Pokemon Go

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Melvin Smif’s Geekery is nothing if it isn’t a weird amalgamation of various nerdy interests. So while I typically delve into Tabletop Gaming, I need to speak about my latest passion, Pokemon Go. This little app game has it’s claws in me so deep I can cite more than one late night excursion into the wilds of my suburban neighborhood seeking one of the more elusive Pocket Monsters. It’s a genuine worldwide phenomenon. Its popularity likely surpassing even the expectations of its creators, and we’ve really only seen the beginnings of this game.

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Pokemon Go is the team effort between Nintendo, The Pokemon Company, and Niantic, inc. that utilizes GPS tracking to pinpoint a player’s location within the real world to overlay an Augmented Reality fictional Pokemon universe. Pokemon are randomly placed throughout the world, often even generating based on regional types, water Pokemon tend to be near Lakes, Rivers, Ocean etc. & if you want a Scyther, head to the park. On top of catching these critters players are also encouraged to visit landmarks, derived from data gleaned from Niantic’s previous AR game Ingress, to collect items (from areas deemed “Pokestops”) or battle against other teams (in areas known as “Gyms”).

Augmented Reality can be fun.

Augmented Reality can be fun.

Pokemon Go’s mission seems to be to get people outdoors, visiting landmarks, and interacting with fellow players. There’s even a method for rewarding movement via the inclusion of Pokemon Eggs that react through a pedometer function to log the distance you travel, hatching a Pokemon when that distance is reached. I can say earnestly that, in my experience and via much of what I’ve seen online, this mission has been met, and exceeded! It is safe to say this game has been an overwhelming success.

Central Park in NY City

Central Park in NY City

I’ve had some truly great personal experiences since the game’s launch on July 6th. My wife and I have both been playing , it’s gotten us out the door walking more and our kids love helping us catch the Pokemon around our neighborhood. You can easily enjoy an afternoon stroll paying casual attention to your phone, via glances or awaiting a telltale rumble signifying that something is near. We’ve seen a bevy of others out walking and playing too. It has also been a blast taking on a Gym together!

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At the time of this pic it was lvl 8. Now level 9!

This past weekend my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a good friend’s 30th birthday party in Columbia, Missouri. Amid the usual activities like going to dinner and catching up with friends were sprinkled moments of “Guys! There’s a <insert Pokemon here> outside!” followed by the bulk of the party hitting the neighborhood streets in search of it. Later that night (and by later I mean midnight until 3 am) we drove through the downtown district catching Pocket Monsters and hitting up Pokestops. We also took on a number of gyms throughout the weekend, smartly collaborating early in the game to all choose the same team (Team Instinct baby!). We even crafted a monstrosity of a gym on the outskirts of town, pumping it up to level 9. That gym is still holding strong three days later. Some other great memories from this weekend are.

  • Watching someone from either team Valor or Mystic drive up to our beefy gym, see a carload of Team Instinct players then decide he was never going to do any damage to us and drive off with a wave of defeat.
  • My friend and I sprinting (unnecessarily) to add some extra Pokemon to another yellow gym we came across.
  •  Me yelling “Get that Puff!” to a stranger whom I knew was trying to catch the same Jigglypuff we were after.
  • Hunting down a Nidoqueen!
  • Me threatening to use my phone as a hammer “for all the good it was to me” because it wasn’t loading the game.
  • Driving a car full of happy, grown ass, adults around the same area we use to hit up bars at midnight so they can hit the various Pokestops (I had someone working my phone, I don’t drive and Go)
  • Having yet another shared interest with my wonderful wife 🙂

Honestly there are so many fun things I’m forgetting, I’m certain. It was all just a blur of gaming and friends.

