Game of the Week – 23/01/2016

I may or may not have missed the past two weeks due to some personal issues. However, we’re back on track now and ready to write up another Game of the Week! So, what is the game of the week this time?

Our Game of the Week this week is Tom Clancy’s The Division.

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Level 30, full 256. This is actually my 2nd character after I didn’t like the appearance of my last one.

This is a game that I have a strange relationship with. I enjoyed the game at launch and played a lot with one of my best friends. However, patches 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 pushed me well away from the game. I didn’t touch it for months as the enjoyment was sucked out of it. I honestly hated the game. However, patch 1.4 came out and fixed a lot of things wrong with the game, then 1.5 came out and breathed new life into the game with Survival. Now, with patch 1.6 on the horizon, I have been revisiting it and farming up my builds for the impending Last Stand DLC.

I’ve been farming up gear, killing named bosses for named weapons, and putting together builds with what we know is coming in 1.6. I have decided to have an Alphabridge dps build, a Frontline tank build and, my personal favourite, a Reclaimer/Tactician’s support build with the Caduceus and Historian. It took me about 10 runs total, but I finally got the Caduceus. I still need to buy the Historian from the vendor.

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This is what my 1.5 build looks like at the moment. I mostly do group content as a support

I’ve been enjoying the game over the past week, having played a lot of it and watching some Twitch streamers in between the CS:GO ELeague Majors. It’s a compelling game, though it can be a bit repetitive. I think I will probably take a break from the game over the next week, avoid burning myself out on it before 1.6 comes out, whenever it drops.

Better late than never…

In the words of Shia Labeouf: “JUST DO IT!”

So, I’ve been telling myself to keep a regular, weekly blog for the past month. Originally it was a new years resolution, next to losing weight which has met similar stagnation, but now a whole month into 2016 I feel like that wouldn’t be the right thing to call it. Saying that it is my quest or mission sounds far too dramatic, though I do relish in the thought of trading blows with the great weight loss dragon, slinging spells and running away like a little girl because dragons are generally boss encounters. So I’m going to call it my escape. My escape from teaching; the all-consuming entity of my life at the moment. I’m about half way through my training and about 95% of the way through my energy. The motivation stores ran dry long ago.

Anyway, thoughts of the week. Firstly, I had a wonderful success in the form of joining two Pathfinder games during the week. I am now in two Pathfinder games, one Stars Without Number game and one Cyberpunk 2020 game, so my role-playing needs are certainly being filled. Throughout the week I am myself, then I also pretend to be:

  1. A covert corporate operative who is also married with children
  2. A self-exiled French politician who can see the future
  3. A half-elf noble on the run from criminals who killed her family
  4. An elven courtesan who basically works for Fantasy Illuminati
  5. An enthusiastic 11 – 16 maths teacher

I’m also trying to start including voice acting into my role-playing. Inspired by the web series Critical Role (which is amazing!), I have decided to practice my own skills at voice acting for my RP. I used to be a drama student, so why not? I think it really helps for the immersion when done well, and two of my characters would speak similarly to myself anyway.

What else happened this week? I walked around in circles in Fallout 4 and made very little progress. I was going to join the minutemen, but then realised that it started feeling like an MMO with how many repetitive quests I had to grind out. No, Preston, I won’t clear and set up yet another settlement. I haven’t yet completed the game, so no spoilers from me, but I’m getting there. Somewhat. Piper is my lesbian crush… Did I say that out loud?

I played some Skyrim too. 225 hours in and I still haven’t gotten past the Greybeards through a combination of switching character concepts and getting sidetracked. I’ll complete it at some point, I promise…

I’ve been visiting a few MMOs recently too, though I think I’ve come to the same conclusion as I always do: they’re really boring and soul-crushing. I’m mainly drawn to MMOs for the role-playing aspect, but these are my findings:

  • World of Warcraft: Some decent guilds lost in a sea of absolute trash. Managed to find a great Horde side guild for my Blood Elf (it didn’t have many Blood Elves. I dislike Blood Elf RPers because 95% of them tend to be special snowflakes), but then the guild shut down. Also, the game mechanics themselves are way too grindy!
  • SWTOR: More acceptable levels of RP and I already know the RP community well. Imbalanced starfighter matches and repetitive end-game is what put me off here. The pressure of being a known, good pilot on my server is a bit much sometimes.
  • Guild Wars 2: I just couldn’t be bothered to start from near the beginning
  • The Secret World: See Guild Wars 2

What does that mean? Well, I’ve set myself a goal. My goal is to write at least 500 words per day towards a traditional fantasy adventure/romance novel that I’ve had in the brain for years now. I think the concept is solid enough for me to actually commit, so I’ve written up a plan and everything. If all goes according to plan, first draft should be done by late spring or early summer!

This also means I will be playing more “normal” games; Fallout 4 and Skyrim both need completing. Team Fortress 2 is just calling out to me, the urge to market garden is strong. Metal Gear Solid 5 will get a 2nd play through, because I’m a sadist and want Hideo Kojima to savage my emotions again. I may even play VoidExpanse again (great indie game!)

Anyway, this post is getting way too long, so I’m going to cut it by saying that I discovered Sharknado 3 is coming out. This pleases me.

