Genshin Impact – A Janus-faced jewel

For about five weeks now I’ve been playing Genshin Impact each and every day, and I still enjoy it a lot. A couple of days ago we got the first content patch since the game’s release, which gave us some more things to do, new characters to chase and a whole bunch of great quality-of-life upgrades.

I’m playing in my usual middle-of-the-pack kind of way, neither chasing to max-level (or max-something) as fast and efficiently as possible, nor “just” exploring and goofing around.

That being said, I’m now rapidly closing in on adventure rank 40, which means that my world level and thus the game’s overall difficulty will increase for the fifth time (the world level goes up every 5 ranks starting from AR 20), and let me tell you, this is having a dramatic impact on how I play the game. Or rather, how it pretty much has to be played.

Casual players’ reaction to the difficulty curve; power-gamer in the back, smirking

I feel Genshin Impact is basically a mashup of two very different types of game, and if you plan on playing it long-term you’d better like both of those, else you might find yourself having a hard time.

On the one hand it’s a lighthearted and funny, well-written story-driven RPG-light with lots of exploration and many oohs and aahs along the way. I haven’t laughed this much while gaming for a long time, and that world…just wow.

It’s also one of the few games that give me dialogue options I would actually say myself

Until about AR 25 I was primarily running all over the place, doing quests, opening chests and collecting anything that wasn’t bolted down. I didn’t pay much attention to my characters’ stats at all, only when I saw mob levels noticeably higher than mine did I use some XP items – of which I had plenty –  to push my weapons and characters to match.

However, at AR 30 at the latest the game turns its head and shows its other face, and this one is a very much progress-oriented and exceptionally grindy not-so-light-RPG that gets harder and harder quickly and has you scrambling just to keep up.

Sounds bad? Well, again, it depends on whether you like this sort of stuff or not.

I am liking it thus far, yet I can clearly see the downsides too.

This required more effort than meets the eye

My main DPS character, Razor, is maxed out for my current AR bracket, meaning that he’s level 70, as is his weapon, and his skills are all level 6. My go-to support DPS, Xiangling, and my main healer, Qiqi, are close behind.

All other characters I own are much below that though, and many are still at level 1. Which is a shame, as I would really like to, for example, check out Fischl as another support alternative, or see if Chongyun could be a good main DPS for my second team, but I just can’t afford to “waste” any resources on them. I don’t even have a second team to speak of. Because, again, I need to focus on my main characters as the next world level increase looms.

For the last three weeks or so I’ve even kind of followed a schedule, as this is just how the game works.

On Mondays and Thursdays I farm talent mats for Qiqi and, to a lesser extent, Barbara. Leftover resin, if any, is used to farm whichever elite boss I need character ascension mats from.

On Tuesdays and Fridays I’m going for Razor’s and Xiangling’s talent mats, as well as ascension materials for some of my secondary weapons.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays it’s heavy farming for Razor’s claymore, my main source of DPS, and more elite bosses.

Lastly, on Sundays I only kill bosses as the domains are on a weird random-drop rotation that’s pretty ineffective.

Getting the three aforementioned characters up to snuff required spending pretty much all my available resin – which, by the way, is the game’s slowly-regenerating energy resource aka gating mechanic most mobile games have (or so I hear) – on these activities. Even now I’m not allowing myself to branch out much as I want to be ready for AR 40, meaning that I continue to farm the exact same mats so I can spend them on these characters the moment the game lets me.

In addition to the above I do the daily comissions, try to fulfill all daily and weekly tasks for the battle pass, and also make my rounds around the map to kill various mini-bosses for their drops. It’s a busy day, every day.

As I said, so far I’m having fun doing all this stuff. I’m just not sure how long it will last. I really hope that adventure rank progress slows down significantly after 40, because it just rises too fast for my taste. I’d like to try out other characters, I want to go and explore again (still have some Anemoculi and Geoculi to find), and do all the quests I haven’t done yet because I didn’t have the time (and because they give massive amounts of adventure rank XP, speeding up the treadmill even further).

Technically there is a way to slow this process down a bit. At AR 25 and 35 you are offered an ascension quest. Until you’ve finished it you don’t get the perks attached to that rank (being able to ascend characters and weapons further, getting more/better loot etc.), your rank doesn’t go any higher and the world level stays the same too. At the time I didn’t see the benefit – who doesn’t want to get better rewards for the same activities? In hindsight I would have liked to stay at 35 for a week or two. Or maybe rather not, as the XP you get during that time isn’t lost, and you might well skip a couple of ranks if you wait long enough, possibly even resulting in a double world level increase. *shudders*

Bottom line is, there’s no escaping it. If you like the game and play a lot your world level will rise constantly no matter what you do, and you’ll have to try and keep up if you don’t want the game to become tough as nails.

Now, of course I know that some players like their games tough – or don’t perceive the same things as tough that I do – so your mileage may vary. Personally, I was fond of the gameplay as relaxed as it was in the beginning. I get by, but I really don’t want it to get any harder still, hence I keep grinding to be as strong as possible.

So…is it even worth playing if your preferences are more on the casual side, then?

Right now my answer would be yes. The characters are fun to play, combat is slick and the progression systems motivating. It’s grindy, but doesn’t feel like a chore, is what I’m saying. That story, character development and voice acting are far above average by video game standards and the game’s open world just sublime goes without mentioning at this point….and yet I did just now. Fucked that up, didn’t I? Anyway, yes, it’s worth it.

This doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never played a game quite like this though – one that combines two extremely different and, arguably, contradictory playstyles and absolutely does not let you opt out of either. Maybe over in Asia this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but to me that switching of gears came very unexpected.

