Late to the Party: Doom (2016)

Doom 2016I talked Monday about picking up Overwatch recently, but that wasn’t the only game that I finally took the plunge with. As part of the Bethesda Quakecon sale, Doom (the 2016 version) was marked down pretty well, so I went ahead and picked it up. I’ve been a fan of Doom games going all the way back, so I was excited to see just how this one measured up.

I’m currently through the first three missions in the campaign, and so far, on Ultra Violence the game feels very much like I want a Doom game to. It’s fast, it’s incredibly brutal and the story is engaging enough to keep me invested from one fight to the next.The newer mechanics that Bethesda and id put in work really well with the fast paced action – the mantling means that vertical spaces can be worked into fights; the Glory Kills are brutal as Hell and help encourage aggressive play and the modern changes to weapons and the Praetor suit help encourage you explore and find the collectibles. It manages to strike a pretty perfect balance between the classic FPS gameplay of the original games and still feel like an FPS that belongs in 2016’s landscape. I’m only expecting the game to keep the bar high as I keep playing the campaign.

Beyond the story though, I’ve dabbled a bit with the online modes as well – mainly for the achievements so far. SnapMap is a really powerful tool, while still being really accessible. The tutorials for it are straightforward and they do a great job of outlining the potential for the editor, while still leaving plenty of room for experimentation. Some of the maps on the browser are tailor made for achievement boosting, others show off just how powerful the tools are. It’s a really cool thing to see, I’ve always been a fan of simple, but powerful map editors in games, especially console games. The actual online multiplayer is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s totally different from pretty much every other FPS on the market these days. It plays super fast, you need to have good map awareness and keep an eye on your health. No more regenerating health here, you had better keep track on your health and armor. Since the Glory Kills still are in the online scene too, it helps keep camping to a bit of a minimum, as the game modes do too. The weapons feel very much like the classic ones – the rocket launcher in particular is just as good a weapon as it ever was back in the hey-day of arena shooters. With the re-emergence of arena shooters over the last couple years – Overwatch, Quake, Battleborn(ish) – the fact that the original king is back and in great form just keeps the style at the forefront. If you have any interest in the history of FPS games, or just want to play a fantastic modern shooter, Doom is absolutely worth your time.

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Destiny: Rise of Iron – Gamescom Stream

Destiny Rise of IronBungie just wrapped up their Gamescom reveal stream for Rise of Iron, the new expansion for Destiny and I can’t believe how excited I am for this content. Today was all about Crucible updates, and while there wasn’t a huge amount of info, the info they dropped was massive. Let’s go through it.

Let’s get the big one out of the way – Private Matches/Custom Lobbies are coming to Destiny with Rise of Iron. It’s been a request of the community going all the way back to Vanilla, and now that it’s here it really is a game changer. Private Matches means that a true competitive scene can grow, along with a much more full content community. Machinima, community tournaments, pro games, mythbusting all can start to exist on a larger scale. The new settings let you pick any map, any game mode (outside of Crimson Doubles and SRL), the time of day, the presence of vehicles on the large maps and whether you enable Light advantage; and that’s not counting house rules. Your group wants to play sidearms only, with Light levels enabled on Asylum? Go for it. You’re a YouTuber who loves lore – you can now make some amazing video Grimoire content. Hide and Go Seek games are now actually a thing that can happen – they’ve been happening in the Twitch community since April in PvE, but now you can make them an actual game. The potential is incredibly powerful, and the idea of a content drought really doesn’t exist anymore. Now when there’s a few months without major updates, the community can fill that gap with tournaments, or whatever else we feel like. I’m super excited to see what this can bring with this community.

