A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Diablo III

This thing is still here!

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been a while, but apparently I’ve been missing writing large blocks of text about games, so here I am!

A lot of life has happened in the last 6 years since I uploaded a post here. In that time, I’ve moved a couple of times, I got married, I got a betta fish who lived, died, and was replaced by a couple of snails, and I have a dog and he’s now almost 3 years old. Currently, I’m in the middle of a D&D game and writing this around my friends taking their turns while we fight a large water elemental rather ineffectually. I’m playing a rogue for the first time in a long time and so I’m extra ineffective.

Oh, there it goes, we finally killed it.

Anyway, I’m still playing games, still wondering why I like the things that I like, so there’s still some writing to do.

Lately, I’ve been playing Diablo III again. I know, old classic, but I’ve also dipped into Anthem, Octopath Traveler, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars: Squadrons, Elite Dangerous, and did some Until You Fall in VR the other day.

Oh, riiiight. Things have changed! I retired my laptop in June of 2019 and now have an Aurora R8 Alienware desktop and a big monitor, so yeah! Several years ago, I cancelled my sub to SWTOR and 6 months later picked up FFXIV. No regrets at all and that game has become almost a second home to me. I acquired a refurbished Oculus Rift VR headset in early June 2020 and I’ve been using it off and on to play Beat Saber and other games like Star Trek Bridge Crew. I’ve also acquired a HOTAS setup so I can play Squadrons in VR and have the full experience.

Anyway, our game is still going on, so I’d better focus on it!

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “How in the world does a 33 Acrobatics check put me in the water?!” – Me, just now, in my D&D game.

It’s Been A While

Hey there folks, it’s been a while since I’ve had much of an opportunity to write. I haven’t been gaming exceptionally much of late and life is keeping me extraordinarily busy.

What I will mention is that in the last couple of months I’ve very much enjoyed the Diablo III update, the housing update to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I’m playing Dragon Age II again.

On the D3 update: my character feels stronger than ever. My wizard is a joy to play and I’m often playing at Torment IV. The new equipment I find really encourages good strong looks at the stats and I appreciate tough decisions at high level regarding equipment.

For SWTOR: The housing system is a lot of fun. I spent an entire evening just decorating my main stronghold (the Nar Shaddaa sky palace). It’s really expensive to expand these strongholds and the Tatooine one is exorbitantly expensive. One of these days I’ll get back into it, I hope.

Tuesday, Borderlands The Pre-Sequel releases and I’m hoping everything goes smoothly regarding the free copy I got at PAX East back in April. I’m really looking forward to the story as well as the new characters and gameplay mechanics.

Later this month, Civilization Beyond Earth is dropping (on the 24th) and I’m very excited for that as well. I’m intentionally avoiding the videos and streams they’re releasing so that I can figure this stuff out on my own. Probably not the best idea I’ve had, but I don’t have much time for watching gameplay videos right now.

In Arena Commander, I’ve been spending time lately trying to improve my piloting skills. I’m pretty terrible, but I feel like I’m getting better all the time. Then again, when you’re the worst, all you can do is get better. I’m a bad shot with the gimbaled weapons removed from my 300i trainer, but I’m figuring it out. The main issue is that the Vanduul will change directions randomly after I fire, so it looks like I’m going to hit and then… nope. Oh well, like I said, I’ll figure it out eventually. I just want to get good at this game because when Star Citizen drops I want to be decent enough at it so I can get beyond the starting areas and out into the universe at large.

Speaking of universes, I’ve been considering investigating roleplaying games to see what their populations are. For example, older games, because of the limited space and capabilities of their platforms back then, have smaller observable and implied world populations than modern games. In Final Fantasy VI, there’s about 15 cities but maybe only a few hundred NPCs you can interact with and an implied few thousand actually in the world. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, there’s many thousands of NPCs and an implied number of millions or billions on some worlds thanks to the draw distance and such. I feel like saving the world or the universe is much less impactful when the world/universe isn’t very big or populated. Just a thought that’s been bugging me for a few years now.

However, it’s back to not blogging for a bit. Balancing school, work, and a social life takes up a significant portion of my time these days and I don’t necessarily have something to write about. Therefore, expect me when you see me.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf

Coming Up

I’m going to have issues in the near future keeping up with everything that’s going on. Namely, gaming is going to have to take a back seat to work and school. Here’s what’s going on…

Currently I’m working nearly 40 hours a week, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Starting this Thursday, every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday will have an evening class going from 7pm to nearly 10pm. I’ll have an indeterminate amount of weekly homework to do and my “social obligations” to keep up. As a result, I’m going to be having less and less time to game. All that said, here are the things I’m very much looking forward to…

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Any and all updates for Star Wars: The Old Republic

The upcoming patch for Diablo III

Now, the two game releases are coming in October and I’ve already got my copy of Borderlands coming to me (courtesy of the free copy I got at PAX East from the fine folks at 2K and Gearbox) and I need to pre-order Civ on Steam.

The upcoming things for SWTOR and Diablo III are big content updates that excite and thrill me (namely Galactic Strongholds and patch 2.1.0 respectively).

Anyway, I’ve got plenty of things to look forward to and in the meantime, I can’t guarantee having enough to talk about here. If I miss a Monday here or there, I hope it’s understood I’m just busy and very possibly have nothing to share.

Until next time!

 – Thomas

P.S. “Better to wear out than to rust out.” – Bishop Cumberland


Multiplay FTW

This past weekend I spent some time playing some Diablo III and Civilization V with my friends. Hands down, some of the most fun I’ve had is with my crazy friends in games.

In Diablo III, the goal was to get a friend’s Demon Hunter some better equipment. The legendaries just kept dropping for him and we were laughing about how he was getting all the items and the Witch Doctor wasn’t getting any.

In Civilization V, I started a game with one friend where he’s America and I’m Venice. Then with him and two other friends, we did another game (he’s still America, I’m still Venice, but my other friends are Shoshone and Polynesia).

