Reconnecting with Borderlands

When Borderlands 3 was revealed at this year’s E3, I knew it was a game I’d have to play. The best looter shooter out there, in my humble opinion at least, it’s been a lot of fun over the years and I look forward to co-oping my way through it with my best friend come September. At the same time though, a brand new DLC for Borderlands 2 was announced, called Commander Lilith & The Fight For Sanctuary. Coincidentally, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection was one of the Playstation Plus free games for that month, so it turned out anyone with a PS4 would be able to grab this DLC and play right away. It was free for a time as well, so that was an added bonus. Also, for those not familiar, The Handsome Collection collates both Borderlands 2 along with it’s plethora of DLC and Borderlands The PreSequel as well. I’ve talked about the latter, as it was a game I played a little bit but never completed — nonetheless my best friend has expressed interest in playing that one as well. I suppose that could be done before the release of the proper sequel, but we’ll see.

Another nice touch, for those of us who played the original game on Playstation 3 and can’t seem to find our save files on the cloud, you are able to create level 30 characters right off the bat in order to jump right into the new DLC. This is where me and my best friend started out. During my first playthrough of Borderlands 2 (back in 2012 I think it was?), I played Zero, while during our co-op jaunts I would play Lilith. This time around I decided to play Axton, the Commando. My friend went with the Gunzerker, and away we went. As the notice above states, this DLC bridges the story between Borderlands 2 and the new game, so you probably should have already played the other games before this. I guess that means if you are worried about spoilers, you should probably avoid reading the rest of this post as well.

The game is still running on the same engine that it always has, but it does seem to run a bit smoother on PS4 as opposed to the PS3. It probably looks a little sharper too, but my memory of the details is hazy, and that’s fairly unimportant. The storyline picks up a while after the end of Borderlands 2, where the vault hunters had found a vault key that functioned as something of a map, and you now know that they are vaults all over the universe. This could potentially make the series infinite as long as the company continues to want to make new areas and new stories. Most of the story is revealed in the game, with characters speaking to you and events happening as you play. There are cutscenes sprinkled throughout, and they tend to be a similar flavor that you’ll know and love (if you’re a fan). So far we have been introduced to a new bad guy who has created a sort of gas that transforms humans and creatures alike into these mutant plant beasts. He attacks Sanctuary and takes it over, and we have had to go and clear out another location called “The Backburner” in order to have a functional base again. Familiar characters pop up along the way, and some can be recruited to your base of operations. After a few missions, it’s clear that there is a lot to do in this DLC.

Otherwise it really is more of the same, but that’s not really a bad thing. I always enjoyed playing the Borderlands series, though I haven’t really reached the end game since the first iteration and I definitely haven’t put the time into the other games outside of completing main campaigns. I think this little foray will whet my whistle for a bit, but once Borderlands 3 arrives I can’t wait to dive in full force. My recommendation is to play this first if you’ve already completed the other games, but if you’re not a fan of the series, then carry on and have fun with your thing!

Sailing to Far Harbor

Having finished off my trek through the Wolfenstein games, I decided to get back to my playthrough of the Fallout 4 DLC. I finished off Automatron last month, and was now ready to head off into the Far Harbor DLC, which is one of the larger scale content pieces added to the game. The quest to get started begins by heading to Stadium City and picking up an assignment from Valentine’s Detective Agency, where you are to meet a family who’s daughter has gone missing. Heading to their house on the edge of the map took some time, but once there the family is straight to business. He thinks someone has kidnapped his daughter, while the mother thinks that she has left. Her grandfather died and had been her closest friend, spending time with her tinkering on various projects. Listening to some of her holotapes, it seems that she has made contact with some Synths on a far off island, and it seems that she is confused about her heritage. Either way, Mr. Nakano lends us his boat so we can head to Far Harbor.

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Once there, we are greeted by one of the leaders of Far Harbor along with some of the locals. Immediately there are some big monsters that are laying siege to the town, so you jump in to help eliminate them. Afterwards, you let the people know why you are there, and you’re sent to the tavern to recruit “Longfellow” who will take you to Acadia, where Kasumi was said to have gone. Longfellow makes you buy him some whiskey before heading out, but leads you through the fog to get where you are going. It turns out this fog is radioactive and there are a couple of other factions on the island outside of the Far Harbor folk. The Children of the Atom (a name we’ve heard before) have a headquarters here, and are said to worship Atom, and this is said to be “his land,” probably due to all the radiation. Anyway, they seem a little crazy, but we only had a short interaction with one of their members. The other faction are these synths in Acadia who have fled the mainland and created a stronghold so that they can live freely. Longfellow gets you to Acadia and then takes off, and inside you find DiMA, who is the synth’s leader. He talks in riddles to a degree, and tries convincing you that Kasumi is a synth and that’s why she belongs in Acadia, while also trying to confuse you on the subject of whether or not you are a human. In the end we find Kasumi and she’s not going anywhere, but it’s hard to tell if she’s a synth or not, as most of these synths look like humans. The leadership of Far Harbor and Acadia have given me a multitude of tasks to complete, and that’s where I left off after this first session. I have a feeling it’s going to take me a while to clear Far Harbor, but I’m looking forward to the adventure!

Fallout 4 DLC: Automatron

With all of the E3 2018 hype surrounding Fallout 76, I decided that it was time to revisit Boston and finish up the DLC for the game. I hadn’t played since I beat the base game back at the end of 2015, while the DLC came out slowly over the following year I had at that time decided that I would wait until it was all released before diving in. Well, it’s been a couple years since then but I’m finally making good on this so that when Fallout 76 releases later this year I’ll be ready to move onto the new title. The first DLC that released for Fallout 4 was Automatron, an expansion that adds robotic friends that you can build and customize to use as your followers. Doing so requires you to complete a short and sweet questline which I was able to complete last night.

When I first logged into the game I was greeted by several new quests that were associated with the various DLCs. Each requires you to listen to a radio frequency on your Pip Boy, at which point you’ll then be shown where to go to get the quest started. The radio frequency for this particular quest sent me off in the direction of a distress signal, and once there I found a swarm of robots duking it out in the wasteland. After the fighting stops, we meet “Ada,” a robot that seems a bit more sentient than others we’ve seen in the commonwealth. She tells us about “The Mechanist” who is a villain of sorts for this particular questline. A person who has created robo-brains and other dastardly robots that seem intent on killing off any threats to humanity, including humans themselves. They seem to have killed off Ada’s friends, and she wants to join you in taking The Mechanist down.

We track down a radar beacon which Ada tells me that we need to locate The Mechanist. After doing so we create the new work bench for robo pals in Sanctuary, and I set about installing the beacon into Ada. At this point I took the liberty of beefing her up a bit as well, because if I’m going to have a companion follow me around they better pull their weight. Afterwards, she says we need to find a couple more. One of which is hiding inside a raider base, so that took some effort to get to.

The third and final beacon is installed in Jezebel, a robo brain that doesn’t have a body and has been “poked and prodded” by these raider scum. She pleads with me that if we take her from that place she will give us the beacon, but that there will be more necessary to confront The Mechanist. She wants me to build a body for her, and from there she will provide us with access codes that can be installed in Ada so we can proceed. I did so, and she kept her word despite Ada’s warnings about robo brains. We learn that The Mechanist is hiding in a Robco Sales & Service building, so we head there.

This dungeon of sorts was crawling with bandits and robots alike, and took some time to get through but eventually we were facing off against the Mechanist. There were a ton of robots to kill during this fight and I died several times, but eventually we had won. The Mechanist turned out to be a woman named Isabel Cruz, and she didn’t really seem to be malicious, only trying to use her robot creations to create a better world. She ended up leaving peacefully, and I ended up getting her suit which was a bit of an upgrade over the gear I had been using prior. Over the course of the DLC I gained a couple of levels, from 33-35, so I’m now ready to head into the Far Harbor DLC.

After that point, there’s Nuka World, as the other DLCs are only workshops and don’t include new quest content. I’m not as interested in the building aspects of the game so I’ll be moving on after I complete these new areas. Look for more on this soon as I intend to finish fairly quickly.

Thoughts on Street Fighter V Arcade Edition

I’ve been a huge Street Fighter fan ever since the first time I played SF2 on my friend’s SNES. Despite playing many early versions, my love for the game truly came to fruition during the Street Fighter Alpha run on the original Playstation console. I played the hell out of SFA3… to the point where anyone that had come to my house and played against me for a while ended up not wanting to play the next time they came around. Honestly, I probably wasn’t that good at the game, but I think I just played it more often than my opponents. With newer iterations of the game though, gone are the days that you actually need to know people who want to play, no you don’t even have to get someone to come over to your house. The Internet truly is a magically thing.

So it’s been a couple of years since the release of Street Fighter V, which is the newest entry in the main series and though I pre-ordered the title, it didn’t release with a whole lot to do. It wasn’t a complete and total disappointment, but it wasn’t what fans were expecting. A couple of months after release, the Story mode was added and then throughout 2016 there was a “season” of characters that were added to the game. Another DLC package dubbed “season 2” added more characters to the game. Fast forward to this year, and we now have Street Fighter Arcade Edition. I recall something similar happening with Street Fighter IV, and though we live in the age of DLC and yearly game entries I’m glad that Capcom has charged minimally for these DLC packages and has avoided turning a title like this into a yearly affair.

This new packaging of the game includes the free updates that have dropped over the past couple of years and bundles in the first two season’s worth of characters at a lower entry rate than the original title. There is already the option to pick up the 3rd season of characters as well, but that will cost you. The Arcade edition patch was free for owners of the base game, which is a nice gesture except that I paid for both the other seasons not so long ago (both within the last year, but the 2nd season was over the holidays). From what I have read this was free for those who owned the base game, but in-game it kind of seems like you still have to pay for those characters, so I’m not really sure which is the case, but nonetheless I am current to this point.

Outside of the obvious logo change I posted above, the menus have changed around a bit as well, with some new game modes being added with this patch. Extra Battle is one of the new features, and in it you’ll receive a quest of sorts to finish a fight against a special character (currently there’s one to face off against Shin Akuma) or a round of fights that give special rewards. I have yet to beat one, but it’s a nice addition. These cost Fight Points (FP) to join though, and apparently these points can be used for other things but I haven’t figured that out yet.

Arcade mode is the other big addition. It gives you a number of different battles to fight though and you can choose the character you use from a predetermined list. Then each level you get to choose from two opponents who you want to face next.

These story lines are supposed to be reflective of the story that is congruous throughout the 5 main series titles, and only include characters from those games (as far as I can tell). I played through the Street Fighter storyline with Ken, but there were others I could have played and I suppose this gives you a similar experience as if you were playing said title, having only those characters involved. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the storyline though, nor should I imply that I care. It’s a fighting game, you’re only out to kick some ass.

And ass kicking will happen. Sometimes you do it, sometimes you receive it.

After checking out the new content in the game, I jumped online for some fights against random internet denizens. Let’s just say I got my ass handed to me by this little lady:

I rematched and lost again to boot. I did rectify my loss by twice pummeling a Ryu player shortly thereafter before calling it a night. I will agree with the critics here when I say that this is the game as it should have been upon release, and I’m glad it’s finally here despite being a now two year old title. Still, there’s something to be said about having plenty of modes to hone your skills before jumping online to be beaten by a kid living in his mother’s basement.

Thoughts on the Diablo 3 Necromancer

It’s been a while since the Rise of the Necromancer pack released, and initially I had very little interest in it. Sure, the Necromancer was my favorite class in Diablo 2, and like most people I wanted to see it in Diablo 3, but the Witch Doctor sort of filled those shoes and I enjoyed the class well enough. When Blizzard decided that they were going to continue to add things to Diablo 3 like new zones, a portion of the first game and now a new class it was great to see, but also somewhat disappointing. I honestly thought they would put out another expansion by now, though I suppose the additional zones and features and now this class could count as such, but it would be interesting to see a new Act added to the game.

The Necromancer pack includes access to the new class, provides some other frivolous items like a portrait frame, wings and banner pieces, and a new pet. The pets just run around and pick up gold for you which is nice but not entirely necessary and I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to attack the little bugger running around. Regardless, it seems like a fairly decent value, though I think I would have priced it around $10 rather than $15. Still, breathing new life into a game that is a few years old is nice and it appears that people are still playing it regularly. I’m late to the party this time around, as season 11 started back in July, but I still rolled a hardcore seasonal version of the new Necro:

He looks like a vampire but he really isn’t. Sort of reminds me Geralt from The Witcher as well. As far as the class goes there are some abilities that remind me of the D2 version of it, things like corpse explosion:

It feels much more effective than it did in the prior game however. If you down a large group and fire this ability off it can really start mowing enemies down and creates a chain reaction. The summoning portion of his abilities feel a little more lackluster, but I’m still early in my progression, so perhaps they will improve. The first summoning skill is the ability to procure Skeletal Mages, which were a stable in D2, along with normal skeletons, etc. These are on a temporary timer in this game though, whereas in D2 they were permanent until they died (or they had a much longer timer, I’m not exactly sure). They do some work, killing things much faster than I, but it feels like something you should be able to keep up all the time, so I’m hoping in the later levels that’s the case. I’m not fully aware of all the class can do just yet, but overall it feels pretty fun.

I managed to play for an hour or so last night and decided to play through the campaign for once, just to familiarize myself with the class. I’ll likely jump into Adventure mode sooner than later, because that’s more my speed. If a new season is starting soon I’ll probably rebirth this guy just to be able to run him through a whole season. Earning the rewards is worth it, even if it’s really just more of the same. I will say that they managed to add some bits and bobs that I was unaware of, the last time I played was season 6, so it has been a while. I’ll report more on these as I get more involved.

No matter how many times I walk away from this game, I always manage to come back. It’s elegant in its simplicity and there’s something about zoning out and aimlessly smashing things that tickles my fancy. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this as I progress, so stay tuned!