PC Destiny 2: First Impressions

Damn does this game feel great on PC, for a game that already felt perfect on consoles Bungie has done a superb job at making Destiny 2 feel amazing on PC. That’s only with a couple of hours of play. I can’t wait to see how end game weapons perform, especially the weapons that I came to love on my Xbox characters.

Moment to moment game-play feels fantastic too. I found that I had absolutely no adjustment period from having spent so much time playing the console version. Launching my Titan into a Fist of Havoc ultimate felt just as satisfying, if not more so than on console due to the sheer spectacle of watching lightning stream out of my character.

As you would expect Destiny 2 looks wonderful on the PC. With my 1080p monitors the particle effects from rain, weapons and ultimate abilities look spectacular. So I would imagine that these effects would look even better on higher resolution screens.

From what I have experienced so far PC Destiny 2 has been well optimised, I haven’t once dropped a frame. Though I do run a GTX 1060 in my rig so I shouldn’t drop frames anyway, but with the recent history of console games coming to PC it is nice to have one that feels properly optimised.

I can’t wait to play more of this game, especially as it looks like the release schedule for the PC has 7 weeks of content that lines up with the release of the first DLC in December. Meaning that PC players shouldn’t have to deal with any lull in content.

If you enjoyed playing Destiny 1, and were waiting to see what people thought of Destiny 2 on PC. You will not be disappointed.

Advertisements

Destiny 2: What it Needs.

Destiny 2

According to the aptly named website wastedondestiny.com I have racked up 542 hours of game-play in Destiny 1, so it is safe to say that I have enjoyed my time with it and will probably be much closer to 600 hours before the release of the much-anticipated sequel.

But here are a few things that I think Destiny 2 needs to have to be successful, especially given the mess that Destiny 1 was in when it launched in September 2014.


No. 1 – Story:  

By far the largest problem that Destiny had at launch was the fact that it had no story of note for people to level through. Infamously featuring the line “I don’t have time to explain, why I don’t have time to explain.” Destiny 1’s campaign was full of tidbits that could have been interesting if they had been given the time to grow before you were shoved off to the next mission that would likely have nothing to do with the mission you just completed.

Talking to people who still play the game, most agree the story of Destiny 1 ended the second it actually became interesting, which is rough when it happens 20 hours into the game.

To Bungie’s credit each new expansion brought more story, and the Taken King is held by fans of the game to be the story that Destiny should have had at launch. Rightly so in my opinion as its story is interesting and actually allows NPC character development, not to mention some short but compelling quests that gives each player class a little bit of flavor that previously didn’t exist beyond item flavor text.

Destiny 2 needs to build on the story and characters that were brought to life in The Taken King expansion, and give players some intensive to keep pouring hours of our lives into this franchise. Hopefully without forgetting the original Destiny story, because there are a lot of people who want to see where that story goes after being cut so short.


No. 2 – Game-play:

The moment to moment game-play is the only reason I have poured so much of my free time into Destiny, it just feels so damn good to play. The weapons archetypes all feel unique, and unless you mostly play PVP you have a free rein to choose your favorite types of weapons to play with.

As a primarily PVE player I have gone through periods of favoring just about every weapon type in-game, year one for me was pulse rifles, fusion rifles, and rocket launchers. Year two was scout rifles, shotguns, and machine guns. Finally year three has been hand-cannons, sniper rifles, and swords. So as long as Bungie can keep this feeling good they will probably be able to bring most of the current player base along to Destiny 2.

PVP is where they seriously need to do some work however, they really need to be able to balance weapons in such a way that you can take your favorite load-out into the crucible, without being slaughtered by everyone else who is using the current flavour of the meta OP weapon.


No. 3 – Exploration:

Destiny has deceptively small areas of play, with very little to reward you for exploration. Each planetary map is essentially a circuit with a couple of corridors tacked on, and you very quickly learn that exploring the far side of a map nets you nothing so you don’t bother to go out of your way again.

The Dreadnought that came with The Taken King was a step in the right direction, it was filled with little secrets and puzzles to seek out and complete. Unfortunately after doing them once there is no reason to ever do them again, and for the odd one that may need a group you were out of luck within a month of the expansions launch.

Again the quest to get the Exotic Pulse rifle from the Wrath of the Machine raid, is a fantastic puzzle that the community came together to solve, but it can be buggy and frustrating to find a group to fulfill the quests requirements, such as needing one of each class in a group. Or now finding a group that is willing to do the raid puzzle to even start the quest.

