Last weeks gaming 10/09/2018

Hostage Negotiator Box Art

Board Gaming wise, it was Escape the Dark Express Negotiator with Dragons.

Last week’s games article has fallen victim to the IT gremlins, but it’s not going to stop me talking about them here!

Downforce

I have gotten to play a bit of Downforce lately.  Partly because of bigger game groups, partly excitement at the (due to arrive today!) expansion Danger Circuit.

This was one of my first Restoration Games experiences, and it lives up to their guidelines of ‘Make Games Great’ and ‘Do Good Works’.

Downforce is a car racing game that has everyone in the running to win, making it a fun and quick game to play and teach, with different mechanics available to help streamline play.

Watch out for a review of Downforce soon ūüôā

Downforce Danger Circuit Board

Colt Express

Remember those old heist movies?  Why remember them, when you can play them!

Colt Express is a simple but surprisingly deep program action game for up to 6 players.  Each player has a character with a special ability, and everyone is trying to rob the same train at the same time!

The goal is simple, end up with more loot than everyone else.  But watch out for that Sheriff, he will make your life hard.  Now I have a group familiar with the base game, a review will be coming after the expansions have had a play as well.

Colt Express Begins
Want to teach a fun action programming game? Colt Express will work for you! **Promotional mat not included. Blame Alpal for that awesome ūüôā

Hostage Negotiator

When you want something a little heavy but solo, Hostage Negotiator is a great choice.  I have spoken about the app before, but I have big plans for the site and this game.

This week was just for me though, and Connor E. Ogden managed to beat me 3 out of 4.

My only real issue with Hostage Negotiator is the space required to play it. At home, it’s a great escape that tests your logic and pushes your luck.¬† Get ready for more on this game in the near future ūüôā

Hostage Negotiator Abductor Pack 1 Connor
The expansions are the size of a TCG Booster Pack, but change the game immensly

Escape the Dark Castle

When I am working on a PC for more than 12 hours a day, coming home to a video game or screen sometimes doesn’t cut it.¬† I might want to play a game, but the thought of even sitting on the PS4 or the Switch shows me another screen, or needs more brain than I want to invest.

As reviewed and played on the site before, Escape the Dark Castle is a great solo or multiplayer escape game.  With setup being only shuffling some cards, I spent a good couple of hours trying to get through the final boss with only 2 characters (solo is just impossible!).

Still a challenge and a heap of fun, Escape the Dark Castle is still on the quick access shelf.

Escape the Dark Castle Ready to play
The castle ready to play, with spare cards off to the left. Beware the Tailor and the Cook!

Dragons Breath

Dragon’s Breath was a quick game Alpal showed me, and it’s a heap of fun.

As we discussed in the HABA Blatherings, HABA has a history of quick simple fun for everyone.¬† Classifying them as ‘Kid’s Games’ can be dangerous, as there are a lot of things aimed at younger children that I have no patience for.

HABA seems to find that magical sweet spot where a game is designed for young kids, but adults have just as much fun playing the games as well!

Dragon's Breath
Another great HABA game. Dragon's Breath is quick, simple, and most of all fun

Destiny 2 Forsaken

I ran around, shot some things, collected some things, in short – I played Destiny.

With the Forsaken release last week, jumping in to see the changes was always on the cards.

Destiny 2 has me in a weird place now.¬† If you like games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, it’s now probably more for you.¬† But for me and other ‘casuals’, the Forsaken moniker seemed to be well named.

Check out my Forsaken review here.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Riding with Cayde
A dream come true - but not for long.

Octopath Traveler

Just starting the second round of Chapters for my party, Octopath Traveler is a game I will be picking up and putting down for the foreseeable future.

I think I am starting to hit the ‘grind’ of the RPG, but I still want to make sure.¬† I think my primary party is starting to form, but another 10 or so hours will test this.

If you have a Switch and enjoy old-school turn-based RPGs, do yourself a favour and just grab the Octopath Traveler demo from the eShop.¬† If you fall in love with the game, the progress you made transfers to the full game – it’s well worth your time.

Octopath Traveler Sample Screen
Is it a beautiful example of where the 2.5D graphics could have gone? Is it pandering to the retro fanbase? Yes to both, and it's amazing for it

So that was my week Рwhat have you been playing?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2 Forsaken Review

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes passing

Forsaken? Maybe.  A lot of changes have come.

