Beholder review

Note: I received a full copy of Beholder to review.

Beholder is a weird game. On the surface, its a game where you are a building manager of an apartment in a fictional dictatorship, charged with the task of spying on the tenants and reporting them to the authorities. Underneath that premise, Beholder plays somewhat like a choose-your-own-adventure game, where one choice leads to others and the story progresses. The actual gameplay is limited to talking to people, settings up spy cameras, searching furniture for items, and filing reports based on your findings.

Initially Beholders feels incredibly different from most games. The art style is pretty unique, the setting is very quickly well established, and the characters you interact with are interesting. The first hour or so of gameplay also feels different, as there are almost always multiple ways to accomplish the different tasks you have, and events chain very well most of the time.

For me the game broke down shortly after that however. For one, you can lose the game very abruptly. One quest was to sell stolen food, and when I sold it to a certain character, that character didn’t end up paying full price. Going back to the original seller and informing him of this resulting in him shooting me dead. Game over. It was shocking, and that was a good emoting to get, but after that it just resulting in loading up the game, going down a different path with that quest, and seeing the result (worse still, it seemed all of the results I had available ended poorly, so I ended up declining the quest chain altogether, which didn’t end my game, but I think hurt me later).

You rinse/repeat this pattern a lot (the game auto-saves after every quest progression, and you can’t save on-demand), sometimes having to go back pretty far because the key event that triggered a certain ‘death chain’ was a long time ago. After a bit, the interesting world and character dialog fades (because you have seen it multiple times already), and what is left are just menu options that you pick and test to progress.

Worse still, I’ve had multiple attempts where I wasn’t able to progress at all. One quest asks for a crazy amount of money, and if you can’t pay it in time, game over. I’m sure there is a way around paying the money, but I’ve not found it, and I don’t know which events in the past could be done differently to ultimately get me past this roadblock. Its just not that fun for me to reload over and over again and tweaking what selections I made. The game really hurts itself IMO by being so brutal/difficult. If more quest results were slightly negative vs a full-stop, you could continue to progress and enjoy the setting/writing, and could then play it a second/third time to experience different results. As it is right now, with so many full-stops, you won’t go too long before you end up in a reload cycle, and that breaks the immersion terribly.

It’s hard for me to recommend Beholder unless you enjoy the reload/retry style of gaming. As mentioned, if the difficulty or game-over choices were tuned down, I think it would be a fun game to explore a different world and narrative with a somewhat unique playstyle.

Posted in Uncategorized

The 2016 season of LoL is a wrap

The 2016 season of League of Legends has ended, and the 2017 preseason is now live. I played less LoL in 2016 than prior years (just a little over 100 ranked games in 2016), and didn’t really follow the meta or patch changes as often as I have in the past. I finished the season in plat (funny enough in a promo series), but lower in plat than I have been in the past.

Not following the meta mostly limited my champion pool. In the past I had 2-3 solid options for mid, top, jungle, and support (and 1-2 eh options for ADC if badly needed, though that went away with the new queue system and role selection), while this season I only really felt comfortable on Malz, Amumu, Braum, and Leona. On the plus side at least of all those champions were viable, though I don’t love the skill changes that hit Malz during the season. The big downside is that counter-picking is pretty hard when you have only one option, and in the event of a hard-counter already picked, things get real dicey.

I don’t foresee any major changes to my play time in 2017. LoL will still be a game I play a bit, but I don’t see myself diving deep back into it and pushing back towards diamond levels of play, baring some major changes (not likely) or other games not holding my time much (EVE is still going strong, and eventually Civ VI will be something to really sink serious time into).

Posted in League of Legends

Random Friday Rambles 11/4/16

Random Friday ramblings incoming.

Our clan in Clash of Clans (Supreme Cream!) hit level 10 after our last war. This is a rather big deal because now when we donate troops they get increased by two levels rather than one, which is important for us because we don’t have many TH10 players who could donate troops, but now our TH9s can donate and the recipient will get a max-level unit. This will not only help when filling clan castles for wars, but also for normal farming donations. We currently have a few spots open in the clan, so if you are looking to get into the best mobile game out, look us up and mention the blog.

I finished the final campaign mission for the Mercenaries warband in Mordheim. The final mission was really rough, and I failed to complete it on the first attempt. Luckily the loss wasn’t catastrophic in terms of injuries, and after cashing in all of my spare items for gold and doing some final upgrades to my warband, on the second attempt I was successful. There wasn’t a real ending other than some after-mission text, and I can still keep playing the warband against either the computer or other players.

