I Am Forsaken

It’s been a minute since I reported on my Destiny 2 progress, and well, there hasn’t been much. It’s actually been almost a month since I completed Expansion II: Warmind and almost immediately I dove into Forsaken. I had a good session, and then I got sick, and didn’t play much of anything for a couple of weeks. Then I went ahead and got distracted by a new release, World War Z and I just finally got back to playing Destiny 2 again last night. Anyhow, Forsaken picks up where we left off, and now Cayde wants you to meet up with him for some mission in the Tangled Shore. First though, we’re treated to a video of Cayde presumably being killed by a mysterious figure (pictured above) and then it flashes back to you going to meet him. Foreshadowing is tricky, especially if he isn’t actually dead, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Flashing back to the current time frame, we meet up with Cayde and wade through some enemies before being more formally introduced to this new villain who leads some rather potent looking Fallen Generals. It appears that eliminating them will be the first hurdle before getting revenge for Cayde, though at this point it’s still unclear if he’s actually dead.

After a couple of missions in this new quest chain, we’re given a new class quest that is supposed to allow us to unlock some new powers. We’re supposed to follow a signal to IO, wherein the planet is “speaking” to us and leading us on a new journey. We’ll see pulsations like this a few times while on this moon, culminating with a fight with the Taken to unlock a new portion to our skill tree for all three sub-classes. However, you only get one seed at this time with which to unlock said branches, but I assume there will be ways to get more seeds later.

I’m still the most partial to the Gunslinger sub-class, so I went ahead and opened the “Way of a Thousand Cuts” which allows you to throw a volley of explosive knives in front of you. Not as long range as our normal golden gun routine, but seems like it kills groups much more effectively. There are additional tiers to this new branch, but you have to earn experience with the ability before those unlock.

Eventually we meet Spider, who is a fence of sorts in the Tangled Shore. He’s not a very trusting guy though, so before giving us the information that we’re looking for, he sends me out to do a bunch of bounties for him. I managed to completed both the class quest and these bounties last night, and am now set to go on the offensive, with the new mission given to me sending us to go at attack those generals head on. It’s not a lot of progress, but it is progress nonetheless. Hoping to get some more time in over my days off and I’ll report back once I have something more substantial.

World War Z Impressions

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I had pulled the trigger on World War Z, after having read elsewhere that it was likened to Left 4 Dead. I was a bit skeptical at first mainly because video games based on movies are rarely a good thing, let alone video games based on movies based on books. However, this doesn’t really correlate with the movie or the book, save for the setting of the real world being overrun by “zeke.” Yes, they went ahead and used a different word for zombie, yet again.

Similarities between World War Z and Left 4 Dead can surely be seen, as it is a game that is level based, and you’ll see various “special” zombies that do things differently than your standard zeke. The co-op campaign pits you and three other players against the zombie hordes, though there are objectives to complete along a fairly linear path. At certain points you’ll encounter huge waves of enemies, and these aren’t the slow plodding zombies of some games, no these guys are fast and pissed off. Specials like the “Bull” or “Stinkbag” can really put a hurting on you, with one charging in to pick you up and slam you on the ground until one of your partners guns him down, while the other releases some toxic gas when it dies, blinding you temporarily. Really, the way the zombies move and the way they climb on each other like ants to scale walls are the only similarities one can make between this game and its movie counterpart.

The game plays like a third person shooter, but does not have cover mechanics. You can attempt to use stealth by crouch-walking and using silenced weapons, but I found that it was just as effective to wade into groups and slash away with my knife. You’ll take more damage that way, but you also save ammo. Each episode is broken down into sections, so you’ll be at that particular location for a few chapters before moving onto a new part of the world. So far I’ve cleared all but the final level which is Tokyo. New York, Jerusalem and Moscow were all increasingly difficult, but we managed to clear them nonetheless. I convinced my best friend to get a copy of the game, as it was reasonably priced at $40, and co-opping our way through it has been entertaining. You would think that only four episodes isn’t really worth that price point, but we have only cleared the “starter” difficulty level (one skull) and there are a total of five difficulties. Much like Killing Floor 2 that we played quite a bit a couple of years ago, there is a progression system that allows you to eventually clear those higher difficulties.

There are two ways to progress in World War Z. Firstly, there are a number of classes that you can choose to play as, and each of them earns XP individually. This means not only is there the option to play these levels again on a higher difficulty, but also to level up additional classes. I really didn’t know what to expect from the game so I didn’t know which class would work best for my personal playstyle, but I ended up playing the “Fixer,” which is basically a support class. It starts with a scout rifle, silenced pistol, and a supply bag that you can drop for your allies so they can refill their explosive ammo. I figured playing something more supportive would mean my teams would be better balanced, and since I’m only playing with one person I know, you can’t rely on randoms to try and make a balanced team. In most of my games most players were using the Gunslinger or other more offensive classes, while my friend was playing a tanky role so we did end up fairly balanced anyway due to our efforts. As you earn experience you’ll unlock perks that can change the way your character plays. For instance, I started off with the supply bag, but eventually got access to “masking grenades” and then later put a point into a perk that makes the masking gas lethal to zombies. This allows me to contribute more to the horde fights, while most players were ignoring my supply drops. The perk tree is pretty long, so I imagine things will change up again before long.

When it comes to weapons, you will earn experience for them by killing with them. As a weapon levels up, you’ll be presented with upgrade options and can take your pick as to how you want to customize your gun. I leveled up an Assault Rifle first, and put a scope on it which gave more power and accuracy. On the Bullpup I went for an extended mag modification. Use a weapon more often and you’ll level it up faster, but having extra goodies on multiple guns is good because you don’t know what you’ll end up with. Apparently on the higher difficulties there are more zeke, they have more health and there are less supplies spread out along the map, so you’ll want to have more than one modified weapon.