For exploration all Destiny 2 needs is to build on the community’s feedback from earlier attempts, i.e. make them solo-able after a length of time or provide an in-game way of finding people to complete tough quests.


No. 4 – Looking for Group:

The Destiny community and its ability to provide the tools that Bungie forgot is a big reason why people still play the game today. Without LFG websites life destinylfg.net, destinylfg.com, the100.io, and even /r/fireteams I would never have been able to find groups of people to raid with.

Coming from games like World of Warcraft that can have massively toxic groups I needed a fair bit of confidence to get on voice comms with five other people to begin raiding. It didn’t help when the first group I ever joined up with in Destiny kicked me because I didn’t have the perfect perk for my rocket launcher.

So I have to give a MASSIVE shout out to the Sherpa community that sprang up to help teach people destiny raid mechanics and get them that experience and confidence they needed. I found them through /r/DestinySherpa and the people there were fantastic and did a great job of teaching rather than just carrying people through tough content.

Destiny 2 very much needs in-built systems to support these communities, and make it easier for people to create groups to complete difficult content when they don’t have people they know in real life who play Destiny to group with.


No. 5 – Veteran Representation:
As a World of Warcraft player for many years, I have little attachment to current items in terms of stats of benefits they give to your character. Due to the fact that the legendary item you pried from the corpse of the toughest enemy you managed to slay, is replaced by the first uncommon drop you get from that squirrel that just happened to get in the way of your sword while you were out questing.

That said how that item looks is always important, and recognisable when you see it out in the wild. So I am hoping that Destiny will have some sort of system like WoWs transmogrification where we can take the look of the gear we have gained in Destiny 1 and use it to show off in Destiny 2

More likely we will get a couple of emblems and maybe a shader, to show we were their way back in year 1. In my case I just want to be able to show off the raid gear I spent weeks hoping would drop from a specific boss.


Destiny 2 is getting a game-play reveal on May 18th (only a few days away) and I can’t wait to see what direction Bungie has taken the Destiny franchise. It has been rumored, pretty much since launch, that most of the Destiny team has moved onto Destiny 2. So the team has had at least three years to build on their experience with Destiny 1 and as Bungie has been great at using community feedback to improve the game I am quietly optimistic that Destiny 2 will live up to expectations.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Initial Impressions

I played this new game for a few hours last night and I have to say that I have been blown away. Not only does Horizon look fantastic, it matches that with superb game-play as well. Not to mention how fascinating the story is, at least so far.

It is not often that a game manages to tick all three of those boxes, especially within the first couple of hours.

Combat against the machines that wander the world feels great, and each different type of machine has its own threat if you are not careful enough to avoid their attention. Watchers for example will call out to nearby machines, warning some away and calling other watchers to come and help deal with the threat. Striders are less aggressive and usually run when you start to attack them, however get too close and they will turn and fight.

This makes fighting them very interesting, as you are constantly learning new ways to take them down and as you get stronger a machine that once needed stealth and a bit of luck to down, needs only a few stabs with a spear, but you still have to be careful of the rest of the machines pack, because they will come after you if you aren’t paying attention.

The only thing that throws me off graphically with this game is to do with talking to other characters, faces and voice acting are amazing but like a lot of games there is very little expression made around the eyes. While this isn’t a major problem it becomes a little distracting when everything else about a character is so expressive, but you are basically having an intense staring contest with them. But this is a problem that will get fixed as game development becomes even more advanced.

So far I am finding the story truly fascinating, and I can’t wait to find out more about this world. What happened to all of our cities? What are the machines? Where did they come from? Why did humanity choose to live so simply rather than rebuild? I hope all of these question get answered, either through the story or through exploration of the world.

Exploration hasn’t been a big thing yet with how far in to Horizon I am, but I believe it is just about to open up for me. That said I love how full of resources the world is, you find crafting materials everywhere you look, and you definitely make good use of the machines and animals you hunt.

Currency in this game is Metal Shards, which as you might imagine can be found on machines, however shards aren’t the only thing needed to buy things from traders, some items need special parts such as a lens from a watcher or a striders heart.

A great quality of life system has been implemented here though, if you do not have the required part you have an option to “start a job” where the part you need is highlighted on the map the same way a quest would be. I love this, in other games I have become used to writing out lists of items to farm or constantly opening inventory screens to make sure I have the required number of parts. This small addition is really helpful.