These days it’s not as easy as I’d like it to schedule time with my friends. Everyone’s getting or is already married, there’s kids, jobs, other friends. Everything’s perfectly understandable. This is, I think, one of the few times in the last several years where we’ve been able to arrange four player gaming for hours on end. It was really great and a lot more fun than I remember.

Sure, you can play these games alone, but sometimes, playing with friends just blows single player out of the water.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” – Abraham Lincoln

Increasing Difficulty, Doesn’t Feel Like It – Diablo III

I played a ton of Diablo III this weekend, but the key thing that happened was I kicked the difficulty up from Torment I to Torment III and I didn’t really notice much of a change (other than the random death that was considerably more rare in Torment I).

What happened to push me into higher difficulty settings? Well it really only took one legendary sword.

I was playing along, using my Blackhand Key wand and I stumbled across this sword, Thunderfury. The version I have is far better than the one in the link, but essentially, that’s what it is. I slapped a Flawless Royal Emerald into the socket and immediately noticed a significant damage increase. Why? It turns out that when you have a near 50% critical hit chance (like I did), increasing your critical damage by 130% has a really big impact on your damage output. To the tune of making Torment I so easy I was getting bored and Torment II was almost as easy.

After that, the special equipment just started coming my way. Long story short, I now have three of the five pieces of Tal Rasha’s Elements, Mirrorball, and I’m well on my way to finishing out two other sets that I may use depending on my whimsy.

I even adjusted my build. No longer do I use Arcane Torrent, I now pelt enemies with Meteor Shower. I replaced the passive Evocation with Elemental Exposure. So now I’m hitting with ice (from Glacial Spike), lightning (courtesy of Thunderfury and Supermassive Black Hole), arcane (thanks to Cannoneer), and fire (from the meteors). That gives me and my allies a 20% bonus to damage (optimally if I’ve connected on an enemy with all four elements) thanks to Elemental Exposure.

Another reason for dropping Arcane Torrent: while it WAS doing tons of damage, it forced me to stand still while dumping my arcane power. Too much standing still doesn’t allow for a lot of survivability. Also, it just didn’t feel super satisfying to hit things. Glacial Spike is incredibly satisfying with how it smacks into things. Black Hole is very satisfying with how it just pulls most of the enemies into it, allowing me to fire Glacial Spike/Cannoneer into them or even Meteor Showers.

Here, take a look at my character (if you can, I’m not sure how well it works). While the sheet says my damage is in the 700k range (right now) I can regularly get that number up to over 1 million. I often crit for damage in the range of 2.5 – 4.5 million per hit (give or take) so I’m not sure how accurate that sheet number is, but there it is. I’m still enjoying how much damage I do and Torment III is just as easy as Torment I was before this windfall of equipment (pretty easy).

The take-away here is I’m having so much fun in Diablo III and I’m looking forward to the new patch and introduction of new things (which I talked about a few weeks ago).

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. Enjoy this old Blizzard joke.

Another Update for Diablo III

Instead of the myriad of hotfixes and the like we used to get in the many moons prior to the Reaper of Souls expansion, Blizzard’s Diablo III is apparently getting another significant update. Let’s walk through it, because I’m interested and because, why not?

First up is something called Seasons. According to Blizzard, they’re similar to the ladders from Diablo II in that you’re climbing the leaderboards and there’s a start and end to each season that denotes the term of the leaderboard. Apparently at the start of each season, a list of “Conquests” will become available and the first 1000 to complete each conquest in a season gets put on the regional leaderboard. These conquests act like achievements and are planned to exist in groups of 10-15 per season. They’re also capable of piling on the achievement points for your profile. Further, if you don’t want to participate in the Seasons, there’s not much of a down-side since the special “Seasonal Legendaries” will be added to the regular loot tables once the season is over. I don’t think I’ll do this initially, but I’ll keep my eye on it just in case I feel like participating one day.

The next thing that’s being added are Greater Rifts. Apparently what you do is you complete a regular rift and the Rift Guardian at the end may drop a Greater Rift Key. Then, you go to where you’d normally go to start up a rift and use the key. I think everyone has to have a Greater Rift Key in order to access a greater rift. The differences between the Greater Rift and the standard one are many, so here’s a list:

  • You race against a clock to finish the rift
  • Most monsters don’t drop loot (it’s all shifted to the Rift Guardian)
  • The tougher the monster, the more it adds to your percent completed bar
  • You can’t resurrect at your corpse or in town, just at the last checkpoint
  • You cannot use banners or teleport to someone who’s in a Greater Rift
  • Greater Rifts have an internal leveling mechanism separate from the existing difficulty levels

On that last point, Blizzard states that, “If you complete a Greater Rift before time expires you’ll advance to the next difficulty level. Should your time be exceptionally good, you might even skip a few levels! If time instead expires, you’ll have reached the end of your current Greater Rift journey and your best results will be posted to the appropriate Leaderboards.” I think this means that you can get pretty far (possibly) with just one rift key. In regards to the standard rift, they’re implementing that “monster toughness affects your completion bar” bullet. Also, the standard rift will require all rift participants to contribute one rift fragment instead of one person contributing five. I think this is going to be quite exciting!

The next item is a no-brainer: they’re adding leaderboards. Greater Rift leaderboards will be split between Hardcore and Normal and are further broken down into categories by class and party size. Obviously some leaderboards will be Season-only.

Next, there are two mechanical changes coming to the game. The first deals with the dexterity stat for Monks and Demon Hunters. They’re making it so that instead of adding a percent of Dodge Chance, each point of Dexterity adds 1 point of Armor. Not only is Dodge not necessarily as reliable as Armor, but it can also keep you from doing what you want to do while your character Dodges everything under the sun. As a result of this change, some passives for the Monk and Demon Hunter will change as well. According to a friend of mine who has a high level Monk, he’s excited for this change and looks forward to not being interrupted as often by dodging. As someone who has a Wizard as my main, I hope it does what they hope it will.

