Destiny: The Dark That Sits Below The Internet Gaming Community

It’s funny to me that Destiny: The Dark Below will probably get trashed by most of the Internet gaming media (which means that it’ll get something along the lines of an 8.99999993/10), who will then be baffled that people will still buy the expansion and wonder why their strongly-worded reviews did not bring about the end of Destiny. In fact, Destiny as a franchise is fast becoming the new Call of Duty: loved by Internet critics, loved by “the unwashed masses”, hated by the “hardcore”. Or at the very least, certain members of the “hardcore”.

For better or worse, the “era” is over, if it really existed. I think Destiny shows that gamers as a whole no longer care about on-disk DLC (or at least not enough to affect their purchase) or content being cut so it can be added as DLC later. This probably has some distasteful long-term consequences for the gaming industry, and I think it’s a bit of a shame that The Axis Of Evil(tm) basically trudged ahead and did whatever they wanted and gamers as a whole just kind of went with it.

I think it’s kind of the same reason it’s funny to watch people just get angry and when the person they’re upset at doesn’t react at all, it just makes them even angrier. Impotent rage is kind of funny to me, and impotent Internet rage is even funnier because of how hyperbolic and self-important it can get. I kind of like it when overly self-important gaming communities get put in their place. Not to worry, though, guys, you can still take comfort that your choices in media make you superior to the unwashed masses.

Getting back to Destiny as the new Call of Duty, I can’t decide whether it should have been expected or not. On one hand, it had so much hype that a bit of backlash was inevitable, but on the other hand, I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated this kind of reaction from certain sections of the Internet gaming community, even factoring in that the Internet lends itself to a bit of hyperbole. Expected or not, though, it’s causing some weird cognitive dissonance all across the Internet. Are we “supposed” to love it or hate it? I don’t know the answer to that question.

iOS Roundup – Vainglory! And some other games.

Vainglory

After minor amounts of hype, Vainglory finally launched in the US, with iPhone 6/6 Plus support to boot. Although Vainglory isn’t the first MOBA on iOS, it’s the first one to be featured in an Apple keynote speech, which is probably worth something.

If you don’t know what a MOBA is, you’re luckier than me. Seriously, though, Wikipedia once again knows all. For the rest of this post, I assume that you have some knowledge of the genre and are interested in reading about Vainglory. If not, feel free to skip right to the next section.

If you’re still with me, Vainglory plays differently from League of Legends or DotA 2. The biggest difference is that Vainglory is 3-on-3 and only features one lane. Because of this, I think the metagame will eventually end up as “lane-jungler-roamer”, where the roamer can hold his or her own in both the lane and the jungle and fills in where the team needs help. The most versatile champs will rise to the top in this format.

I also think that jungling and counter-jungling will be the most important factor as the metagame stabilizes, due to the existence of the jungle item shop, the minion miners, who strengthen your minions as long as you control the two mines, and the most important factor: the gold miner and the Kraken. At the four-minute mark, all three miners appear. The gold miner continues to mine throughout the game and when a mining cycle completes, the team that most recently killed him splits the gold payout, which can be a significant gold boost. At the 15-minute mark, the gold miner unleashes the Kraken, who kills the miner and takes his place for the rest of the game. The Kraken is a dangerous opponent, but the team that kills him gains the Kraken as an extremely powerful ally. Getting the Kraken will almost always allow your team to make a comeback or allow your team to secure the win. He’s that important.

The best thing and the worst thing about Vainglory is the lack of chat support. It’s great that you don’t have to talk to the crazies out there, but it can be damn hard to get your teammates on the same page without it. The waypoint markers can help, but they’re not always a good substitute.

So if all of this sounds interesting to you, hit me up. My in-game name is “cottontail”.

Sailor’s Dream

Another big release was Sailor’s Dream by Simogo, the same team behind acclaimed games such as Device 6 and Year Walk. And just like those games, it’s tough to describe exactly what the game is like. But it’s only $1.99, so maybe skip out on those McDoubles one day and give it a try.

Faraway Kingdom

Hoo boy, this one. It has that retro 8-bit aesthetic, and it also has that retro 8-bit thing where the game doesn’t do a great job explaining exactly what everything does. The game is part town-builder and part pseudo-dungeon-crawler. You build up your kingdom by building houses for your heroes to live in and underground dungeons for them to train in so they can be strong enough to head out on raids against the big bad monsters.

The raids are the only interactive part of the game. When you enter a raid, you’ll be asked to create a party of 6, 9, or 12 heroes. The game sticks with the MMORPG holy trinity, so you’ll need at least one Warrior to lead the group, along with a combination of Mages and Priests. You can also bring along a friend’s hero. Once in the raid, your characters will do their roles automatically, but whenever a critical hit (or heal) occurs, a corresponding orb will pop out. Touching that orb will allow you to use that class’s special ability, with more orbs leading to a greater effect. Special abilities range from increasing that class’s strength for a short time or making critical hits more likely or quickly regenerating a class’s HP or MP.

Okay, so it’s not the most interactive thing out there. But it is the most interactive thing that happens in the game.

A key aspect of the game is your heroes’ elemental stats. Each underground dungeon and raid has an element associated with it: either Fire, Water, Nature, Darkness, or Stars, and sending heroes with a high elemental stat will give them major stat boosts. This is especially important in raids, where your opponents’ stats tend to rise pretty damn quick.

If you’re looking for some action, Faraway Kingdom is pretty short on it. But if you like the town-building aspects and are looking for a game that you can “play” while you’re doing something else, it might be worth your time. And if you like it, hit me up. My in-game name is “cottontail”. Again.

