Another Year Older

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Saturday was my Birthday, so I didn’t really do much in the way of content production, schoolwork or anything productive really. I received Fallout 4 as an early birthday present the day it released, so I had already been playing that about as much as I could handle. I’ve put in about twenty hours now, and I still haven’t felt bored yet. Some bits can be frustrating, but it seems I have the determination to see them through or make a mental note to come back to that later. I’ve put together a fairly decent armor set, complete with a handful of upgraded weapons and have even dumped resources into the power suit I rarely use. I spent part of yesterday after noon leveling up my character doing the Brotherhood of Steel missions that feel infinitely repeatable but perhaps have an ending at some point. The XP was great though, as each quest would reward nice chunks along with the discovery, combat and skill experience gains. I’m sitting at level 17 now, and still haven’t done another story mission beyond the first. I have spent much of my time exploring, doing the random side mission and working for both the Minutemen and BoS. It’s been fun, and I think it will continue to be for some time.

I managed to get out of the house last night after dinner. A friend from out of town came to visit me and our other mutual friend that lives close by. I met up with them and we walked over to a nearby bar and had a couple of rounds. We went back and hung out at my friend’s house for a while too, and I came home early this morning to sleep. Today I woke up to watch my football team lose and then proceeded to catch up on schoolwork and play more Fallout. I only took a break to eat dinner, and then decided I should blog about something at least. I’ll probably go back to the wasteland shortly after hitting publish here.

I don’t want to do a play-by-play of my adventures in the game, just to avoid spoiling things for others. I know many people have already completed the game by now, but there’s so much to discover in the wasteland I don’t want to give things away too much. However, I have an assortment of screens that I’d like to share that can sort of tell a story without ruining things. So here’s that:

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Couch Podtatoes Episode 69: APG – Fallout 4

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Remember that thing we called “Actually Playing Games” a couple of weeks ago? In it, we discussed a game we had been playing together, Warhammer Vermintide, and then decided that the next game we’d play together was Secret Ponchos. We did play Secret Ponchos, but decided it wasn’t the type of game that would make for a very long conversation. Plus, Fallout 4 came out, and we couldn’t stop playing it.

So, we start off talking briefly about Secret Ponchos, and then move onto talking in-depth about Fallout 4. We tried to avoid spoilers, but if you haven’t played the game yet or haven’t explored much of The Commonwealth, keep in mind that we do talk about some side quests, various funny things we’ve come across and talk about one of the factions a little bit. Mostly though we concentrate on mechanics and systems and compare this title to previous iterations. I think we sound like we’re gushing over it for the most part, and I’m not ashamed of this. Feel free to share your Fallout stories with us in the comments.

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 69: APG: Fallout 4 (runtime: 59:20)

Discussion: Secret Ponchos & Fallout 4 (starts at 00:00)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Loser” by Beck (from the album Mellow Gold)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at http://couchpodtatoes.libsyn.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page, or stream it right here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

Season 6 Masteries (Preseason 2016)

Edit 1/20/16: I have made a new video with revised runes and masteries for season 6 after having utilized those on this post throughout the preseason. You can find that over here.

With Patch 5.22, the fifth ranked season has come to a close, and the preseason for the 2016 calendar year has begun. I’d advise reading the full patch notes before jumping into what I have to say here. I should also notate that my Season 5 Runes and Masteries post is still partially viable. The masteries have been completely re-done, so obviously the ones in that post are out of date now, but I have made absolutely no changes to the Rune pages there. Henceforth, we’ll only be talking about masteries introduced in patch 5.22, and I will redirect traffic from that post here as well.

The masteries have changed completely; the Offense tree being replaced with Ferocity, Defense with Cunning, and Utility with Resolve. Those are directly correlating to the way the old trees worked either. Essentially, Ferocity still functions as Offense, Cunning is support oriented with a splash of attack/defense, and Resolve is essentially Defense, but with some added goodies. Points work differently this time around as well, so there are no more 21/0/9 builds, but rather 18/0/12 (or perhaps 18/6/6). There are plenty of viable options in each tree, and plenty of ways to make the most of your points spent. Point expenditure is focused towards the one “Keystone Mastery” you’re going to focus on, and then spending remaining points to round out your build and cater to your role. However, there are so many more possible combinations that seem like they would work, rather than one “best” build for any particular role. It’s also likely that you will want to have the full 20 mastery pages allowed to tweak these builds for each and every champion you play. There’s much more to the theory crafting this time around. With that said, I should note that these are builds I made based on my play style and the champions I use. Masteries are a personal thing, and you’ll likely find things that work better for you, but these are some basic pages that aren’t too heavily tailored to any particular champion, that I think will work fairly well for particular roles. Let’s get started.