The second mechanical change coming to the game is regarding Health Globes. Apparently due to testing of Greater Rifts, they discovered that there was too much dependency on the healing provided by Health Globes and not enough quality of healing from the gear stats such as Life on Hit and Life Regeneration. As a result, they’re going to reduce the healing that the Health Globes provide and increase the impact of the healing from the aforementioned gear stats. The goal Blizzard hopes for is a more consistent experience when the difficulty kicks up. Color me intrigued.

Lastly, they’re adding a new map to the rift: The Cesspools. Blizzard calls it a “festering, dank underworld” that was originally designed as the sewers of Westmarch that didn’t quite make it into the final release. I’m a fan of new scenery, so bring it on!

All in all, I have to say that Blizzard has really kicked things up a notch with regards to support for Diablo III. Two massive updates in one year? Someone’s paying attention at Blizzard HQ. I’m looking forward to this next update and for whatever they have coming down the development pipeline. 2014 has definitely been a good year for Diablo III with everything that came with the Reaper of Souls expansion and the Loot 2.0 update and it’s only getting better.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. I don’t remember if he says it in this game, but I’ll never forget Deckard Cain going “Stay awhile and listen”.

Back to Sanctuary

Since Tuesday’s release of the 2.0 patch for Diablo III, I’ve been playing nothing but Diablo III. Seriously.

One of the biggest changes was the loot. The loot system has been revised in such a way that while it feels like fewer things are dropping, most of them are relevant to the class that you’re playing. I’m also seeing one to two legendaries dropping per session when I didn’t use to see ANY. It’s almost like the game wants you to be equipped properly with new stuff every level. You know, like they want you to feel rewarded and to have a good time. It’s working.

Other changes that were big were skills for classes. Namely, the Wizard lost the passive Critical Mass, which would have a chance of cooling down all your spells by 1 second per critical hit. It was such a popular passive and it used to ALWAYS cool down on critical hits until they added the “chance” part. Now it’s gone, so I’m stuck with a pretty high attack speed (2.79 or so) and a decent critical chance (46+%). That said though, I can use all kinds of skill sets now without worry since I’m pretty well equipped. I’m a fan of theme approaches, so all fire, all ice, all electricity are so much fun. I’m playing around with skills I never really bothered with in the past and it’s really enjoyable.

My current goal is to get one of each class up to level 60 so I can clean out the legendaries piling up in my stash. I’m very close with both the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor and the Monk is coming up quickly. I encountered a problem with the Demon Hunter last night though: I died as soon as I popped into the game. I revisited my skills, ported to the quest I was working on last, and died almost instantaneously. I don’t know, I beat Normal difficulty the first time with my Demon Hunter, got her to level 45, and then started playing my favorite class (wizard) and just never got back to her. I feel bad because I basically don’t know how to play a Demon Hunter any more. That said, I’m hoping to remedy that soon, but maybe after the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor ding 60.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on lately. I’m excited for the expansion (which I pre-ordered, though I really think the $60 deluxe one isn’t really worth all the extras over the $40 version: a cosmetic pet for D3, a pet for WoW, forum avatars for SC2, and three bonus character slots? Sorry, not really worth the extra $20. Make that pet in D3 pick up my gold for me and I’ll love you forever).

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Look at that thing over there! Let’s kill it.” – Lyndon, Scoundrel follower.

Hunting Rare Loot

I’m sure I’ve shared in the past a couple of stories of how I would hunt for rare loot and how that’s changed over time. Mainly my policy on rare loot hunting is…


Seriously, just forget about it. If it drops, awesome, if it doesn’t, oh well, just don’t worry about it.

Rather than hunt down my old pieces on it, I’ll just relate it all again because why not.

I used to play Ragnarok Online with some friends many many moons ago. Ragnarok Online had one of those mechanisms whereby loot would drop at a percent chance off of particular enemies. You could get this item 50% of the time, this item 49% of the time, this item .9% of the time, this item .09% of the time, and lastly, that rare one for .01% of the time. You get the idea. Well, I had my heart set on the Fin Helm. In the official version of the game, it dropped .01% of the time, but on the server I happened to be playing (it was a private server), loot dropped at x5 of the base rate, so it was .05% for a Fin Helm. I wasn’t happy with the chance, but part of the game was grinding for rare and rare-ish items, so I played along. At the time, they only dropped from one creature which spawned with great regularity on one level of this one dungeon so I felt my chances were better than average. I spent a month there, slaying everything in sight and not a single Fin Helm dropped for me. At the end of the month, I had built up such a level of frustration that one of my friends insisted that I was no longer allowed to search for it or any equivalently rare loot ever again. I agreed, since being that cranky for that long doesn’t exactly do wonders for health. I never did find a Fin Helm of my own but I haven’t played any Ragnarok title in over 5 years now.

So, later when Star Wars Galaxies implemented their Collections system, I participated cautiously and was right to do so. Firstly, some awesome stuff was available through the collections, but some rare items were required to complete a few of them. Jedi and Sith holocrons were among some of the most frustrating things to find and you needed 5 of each of a particular type in order to unlock two separate rewards. One of these coveted items was the Jedi Waistpack, a wearable storage item that only Jedi class characters could use and allowed them to have additional inventory space while wearing their robes (which removed the ability to wear the standard backpacks that everyone else could have). I spent a while looking for the last holocron I needed (I think it was Jedi Holocron #4 of that type, but I honestly don’t recall) and after a fashion, I gave up on it. I even changed classes from Jedi to Commando so I would never need it. The game shut down in December of 2011 and I never did finish that collection or receive my Jedi Waistpack.

These days when I’m hunting for loot off of a particular enemy, I look maybe three times total. If it drops, awesome, if not, I’m able to cope. I existed without the rare loot before I found out about it, I can exist after knowing about it. If that makes sense, you deserve a cookie.

In games like Diablo III or Borderlands 2 where specific enemies have a greater chance of dropping a specific item, I just don’t really bother. I made a half-hearted attempt at finding The Bee shield in Borderlands 2, but I leveled beyond it to the point where I’d have to find it in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode for it to be any good for me. It’s okay though. I played before I knew it existed and I can play without it.

