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Waiting and Raidin’

This weekend is no different than any other. If I’m not playing DDO I’m usually playing something else.

But so far and since it’s +2 Loot weekend, I’ve been playing lots of raids on many toons. My hope was to pull something truly awesome, but that hasn’t materialized yet. Like those ones with 3 abilities. Or 2 really good.

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A few of these went well; others went – I think the word is – sideways. Or – we did it but at great pain. Such as this LE shroud run. Just imagine how often we died. At part 2 every single item except my cloak was broken. And when I mean broken I mean couldn’t even equip it broken. Yet we finished.

Othertimes – such as 2 borked LE Hound runs we got to about 40% HP left on the Hound before everything collapsed. Heck – I even joined a group that failed EN Defiler.

And I got very little to show for it. Random loot or named. But I keep trying.

 

 

 

2016

This is my first post in a while. Mostly because the Christmas season and me taking a break from writing. Not in my head tho (sure, that didn’t sound psycho at all) – but I’ve been thinking a lot about gaming in average and DDO in particular.

As we straddle the hamster wheel it dawned on me that I really don’t know why; so much of my gaming – at least until DDO, World of Tanks, Defiance etc was about the journey. A singular defined experience where you take what was a lifetime of experience and compressed it within a scope of a gaming experience.

The journey. The first stumbling steps, the growth of character and the end. Like a bright light in the end of the tunnel. Except MMOs and the like aren’t bright lights – they’re a circular tempest of time and grind and goals. Goals that once you almost get there turns fluid and evaporates, conforms, take shape – like a carrot just outside reach until it turns into mist again.

I compare that to my recent experience with Fallout 4 and Mad Max – and in there I see the end. And I fear it. Because with the end comes a climax. Sometimes satisfying and other times not. But that’s it. Other than doing the same again you can never feel the same again. Sorta like doing that quest once than years later everything is familiar and routine. You’re like a trained monkey going through the motions.

It’s 2016.

My next post will be my thoughts about 2015 and update 29. I’ve thought a lot about it. Minced it over. Figured I’d give it a shot at trying to squeeze the essence of the good and the bad and give my take. I owe myself that much. Not in a conceded sort of way – but to really ponder if the road just didn’t hit an end. Or a fork. Or maybe just rolled out another red carpet of endless hamster wheeling.

I’m not trying to be poetic. I’m just trying to stay sane.

I can say this tho – I started playing again since update 29 dropped. I took a few hours of break here and there playing Fallout 4 (some more) and Mad Max. And I’d like to write up a comparison of these two despotic visions of a broken future. Because they are similar in a way – not mechanically of course – but a take on what lays ahead of us (in the alternative). One where the beasts mutate and take form and the other where humans turn into beasts.

But that’s later. For now – a redux to 2015 and a review of the year that was and the blunders and good thing update 29 brought us. And hopefully we’re going to see soon what the next chapter in DDO have in store for us.

Back

I’ve given my 2 cents on the u29 fiasco on the forums so I’m going to leave that alone (completely). But let me say this – the state of the random loot can be good and interesting, but right now it’s simply way too powerful. Way too.

But lets talk the new quests and the shroud. The new quests are too long. One is not that bad, sorta – okay. That’s the one without all the oozes and kobolds.

The one with is terrible. It’s my new least favorite quests. It got all of the stuff I like the least. Mob after mob of kobolds and oozes. Arcane Oozes are just the worst. And it’s traps, oozes, kobolds, oozes, traps, oozes, oozes, kobolds – a insta killing cube and just wasting time killing oozes, getting hit by traps (since there are no high level rogue hirelings) and kobolds. Did I mention oozes? Yeah tons.

The only thing worse would be an exact duplicate of coalescence chamber with oozes.

The new shroud however is awesome. First, the longest and hardest part turned out to be the portals. Then the second part took a little coordination but wasn’t at all that bad. The third part with 1 wall automatically up was terrific. Great even. 4th similar to old 4th and 5th just plainly super. Terrific ending. I’m not spoiling anything – but it was action from the first minute to the last. One beautiful wave of action after another. Play it. Enjoy it. Now I definitely want to check out Hound and the rest of it.