At least you now know what you’re getting yourself into should you pick up this game, if you haven’t already. What to do with it is up to you.

Just let us play our characters please!

The other day I finished the Glassmaker storyline in Warframe. I’d been looking forward to the big finale quite a lot, as this was the first Nightwave episode that I really liked in terms of lore as well as gameplay.

The investigation part played out as usual, and while the last item gave me a bit of grief because it was really hard to spot I still enjoyed it overall.

Then came the inevitable boss fight.

Dude, where’s MY big-ass sword??

I’m not a big fan of boss fights in general – multiplayer games usually being the exception – though this one, while a forced 1 vs 1, wouldn’t have been too bad were it not for one huge design “twist” that all too many game devs seem to be so very fond of using – taking away our weapons and/or abilities and replacing them with something else.

So here I am facing off a 50-foot monster, having equipped my most efficient, highly powered tools of destruction, the acquisition of which has taken much effort over the course of months – and I can’t fricking use any of it.

Instead, I have to dodge lumps of glass the baddie is throwing at me (when he’s not busy swinging his one-hit-kill sword), then pick them up and throw them back at him. I’m not even kidding!

Did I still whup his ass on the third try and got my rewards? Sure. Was it fun though? Hell no.

Game devs use this weird design crutch again and again – and that’s what it really is, isn’t it? A crutch. Beating this parcticular boss would’ve been a cakewalk had I been able to use my regular weapons and frame abilities, so they just didn’t let me.

*sigh* Alright…let’s do this!

Ok, sometimes it might not be that. When The Secret World takes away our powers so we have to punch our way out of the baddies’ underground lair with bare fists it’s for lore reasons and also for, well, fun, I guess. That whole mission chain is one big homage to the Indiana Jones movies after all.

And it is fun…for about two minutes. Unfortunately it gets old really fast, but the cultists keep on coming. By the time we got out of there on our very first playthrough I was determined to never do that mission again.

If this is what the afterlife’s like I want no part of it!

Over in Transylvania another quest tranforms us into some sort of wraith – and again all of our familiar abilities vanish from the hotbar, to be replaced with two simple, rather underwhelming attacks and one self-heal once more. The following fight was…not pleasant.

I sure hope you will, because I fucking can’t

Of course Everquest II did it too. I guess over the span of 16 years it was bound to happen at some point. Being a rat was good for some laughs at least, I’ll give them that.

Look, I get it. Stuff like this probably seems like a good idea on paper.

It gives players a diversion from their usual gameplay – which can get somewhat stale when you play an MMO for long enough, no argument there – and might also serve as an unexpected twist or even comic relief when done right.

I do not think that the benefits ever outweigh the drawbacks however.

You see, dear devs, by the time you throw this stuff at me I’ve most likely long made my choices. The class I play or frame I use, the abilities or skillsets I’ve picked and the weapons I wield – all of this makes up the character I want to play. You know, because it’s the combination I have the most fun playing.

Letting us pick – or, more often than not, work hard for – our favourite toys and then, out of the blue, being all like “Nah, you can’t use those now; here, have a dull teaspoon and some cotton balls instead” is, honestly, kind of a dick move.

I can’t be the only one feeling that way either. Actually, I know that I’m not. Bhagpuss talked about really disliking it when several of Guild Wars 2’s Living World issues pulled that kind of stunt more than once, for example.

I feel aversion is quite a natural reaction to this, because, again, we don’t play the characters we play by accident. We do because we like them just the way they are.

What my Bruiser’s hotbars normally look like…

Of course the fact that whatever it is that our familiar gameplay loop gets replaced with in such cases is, more often than not, objectively worse and less fun doesn’t help one bit. But that’s not really a surprise, is it? The core gameplay of every MMO, even a freshly released one, has usually been years in the making. How could some ‘gimmick mechanic’, only meant for one event, one quest or one boss fight ever match that?

So, dear game devs, please stop doing that kind of stuff.

My favourite restaurant doesn’t serve an old loaf of bread instead of the meal I ordered for the sake of ‘variety’ or ‘surprise’ – or just because it’s easier and cheaper to do – either, does it?

This is why I don’t play video games on mobile

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing Genshin Impact. A lot. It’s really awesome. I’ll probably talk about it in more detail sometime, however Bhagpuss’s first impressions and his fondness of the game’s fantastic exploration aspects mirror mine to a T, so I feel like I don’t have much to add at this point.

What I do want to talk about is my experience playing it on mobile, which is what the majority of players seems to be doing (I don’t know this for a fact, but I highly doubt that the PC and console versions combined come even remotely close to mobile’s 23+ million downloads).

In a word: Thanks, but no thanks!

Ok, that’s actually four words, but you get the idea.

Of course I was pretty stoked about the possibilities at first. Being able to play my current favourite game on PC when I’m at home and on my phone whenever I’m not? Hell yeah!

During my first two weeks in GI I made it a habit to fit 10-15 minute play sessions into my lunch breaks to burn some resin, the obvious benefit being that I didn’t run into the resin cap before getting home. Also, well, playing a great game during lunch break for a bit – what’s not to like?

Here’s the thing though: it isn’t nearly as much fun to play on the phone. At least to me it isn’t.

Genshin Impact might have been developed with mobile platforms in mind first and foremost, yet as far as I’m concerned it is a ‘real’, a ‘proper’ video game. What I mean by that is that it sports a fair amount of complexity, not only in terms of progression systems and such, but also when it comes to the actual gameplay and control schemes needed to execute said gameplay. Play itself this game does not.