I’m now working on the newly-released Undead warband, which so far has been a lot of fun. A nice change that come to the game along with that DLC was the ability to start a warband at level 5, so with all unit slots unlocked, meaning you can start with the impressive unit and other specialty troops right away. Huge change in terms of enjoyment and the fun of starting up a new warband.

Finally, I’m still getting my footing with carrier ratting. Highest tick I’ve had without a special spawn has been 44m, although I’d say the average is around 35m right now. There is a good amount of nuance to it compared to ratting in a non-carrier, and you can really increase the gains if you focus on it. On the opposite side of that, it’s also nice that since the rats can’t really scratch the carrier, and our area of space is very safe, casually ratting while watching a video or strolling the internet is really easy/safe.

I’m also seriously considering whether I want to push towards a super carrier. With Goons putting up a Keepstar citadel, it would no longer be a space coffin for my main pilot, and it’s always good to have a goal in EVE. The only other venture I have planned right now is to get into industry once the next expansion is out. KarmaFleet (my corp) has plans to put up the new industrial citadels, and I have a good selection of researched blueprints from back when I was running the wormhole corp. If I go that route, I might also train my alt into a Rorqual, since it’s going to be a mining powerhouse, and would be another big ticket item to potentially go after.

Posted in Clash of Clans, EVE Online, Random | 3 Comments

Tyranny -Finding the fun in being bad

Tyranny, the next RPG from Obsidian (makers of Pillars of Eternity) is coming out Nov 11th and I’m cautiously optimistic about it. On the one hand, I trust Obsidian to make a quality RPG, and PoE was amazing. On the other hand, Tyranny goes down a more unique path of placing you on the ‘bad guys’ side, and that could either be very entertaining or a disaster.

It could be entertaining because it’s something different, and done well it could create a lot of interesting scenarios and twists. Or it could be overly dark and generally unfun to be the bad guy over and over, with each decision having a ‘bad’ ending, just in different shades of blackish gray. I’m not sure if that’s something I want to watch unfold for dozens of hours. I’m also worried that at a certain point, the focus could swift, and the stories goes from being evil to fighting back against that same evil, which would be somewhat predictable and generic.

I have the game pre-ordered, mostly because Obsidian did me right with the PoE kickstarter, so either way I’m going to find out how good of a fit it is come Nov 11th.

Posted in Random | 1 Comment

Skyrim Special Edition

Bethesda yesterday released Skyrim: Special Edition, which if you already owned Skyrim and its three DLC items, you got for free. For consoles, it’s a big upgrade in terms of graphics, but on the PC the baseline Skyrim:SE edition looks significantly worse than a highly modded version of the older Skyrim. That’s not a big surprise to me, but based on the Steam forum, it is for many.

The important part of this new version for PC players is that the core engine is now 64bit, and that shadows have been significantly improved. Why is this important? Because 64bit means far more memory for mods, meaning bigger and hopefully better mods overall. Mods already do some incredible stuff in Skyrim, and expanding on that capability is an exciting prospect. Shadows were something mods had trouble fixing due to engine limits, so those being made better out-of-the-box is important. Plus my guess is most Skyrim players already had all the DLC, so this is literally a free upgrade.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be starting up a new game just yet (I did watch the intro sequence to get a taste of the graphics), but once mods catch up and start to crack into the full potential of the SE, I likely will. Skyrim overall is fantastic, and I wouldn’t mind another go with it ‘soon’.

Edit: One issue I have however, no 3440×1440 support. Seriously how do you release an upgrade to a game engine and not support ultra-wide monitors?

Posted in The Elder Scrolls Online | 3 Comments

EVE: Carrier has arrived

A few days ago I finally joined the big kids club and purchased a carrier in EVE. The only step up left now would be joining the cool kids club and getting a super carrier or titan.

Flying a capital is an interesting experience. The game does a good job of making you realize you are in a large ship, with it turning slow, flying slow, and generally being a large slow-moving monster. Carriers also have the new fighter mechanic, which is different from the other weapon systems in EVE in that you have multiple options for your fighter drones (normal weapon, utility, and special weapon), and the fighters need to reload the special weapon by being told to fly back to the carrier. It’s a bit more interact, which is always nice in EVE.

The hull itself cost 1.5b ISK off contract in Delve, and then another 1b or so was spent to fit it out (not super bling fit, but not all basic T2 either). I don’t remember exactly how much all of the skill books cost, but I think that was at least 500m or so ISK as well, so the overall investment is a good step up from even the bling-fit Rattlesnake (around 1.5b total cost).

Ratting in the carrier is pretty ridiculous compared to even my bling-fit Rattlesnake though. The tank is so strong that you don’t even think about the damage coming in regardless of what site you are running, and even with tech 1 fighters (tech 2 in a few weeks), if you have all of them on one battleship rat and they use the special attack, the rat almost instantly melts. Perhaps even better, the fighters can also track rats as small and hard to hit as elite frigates, so not only are you not worried about your tank, you also aren’t worried about any specific rat being a problem to kill.