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Fallout 4 and Settlements

I’ve been busy and logging 200 plus hours into Fallout 4. During that time I’ve spent a lot of it building settlements – one of the new part of the Fallout universe.

The game itself breaks down into 3 distinct parts, but some of it bleeding into other parts. First – questing. Your basic Fallout experience of emerging out of a vault, finding a post apocalyptic world and then doing the whole side quests/exploration/main quest thingy. You can easily sink lots of time combing every inch of the massive map for more.

But part of that is also settlement building. In fact doing the first quest beyond the vault will land you in Sanctuary Hills – the biggest and main settlement that you can choose to ignore or that will after your first steps into the role as savior or scurge, be populated with the first group of people you run into from the nearby Concord. In fact you’ll end up finding 2 settlements before you even run into that.

In between Sanctuary and Concord is the Red Rocket gas station. It is a potential settlement site that you can choose to ignore for that purpose and simply use as a free ‘haven’ of sort for all your needs when you don’t want to be bothered with ‘settlers’. Or you can turn it into something, like I did here.

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Normally it’s only the gas station in the middle but as you can see from the overview I build more or less a ‘fort’ around it. It’s a really simple design that I eventually figured out with some experimentation.

And that’s because the tool itself isn’t very well described. You can ‘scrap’ things (easy enough to figure out) which is to highlight everything in a settlement area. Some things can only be picked up and put in your inventory (such as edible things) and almost everything else can be scrapped for parts.

Broken stumbs of trees becomes woods and metal poles steel. Then some stuff adds springs, gears and whatnot.

All these materials; either by being broken down into a base component (such as steel) or kept in the inventory as a whole will eventually be needed in order to build things. Either in your settlement (such as cloth and steel for a bed .

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Similarly everything else has its own costs. These things can be combined also using ‘items’ in your inventory. All junk now serves a purpose. By combining these items (say duct tape plus toy car) you get a combined item to make things. Or you can scrap it down to the essentials.

This is generally done when vacuuming the settlement area.

Now there are 5 things I suggest for anyone who want to deal with making settlements.

One. Clean everything up first. Meaning pick up all items. All settlements have their own unique ‘build size’. Some settlements are small that comes with lots of prebuilt stuff. That gives you less size to work with for your own stuff. Hangmans Alley is a good example of that. In fact it’s perhaps the most unique settlement with its own charm. So much so that other than cleaning up some of the garbage, I left most of the old infrastructure intact and build one more laying ontop of it. Other’s are not as interesting and should be cleaned out completely so you can add your own thing. There’s a reason for this. First – it takes 2 combinations of commands to scrap or put something in your inventory when you’re in the settlment building screen. Either tab+E to grab and store (such as for foodstuff) and R+E to scrap. It only takes E to pick stuff up and put it in your ‘junk pile’ when in the regular screen. And there will be some shelves and stuff that has lots of things in it. You scrap the shelf and the stuff falls on the ground for you to pick up. Trust me, one click of E beats the repeatative combination of tab+E or R+E.

Two. Scrap almost everything. Only 2-3 settlements will have some interesting infrastructure in place. The rest of them are bland and boring. Remove most of the furniture, broken or otherwise since that’ll give you more size to add your vision. And most things except solid big objects like ruined houses can be scrapped. Such as cars, broken trees, railing, fencing etc. Do it so you can not only get enough material to build something with but also clean up clutter. ScreenShot5

Three. Under wood and flooring are 2 different type with adjustable heights. One adds flooring and cement base the other flooring on poles. Both are essential for a good foundation. Most terrain is uneven and there’s no way to flatten it. Until you use these two options you’ll be breaking your heart trying to find a suitable spot to put down a good foundation for anything. These two can be put in the ground and adjusted up and down for varied height. It is not unlimited height however so if you build down a slope you will eventually see the bottom of the base. There are some interesting creative ways to solve that issue and here’ one

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As you can see from the picture the block to the left is not grounded in the slope. That is because I could figure out a good way to fix that. On the right hand side I took 2 of the ones with poles on them and stacked ontop of each others so it looked like the thing was held up by something. I could have left them out and built it like that but that just looked silly.