It all comes down to deciding if it’s worth the stress. Do I want to bother with the search? I think some games with rare loot grinding as a mechanic should say, “Don’t bother hunting for rare loot if you get frustrated hunting for your car keys.” It’s really up to you to determine if you can handle such a search. For me, I’d rather not.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “My mother used to tell me: “God knows the age of every tree and the color of every flower. And he knows just how wide your shoulders are. And he’ll never give you anything to carry that’s bigger than you can handle.”” – Mack, Babylon 5, Season 5, A View from the Gallery

A Little Overwhelming

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Borderlands 2. This past weekend I added a fair amount of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Last night I played some Diablo III and now I’m itching for it. Tomorrow the expansion to XCOM Enemy Unknown will arrive (XCOM Enemy Within). Around the 18th, Lord of the Rings Online is going to reformat gameplay to make combat flow better and to reduce the number of skills my poor Captain has.

It feels like a lot. Typically around summertime I start wondering what there is to look forward to in gaming and I always forget that the big things happen right before the holiday season in the October-November range.

So, on the games I’ve mentioned…

In Borderlands 2, I finished the DLCs “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep” and “Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty”. I started in on “Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt” before I got sidetracked.

In Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, I started playing with a group of people that I met online and who are looking to have a good time. Fortunately for them, I’m pretty good at ME3 multiplayer these days, so I was coaching some of them here and there and we netted a bunch of awesome victories. It’s so much fun playing with people who really want to do well. I really lucked out here.

In Diablo III, my friend was playing a level 40 Barbarian and I happened to have a level 39 Barbarian, so I popped into his game and found myself woefully underpowered for playing Nightmare difficulty at Monster Power 10. I had to redo my build and pick up some new equipment, so we’ll see how things go there. Also, is it just me or is the auction hall more overpriced than usual these days? I hope people realize that if they price things to sell, they’ll actually sell them.

I’m planning on starting a new XCOM game tomorrow that will probably detract from all other gaming (except social gaming because I’m not about to say, “No, I can’t play with you because I’m playing with myself” because that’s totally uncool). Also, as I was writing this, a friend insisted that we hadn’t fought each other in multiplayer yet, so I guess that’s what I’m doing tonight!

Depending on the level of the change and how it feels to play LOTRO, I may stick that out longer than a day of gameplay when the changes come. I don’t know yet, but I’m hoping I’ll play it a bit more often in the future.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with my gaming habits right now.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Good plan? Great plan!” – Tiny Tina

Rebuilding a Build – Diablo III

This past weekend I was busy addressing my concerns with my Critical Mass/Archon Wizard build. See, after last weeks rebuild, I was having a problem with falling out of Archon and then it was taking too long to get back into it. Some bad guys (especially in higher monster power levels) have way too many hit points and they were outlasting the duration of my Archon power.

It was back to the drawing board.

First, I looked at what was a super popular build. Then I read about it in a multitude of places. Then I wondered how fun it was and how feasible it was to pull off a diet version of it so I could take it for a spin around the block. After spending a couple hundred thousand gold on the Auction Hall, I figured it was more fun than what I was playing and so…

Here we are, a new build and I replaced all but three pieces of equipment. I do a lot less damage than I used to, but I can handle the toughest of bad guys with a minimum of issues. It’s far from perfect, but what I need now is all the equipment I have with some extra all resist and armor (read: I need to replace all my gear with better stuff). That will take a while.

And now for the gibberish speak…

I shifted from using Shocking Pulse/Living Lightning and Archon as my only attack powers to using Energy Twister/Wicked Wind, Frost Nova, Diamond Skin/Diamond Shards, and Energy Blast to hurt things. Oh, I can’t forget Storm Armor/Shocking Aspect.

I now have a 45.5% critical hit chance with 2.79 attacks per second. Using Critical Mass (which gives me a chance to cooldown all my abilities 1 second faster for every critical hit) in combination with Energy Twister/Wicked Wind (which hits a lot of times over 6 seconds and is dependent on a high attack per second value), I’m able to spam Frost Nova to keep nearly everything around me frozen.

Last night I played with a few friends and to say I’m party friendly is to understate it at best. We were constantly running into elites that had Arcane Enchanted as a suffix and as a result, there was a need for me to isolate one or two of them and freeze-lock them to keep them from murdering us with purple death rays.

I was reading a thread last night and it said that I should have approximately 85% resistances down the board and when I looked at my values they were all a pitiful 55-60%. You’d think this wouldn’t be that big a difference but it is. I get one-shotted a LOT by elites if I’m not freeze locking them (and sometimes they get out and get me anyway). Last night I tried to freeze-lock The Skeleton King on MP5 and he nailed me two or three times. It was tragic but a lesson learned.

End result of last night’s gameplay: I need more resistances through more armor, more strength, and more “all resist” values. I need more critical hit chance and critical hit damage. I need more intelligence and vitality where I can. All of these goals are understandable, but cost a considerable amount of gold. While I do have fun playing the game, I’m not willing to play it every time I sit down to game. For example, right now I’m struggling with playing Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, Diablo 3, or Star Wars: The Old Republic and the first two are losing out right now.

All that said, the take away point here is that I love redesigning my characters from time to time and having enough funds in Diablo is really the only limiting factor (come March it won’t be the only issue since the Auction Hall is closing). It’s great to analyze my play and figure out how I can have more fun. I dare say it’s almost more fun than the play itself sometimes.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – Henry David Thoreau

Scraping the Sky

The other night, with the help of a friend, I managed to finish Inferno difficulty in Diablo III. About time, right?

Recently I found a build that made playing my Wizard fun again and since then I’ve been shopping for gear to make my job a lot easier. Right now though, I’m pretty much as good as I can get without grinding up millions of gold for slight increases here and there. I don’t know if I’ll see a drastic DPS increase like I did when I started focusing on Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage stats.

The only issue I really have with my current build is when I’m in Archon. As it turns out the right-click attack is an awesome super laser and I use it all the time when Archon is active. The moment Archon turns off is the moment my right-click turns into Teleport. So, if Archon runs out, I typically don’t notice it until I’ve teleported into the middle of a bunch of baddies. Very unfortunate. I tried to relocate Teleport to my left-click, but the game won’t let me put a non-attack power in that spot. Tragic, but I suppose I’ll figure it out eventually.