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Now, Pokemon Go is a solid success, but it is far from a perfect specimen of gaming yet. I have plenty of issues with the gameplay and reward system alone but the true monumental task Niantic will need to be dealing with over the next few weeks and system updates will be simply getting the game to run correctly. Server outages are the main complaint people have, followed closely by the game freezing up and generally being difficult to get into. On multiple occasions over the weekend, and before, just getting into the game long enough to enjoy it was a hassle. Often at least one, if not more of our group, was blocked from getting into the game. Gym battles were always tough for me. For some reason I freeze up in those constantly.  The game also comes with a supposed tracking system for nearby Pokemon but it hardly ever works correctly, for a bit I would see one or two footstep Pokemon, but lately it’s always been a three steps away symbol. The game is sadly ripe with glitches and bugs, but honestly much of that is just a company attempting to meet overwhelming demand. It stands to be seen how well they do fixing these issues. For now, I’m content to deal with them.

My wife in Downtown St. Louis

My wife in Downtown St. Louis

Our home town... the wasteland

Our home town… the wasteland

The major issues to fix are bug and server related, obviously, but I’ve also been pondering the game-play itself. They do a lot of things right in the game. There is a pay to play aspect that the casual player, someone just seeking to catch Pokemon, can usually ignore if they wish. Items are plentiful at Pokestops, but you have to have Pokestops near you to make use of them. This isn’t an issue for people in heavily populated areas, or even rural areas with a lot of landmarks, but if you live somewhere very plain vanilla suburban (like me) you have a hidden cost, in gas, to playing the game. You have to drive to find Pokestops or you’re stuck purchasing Pokeballs. My city has a population of nearly 100k and I have only two Pokestops within a mile of me, and the next nearest one after that is easily five miles. Compare that to some towns around us we are a veritable wasteland. I was nearly dizzy with excitement to see the bevy of ‘stops in Columbia this weekend.

The gym system is fantastic fun, but if you aren’t someone who started this game week one, you’re not going to be able to even touch a gym for a long time unless of course you hook up with some buddies as there is incentive to start a gym with easy to defeat Pokemon that you then beat up to raise the prestige. The “Defender Bonus” you receive for owning a gym is paltry and makes capturing gyms more of a pride thing than anything else, the reward is so low that it’s more of a pat on the head than anything else. I also take issue with the fact you don’t get some kind of extra reward for having held a gym for the 20 hour time limit between reward collections. It really seems like they need either lower the time limit between collecting the Defender Bonus or give you more for it. Right now unless you luck into holding multiple gyms, it’s almost not even worth collecting.

One of my bigger complaints lies with the tone of the game. So much of the appeal of Pokemon in the past was about obtaining a Pokemon and then working with that Pokemon to level it up and watch it grow as you modify it’s abilities. In Pokemon Go the Pokemon you start with are quickly eclipsed and you simply cannot utilize the same Pokemon who were your starters later in the game. Hell, you can’t even use the same Poklemon from three levels ago. It’s a completely different style, and frankly a huge grind.

Sarah caught a lot of cool Pokemon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis

Sarah caught a lot of cool Pokemon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis

Other issues aside, battery draining and data soaring issues, Pokemon Go has captured me, my wife and family, and my friends in its talons and shows no chance of releasing us soon. I endeavor to catch them all, and train to be the very best, like…well… you know how this goes. I hope you all give this game a chance, and don’t let the haters get you down. Sure there have been accidents related to people behaving foolishly while playing this game but since when is that new to people in any hobby. If someone calls you silly for playing a “kids game” they are hypocrites and jerks, laugh em off.

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Have fun out there and (as my father always says) be aware of your surroundings! Gotta catch ’em all!

-Melvs

P.S. Fellow Team Instinct Trainers. Meet me at Gen Con! We shall rule the gyms of Indianapolis!

Instinct

 

Wizards of the Coast Announces New Super Adventure: Rage of Demons

wpid-rod_keyart.jpgThe next addition to 5th Edition D&D’s line of Super Adventures has been announced today. Looks like DMs and Players can look forward to a dive into the Underdark in the Fall of this year. As you can tell by the tone of my previous reviews I’ve become a fan of these Campaigns for the new content they infuse into the community and for the quality of the adventures themselves.

