to other Pilots and to enemy Titans. On foot, you have access to a pistol, an anti-infantry weapon and an anti-Titan weapon. When fighting enemy infantry, you obviously just shoot them, though you can melee them as well. When fighting enemy Titans, you can either shoot them with your anti-Titan weapons, or you can "rodeo" them - climb on top of the enemy mech, rip open a panel and start shooting into its innards. This is... Incredibly frustrating for the pilot inside since it can kill your Titan very quickly, and also very empowering for you as a Pilot. Suffice it to say that you're not supposed to just run and hide from the big scary war machines. You want to get on top of them. If anything, a Pilot on foot is as scary to a Titan as a Titan is to a Pilot Smile

After several minutes (from the start of the game or from when your previous titan blew up), you can call down a Titan. It quite literally falls from the sky, then sits within a protective "dome" shield for a bit. You can mount up the Titan and play that way if you want, or you can ignore it and the Titan will activate on its own after a while. Pilot-less Titans will fight just fine on their own, though they aren't very smart. They'll try to follow you around the battlefield, but you can leave your Titan in a specific place to guard it if you so desire. It's pretty good at taking out NPC critters but pilots typically eat AI Titans for breakfast. A Titan has only one weapon, so their utility is limited by design. They do have an activatable "ability" (i.e. some variety of slow anti-Titan missiles) and... That's about it. They're heavily armoured and protected by a regenerating shield, but also slow and very large, easy targets. They're good for area denial since a Titan can usually shoot or even just step on soldiers. However, Titans have a hard time seeing Pilots because Pilots are very small, move very quickly and like to hide inside buildings your Titan is too big to fit inside. Pilots are also remarkably resilient, able to survive four-five shots from a 20mm machinegun, so it's a fair fight most of the time.

All of this comes together fairly seamlessly in the game's several major game types. Perhaps the most unique is called Attrition. In a battle of attrition, each team has a "bar" which fills up as team-members kill enemies. The thing, though, is that the map is literally crawling with enemy critters. They walk in from off-screen, they drop in drop pods, they fly in on transports, they're constantly showing up and moving around and fighting each other. Obviously, killing NPCs isn't as rewarding as killing Pilots and their Mechs, but there are SO MANY of them you can make up quite a bit of difference just hunting critters. Destroying Titans gains a big points boost and killing Pilots even more so. What's fun about this game mode is you can barely if ever mess with the enemy players and still contribute greatly. The other major mode that I've played is Domination. I forget what it's called in the game, but it's basically a battle for control points. Here, kills don't matter, holding points for as long as possible does. Finally, there's Frontier Defence co-op. In this mode, four players defend against waves of AI foot soldiers and mechs. There's a surprising variety in those and it gets VERY hectic if you get hit with a nasty spawn. You have a "Harvester" thingy you're protecting. Lose it and you have one or two more "tries" from the start of whatever wave you were up to. Lose enough times and the map ends in defeat.

I know this is getting overlong, but "story" will be short so I'm adding an extra paragraph. The game has a system of character progression and build customisation. When you start, you're given one pre-made Titan and two pre-made Pilots. Once you get a bit higher in level, though, you'll start unlocking custom Pilot and Mech slots, as well as guns, skills and items to customise them with. Pilots have a variety of primary weapons, each of which can hold one upgrade out of about three, most of which can also hold a scope. Pilots also have one of three sidearms and one of I think four anti-Titan weapons. They then have grenades, an activatable skill and two passive buffs. It's enough to make for a diverse selection of characters. Titans, by contrast, have a chassis (one of the three), a main weapon and an attachment. Main weapons, too, can have a single upgrade out of several options. They then have their own activatable ability plus two passive benefits. Each chassis also has a unique "core" ability - speed for the light one, damage for the medium, defence for the heavy. There's enough of a selection there to give the game quite a bit of variety.

Story and Characters:

*phht* What characters? I'm sorry, but the developer's decision to try and weave story into competitive multiplayer is just a laughable fail. One of the game's major modes is called "Campaign" which runs you through all of the maps. Some you play in Attrition, some you play in Domination, all of them you play in PvP. While you do this, a bunch of characters enact an ongoing radio drama on the comms and try to pretend like your actions are actually driving the story in some way. To the game's credit, the commentary's situational awareness is pretty good. Stuff like "OK, you took Alpha! I'm charging the self destruct, but we still need Beta and Charly. Move it, Pilot!" It's nice as a background but story? I couldn't begin to tell you. There's an authority called IMC or some other intitialism, and then there's a resistance called the Militia and they're fighting along a plot that I can't follow. All I know is that the Militia have a woman with them and speak in pleasing American accents while the IMC speak in Sout African accents so they must obviously be evil.