Last night my friends and I tackled Monster Power 7 Inferno difficulty and struggled against some really well built unique and rare monsters. Still, we made a profit even after the ridiculous repair bills. After a while only two of us were playing, so we kicked it down to MP4 and kept going. Again, the unique and rare monsters were the real challenge (also, my friend has just hit inferno, so his equipment isn’t up to par just yet and he gets one-shotted pretty regularly).

Around playing Diablo III, I’ve also been playing Mass Effect 3 multiplayer (which I’m going to do as soon as I’m done here). I’m pushing my characters up to level 20, promoting them, then spending all the money I gained getting there, then doing it all over again. It’s a surprising amount of fun now that my client-side lag issues are practically non-existent.

Anyway, I’ve got some characters to level in ME3, so…

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “To all my people in coach, and to my first class folks; We’ll show you how to scrape the sky.” – “Scrape the Sky” by Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.

The Snap of the Rubber Band

This past week or so I’ve been frustrated by a single issue that keeps popping up time and again in places where I kind of expect a little problem, but not to this extent.

I’m speaking of rubber banding.

To clarify, I’m not talking of snapping your wrist with a rubber band or anything like that. I’m speaking of what happens when there’s a brief disconnect between your computer/client software and the server. Essentially, your computer keeps going and the server goes, “Wait, hang on…” and when there’s a reconnection, the server bounces (or snaps) your character or ship or whatever back to where it last had you on your computer. This is rubber banding (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… it’s a network issue, not hardware or whatever).

So, knowing this isn’t a hardware issue (I can tell because my frame rate is perfectly fine), I looked into potential connection issues. On the one hand, I’m on a wireless network. On the other, after several routing tests, there’s no problem between my computer and the router (regardless of the number of devices handling it). So, where’s the problem? If it’s not local, what’s keeping me from playing Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Diablo III without incident?

I’m honestly not sure. I think it exists outside my home and has to do with my ISP’s agreements with other local port providers closer to the server locations.

As a result, I stopped playing Star Trek Online this week shortly after getting back into it. I stopped playing Neverwinter after a day or two of play. Last night, I rubber banded so frequently and badly (it resulted in a slowdown in loot dropping from a Treasure Pigmy and then it disconnected me as soon as the loot dropped) in Diablo III that I refuse to play that for a bit too.

I’m looking around and wondering how many of my games require internet connections to play (not just DRM net connections, I’m talking forces you to be constantly in contact with a server for playing) and I’m really disappointed in myself. A majority of the games on my computer require that constant connection. I played some Awesomenauts, some Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, some XCOM Enemy Unknown.

Today, I feel fairly restless. I want to do what I want to do and I feel like I can’t without becoming inconvenienced. Ugh.

Here’s hoping my ISP sorts things out soon.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. The definition of rubberbanding on the Urban Dictionary site is spot on.

UPDATE: Here’s a thread on the STO forums that explains kind of what’s going on.

Adjustment Period Nearly Over

I feel like I’m in the groove of balancing schoolwork and gaming right now. Further, I’ve pretty much got a good grasp on some of the idiosyncrasies of Windows 8. I need to figure out what to do about my formerly weekly vlogs. I lost steam when school started and now I’m not sure what to do.

I’m very close to the end of Mass Effect 3 right now. I keep getting distracted by other games though. A little Mechwarrior Online here, some Diablo III there, a touch of Batman: Arkham Asylum…

Last night I was up late playing Minesweeper of all things. They added this neat adventure mode where you’re a guy digging through some catacombs or whatever and you collect gold and so forth. It’s really neat and I’m impressed by it.

A note: I’m constantly befuddled by people’s perception of gamers like myself. For example, a friend recently was astounded to discover that at my age I’m still playing computer games. Why would it be strange? I still play with LEGO occasionally, why not games? I dunno, that’s just a recent thing (read: today). It’s almost like I’m expected to be glued to the TV or something for my leisure time. Please, I have to be DOING something, not just being passive. Admittedly, I do watch a lot of videos on YouTube, but a fair number are ones that inspire me to go do other stuff or encourage me to think.

Just something that came up today.

At any rate, I feel very comfortable with my mechanical Terra now. Not only does she help with my homework, but she works flawlessly to keep me entertained. Almost like the real one did.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Welcome to the madhouse, Batman! I set a trap and you sprang it gloriously! Now let’s get this party started.” – The Joker, Batman: Arkham Asylum

A Little Gaming Here, A Little Gaming There

I’ve finished Mass Effect 2 and I’m making steady progress through Mass Effect 3, but that’s not all I’ve played lately. I’ve also played some Splinter Cell: Conviction, ME3 Multiplayer, Mechwarrior Online, DC Universe Online, and Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol.

Once I’ve finished this playthrough of ME3, I’m expecting to cut loose on a few games, namely I’d like to get back into regularly playing Star Trek Online instead of occasionally looking at it wistfully while I do my schoolwork. Further, I’d like to settle into a bit of Neverwinter, some more Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I think I’d like to play some more Diablo III before the expansion comes out.

Oh, I’m very very excited about the upcoming expansion for XCOM Enemy Unknown. Entitled “Enemy Within“, it’s going to include new enemies, new options for soldiers, and I’m hoping some more council missions. I mentioned it in a P.S. a couple of weeks ago, but as it gets closer to release, I get more excited about it!

I’d also like to share my excitement about the new Tex Murphy game coming soon thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The game will be called “Tesla Effect” and takes place after the last game, Overseer. Check it out. I grew up with Under A Killing Moon and came to love its dry humor and film noir style approach.

Anyway, I’ve got things to do, so until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “All I’ve ever needed was a soft felt fedora, a well-tailored overcoat and a comfy pair of sneakers. Some people know what they like and they stay with it.” – Tex Murphy, Under A Killing Moon.

Quiet Fronts – Gaming Updates

Well, the lack of obvious updates. Let me explain a bit…

Mass Effect 3 is done. There aren’t going to be any more updates to multiplayer and there aren’t going to be any more DLC packs.

