Dark Souls on Steam… August

It’s sad when you go out and buy a game the first day it’s out, then just run out of time on the Xbox to get anywhere at all on it before it’s My Little Pony and fucking Calliou all over the place.  Owning a M-17 game with kids around is the drizzlin’ shits, and Dark Souls has been added to the list of games like Crackdown 2 and Red Dead Redemption that I haven’t finished SPECIFICALLY because I cannot play with the kids even conscious in the house (they can hear the big death and cursing and I’ll turn around and both of them will be standing there while I’m shooting up a saloon or slapping some zombies around).

So the fact that this is coming out on Steam means I will actually get a chance to get my ass kicked by it over and over… and that’s a good thing.  Now if I could only think of an excuse to why I haven’t finished GODHAND…


Diablo 3 is lag incarnate and altogether pretty boring

I’ve had some fun with D3  with two characters just over level 10, but it has problems, problems that might be OK if it were an MMO and I liked MMO’s.  It’s not an MMO and the problems with latency, the rubberbanding and error 33, patching errors are just ridiculous, especially in (drum roll) single player.  Your mileage varies I’m sure but to put it bluntly, D3 is not a very good single player game.  It’s linear, it’s pretty boring so far except for the boss fights and seeing all the stuff in the environment you can blow up.  This is par for the course with the Diablo series: they are not that great single player games– the Zyel mod was created specifically to give players that wanted a good single player experience a better one than could be gotten off vanilla Diablo 2.  And, please, go back and try to play Diablo 1 without falling asleep in your chair.

Multiplayer– that’s where the game shines and while it’s been fun it’s been marred, of course, by lag– maybe acceptable in this early stage if the two core things people want out of the game are fulfilled: fun combat and fun item management.  The former is OK.  I’m still on the fence about it.   The concept I want to talk around with D3 is the idea of RELATIVE fun.   On it’s own, D3 is good, it’s not great, but when you put it up against Torchlight 2 it falls completely flat.

I reiterate some of my earlier posts– once you play Torchlight 2, it’s really tough to go back to Diablo 3’s slow, ponderous gameplay.  It feels like going from fast paced hyper Gauntlet madness with craziness at every turn in Torchlight 2 to slow, static and, while visually appealing, fairly stagnant fighting in Diablo 3.   The second point of fun, item management, is a fucking chore in D3.  While I’m still low level, drops are shit and from what I’ve read and heard– it doesn’t get much better.  The items so far are bland and overall the crafting really feels like a combination of Hellgate London and Titan Quest with all the breaking apart of items into more crap and crafting into….yay more of the same crap you picked up!  Basically you take all your blue items and yellows you do not want, throw away the white items (they are totally useless in the game–and the grey items? what in the flying fuck are they doing in the game?), break the rest of them apart because they don’t fit your character and then take the sub items ( like subtle essence) to create some type of item with a reroll on the effects— in turn this item may not work out for your character so you break the produced item apart and when you have enough sub items again, you get another reroll which may or may not work out for you.  There’s no way to influence the reroll (like a cube lock for example)  There’s no path of crafting other than this that I’ve seen (sockets and jewels– though no runes or rune words). From what I’ve seen so far, it’s quite tedious.  I made 11 or so belts and they all had almost exactly the same powers– nothing special, nothing that gives your character access to anything outside of his set of attacks (like a summon power for a barbarian).

Act 1?  Nothing compared to D2’s act 1.  It’s very short– it’s got one big boss at the end and that’s it (the Butcher).  The fight is boring.

So now I sit waiting for a patch that looks like it’s going to take an hour to download and I’m thinking:

...fuck all this shit.

Torchlight 2 beta video action mraak

Watch me die THRICE, see the explosions, see the no lag, see the ability to add skill points, see the ability to dodge enemy attacks!

Dare I say it: Torchlight 2 beta > Diablo 3 beta.  This is not to say that these are not great games– they are both amazing, but judging from the beta, TL2 was just a better experience.   Here’s why:

1) It’s a better game.  It’s more fun to play, especially if you’ve played a lot of Diablo 2.

2) It’s more respectful of your time.  There’s very little B.S. story stuff.  It gets right to the kill, loot, item manage, kill cycle that is the core of the game.