The Campaign feels like you're trying to do your taxes while someone is watching Starship Troopers in the same room with the volume set very low. Now try and tell me the plot of the movie. It's all PvP so your attention is on the PvP. You can't sit and listen to the characters babble. And the funniest bit is regardless of which team wins, the missions always end the same way. The Militia are trying to secure a facility to steal data, the IMC want to blow it up. If the Militia win, they get the data. If the IMC win, they blow up the facility but the militia get the data anyway. Well, I might as well have stayed in bed that day. I mean, the name McAllen is rattling around in my head like a bean in a salad bowl, but hell if I know who he was and what he was on about. And the game randomly switches you from one side of the conflict to the other as the maps rotate so it's just impossible to tell. Don't go into this looking for a story.

Community:

As the game is multiplayer-only, that actually matters. The community is pretty much what you'd expect - a lot of self-entitled jackasses who will yell at you for using the Smart Pistol or the Triple Threat or whatever else you may be using that you're killing them with, who'll gloat and throw around homophobic insults and so on. To be fair, though, the game's community is mostly quiet. Few people say a word, few people use voice chat and there's rarely any real need for coordinated play. If you want to play as a team, just follow other people and gang up on those who didn't Smile

At the same time, however, I'm surprised to find that there's very little "ganking" in Titanfall. This isn't because people are nice and just don't do it - far from it. The way gameplay works, there simply aren't very many cheap ways to fight. There's no spawn-camping because the game always spawns you away from enemies and near friendly units (and then usually dumps friendly NPCs on you for good measure)... Hell, there's very little camping in general. The game thrives on moving quickly and fighting on the go, going from spot to spot and never sitting down. There IS a sniper rifle, but good luck sitting in a perch. You may be able to pop people from time to time, but in the mantime the enemy team is racking up points gunning down NPC soldiers by the dozens. You are not helping.

There's also fairly good balance between Titans and Pilots. Yes, a Titan can squish you in one might step, but you can sneak up on it so, so easily. Titans have a hard time seeing Pilots and a hard time telling them apart from the grunts. They can't see into buildings and they have a narrower field of view. Titans are also getting shot from everywhere at all times, so they're easily distracted, plus you can jump on them and ride them. Inversely, though, a Titan can kill a pilot caught in the open VERY quickly. One quad-rocket shot and it's done. If you're hiding inside a door, Titans can shoot rockets or grenades inside the room. You jump at a Titan who sees you, he can just slide into you and smear you across the ground. Every weapon, every situation, every combination can go pretty much either way. The one who wins isn't the one who brought the bigger gun, it's the one who knew how to use what he already had. The one who wins is the better player... And so far Titanfall's players don't really seem all that good, in my experience Smile

Expect whiny people who try to play cheap if you go PvP. Also expect to kick their asses once you have their tricks down pat. And if you're playing PvE, expect reasonably helpful, sometimes competent team-mates. And PvE also adjusts its difficulty to the number of players, too.

Overall:

I'm surprisingly happy with Firefall. NT was worried it would be just a Call of Duty with giant robots, but I'd say the game's a lot more fair and a lot more balanced than that. It rewards skill, quick thinking and - often - the patience to die a few times before you learn how people keep killing you. Or if you don't want any of that nonsense, just play PvE against the AI and... Well, you'll still lose horribly quite often, but at least it won't be unfair, will it? Smile

Get this game if you like arena FPS games but the old ones just aren't cutting it any more. This is a perfectly competent, capable FPS and a damn good game besides. I'd also get this if you like sci-fi or giant robots. There's A TON of that in this game. In fact, it feels a bit like the old Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri game. If you're interested, it's on sale right now. NT says that for him, it's $20 right now. For me, it's 30 Euro ON DISCOUNT because fuck you EA. But it was worth it, I think. The gunplay is solid, the parkour is good and the robots are cool. Trust me - you've not played a game like this before.

Of course, anything I say isn't going to matter to you one iota if you refuse to use Origin because Titanfall is Origin exclusive. If you don't want Origin, you can't have Titanfall, that's as far as that goes. Needless to say, don't bother with Titanfall if you're terrible at FPS games or if they make you nauseaus to play. PvE or PvP, this is not an easy game and it's VERY fast-paced. Especially when jumping from rooftop to rooftop, you'll end up swinging your camera wildly from side to side. If this makes you queasy, beware! Finally, it is a primarily competitive FPS. If you don't want to deal with giant manchildren questioning your sexual orientation because you beat them... Well, I'd say they aren't a HUGE problem since chat in Titanfall can be ignored completely, but they're there. "Wouldn't be Titanfall without someone complaining about the Smart Pistol."