We also got a few more little details on stream, including a really great ViDoc that had a couple really interesting snippets. Let’s start with the gameplay we saw – two matches of the new game type Supremacy. Supremacy is essentially Kill Confirmed – you get a kill, you don’t score until you or a teammate picks up the dropped Crest. The mode looked like a lot of fun, it seemed fast paced and should cut back on camping more too. As long as we see a weapon balance patch with launch, the Crucible is going to be a hell of a lot of fun again. We saw two of the new artifacts in action too today – the Memory of Perun, showing the highlights on low health enemies and supered guardians; and the Memory of Gheleon with the new radar upgraded. The two new maps looked really great too – Floating Gardens looks like it’s going to play super fast, like a combo of Pantheon and Asylum; while the PS Exclusive map looked like a clearer version of The Anomaly set on Mercury. The new weapons they were playing with all looked great – it looked like they were all Faction weapons, a Dead Orbit auto rifle and shotgun, and a Future War Cult hand cannon. The hand cannon in particular looked like my preferred archetype for PvP – the slow, heavy hitting style. And of course, it was really refreshing to see Gjallarhorn back in use.

From the ViDoc though we got our first good look at a couple other details that have me salivating for Rise of Iron. For starters, we got an idea about the new Wretched Eye strike which looks really cool – a Captain Splicer who rips an Ogre’s eye out to use as a weapon? Yes Please. We got a little glimpse at the raid as well, which looks like it’s going to be a ton of fun – I love the themes behind the design, climbing that mountain (Wall) and then having to crash down to the core. My favorite thing though was that we actually got to see a good amount of new gear. The new sets – Iron Lord, Iron Banner, Raid and Trials of Osiris – all look incredible. I’m particularly pumped for the Titan Iron Lord armor with the ornaments on it – I can’t wait to be a flaming wolf Titan. The fact that we’ll have multiple sets of armor – including Faction sets – plus ornaments means that everyone will finally look different. Add in shaders, and class items taking those shaders and the variety that I’ve been hoping for will finally be popping up, at least with appearance. The other thing that I was really happy to see was some of the weapons. They quickly showed some new exotics – the weapon grid for one new machine gun, and models of a couple others. I picked out the “Robocop” style sidearm, and what looked to be a new sniper rifle; along with seeing Monte Carlo and Hawkmoon with their ornaments.

Rise of Iron looked amazing to begin with – everything we’ve been seeing has been exactly what I wanted to see come to Destiny. After today and seeing what the Crucible could be shaping into, I am totally on board for this expansion. It’s taken a couple years, but I think Destiny is finally starting to get into the spot it should be.

Destiny Rise of Iron – Let’s Talk Artifacts

Destiny Rise of IronThis has been the most exciting week in a very long time as it pertains to Destiny, now that we’ve finally got a whole bunch of information about Rise of Iron. Game Informer has been dropping a whole bunch of tasty treats this week and will continue to all month long as we get closer to launch. Of the info we’ve learned so far, we have a mix of importance – some things, like the Ornaments, aren’t particularly game changing; while others like the Archon’s Forge or Artifacts are. I want to talk a little more about those Artifacts today, because the more I look at them, and think about how they will be used, the more it seems like they are going to fundamentally change the way we play Destiny.

Let’s start by looking at what the Artifact slot means in-game now. It’s been a sticking point for the community since it was introduced with The Taken King. Bungie had us thinking that they would provide a new way to customize your loadout, while also contributing to your power with Light. In practice though, they end up being just another item to worry about chasing high numbers on. Up until April, trying to get max Light Artifacts meant playing specific events – April added in a couple different ways to find one that I think made it a lot easier. Unfortunately, that’s about all the Artifact is useful for – adding to your Light. The actual perks on them are so situational that I don’t even worry about them at all anymore. Having a chance to generate an Orb of Light is already kinda weak, and when you add in the requirement of using a certain element grenade or precision kill, it just becomes a non-factor.

Rise of Iron Artifacts

With Rise of Iron though, Artifacts are absolutely going to be a factor; or more accurately, the eight new Iron Lord Artifacts are going to. Each one will still have Light on them, so they’ll still impact your power. We’re assuming that they still have Intellect, Discipline or Strength on them too, so they’ll impact your stat builds. But their perks completely and fundamentally change the way we approach Destiny. Some of them are definitely more obvious changes; others I think need to be seen before we jump to conclusions. Let’s go over them and see just how big they could be.