Maybe I’m just too old for that kind of stuff, but playing the game on my phone instead of the PC kinda feels like playing with one hand tied behind my back. Hitting the right buttons for normal attack, special attack, ultimate and dodge, swapping characters in and out as needed, all while making sure to actually face the enemy I want to hit and being in range…it’s too fiddly and, frankly, too much for my thumbs to handle. I have only two, after all.

It isn’t just the combat either. Exploring the game’s gorgeous open world, collecting countless doodads and solving puzzles is tons of fun – actually more fun than the combat in my opinion – if the controls play ball. Which, on mobile, they do not.

On PC I have no problems whatsoever climbing walls and statues, doing balancing acts across narrow ledges or performing pinpoint-accurate landings with my glider. On the phone though? Oh boy. I couldn’t walk in a straight line with those controls if my driver’s licence was at stake. When one quest asked me to scale the largest statue in Mondstadt, stand on its hands and spread some dandelion seeds to the winds I was this close to throw the damn thing out the window.

So, yeah, it’s not fun and I’ve stopped doing it.

Gameplay issues aside, my phone doesn’t like the game much either.

I use an iPhone SE2, which sports the same CPU as the iPhone 11, so processing power shouldn’t be lacking. The game runs smooth enough for sure, but the device gets freaking hot within minutes. I’m not talking Need-to-wear-oven-mitts-hot, but it comes really close to that.

Also, the game sucks battery life like crazy. I usually charge the thing every three days or so; while I played those mere 10-15 minutes per day I had to plug it in every evening. Longer sessions would only be possible while charging at the same time – provided the phone doesn’t melt when doing that – which kind of defeats the purpose of playing on a mobile device, no?

In conclusion, playing Genshin Impact on my phone has, in my mind, confirmed what I’d assumed all along: there are mobile games and there are high-quality video games, and a game can be one or the other, but not both.

When I think of mobile games I mean those that are quick and easy to play, can be interrupted at any time and don’t strain hardware or player too much. Back when I had to commute I played stuff like Bejeweled or SEGA Heroes (which is Bejeweled, essentially) every now and then just to kill some time. It’s a good thing that games like those exist, don’t get me wrong. Even so, going by my definition this kind of game has as much in common with high-quality video gaming as Big Brother has with high-quality TV entertainment.

So yeah, please keep your promises of Our mobile game will be just as great as its predecessor on PC/console to yourself, dear developers – *cough*Blizzard*cough* – because it fricking won’t be.

Screen real estate, hardware specifications, power supply and, above all, controls – these are important things that set phones and tablets apart from ‘real’ gaming hardware, which is why even the highest-quality mobile game in existence – which, most likely, is Genshin Impact right now – can’t be nearly as enjoyable as its stationary counterpart, if it has one.

Hence, however great your game might be, if it can only be played on mobile I’ll never touch it, period.

Crossplay rocks!

A working colleague who became a good friend of mine is also a gamer, so you can imagine that our water cooler conversations revolve around our mutual favourite topic more often than not.

He’s a dedicated console user though, firmly rooted in ‘Camp Xbox’, whereas I’m a PC-gamer through and through, and what little console gaming I do happens on the Playstation.

So despite kwowing each other for about 17 years and even having occasionally played the exact same games at the same point in time we had never actually played anything together (except for Guitar Hero in the same room at his place once or twice).

Until last Wednesday evening, that is.

I initially wasn’t sure whether I’d buy Star Wars Squadrons at all, but once I saw that it supports crossplay I realized that The Day might have finally come.

Setting everything up wasn’t quite as easy as I would have liked though. We didn’t want to use the ingame voice-chat, so I had to figure out how to join an Xbox party first. I installed the Xbox App, thinking that I’d need that, but then discovered that Windows 10 comes with a thing called Xbox Game Bar pre-installed. Using that is more fiddly than it needs to be I feel, but once I got used to it hooking up with my buddy on his Xbox became quick and painless.

And lo and behold, we were voice-chatting for the first time. A wonder of technology, only two decades late.

As for the game itself, I honestly can’t remember how we managed to add each other to our ‘EA friends’ lists, but once that was sorted too we were able to form a squadron and queue up for a co-op match. The excitement!

Alas, the game isn’t great. It’s fun for a couple rounds, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see me (or us) play it for weeks or even months. There’s just too few game modes, and the one where it’s at – because it has the big star destroyers and stuff – gets quite tedious rather quickly. Also, since we didn’t want to get our asses handed to us by more experienced players we only fought against bots – and got our asses handed to us regardless. By bots. On easy difficulty. Either we are just bad, or the game’s balancing is really weird.

Still, dusting off my old joystick paid off nicely, as I assume with mouse/keyboard or controller things would have looked even more grim.

I bought this for Battlefield 3 years back; still working great

Anyway, this particular game being not as good as hoped doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of finally being able to play together. I can’t stress enough how big of a deal this is for us.

I really hope crossplay will become more and more prevalent as time goes on. Most games are released for all big platforms anyway – and have been for years now – so tear down these walls, I say!

Speaking of which, a new game that also sports crossplay basically came out of nowhere a few weeks ago and has become all the rage in this corner of the blogoshpere – Genshin Impact seems to be a real gem, and Lakisa and I are definitely going to try it out. All that’s missing is an Xbox-port, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be in the works either, but one can hope.

I’m doing it again! I need help…or do I?

First of all, our vacation was very nice and relaxing, so sorry but not really for the long pause since my last post.