3) No lag for no good reason -sure other players will lag but that’s a normal reason for lag.  If you’re playing against someone in the BFE of the internet, BFE lag is what you’re going to get. What you won’t get is client side prediction coupled with an overburdened server.

4) Hit lag – when a monster attacks and you are nowhere near that monster you do not get hit.  In Diablo, the client side prediction means you will get hit anyway. This takes a huge amount of the tactical play from the game.

5) You can play at the highest difficulty right out of the gate without slogging through the game.  This is the main reason why the TL2 beta is better.

This isn’t to compare the final versions of each game–I haven’t played either. Diablo 3 was a beta I felt I +had+ to play, but TL2 I cannot WAIT to play every time I get the chance to.

As I’ve said before, Diablo 3 will be great to run through once on normal and dabble in Nightmare a bit, probably a full month of play and you will get your money out of it.  For the long haul, the game you will be playing in a year is going to be Torchlight 2.

Torchlight 2 beta

YEAAAAHHHHHHHH.  Got in an hour or so on Elite Hardcore as the Engineer with a couple random guys and died at level 7 in a huge mosh of undead.  Great stuff– and I am pleased to report that even in multiplayer games YOU CAN DODGE ENEMY ATTACKS.   For gaming value, even from what little I’ve seen so far, TL2 is pure gold  20$ for this? It’s crazy.

The countdown begins for D3

Diablo 3 is just shy of a week away from release.  Following this game for so long, many of us have seen from the periphery a lot of the design paths that didn’t make it into the game (especially Maurice!Bastard who played a demo at some Warcraft tournament eons ago and actually read the website from time to time).  Here’s a list and why I think each change was made.  There is probably an exhaustive list of this somewhere.

Health Potions in addition to the health globes:  Originally there were no health potions, just the health drops in the form of the big red globes.  Now there are health potions and globes.  Why: I think they just couldn’t work this one out with the testers and the game became too dangerous without the player’s ability to heal whenever they wanted.  During the beta, any time I died it was because I was trapped by one mob and being shot at by another.  I don’t think this matters, but we may see the health globes disappear in the final…

No basic weapon attacks:  This one is really odd. You always attack using your skills, rarely the weapon you have. If you equip a bow and are not a character that has archer skills, you will never see an arrow fly from your hands.  Yet the weapon will add to your DPS and any other effects.  It’s very strange.  Why: this has got to be the real money auction house.  There’s no other explaination possible.  Blizzard wants users to be able to use (and that means buy from them or other users where they get a cut) as many weapons in the game as possible so where it seems like there was a constraint on weapons for characters to make them unique, this is gone.

No weapon animation for skills:  This ties into he point above and the monk is the most noticeable character for this.  When you have a weapon and your character uses a skill (such as any attack) the weapon disappears.  If you are carrying a bow and you want to punch someone as the monk, the bow disappears until the skill animation is over.  Why:  Again, this looks like the real money auction house.  They want all characters to buy all items in the game and since characters can use any weapon (but only attack with skills), they would have to animate all skills with all weapons for all characters.  That’s easily done if you started designing the character animation that way like pretty much all the other ARPG’s I’ve played– but if you have to go back and redo all the animation after someone said “hey we need a revenue stream here with the weapons” it will take forever and a day.

Character animations aren’t that great  compared to the monsters:   This is one that has not changed and probably should have. The monsters look incredible– just awesome incarnate.  The characters are sadly, just OK– nothing really special at all and their run animations are bit loopy across the board.  The worst is the witchdoctor (male version) with his shaking palsy and hunch–quite inspiring to make one select him right?  Why? locked in because of Armor sets.  Totally constrained changing or iterating over the character models at some point during development (far too early from the looks of it).

Characters are the same but you can tell they were originally designed to be different: Baurice!mastard complains about this one quite a bit.  The characters are all either close or long range DPS generators and though they look different and have some different types of mana, they are essentially the same across the board.  Why?  It’s suspected that they were trying to balance out the PVP and wow who gives a shit about that at all?  I would say the only character that feels different is the Witch Doctor.  If you play the Demon Hunter or the Wizard it really does feel like the same character with different animations for stuff.

