A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Diablo III

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…

DON’T.

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