Me, I got the game and I don't regret the 30 Euro I paid for it. I am having second thoughts about selling my soul to Origin, but what's done is done. I've had plenty of fun with it, and even now feel like firing it up for a few rounds just 'cause. Maybe I'm good at it, maybe other players suck, maybe it's just a good game, but I can honestly say I recommend Titanfall.

Transformers Universe is now in OPEN BETA

Sat, 2014/07/05 - 1:56pm -- blueinsector
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Hey Guys, Transformers Universe is now open for anyone to play.  As a Beta tester I can say I have really enjoyed the game.  It is a drop-in/drop-out kind of game, which means you can play as much or as little you want at a time.  It is still in it's beginning stages but it is one of the best Transformers games I have ever played, so come check it out!  (Please use the link below so I can get recruitment points Smile )

https://www.transformersuniverse.com/recruit/3a900de00be89c8bd47323c3fd4a0a9b298a3d53

Also this weekend is double XP and they are having contests too...and I am playing Autobots currently (Stargunner is my commanders name).

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

Thu, 2014/03/27 - 12:44pm -- Samuel Tow
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Otherwise known as Diablo 3: Again. This is the long-awaited expansion to the fairly popular Diablo 3, and one I was looking forward to quite a bit. If you remember my review of the core game, I left pissed off and disappointed, finding it to be too brown, too badly-written and too loot-driven, with an uncomfortably high difficulty level. Well, a lot of that's changed over time, and I'll try to cover most of it. As this is the review of an expansion, I'm not going to cover the original game except where it has changed. My old review, unfortunately, seems to be in cold storage with the old site content, but I'll try to search for it when I can get a hold of Pax.

On with the show! And expect a custom categories breakdown!

Overview

Reaper of Souls is the first expansion for Diablo III. It comes with one new character class, a whole new "Act V" adding to the game's story and content, a level cap increase from the previous one at 60 to a new one at 70, all new more powerful gear and a number of fundamental systems tweaks, including a radical redesign of the loot drops system and an outright removal of the real money auction house. And the world collectively exclaimed "About fucking time!" The core game's content is mostly the same, but it has undergone such revisions that it's a brand new experience. If, like me, you haven't played Diablo for a year, give it a try. It's a much more interesting, well-done game. Here are the things which are new, and why most of them are good.

Loot changes

Diablo 3 is an almost entirely loot-driven game, but Blizzard were being cheaky bastards by intentionally hiding some of the best stuff. You were supposed to buy it off the real money auction house and pay them a commission for it. Now that that's dead, drop rates for good stuff have increased TREMENDOUSLY. Previously, anything half-way decent would have to be a special boss drop and anything great just didn't drop for me. Within half an hour of logging in after the changes, I'd replaced all of my Wizard's gear with VASTLY better stock, raised my health by a factor of three, my damage by a factor of four and my protection significantly.

Moreover, loot is now "smart," meaning it'll drop items with the stats you actually need. My wizard, consequently, would keep getting stuff with Intelligence on it - her primary stat. Other effects, too, were separated into categories, with the less important ones limited to a scant few. All this means that everything which dropped was relevant to my character and usually pretty powerful. It's made the game considerably easier, yes, but I should have guessed "why." More on that in a bit.

The point is, the you are now expected to earn your gear, rather than "play the market" all day every day and outright buy it without ever setting a foot in the game. And it works like a treat.

Difficulty changes

This is probably the largest change. Originally, Diablo came with four difficulty settings - Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno. Shitty monster balance on Inferno eventually made them introduce a "monster power" slider to allow you to make the game harder for more rewards. The issue was always that monster levels are "set" to the difficulty and their place in the campaign, meaning that once you were past "normal" you had no reason to play it. You HAD to go to Nightmare and up else you couldn't make progress. What this meant Diablo 3 put me in the same place that made me rage-quit Diablo 2 - as I grew stronger, I became weaker as I was forced to play on ever more unfair difficulty settings.

Well, that's gone! Difficulty now comes in five categories - Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, Torment, with Torment having a slider with 6 extra "ticks." The difference this time around is that any character can play at any difficulty at any time. Monster levels are no longer set - they scale with the player. You could play a level 60 character against "Normal" enemies and still fight just fine, get drops, experience, money and so on, and have fun. You don't HAVE to play on the hardest difficulty available because the game doesn't force you. Yes, it drops better stuff the harder you make it, but that's optional - do you value good stuff more than an easy game? 'Cause I sure as hell don't! So to hell with Torment, I'll play on as low a difficulty as I can that's still actually fun.