The Underdark has long been a huge draw for players of Dungeons & Dragons, myself included. I’m really interested to see how they handle the inherent dangers of the Underdark, it has historically been a place for mid to high level PC’s. Perhaps we’ll see a campaign that starts characters off leveled up a bit. It would be really interesting if it builds off of one of the previous Super Adventures taking characters all the way to level 20 from where they stood at the end of either Tyranny of Dragons or Princes of the Apocalypse.

The stuff about teaming with Drizzt Do’Urden is will be really cool to some even if I’ve lost my taste for the character. Who knows, maybe this story-line will breathe new life into the guy. Personally, I’d like to see some fresh characters introduced to the Forgotten Realms. Some really interesting folks. It’d be nice to stop going back to the well and see new faces, maybe they’d garner the same kind of staying power. Let’s be honest though, Drizzt and company introduced a lot of us to the Forgotten Realms, I need to give them respect for that.

You can find the full article here: http://www.dungeonsanddragons.com

But here’s the full Press Release:

DARE TO DESCEND INTO THE UNDERDARK IN

RAGE OF DEMONS

Fight Alongside Drizzt Do’Urden in the New Dungeons & Dragons Storyline on Computer, Console or Tabletop This Fall

RENTON, Wash. – May 6, 2015 – Today, Wizards of the Coast announced Rage of Demons, the new storyline for Dungeons & Dragons fans coming in Fall 2015. The demon lords have been summoned from the Abyss and players must descend into the Underdark with the iconic hero Drizzt Do’Urden to stop the chaos before it threatens the surface. Rage of Demons is the story all D&D gamers will be excited to play this fall, whether they prefer consoles, PCs or rolling dice with friends.

Following on the critically-acclaimed Tyranny of Dragons and Elemental Evil stories, Rage of Demons will transport characters to the deadly and insane underworld. Rumors of powerful demon lords such as Demogorgon, Orcus and Graz’zt terrorizing the denizens of the Underdark have begun to filter up to the cities of the Sword Coast. The already dangerous caverns below the surface are thrown into ultimate chaos, madness and discord. The renegade drow Drizzt Do’Urden is sent to investigate but it will be up to you to aid in his fight against the demons before he succumbs to his darker temptations.

Dungeons & Dragons fans will have more options than ever to enjoy the Rage of Demons storyline. The themes of treachery and discord in the Underdark are in Sword Coast Legends, the new CRPG (computer role-playing game) coming this fall on PC from n-Space and Digital Extremes. The epic campaign that drives Sword Coast Legends’ story forces players deep into the Underdark and continues well after launch with legendary adventurer Drizzt Do’Urden.

For fans of Neverwinter, the popular Dungeons & Dragons-based MMORPG will bring a new expansion – tentatively titled Neverwinter: Underdark – in 2015. The update will see adventurers travel with Drizzt to the drow city of Menzoberranzan during its demonic assault as well as experience a unique set of quests written by the creator of Drizzt, R.A. Salvatore. The expansion will initially be released on PC and will come out on the Xbox One at a later date.

Players of the tabletop roleplaying game can descend into the Underdark in Out of the Abyss, a new adventure which provides details on the demon lords rampaging through the Underdark. Partners such as WizKids, GaleForce 9 and Smiteworks will all support Rage of Demons with new products to help bring your tabletop game to life. To really get in the mind of Drizzt, fans will have to check out Archmage, the new novel by R.A. Salvatore, scheduled for release in early September.

“Rage of Demons is a huge storyline involving all expressions of Dungeons & Dragons, and we’re excited to bring players this story in concert with all of our partners,” said Nathan Stewart, Brand Director at Wizards of the Coast. “I can’t wait to see everyone interact with one of the world’s most recognizable fantasy characters: Drizzt Do’Urden. Descending into the depths won’t exactly be easy for him, and D&D fans will get their mettle tested just like Drizzt when they come face-to-face with all the demon lords.”