Star Trek Online has constant, almost quarterly, updates but in between there’s massive bug fixes and the wait for more content feels pretty long. That said, Legacy of Romulus was HUGE so I totally get waiting a while for the next pile of stuff.

Neverwinter transitions from Open Beta to “live” on the 20th of June. We’re expecting the first module but they’ve been pretty tight-lipped about a lot of the contents. I’m hoping for the Ranger class, but honestly, at this point I’ll take any class.

Diablo III doesn’t seem to be getting an expansion any time soon, which I think it sorely needs. I think Blizzard focused mostly on porting it to console and that’s a great idea, just it feels like things are a bit lacking in the mean time.

XCOM Enemy Unknown is supposedly getting a DLC sometime in the future, but I have no idea when that would happen.

So, it’s all quiet on the western front… as far as I know.

Anyway, I’ve had a busy day recording more XCOM and messing around in other games. I’m going to get back to that.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “They never taught us anything really useful, like how to light a cigarette in the wind, or make a fire out of wet wood, or bayonet a man in the belly.” – Soldier in the film “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Gaming Diet

My gaming diet has been pretty sparse lately.

I’ve been really enjoying Civilization IV and just starting a custom game and playing as a random civilization. It’s quite a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. Typically I get bored around the time where I have to win though. The build up, the expansion, the struggling to make a civilization that can stand the test of time is where all the fun is for me. Sealing the deal, winning, is just unnecessary at that point.

The other day a buddy and I got in some Diablo 3 and that was a pleasant change of pace. I do enjoy playing my Wizard, but he’s a mite fragile. I kind of have to be in the mood to kite enemies around to play him.

I’ve also been playing the occasional couple of rounds of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. I’m almost through with the Sentinel and I’m considering which Infiltrator I’d like to play.

I’m holding off on playing any Star Wars: The Old Republic until Rise of the Hutt Cartel drops (and even then I might hold off because it’s going to be CROWDED). SWTOR isn’t a game I just pick up and play because it’s a serious time investment… also my computer has the occasional issue with running it.

I’m also holding off on playing any Star Trek Online until the new expansion lets us play as Romulans in May. I’m very much looking forward to that. It’ll be crowded too, but STO is a game I’ve whupped pretty well and it’s easier for me to just pick it up than SWTOR.

Yesterday I knocked out Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge for my next Let’s Play. I’ll start posting them this Wednesday. I was surprised at how quick the game was considering how I hadn’t played it in a number of years and I couldn’t remember most of it.

Anyway, not much going on here, so, until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “I’m a mighty pirate!” – Guybrush Threepwood

Whacking Things With A Stick – Satisfaction In Gameplay

There are days where I just want to hit stuff with a stick. Seeing as that’s not entirely socially acceptable, I poke through my catalog of games to find the experience that fulfills that desire best. Sometimes I come up with a winner, sometimes I don’t. Here’s a short list of games that I find give me that great “hitting someone” satisfaction in order of most to least satisfaction.

Mass Effect 3 multiplayer – Seeing as I’ve finished the single player game, the multiplayer component provides replayability and a pile of stuff that I still need to improve upon. Oh, and my favorite weapon, the M-37 Falcon, is a micro-grenade launcher. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Lord of the Rings Online – My captain has a variety of abilities that just FEEL good. He screams and does damage, he swings his halberd and you hear the slicing, cracking, crunching of contact. Yeah, it gets tedious, but by then, my thirst for whacking things with a stick has been sated for at least a couple of hours.

Diablo III – On my Wizard, it’s just satisfying to voip people. Yes, that’s the sound things make when you just erase them from existence. That said, it’s more satisfying to do this during the earlier difficulties as Inferno has a habit of pissing me off repeatedly in a 30-minute period.

Awesomenauts – It’s starting to get up there, but there’s something eminently satisfying about playing Leon and popping out of stealth to land a killing blow on some unsuspecting ‘naut. I mostly enjoy playing Raelynn though. Sniping has never been this fun for me. It’s a bit of work and sometimes I cry out in frustration.

XCOM Enemy Unknown – The satisfaction of crushing an alien squad is quite palpable. Delicious even. That said, XCOM games are pretty cerebral and I always feel a little removed from the “satisfaction zone”, so these games (new and old) are fun, but less viscerally satisfying. Strategy games on the whole share that same removal sense, so that’s nothing new.

Star Trek Online – I don’t know what’s wrong with me these days, but I just have no drive to play this right now. I don’t know if it’s the high end grinding that’s in the game or anything, but I just haven’t been in the mood to command the Iowa lately. Thus, the satisfaction of playing has dropped. There is something to be said for lots of torpedoes, but that’s a bit of a gimmicky approach and isn’t practical in the long run (says the guy who has a character with a Caitian carrier that has nothing but torpedoes up front and turrets in the back; verdict: hilariously fun, but gimmicky as all hell).

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Right now it’s not super satisfying to play, but I’m building up a good craving and waiting until it turns into an out-and-out need to play the game. I’m thinking I’ll play a Knight soon because I love hitting things with Lightsabers, but also because the day I got the game I made a Knight and turned to my Mom and went, “Mom, I’m a Jedi Knight!” So, yeah. It’s not satisfying NOW, but it will be.

This list is forever in flux and I’ve left a few games off to help keep it short. Games will go up and down the list as my whims dictate. This is just a snapshot of my current thoughts.

Right now though, it’s the deciding which stick to whack on what target that’s the tough part.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Enough is as good as a feast.” – Joshua Sylvester

Another Gaming Sick Day

I had the misfortune of getting a cold recently. Staring at my desktop, I found I didn’t have the energy for MMOs or Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. I didn’t have the head for any strategy games either.

So, what’d I play? Diablo III.

Yeah… I finished Hell difficulty on my Wizard and managed to finish Act 1 on Inferno as well. I’d like to point out that I only died four times: once in the Southern Highlands (to an enemy that when I went to hit Q for my potion, I accidentally hit TAB and opened my map… and that’s how I died), twice in the Northern Highlands to the same “reflects damage” beast group, and once in Leoric’s Hunting Grounds to another “reflects damage” enemy.