Anyway, on to today’s topic. What is it, exactly, that I’m doing again? Having brand new content for my current main games at my disposal and not actually playing any of it, that’s what.

Warframe’s latest expansion, Heart of Deimos, launched just over a month ago. It includes a new open world zone (albeit a smaller one compared to the first two), so in theory it’s right up my alley and I’ve been looking forward to it quite a lot, and yet I haven’t returned there since I finished the few story quests that came with it. Then there’s ArcheAge’s Garden of the Gods update, which was released in fricking June, and I haven’t so much as gone near that new region either.

Looking back upon my history with MMOs I’ve realized that I’ve almost always done this.

For example, when Everquest II’s Rise of Kunark expansion launched in November 2007 I continued to do whatever I was doing at the time for another month or so, despite my main already being at the previous level cap and ready for the new content. This ultimately led to a mad scramble on my part trying to catch up with my guildmates later on, which turned out to be quite stressful.

It’s definitely not a conscious decision I make every time, it just kinda happens. But why? How come I always put off playing new content for a while before finally plunging in?

For one, I’m an extreme creature of habit. Being in familiar surroundings and doing familiar things just makes me feel comfortable. On the other hand however, given how much I like to explore and go on adventures, this surely can’t be the main, let alone only reason.

Another, more important one is that I always dread the redundancy of old content, old gear etc. that often comes alongside the release of new MMO expansions. You made me work for that stuff and learn the zones inside and out, and now you expect me to throw it all away and move on like it all never happened? I really don’t like it, and I think by not leaping at new content right away I’m kind of trying to delay the inevitable in such cases.

Then there’s the question of whether the new content is actually any good. I mean, it might be crap, right? If I just don’t go and see I’ll never know and consequently not be disappointed. It’s silly, I know, because even if it turns out to be crap I can still just go back to the old stuff. Regardless, I think this is also something that plays into this on an unconscious level.

Of course there are other, more rational and tangible reasons for not playing new content right away too.

Bugs and design flaws, for one. Using Warframe as an example, every largish update is followed by at least half a dozen hotfixes over the course of two weeks or so. It’s usually not exactly unplayable without those, but I’ve found the overall experience to improve by waiting for a bit.

Apparently a great many players aren’t fazed by any of the above at all, and as soon as new content for their favourite game is released it’s swarmed by the hungry masses. Some might like that buzz, but personally I’ve never been terribly fond of having to stand in line for quest mobs to spawn and stuff like that, so keeping some distance by waiting until the bulk of the playerbase has moved on suits me just fine.

Last but not least, having new content still ahead of me means always having something to look forward to. Once I get bored of the things I’m doing now I can still go ahead and check the new stuff out, whereas, had I rushed to the new hotness right away, I would only have “old stuff” to return to whenever that gets dull.

And there you have it. By itself each of the reasons I stated might hardly be worth mentioning or even somewhat silly, but when I add it all up I don’t actually see any reason to forcibly alter my habits when it comes to newly released content for the games I play.

So I guess I don’t need help after all, but thanks for asking anyway.

The Handy Guide to Rare Mods in Warframe

When I wrote my beginner’s overview of how mods work in Warframe I knew that, up to that point, I’d barely scratched the surface.

At the very least I’d grasped the system of mod rarity – bronze for common, silver for uncommon and gold for rare – or so I thought. Turns out though that many mods don’t just drop anywhere. You can play the game for months and still not own even a single copy of a specific mod, even though it might be a supposedly ‘common’ one.

The reason for this is that almost every activity in the game has its own reward table, which means that in order to obtain specific stuff you have to do the right things or you won’t ever get it.

First you have to actually be aware of the various mods’ very existence and which ones to aim for though, which isn’t easy to figure out either when you’re still new to the game. Of course I could just point you to the game’s excellent wiki, but since I’ve already done the legwork I figured I might as well spare you the hassle.

So without further ado, here’s my little guide to rare mods in Warframe, rare in this case meaning You need to know how to acquire them, not necessarily that the mods are of gold rarity (many of them are though). Keep in mind however that not every mod will be on this list, not even close; these are just the ones that any Warframe player should aim to get – in my personal opinion – because they make life much easier and/or enable builds or tactics that aren’t possible without them. Click the images to enlarge.

Corrupted Mods

All corrupted mods have in common that they enhance one stat, usually by quite a lot, while lowering another to compensate. Especially the frame-mods, of which there are five as seen above, are must-haves for any frame that benefits from huge amounts of a certain stat while not really needing or even not actually wanting one or more of the others (Nova comes to mind, whom I usually mod for maximum Ability Duration and as little Ability Range as possible).

You can only find these in Orokin Vaults, special treasure rooms that spawn inside all Deimos missions (formerly known as Orokin Derelict) except for Defense, Assassinate and the Cambion Drift. Keep your eyes open and search every nook and cranny as they are quite well hidden at times. You know you’ve found one when you see this fancy looking door:

In order to open it you need to have the correct Dragon Key equipped. The blueprints for these are researched in the Orokin Lab of your clan’s Dojo, the keys themselves are built in the foundry.

Each key considerably lowers one of your frame’s stats: your max shields, health, damage or movement speed, respectively, are cut by 75% (50% in the case of speed). Working together with other players and spreading the keys out obviously makes things easier, but I’ve found it perfectly viable to farm them by myself. I use Inaros for this and equip all keys except Hobbled (slow) at once. I always run the Capture mission (Horend) as it’s the easiest and quickest objective and doesn’t get in the way of searching for the vault.

Which one of the 23 corrupted mods you get is random, so good luck.