For more information on Dungeons & Dragons, including details on all of the new products supporting the Rage of Demons storyline from Wizards and our partners visit http://www.dungeonsanddragons.com

All of this does make me question whether WotC has something planned for Gen Con though. You’d think they’d take advantage of it. Maybe Gen Con is a bit too early this year? Anyway, I’m excited. A delve into the Underdark might just make me put down Unleashed for a little while.

-Melvs

Long, Long Ago I was Actually Excited for Star Wars Battlefront 3

My interest level can be summed up by the action portrayed in this media pic...

My interest level can be summed up by the action portrayed in this media pic…

I loved Star Wars Battlefront 2, still do. My friends and I have been known to fire it up on the older systems and give it a run to this day. So naturally I was excited when rumors started to trickle out regarding the production of a third addition to the franchise, but now I’m less than enthused. It seems EA Games, and the subsidiaries attached to the product don’t really get what made the predecessor such a beloved game. Hell, this game looks like a step backward in so many ways I can’t help but wonder if it’s merely a cash grab.

EA is such an odd animal to me. On one hand the flagship and its subsidiaries can generate some truly great games. We’ve seen that recently with games like Mass Effect, the Dragon Age series, and I’m a fan of what little Garden Warfare I’ve seen. However, more often EA earns its reputation as a “ruiner” of sequels and a largely blah game maker in general. We’ve got more than enough examples of that on hand in that regard. The more I hear about SWB3, the more I fear it is going to land in the latter category and it saddens me greatly.

There is a long list of things I’ve found troubling about the latest reveal for the game. Mostly, it seems they are focusing almost exclusively on Player vs. Player multiplayer, and they aren’t even doing a great job with that! At this point we have been told there is a max player count of 40 players on the battlefield, presumably a 20 v 20 setup, and when asked if there were going to be any AI “bots” to supplement any missing players the response was “no comment”. So it looks like if you can’t get enough players you’ll have even fewer people fighting in what already feels more like a skirmish than a battle. It’s not like EA is incapable of more players either! Just look at Battlefield, they have a max limit of 64! Battlefront id supposed to highlight the massive battles that often went on behind the scenes in the beloved movie franchise but instead we’ve got some tidily little throwdowns between two groups of 20 people. Not to mention if you get to roll as one of the super powered “general” types (Vader, Boba Fett) you’ll probably dominate a measly force of twenty…

Space fights in a game about space fights? Forget it!

Space fights in a game about space fights? Forget it!

That’s just the start of the issues I’m seeing. We also have –

  • No indication there will be space battles, merely air/ground units planetside. The AT-AT walker shown somehow navigating Endor’s heavily forested terrain? Not player driveable. (as a fun drinking game check out the @EAStarWars twitter handle and take a drink every time they respond to someone with “We’re focusing on air battles and dogfights that take place on the vistas of our planets rather than space“)
  • Only four playable planets
  • No single player campaign, just a couple of missions you and one other person can play
  • No Galactic Conquest mode…

The last two items bother me the most. Actually, no, the last item bothers me the absolute most. It is almost enough to get me to completely ignore this game altogether. For those not in the know Galactic Conquest was the best part of Star Wars Battlefront 2. There is no way to argue against that fact, so don’t bother. It is what my friends and I play when we pick it up nearly a decade after its launch. Essentially Galactic Conquest mode allowed you, or you and some friends, to play a “Risk-like” game against the computer or other players where you fight battles on planets and in space to gain footholds in the galaxy, obtaining perks that help you further dominate, and eventually conquering the galaxy. I can safely say that absent Galactic Conquest mode or something similar SWB3 remains a shell of its former glory.