Courtesy of this issue with these enemies who reflect damage, I’m quite desperate to find a way to not die. I did a complete overhaul of my skills, but I’m not that keen on it. I want to put my skills back and change Magic Weapon/Force Weapon to Magic Weapon/Blood Magic. The Force Weapon rune adds an extra 5% damage to all attacks (on top of the 10% you get from Magic Weapon). The Blood Magic rune makes it so every attack gives 1.5% healing based on your damage dealt.

I haven’t implemented this idea yet, but as I’m still under the weather, I’m thinking it might happen sometime today. My favorite build might not be the best thing in the world, but it’s fun for me. The new build I propose is just a minor change. I’ll do less damage, but my survivability will probably go up.

Oh, a small reason D3 is great for playing while sick… you can keep playing while you blow your nose.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Fezzik: “Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?” Man in Black: “Oh, no, it’s just they’re terribly comfortable, I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

I’ll Get There Eventually – Linear Difficulty

I’ve recently started playing Diablo III again and I’ve moved in on Nightmare difficulty (or difficulty #2). It’s not too hard (as a level 35 Wizard, Act I of Nightmare starts out fairly easy), but I’ve died once already due to unexpected circumstances (read: fighting rare bad guys and getting rammed by a giant bull didn’t do wonders for my health meter).

Playing through the beginning of Nightmare has got me thinking about what’s ahead: Hell and Inferno difficulties. Unlike in other games, they’re much less avoidable than you’d think. The trick to Diablo is that the game starts with you playing Normal difficulty then, when you beat that, you increase the difficulty and do it all over again, and again, and again. The obstacles are essentially the same, they just become harder to overcome… but that’s okay because you’re gaining levels and experience and new equipment the whole time to keep you competitive.

Honestly, this might be the first time where I get pretty far into Hell difficulty. In Diablo II, I got part way into Act I of Hell difficulty before I got frustrated and quit. Here, well, I don’t know. In order to keep decent level progression going, I’m going to need to play Hell and maybe Inferno difficulty. The real trick is that it’s not my only choice.

With the implementation of quest reward experience and the ability to go back and do the quest over and over again, I could just farm quests in the earlier difficulty levels and kill hordes of enemies for the mass kill bonus experience. I might not have to actually play Inferno difficulty. Why is this an option for me? Well…

I’m here to have a good time. I play Diablo III to enjoy myself. The Wizard is FUN to play and I’ve rarely died with him (it’s not fun to get your character killed). I don’t want the excessive challenge that Inferno (and maybe Hell) difficulty brings. I want to have a good time. At a certain point in a lot of games, the challenge and the fun reach a point where the former exceeds the latter (for me at least). When the game stops being fun, it stops being a game and starts being work. Sometimes it takes me a while to realize this and often times this is in that grey area where I’m not entirely focused on fun and I’m frequently telling myself, “Oh come on, I made it this far, I can totally do this.” Typically this is the point where I make a new character or I change games for a year.

The past couple of days I’ve been playing a level 34-35 Wizard in Normal difficulty picking up achievements and getting some of the things I’ve missed… also building up money. It was so much fun! Eventually though, I really wanted to get a couple of levels quickly and so I started in on Nightmare difficulty and already I’m level 37 (shooting for the sky, but hoping to get level 39 or 40 soon due to some cool abilities I’ll get by then). In the mean time, I’m super happy that most games have a single set difficulty. That means I can experience the whole game on the easiest setting and have the good time I’m looking for.

I might get to Hell difficulty. I might get to Inferno difficulty. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it though, and that’s my main concern. Diablo III is a great game and a big part of me is okay with sticking to the lower difficulty areas if it means that I’m not stressing out and I’m having a good time. That’s what it’s all about after all, right?

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a paternal guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” – Edmund Burke

Gaming, Games, Gamery – Personal Gaming Update

I thought I’d let you all know what I’ve been playing lately. It’s nothing spectacular, just Diablo III and Star Trek Online.

First, Diablo III. When I found out there were 10 character slots, I immediately set to work filling 8 of them. Quite silly, right? Anyway, if you make a male and a female of every class, you never have to delete a character. So, lots of work ahead there. I’ve been really enjoying the wizard class lately. It feels very appropriate and it satisfies the D&D portions of my psyche pretty well. Further, there’s nothing like weed whacking as a barbarian. Hitting enemies in a point and click game has never been so satisfying. Kudos to the sound designers.

My highest level character right now is level 36 in Act 1 of Nightmare difficulty. I’ve dabbled in most of the classes, but the second most progress I’ve made has been on a barbarian that I’ve gotten to Act 2 of Normal and a wizard in about the same place. Note: I’m no fan of sand wasps.

On the Star Trek Online front, I’ve finally built the Tetryon and Quantum weaponry I’ve been wanting for some weeks now. Now every time I shoot, it comes out blue. In conjunction with the Tron-style blue lines the Aegis set has bestowed upon my illustrious Iowa, it’s quite the light show. It’s very awesome. Have a few action shots.

So, I hope you enjoyed the gratuitous shots of my girl in action. I’m very proud of what I’ve managed to put together here. I wish I could’ve shown you images of a higher quality, but I run the game at lower settings to improve my performance. Alas.

For some context for the above pictures, I was responding to a distress call by a civilian freighter named Sh’mar. They needed medical assistance and while I was aiding them, we were set upon by True Way ships (Cardassian and Jem’Hadar vessels). I quickly took care of the terrorists and helped the Sh’mar on her way.

Until next time.

– Elorfin

P.S. “Well let me tell you something. Don’t! Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do *anything* that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there… you can make a difference.” – James T. Kirk

A Week in Tristram – Diablo III Initial Impressions

Well, the long awaited “conclusion” to the Diablo series has arrived! Initially I was iffy about purchasing it, but I was motivated late last Monday to invest in the game upon hearing that one of my friends was interested in playing it on launch night instead of our usual tabletop roleplaying game. It’s been almost a week and I have a few thoughts.

