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Defiance – Arkbreaker


I have been neglecting Defiance for some time, which meant that when I decided to pick it up again, I had to create a new character. Sadly, it's one of those games where all characters start in the same place, and where you only have a thin line of missions to undertake. Considering I beat the bejeezus out of the starting area during beta, I wasn't too pleased to be doing it again, again.

The second DLC released on Tuesday, with some nice perks. The biggest update was, of course, the ability to call down arkfalls on-demand. It's not as free-form as it sounds, though: there are places on the map which indicate a potential window for an arkfall, and if you are the first to show up, you can use a device that will basically drag the part from orbit and send it crashing into the ground at your feet. Because it's what we've come to expect from an arkfall, you have to battle enemies in the vicinity, but this time, you actually get to go into the debris, like how Nolan and Irisa did in the pilot episode. 

The interior is a single-room instance, and anyone can just waddle up and enter (as far as I know). The good news is that there's no gating (again, as far as I know). I'm hardly anywhere near the EGO cap, but I was in with others who were tricked out and EGO boosted, and I still managed to not be last in the standings (considering I only had my heavy rifle in a group of Volge and coldfire weapons, I think that's pretty good).

These are not soloable by any stretch. Inside the arkfall, there are several Volge that just appear through various doors, and there are also Volge drones that fly around on an upper tier walkway. During our time in the instance, there were two Volge Warmasters, and those things hit hard and wide, which is why there are so many barricades in the room. So I think Trion got the balancing right here: you don't need a pre-made group, and it's not EGO locked, so if you happen upon an on-demand arkfall, you should stop in. Of note: there is an introductory mission arc that introduces you to the new content, and also a short mission that nets you a Volge pistol after you enter a specific solo arkfall, so be sure to look for those (they show up as main mission indicators on the map, and both start in the lower-level areas of the map).

The DLC also added spikes and stims. Spikes are AoE buffs for people around you, and the come in a variety of flavors like increasing attack power and decreasing your own damage. Stims are personal chemical boosts. You can carry 10 of each kind (10 attack spikes, 10 damage reduction spikes, not 10 spikes, period), and if you try and pick up an 11th from a drop, it tells you that your inventory is full. That threw me for a second, since my inventory is quite clear. It only meant I couldn't carry any more of that type of spike or stim.

I don't know if I've been away too long or if the DLC added these features, but Trion is working towards updating the PC UI to make it more usable. The map is now way more intuitive, with labels and clearer indications on what icons mean and do. There were a few I ran into last night that I didn't recognize, but the server was going down for an emergency patch :(  The mission UI has been updated, you can now favorite items to keep them out of the normal breakdown flow, and you can also break down in bulk, which should help a lot to sweep junk from the inventory.

I like the updates...so far. The on-demand arkfalls aren't really on-demand, so you need to be looking for windows where one can be called. That is a shrewd move not only to keep arks from falling from the sky everywhere, but to slow the progress players can make when plowing through this DLC. Like anything of this kind, however, I can see that in several months, no one will be doing these on-demand instances, which means if you want to get in on them while there are warm bodies around, you'd best jump on the bandwagon now.

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Play Log for 12/13/14 July 2013

I'll be lumping these weekend updates into one post, due Monday, if I remember to do it at all. I also realized I forgot Friday, so I'll  be tossing that into the ring here as well.

DefianceLogoI spent a lot of time in Defiance this weekend, mainly because it was an extra loot weekend. They weren't kidding: every single drop had tons of garbage in it. I said "garbage" mainly because 98% of it was broken down to ark resources, but some of it was useful. I got a few new weapons, and I'm trying out a new shield. Normal encounters dropped items but the extended encounters -- like one mission for Varus in Port Stinson -- ended up dropping WAY more than I could carry. I had to wait for a lull in the action to break stuff down before I could continue. If folks picked up the game this weekend due to the Steam sale, it would have been a great time to jump in and get some good gear.

I ended up completing the Volge content, and did all the Muir Processing Plant missions. I'm still avoiding "A Bullet for a Bad Man" for as long as I can.

Baldurs_Gate_stacked_logo_circa_Enhanced_EditionI installed Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition that I had picked up about two weeks ago. I have to say that they enhanced it. It looks pretty good, but not HD good. And the gameplay hasn't changed. I wish I could say I spent a while playing it this weekend, but I barely got to the other side of the starting tower. I'll give it another go another time. I never completed the game when it was new; I'd like to be able to do that.


the-walking-dead-logoSaving the best for last, I finally picked up The Walking Dead on sale for $6. This is a "confession" game: I want to apologize to Telltale for waiting this long to pick it up, and on sale. This is a game worthy of full retail price, and I've only completed the first episode.

I don't watch the show, and haven't read the graphic novels, and I really hate zombies, so I have to admit that it's the game design that matters here. It's not an action game, and it's not a horror game. It's a human game, which is usually what zombie stories end up being about anyway: what people do when faced with an unbeatable horror at the end of the world. The decisions you make determine the scenes you receive, immediately and later on down the road. You need to make choices between who to save and who to abandon. You pick up allies (and enemies), and sometimes they stick around, and sometimes they move on. I like the hot-spot mechanic as well; I think it would be a good fit to bring back other adventure game IPs.

The one thing I must admit is that I'm not really feeling the connection to Clem, the little girl you have with you. Granted, I'm only through the first episode, and the stupid Steam trading cards blew the plot of other episodes for me already, so that may change, but I'm far more interested in the adults that I've met than I am the kid. And I've seen commentary about how the character of Clem had been created, and the praise TT received for it, but I don't think she's all that engaging. She sounds and acts like an adult's vision of what a child should be, which isn't true to life. Maybe that's where my disconnect comes from.