State of the Game: Tax Season

sotg

It’s tax season here in the US, so of course that means a bunch of us will have already received (and/or spent) our tax returns. I received mine the other day, and of course that means I had to spend a bit of money on some new(er) games that I have had on my wishlist. I split my investment between both the PC and my PS3, but with some added bonuses I’ll describe below. Between being a Playstation Plus member and knowing where to look for a decent deal, I feel that I got a pretty good bang for my buck, and definitely didn’t spend a fortune. The full list is Telltale’s Game of Thrones and Tales From the Borderlands, Hotline Miami 2, Helldivers, and Darkest Dungeon. I also got some RP and picked up some stuff in League of Legends. But that was the extent of my splurge. This will keep me busy for a while.

I’ve played a bit of each of these games, save for Game of Thrones. That one I’m planning to play tonight possibly, but I’m not entirely sure, might be going out with a friend. I did play through Episode One of Tales From the Borderlands though, and must report that the balance of QTE and discussion with other random events and bits of lore, feels spot on for this game. I’ve enjoyed the evolution of the company’s games. I’m not going to go any further with that line of writing though, because I have a full post planned for that title. I’ll be doing the play-through write-ups with my choices for both of these TellTale games, as I have done with others in the past. I also should mention I bought the PS3 versions of these games. I decided to keep all of my TT games on one system.

Continuing on with the PS3, Hotline Miami 2 is a blast. It’s basically the same as the original, I haven’t noticed any real differences, but if you enjoyed the first game, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. More of the same isn’t bad in this case, but if you didn’t enjoy the first game you probably should skip this one, it’s not changing the formula here.

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Same combo system, same ability to execute those you didn’t kill with bullets (so you can choose to be stealthy or just mow everyone down), same masks (though the power up effects might be different, I’m no expert there), same game play. I love it though, and because I had the original on my PS3 and this title was on sale for Plus members I picked up on the console. I’ve only finished the first couple of chapters so this will be on the playlist for a while longer.

Next up is Helldivers, which is a strange mishmash of genres. There is twin-stick shooter combat (aim with one joystick, move your character with the other, 3/4 view), but a mission hub that feels very much like being on a ship in Mass Effect, and then RPG elements where you get to customize your character, their loadout, and their perks/abilities. There’s a bit of strategy in there as well, when looking at the map that allows you to pick a sector and help “push it” towards the enemy homeworld, where a larger scale battle is supposed to occur (I haven’t reached this point, so I can’t comment, but they give a brief description of how it works in the tutorial). I chose to push a particular sector, and this is when you complete missions on various planets.

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Completing the objectives, you are then able to call for an extraction, where you will fight enemies until the drop ship lands. You’ll then be back at the mission hub, where you can change your gear in the Armory, do scientific research, and choose the next mission.

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Each mission and planet completed adds to your contribution to the galactic fight. Eventually you should be able to push your territory to the homeworlds of each race, destroy them all and take control of the whole thing, but I assume it would reset at some point. I suppose I’ll be able to tell you more when I play more of it.

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I picked up Darkest Dungeon on the PC (obviously). This one has been on my wishlist for a while, mainly ever since Isey started posting his blogger trials and tribulations. I absolutely love the art style and the game play is solid. I like the turn based strategy aspects of the battle, but it can be quite frustrating. I haven’t had a death just yet but some close calls. I only played through the tutorial and one mission though, so I’m not super far just yet. Thinking of starting a new game now that I understand more about it, and following along with the blogger idea, since Isey seems to have trailed off from it. So look for more about this title coming soon.

Lastly, as I mentioned I picked up some RP and spent it getting the Bard + Skin bundle, along with cheap skins for Morgana and Sion. I have had good luck with both of those characters this season and I didn’t own skins for either, so I rectified that. And Bard is simply a fun to play support. I love how you can push a lane out, run and collect a few chimes, then use his magic tunnel ability to gank an unsuspecting carry (or midlaner, if you’re really winning bot lane and can roam). I haven’t played him in ranked yet because I want to practice a bit more, but I love what I have seen, and the Elderwood Bard skin is fantastic.

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Here’s the skins I picked up for my other champions:

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That’s all I got for the round up this week. However, look for the TFTB episode 1 play-through, and more on Darkest Dungeon coming this week.

#stateofthegame #roundup

League of Legends 5.5

It’s been a while since the last time I really dove into some patch notes for League of Legends, but this time there is much to talk about. Full patch notes are available here, but I’ll be going over the most pertinent bits. First and foremost, Bard, the new champion that I’ve discussed recently is going to be a part of this patch. The new champion spotlight has finally turned up, so you can take a look at that now. I’ll wait.

He looks awesome, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting some play time in with the new champion. Beyond the new champion, there is also news of a visual rework for Kassadin, which is nice to hear, because he’s looked rather ugly for a while compared to newer champions. Take a look:

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In the lower half you can see how the changes affect existing skins, and I happen to own the 2nd from the left, which looks much better now. This is just a visual rework though, so there haven’t been changes to his kit save for a tweak (nerf) to his ultimate. It’s nice to see the older champions getting some love, as many of them were starting to look a bit dated. The next wave of texture balances are also included in this patch, updating Cho’Gath, Janna, Taric and Warwick. They’re all in need of some help too, so good news all around.