The nice thing is that once you start using these options you can start at the highest point and then extend the pieces together, form whatever desired base you want and start adding walls and roof to that.  Once you’re done remove segments to allow people in – it’s a lot easier to first build the entire structure around and then remove the pieces that adds the wanted entrance into your settlement.

Fourth. Don’t forget about defense. Add turrets on roofs so it’s harder for anyone to attack them and it also gives them a height advantage to attack from. As you can see I favor just putting turrets covering the whole 360 of a settlement. And as a result it gets pretty graphically pleasing to see 3-4 turrets riddle some distant object with bullets.

Fifth. There are certain things that require some specific perks. Such as building supply lines. This is a very useful thing. Sanctuary is perhaps the greatest source of early material – covering not only a very large area but also have plenty of essential materials to be scrapped and used. Many other settlements not so much. You could fill your inventory with junk and go and ‘drop it off’ but that’s tedious and labor intense. So it’s much better to build a supply line.

It’s quite easy. Get one rank of the perk needed and assign one settler to move between the two settlements. I suggest giving that settler a better gun and armor just to defend itself better and then you’ll be able to use all the resources between them – including sharing food and water. Very important where there’s little space for growing food or water. You can link all settlements that way in order to get an expanded network of shared resources that’ll allow you to get the ball rolling quicker when founding new settlements.

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3 days later…

Note: I had to download some pics from the web. I normally don’t do that but I’m on my laptop and all my screen shots are on my computer at home. I’ll do better next time but the images I found are similar to the in game experience so it’s not going to be markedly different other than the gear I might have had on.

The start

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All Fallout (and Wasteland) games have started somewhat similar. You’re a dude in a vault given a task or motivation to leave and you step out into the blinding site overlooked a wasteland of broken remains of the old civilization and the blight that is now and left after hundreds of years in the vault. With a few exceptions of course.

Fallout 4 starts you out just before the nuclear war starts so you can get an idea of what suburban life is like and give you a small motivation to get you started once you get that far. SPOILER: You end up watching your wife die in her cryo tube and your son taken from her.

Once in the vault you’re told you need to be decontaminated but instead you’re put in a tube of some sort and flash frozen (cryo technology). This is different from all other installments where you end up being a living member either in a vault and then leave or outside the vault in a later date.

So after a short romp inside the remains of the vault, picking up a gun and some ammo and dealing with some pesky rad roaches you’re out in the start contrast to the suburban area you ran from in the beginning.  And you’re motivated by one single thought in your mind – to find the guy who took your son and get him back.

Outside in the town you once lived in

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Your former life is located not far away from the vault itself. Here you’ll run into your former Mr. Handy Codsworth and he’ll aqaint you with the lowdown and also reminiss about what was lost. It’s clear that Bethesda have invested in actual voice acting and a little bit more meaningful dialogue compared to previous version. It’s completely voice acted, including your characters responses or questions and it feels emotional enough to be believable.

I’m not stating that it’s a brick of gold – such as with the many fleshed out characters like in Borderlands 2, but it’s a much more solid attempt to ‘humanize’ the story elements without adding too many repetitive voices with more canned responses.

Eventually you’ll end up (perhaps) saving some people stuck in a further off town that’ll resettle here and you can try out the new crafting/SIM experience tool that allows you to take a settlement and ‘improve’ it (more about that specifically in a different blog post.