Nightmare Mods

Once you’ve beaten all missions on a given planet at least once, every eight hours one of them gets randomly flagged as a Nightmare mission. Enemies are tougher here and one or two environmental modifiers are in place to raise the difficulty further, like Health Vampire (you constantly lose health and restore it by killing foes) or Energy Drain (you’re permanently out of energy, basically).

The first time you beat one of these each cycle you get a random nightmare mod as an additional reward, which don’t give the biggest of bonuses, but increase two stats each instead of just one. More importantly, they enable you to use one more mod with a certain stat on it, so just like corrupted mods they can help to push that one desired stat up really high. You can see the ones I use the most above.

Combined Status/Damage Mods

This isn’t really one cohesive category of mods in terms of acquisition, but as they all serve the same purpose I’m lumping them together.

When used with the right weapon a high status chance can deal an absurd amount of additional damage. In order to achieve that without losing too much raw damage these mods, which increase both status chance as well as a certain damage type, are indispensable. They don’t have the highest of capacity costs to boot, which makes some of these builds achievable even without investing multiple Forma.

As the game doesn’t treat these as one single category the means to get them differ a bit, so here’s an overview:

These drop from Corrupted Vor, which is a mini-boss that has a chance to spawn in Orokin Void missions of level 40 and higher. I usually run the Survival mission (Mot) and stay until after the 10 minute mark. That way he spawned about three out of four times for me and I got all four mods relatively quickly.

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these: Cambria (Earth), Unda (Venus), Suisei (Mercury), Arval (Mars), Shklovsky (Phobos).

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these: Bode (Ceres), Amalthea (Jupiter), Valac (Europa), Dione (Saturn), Pavlov (Lua).

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these (as well as Hell’s Chamber, which is also a very good Shotgun mod to have): Rosalind (Uranus), Nereid (Neptune), Oceanum (Pluto), Kappa (Sedna).

Open all three resource caches in Naeglar (Eris) for a chance at these. Note that the caches are not the mission’s main objective, but an optional task just like the caches in sabotage missions.

The last two are only sold periodically by Baro Ki’Teer for 300 Ducats and 150k credits each when he visits every other weekend. As he only ever has a small range of his stock on offer it might take a couple of months until you get a crack at one of these though.

Primed Mods

These are alternate versions of various, (relatively) common bread-and-butter mods you’ll have most likely acquired through regular gameplay after a while, the difference being that the normal ones have a maximum rank of 5, whereas the primed mods can go all the way up to 10. Which means that they’re just stronger (not necessarily twice as strong though) for a higher capacity cost.

With a few exceptions these can only be bought from Baro Ki’Teer, which again means that you might have to be patient until you can get a specific one, and especially when starting out the Ducat cost can add up quite a bit too.

They aren’t mandatory, but obviously very nice to have. For starters I’d save up my Ducats for Primed Continuity as more Ability Duration is really great for most frames. If you like using shotguns or melee weapons buying Primed Point Blank or Primed Pressure Point, respectively, would also be a good idea.

Miscellaneous Mods

These last couple of mods don’t really fit into any category, I’m just including them because I feel they’re very good to have for the stats they offer.

Augur Message and Augur Secrets provide an additional way to increase Ability Duration and Ability Strenght, respectively, which is always great. They also belong to the same mod-set, meaning that using both enhances their secondary effect. You can get them by doing various Bounty missions on the Plains of Eidolon. The reward tables rotate every few hours, so check which mission, if any, rewards these before accepting.

Slash procs are great, and using Hunter Munitions on a weapon that doesn’t do a lot of slash damage but has a high chance to crit ensures that you still get these procs often. You can acquire it by doing Ghoul Bounties on the Plains of Eidolon, which are tied to a recurring event that’s active every few weeks.

And there you have it. Again, this is but a small fracture of all available mods, but if you’re just transitioning from being a beginner to a more advanced Warframe player these are the ones I suggest you try to get.

I like having stuff to do, but I hate dailies

Dailies1

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been very busy in Warframe – in a good way. Almost a year ago I praised the fact that the game gives me specific tasks to achieve specific things, which I much prefer over just doing whatever and hoping for the RNG gods’ blessing.

Despite having played for quite some time already there was still a whole lot of stuff I hadn’t done yet, so I set myself an array of goals and got to it.

For example, there’s a plethora of advanced modifications for frames and weapons players can and definitely should get their hands on. Especially those frame-mods enable highly specialized builds that are very powerful and couldn’t be achieved any other way.

Dailies2
Who would have known that less strenght can be a good thing?

So I ran Spy missions with the specific intent to crack all three data vaults (because the mods in question can only drop from the third), did Nightmare missions, hunted for Orokin vaults, purged the Plains of Eidolon of a ghoul plague and beat some puzzle rooms on Lua.

In order to get rid of my annoying Kuva Lich sooner rather than later I also ran mission nodes occupied by his thralls to gather intel, and Kuva Siphon missions to get my hands on more requiem relics.

Sometimes the stars align and I can even combine two or more of these tasks into one, for example when a Spy mission I want to do anyway is temporarily flagged as a Kuva Siphon mission, giving me the chance to nab a desired mod and a requiem relic in one go.

Dailies3

What I like the most about all of this, as I’ve come to realize, is the fact that with very few exceptions I can do everything entirely at my own pace.

You see, almost no mission in Warframe has a cooldown or other form of time-gated restriction to entry. Ran a mission and didn’t get what you want? Just run it again if you like. And again. And again.