Granted the game isn’t even out yet so I can only base my interest level on what I’ve heard second-hand. What I’ve heard though has removed it from a “must have pre-order” to an “I may not even buy this game“. Honestly the game they are trying to get us excited about baffles me (for a sci-fi game called “Star Wars” you’re telling me we never even see space!?). The framework for how to make this game successful was already available for review. You take Star Wars Battlefront 2, you slap some fresh graphics on it, you add more maps and player options (not remove them), you ship it out. It was a task any rookie game developer could probably have handled but EA seems to have failed. I sincerely hope they allow people to mod this game. EA rarely impresses me, but this is just sad.

-Melvs

Keeping Destiny Weird

Destiny-Logo

I spend just about every word in this blog espousing my love and adoration for Tabletop Gaming but anyone who knows me outside of social media knows I’m every bit as enthusiastic about Video Games, and no other game has grabbed my attention in a long time quite like Bungie’s first-person shoot em’ up MMO Destiny.  You may recall that on of my friends contributed an article on the game right around launch and sadly I wasn’t even playing it at the time.  It took until December for me to finally get in on the fun.  To date I’ve logged nearly 300 hours, have gotten three characters to level 31 (merely waiting for the right raid drops to get to 32), and have played every aspect of the game…many times over.

There are countless people chatting about this game on the net.  Players complaining about certain aspects of the game that are still funky, folks finding clever ways to “cheese” (a term to denote finding an unusual way to cheat the regular play) their way through levels, in-depth reviews on weapons, farm locations, etc. etc. etc.  My personal favorite stories though?  Weird things people get away with that were likely never anticipated.

I think the fact that Destiny remains a somewhat small-scale MMO in regards to actual playable maps and missions ends up fostering the desire to find new and creative ways to play the game.  My favorite things to hear about are the players that challenge themselves to complete portions of the game in crazy ways that were in all likelihood were never considered to be something anyone would ever try to do, or even possible to accomplish.  Thus, I’d like to showcase some of the best stories I’ve come across.

Gaurdians sitting

THAT GUY WHO KEEPS SOLOING THE HARDEST PVE RAID IN THE GAME

Destiny has more game beyond its main storyline than during and the toughest chunk of PvE in this endgame content lies with its Raids.  The one I’m referencing here is titled Crota’s End and the guy who soloed it is a Youtube user known as “The Legend Himself”, aptly named considering his achievements. Crota’s end is no joke.  You start out in an area of almost solid darkness with small beacons of light you have to get to in order to continue onward as a “weight of darkness” constantly piles up slowing you down and removing your jumping ability.  All the while enemies known as Thralls harass you from the dark and try to slice you up.  The remainder of the Raid is no less difficult, actually more so.  For example when you get to parts like the Deathsinger where you have a time limit to take her down before she just outright kills you, or the final fight where you can’t even hurt Crota without dropping his shield first to get a few shots in with a giant sword!

Solo Crota

Difficult enough for a team of six (the recommended number) but this guy did it solo.  I have watched the video he was kind enough to make and it’s just insane that he pulled it off but what’s even more insane?  He did it again when they finally added the Hard version of the Raid into the game.  I haven’t even been able to join a team that’s beaten “Hard Crota” yet and he soloed it.  Hats off to The Legend Himself!

 

SPEAKING OF CROTA, THESE GUYS BEAT IT WITHOUT GUNS

BUBBLES!

BUBBLES!

I laughed really hard when I heard about this because I immediately pictured how that did it.  I was right too.  One of the playable characters in the game is the Titan Class.  This class can switch between being a Defender and a Striker type and plays some really good support for the team all while also being the most heavily armored.  The main super ability of the Defender choice is a Bubble of force that players can hide beneath to stop incoming bullets.  It allows players and enemies to pass through the walls and thus would normally not provide any protection against those Thralls I mentioned above.  However, there is a piece of armor you can equip that will cause any enemy that passes through the Bubble to be temporarily blinded.