The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of changes for Destiny 2.¬† Cayde-6’s passing being the one we all knew was coming, but many other changes as well.

A few Call of Duty players I knew didn’t like Destiny because the player vs player (PvP) combat was ‘too slow’.¬† This is no longer the case.¬† A lot of explore everything type players didn’t like Destiny because¬†there wasn’t a lot to do.¬† This is still the same, but it isn’t.

Forsaken

There was a bunch of story items leading into Forsaken and not just the trailer.  Oh, that trailer.  For Cayde fans, it was hard to watch Рbut watch we had to.

But that was far from the only way Bungie decided to play with our heartstrings.¬† August 28th, Bungie posted a news item that ended with Cayde’s final letter to his friends and fireteam.

That was enough for me, but if you read the entire news entry Bungie began dropping secrets again.  Simple cryptography this time, not like the elaborate Warmind promotional event.

Bungie was going all out with what was happening – and a lot of people were excited.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes letter
There is more to this post - check it out on Bungie.net for some more secrets
Destiny 2 Forsaken Riding with Cayde
A dream come true - but not for long.

The idea behind Forsaken is that there is a jailbreak in the Prison of Elders, and you help Cayde-6 and Patra Venj.  Sounds like any other Destiny Mission right?

Except we know the ending.¬† Uldren Sov is going to kill Cayde-6.¬† So starting through the mission, excited thoughts of “I’m on Cayde’s¬†fireteam!” quickly tarnished.

But it’s important to note that’s only because I like Cayde-6.¬† Nathan Fillion had injected his own cheekiness into the fairly 2-dimensional quest giver, and hearing his quips was a highlight of mirth during many repetitive missions.

And it’s here, about 2 minutes into the first Forsaken mission, that it started feeling wrong.

Cayde-6 is voiced for Forsaken by Nolan North, doing a Nathan Fillion impression.¬† And because¬†you can hear Nathan’s Cayde during the game back to back with Nolan’s, it feels wrong.¬† Now, this is a nitpick, but it’s a point that kept pulling me in opposing directions during the game.

But the mission itself is standard fare, and is fairly enjoyable.  Playing with my primary hunter (that I put zero effort in trying to max out to the Solstice of Heroes 400 power level) it was a straightforward mission.

A few new enemy types seem to be in the mission, but it’s hard to know for certain.¬† It was a straightforward run, with moments of Cayde-6 popping in and out.

And then Petra Venj realises the truth, and the beginning of the end for Cayde begins.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Fireteam Complete
Your mission fireteam complete, into the Prison of Elders you go
Destiny 2 Forsaken Cayde Down
Making you the witness of the end tugs on the heartstrings. As long as you cared about Cayde - new players probably not so much.

You get there to late to help Cayde-6, but the story enemies are all on display.¬† The Scorn Barons, and Uldren Sov himself.¬† In terms of send-off, the cinematic cutscene of Cayde’s final stand is amazing.

It’s hard to describe, but seeing the realisation of overwhelming odds and acceptance that he is going to take as many with him as he can is amazing.¬† If you enjoy Destiny, this is the sort of scene that is right up there with Blizzard, and you should play it and watch it.

If you don’t play Destiny and want to see what I am talking about, IGN posted a YouTube video here.¬† Even not knowing the character, it’s still enjoyable but some subtleties may be lost.

Once all this is done, you take Cayde-6 back to the Traveller and witness his friends dealing with the news.

And here comes a spoiler, but I need to add it to demonstrate another small ‘off’ with Destiny 2 Forsaken.

You Speak.

It’s only a few words, but the silent guardian rule is broken.¬† The theory behind the silent protagonist is that it puts the player into the role more.¬† The words you are thinking/saying/screaming at the TV is what the Guardian is saying.

Breaking this rule lends weight to the scene, yes.  But at the end of Forsaken and the beginning of the end game, when this speaking would be more appropriate again, the silent protagonist rule is enforced again.

Looking back, here is where Destiny 2 as a solo story game starts to come unstuck for me.  Any game with rules and systems needs to stick to these rules and systems, but Forsaken has become something new and with exceptions.

For example, Cayde-6 is Dead.  New players (or characters) no longer have to speak to Cayde for story plots like unlocking patrols.  According to a Bungie post, they will unlock when you max out your character level +1.

So why is Cayde still speaking during missions?¬† Why not remove the audio files as well to keep the¬†‘Cayde’s¬†gone’ consistent?