Of course that can get boring, and maybe also frustrating if you still don’t get your desired price after your umpteenth run. To circumvent that I try to mix it up. My play sessions in recent weeks mostly looked like this: run two or three spy missions, then a couple derelicts, followed by a bit of stuff in the open world zones or maybe a Kuva mission or two. If I still have time and desire to play after that, rinse and repeat.

As I use different frames, and thus different playstyles, for most of these activities it doesn’t get boring at all, and it’s oh so satisfying to tick one goal after the other off the list, even more so when the rewards enable me to make my favourite frames and weapons considerably stronger.

Dailies4
Or just my hoverboard…err, K-Drive faster

What’s all of this got to do with the fact that he hates dailies? I hear you ask.

Well, that I don’t like ’em much isn’t exactly news, but having so much fun while ‘working’ towards my goals in Warframe – and the process not actually feeling like work at all – made me compare this experience with the other game that had me busy trying to progress in recent months: ArcheAge Unchained.

There’s still much that I love about AAU, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that upgrading your gear is pretty much hard-gated by daily and, to a lesser extent, weekly activities really sucks the fun out of it after a while. And that’s coming from someone who has not religiously done them each and every day, not even close.

Dailies5
I’ve done my fair share though, because there’s just no other way to achieve this

In my opinion the problem with dailies in general is twofold.

One, the amount of progress you can make on any given day is capped, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Have a day off work and want to knock yourself out? Well, sucks to be you I guess.

Two, and this is the biggie, miss a day and you’ll never get it back. It’s no wonder that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a term I’d never heard until maybe two years ago, is used in context with online games quite often nowadays, because daily tasks or quests are the very embodiment of it.

Ask yourself this: how often have you logged into a game while not really feeling a desire to do so, but because you felt you kind of had to? If your answer is “never” you have much more self-restraint than I do, and kudos!

Now, what do I propose? After all, criticizing without having suggestions for improvement doesn’t help matters, does it?

Ok then, how about removing the timer from repeatable content? Let me do it as often as I like. And while you’re at it, make all content repeatable, not only a select few quests, and spread rewards out more.

Not only does this work well in Warframe, The Secret World has shown that even a proper MMORPG can benefit greatly from this kind of design. Ok, quests in TSW do have a cooldown, but it’s short enough to do the same quests at least twice a day, and – and this is the kicker – there are so many quests on offer that it’s just not necessary to do the same ones over and over.

Dailies6
However, some quests I just wouldn’t want to do again. Ever! Again!

Of course I do realize that this might cause balancing-problems as there will always be activities that are ‘worth’ more measured against the time they take than others, and it also greatly benefits folks with a lot of free time on their hands.

Well…so? It doesn’t happen often, but for once I agree with MOP’s Eliot when he posits that balance in MMOs is overrated.

Especially in PvE-centric games, who the hell cares if other players progress more quickly than I do? Frankly, I couldn’t care less. PvP-heavy titles are obviously a different beast, but those should be much more skill-dependent than gear-dependent anyway – which is a discussion for another day though.

Dailies7

MMOs need repeatable content, that much is obvious. Even I, as far from being a ‘hardcore gamer’ as I am, have proven time and again that I can consume content much faster than developers can provide it – much like reading this has taken you but a fracture of the time it took me to write it.

But dailies, login-campaigns, rewards on a time-logged-in basis…all this stuff that has nothing to do with us having fun playing your games and everything with MAUs and other such crappy statistics you can proudly present to your shareholders…that kind of shit can’t go extinct soon enough as far as I’m concerned.

Another Keepstar bites the dust

EVE_O-P1
Screenshot completely unrelated to the events depicted in this post

If you have so much as a passing interest in EVE Online you’re probably well aware that there’s a big war going on right now. While Wilhelm has posted quite a lot about his own involvement, all of it well worth a read, this is the first time I’m going to even mention it.

It’s not that I haven’t been on any ops since the war started. I just hadn’t deemed anything I’ve been part of so far interesting enough to write about.

The northern front, which is where we (PanFam) are fighting, has not seen much resistance during the first weeks. I’ve been part of several fleets to reinforce or destroy enemy structures and added two more Keepstar-killmails to my personal tally in the process. Some of these ops were long, tedious undertakings, yet during almost none of them we encountered any opposition whatsoever. I might have just been unlucky however.

In any case, during the past two weeks or so the excitement has ramped up considerably. The more we advance towards the border between Fountain and Delve, the more serious the enemy gets about defending their stuff.

Their most important system in Fountain is Y-2ANO. They need that foothold in the region because the distance between it and the neighboring system in Delve is so huge that ships can’t use their jump drives or be bridged by a titan to get to the other side. We already tried to destroy their Keepstar there and had it reinforced once, but unfortunately we screwed up the armor timer and have to start over. We’re not going to make that mistake twice! I hope.

The Keepstar in O-PNSN didn’t fare that well. Both shield and armor had already been stripped away, so yesterday we set out to make it explode. It isn’t nearly as close to Delve as Y-2ANO, but word had it that they were going to defend it anyway. I sure hoped so.

I had my main ready to go in a Ferox, our subcap of choice for most structure fights, and my alt in a dreadnought, hoping for a chance to finally use it. The three-month-insurance’s expiry date is August 23rd, and I’ve yet to fire a single shot with that damned thing.

The subcaps were bridged into O-P, and as soon as the system loaded my overview went completely red. They were going to defend all right.

EVE_O-P2
Gathering at our Fortizar, looking at our target and its defenders

Our tactics didn’t differ much from that in Y-2ANO, only that this time we didn’t have a regional gate to lock down at the same time, hence our carrier pilots sent their fighters towards the Keepstar right away. Those and a fleet of Ravens would shoot the citadel while all other fleets, mostly Feroxes and Jackdaws, provided cover.