Using such techniques we witness this group crawl its way through the raid only meleeing enemies, using supers, and throwing grenades.  Not a single shot was fired.  Truly an incredible feat, not to mention hilarious.

 

FLY ME TO ATHEON

The other Raid available in Destiny is called the Vault of Glass.  This one features the mechanical yet biological enemies known as the Vex.  It is also well-known for long drops, platform jumping, and insta kill enemy dodging.  Needless to say it’s hard enough to get through this thing on your own two feet but these guys managed to fly one of the game’s hover bikes (known as a Sparrow) through the entire Vault of Glass Raid.

To get an idea of the feat that was accomplished here you need to understand how players utilize the Sparrow.  First you need to know that the Sparrow is summoned via some form of teleportation from your character’s ship but only in areas where such a thing is possible, so yeah you can summon it outside the Vault of Glass but once inside you’re out of luck.  Second, the Sparrow doesn’t just sit around if you jump off of it.  The thing will disappear (presumably back to your ship?) in a matter of seconds after you dismount so they couldn’t just park the thing and return to it.  No, for the most part the player(s) riding the Sparrow needed to remain out of combat altogether.  Lastly the ways to lose your Sparrow otherwise are typical, it can be blown up, if you fall off one of the many cliffs it is also gone.

Seeing these guys dancing around the burning (nearly destroyed) Sparrow at the finale of the video was great to see!

Sparrow

OH THE CHEESE

cheese

Bungie has put together a fun game and has certainly added in a lot of material to challenge us… so naturally players have learned how to exploit things so those challenges are minimized!  “Cheesing” something is the term players use to describe the exploits they’ve uncovered in-game that help them defeat certain portions without the actual effort of completing them the “right way”.  It boggles my mind how some of these things were ever figured out in the first place.  here are a few examples I’ve heard of, some I’ve even used myself.

  • Scaling the side of a cliff by jumping to tiny landing points in order to get on top of a building where mobs of enemies with eventually despawn because you are no longer on the map.
  • Ledges you can jump to under a portion of the map where nothing can harm you so two other players can finish off the main baddie while waiting to revive if they both go down.
  • Using in-game explosions to launch yourself to various parts of the game where either enemies can’t get to you or to clear a gorge where you were supposed to spawn a bridge.
  • Pulling out your LAN cable at precisely the right time so Crota freezes and you can take him out without worry (Heard this one was fixed though).
  • Hanging out in a side room reviving your fellows while they shoot at the main boss and go down over and over.  They don’t care, you’re off to the side where she can’t hit you!

Honestly, all of this makes me feel like there are three styles of play in this game; Player vs. Environment, Player vs. Player, and lastly Player vs Makers!  It seems every time Bungie chuckles at our cheesing and claims to have patched it a whole slew of new exploits appear.  I love it!

THE EXTRA LITTLE THINGS

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

The other day I landed in the tower (home base for all us Guardians) and what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Roughly ten Guardians surrounding one other guardian who was standing still (presumably away from their controller) dancing, squatting, pointing, waving, pushing that Guardian around.  It made me laugh rather louder than I intended to at nearly midnight, but damn was it funny.  I also learned how to kill myself by standing in water and shooting my foot from my good buddy Topher.

Shoot foot

I’ve gotten to do some wonderfully creative stunts myself playing this game, even if they aren’t of the caliber as those above.  There’s been a number of times I’ve taken out the enemy targeted by a Patrol Mission using only my Sparrow as a ramming instrument (my favorite was the Ogre I launched into from a high platform).  I enjoy grabbing the sword that a certain enemy drops and attacking the giant mechanized Spider that appears in the area known as “The Divide” on Earth.  My friend and I even managed to get the purple rubber ball found at the tower onto a roof where you could blow it into the air using a fan…maybe you need to be more familiar with the game to understand that last one.