Destiny 2 Forsaken Main Missions Begin
The body of the story of Forsaken is you choosing your targets, giving an open world feel

And this is where for me, Destiny 2 is coming undone.  I really enjoyed playing through Forsaken story missions, but there was so much inconsistency between a world with Cayde, and a world without.

So I have a game that is fun to play, yet simultaneously feels off.¬† During it’s big ‘we fixed it’ reboot.

The endgame – The Dreaming City

Once you finish with the story, you start playing Destiny proper, same as always.  And Bungie have given players a huge area to explore, with many old school secrets to uncover and timings to work out.

And here’s the thing.¬† I don’t want to.¬† Not really.

Not because I don’t think it will be any good, the things I have heard and a couple of YouTube videos I have seen make it look amazing!

I don’t want to because of major changes to the upgrade, masterwork and light systems.

If you want to ‘masterwork’ your weapons and armour, you need to upgrade them in levels which use a bunch of resources, including masterwork cores.¬† To strengthen your equipment you need Glimmer, Legendary Shards, Masterwork Cores, and Planetary¬†Resources.

Now on its own, this looks like a good way to reward running around the universe and not neglecting any areas.  What I am getting though is a resource farming exercise that will force me to play areas for a few hours a week to upgrade my weapons again, especially now I have hit the level 500 soft cap.

A key ingredient is also Masterwork cores, where the only way to get them at the moment is buying them from the Tangled Shore from The Spider.  Again sounds good, but each one you buy doubles the price, but the price resets each day.  So timed rewards are a big part of the integral play.

This is great for people with the time to log in each day, but players like myself that play maybe twice a week are about to be left far behind.

Even Xur has changed.  Each week, you could get a new Exotic (at a price) and a shot at a random as yet to be collected Exotic.  Not anymore apparently.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Xur
So much for casuals and non raiders having a chance for exotics

At the end of the day, it feels like Bungie has listened to the more hardcore player base that was not satisfied with the more casual friendly Destiny 2.

Strike and Iron Banner bounties must be in their respective armours, which you earn consistently by beating those game modes.  So you have to grind a play mode in order to get the rewards you need to get the rewards for the play mode.  Not everyone has the time to put into this, and the players that have played this from day one have a huge advantage in these modes.

This isn’t meant as a ‘poor me’, rather just how it feels. Take Gambit and the ‘Ace of Spades’ quest for example.¬† The first step is to shoot five invaders with a hand cannon – OK, straightforward.¬† When the other team comes over, be the player to kill them with a hand cannon.¬† Five times.¬† Grinding, but doable.

Except that the player level advantages in Gambit are on, meaning the higher level players have all their character and weapon advantages and bonuses.¬† On top of map¬†familiarity and all the rest of the advantages that come from playing a game a number of times.¬† It’s true it doesn’t stop new players from putting in the effort, but how many times do you want to play a game that hits you in the head repeatedly for trying?

Too much of a grind for me

I have played one character solo for about 11-12 hours, doing some of the new bounties and the old flashpoint challenges, but mainly just Forsaken missions.  Two hours of that was also spent just trying to do one bounty mission that recommends level 540, and I just kept dying with no progress made.  I am now level 502, with my highest piece of equipment 505.  Out of 600.

Harls, on the other hand, has about 20 hours with his main character.  His best level equipment at the moment is 520, with strikes, raids, bounties and the dreaming city with some other clan members.  It also includes Gambit and other PvP play, which I am not interested in even trying with the weapon loadout changes.

Basically – if you are all in on PvP games with resource grinding conditions for new loot, Destiny 2 has bought you your game back.¬† And it has done it well – it’s just not for me.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2 is free for PS Plus users ahead of Forsaken

Destiny 2 Forsaken Feature

People are going all out to make sure Destiny is not Forsaken

If you are a PlayStation Plus member, you can get Destiny 2 for free, right now.

I have spoken a few times about my Destiny experiences, and right now Wednesday’s release is Destiny’s last chance for me.

Harls is back and some new people are playing, and Destiny is still fun with more people.¬† Playing with Harls and helping some new people through the story is still fun, but the changes in Forsaken are very ‘meh’ for me.

I had dropped of playing with the Clan with Harls away, and for that and some other shenanigans, I am no longer a member of the Cosmic Voids Clan.

Disappointing, but the people I played with when I could are on my friend¬†list, it’s just they don’t get bonuses if I help them do strikes and the like.¬† This makes timing issues even more problematic because it’s not in their interest to go out of their way to play with me.