Anyway, I am going to go and play some more now and I can only hope that Horizon Zero Dawn lives up to what it has shown me so far. I can also tentatively recommend that this game is worth getting even though I am only a few hours in, which is a pretty good indicator of just how well this game begins.

Mass Effect: My Road to Andromeda.

mass-effect

Mass Effect was a series that I ignored for a very long time, mainly because I didn’t have any of the hardware to play the games on as they released. But eventually I got my hands on Mass Effect 3 as a consolation for having bought Sim City 2013 when that game had its god awful launch.

So I figured it was time to jump in to the series and see what I was missing so I bought Mass Effect 1 when it next went on sale. I approached it like I do in many RPGs to make myself and experience the world as I believe I would act.

So out came John Shepard Hero of the Alliance………….. and I didn’t even finish the first mission. For some reason I couldn’t connect with the characters or world in any way so I moved on and played something else.

In the following years as rumors of Mass Effect Andromeda started to surface then finally a brief reveal at an E3 press conference, I began to get interested in this elusive series once again. By this time I had heard a lot of good things about playing Mass Effect as female Shepard. So I decided to take a different tack when trying to play this time.

I approached the game as playing a character, choosing the way they would act rather than the way I would act. Experiencing the story through them rather than through myself, Jennifer Hale’s superb voice acting helped immensely with this too.

Doing this brought me in deep and I played the whole trilogy with all of its story DLC in about a week in January 2016. The only game I didn’t perfect (finishing all quests) was Mass Effect 1 due to trying to get away from the most dated part of the series.

All in all I loved the trilogy, and more than a little annoyed with myself having ignored the franchise for so long. It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me given how much I love the Sci-Fi genre, and now with Andromeda on its way later this month I can’t wait for it to drop, (even if I am annoyed with having a couple of assignments due around the same time).

Mass Effect: Andromeda from what I have seen of it, looks to be moving back towards the kind exploration that Mass Effect 1 had. With being able to touch down on many different planets in search of resources and technology to improve your character and teammates. Though hopefully Andromeda’s Nomad is vastly more controllable than the MAKO.

It will also be interesting to see how the story plays out given that Humanity and the Council races from the Mass Effect trilogy are in a completely alien environment in the Andromeda galaxy far away from any help or home that they recognize.

Andromeda will also have replay value of a different magnitude than the Trilogy, due to a couple of interesting gameplay changes. The first being that your choice of Male or Female player character is a choice between siblings Scot and Sara Ryder, and supposedly the one you don’t choose is present in the story and each will have different interactions with the world.

The second change is the removal of the Lightside vs Darkside AKA the Paragon/Renegade system in conversations, to more ambiguous choices that are more along the lines of a rational versus an emotional answer.

I hope this means it will play out similarly to the Witcher games where choices have consequences but everything has shades of grey, and what you think is the “good” answer at the time may have unforeseen consequences.

Plus as a person who almost always is pulled to the light and chooses the good option hopefully will give the opportunity to play a little more naturally.

I really hope Andromeda is good, I even upgraded my PC graphics card from a GTX 760 to a GTX 1060 just to make sure the game looks as good as I hope it plays. But we will see at the end of the month, and hopefully if my assignments go well I will have the opportunity to play through the game and get some impressions up here quickly.

I may even do a first 5 hours impressions article. But I will have to see how addicted I get to it.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider: A Fantastic Sequel

Rise of the Tomb Raider

When it was announced that the Tomb Raider franchise was being rebooted by Crystal Dynamics, I didn’t care. I had never played more than a demo for an old PS1 Tomb Raider game, and so I ignored all of the news around this reboot. It was a wonderful surprise when I saw it and played it for myself, I fell in love with the franchise and couldn’t wait to see what would happen with the sequel.

Usually I am the kind of person that devours anything related to the franchises I love, but in the case of Rise of the Tomb Raider I decided to ignore as much of the news as possible. The idea being that I would be as pleasantly surprised as I was when I played its predecessor Tomb Raider. Luckily even with the amount of gaming news I consume, from news sites to podcasts and YouTube videos, I managed to go into Rise of the Tomb Raider without having had anything spoiled for me.

It was worth it! I downloaded the game to my Xbox One and was immediately wowed by how good the game looked, it was the first time I had ever sat there staring at the screen not realising the intro cut scene had ended. I have heard people talking about this before but it was amazing to experience it for the first time.