Goons and friends had a lot of stuff on the field. Rokhs, Feroxes, Praxises, bombers and ECM-bursting interceptors as well as the Keepstar itself tried to make life as hard as possible for us. Oh yeah, and heavy TiDi too, which goes without saying for this kind of battle.

Killah Bee was FCing our subcap fleet, and at first it looked like we’d be sitting tethered on our Fortizar all evening. But eventually he warped us onto some targets sitting right at the Keepstar.

EVE_O-P3
Aligning back out to our Fort in potato mode

We picked off some ships who weren’t tethered while not losing much ourselves – although our logi wing was pretty busy keeping our Jackdaws alive if I interpreted the cursing from the other side of the room correctly – then we warped back out.

We gathered at the Fort and chilled for a while, but before long we went in again. By now they had undocked a couple of dreadnoughts and FAXes, and of course we wanted those juicy kills.

EVE_O-P4
Dreads and lots of tiny subcaps inside a warp disruption bubble

We’d just started to shoot some targets of opportunity – the dreads were in siege mode and not going anywhere any time soon – when a wing of Praxises landed right on top of us and started cycling their smartbombs.

I was well in range of at least some of them and started taking damage. This is where TiDi becomes a really painful experience because that damage came in very slowly, but my efforts to turn away from them, fire up my microwarpdrive and overheat my hardeners came to fruition just as slowly, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d manage to get out of range in time or if I was just watching my demise in ultra-slow-motion. The fact that Ferox pilots were told not to broadcast for reps as our logi had their hands full with the Jackdaws again didn’t help either.

Just when my shields dipped below one third damage stopped coming in though. I’d finally made it out, phew. Once you’re out of its range there’s not much a smartbombing battleship can do to harm you, so we stayed on field for a while longer and destroyed three dreads, a FAX and lots of subcaps before returning to our Fortizar once more to regroup. Killah’s Monitor as well as one or two dozen other ships had been lost and their pilots had to be bridged into system again after reshipping.

All the while the fighters and Ravens kept shooting at the Keepstar, and it was slowly but surely going down. It was below 10% when our fleet went in a third time.

Not to be surprised by the Praxises again we started to spread out at full speed just after exiting warp, and sure enough they came in, right on top of Killah Bee. Due to our preemptive maneuvering almost no one took serious damage though, and we pretty much ignored them and shot at squishier targets instead.

Whenever we were actually able to target anything, that is. I mentioned ECM-bursting interceptors above, and those took run after run at us now, firing their AoE ECM right after landing and instantly warping away again. And guess who was piloting one of them…

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I can now say I’ve been burst-jammed by a fellow blogger, isn’t that nice

Man, that shit is so annoying in TiDi! Please don’t do that again! 😉

We still managed to kill some more targets, among them another FAX piloted by Grath Telkin, who is kind of a Goon celebrity as far as I know. Not quite as flashy as that one time when I got the final blow on Asher Elias – ratting in a Myrmidon no less, shame, shame – but you take what you can get, right?

Of course we also made sure to shoot the Keepstar to get on the killmail, and soon™, as in just over four hours after forming the fleet, it went boom.

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No explosion in potato mode, just a low-textured wreck

We stayed on the field a bit longer and killed off the last remaining stragglers, then took a bridge home.

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Going by the battle report losses were pretty even if you don’t count the Keepstar itself. Given the defending team’s rather big advantage that’s still a win for us, however we outnumbered them heavily, so there’s that.

Still, we won the objective and didn’t lose two hundred Ravens this time, so op success x2. More importantly though, despite having to chew through a metric ton of hitpoints during heavy TiDi it was quite a lot of fun – although, to be fair, our fleet wasn’t the one doing the chewing – so thanks to Goons for showing up, and please more of the same!

How about today? Still a bit of time left to blow up my dread before its insurance becomes void…

A quote about underrated music

Prompta2020

We’re just one third into this year’s special version of Blaugust, and the awesome blogging community has already outdone itself with lots of great posts about various topics.

The fourth blogging prompt, introduced to us by Roger Edwards on August 3rd, was this:

What type of content do you feel is severely underrated?

Well, that’s an easy one as far as I’m concerned. It’s Metal, of course!

Metal1

Err…wait, no, not this.

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Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

My cousin, ten years my senior, introduced me to Metal when I was about eight. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Ozzy Osbourne, stuff like that. I fell in love immediately.

At the time I didn’t really know what it was, exactly, that I liked so much about it. What I did learn incredibly quickly though was that, generally speaking, most people don’t share my passion. Which is severely downplaying the issue of course, as almost everyone I’ve ever met who doesn’t love it actively dislikes it at best, and regards it as “unbearable noise” at worst. According to the latter group anyone who’s into Metal surely must be some kind of psychopath.

Metal3

I really don’t know where they got that idea from…

Anyway, with kids being kids you can imagine that eight-year-old me, already wearing Metal band patches on the denim jacket, had to develop a thick skin rather quickly. It never grew quite as thick as I would have liked though, and I can still get pretty angry when someone badmouths something that I really like, especially when I feel that they have no idea what they’re even talking about.

Yet over time I’ve wisened up at least somewhat. A couple of years ago I would have, at this point, carried on to beat you round the head with at least half a dozen paragraphs “proving” that many flavors of Metal are, in fact, musically vastly superior to most forms of mainstream music, that geniuses like Bach and Beethoven would undoubtedly be metalheads if they lived today, and that channeling your inner rage through aggressive music does actually make you a less aggressive person, not more.