This isn’t a complaint of the game, but it has a lot to do with my state of mind when it comes to Destiny prior to this week’s Forsaken expansion.

20180421 Destiny 2 Harls The Blade Selfie Emote
Meet Harls. It's usually his fault.

Last week I played a bit with the new weapon options and they were OK.¬† Not great, not bad, a bit of getting used to.¬† I have seen arguments of ‘Finally’ and ‘What the?’ on the internet during the week.¬† Basically, it’s relearning the weapons system.¬† It’s a huge change, and one that was asked for – even demanded – by a large part of the community.¬† New players – no problems, it’s how it works, but this week the weapons seem to be in a limbo space with most changes implemented and bugs to be fixed.

PvP has descended instantly back into a shotgun/sniper meta that has a brutal entry level curve.  As a player that was starting to come around to trying some Crucible, this has killed off my enthusiasm again.

What has me interested though is the story change.  Cayde-6 is dead (or soon will be), but rumours of other vanguard regulars dying as well have been circulating for months.

Bungie is gambling big with the Cayde-6 reveal.¬† Knowing they could keep it secret from data miners (Cayde’s passing was already found in files a year ago), they have gone big on the Year 2 opener, and I want to see where it goes.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes passing
Advertising the death of a fan favourite as a 'benefit' is risky at the best of times

Playing with others is still fun, and I will continue to do so.  I am not down on Destiny, even with some weird clan stuff happening.

I want to play with a Bow and Arrow, and that is coming.  I like that I can now have an assault rifle, a scout/sniper rifle and a big bad weapon loadout.  Destiny looks like it is providing positive changes.

Wednesday night, I will start playing the new Forsaken storyline.¬† History says Harls will probably already have done it, but will need to again with another character ūüôā

If I get through the story in a couple of hours like Warmind, and all the other activities are heavy on raid and prestige multiplayer grind required for entry, that could spell the end for me playing though.¬† Escalation Protocol is fun for a bit of Hive shooting, but I have never completed it – and probably won’t to be honest. Not without serious preplanning for times, which means a new clan, and Australian based most likely.

Or starting a new one.¬† It’s not without merit – a beginner clan that isn’t so competitive based.¬† The idea has merit.

Ask me Friday, after a couple of days with Forsaken.

Until then, enjoy Destiny for free with PlayStation Plus and let me know what you think of the game.

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2’s new expansion is Forsaken, hopefully it’s anything but

Destiny 2 Forsaken Feature

Todays reveal leaves me with hope for Forsaken

There have been a lot of negative articles about Destiny 2.¬† Like my own pieces, these have been largely opinion based, as anyone’s¬†take on anything creative truly is.¬† I do think it would be fair to say though that Destiny 2 has been struggling with content and updates for a while now, and many waited for changes and fixes just haven’t been coming fast enough.

The Warmind expansion that recently came out gave me new things to aim for, and a lot of what I hoped on release has been done.  The Escalation Protocols are brutally difficult without preplanning or lucking into a max powered fireteam, but that just gives me something to strive towards.

The changes to the Heroic Strikes have made these more difficult for me than the Raids.¬† It feels strange to have a relaxing run in a Nightfall rather than the Heroic Strikes, but there it is.¬† It definitely changed up the system which is what was needed – just because I need to readjust doesn’t make it bad.

But this morning, the trailer for the new (and I am guessing final) year of Destiny 2 was revealed.  And wow.  Where Warmind had me interested and looking forward to narrative changes and something new, Forsaken has me genuinely excited Рnew game excited.

Check out what I am talking about below:

So I have some red flags.¬† “This is the game the community has been asking for.”¬† Heard this before, but usually as a half measure or leading to something consolation step.

In the video, the definitive comments that Bungie has specifically¬†NOT been making are front and centre.¬† “All of the feedback we’ve heard for the last year is… This is it.¬† It’s in Forsaken.”

This is not something Bungie can spin after the fact if Forsaken fails – this is the culmination of the past years “Trust Us” messages, and they will be held to it.

And it really looks like they will pull it off.

The video does a great job of outlining everything, but some of the things I am looking forward to or just have thoughts on are included below.

Of course, Cayde-6 has been up to something

So the basic story premise goes back to the original Destiny House of Wolves content.¬† There was an arena called the Prison of Elders, a cooperative run where players ran a gauntlet of enemies.¬† I didn’t play House of Wolves, so I am very sketchy on the story impact, but I know it was a thing.¬† I am assuming storywise it was left neglected, because of the reveal this morning.