Marksmen (18/12/0)

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Playing a Marksman means forgoing defense for the sake of killing enemies as fast as possible. A full 18 points in Ferocity helps do just that. Four tiers of the Cunning tree are more viable for the full damage build than resolve would be (it would only provide minimal defensive stats at that tier).

Ferocity (18 points)

warlords bloodlust Warlord’s Bloodlust (Keystone) – Critical strikes heal you for 15% of the damage dealt and grant you 20% increased attack speed for 4 seconds
Every ADC relies on crits to some extent, and this will heal you when you get them. It seems like a viable way to forego lifesteal, or will at least synergize well with it. The extra move speed is a built in mallet. 

fury Fury – 4% attack speed.
The faster you attack, the more often you crit.

feast Feast – 20 health for killing units
Built in healing is great for sustain in lane.

vampirism Vampirism – 2% Lifesteal and Spell Vamp
Marksmen aren’t reliant on Spell Vamp, but they get lifesteal which when combined with feast and the keystone makes for some nice sustain.

oppressor Oppressor – 2.5% increased damage to targets with impaired movement (slows, stuns, taunts, etc).
Most marksmen have some form of crowd control, and those that don’t will still benefit from their support’s CC, and during teamfights.

battering blows Battering Blows – 7% Armor Penetration
Everyone builds a little armor. This helps cut through it.

Cunning (12 Points)

savagery Savagery – 5 bonus damage to minions and monsters (works on basic attacks and abilities).
This will help with farming.

secret stash Secret Stash – Potions, flasks and elixirs last 10% longer. Health potions are now Biscuits, restoring 20 health and 10 mana on use.
This was a toss up, as runic affinity in that tier is also nice, but I can’t count how many games I never got baron, or many red buffs. I use potions every game. 

meditation Meditation – 1.5% of your missing mana per 5 seconds.
Another toss up, since Merciless in that tier sounds good, but most of the time you aren’t hitting champions that are under 40% health. Mana can become an issue in extended fights and feels like the better pick here.

dangerous game Dangerous Game – Kills and assists restore 5% of your missing health and mana.
This feels fantastic. Not only do you get lifesteal bonuses and heal on crit from the Ferocity tree, but also some spike healing when you get kills. This can help with one on ones that become one on twos, or extended team fights.

So why go Cunning instead of Resolve for the final 12 points? To be honest, either is a viable choice. I know I was using defense over utility last season, but I think the bonus mana and health helps with sustain more so than the health regen or extra bonus health you’d get from Resolve.

Jungler (18/6/6)

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This is my Jungler page, which could very easily be tweaked depending on the junglers you tend to you. I went for a more AD focused build here because I tend to play AD junglers. This is also something I don’t normally do, in that I split the points among all three trees, but I think it works well here.

Ferocity (18 points)

fury feast vampirism battering blows warlords bloodlust Fury, Feast, Vampirism, Battering Blows and the Keystone Warlord’s Bloodlust. The only points differing here from the Marksman tree is Bounty Hunter (tier 4):

bounty hunter Bounty Hunter – You gain a permanent 1% damage increase for each unique enemy champion you kill.
I felt this was a good choice for a jungler, because they are likely to be attacking all lanes and have more potential to kill the other 5 enemy team members, which would net the full 5% damage increase.

Cunning (6 points)

wanderer Wanderer – 3% out of combat movement speed.
As the jungler, you’re constantly moving and this helps get you into ganking positon. Combined with the extra 4.5% from runes, you’re running 7.5% faster right out of the gate.

runic affinity Runic Affinity – Buffs granted by jungle monsters last 15% longer. This includes Baron and the new Rift Herald.
As the jungler you’re not going to get every buff, but you’ll get a few here and there. This helps stretch em out.

Resolve (6 points)

recovery Recovery – 2 health per 5 seconds.
Extra health regen is nice for jungling.

precision Tough Skin – You take 2 less damage from champion and monster basic attacks.
This is jungler 101 here. Less damage = more time in the jungle, or being able to gank before backing.

Why 6/6 instead of 12 points in one of those trees? Well, I like the four masteries I picked instead. Going further into resolve would net more health regen, and further into cunning would net some health on kills/assists, but I feel like these choices fit the jungler role specifically.