This is a MAJOR step in the right direction, as it allows you to tailor your experience to your comfort level. So why did it take them two years to think of this?

Artisan changes

Previously, artisans - the blacksmith who makes weapons and armour and the jewelcrafter who makes jewels - were a complicated affair. Training them to higher level required a "Tome of Mastery" rare item drop, and it required that in large numbers. Making some of the higher-level items, too, required this special salvage. As well, the blacksmith had a zillion types of slavage all his own - low-, mid- and high-level versions of two separate types. Previous to the expansion this was VASTLY simplified. Nobody required any special Tomes of anything for anything. This once more made gold the primary resource required, as it should be. Additionally, all the Blacksmith's salvage broke down to three kinds - common, uncommon and rare, coming from common, uncommon and rare items respectively, when salvaged.

This became complicated again with Reaper of Souls as post-60 weapons again require bullshit rare salvage to make and artisans again require that rare bullshit salvage to level up, and items break into a brand new tier of item components and so on. Basically, they introduced a whole other currency on top of the existing one. Once again, I have money coming out my ears and nothing to spend it on because I don't have enough bottles of demon piss or whatever those damn things are. I thought they fixed this as means of putting in a fix, but instead they just "fixed" it to let the expansion break it again. Bloody grind creep!

Weapon Enchantment

A new "artisan" has been put into the game - a Gypsy... Sorry, "Veccin" woman who can enchant items. This comes in two forms. The much more accessible one is changing the appearance of items. This is similar to WoW reforging, in that you can make one item look like another item from the same category - one sword like another, one helmet like another and so on. The system will use any item you actually have, plus offer you a list of "generic" looks as well.

More interesting is the Enchant Item proper. This takes a single "stat" on a weapon that you may not like (say, +10% Arcane Orb damage when I don't use Arcane Orb at all) and "reroll" it as potentially a much more useful stat. The system is very transparent, allowing you to see what you can actually get at all and what range of numbers it can produce, as well as always giving you the option to back out if the new roll doesn't come up with what you want. Even with the "smart" loot drop system, even as good as my gear is, there always seems to be at least one aspect of an item that I just have no use for. Being able to ditch it for something cool? Now that's amazing! It also means that otherwise mediocre items can be made great since they're usually "mediocre" for missing a vital stat I want. Now I can have that... Sometimes.

New Skills

Or rather, new skill - singular. Each existing class gains a new character skill which unlocks at level 61, and then gains a variety of "runes" (major skill modifiers) every couple of levels until 70. I've only seen the Wizard one - Black Hole. I found it largely uninteresting and abandoned it soon after. In addition to this, several new "passive skills" (semi-conditional stat tweaks) are unlocked, and a new, fourth passive slot unlcoks at level 70. The passives are, as well, not terribly interesting but the new slot is a major boon. Diablo 3's passive skills have fairly major numbers attached to them.

Overall, this strikes me as a token change just to extend character progression in the 60-70 range. As such, it's workable. I, sadly, know next to nothing about the new Crusader class, so I can't comment on it.

New Difficulty

This is where Reaper of Souls fails HARD. It took me precisely 60 seconds of playing the new post-60 content to realise that difficulty was through the roof. I was playing on Master and dominating everything fairly easily. Come Act V and I'm all but useless. Enemies take forever to kill and I'm constantly running for health. New levels take millions of experience points to achieve and I'm getting my ass kicked hard. "Fair enough," I thought. I just need some of those fancy new super items to up my stats. NOPE! I started Reaper of Souls with ~120 000. By the end of it I was sporting 450 000 and I was STILL routinely getting punched for a third to half my health. Really? My damage went from ~40 000 to ~150 000 and I was STILL barely scratching the damn critters.

It was then I realised what had happened. Reaper of Souls' content - the 60-70 content - was built for the powergamers. You know the kind - people who've made their spreadsheets and calculated the most optimal everything in the game. People who've been playing it for hours a day for a long time and have squeezed out all the most badass, ridiculous pieces of gear the game had to offer. I mean, more power to those guys but I'm not that good. So to be hit with SUCH a massive difficulty spike seemingly out of nowhere was rude and very unwelcome surprise.

But you know what? Screw that noise. I can always drop my difficulty down to something more manageable. Which I did, and the game was still rock hard. At least now I had a fighting chance. If this keeps up, I'll go even lower, possibly right back down to Normal if it comes to that.