  • Memory of Radegast lets you reflect back energy projectiles using your sword. It was initially revealed with the knowledge that it can impact attacks in PvE like Ogre eye blasts, which is pretty great, but also Crucible rockets from enemy Guardians. We learned after that it will also affect enemy Supers – Nova Bomb, Hammers of Sol and Shadowshot were all named as reflectable. That’s a huge potential play. It should make using a sword feel like less of a penalty in Crucible play, and adds in a counter to rockets in PvP. Right now, rockets are pretty tough to deal with, Truth in particular. Being able to bounce them back should mean that you need to be smarter with your heavy usage. In PvE, it really can add to your survivability. Ogres can melt you down quick if you are caught off guard, using this can keep you alive now without having to burn a super. It also makes the sword more versatile in PvE – it all adds up to more options, which has always been what I’ve said the game needs. I still have a couple questions – is the tracking overwritten on reflections, and how will proximity detonation work – but I like what I see so far.
  • Memory of Perun will give you an enhanced view of the battlefield, highlighting enemy Guardians that have full Super Energy yellow, and low health enemies will be highlighted red. Similar effects are in the game now as scopes on Omolon weapons, but this removes your need to use specific weapons. This is one where I think in the right hands, it’s going to be a lifesaver. You can determine your course of action in engagements faster if you can quickly tell if the enemy has a Super or not. The low-health part should help a ton in team fights, making cleaning up kills a lot easier. This one really has its focus totally on the Crucible, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe more than some others, this is one where I think we need to get it in our hands to really determine how good it will be.
  • Memory of Jolder gets rid of your sprint cooldown. Short and sweet, this one totally changes how you can move around. In PvE, no more being stranded out of cover when you really can’t afford to be. In Crucible play, this one cranks your speed up even more – if you think sliding and shotgunning was a problem before, it’s only going to be worse with this one on hand. On one hand, I really see the negatives here – unless shotguns are getting hit hard, their dominance is just going to be even more cemented; but the reason for putting it into the game definitely makes a lot of sense. Getting used to different sprint mechanics has really jumped out at me now that I’m bouncing back and forth with Black Ops III and Destiny. I easily see Memory of Jolder getting a ton of usage.
  • Memory of Silimar cuts down the damage from damage over time effects dramatically. As a player who doesn’t really use DoT abilities, but seems to always be on fire, I am very much looking forward to this one. That anticipation is increased since we know that Thorn is returning too, which is something I’m still torn on. This is another one where, depending on how much it actually reduces the damage, could be super important. I’m a little curious as to how useful it will be in PvE, there really isn’t a lot of DoT in there aside from Taken Knight fire attacks. I’m also curious to see if it impacts attacks like the Vortex grenades – technically not DoT attacks, but sustained damage nonetheless. In end-game PvP play this one could be super important to counter specific powerful builds.
  • Memory of Felwinter brings the biggest change of the bunch. It totally removes your Super ability, but gives you an extra grenade and melee charge, a boost to all your stats and has Orbs of Light recharge your grenade and melee attacks. This one literally changes the very way you play the game, on a fundamental level. As it stands now, Warlocks and Hunters can spec for double grenade and melee – Sunsingers running Gift of the Sun and Claws of Ahamkara; Gunslingers with Young Ahamkara’s Spine and Gambler’s Dagger. This opens that up to every subclass in the game, which is a pretty damn powerful neutral build. Yes, the Super Abilities are powerful – sometimes completely changing a game – but the overall utility of having access to your grenades and melees is plenty strong. Certain combos predictions are already popping up online – double smoke and voidwall; double energy drain with axion bolt; double storm grenade and thunderstrike; double barrier and suppression. Of all the new Artifacts, this one I think is the one that needs to most attention – it’s certainly got the potential to be game-breaking, but could be a hell of a lot of fun.
  • Memory of Gheleon is one where I think the power is player dependent – it gives you the detailed radar that Nightstalkers have with Keen Scout and also gives you permanent Third Eye with any primary weapon. In the right hands, this could be the most dangerous Artifact. Players with crack shots will get a lot out of this one. I’ve been using Third Eye a lot since I got my Aegis of the Reef with it, and I find myself missing it when I switch weapons. The detailed radar part is a little less important, mainly since I still think the radar is really bad in Destiny. It’s an Artifact that is very much more aimed at PvP since you can pick and choose your engagements a lot more so in PvE. To borrow a phrase from Datto, it’s a “do a thing” item – if you’re good with the thing it does, you’ll love it; if not, it’s probably not going to be super valuable.
  • Memory of Skorri is essentially a way for every player, regardless of class to have Song of Flame, reducing your nearby allies’ cooldowns on their Super Ability. This is super important from a teamwork perspective, in both PvE and PvP. In PvE, having your Super up more often is always good, since they’re typically the most powerful abilities in the game. In PvP, using your Super can not only keep you alive in some situations you normally wouldn’t, but also really swing the course of a match. For players who maybe aren’t super skilled at getting kills, or running the Spark in Rift, this gives them a way to help the team without putting themselves at undue risk. The level of the cooldown is certainly a question to ask, as is the radius that it works at, but this is definitely one that I think full fireteams of coordinated Guardians will have on at least one player.
  • Memory of Timur is the final new Artifact – that we know of for sure – and it’s one of the more interesting ones. It’s one that is solely built for PvE – you melee an enemy of low level and he fights along you for 30 seconds, or you melee him again. In some cases, I think this could be super cool – turning a Knight or a Wizard or even an Ogre or Hydra could be super cool and useful. The problem is just how many enemies will die with that one melee attack – Dregs, Thrall, Shanks, Acolytes, Psions… the list goes on. We are all assuming that by low level Bungie means red-bar enemies, not the yellow health bar majors. It’s one that I think is situational, but could very well keep you alive – I wish it had existed back in Crota’s End for those melee Knights.