Shadow of Revan – Revitalising or Revisiting? A brief overview of the 3.0 changes

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a fairly large Star Wars fan, particularly the Old Republic era ever since playing KotOR for the first time. Naturally, I had pre-ordered the upcoming expansion “Shadow of Revan” and thus have been able to mess about a little in the early access (and spend all those Galactic Starfighter requisition items!). I will outline my findings and feelings on this expansion in this article.

Firstly, I feel that I must comment on the pricing. One word sums up my opinion: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. £12 is a suitable price for an expansion to an MMO. I don’t know how Blizzard gets away with charging new game prices for their expansions at launch, considering they also have a subscription model in place. Are World of Warcraft players made of money? I remember buying World of Warcraft back in the vanilla days for about £20 in… I can’t remember the game shop, but I do remember that it was in Churchill Square in Brighton, so it could have been Game or HMV. I remember buying the Burning Crusade expansion for around £15 or £20 as well, but the later expansions came in heavily at £30 – £35, leading to me just stopping my subscription and moving onto greener pastures. Whilst Star Wars: The Old Republic has a subscription model (it’s free-to-play, but free-to-play is crippling) and the content is nothing -that- special when compared to the RPG experience I can get in single player games like Shadowrun Returns, Dragon Age: Origins, Skyrim or Divinity: Original Sin, it also has sensible pricing on its expansions. As I said, Shadow of Revan is £12 and even includes Rise of the Hutt Cartel to those who did not already own it, and will go down over time as this is the launch price. The only MMO that I have played where the expansions were the same launch price as that of the original game were the original Guild Wars games, however that did not operate on a subscription model, instead using the superior (in my opinion) buy-to-play model where you buy the game and then can play it as much as you want without a subscription and without limitations. And these were still only £15 – 20!

The first thing that I have to comment on are the changes to GSF. There are some minor aesthetic details that have changed, such as objective markers looking softer now, but the real change is in the buffs to requisition gain that we all knew was coming. Let me tell you, it feels so good. I noticed the buff to requisition gained, as I managed 1.7k ship requisition on my Star Guard (with the 2x daily mult for 500 bonus req) which netted me around 250 fleet requisition instead of 170. Also, all of the daily and weekly items have been increased by approximately 25%, and having about a month and a half worth of them stocked up, you can imagine that I was a very happy person.

The big thing that I’m sure you all want to know about is the new disciplines system that has replaced talents. I am… Both pleased and disappointed with this system. The advantage is that you gain a specialised skill straight away, allowing you to really -feel- like a tank, healer or dps from the word go, howeverthe removal of hybrid builds hurts higher level players who may have wanted to try an interesting build (I ran a “Mandalorian” build for the Powertech/Vanguard class by going mostly in tanking, but then also in the middle dps tree for the wrist blade). It has a fairly simple interface, making it obvious what you’re getting yourself into at the moment of choosing:

There is no way you're getting confused with this interface.

There is no way you’re getting confused with this interface.

As you can see, from level 10, you instantly gain Underworld Medicine (which has been totally removed from the Scoundrel abilities and replaced with slow-release medpac, no longer a Sawbones only power). As you level up you gain new powers, as well as other passive abilities, automatically. There is no longer any choice for your specific discipline, however you do get to choose your utility abilities. Once you choose your discipline, you go to the next screen:

Very little choice involved!

Very little choice involved!

As you can see, your progression in your discipline is very linear. You level up and you gain new active and passive abilities as you go. However, you can choose your utilities and gain access to a total of seven at level 60. For a Sawbones such as myself they are very, very useful, however it varies from class to class. One of my guild mates said that he found his Guardian ones useless, for example. As I said, I don’t like this as it doesn’t allow for interesting hybrid builds, but I really like that it makes you feel like your chosen role from the moment you gain your advanced class. A quick note: Abandon is the same as field respec. You need to purchase it in your legacy window! I had the field respec, so I can abandon my discipline in the field if need be.

Next I will talk about gear and commendations. Commendations have been simplified: Planetary and Classic commendations are no more and were converted into Basic commendations. All previously owned Ultimate and Elite commendations were also transferred to Basic with favourable conversion rates. Warzone commendations and Fleet commendations remain untouched.

New CommsBasic commendations can buy you gear from the Ord Mantell vendor (the blue chestpieces) all the way up to entry level 55 gear (including gear that used to be bought with Classic commendations) for affordable prices. For the entry level 55 gear, you want to look for Zeskogo, near where the Corellia and Makeb commendation vendors used to be, his wares and prices are shown below:

Really useful if you've come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Really useful if you’ve come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Basic commendations can also be used to buy level 60 gear (186 rating) at the same place where Basic gear used to be sold. Prices seem to be the same as they used to be, just the gear has shifted up a few levels.

Then there’s the crew skills. I have not yet breached the new levels yet, but the cap has been raised from 450 to 500 in all crew skills. We’ll probably get the ability to craft up 180 gear and such items, but I can only speculate. Don’t worry though, I’m on the case!

Lexicon is on the job! ;)

Do not fear. Lexicon is on the job!

I have promised a friend that I would wait for him to complete the new areas together, so my exposure to those will be a little delayed though I plan on playing through on the Imperial side in his absence to get a feel for it (and to get a max level Cybertech!) Expect some views on the new sections soon

So… Am I happy with the changes? Yes. For an expansion, the appreciate the changes. To see whether or not it was worth the £12 I’ll have to wait and see what Rishi and Yavin IV have in store for me!