The State of the Game #14

This week was more of the same, with some added splashes of new/old games thrown into the mix. As usual, I played quite a bit of my usual MOBAs, but I also ran through a new game, and fired up an old friend that’s been sitting on my hard drive for over a year. I also hit a milestone this week, but more on that in a bit. The playlist this week was Awesomenauts, League of Legends, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Battlefield 3, and Doom 3 BFG.

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote my last post relating to my PSN trophy level. I have gone over how achievements/trophies/whatever-you-want-to-call-them are less of a priority for me than they once were, but I still like seeing the numbers change and how my trophy collection stacks up to my friends. I don’t have hundreds of friends on PSN, so I am only taking a small sample size of the community, but of the friends I do have, there are only a couple of them that are truly obsessed with trophy gathering. One in particular has nearly  100 platinum trophies, a number which I would never even hope to attain. I’ve probably played over 100 games on my PS3, but not all of them had platinum trophies, and those that did were sometimes ridiculously hard to earn, or the game just wasn’t fun enough to warrant all that play time. I’ve earned 8, and have a few games that are within reach of the platinum, but I’m in no hurry to earn more. Still, my last post on the subject had me sitting close to 1500 trophies, and almost to level 14, and I have now hit level 15 during the course of the week. I’m almost to 2,000 trophies as I write this as well. It took a year to earn a level, and that goes to show how much I’ve slowed down with achievement-based gaming. Part of what got me to the next level was my play through of Brothers, and I’ve already dedicated a full post to that, so no more commentary is needed. Here’s what has happened with the other games on the list:

Awesomenauts:
I believe I have made it over “the hump”. In last week’s column, I mentioned that I was nearing 16k rating and had broken into the top 1600 rank-range, but that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to get my numbers to go up/down (up in the case of rating, down in the case of rank). This week I saw a considerable jump on both ends, and I didn’t really play any more games than usual. I’m now sitting at rank 1361, and have a rating of 16216. Getting over the hump into the 16k rating-range has made it that much easier to go up in rank, as I went from 1600~ to 1300~ in a matter of a couple of days. I also prestiged for the the final time, and am about halfway to max level. Once that happens, there really won’t be any other form of progression outside of climbing the leaderboards, but that has been fulfilling in itself. Here’s the proof:

WP_20140126_001

 

My roommate is rather upset, because at some point (back when we were in the 3000~ rank-range) he was rated higher than me, and after I passed him up he’s never come close. I think he is rank 2900 or so, which isn’t to say he’s bad, perhaps he’s just had worse luck. Or maybe he’s just bad 🙂

League of Legends:
My Brother-in-law mentioned that he got his little brother playing League, and he was seemingly picking it up rather quickly. At some point he had made a “smurf” account (new account that starts at level 1 and has to be leveled, but you have the higher level gameplay experience, usually giving you an advantage when playing against those with a low MMR), and was using it to play with his brother. I thought it sounded like a good idea, because if I played with them on my main account, I would probably suffer a loss of MMR because of their lower skill level. So I made my own smurf account. I have yet to play with them, but I did play a bot match with the new account, and forgot how truly bad people are when they first start playing the game. Hard to believe I too was that bad at one point, and I’m not even that good now.

Outside of the smurfing, I started playing more classic again, as I reunited with an old friend in the game, and we have been tearing it up. Every game I have played with him has ended in a win, despite some of the games seeming like they would be a loss. We have a similar play style though, so our synergy elevates the rest of the team. I have mostly played Support, and because I hadn’t really played much classic since the new season started (or throughout preseason for that matter) I realized that I needed to tweak my builds and my runes/masteries. I was finding that the runes I was using to add gold per 5 aren’t really as necessary anymore, as the new gp5 items and masteries really made a difference. I was having an over abundance of gold, but was noticing that my AP ratios were lacking. As such, I have shifted the focus of my rune page from gp5 to ability power. Here’s the new page:

newsupportrunes

 

Keep in mind, this is a work in progress because I didn’t have the marks I decided I wanted to use. I am now using flat AP quints (+15 AP), AP/level glyphs (+28 AP @ lvl18), Flat Armor seals (+12~ armor), and Hybrid penetration marks (will give armor and magic penetration). I’m not sure on how it will work 100%, because I was using armor marks previously, and only have two of the hybrid pen marks as of right now. So I’m a little tankier and have a little less penetration for the time being. The justification for these runes is that the extra ability power really helps early game skirmishes, the armor is protection from the opposing AD, and from the auto attacks that the opposing support will throw at you. The hybrid penetration will help you do more damage with your own auto attacks, and will also help with spell damage. This is an aggressive set up, but you should always be trying to poke as the support, especially if you are ranged. I used this build with Sona and it seems to work out better, mainly because you still have manageable gold amounts, but also hit a little harder in early game lane trades. Supports no longer have to be a heal bot, they can actually do some damage.

The Others:
I played more Battlefield 3 here and there. It’s still going strong from what I can tell, no matter what time of the day I get on, there are always multiple full servers. Perhaps some people never moved on to #4, or maybe because of its buggy launch they went back to 3 for a while. Either way, it’s nice to see that it hasn’t be completely abandoned. I really want to like the rush mode or the domination mode, but there’s something wonky about the vehicle controls that throw me off. The first time I piloted a jet I crashed before anyone knew I was in the air. I somehow managed to put a helicopter on it’s side and still move for quite some distance. The tanks aren’t as bad, but I still got lit up by the opposition. For now, playing the good ol’ infantry-based deathmatch is the most fun to me. I even fired up the single player campaign just to see if there was some missions that would teach me how to properly control the vehicles, but I haven’t played one yet. More on this later.

Finally, I returned to Doom 3 BFG. I pre-ordered this game, and played it a bit upon release. I played it a little here and there. At one point I decided it was best to play through Doom 1 & 2 first before playing through 3, and I beat the old games, just to let the title collect dust again. I was looking at it the other day and said “why not?”, so I picked up where I left off, basically at the very beginning of the game. I only played one night, but I made a fair bit of progress. I believe I’ve made my way farther than I have ever been, as I had played the game a time or two before on different platforms, but have not beaten it anywhere. The game still looks pretty good, but is showing some of its age, particularly in the area of aiming. I get frustrated playing games where you don’t have the option to look down the cross hairs of your gun. But it’s still got enough spunk to keep it fun. I was still jumping every time they threw something crazy and unexpected at me, and that damn flashlight still doesn’t stay charged long enough!

Normally I’d go into what’s ahead at this point, but I really don’t know. I have been in one of those moods where I bounce around a bunch. Still having the craving to play an MMO again, but I’m unsure where I might do so. Guess we will have to wait until next week to find out what I decide. Until then.

 

 

The State of the Game #13

Here were are again, this time falling on lucky number 13. I had another busy week, not really even having time to post anything since last Tuesday. Part of the reason for this is that it was a Finals week (new class started up today), and I worked a few extra hours as well. But, that’s not going to affect the content of this week’s column, because I have a lot to talk about! As I mentioned last week, Bioshock: Infinite was the new free game via Playstation Plus, and that did consume some of my time, but I have decided to bookmark my progress in that game until I manage to go back and play the first two. I realize that the storylines aren’t really even relative, but I still feel like I should experience those two games first. I will come back to those games at a later date, though I do have some further commentary on B:I later in the post. I also spent a fair bit of time with both Awesomenauts and League of Legends this week, and have one other surprise game that I pulled out of the archive. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Awesomenauts:
I am nearing my final prestige level, finally. I am rank 35 or so (of 45) and then I will prestige for the tenth and final time. Once I have all of the high rank abilities, all of the time, it’s going to be over for the competition! I have also almost broken into the 16k tier of the rating system, and am nearly in the top 1600 players in the world (on the PS3 that is). I’m not sure how that would rate me compared to Xbox 360 players or the PC players, but I feel pretty good about being that close to the top. My 1615 or so rank on the leaderboards is the best I have accomplished thus far, and that’s good for a 15900~ rating, but it is increasingly difficult to get that number to go up. I have been floating around 15800-15900 for the last month. I believe by this time next week if I keep doing well I should be able to best 16000 rating, and drop below 1600 on the leaderboard.

League of Legends:
I was still going along with my playing-nothing-but-ARAM pattern at the beginning of the week, until one day I was contacted by one of my friends online who wanted to play some Classic with me. We hadn’t played together since last season, and I really haven’t played with anyone at all since then, so I jumped at the opportunity. Since I hadn’t played any Summoner’s Rift since all of the preseason changes went in, or the even more recent changes with patch 4.1, I was showing a bit of rust when the game began. My friend ran Hecarim in the jungle, we had a Jax up top, Katarina in mid lane, and I was supporting a Jayce carry as Sona. I was worried about the Jayce pick to begin with, as I usually see him used in a Bruiser role on top lane, but it turns out I was worrying for nothing. My early rust turned into a dominant game. We were smart and didn’t feed, I kept wards up at all times, I really fell in love with the support buffs, as I was never wanting for gold (and I was always gold starved before, even with all of my extra gold earned from Runes/Masteries — these are even better than before along with the new gold earning items and extra help for the vision war with the trinkets), and later on we were completely destroying the enemy team. We managed to destroy all three outer turrets by the twenty minute mark, and the enemy team surrendered. Check my final score:

sonagg
The 5th game down is highlighted at right

Another fun story from a game of ARAM: I was playing Ezreal and one of my teammates was Varus. We were facing an enemy Ziggs that really wasn’t all that skilled, but still managed to poke the hell out of us anyway. At one point Varus was gravely wounded and he was attempting to outrun one of Ziggs’ bouncing bombs, but was clearly not going to make it. At the last possible second, I used my E to teleport into the path of the bomb and save Varus. We both retreated to the nearby bush, and I typed in “All for you!”. He responded “I love you <3”, while Ziggs dropped his ultimate right on our heads. It was a good laugh.