Outside of the co-op campaign, there is also a multiplayer side containing several extra game modes. Things like capture the flag, king of the hill and deathmatch are present, but instead of bigger games with only players, these game modes pit small teams against each other, but throw zombies into the mix. For instance, I played a round of deathmatch and the two teams ran into each other quickly and started fighting. The goal of this mode is to get to 50 kills before the other team, but there is also a time limit — if that runs out the team with the highest score wins. After fighting for a while, a notification pops up that states “critical noise level reached,” and at this point a horde will swarm your position. You’ll have to fight off zombies and other players at the same time, but can also try and stay out of sight and let the zombies do some of the work for you. I believe if you die to a zombie the other team gets a point, but I’m not certain. That would make sense.

Looking forward, the dev team has already outlined their roadmap for the summer. All of the above updates are supposed to be free, and so far there are no microtransactions present, but I can imagine the “new weapon variants, new character skins and new character accessories” to be something they might monetize since everyone else is doing it. The new Tokyo mission is something that should have probably released with the game, as each other episode has 3 missions each and Tokyo only has 2 at present. A new special zombie is a nice add, and an extra difficulty level is probably going to be needed sooner than later. Rotating game modes are also a good idea, and I’ve heard they are also working on a wave-based survival mode as well.

Overall I’d say that World War Z is a game that feels like Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor had a baby. It mixes elements of many successful games that I’ve had a blast playing. I see this being in the regular rotation for the foreseeable future. If you’re on console, I’d recommend grabbing this immediately. If you’re on PC, you’ll have to get it via the Epic Games Store… so if you don’t have an issue with that, have at it. A worthwhile purchase for $40.

TWR: The Value Proposition – War of the Spark

The newest Magic: The Gathering set, War of the Spark, released this past Friday, and for the third year in a row, I’ve purchased a box of booster packs around this time of year. This time around, I don’t really have an LGS without making a trip out of town, so I opted to utilize Amazon, which Wizards of the Coast recently partnered up with for people like me to have easier access. The main downfall to this is the fact that you do not get the Buy-A-Box promo card, and since I didn’t have an LGS to go to for the pre-release, I didn’t get any date-stamped promo cards this year either. Apparently the purchase price for the box was supposed to be lower on Amazon, but I don’t really think that’s the case, unless I missed somewhere that box prices went up? Whatever the case, I’ve written about the past two box openings with a break down on how I did, so I thought I’d keep with tradition and do it again.

I actually pre-ordered my box back in April, but the set didn’t release until last Friday, and initially it appeared that I wouldn’t get my order delivered for nearly a week past that date. Thankfully, once the box shipped on Friday, the delivery time was updated to Saturday, and it was awaiting me on the porch when I got home from work that morning. Above, I sort of “live-tweeted” my box opening experience with pictures of most of my best pulls. You can see visuals if you read that thread. Let’s get on with the goods, and the card breakdown in the box.

10 Rare
42 Uncommon

1 Rare
4 Uncommon
19 Common

1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
12 Uncommon
67 Common (1 foil)

1 Mythic Rare
5 Rare
13 Uncommon
70 Common (1 foil)

1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
12 Uncommon
66 Common

1 Mythic Rare
4 Rare
12 Uncommon (1 foil)
66 Common (1 foil)

1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
14 Uncommon
65 Common (1 foil)

36 Tokens
6 Non-Basic Lands – Emergence Zone, Mobilized District, Interplanar Beacon, Gateway Plaza
37 Basic Lands – 1 foil Swamp

The breakdown for this box is a bit misleading, since a majority of the cards in the set are Planeswalkers and a bunch of them are uncommon and still pretty damn useful. So I think the value is skewed a little bit given that some of these cards are bulk, and yet they’ll still find homes in decks where you usually only see one or two uncommons/commons become staples. I did pretty well with my pulls, getting most of the chase cards, but I didn’t pull Feather, which I was really hoping to get my hands on to brew. However, with the large amount of Planeswalkers I have on hand I’m thinking of making Atraxa superfriends first. I’ve had her for some time and was going to do an infect build but I think instead I just might roll with the walkers instead. Whatever the case, I ended up with a bunch of great cards and I’m excited to tweak my existing decks and make new ones. Cards like Massacre Girl and the new Gods have me excited. Speaking of the Gods, let’s take a closer look at the Mythic Rares I pulled:

I managed to pull all but the new Bontu, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with him anyway. Ilharg is intriguing as a build around, but I think I’m going to slot him into Jodah instead, as cheating out big Eldrazi is the name of the game in that deck. It will also lose most of its Planeswalkers if I go that route with Atraxa, so I’m going to be looking for a few replacement cards that I just might find from the set. Oketra is slamming into my Zombie tribal deck, while I think I’m finally going to build a mono blue deck around the new Kefnet. Rhonas looks more like a finisher for a green beatdown deck, so I’ll probably put him somewhere that I already have a Craterhoof Behemoth for redundancy. Finally, the only non-God mythic I opened was the new Liliana, and she is a beauty. I really want to put her into my Zombie deck because I have two other Lilianas already in the 99, but I feel like this would be better for superfriends. As it stands, the possibility of building Atraxa means needing to re-evaluate where I have my other Planeswalkers, however I think I sold off most of the ones I had before now, outside of those in decks.

This set has reinvigorated my love for building decks and collecting these cards. It was definitely worth the money. I’m sure I’ll have some new brews to write about soon enough, so until then, I bid you farewell.