AP Carry (12/18/0)

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AP Carries used to just run down the opposite side of the first tree, and then get some mana regen from utility. The new Keystone masteries give more options when it comes to how you want to build mages this season, and there is a viable option in the ferocity tree, but I was more impressed by Thunderlord’s Decree for some periodical bonus AOE damage. Deathfire Touch (in Ferocity) and Stormcaller’s Blessing (in cunning) are also excellent choices depending on who you tend to play. However, this is the final page I decided on, so here’s the build:

Cunning (18 points)

savagery secret stash meditation dangerous game Savagery, Secret Stash, Meditiation, Dangerous Game.

thunderlords decree Thunderlord’s Decree (Keystone) – Your 3rd ability or basic attack on an enemy champion shocks them, dealing 10-180 (+0.2 bonus attack damage) (+0.1 ability power) magic damage in an area around them. 30 second cooldown.
This is great, just because it’s extra damage all the time. I tend to play the less bursty mages that have more utility, so this will help with wave clear and do some extra AOE damage in team fights.

precision Precision (tier 5) – 8.4 Armor and Magic Penetration at level 18.
Bonus penetration is always good.

Ferocity (12 points) 

Same points used in this tree, outside of the tier 1:

sorcery Sorcery – 2% increased damage from abilities.
Abilities are the bread and butter of AP Carries, as they don’t really do too much attack damage. 

feast vampirism oppressor Feast, Vampirism, Oppressor round it out.

AP – No Mana (18/0/12)

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I’ve kept the same naming conventions that I’ve always used, and this page is for those champions who are AP focused but don’t have a mana bar. Think champions like Vladimir and Akali. I built this page with Vladimir specifically in mind, as he benefits from both AP and Health due to his passive, and all of his abilities are powered by his health rather than mana. For those like Akali who use energy or Katarina who only relies on cooldowns, this would work just as well.

Ferocity (18 points)

sorcery feast vampirism oppressor Sorcery, Feast, Vampirism and Oppressor are all included. Tier 5 and Keystone are different:

deathfire touch Deathfire Touch – Your damaging abilities deal an additional (0.5 bonus attack damage + 0.2 ability power) magic damage to enemy champions over 3 seconds (half damage over 1.5 seconds for AoE and damage-over-time).
This feels like it was specifically made for Vladimir, as he’s going to be spamming skills to heal himself while damaging the enemy, and the burn will help against other tanky sustainers in the top lane.

piercing thoughts Piercing Thoughts – 7% Magic Penetration
Pretty self-explanatory.

Resolve (12 points)

recovery precision Recovery and Tough skin for extra hp5 and less damage from minions in lane.

veterans scars Veteran’s Scars – 4% maximum health.
This scales with Vlad’s passive and gives extra health to cast with. Otherwise it makes typical AP carries a little less squishy.

perseverance Perseverance – 50% health regen, increased to 200% health regen when below 20% health.
This is great for a solo laner. 

Hybrid (18/6/6)

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This page is all over the place, because I don’t really play Hybrid champions but I think it works on paper. This page is highly experimental and I’d tweak it to your liking.

Ferocity (18 points)

fervor of battle Fervor of Battle (Keystone) – Your basic attacks and spells give you stacks of Fervor for 5 seconds, stacking 10 times. Each stack of Fervor adds 1-8 bonus physical damage to your basic attacks against champions, based on your level.
This feels like a mastery made specifically for Jax, or anyone who has stacking on hit effects, which hybrids tend to. 

sorcery oppressor battering blows Sorcery, Oppressor and Battering Blows we’ve covered before. That’s bonus AP and damage to CC’d targets + Armor Pen.

double edged sword Double Edged Sword – Melee: Deal an additional 3% damage, but receive an additional 1.5% damage. Ranged: Deal an additional 2% damage, but receive an additional 2% damage.
You’ll likely be melee using this page, so the extra damage is nice.

natural talent Natural Talent – 10 AD at level 18. 15 AP at level 18.
This is a natural choice for a hybrid champion.

Cunning (6 points)

savagery secret stash Savagery and Secret Stash for bonus damage to creeps and biscuits.

Resolve (6 points)

recovery precision Recovery and Tough Skin for bonus hp5 and less damage from creeps.

Tank (0/12/18)

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The tank page focuses fully on Resolve, which is the only place you can get some bonus flat tank stats. All three keystones in this tree can be beneficial, but I find the sustain from Grasp of the Undying to be awesome. Another fantastic choice is Bond of stone, which gives damage reduction.

