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.

Bitter Sweet Freedom

I am free. The shackles that bound me have been removed. I am no longer a trainee teacher. This feels both good and bad, hence the title of “Bitter Sweet Freedom”. On one hand, I hated what I was doing and am glad to be rid of it. I finally have the time to exercise, to cook, to write. It’s a wonderful feeling. However at the same time it signals the end of a wasted year and the start of unemployment. That feels terrible. I’m not one to sit on my backside though, so I guess I have something new to focus on; getting a job in the lead up to my hopeful masters course. However, this does mean that I will be going full steam ahead with writing as well, now that I actually have time and don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about teaching or planning lessons / resources / units of work. I won’t delve into the “why” I got kicked off the course, though I will say that every single formally assessed lesson of mine was at least a pass, yet they still failed me.

Would I recommend teacher training? In this country, I’m not sure. It’s entirely luck of the draw whether you get a good mentor as there is no vetting process; I am not the first person to have been failed because mentors have taken a disliking to them, nor will I be the last. If you get placed in a school where you don’t get along with your mentor and/or department, you are going to have one hell of an uphill struggle. If you are a trainee teacher and you find yourself in this situation, raise it with the university. I was just far too typically English and just got on with it, teeth gritted and determination flaring. On the topic of teaching in this country though, it’s a rather thankless profession. You work long hours, deal with a lot of stress and get paid pretty terribly. It was fairly normal for me to leave the house at 7am and get home at 8pm, due to meetings, lesson planning, resource creation etc. This is for a job that pays around 21k a year at the start, without growing too much. Sure, you get good holidays, but really it doesn’t make up for the insane workload during term time, as well as the incredibly political nature of teaching; if someone tells me teaching is a caring profession, I’m going to laugh. Teachers can be some of the most venomous individuals. However, I have heard wonderful things about teaching abroad, so if you’re considering teaching, my advice would be to work abroad. Better conditions, better pay and an actual respect for the profession go a long way.

Anyway, enough about teaching and my new found freedom from it. What have I been doing this week? Well, I’ve gotten back into The Division again. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive, but the Dark Zone isn’t. I… really enjoy the Dark Zone, which surprises me due to my aversion to PvP. However, one thing I have noted in the Dark Zone is that a lot of players are more willing to team up and make mutual gains rather than turn on each other, gain rogue status and risk losing their own stuff. Rolling through the Dark Zone in a group is a very rewarding experience and is generally safe, as most players won’t mess about with a group of four unless they’re also a group of four; though a group of four is easier to spot than the one guy with a marksman rifle taking pot shots at you. I’ve generally had a good experience in the Dark Zone, though I was sort of expecting full blown DayZ levels of asshattery so it would have been hard to truly surprise me in a bad way.

I’ve also played a decent amount of Monster Hunter 4 on the DS; I won’t lie, it was because one of my friends is incredibly into it. I also won’t lie when I say that I can see why. It is by far the most complex game that I have for my DS, with the large number of different weapons and play styles, as well as the insane amount of customisation options available. I’m enjoying the light bowgun for multiplayer and the dual swords for single player, as I like my mobility over the sheer power of weapons like the hammer. I’m still a massive scrub when it comes to Monster Hunter, but I’m getting better. I would totally recommend it for the DS, though it is not for the faint of heart. With the amount you have to remember and everything that you have to do on a successful hunt, it’s not going to be a casual game. For that, I think Fire Emblem retains the top spot in terms of my favourite DS title, as it’s much easier to pick up and play without really taxing myself. Yes, I’m a scrub with low mental capacity. Sometimes. I like to relax whilst gaming, okay?

For roleplaying, we had a massive rift in the party this week during Pathfinder. Everyone apart from my character is lawful good, and they were prying into my secretive character’s employment history and background, which she was unwilling to share. Also, having been away from my beloved bard class for too long, I will be switching in Pathfinder. My current character is going to leave the party to pursue her goals without them, as they are inept (in her eyes). I will be replacing her with an Aasimar bard, who is unaware of her celestial heritage. She has the leadership feat, and the natural born leader trait as she is supposed to be a leader of people, a bastard child of a noble house that is now in ruin (our setting has a large army of Orcs and Hobgoblins and undead wrecking faces). Her cohort (main follower) is her family’s former captain of the guard and has made me realise how stupidly good the fighter class is. He can tank, make ludicrous numbers of opportunity attacks, hit things with his longsword, shoot things with his composite longbow, sling daggers when disarmed or just hit things hard in the face with his bare hands… If it’s combat based, he can do it. He’s way better in combat than my actual character, despite being two levels lower and my bard actually having decent combat feats (going to build her like a duelist in combat).

However, my new unemployed status means that cuts have to happen. My Warhammer 40k projects are going out the window, as that’s very expensive and I need to be saving up for my masters. I might get the jetbikes that I need, but then leave it at that, as that’s a fairly central concept to my Eldar army. However, this does mean that I will still lack an “average” strength army, as my Eldar, whilst fluffy and lore-abiding, can be quite brutal when played right… And I’ve played Eldar now for about 6 years. If I get a job that pays well, I’ll either start a Chaos army, or a Militarum Tempestus one.

Also, writing high fantasy fiction when your mind is currently in a space / cyberpunk mood is…an interesting experience… A very interesting experience.

I can be on time too!

Haha! Writing this! On time! I feel so alive!