Dog companion, stat

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I other versions of Fallout the dog companion was something you worked to obtain. In general it was immediate or basically automatic. I have a sneaking feeling that Bethesda wanted you to get back in familiar territory quickly instead of going through the same motions as before giving you that ‘it’s almost the same’ feeling, but repackaged and prettier. You’ll find this guy across a bridge from the town you start in by a gas station and another area you can pimp out. Just as with the first town it comes with all kind of crafting stations and a hole in the ground (if you check out the clues left behind) with your first fusion core.

Just a simple interaction with the dog will make it your first companion and a useful addition when fighting basic enemy critters, not so much against well armed raiders and death claws. One thing tho. There’s a perk that makes it more useful against armed raiders (he can grab the raiders weapon arm and hold it, making your shots easier) and I have also observed him dragging around feral Ghouls on the ground that makes it easier for you to nail them.

It’s HUUUUGE

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Another difference from previous games is that you will get your hands on a minigun and power armor not long after you meet up with dog and walks into the next town over. This is where you end up saving a bunch of people holed up in a Museum from some nasty raiders. And given the task to find a fusion core and take the power armor on the roof and the mini gun and deal with the rest of the attackers.

It is also where you get a first hand experience of a deathclaw.

First – deathclaws much like all other creatures now have more interesting attack patterns. Most of them no longer just run towards you (altho sometimes you’ll see them running logged against an object without getting too you – familiar pathing issue for Bethesda products using this engine). Mole rats will surprise attack, then run off and dig themselves into the ground and pop up elsewhere, raiders will peek out from objects and fire at you and the deathclaw like this one will bob and weave from side to side making firing at it harder. And it’s fast. And hits very hard. Even when you wear a power armor.

This adds to the game itself. Creatures don’t appear too predictable and stupid eventho they’re not perfect. And it provides a tactical element where you sorta have to think on the go and try to get the upper hand on them.

The one exception to this are feral ghouls. They’re pretty much will go right for you so they can rip you open.

Personally I like the fact that you get your hands on these things early. It gets you familiar with how things work now (power armor isn’t just something heavy you wear, it’s a portable tank armor). And I like the new power armor because it’s not just damage reduction – it’ll pretty much deflect almost all shots until one segment gets damaged enough.

It also lets you jump off buildings without taking fall damage. But there is one catch and it’s big. It runs on fusion cores which are at least in the beginning very rare. So while you have a few badass moments you won’t be walking around everywhere in power armor stomping mole rats and mongrel dogs. You’ll save it like I did for when it’s needed – like when I saved a bunch of people from a raider gang that had taken over some factory or something and you have to fight off more than a dozen of them. Having a ‘can’t hurt me now’ thing is for better words ‘useful’. Until concentrated fire blows parts of your armor off that is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to Falloutlicious and Craftbigbangers

Fallout 4 is here. And while I’d love to be the guy who played Fallout 4 from the midnight launch till the wee hours and went to work with a 12 O’Clock Shadow, morning skunk mouth of coffee, mouthwash and peppermint gum, I’m’ too old for that shit’ or rather, my boss boss is visiting today.

I could conjure up le old ‘I’m so damn sick today’ but I’m already taking tomorrow off.

I did spend the early morning hour doing the intro. Which is figuring out looks, watch the early stuff and see ‘my’ son get kidnapped by a scruffy looking guy and ‘my’ wife shot. Then there was the bit about walking around scrounging the innards of the rusted out vault, pick up stuff and go ‘hmm, looks interesting’, smack some rad roaches and get the hell out of there.

Then the regular bit about covering the eyes because not having seen the sun in forever tend to do that. And of course realize that the cute 50’s looking suburban area with blushing fall trees, new houses in a row was nothing but a sun bleached wilderness and the gutted remains of the old civilization. With overturned rusted out cars and trucks and the skeletal remains of whomever got caught in the blast whenever the bomb went off.

Unlike other games in the series you’re not just a vault dweller that spent several hundreds of years in the underground. You’re not like the previous one (Fallout 3) where you began as a toddler in the vault, grew up and leave looking for your dad.