So far my ticks (20min) are between 30-40m ISK, and the carrier clears sites so fast that the MTU and the cleanup Noctis can’t keep up. To solve this, I’m now using a second MTU off the carrier. First site the Noctis will drop its MTU once the carrier mostly clears the first wave, and once the site is cleared of all rats, the Noctis will fly back in for cleanup. The carrier flies to the next site and drops its own MTU there. Once the second site is finished, the carrier picks up its MTU (leaving the site about halfway cleaned up in terms of pulling in wrecks) and flies off to a third site. Once the Noctis finishes the first site, it will warp to the second, drop it’s MTU, and finish looting/salvaging the site. The carrier will finish the third site by the time the Noctis finishes cleaning up the second, so one site out of three is left with wrecks/loot on the field (generally 10m ISK in value assuming no rare Dark Blood rat spawns).

Playing both accounts like this isn’t too bad, but having the larger monitor is a huge help here. In terms of clicks, because most of the time the Noctis is waiting for all of the wrecks to be pulled in anyway, I don’t need to target and salvage wrecks asap to keep up. The carrier account requires more attention, but clicking away for the few seconds needed with the Noctis doesn’t have a big impact.

The faster clear time per site also means more chances to get a rare spawn, or an escalation, which I sell off to our escalation running group for what has so far been an average of 100m ISK per escalation for an extra 10 minutes of work (fly to the escalation site, create bookmark, create contract). Overall, I think casually ratting with the carrier will get me into a super carrier somewhat soon, though from a skills perspective I’ve still got a few months of training just to top off the required carrier skills to join capswarm (Goons capital group), and then the super carrier has its own set of skills for its larger fighters.

Having the skills to join capswarm will also mean I can officially bring my carrier on PvP fleets and qualify for SRP. I’m looking forward to that, but the time between now and that point will be nice to just get a feel for the carrier and its mechanics prior to putting it in a hostile situation. I don’t think I’ll be using my carrier for Incursions unless we get an incursion within jump range of our home base in Delve.

My alt is also currently training to fly a FAX (capital-class ‘healer’ ship), and once he has that, it will be another safety blanked for my carrier pilot (should hostiles tackle my carrier for some reason, my alt would be able to cyno in with his FAX and keep the carrier alive for a bit, giving allies more time to come and save me). FAXs are also used when we run Incursions, so that’s another nice bonus and income stream.

My only regret here is that prior to my last break, I trained up Caldari carrier to V, which kinda pushed me into the Caldari carrier (Chimera), which is not an ideal ratting carrier compared to either the Thanatos (Gallente) or the Nidhoggur (Minmittar) based on hull bonuses (the Chimera gets a bonus to shield resists, which is overkill for ratting. A boost to fighter dps would be much better, which is what both the Thanny and Nid provide). On the bright side, the Caldari super carrier, the Wyvern, has solid bonuses that makes training Caldari carrier to V more justified eventually.

Progress is being made, and new long-term goals (the Wyvern) are set. Life is good.


Posted in EVE Online, Goons | 1 Comment

Mordheim – The undead are here!

I’ve mentioned Mordheim: City of the Damned here before, and I want to mention it again today because the game just received its latest piece of DLC, the Undead warband. From just two battles, I can say I already love the Undead, minus the camera shake when zombies move (god I hope that gets fixed asap). The art style is great, the units feel new in terms of gameplay style, and there is a real sense of separation from the very powerful leader (Vampire) and the lowest-tier throwaway zombies.

The best thing about a new warband in Mordheim is that not only do you have a new bunch of units to play as, you also get a new warband to face in combat, and because warbands can have different unit compositions, that’s a lot more variety to the game. It also means you get a slightly different experience on the current maps, as the undead as a whole don’t exactly follow the movement and strategy of other warbands (generally slower, and less of a range focus).

The DLC is also a good reminder of how much better gaming is today than in the past. In the past, prior to DLC, perhaps something like this gets released for free (assuming we are talking internet-era gaming, if we are talking older than that, once a game shipped that was usually it, period), or maybe this and other stuff is part of one large expansion that takes far longer to develop. Today developers can stick with a game for a long time after release and still get rewarded for it (DLC money), while the players continue to have a game they like get better and better.

It also allows for games to start small, see if there is an audience for it, and then grow if enough people support the project. Mordheim started in early access, with four warbands and far more limited features. It now has six warbands, is feature-rich, and going strong. Good stuff.

Posted in RMT | 1 Comment