Bottom line is this game is tons of fun, even when you aren’t playing it “by the book”.  It also shows that the player base might just be getting a bit antsy for more content.  I’m happy to report though that an update is coming down the pipe and I get the impression we will be seeing Destiny 2 sooner rather than later, just a hunch.  If there’s a story out there I missed let me know about it, or if you have something you or you and your friends pulled off I’d love to hear about it!  Here’s to good drops folks!

Sparrow-Surfin

-Melvs (Shout out to my Clan! Hey Dads Gaming!)

P.S. All this talk about playing Destiny by not playing Destiny has me remembering some fun things my friends and I pulled off in those older Bungie games, the Halo series.

We quickly tired of the standard multiplayer and decided to get creative with our own challenges.  A few of my favorites include:

  • Getting every vehicle (in Halo 1) on top of the bunkers in Blood Gultch using rockets and grenades.
  • Creating a Multiplayer game where we shot skeet by having people ramp Ghosts off the back of one Tank and trying to shoot them down with the other.
  • Creating a Team Deathmatch Multiplayer game called “MechaWarZ” where we were only allowed to kill each other using vehicles to run them down.  No guns, no melee, no grenades.  If someone else was in a vehicle you had to flip them out of it!
    • One of my favorite ways to play, fully ruined by making it so you could destroy vehicles in later iterations of the game.
  • In whatever Halo first allowed the sword we created a Multiplayer game we called “Bat Leg Rounds” where we only used the sword and could only fight in a specific spot.  You had to run immediately to that spot and then try to keep it as long as possible.  Screaming “There can only be one!” constantly was encouraged.
  • Golf… Yes a buddy and I created a way to play golf where we… ok, this is kind of complicated.  There were four players, two teams.  Two guys were Red and two guys were Blue.  Then you pair off by making one Red guy the caddie for a Blue guy and vice versa.  What you needed to do was kill the other persons caddie. By game standards they were your teammate thus it gave you negative points.  However if you accidentally killed the opposing golfer you’d naturally gain points off setting any negative points gained by killing their caddie.  Just like in golf, the person with the fewest points won!  This was more of a chance for my buddies and I to drive around Blood Gultch pretending it was a golf course…and yes we did this at like four in the morning…shut up.
We got a tank up on one too.

We got a tank up on one too.

Other than my buddies attempting to get the Warthog as far into EVERY mission it was made available in, much further than it was meant to go I assure you, I can’t recall anything else for now.  Oh well, long Post Script for ya!

The Darkness, the Ghost, and the Sparrow: A Look at Destiny

*Today my good buddy Topher pops in to give us a contributor piece that offers a look into some gaming I’m not nearly as familiar with, the world of Video Games.  Bungie’s new game Destiny has gained a lot of hype leading into its launch and Topher seems to really dig it, but let’s here him chat about it!

So, Kevin asked me to write a review of Destiny. First, Kevin thank you for letting me contribute to your site. Alright now that the mandatory kowtowing is over, let’s get to business.

Destiny is a First-Person Shooter Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game, or in other words a FPSMMORPG, for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. From the start I will tell you that I am currently playing the Xbox One version, and overall, the game is really good.

STORY AND ENEMIES

Peter Dinklage is your companion and guide, a hyper intelligent robot called Ghost that brings you back to life. That’s right, Tyrion Lannister is your Sherpa. Do I need to say more?

Mr. Dinklage I presume?

Alright, I was informed that I do need to say more, so…

Good story if you overlook the typical Human = Good; Aliens = Bad; Earth = Doomed cliché, but have I mentioned Peter Dinklage voices your companion?

Missions let you jump in quick and feel emerged in the struggle against the evil aliens known as the Darkness. The aliens are actually a solid enemy, and enemies are what make a game interesting. If the bad guys not good at their job, what’s the point? The enemy A.I. in Destiny actually utilizes, and get ready for this, LOGIC!!! If you snipe one of them, the rest actively try to get to cover. I hope this is the type of thinking more games start to employ in their enemies. I have killed too many faceless enemies because they are staring at the comrade who was just sniped.