For Forsaken, Cayde-6 has been filling the Prison of Elders with enemies.¬† I’m not sure why he didn’t just kill them, but also it’s Cayde-6.¬† All seems to have been going well, but of course, things hit critical mass and now there is a jailbreak to contend with.¬† Once the bad guys are free, they inhabit The Reef in a new area called the Tangled Cove.

This leads you to track down seven Fallen ‘Barons’ or faction leaders around The Reef.¬† I am hoping this will reveal information on the Awoken Queen, but we will see.

Information that has been revealed is each Baron is a unique type of boss fight, similar to the Metal Gear bosses in a lot of ways.¬† Revealed bosses include Melee battles and Sniper fights, where you fight the enemy ‘their way’ to prove who is the bigger badass.

This does force you to maybe play a way you don’t really enjoy, but being story related I would assume this is just exposing you to different styles of play and not over the top difficult.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Melee Baron
Me, if I was fighting a 10+ foot, multi-armed, super buff alien gladiator, I would shoot him in the face with a fusion gun and sleep well that night.

Can’t decide if Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 weapon systems were better?¬† Now you can choose!

When you had an item drop in Destiny, especially weapons, you were never completely sure of what the stats would be.  This would always be within set ranges, but for example, you may get a Positive Outlook with better range or one that reloads just that little bit faster.

The mods also worked differently.  You would unlock mods for your weapons in Destiny, usually by killing lots of enemies.  This was taken away in Destiny 2, with the exception of higher tier weapons where you can switch between a couple of choices.

Being able to grind for a weapon with the stats that suit me, then being rewarded for sticking with that weapon?¬† I can’t wait.¬† But if you want to play ‘Destiny 2’ style where you just stick with the default loadout, you can do that too.

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Weapons Systems
It could just be a developer debug set of stats, but that power level! So much grinding to come, and a reason to do it

Also coming with Forsaken is the ability to equip a lot of weapons where you choose to equip them.  Are you like me, where you largely play kinetic weapons but wish you could equip a rocket launcher and a shotgun?  Well, now we can!

There is also a whole new group of weapons that I can’t wait to get a hold of – the Bow and Arrow.¬† Yep, old school is still the best school, and I can’t wait.¬† Games like Horizon Zero Dawn make me miss archery, and being able to whip out a ‘future bow’ and start dropping enemies will just feel amazing ūüôā

And of course, new Supers.  Who can object to new skills?

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Bow Weapons
I enjoy archery. This won't be the same as getting on the field, but I can see a whole new class of stealth crucible players emerging.
Destiny 2 Forsaken Fire Knives Super
Ever wish the Gunslingers throwing knives had more oomph? How about a Fire Knives Super!

The Season Pass is no more.  Welcome the Annual Pass?

So pricing is set at AUD$59.95 for the Forsaken Expansion, or you buy Forsaken with the ANNUAL pass for AUD$99.95.

Huh.¬† Well, that’s a thing.

I am not 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} sure on this pricing.¬† Compared to the Season Pass and past expansions, the price points is definitely there.¬† To get effectively four premium expansions for $100 is great, but I don’t know if I want to keep playing Destiny 2 after this.

It sounds like everything is coming together, and Destiny 2 will effectively become a different game.  Bungie is doing there best to make sure I put aside a couple of hours a night to playing, rather than the night and a bit I currently put aside.  And with the new grinds, it might be worth it, it really might.

But given all the bad press and backlash, to be asking players to return because it will be alright now if you give us $100 is a lot to ask.¬† But you do get a lot for the money.¬† It’s a tricky one.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass Expansions
Not sure on this move. Will the changes be as advertised and enough?
Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass
There are enough incentives, but are the incentives worth it? That's the question

I have heard a bit of talk that Forsaken should be free to get customers back, then charge as normal.¬† I don’t think this is right either.¬† Once Bungie sets a precedent for free premium expansions, the cry when the next charged one comes along will be ‘but you didn’t charge for the last one’.

I can all but guarantee¬†I will be buying Forsaken.¬† I can’t guarantee I will be playing Destiny 2 all the way to September though, but even if that happens, I will be back for Forsaken.

But for the new content, I think I will bite the bullet and just pay the higher costs later and see what the changes are like first.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD