Destiny: Rise of Iron and Me

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and longer still since I said “fuck Destiny.” That doesn’t mean that I’ve moved on from Destiny as my go to game to relax, nor does it mean that Bungie has solved all my complaints. In fact, in some ways, Bungie seems to be trolling me… Any way, the newest, and probably last, expansion to the original game was released a few weeks ago, and I thought about “reviewing” — I guess that’s what I technically do here with my rants— it on release day, but I was busy playing and stressing about a the latest in a series of job interviews for a big company. (Incidentally, I’m still stressing out over it as I wait to find out whether they’re going to hire me or not.) So I’m only now getting around to talking about the latest changes.

First of all, the most cursed thing about Destiny is still there: the random number based loot tables. As always, no matter how well you do in the Crucible, strikes, daily missions and [probably] raids*, you have no idea what the hell your reward, if you even get any, will be. (*I added an asterisk because I’ve been in the unfortunate position of having never done a raid, so I don’t know the loot outcome. I just suspect it’s the same as everywhere else in Destiny. If you want to carry me in a raid, let me know!) This means you might have to grind away at an activity that you’re pretty sure will drop your desired loot until you actually get it. That’s just wrong if you ask me. I’m not going to bitch about it today, I’ve bitched enough about it here already. (1 2 3 4 5)

As I mentioned in parenthesis above, I’ve never done a raid. Why? No one to do them with. My best friend stopped playing Destiny for several reasons, not the least of which is the random loot issue. I have a few other friends that play Destiny occasionally, but honestly I’m probably the best player of my actual acquaintances. So that leaves me with three options: matchmaking in game, which Destiny does not support for raids; use the PlayStation 4’s Community feature to find a group; or cobble together a group through Bungie’s forums or somewhere else. Since the first of these is apparently a non-issue and will not be resolved by Bungie, I’ll address the latter two. For the moment at least.

The problem I have with both of these two options is pretty much the same: sure I could get in touch with hundreds of people, but these are all players that value their time enough that they want a perfect or near perfect run. I’m good, but when it comes to a raid or strike I’m not good enough to feel that I’m carrying my weight in the game. I would much rather play with people I know personally and/or have played with regularly and are playing casually— despite the time a raid may take — rather than demanding perfection from me or them. After that, I’d rather play with completely random strangers that have just as much — or little — faith in my abilities and once the raid is over, we never have to see, hear, or play with each other again. Matchmaking makes that possible, but Bungie is extraordinarily confused on the issue despite their stance that they will not add matchmaking to raids. Why, then, do they have a matchmaking system for strikes? Why not just do the same thing there? The Nightfall strikes once used the matchmaking system, but has since stopped. So why not either implement it for raids or kill it for all PvE? (PvP is different since you have to have enemies after all.) I don’t get it, Bungie. You have it both ways but it shows you’re seriously confused about what your vision is.

Ultimately, Rise of Iron really adds very little that’s truly new, not counting story. Gameplay mechanics haven’t changed really, though you get a few new patrol types in the Plaguelands. Yes you can use a flaming axe at various points and places, but it behaves almost exactly like the Sword of Crota with the exception that it has an ammo counter that counts down even when you’re not swinging it and you can extend the allotted time by finding a fire pit from which to pull flames to recharge it. Beyond that, there’s the Archon’s Forge which I’m sure you’ve heard all about, and it operates very similarly to the Court of Oryx, though even the initiator can get locked of the event. Don’t ask me how I know. Any way, Archon’s Forge is fun enough if you can find players to join you AND one or more of you have offerings to allow you to actually trigger it. There have been a number of times that my fun in the Forge has come to a halt when all of us collectively just ran out of offerings. So, needless to say, the drop rate for the offerings is low enough that you can easily run out of things to do and you can only carry one at a time. To be perfectly honest, I wish they made that change to the Court of Oryx — or better yet, put it somewhere in-between — because I’m running around with more than a hundred Stolen Runes, Reciprocal Runes, and Antiquated Runes right now.

As for everything else in Rise of Iron… Well, the new Fallen are interesting, but they’re still basically the same. The new social area is nice looking, though it may have a few bugs that still need to be worked out. What I mean by that is that one of the bounties/missions requires you to climb up on the mountain in which the Temple of Iron  is built, and apparently there’s nothing to stop you from going beyond what you’re supposed to do. Similarly, the Iron Banner opened this week and opened a section you couldn’t go into before (though you technically came from there in the mission to liberate the area), and you can just keep on going very far away from the Temple. I don’t know if these “bugs” are to enable some future event(s) that might take place there, or just left open for the sake of leaving them open, but it definitely reminds me of the alpha and early release days of Destiny when you could go into the upper court at the back of the Tower and poke around the edges.

I think the biggest single change in Destiny actually launched just before Rise of Iron: private Crucible matches. I think they’re probably a great way to train as part of a clan or fireteam for the public Crucible, but I haven’t actually had anyone to train with… Oddly, you can still launch a private match solo, and run around doing… whatever… At the very least, it’s a good way to get yourself familiarized with the various maps.

So, in the end, I can’t say that Destiny has really improved or captured my imagination and attention this time around, but it’s sufficient to keep me going for now. Destiny 2 is rumored for release next year, and while I may buy into it, I’m probably not going to pine away for it the way I initially did with Destiny. Bungie kinda killed that level of interest for me with the random number loot and the lack of universal matchmaking. If raiding requires more than one person (or you to be a superstar with the game), then you need to have matchmaking. Even World of Warcraft has matchmaking for their raids and instances. Unless Bungie changes their stance on the issue and the random loot, Destiny 2 will have to wait for me to get around to buying it. Sadly, I don’t think that Bungie will miss me.

Ghaddammit, Ted!!

Tonight, courtesy of a very good friend with all the right connections, I managed to see a preview of the film Ted (Seth MacFarlane, 2012), which opens this Friday. The film, in case you’re unaware, is about a grown man John (Mark Wahlberg) and the teddy bear, Ted, which came to life when he was a lonely 8 year old kid. Obviously, the bear has been around the block after 27 years, and this film is really about them, and John’s relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis).

Before I go any further, let me emphasize this as best I can:


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My Take on KillZone 3

Although I’m not going to go into any detail, I’ll confess that I’m biased in favor of my PS3 rather than m Xbox 360. It feels better put together, seems to have more power, and I don’t have to pay to play online with my friends. So, yes, once again I am biased. In the interests of full disclosure, this isn’t exactly a professional, journalism oriented site. Strictly speaking, it’s a blog, though I’m trying to be honest, objective, and fair in most cases. Except for when it comes to my feelings towards Siffie.

Now, I could tell you the basic storyline of KillZone 3, but I don’t even know most of it. I can tell you what I know based on the ending of KZ2 and what I’ve seen in the promos for KZ3, but you can find that on just about any site. Not being a real journalist does hinder a good preview/review because I haven’t seen any more than what the average person has: I didn’t exactly receive a review copy from Guerrilla Games. Still, from what I’ve seen in the open beta, the maps are incredibly detailed, huge, and flat out beautiful. The Frozen Dam map is quite nice, and I love the fact that it’s not even remotely symmetrical. Symmetry is fair, and is often present in multiplayer games, especially in first person shooters, but it makes learning a map entirely too easy. The lack of symmetry makes them interesting and gives players spending time to learn them a huge advantage. I love that.

One of the biggest improvements in the game over KZ2 is the frame rate. In the previous game, the frame rate was usually pretty good but it often would get bogged down if there were a lot of players in the same area, dropping grenades, etc.. From what I’ve seen in KZ3, aside from two occurrences a few seconds apart, there was no noticeable slow down in the 6+ hours that I’ve played in multiplayer. This is good. This is really good.

Guerrilla has tweaked the multiplayer classes a bit from KZ2, and it’s obvious that they learned a lot from the prior game. For starters, they’ve eliminated the Assault class, with the rocket launcher as its default weapon. The Saboteur has migrated into the Infiltrator and the Scout has been renamed the Marksman. The Engineer and Tactician are still there, and still provide similar roles to what they did in the prior game, but there are some things you’ll need to know.