After the beta, I’m really on the fence with D3.  I played D1 for about a month and then picked it up a couple years later because of various LAN’s that destroyed my dwellings from time to time.  I played D2 again for about a month and then picked it back up because of the ZYEL mod and well, yes, played a shitload over the years.  Instead of being more like ZYEL with it’s insane monster rushes and mentally unstable level of crafting options, D3 is looking to be another play for a month, play it a bit with friends here and there after but with Torchlight 2 swinging out soon after, it may be completely eclipsed.  That said, the D3 gameplay is jewel-like in it’s polish and very very fun.  If they had abandoned any ideas around monetizing in game items would it be a better game?  Signs point to Yes.

Kingdoms of Amalur: The Same’maning

I LIKED the demo. I bought the game. The demo SOLD me on the game. I especially enjoyed the combat. The fighting felt solid and fluid. I had control of the action and it mattered that I timed my blocks, dodges and attacks. I was playing Skyrim at the same time and was amazed at how much better the combat felt in Amalur. The skill choices in Amalur are spread out over three main character types. These skill trees seemed cool and interesting in the demo. The game let you spread your skill points over the three skill trees, never locking you into any particular path (this is the first problem and you’ll find that out much later). So as I said, I LIKED the demo. That is where I should have stopped myself I think.

Insert EA rant: People this is a EA game. FUCK YOU EA. I can safely say I will not buy another EA game ever. When I pay 60 dollars for a game I don’t want to be reminded about DLC EVERY FUCKING TIME I START THE FUCKING GAME EA! I don’t want to see that fucking STAR by the Downloads menu item in the main menu for the game EVERY FUCKING TIME I PLAY! YES I SEE EA THAT YOU WANT ME TO SPEND MORE FUCKING MONEY! YES I SEE EA AND NO I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING BUY ANYMORE EA SPACEPISS! EA GET THAT GOD DAMNED STAR OFF MY SCREEN YOU FUCKING COPORATE FUCKASSES!

So here’s how Amalass plays. You’ll play the game for about 3-4hrs and more or less at this point you done EVERYTHING in the game. From this point on you’ll be playing a rehashing of more or less the same enemies, quests and find similar loot for the next however many hours you choose to spend playing. AND YOU CAN SPEND A SHIT TON OF HOURS PLAYING THE SAME SHIT OVER AND OVER. I was maybe 20hrs in when I finally stopped with the non-main quest shit and just powered right through the main quest in 6hrs. I didn’t need to level up anymore and the game was fucking so gawd damned easy on normal. I just got to a point in the game where I was fucking bored and upset with how generic and shitty everything was feeling and said, “Okay, how about now I just win this shitty game.” And so I did, I followed only the main quests, running from yellow circle objective marker to yellow circle objective marker, skipping all the useless dialogue, fighting the same fights over and over and won.

Yes you get more skills on your way to the fucking boring ending but the new skills don’t do anything that great! I got a crowd control skill that I had to use over and over as a melee fighter. Unlocking shit skills that have to be used is a GAY! Where is my choice now? I level up and if I don’t use these new skills I lose. Fucking dumb. AND if I do use them I win instantly. The game is balanced in this strangely perfect way, when you are doing the “right” thing the game is insanely easy and quickly becomes boring after your 10-12th victorious battle.

OH ya I tried to play a fight/thief character, it FAILED. Once I respected and put all my skill points into the fighter tree I instantly became 100% more deadly. ? Why the fuck let me break my character by spec’ing into two or SHIT three trees at once? Is that some way of making the game cooler? Here gamer, put points into any tree you want. If you happen to use only one tree, BINGO you’re good! If you experiment with using multiple trees, FUCK YOU, you’ll hopefully get around to respec’ing into one tree only and quickly see HOW FUCKING WRONG YOU WERE!

The game is worth 10$ tops! Normal people will play 4-6 hours and stop cuz that is all the fun there is in the game. Shitty buffet trough feed americans will play all the fucking way through and buy all the DLC and want more. This game is the mount everest of mediocrity and I climbed all the way to the fucking top and took a GIANT piss on the dead diabetes ridden gamer corpses that littered the peak.

All that said I did craft a fucking KICKASS great sword that did 50+ more damage than anything I found in the game, so that was cool. The crafting system was cool. The fighting system is cool for 4-6hrs. The animations/enemies are very Todd McFrainer or whom ever the fuck that comic guy is. The world art is okay, very wow’ish but it’s fine. I can’t help but think a great number of people wasted a HUGE amount of time making this incredibly so so game.