No in this vault they cryogenically freeze you and you only wake up once to see the scene of your buy getting taken from you and your wife killed. I have my suspicions that since you go back into sleep that boy is now grown up or something like that.

Anyways – I will still dip my toe in the waters of DDO just to do a raid or two, but for now I’m taking a longer break until Lam opens up – checking that out – and then until U29 drops. Plainly speaking DDO is wearing thin and Fallout 4 is an excellent excuse to immerse myself in the wastelands again.

To think I’ve played every single Fallout since the first excellent Wastelands. Every one – from the first, to tactics to the remake of Wastelands. I’ve played – AND – loved it all. So my post from now on will be mostly about Fallout 4 until Lam and u29.

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The Many Faces of…

I like the Event. Moreso than any others before it. I think I made that pretty clear in my last post so there’s no reason to rehash anything. But primarily I think because unlike Crystal Cover I don’t have to depend on hirelings to perform their minimal function while I place torches and such or that the group I’m in enters at the right level without some highlevel person ruining everything before it’s too late to fix.

Plus unlike previous events this does not rely on complicated schemes for material or unlocking function. Get a key, do a challenge. Done.

But one thing that I didn’t cover last time is what class might be the best to use. In the featured Image is my Vanguard straight fighter tank. Now level 22 I think and just a hair from being able to use the Bsword from the MOTU Raid. I did make a cosmetic out of that armor (clearly not the one meant for a level 19 when the image was taken) and the hood – that one is from the event. It makes an excellent cosmetic for that setup. I definately want to get the spinaltap for cosmetic and mirror that shield – from U28. That combo makes for an excellent setup for that toon.

Anyways; as vanguard goes it’s not entirely ideal for the event. Everything is undead so while trip and stunning shield works, stunning blow won’t (unless you’re smacking shadarkai’s in the public area).

Plus the DPS isn’t the best for these type of events. Maybe in the highest level but not at level 19-22 even with a good unlocked destiny.

In previous years I’ve recommended divines and even Arti’s. Arti with the animus (or similar like the glass cannon) and a good repeater is still pretty nice. But on the higher level even with a good pumped Arti those tactical detonations and such seems not all to effective.

Divines definitely are. But high end divines comes with the negative of high resource use in order to get the most bang for the bucks, so this year since Warlock is out, I’ve been running alot of that. And it’s pretty nice.

I know – people don’t like the easy button playing, but Warlocks works nice in these events for several reasons – least of all because they got superior DPS – that’s not true at all.

First and foremost. Bursts. A good warlock running ES will have access to 2 okay bursts and either twisting in energy burst or running Draconic adds more burst options. Here most of the Warlock centric elements work just fine. Such as fire, sonic and acid. Plus if you also run ES you’ll have an okay amount of Light on top of that.

That’s not to say you can run a good Sorc and do an impressive amount of damage, but some undead are immune to specific elements (like cold and electric, not all but some) and therefor makes the choice of savant element that much more important – and possibly painful dependent on gear.

With Warlock you’ll have cheap main attacks in the average damage range such as bursts and possible blasts. But if you combine these with some more useful destinies it gets even better.

I like Draconic for acid or fire. Excellent destiny adding a breath, cortex and energy burst to the mix that goes well with the Warlocks pew, pew and possible ES bursts.

I also like Exalted Angel. It might not have a good synergy with your pact element but it does with ES adding not only light damage but also several nice SLAs. True, this is a more SP thirsty destiny due to the SLAs, but you still get good bang for your bucks.

Of course we should forget Paladin on the melee side. All melee will do just fine in the event but Paladins add a nice barrage of undead killing power – making them uniquely adapted for some undead bashing fun.

Note – I prefer Warlock for public area killing. The different bursts allows you to quickly dispatch mobs to get as much out of say a Draught or for that matter grouping.

For the challenges anything will work fine, since there will be smaller mobs and they’re generally not that long. Any which way you seldom have enough space to fully exploit ranged advantage so you’ll end up in close combat often enough.