Of all the new gear we know about right now – the new armor sets, some of the new exotics, the returning Class Items, the new customization options – I really think these eight Artifacts are not only the most interesting additions, but potentially the most powerful and important ones. I really hope that they aren’t the things that you can pick up on launch day, I want them to be something we have to work for. One of the best things that Taken King introduced were those multi-step Quests to earn powerful items – Sleep Simulant, No Time to Explain, The Chaperone, First Curse. I hope that these weekly bounties that we learned will reward you with the material to turn in to earn these Artifacts aren’t the kind of bounties you can bang out in an hour or two. Destiny needs some more hard things back in it – powerful items need to be rare again; hopefully with these Artifacts we see that again.

 

Destiny Rise of Iron – Game Informer Info Bomb

Destiny Rise of IronOh dear – Game Informer just proved why subscriptions to gaming magazines are still really important. They unveiled their cover game for September and it’s Rise of Iron, and hoo boy did we learn a bunch. Let’s go over the big points.

For starters, the Light level changes were nailed down – at launch it’s going to be 385, and after the hard mode Raid launches it’ll be bumped up to 400. That’s pretty much about where I thought made the most sense – we still have a sequel coming next year after all. We also know that there are five new story missions coming with Rise of Iron, which seems low, but if you look at what Bungie has been doing since Taken King, what really matters more are the Quests. I thought that when Bungie restructured all of the story content with the 2.0 patch, that was one of the best changes of the whole patch. Looking back on Taken King, there really wasn’t a whole lot of story missions, but the Quests kept you playing PvE events after you finished Regicide. Chasing the Calcified Fragments, finishing the subclass quests, going after the exotic weapons, and dealing with the Taken War ones all made sure that there were plenty of stuff to do for a while.

Rise of Iron Artifacts

Moving on to the other real big change we know about – Artifacts. They were introduced back with The Taken King as a new equipment slot. Ultimately though, they ended up being just another factor to account for with your Light Level. With Rise of Iron we’re getting eight new Artifacts that you can use on any class. Each one has a specific ability associated with them, similar to exotic perks on weapons and armor. Some of them seem like they might be clear go-to choices, others might fly under the radar a little. The big ones I’ve seen people talking about are the Memory of Felwinter, which removes your super ability, but gives you two grenades and melees and also a stat boost across the board; the Memory of Jolder, which removes your sprint delay; and the Memory of Radegast, which lets you reflect projectiles back with your sword. It’s a really cool way to make artifacts actually feel like an important part of your character.