Resolve (18 points)

grasp of the undying Grasp of the Undying (Keystone) – Every 4 seconds in combat, your next attack against an enemy champion steals life equal to 3% of your maximum health (1.5% for ranged champions)
I play Maokai quite often, and this synergizes with that. It would also be beneficial for any top lane tank for sustain. 

recovery precision veterans scars perseverance Recovery, Tough Skin, Veteran’s Scars and Perseverance for sustain in lane.

legendary guardian Legendary Guardian – 3 Armor and Magic Resistance for each nearby enemy champion.
The only flat tank stats you can find in all 3 trees.

Cunning (12 points)

savagery runic affinity meditation dangerous game Savagery, Runic Affinity, Meditation and Dangerous Game help with sustain and keep buffs up longer, also helps with last hitting.

Support (0/18/12)

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The cunning tree contains the biggest boons to support characters, so I went there for the keystone mastery Windspeaker’s Blessing. Supports don’t focus on damage too much, so the remaining points in Resolve help with sustain and cooldown.

Cunning (18 points)

windspeakers blessing Windspeaker’s Blessing – Your shields and heals are 10% stronger. Your shields and heals on allies other than yourself grant them 15% increased armor and magic resist for 3 seconds.
Nearly every support champion has some form of healing or shielding. This makes them much more effective.

wanderer secret stash meditation precision Wanderer, Secret Stash, Meditation, Precision for movement speed, biscuits, mana regen and bonus penetration (this scales nicely with the hybrid penetration marks on the rune page).

bandit Bandit – Gain 1 gold whenever a nearby minion is killed by an allied champion. Gain 3 gold (10 gold for melee) when basic attacking an enemy champion (5 sec cooldown).
It’s two of the masteries from the old utility tree in one. Gold for being near dying minions and basic attacks on champions helps tremendously and stacks with gold generation items.


 

That’s all I have for now. I will be testing out these builds over the course of the preseason and will revisit them after season 6 officially starts.

A Strong Candidate For GOTY

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According to steam I have just about ten hours put into Fallout 4, and I have a feeling I’ve barely scratched the surface. That’s not counting the fact that there will be eventual DLC that will expand upon the base game, meaning there are many, many more hours to put into this title. For the first time in a long time, a game has grabbed me to the point where I don’t want to play other games. This probably hasn’t happened since I got hooked on Skyrim. Dragon Age: Origins before that. Games where I wanted to see all the possible endings, play through with multiple characters, and find all of the secrets. I had my doubts about Fallout 4 though. I recall word that Bethesda titles tend to release as buggy messes. I read critics calling the game ugly, the same old thing, and dumbed down compared to previous titles in the series. People said the same about Skyrim when comparing it to Oblivion, so it’s likely that there are critics for everything, and people need to make up their own minds when it comes to judgments of games. My initial impressions of the game from trailers and things I had read was that it was a completely new game in a familiar package, and given my history with Bethesda, I felt I would likely enjoy this title.

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My main reservations were my dislike of the shonky FPS combat from the previous two Fallout titles, the lack of purpose for junk items that you interact with in the world (something I hope they find a way to improve upon in the next Elder Scrolls game), and ugly character models. The latter is still probably the weakest point in Fallout 4, while in the above picture my character looks up to current graphical standards, when zoomed in close hair on the head and the face still isn’t that great, but I play the game in first person mode exclusively, so I don’t really care that much. I can happily report that the new FPS system and even V.A.T.S. have been greatly improved. I can actually play the game in real-time, and shooting feels much more fluid, accurate and effective. V.A.T.S. doesn’t fully stop the action now, it actually goes into a super slow mode where the enemies can actually take cover while you’re in mid-shot, causing you to miss or hit something they’ve ducked behind. Because I play FPS games pretty regularly, I feel like my shooter twitch skills actually come into play in this game, rather than an RNG accuracy measurement is controlling the action. V.A.T.S. feels like a tool — not a requirement, and that’s exactly what I asked for. Finally, the junk that you see strewn about the world but would just avoid due to weight considerations in past Bethesda games has a reason to exist. Every piece of junk can be broken down into components and used in crafting at several different stations, along with the base-building mode that is completely new to the series. It took a bit to get used to it, but once I did I rather enjoy the crafting systems in this game, and I never enjoy building or crafting in games. It’s always something that takes time away from what I’d rather be doing, but it feels good to have the option to break up quests or exploring. It makes you look for things that you would normally ignore, just so you can build something new in your base.