First of all, let me say that this game is just as fun (if not more) than Diablo II. The graphics upgrade, the varied skills and enemies, the lore entries, voice acting, music, atmospheric elements, destructible environments, and so on make for an incredible experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself this past week.

I do have a few small issues I’d like to point out.

Issue the First: I have the hardest time reading the font in game. Seriously, could you give me a little bit of size control on that? I’m running the game at a lower resolution than I’d like because my computer can’t handle it at 1280×800 (I wish I could), so I’m playing at 1024×620 (I think). It looks pretty darn good, it plays rather well, but the font is so damn tiny! I’d like to be able to read my stats AND the chat box without needing a freaking microscope.

Issue the Second: I’d like to be able to flag items for not selling or breaking down. Kind of like in D&D Online where you lock the item. Sometimes I mis-click. Admittedly, I really appreciate the buy back option for the vendors: it really really REALLY helps me. I’ve accidentally broken down a few items and I hope I get them again one day.

Issue the Third: Sometimes I don’t know when there are new conversation topics with the NPCs. The blue asterisk only shows up occasionally and I’ve learned to not rely on it for knowing when there’s something new to talk about. It’s not that its presence isn’t accurate when it is there, it’s just that its absence is sometimes a false negative if you catch my drift. I’ve missed a conversation with Cain twice now and I’ve missed one with Shen because I kept going back and nothing was new, so I played and then the story moved along and I missed them again without really a heads-up.

Issue the Fourth: This one really pisses me off: they didn’t finish the game guide before the game came out. So, they released their long awaited game and THEY DON’T HAVE A MANUAL! That thing on their website is NOT a manual and it’s FAR from complete. Seriously, assume I’m a new gamer: how am I supposed to figure out some of these things? They expect us all to be detectives? How is a player supposed to know that, regardless of the weapon category you’re using, your abilities use the damage ratings to determine their effectiveness? How are we supposed to understand the chat box functions? There isn’t a tutorial for how to use these things. As is, this game is NOT new player friendly. The tutorial is about 30 seconds of “click to move” and “click on zombie to hit it”. Those may be the fundamentals, but the finer points, like crafting, dyes, the chat box, grouping, adding friends, trading, I figured all that stuff out on my own by messing around. I LIKE to read manuals. They let me know if I’m missing anything. They give me extra context into the functions of the game and make me aware of ALL the functions. If anything, this shows me that you really dropped the documentation ball. Someone needs to be whipped through the office hallways at Blizzard for this severe oversight. I literally had to give a briefing on some of the details to a friend of mine who started playing with us on Sunday. I should NOT have had to do that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my barbarian is waiting to kill the Skeleton King.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want of a shoe the horse is lost, for want of a horse the rider is lost.” A proverb that means that a seemingly insignificant thing that goes wrong can result in problems of enormous proportions.

Looking Forward to the Up and Coming

For as long as I’ve been paying attention to the gaming industry, I’ve always tried to find something to get excited about… something to genuinely look forward to. I’ve got a couple of things I’d like to share that I’m excited about.

1) XCOM Enemy Unknown – If you’ve ever poked through my previous posts, you’ve probably heard me talk about X-COM UFO Defense and Enemy Unknown is a reimagination of the original (although, the European version of the original was actually called X-COM Enemy Unknown). I’m exceptionally excited about this game. I’ve always been a proponent of taking older games and updating them to more modern mechanics, graphics, and sounds. X-COM is an old game that I still pick up every now and again to play and it was my introduction to tactical level combat. I love it greatly and I’m truly excited about this new take on my old favorite. I have a hunch I’ll still go back to play the original from time to time, but the new one definitely caters to my sense of what I love in games by taking a couple of pages from Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition to help combat move smoothly (at least, that’s the way it seems to me).

2) Star Wars: The Old Republic – I think I’m always going to be excited about the updates for this game. Now that I have a legacy, I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what extra little bits they’re going to be adding to it come 1.3 and so on. Further, I absolutely love the Smuggler storyline and I’m truly immersed in my character. I can’t wait to see what comes next for Captain Vyris Tykin, Republic Privateer!

3) Star Trek Online – Season 6 is just around the corner and they’re announcing that it’s all about Fleet Advancement and getting your own Fleet Starbase. I’m sure there’s going to be some other adjustments and so forth, but also lined up for the future is much much more cool stuff that just makes a Star Trek fan excited to be alive. I’m really glad I have a lifetime account.

4) Mass Effect 3 DLC – I always look forward to anything Bioware releases for Mass Effect. They have a grand grasp of what’s good for the franchise and they’re always making great decisions. The upcoming extension for the ending of the game is intended to give closure to those of us who really needed more than the original ending gave. Further, their continued events for multiplayer keep me coming back. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Thus far, that’s all I’m really looking forward to in gaming… well… there IS one other thing that I’m kind of looking forward to…

5) Diablo III – I spent many a year playing the prior installments and I’m fascinated by it. I want to see how, with the Worldstone destroyed in the previous game, the people of Sanctuary can keep the war between Heaven and Hell from utterly obliterating the world. Also, I kind of owe it to myself to finish things out. I know that after this game Diablo is going to become an MMO (that’s just how the Bioware properties seem to go… three initial games and than an MMO… and it makes sense to me), so I’m going to revel in the single-player-ness as long as I can. The last game gave me nearly 10 years of gaming (I forced myself to stop playing and replaying the game because it would get quite old), let’s see what this new one can do for me.

So, that’s what I’ve got lined up for me… three updates/patches/whatever and two actual games. Here’s hoping 2013 can hold up to the awesomeness that is 2012.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “It’s been a dream of ours to recreate X-COM with our unique creative vision. We’re huge fans of the original game and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-envision a game that is as beloved as X-COM,” said Steve Martin, president of Firaxis Games. “We were careful to keep XCOM: Enemy Unknown true to the elements that made X-COM such a revered game while delivering an entirely new story and gameplay experience for both die-hard X-COM fans and newcomers to the franchise.” – Game Informer