There are tons more to sift through – we know that we’re getting new full sets of armor from Iron Banner, Trials of Osiris, the Raid, the new Archon Forge, and the Iron Lord armor. There are tons of weapons that are coming in too. On top of that, we know that every class item, outside of the raid items from Year One are returning as well. Bungie is putting a pretty evident focus on customization – the new Ornaments, which change the appearance of weapons and armor along with Chroma mean that your Guardian is now even more your own. Taken King took the foundation that the Vanilla game laid, and made pretty much element of the game better. Rise of Iron looks to be continuing that trend, while also shaking up a lot of the building blocks that we have come to know. I think when you look at the new exotics, in particular the new Khvostov, and the new Artifacts, the Crucible is going to be a very different place in a couple months. The new Artifacts in particular are literal game-changers; perhaps more so than anything they’ve added to the game before. As Game Informer keeps putting out more info as the month goes on, and with Bungie planning a reveal stream from Gamescom, there is going to be tons to talk about this month.

Xbox Live August Games with Gold

Sunset Overdrive Xbox BundleAugust is just a few days away, and that means a new set of “free” games coming to Xbox Live. This month’s set has a few really solid games available, especially on the 360 front. It’s also the last month before the big new games start coming out – which is the perfect time to pick up a couple of these games and go through them.

On the Xbox One, the two games are Warriors Orochi 3 and WWE 2K16. I think the WWE one might be the more fun pick, but that’s maybe because I like the WWE games. Since 2K has taken over the series, the mechanics have gotten a bit more stable and while the source material is still as goofy as ever, the games are pretty fun. The character creator suite is actually pretty solid – you can make some close recreations of older wrestlers, or just total abominations. The achievements aren’t particularly crazy, and there’s still people playing online to get those ones taken care of.

What I’m really excited by are the Xbox 360 options – Spelunky and Beyond Good and Evil HD. Spelunky is one of the earlier examples of  modern rouge-like dungeon crawlers. It’s one of those games that I remember seeing explode over the internet, but for whatever reason I just never picked up. Now that it’s free, it’s definitely on my radar again. The same applies to Beyond Good and Evil – I very clearly remember when it came out back in the day, but it just never appealed to me. However, I totally understand the reverence that the game has garnered over the years. There’s a reason that the sequel, which has been seemingly in development for ages, is so highly anticipated. Since we’re still waiting, now might be the best time to pick up the re-released HD version.

Destiny Rise of Iron – Armor Quests?

Destiny Rise of IronI saw a post on the Destiny subreddit earlier today asking why in the current game we have quests that net you both legendary and exotic weapons, but the only quests that earn you armor are the three faction class items. I thought it was a pretty good question to ask – the lore associated with the factions in general is pretty weak in-game and that extends to the quests for the armor; while the weapons we hunt down, especially the exotics, have multiple step quests with clear lore behind them. Sleeper Simulant, Touch of Malice, No Time to Explain and the three exotic swords all have their own story. The story behind the class items boils down to you grinding a ton of rep out for a faction.

Now, after reading the post, I think it’s probably too late to see anything like the level of detail we’ve got for the weapons coming for armor quests. There’s a new 2.3.1 patch coming our way – we don’t have a date quite yet for it, but I would be tremendously surprised to see any new content coming with it, including the missing Taken King exotics. So while that probably isn’t the answer that a lot of fans really would like to hear – we’ve been saying for a while that we just want more and more with this game – it got me thinking a little moving forward. What I have been thinking is that we may very well get those armor quests, with some actual story behind them, in Rise of Iron.