First, the primary and secondary abilities of each class now have three levels each, offering increased functionality and abilities with increasing skill level. For instance, the Marksman primary ability, cloaking, only works for a limited time. Unlocking the next level allows you to remain cloaked until you kill an opponent. Unlocking the top level allows you to remain cloaked even when killing an opponent if you use a silenced weapon. The secondary ability, which works automatically, keeps the sniper off the enemy radar to an extent. Maxing it out, and it completely disables the enemy radar and the Tactician’s marking ability within 15 meters.

This is great. But the drawback, versus KZ2, is that you no longer have the ability to mix and match secondary abilities from other classes. So, my KillZone 2 Combat Engineer (an engineer using the Tactician’s secondary ability to summon air support drones combined with the primary turret building ability) is history.  I understand why it’s gone: it could severely hamper teamwork, and often had results unforeseen when Guerrilla released KZ2. For instance, my Combat Engineer could hold down an area by himself by building two automated turrets, adding air support, and getting behind cover with a shotgun. So far, in KZ3, the only time I’ve been able to have two turrets simultaneously is after I’ve gotten killed, and came back to build another one. A slight irritation I have with the new version of the Engineer is that he no longer comes with the shotgun, but now is equipped by default with a light machine gun that isn’t nearly as effective. On the other hand, one of the maxed out abilities of the Engineer is the ability to hack enemy turrets, and take control of them. I haven’t done that yet, but frankly I’m drooling over unlocking it.

Another change is that the C4 explosives are no longer a secondary ability of the Saboteur/Infiltrator. It is now available to all classes, once unlocked, and can replace grenades. Personally, I prefer grenades over the C4, but I like having the option to use it and still have my normal secondary abilities.

Perhaps the biggest game changer is what has happened to the Tactician. No longer does he wield spawn grenades to give his allies a tactical advantage at any point on the map. Now, like Capture & Hold objectives, there are several specific spawn points on the maps that the Tactician must capture in order to utilize. And just like Capture & Hold objectives, they can be captured by the enemy by simply being within a certain radius of the spawn point. The more Tacticians in the area, the faster it gets captured. This change prevents a common occurrence from KZ2: a Tactician would run into an objective and drop a spawn grenade right there, which would cause extremely chaotic battles and cause objectives to be lost or won entirely too easily. Guerrilla to fix this early in KZ2 by eliminating the temporary invulnerability when spawning in at locations other than the base, but ultimately it still caused a tremendous amount of chaos, and grinding through lives. The new system works better, I think, though it makes camping them entirely too easy. Once you know where the spawn points on a map are located, it’s just a matter of finding a good position to be the spawn camping bastard that everyone hates.

Another minor gripe is that the Marksman’s tier 3 primary skill allows them to remain cloaked after making a kill with a silenced weapon, but the only silenced weapon the Marksmen has regular access to is a silenced pistol. There is no option for a silenced rifle, assault or sniper, in his arsenal. Besides the silenced pistol, I think there’s a silenced submachine gun that the Tactician has access to, but, needless to say, the game’s sniper class should have normal access to a silenced sniper rifle, even if it’s not as powerful as the mid or top end rifle.

All in all, I’m very impressed with the game, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everything else that it has to offer. Though I’m currently unemployed and short on funds, I’ve already pre-ordered my Helghast edition, primarily for the cloaking sniper figurine. I’m even weighing the cost of getting the PS Move and Sharpshooter accessories to try to take the experience to another level, but I’m not yet convinced to do that… For those of you interested in a rating, I’d have to give KZ3 something in excess of 9.0 but not quite a 10. It’s really, really good, but then I’ve only seen a single level.

Slightly Different Direction

Ok, this site has been A) dormant and B) unpopular, even by my standards. So I’m going to abandon the original direction I was going with the site, and turn it into my own little version of a pop culture site. I’m going to continue to write reviews of things as I see fit, and put my own little spin on them, but lets just get it straight: these are my opinions. My advice from here on out is listen to what I have to say but think for yourselves.

Also, from now on, don’t expect to see any spoiler warnings from me. If I’m talking about something, you should consider yourselves already warned that there will be spoilers.

An Evil is dead. Long live An Evil!
Flunky 673
a.k.a. The Evil One