Destiny’s Thorn Bounty: Symbolism? Partial repost? Both?

(This is a partial repost because readers couldn’t figure out how to get to the second page of my posts. It’s not your fault, it’s mine.)

In-game lore describes the Thorn hand cannon as a corrupted weapon, a “Weapon of Sorrow”, which probably explains the kind of behaviors I had to engage in so I could complete the bounty. To complete the bounty, you need to get 500 points by killing other players in PvP with Void damage: 5 points for a kill, -2 points for a death. Unlike some of the other PvP bounties in the game, you get nothing for assists.

So because of this, whenever my teammate and I are both shooting at an enemy and I only get the assist instead of the kill, instead of thinking “Good teamwork, there”, I think “You just stole my kill, asshole. I hope we’re on different teams next time so I can shoot you in the face.” That probably isn’t healthy. And I’ve found myself abandoning teammates to die in a firefight because I thought they were so incompetent that they would get me killed too and I would lose progress in the bounty. Again, not healthy. I committed the ultimate sin twice, too: one time my team was doing so poorly that I figured I’d losing too much progress if I stayed. I also left the final match as soon as I finally got the 500 points needed to progress the bounty.

The mechanics of this bounty mean that you either go completely lone wolf, or you use your teammates as meat shields to soften up the enemies and you clean up afterwards. There were multiple times when I deliberately hung back in a firefight, letting my teammates die, and then leaping out and killing the enemies when they were weakened afterwards.

So if you have a teammate who’s being an ass, maybe he was corrupted by the last of the Weapons of Sorrow. Or he’s just an ass. Who knows?

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Sorry, P&D

You had a good run. But in 2 hours of Terra Battle, I saw more interesting twists on the base gameplay than I saw in probably close to 50 hours of P&D. Maybe if you’d spent more time improving the gameplay instead of adding more half-naked chicks who look like they’re 12.

In fact, Terra Battle is so good that I’ve been sitting on some pretty solid games like Monster Strike and Faraway Kingdom. But I have managed to make some time for Puzzle to the Center of the Earth. It’s essentially a match-3 platformer: you drag your finger over a connected set of at least 3 blocks to make them disappear, allowing your character to descend through each level. If a block is hovering, with no blocks beneath it, dragging down on that block will make it fall. Both clearing blocks and causing a block to fall costs energy, and if you run out, you can’t do much of anything. Clearing a set of 6 or more blocks gives you a catalyst, which allows you to use special combinations. For example, clearing a blue-red-green combination causes an explosion that clears out more blocks, while clearing a tan-light blue-red combination turns those blocks into extra energy.

I ended up killing myself for this screenshot. So you'd better appreciate it.

I ended up killing myself for this screenshot. So you’d better appreciate it.

My main complaint is that I’ve already run into some “gotcha” moments. There’s been a couple of times where I missed a star or a switch (both of which are required to access certain secrets) because I did something to block the passage without knowing that it was there. You can replay levels to pick up secrets that you missed, but it still kinda rubs me the wrong way.

Welcome Back!

In this post: I talk about iOS games. Then on page two, I talk about Destiny. Then I stop talking.

Terra Battle

The most anticipated iOS release for October was Terra Battle, and it definitely did not disappoint. The game had reached 500k downloads within a week of release, and while I suspect it won’t reach some of the loftier goals, the perks we’re getting are definitely worth it.

The game is played on a grid, where your units and the enemy units face off. To attack, you must move your units in a way that they flank an enemy unit. While you can only move one of your units at a time, you can push your other units into position by dragging over them as you move. You’ll want to plan moves in advance, because your units can provide support if they’re inline with an attacking unit. With some clever movement, you can set up your units so that they simultaneously attack and provide support, all during the same move.

You’ll need to do this, too, because the game definitely stops pulling punches around the fourth or fifth chapter. Players who were there from day one have a bit of an advantage in the form of Kuscah, a mage who heals the units who support an attack with him. Like Fire Emblem, the game features a rock-paper-scissors weapon system, where spear beats sword, sword beats bow, and bow beats spear.

I can’t recommend this game enough. Pick it up now.

Vainglory

This game also got a ton of attention in the iOS community when Apple heavily featured it during their iPhone 6 event. The makers, Super Evil Megacorp, tout it as “the MOBA perfected for touch”, and let’s face it, that’s a bold claim. If they can deliver, it’ll go a long way towards legitimizing the iOS gaming community. They’re currently soft-rolling out the game throughout various regions. No word on when it’s coming to the US App Store, but it is available in southeast Asia, if you’d like to create an account in that region.

The game currently requires iOS 6 and supports the iPad 2 or later, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus, but they do plan on supporting other devices in the future. I would think the iPhone 5S wouldn’t be completely crazy, but I wouldn’t count on support for the iPhone 5C or earlier. If you have a device that can run this game, I highly recommend to keep checking their site to see if the game is out in the USA.

Castaway Paradise

I had high hopes for this game. I was thrilled about the idea of an Animal Crossing-like game on iOS. But man, this game is just not that good.

It controls fine, although the touch-to-move is a bit jarring compared to the virtual joystick controls that you’d expect the game to use. What’s particularly off-putting about the game is how cluttered the game screen gets, even on my iPad mini. It wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t insist on popping up timers for every little thing, complete with the option to use premium currency to speed it up. It’s like a double dose of pain: the game clutters up your screen with offers to make them go away if you just pull out your wallet.