I’ve been giving the whole returning to 40k thing some thought and have decided that I will do so. Perhaps not quite yet, as I do still have mountains of work to do for my teacher training, but I finish soon and will once again have free time to toy around with. I will be buying some jetbikes (as I’ve been meaning to do so for around a year now), expand my Dark Eldar a little by getting a mix of more kaballite and wych style units, then maybe start a small Slaaneshi Chaos army (CSM + Daemons + Traitors) and possibly some Imperium stuff to get my Imperium army under way. The main drawback for the Imperium is that I would need lots of Valkyries/Vendettas for two reasons: firstly, my Astra Militarum regiment is a space-faring one since their planet is no more, so they sport a good many fighter aces and generally specialise in tactics revolving around naval support (and yes, I will be paying the points for every single flyer to have the fighter ace rules); secondly, Militarum Tempestus are amazing when used in conjunction with Valkyries and Inquisitors sporting servo skulls. Grav-chuting elite infantry (who still have personalities, unlike Space Marines!) on top of the enemies of mankind and hitting them hard and fast? That’s a visual that I want to have concerning my army! I will also consider getting some Sisters to go along side my Militarum Tempestus + Inquisition wonder army, but it’s a long shot. They’re just way too damn expensive!

In other news, Masters applications are a go. No, I have not sent them off yet, but I am applying for both journalism and creative writing and crossing my fingers that at least one of them accepts me. I’m still sort of riding the high of “hey, I’m actually moving to do something that I actually want to do for the first time in 8 years!” and hoping it carries me through the last few months. I am still keeping an eye on things and making sure I continue to write for the university paper, but teacher training is also ramping up a bit towards the end. What’s the phrase? “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

What about gaming? What about gaming indeed. I’ve actually had a chance to play The Division properly and get into the swing of things (it got so much easier when I found a marksman rifle and an assault rifle to replace my submachinegun and shotgun build that lacked any semblance of range). My thoughts are still the same, though the game can get a bit repetitive; you run around New York, fight rioters, grab resources, run around New York, fight rioters and so on and so forth. The MMO aspect of the game is very noticeable and I’m not sure how I feel about that. My relationship with MMOs is tumultuous; it’s the kinky sex-fantasy in that it hurts so good, until you realise your partner hasn’t been performing safe practice and you have to go see a doctor. You know it’s bad in the back of your mind, but you keep going back for more. I’m going to move on before this metaphor gets any weirder…

Roleplaying has been… interesting (why the hell did I leave roleplaying until after the kinky sex metaphor…) in that we’re starting a new Star Wars campaign that I’m still a bit unsure about. It feels like whilst PvP is discouraged, betraying the others is wholly encouraged and I’m not sure how much I like that. As a result, I think the Pathfinder game that I am in has retaken the top spot in terms of which campaign I am enjoying the most at the moment. It’s just… fun. I don’t have to worry about the other players screwing the party over. I mean, there is some level of deception, but it’s not party-breaking. For example, the vampire hunter keeps lots of secrets from the party and I do creative “accounting” that leads to me being paid more than the others, but it’s not like we’re going to turn on each other… I hope. We’re still a cohesive group, with the only potential conflict being that the vampire hunter is slipping into the lawful evil alignment and the lawful good paladin wouldn’t be too keen on that. Stars Without Number is going okay, but I just don’t trust the judgement of my murder-hobo associates. Playing a character with morals in our game is just a bad idea, but I still keep doing it!

It’s also 00:20 on Tuesday. I need to go to sleep now.

Good night.

An Authentic Experience

So it’s been an interesting week. And by interesting, I mean totally crap. Got my first exposure to office politics (giving my teacher training a real authentic touch) and I’d really rather not write about it. Essentially, it boils down to people taking issues up with the university first instead of me, painting me in an absolutely terrible light. On the positive, I’ve sacrificed my entire weekend to plan every single lesson up until half term, which is shockingly close! My motivation to be “outstanding” should come from a genuine desire to do well, but in reality it’s all for revenge. No greater good. No just cause. (Whoa-hoooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

So, what’s been going on that’s actually interesting? I’ve run around in even more circles in Fallout 4, because I’m just that indecisive. I don’t think I’m going to bother with the Minutemen because it turns into a single player MMO at that point with its countless, repetitive “make a new settlement” quests. I will say now that I don’t like Fallout 4 as much as I loved New Vegas (I may have said this last week too, but that’s besides the point!), but I will go into that in more detail once I finish sorting my life out.

I also played a bit of The Division over the weekend. It runs sluggishly on my laptop, which is around three years old and only just showing her age, but other than that I am excited for the release next month. The gameplay was solid and engaging, and I liked that my fears that it was going to be a total open world PvP-fest like DayZ (Internet Jerk Simulator) were entirely wrong. I had lost track of The Division over the years, so I wasn’t sure how the game was going to be designed and playing an hour or so (as I said, I sacrificed my weekend) was a great way to experience it first hand. It felt  a little bit like Defiance. But better. I enjoyed that game way too much, so a similar game that is better? Sign me up!

On the role-playing front I think I’m going to keep with CP2020, but I have made a new character for it. After this mission, Renée is leaving; she has a family to provide for; two daughters and a husband. This current team is going to get her killed and she can’t afford that. So I’m going to retire her at the end of this mission and play a full stealth combat character. Because getting headshots by ricocheting bullets off walls is the only way to get them. I never really play combat characters, so it should be interesting to say the least.

Going to see what this week brings. Hopefully plenty of role-playing and some gaming now that I’ve got all my planning out of the way. Currently working on my fantasy novel plan too. It’s an exciting, but fairly tense time!