Right from the start Rise of the Tomb Raider does its best to make you feel like this game is a step up from the first game. The tutorial section is split between two opposite places in the world, an icy mountain peak, and somewhere in the Middle East, this is a contrast to the first game being set entirely on a windswept island. It also does the job of making the game feel much larger just by giving the player the idea that Lara Croft has travelled a great distance.

It is unfortunate that it is the story that lets the game down a bit. The basic premise is that Lara went back to the world after the supernatural events that occurred in the first game, and was ridiculed for telling her story. A newspaper headline “Another Crazy Croft,” and some explanation from Lara tells us that her father was discredited for his own theories about the supernatural and archaeology, to the point that he shot himself.

So after her experiences on the island Lara sets out to solve her father’s theories about an Immortal prophet as a way to validate her own experiences and redeem her father’s name. As such Lara goes on this expedition alone rather than risk her friends from the first game, in fact Jonah is the only character to return from the first game.

Needless to say, Lara finds that she is not the only one searching for the immortal prophet, and so general mayhem follows. Alongside the main storyline is the expansion of the idea from the first game that some of the collectibles tell stories of people from the past. In Rise of the Tomb raider these collectibles tell the story of the Immortal prophet’s people running from Trinity (a religious order of some sort), and a Trinity soldier who is sent to follow their trail and report the prophets location.

These side stories are simple and if you get into them, make you want to find the next collectible so that you can read the story of these people. In Tomb Raider I found that these side stories spoiled the major twist for me. However Rise of the Tomb Raider only tells a supplementary story, the only purpose it serves is to flesh out the history of the game world and nothing else. Being interested in stories of all kinds I loved this addition, and I was happy that Crystal Dynamics expanded upon this idea.

When it comes to gameplay Rise of the Tomb Raider does a great job of improving on the first game’s systems. I didn’t notice it too much in tomb Raider but the auto cover system works flawlessly, you are able to hind behind trees or rocks without button presses or awkward controls for getting in or out of cover.

Also added, is the ability to have multiple variations of the same type of weapon. For example you have a number of different bows with different attributes, a longbow that does more damage but is slower to draw and fire and you are unable to keep the bow drawn for a great length of time. Aside from this is a compound bow which does slightly less damage but can be kept drawn for a long time and is more accurate than your other bows.

The same goes for guns, you can have a revolver or a semi-auto pistol; an assault rifle or a bolt-action rifle. Added on top of this is an upgrade system similar to Tomb Raider’s, however it is treated more like a crafting system, where you must collect resources from enemies, animals, and crates to add things to your weapons. Such as adding a scope to your bolt-action rifle and turning it into a sniper rifle so you can take out enemies at a greater distance than you can with your bow.

Another improvement made in Rise of the Tomb Raider is that the challenge tombs you come across now give you a reward other than experience and a treasure map. You now get secret skills that augment your gameplay, like an ancient archery skills that teaches you to quickly fire a second arrow immediately after firing your first, or “inner strength” which gives you a second wind if critically damaged.

The tombs do have better challenges than the first game and they can be massive, some of them are amazing surprises as well. Imagine climbing a barren cliff, and just as you climb around the side of a rock you see a massive temple carved into the side of the canyon wall, you work your way towards all the while hearing a low humming noise. You work your way through the temple and as the final door opens the low humming noise becomes the deafening sound of a massive pipe organ. The temple was built around a natural formation that sounds like a pipe organ when the wind gusts down through the canyon.

And that is just one of the challenge tombs. The others are just as good, you can tell that Crystal Dynamics put a lot of time and effort into this part of the game. Alongside the challenge tombs are some secret crypts that give you pieces of an ancient weapon, the puzzle here is finding the crypts but each one tells the story of a founder of the immortal prophet’s city, which is another thing that adds to the story of the game world.

Rise of the tomb Raider is not an open world game, however it does a great job of making you think that it is. There are a number of large zones that you can explore to find secrets and resources, and each of these large zones are connected by smaller zones that have secrets of their own. This makes the game world feel much larger than it is, you rarely see a loading screen once you are in the game unless you choose to fast travel around.

All in all Crystal Dynamics did a great job with Rise of the Tomb Raider, they managed to improve upon every aspect of Tomb Raiders systems, and they have once again set up for a great sequel. As of writing this the DLC for Rise of the Tomb Raider is all out although I haven’t yet played it, once I do I will write about those as well. I can say with confidence if you enjoyed Tomb Raider you will most definitely enjoy Rise of the Tomb Raider. Even if you are new to the franchise it should be easy to jump in here without much trouble as there are only a few references to the first game.  Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.