Remember how Deathfire Grasp was removed a couple of patches ago, but it was said that a new item would be taking its place? Well that’s finally come to fruition. The new item is called Luden’s Echo, and it’s going to be a nice item for many AP carries.

Luden’s Echo

IT’S HAPPENING!!!

Our new 120 ability power item is here to fill the void left by the passing of Deathfire Grasp (rest in pieces). Goals up front: we want to provide a unique item that helps out movement-focused, spell-slinging mages, like kitey Lux, bursty-train Akali, or even spell-slingy (that’s a word) Karthus. Try it out and let us know what combinations work with you – we’ll be keeping a close eye here as new experiments get brought out. It’s also important to note that this works on spell hits, not basic attacks!

RECIPE: Needlessly Large Rod + Aether Wisp + 650 gold (total cost: 3100 gold)
ABILITY POWER: 120
MOVEMENT SPEED: 7%
UNIQUE PASSIVE: Gains charges upon moving or casting. At 100 charges, the next spell hit expends all charges to deal 100 (+0.15 ability power) bonus magic damage to up to 4 targets on hit. Applies spell Effects (e.g., Spell Vamp, Rylai’s, etc).

So basically we’re looking at the Statikk Shiv for AP carries. I like getting the extra movement speed as well, because mages tend to be pretty slow. Another new item is being added as well, which is a new part of the build path for Sunfire Cape, but also part of a new jungler item that replaces the juggernaut item for tanky junglers. Behold, Bami’s Cinder:

Bami’s Cinder

Baby sunfire.

We’ve mentioned this before, but one of our goals with this ‘new’ tanky jungle enchant was to provide an item that not only provides valuable tank stats but also helps junglers with their early to mid game clears. We’ve had to be very careful in balancing champions with this new item (ie: Amumu and Sejuani probably don’t need anything in addition to the new Cinder), but we’re excited to see what possibilities emerge. Want to play a tank jungler? GET FIRED.

RECIPE: Ruby Crystal + 600 gold (1000 gold total)
HEALTH: 300
UNIQUE PASSIVE: Immolate – Deals 5 (+ 1 per champion level) magic damage to nearby enemies. Deals 50% bonus damage to minions and monsters.

Otherwise, there’s mostly balance tweaks and minor changes that you can read about in the full notes if you’re so inclined. Also, the Summoner’s Rift Beta will have officially ended with the new patch, as they feel it is working as intended. Apparently that means we’ll have animated Defeat and Victory screens now. Nothing major, but a nice touch.

That’s about all for the patch notes, but there was one other news story I wanted to talk about briefly. A new part of the “launcher metagame” is coming, called Champion Mastery. I call this part of the “launcher metagame” because this is where it takes place, in the launcher, but also because I would lump runes/masteries and other things of that nature into part of the meta that you “play” when you aren’t in game. Anyway, it’s kind of convoluted at this point, but the gist of it is that you gain “mastery” by playing a particular champion over and over, but you gain more mastery if you play well. Each champion will basically have a individual leveling system that takes place out of the game. This is something done in other MOBAs, at least I know it’s happening in HotS. However, in that game the level means something for your in-game character, whereas this system in League seems more cosmetic. You get some sort of icon/border for maxing out the mastery of a particular champion, and I believe you’ll be able to look these things up on other people’s profiles. So you can tell if someone is really a great Vayne or not based on their mastery level. But since you earn mastery just for playing, you don’t have to perform well to get the mastery maxed out, you’ll just do it slower than a truly good Vayne player. So I’m not sure exactly what Riot is aiming for here, aside for something else to keep your eyes on and maybe encourage your continued play. This is going onto the PBE, so we won’t see it live for a bit, and it will be limited to Normal games on Summoner’s Rift. I’ll talk more about it when it goes live and I know more.

That’s about all I have this time around.

#leagueoflegends #patchnotes #championspotlight

The Wandering Caretaker

Going back to my post, The Wonder Above, I had talked about the speculation around the new champion teaser. Today Riot released more information about that champ, who’s name is in fact, Bard. The discussion revolved around whether or not Bard would be a support, and being from Targon, be a big tanky champion. This much we can confirm.

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Bard is his name, so I think we can drop the speculation about it being a race, unless more of these champs show up at a later time. We can also drop the idea that it’s Ao Shin, obviously. The symbol that was shown up in the sky above the makeshift camp in the teaser is his, in that he can create tunnels through walls, thankfully not limited only to the spots where they are already visible. He’s basically the support version of Rek’Sai, to be honest, though from a different region of the world. You can see the full reveal over here. I’ve been having good luck with the new meta supports and/or newer champions who are supports, so I’m stoked for this release. I’ll be saving my IP for him certainly.

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Bard’s kit is very much about wandering and securing objectives, and that is the new meta that has emerged this season. Since there isn’t a champion spotlight video just yet, you’ll have to visit the earlier link to see his abilities in action, and I’m not going to go into great detail here. They also haven’t released their recommended builds but I imagine the typical tanky support builds will be viable, with maybe a splash of AP for early poke. I will probably run my usual Tank rune page and Support Masteries for this champion.

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Looking forward to checking him out. As of yet the release date has yet to be revealed.

#leagueoflegends #championreveal #riot