Instead though I’ll just leave you with one of my favourite quotes – which, incidentally, fits nicely into our Blaugust groove too, as Wilhelm gave us the prompt to do exactly that.

It’s taken from Helloween’s song Heavy Metal (is the Law), where Kai Hansen posits

If you don’t feel it you won’t understand.

Truer words have never been spoken about Metal – and I think it actually applies to pretty much anything human beings can be passionate about.

Media that’s shaped my worldview

Prompta2020

2020’s version of Blaugust is in full swing, and it’s my turn already. Thank you Dragonray for handing over the baton, I hope I’ll be able to meet the high expectations you’ve set for me. 🙂

Here goes.

Blaugust Promptapalooza – Prompt 3

What are some key sources of media (games/movies/etc) that have shaped your worldview?

As I’m writing a blog that mainly focuses on video games in general and MMORPGs in particular it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those will get a mention here. I was born in 1976 though, so I’ll have to start off with some earlier types of media.

Radio
Not ours, but we had the exact same model in our kitchen

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been working in radio broadcasting for almost 20 years now, and during that time I’ve often said that I enjoy it despite not being and never having been a radio listener myself. While thinking thoroughly about today’s prompt I’ve realized that it’s actually not true at all.

I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the stations’ names, but back when I was little the radio was always on at home. My mom also played vinyl (and shellac) records, of which I mainly remember The Beatles and ABBA, but mostly it was the radio playing.

I liked it a lot, and it didn’t take long until I begged for my own one with a built-in cassette recorder so I could record my favourite songs. Once I’d got it I would sit on my bed for hours on end, listen to the music and record the songs that I liked the most. To this day Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts is one of my all-time favourites, for example.

I guess radio shaped my worldview insofar that it taught me early on how beautiful, heart-warming and life-enriching music can be. I can’t imagine a life without it.

TV
Ok, I’m not actually THAT old, but you get the picture

Growing up during the eighties in an urban environment also meant watching a lot of TV. Until about 1985 we still had a black-and-white set and a grand total of three programs to watch, but around my 9th birthday we got a color set, a VHS recorder and cable TV. From then on there was no stopping me.

I soaked up everthing a boy of that age ought to like (at the time): shows like The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, reruns of The three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy; a bit later I was really into The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf and so on. I even got my first taste of Anime (without knowing it) with Captain Future and Saber Rider.

I wouldn’t call any of that life-changing experiences, but the things I watched have undoubtedly shaped me in some way or other.

At the age of twelve or so a true landmark event happened though: I got to watch Return of the Jedi – and thus a Star Wars movie – for the first time. I believe I’d never been so enthralled by anything in my life. Other stuff I’d just watched, but that movie took me to a galaxy far, far away indeed, and I think it really changed the way I watch movies. Nowadays I get totally absorbed by the story – usually even if said story isn’t all that great – and forget about everything else until it’s over.

I have to admit that it can be somewhat demanding to watch movies with me as I don’t tolerate talking, cell phone usage or anything else that might distract me (chips are okay though as long as I can have some too), but that’s just the way it is now and the price, I feel, for being able to immerse oneself completely.

Great movies and shows take me to places and let me experience adventures I would never see and have in real life, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Reading

You probably wouldn’t be reading this now if I hadn’t been a huge fan of reading all my life.

It started, unsurprisingly, with comics, mainly Mickey Mouse, Asterix and Clever & Smart. I tried to like Marvel and stuff, but those were just too ‘loud’ for me, if that makes sense.

At age 13 or so I shifted away from comics and started to read ‘real’ literature – if you’re willing to call penny dreadfuls literature, that is. John Sinclair is written by a German author and tells the stories of a Scotland Yard inspector specialized in paranormal investigations. I used to read those every week for a couple of years straight, and that’s what kicked off my turning into a serious bookworm. I assume it’s also where my penchant for horror movies came from, to boot.

For the next ten, fifteen years I read a hell of a lot, mostly science fiction and fantasy, but also thrillers, historical fiction and even non-fiction (the latter especially about ancient Egypt).

These days I’m not reading as much as I’d like, but I still do of course.

If you’re reading this I don’t need to lecture you about the power of the written word, do I?  Suffice it to say, without reading so much I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’ll never stop enjoying it.

Games

Playing video games is pretty much the earliest memory of consuming any type of media that I have, and it has always been my main hobby, if you will. It’s much more to me than a hobby though.

A really great game can, in a way, be the culmination of everything I talked about above. Experiencing adventures I could never have in real life? Check. Music that evokes strong emotions and makes the ride all the more enjoyable? Absolutely. Thrilling, touching or funny stories with heroes to root for and villains to despise? Sure thing. Well, sometimes anyway.

Add to that the ability to play an active part in all of it instead of just consuming passively, and in some cases to even fundamentally affect the outcome, and you get something truly marvelous.

Unfortunately playing video games has also helped to shape my worldview in a negative way though, as it has taught me that even amongst ‘normal’ human beings (i.e. not counting scum like terrorists, rapists and so on) there’s a frighteningly large number of dickheads out there. I’ve had stretches where I outright refused to play online-multiplayer games because I just wasn’t willing to take it anymore.

Apart from that though, what can I say, I just love playing video games. They’re inextricably a part of me.

And there you have it.

Tomorrow the wonderful Roger Edwards (thanks for all the great movie reviews by the way!) will be there for you with the fourth installment of Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020, so head on over to Contains Moderate Peril and have a look. I sure will.