There are a wide variety of things to do right from the start, and apparently I’ve only completed one story mission, despite finishing a slew of side quests and miscellaneous tasks. Base building took up some time, and crafting weapons, armor, food, chemicals and even upgrading my power suit have all had their uses and didn’t overwhelm me with a sense of too much to do. Conversely I wish I had more time to devote to the game, rather than feeling the game is demanding too much time of me. Strange, that sentence. I remember feeling this way about MMOs years ago, but somehow that pendulum has swung the other direction with that genre, despite sharing many similarities with a game such as this one. Perhaps it’s having an “end state” that keeps these mechanics from overstaying their welcome. What I really think is that being an FPS with RPG elements is different enough from the standard third person action MMO that I’m loving it. Maybe I never wanted an MMO to begin with, I just wanted a world as immersive as this one that I could play along with friends? Speaking of, Bethesda, why can I have a range of sidekicks, but your games aren’t co-op? Don’t say anything about ESO, you. That’s not what I want at all.

Companions feel improved from previous Bethesda games. Not only do they follow you tirelessly and help out in combat situations, along with being a great mule, but they actually sneak around with you and don’t aggro everything in a ten mile radius. I got to the point where I stopped using companions at all in Skyrim because they were more annoying than they were worth. In the case of Fallout 4, they feel more intelligent and useful. But, I did use companions in Skyrim for more than ten hours before getting rid of them, so my opinion here might change.

Catering to my explorer side, Fallout 4 doesn’t fail to impress. I’ve covered maybe 15% of the map and feel that I’m just scratching the surface. There is so much to see, and there is that feeling of seeing something cool and needing to check it out. There are collectibles that actually provide stats, much like earlier iterations of this series and TES. Comics, other books and Bobbleheads are hidden in not-so-obvious places and that makes you want to hunt them down in each nook and cranny you can find. Having a collectible actually mean something in-game is so much better than just having it to earn an achievement for your gamer card. I get the whole “gamer cred” concept, but I like having an in-game effect as well, so it scratches the itch for both explorers and achievers. Games like Call of Duty, Uncharted and pretty much every other console game/port take note… collectibles are lame if they only provide achievement/trophies.

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Fallout 4 felt really easy for the first hour or so. After that it was apparent that this particular wasteland can be rather dangerous. Radiation is something a bit more difficult to deal with this time around, taking from your total health until you use some RadAway, which isn’t all that plentiful to begin with. Basic enemies can be rather difficult too, because they tend to spawn/wander in groups. Big baddies like the one above would be instant death without the help of your powersuit; something I never had in previous Fallout games (though admittedly I never beat any of them). I also don’t understand why people are saying this game is so ugly. I don’t have a state of the art graphics card (GTX 770) but the rest of my system is pretty damn good, and I’m running the game @ 1920/1080/60hz on high settings and it looks gorgeous. I mean yeah, I’ve seen slightly better but it feels on par with what’s coming out these days. It’s definitely better than previous iterations. Besides, as I’ve said many a time: Graphics aren’t everything. Overall, Fallout 4 has addressed all the qualms I had with the series, put it in a better looking package that runs smoothly and has added features I didn’t know I wanted. I’m in love with this game, and feel it’s a strong contender for game of the year. It’s in my top 3 at least.

By The Numbers: Week 10, 2015

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151113-infographic-det-webAnother disappointing week ending in loss. This time the Packers started with an early lead, sat dormant for 3 quarters, and then decided to almost make it a game in the final minutes. That missed TD to Cobb on 4th down hurts. A 2 point conversion would have taken the game to overtime, and the Panthers seemed winded by that point. It surely could have gone the other way. Should the season end with Green Bay and Carolina as the #1 and #2 seeds, I feel like the game ends differently, regardless of location, especially if we right the ship by then. An important stretch of four division games is coming up, where the only challenge I see being the road game at Minnesota. They’re 6-2 as well, so the Packers need to stay ahead of them to guarantee that 5th-in-a-row division title and a playoff berth. This week they’re playing the 1-7 Lions at home, who just booted their President and GM, so it’s likely they will be playing like a whole different team. I think the Packers have a good shot at righting the ship this weekend, and they need this win for morale. Lacy has been demoted to the #2 back, with Starks taking the #1 slot, but with their tandem chemistry it’s likely he still sees some playing time. I just hope that Starks can start producing more steadily, because the run game this year looks like a few years back when it wasn’t strong. Questions will be answered this weekend. On to the picks:

Bills 21, Jets 17
Ravens 27, Jags 20
Packers 31, Lions 20
Eagles 24, Dolphins 14
Steelers 27, Browns 10
Rams 33, Bears 24
Cowboys 20, Buccs 16
Panthers 30, Titans 21
Saints 23, Skins 10
Raiders 24, Vikings 20
Chiefs 23, Broncos 20
Giants 41, Patriots 37
Cardinals 28, Seachickens 24
Bengals 27, Texans 13