The map is set up into story missions to work your way through, and an open environment gives you the opportunity to sand box patrol as well, kill more baddies, and farm that sweet, sweet XP. The sandbox mode is awesome. This is something that any game with a RPG element needs. Bravo for including it Bungie.

I will not give spoilers away, but the early on you see that the battles between humans and the Darkness have scarred the moon, after that I was all in for exterminating the enemy. NOBODY FRACKS WITH OUR MOON!!!

CLASSES AND RACES

Three classes so far. There are Titans, Hunters, and Warlocks. I will give you a quick breakdown of all of them so you can make an informed decision. Don’t worry though, you can make multiple characters.

Titans – The brutes. They like to take damage and dish it out. Good at getting close and melee enemies

Hunters – Short for bounty hunter. These are the nimble gunslingers.

Warlocks – Kind of like someone with force powers that also uses guns.

There are also 3 races to choose from when making a character. They are nothing but cosmetic, so just pick the one that you think look coolest.

Humans – Well, they are human….

Awoken – Humans that got lost in space and their skin lost all pigment

Exo – Robots, you know, like Bender Bending Rodriguez

VISUALS

The visuals are stunning. Bungie has their in house engine for Destiny and so far it looks great. I am yet to see a major bug. I don’t need to say any more, because instead look at this picture of me pretending I am Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

Destiny

CONTROLS

The controls are a throwback to the Halo series, not surprising since the game was made by Bungie. So, the learning curve on the controller is actually quite quick. All the standard buttons are the same and the powers a really well mapped. This allows the player the ability to quickly remember where there buttons are mapped and to expend their skills expertly in battle. You also have a failsafe of using two buttons to unleash your big damaging dealing power. So if you don’t get that to land properly, it was your fault and not the controller’s.

Bungie has also taken some of the things that Halo was lacking and incorporated these into the controls. The right stick now allows the player to sprint to avoid enemies or to retreat and heal. This is a huge boon to the combat system. If there was one thing that Halo was missing it was sprinting. Too many times would I find myself getting shot in the back with the only option to save myself was to turn and charge my attacker or slowly lurch forward and pray that I made it to the inevitable fall to a lower level or grav portal or, if I was real luck, a large random purple crate.

The land speeders take some getting used to. In the beginning their controls are counter intuitive. Your first bike has a brake on the right and accelerator on the left, you know, the opposite of any car you’ve ever driven. The reason it is set up like this is because later on your bike can get a gun, then right trigger is a gun and all is right with the world.

Side note: The menu’s controls are awesome. They control like you have a curser and a mouse. It gives you the feel of being closer to a PC game. A small thing, but the emersion value is huge.

MULTIPLAYER

First, Xbox One, fix your multiplayer and party options. They are AWFUL!!!

Alright, now that I got that out of my system, cooperative multiplayer is amazing. You can form a three man fireteam to take down story missions or explore in the sandbox. Since everyone is on their own counsel, you can go where ever you want and scatter the wind. I always find this appealing. It allows you to attack from multiple directions at once. This multiplayer is one of the strongest parts of Destiny.

Now, competitive multiplayer has some problems. This first being that some people you play online will be much higher level than yourself. This means they have unlocked more powers, gotten better weapons, and can take more damage. I do not know if they scale the powers back or up to compensate and make the playing field easy for those people that have, what do you call those things, oh right, jobs and can’t sit around a dorm room playing video games all day. (Sigh….I miss college so much…) You can still be competitive in multiplayer mode, but be prepared to take a beating every now and again.

VERDICT

Great game overall. I have enjoyed the hours I have already put into it and will definitely be playing this game for months to come.

OVERALL SCORE: 9/10

This game is a can’t miss. Go buy it right now. And I will see you online.

-Topher