We still are in the dark about a lot of specifics with Rise of Iron – actual story content, strikes, the raid, weapons and armor all still are unknowns. What we do know is that we are going to, at some point, pay homage to the fallen Iron Lords at Felwinter Peak. What that actually means we don’t know for sure, but I see it ending with a full suit of armor and hopefully a suite of weapons too. That has me thinking that at some point, whoever resides in Felwinter Peak will give us a whole bunch of quests. I mentioned this a few weeks ago with some of my predictions for Rise of Iron that I want these Iron Lord quests to be numerous and rewarding. I want there to be a bunch of these quests, and I want them to each earn you at least a legendary – quests to get you a helmet that is similar to Colovance’s or a set of gauntlets that maybe Jolder would have worn. That will immediately put some much needed lore into the armor, as well as make the quests more engaging. Keep them from all being the same requirements, which is tricky, and you might have the one of the best aspects of Rise of Iron‘s PvE side of things. One of the things that I think we as a community have been asking for is direct paths that are predictable and known toward power – that’s a big part of why we liked the quests because we knew what we were heading toward. I want more of that as we move forward with the unique loot – it doesn’t have to be exotics in my mind.

Destiny Rise of Iron Winter Cosmodrome Stream

Today was the first stream from Bungie talking about Rise of Iron since the announcement back before E3. We knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a particularly detailed stream – Bungie said in advance that it was just a tour of some of the new changes to the Cosmodrome. That said, there were still a couple little details that we learned today that I want to talk about.

Destiny Rise of Iron

Let’s start with the location – the Cosmodrome is probably the most traveled location in Destiny. It’s where our journey begins, our first missions and strikes all take place there, and it’s our home planet. So going in to Rise of Iron, I think Bungie deciding to revisit the Cosmodrome and update is a good move. It makes sense that it’s the first place that Bungie is updating – there’s still unfinished business with the Fallen, and it’s the first location overall. Now that we’ve seen parts of the new Winterized Cosmodrome, I like how Bungie is approaching updating it. They could have easily just thrown a layer of snow and ice over Old Russia and called it a day, but they’re taking the lore behind what’s going on, as well as using the actions we’ve taken since launch to help shape the new spaces. The Fallen Walker from the Public Event in the Divide we’ve taken down time and time again is now a husk, now part of the environment. That means The Divide will be the first area to have its public events changed. The Breach is probably the one area we saw today that has had the most changed. In the past, it was just a series of hallways and platforms – now that the Devil Splicers have blown a hole in the wall, those pits have been filled in with the snow. A lot more of the Breach is available to explore – I’m sure that there is more than we saw today there, including maybe more on the far side of the wall. So while we really didn’t see any truly new areas – the only really new thing was a tease in the Rocketyard wall leading to a brand new area, possibly to the Plaguelands – I think today’s stream was cool from a design perspective.

Beyond the actual Cosmodrome though, we learned two major details, in addition to trying to gleam what we can from the gear and menus. Let’s start with the little bits first – the three weapons we saw all looked like they’re similar to the current archetypes. The auto rifle was a Suros one, which looked similar to the New Monarchy on currently – what was interesting was the gun looked like it had some kind of tie to SIVA, as the logo was on the side of the gun. The scout rifle we saw looked like a Vision of Confluence style gun, but we didn’t really get that good of a look at it. The pulse rifle though I think is interesting – the scope on it was similar to Universal Remote’s, while the color scheme didn’t really look like any current weapon manufacturer or vendor set, so I wonder if it’s one of the new foundry weapons. The other little detail was a quick look at Deej’s UI showing his Light Level at 355. The streams in the past haven’t been at max level, so I highly doubt it’s going to that. What’s more likely is that it’s going to be around 400. Finally, we learned about the new pre-order incentive for Rise of Iron. We already are getting a sweet Iron Gjallarhorn, and now we get a Gjallarhorn themed Sparrow – the Gjallarwing – to go along with it. It’s nothing particularly crazy, but it is a cool looking Sparrow, and I think it’s a nice little gift for fans. The other detail is that we now now we’re getting the next Rise of Iron info when Bungie is at Gamescom next month in Germany, which will be talking about the Crucible. That one I expect to be a little longer and more in depth, since they’ve said that there’s a good amount of change coming to the Crucible.