Bioshock: Infinite:
I really look forward to playing through this game. As I mentioned before, I have put a bookmark in this game as of now, but I played through quite a bit of the beginning of the game in a couple of evenings. I really am tempted to just run through the game, but I have that completionist spirit in me that wants to play through the whole series first. This isn’t a game like Call of Duty where the multiplayer is exactly the same every game, and for the most part so is the story line. This is a game where the story is the best part of the game and the combat is only a small portion of it. The story for Infinite is seemingly similar to the original Bioshock in that some nut job created a city in an unlikely place. In #1, the city was under the sea, whereas in Infinite the city is in the sky. Entrance to the city is interesting enough in that you are launched in a pod from a light house, but you land smack dab in some sort of temple where the cult-like assembly wants you to assimilate to their viewpoint. The religious cult undertones in this game are something that I can appreciate, because as an Atheist I feel that all religions are cult-like (yes, that probably includes yours). Some examples of the dogma of this fictional world:

Haven't figured out if this is an "emaculate conception"
Haven’t figured out if this is an “emaculate conception”
This "false shepard" sounds like "satan"
This “false shepard” sounds like “satan”
"Mark of the Beast" anyone?
“Mark of the Beast” anyone?

Oh yes, all of Christianity’s tired cliches are present. During this portion of the game, a fair is going on in the city, and there is a parade float going through that has the story of Columbia depicted. The other mumbo jumbo propaganda is littered throughout the city, though I really appreciated the latter picture. When you come upon this sign for the first time you actually raise your hand in front of you and see the “AD” mark on your hand, knowing that you are playing the so-called “villain” of the story. I’m not sure if the creators were aiming to make fun of religion in general, or if they were just using the same ideas to make some new thing to be hated, but either way I like where it’s going so far. I will come back to this game and speak more of this when I get to it.

Now for the surprise game:

Battlefield 3:
Late to the party, yeah I know. Still, I haven’t really ever given the Battlefield series a chance. When people were playing the original Battlefield 1942, I was playing Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat (both Half-life 2 mods if you didn’t already know). I tried it and wasn’t as thrilled with it. I also tried Battlefield 2 at a friend’s house later on, and still wasn’t impressed. I had become a Call of Duty player by that point, and CoD held my interest up until Modern Warfare 3. At that point, I become disenfranchised with Call of Duty altogether, and boycotted the series. I have stayed true to that sentiment through two installments of the game, having avoided Black Ops 2 and Ghosts altogether. Lately though, I have been feeling that crave for competitive gameplay (this should be obvious with all my talk about LoL and Awesomenauts) that falls outside of the MOBA genre. I love my MOBAs, but I wanted some first person action that wasn’t all story-line intensive. Yes, Battlefield does have a single player campaign, but as of right now all I want to play is the multiplayer component.

I realize that Battlefield 3 is something like 2 1/2 years old and that Battlefield 4 released at the end of last year, so I am definitely far behind and it’s probably not the best time to jump into a shooter like this (populations die out when new titles are released). I’d also have to pay $50 to get all of the DLC for the game, which at this point seems like a joke. I have no intentions of doing so, because if I had $50 to throw away, I might as well just get a copy of the newest release, regardless of if it doesn’t have DLC yet. I actually don’t want to get caught in that DLC trap again, but I do crave an awesome multiplayer experience. That’s one thing I can’t fault CoD on, regardless of if it was nearly the same thing over and over again, it was always fun when I did play it. So, with all that said, BF3 was free for plus members a while back and I had skipped over it, but I decided the other night to go back and play it. I had a lot of fun blasting people and it didn’t feel like I was at a huge disadvantage even lacking all of the stuff you unlock as you progress through the multiplayer portion. I ended up only playing on maps that were designated as Team Deathmatch, so it was basically the same experience as one would have playing CoD, as there weren’t vehicles to control. That is a portion of the game that I want to try out, along with any other game modes. If I do all of that and I end up enjoying myself, I just might get a copy of BF4 at some point down the line. One good thing is that all of the controversy about the game’s stability has made DICE fix the problems it’s had since launch (or so I’ve read elsewhere), and I can get a copy of the game for PS3 and later upgrade it to a PS4 edition if I so choose. We’ll see what happens.

This week the Plus game is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It looks interesting enough and I’ll give it a whirl. I’ve heard good things. Til next week.