New Story Content

Diablo has always had interesting ideas for a story... Written in the worst possible way. I lambasted D3's story for being awful when in reality it was pretty cool. They just didn't execute it well at all. The same is true for Reaper of Souls. The scale of the story is breath-taking, the adventure epic and the characters very interesting... All of it delivered through some of the worst, most melodramatic and wrongheaded dross I've seen in quite some time. This is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow levels of bad writing... But at least CLOS had the excuse of Konami being Japanese and probably not very fluent in English. Blizzard should be made up of Americans who ought to know better than this... Although it might explain why the game's new villain is basically Sephirpth... "There is peace in death, therefore I will kill everyone." said every anime antagonist ever, and Malthael, Angel of Death was taking copious notes. Speaking of which:

At the end of Diablo 3, I hit Diablo in the head with an axe 150 times and he "died." At the start of this game, it turns out he didn't... Which I could have told you at the end of the last one, but whatever. He's still trapped in the Black Soulstone and Tyrael - former Angel of Justice, goes to hide it in a cave. Malthael, the former Angel of Wisdom now turned Angel of Death shows up, steals the Black Soulstone and proceeds to send "Reapers" to kill everyone on Earth while making people sound like they're recounting the events of Mass Effect 3. "We have to stop the Reapers!" "The Reapers will kill us all!" From there on, it's a fairly simple chain of events - stop the invasion, find out what Malthael wants, find a way to hit him in the head with an axe 150 times, sequel bait. Because this is only ONE of two planned expansions. The story takes you to the "Realm of Pandemonium" where the eternal conflict between angels and demons still rages on, so you can do the impossible and defeat death itself. It's epic, I just wish I didn't have to listen to the various plot-critical characters talk about it. Diablo 3 has a way of getting the absolute WORST performance out of otherwise pretty decent actors. Poor Jennifer Hale...

More interestingly - at least to me - you also get some payoff for the character development of both your companions (the NPCs you take with you) and your artisans (the crafting NPCs who stay in town). Lyndon the "Scounderl" is worrie about his brother in jail and you eventually accompany him in a bid to rescue said brother. Kormak the Templar can't make peace with the sins of his order so you accompany him to confront his chapter master. Eirenna the Enchantress is haunted by visions of her dead sisters and you help her on a quest to find out why the prophet's magic failed to protect them. In all three cases the resolution is convoluted, silly and sequel-baiting, but I'm still happy to see it. Like in Mass Effect, I'm starting to like all of these characters. Even Lyndon, against my better judgement.

Overall, the story is a good place to draw ideas for better stories if you're interested in writing your own - which I am - but execution holds it back. The dialogue is often silly and usually forced and the things people say are melodramatic and ornate to the point of clunkiness. It's not BAD, however, in that it doesn't take away from the game TOO much. It's just not as good as it could have been.

Conclusions

That's about it, really. The expansion comes with a new class, an overhaul of the loot and crafting system, a few new powers, A LOT of new content, some decent new story and a reason to play Diablo again. Is it worth the 40 Euro/$ price tag? Well, that depends on whether you have and enjoy Diablo 3 otherwise. If you already played the original game and didn't walk away from it sour recently, then Reaper of Souls is definitely worth the price of admission. If you don't own Diablo 3, it's pretty cheap right now - 20 Euro/$ last I checked, so you can snag the full package for the price of a AAA full release. Trust me, there is A LOT of new content in the expansion easily justifying its price tag.

If you hated Diablo 3 like I did, I'd say give it another shot. Much has changed even without the expansion. You can judge for yourselves if you want more of that afterwords. If, however, you don't like the Diablo-like genre of games at all, then Reaper of Souls will not change your mind. It's more of the same in a very real sense, and it relies on investment in the core product.

Me, I'll definitely take Diablo 3 + Reaper of Souls over any of the genre clones like Path of Exile, Torchlight or - God help me - Marvel heroes. I HATE Diablo 2 and everything it represents. Luckily, Diablo 3 is moving farther and farther away from that. This alone is worth the asking price.

Build With Chrome (Lego)

Mon, 2014/03/10 - 9:05pm -- Orion Pax
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So I know many of you are Lego fanatics, and enjoy building with the physical little bricks and games like Minecraft.  So image my surprise and delight when I was searching for a trailer for the recently released Lego Movie and I ran across this cool little Lego building app that anyone can easily access using the Google Chrome web browser:

https://www.buildwithchrome.com/

Admittedly, I haven't had much time to fool with it, but it's definitely something to check out and play with.  I haven't had a chance to see if this works in the mobile versions of Chrome available for Android and iPhone/iPad, so give us a shot if you've tried Wink

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