Trying out Fallout 76

(Somewhat) fresh out the Vault.

I got burned out playing Destiny 2. I hit the wall when they had the power weapons requirement as part of the last Iron Banner quest. It forces people to abandon the game mode and fight over a power weapon ammo spawn that happens once every few minutes instead, 3-4 times a match, tops. It just stopped being fun.

A few days later I noticed that they had auto completed that step in the questline for all players, but by that point I had already stopped to consider whether I was even having fun with Destiny 2 anymore and the answer was no, not really.

I used to love Destiny 2 for the PvP, but now there are so many hackers in PvP matches now that the game mode just isn’t worth playing anymore. It’s ironic that you can’t play Destiny 2 on Linux because of their anti-cheat implementation when that implementation doesn’t catch or prevent any cheating. They seem to rely heavily on user reports, but I’ve never even received a response to a report, so I doubt that it’s effective.

I guess I could do the non-PvP content, but it gets repetitive. The Glykon is interesting, but it’s just too much in one go. If I could load back into it where I left off it would have been better, but the first time through took a few hours and subsequent runs are also a little time intensive considering that you can’t step away and finish it up later.

Also, there really isn’t a core story backbone with Destiny 2 that you can fall back on. There’s no solid lore or narrative. The way the game has been managed with content vaulting and being able to do multiple expansion storylines at the same time, there’s no clear sense of progression through a narrative. At least with most MMOs, you’re experiencing a coherent storyline so even when the content gets a little stale you have something to think about and look forward to, but that doesn’t exist with Destiny 2, so I started looking at other games.

I really love the Elder Scrolls and I really love The Elder Scrolls online, or at least the idea of it, but I hate the combat system. It seems to be completely depending on stacking damage over time attacks and it doesn’t seem well put together. So, as much as I want to play it, I just can’t. I want to enjoy a fight, not sit and watch timers to make sure I’ve reapplied skills. Instead, I figured I’d try another franchise by Bethesda: Fallout, and in particular, Fallout 76, the online multiplayer game.

It just so happens that it’s available on Xbox Game Pass so I can play it for “free”. So far, I’m really enjoying the game’s aesthetic. I love post-apocalyptic shows and stories, so post-nuclear Red Scare America is a wonderful world to explore. The items in the game all have a weird 50s / 60s look.

The learning curve is pretty steep, and I feel like there could be more explanation for certain game mechanics like the hunger/thirst system, C.A.M.P. building, and how setting up your Perk cards works, but I’m figuring things out as I go along.

I’m hoping that when I finish the storyline there will be plenty of engaging things to do still and there are a lot of menu items and modes that suggest that will be the case, but I don’t want to ruin the game for myself looking up strategy guides, min/max builds, etc., so I’m just going to play through it and see where it goes.

I’m not even sure what that is supposed to be. Some sort of mutant dolphin?

Google Stadia test run with Destiny 2

At this point, the challenges of finding gaming hardware is pretty common knowledge, whether it be consoles or graphics cards. Last year, people were having issues finding the Nintendo Switch in stock. Now, you can’t find an Xbox Series X or PS5 to save your life. A graphics card either. At least, not at MSRP. There are plenty being sold for 3-4x the price on reseller sites, which is obscene.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how bad things were but I figured I’d make the best of the situation and give Stadia a whirl. It streams games to your computer screen, TV, or phone, and it’s supposed to be high quality so I thought it might be a nice alternative. Maybe even something to stick with when hardware shortages end, even.

Signing up for Stadia was pretty quick. Since it’s a Google product I just ran through a few screens linking my Google account to my Stadia account, chose what to share and what not to share on the platform (games/achievements/online status/etc), linked my Bungie account and Stadia account, hit play on Destiny 2 and there I was.

A few quick things I noticed are:

  • The video quality is surprisingly poor. My GeForce 970M renders the graphics better.
  • The controls are better than I expected but I can feel the latency drag.
  • I couldn’t access in-game chat in Destiny 2 or see anyone on my Clan Roster except for one guy, so I’m thinking there’s a weird hang-up where Clan interaction is platform specific. I still had my Clan banner and received Clan bonuses, though.
  • The actual Stadia interface and enabling a livestream are not difficult to use, but the menus aren’t very intuitive either.
  • Stadia will work in Microsoft Edge, but it doesn’t perform well.
  • When you open Stadia in Chrome, look for a + icon in the address bar. You can turn the website into a web app and pin it to your taskbar.

Here are two videos I created of Destiny 2 gameplay on Stadia:

Stadia gameplay footage of a Vanguard Strike called The Shadow Keep
Completing a public event on Europa

Connection

Connection speeds are pretty important with something like Stadia. I have a 300/30 connection with low latency. We regularly watch 4k on a 53″ UHD TV with no problems. So, I can’t imagine that negatively impacted my experience.

Summary

Long story short, I can’t see myself paying for games with missing functionality (like the in-game chat) that I probably already own on Steam to stream them at lower quality than my laptop can produce. I don’t actually need to game on my phone that badly.

With a $9.99 per month fee for Pro, which doesn’t seem to offer anything worthwhile at this point (the free monthly games are all low quality except maybe Hitman and a Tomb Raider title), I can’t see keeping Stadia past the free trial. I’m not really clear on the pricing, but some games are tagged “Pro”, so it makes me think I have to pay for the sub and still pay for the game and if I cancel my sub I lose the game?

For Stadia to be worthwhile, the library of available games would have to be bigger. For the subscription to work, it would have to be like Netflix. Bump up the price a bit and allow people to play what they want as much as they want. Right now, if you catch games on sale on Steam you can build your library at a reasonable price and not have to worry about the technical issues that can come with streaming games.

Stadia right now feels like something you would use in an emergency if your regular gaming system broke and you needed some time to get new parts or a new console.

Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay: Lycanthropy (plus Destiny 2 and Overwatch Gameplay)

So, I spent some time messing around with Elder Scrolls Online tonight. One of my gifts this year was the 2 volume book set of the ESO Lore. Elder Scrolls isn’t the most popular game out there. People joke that one of the hardest bosses in the game is a 1 foot wall because just walking in the game can sometimes be difficult, but I like how rich the lore is in the game, so the books were a great gift. They’re really well done, too. I’ll have to post some pictures later on.

Anyway, about two weeks I found out that you can contract vampirism or lycanthropy in the game. As I was traveling across Tamriel on my way to a castle where I was scheduled to perform a fire breathing and sword swallowing act, I ran into a werewolf shrine. I liked the idea of having lycanthropy, so I found a player whose character has it and that person helped me find someone that could infect my character with it too.

The process was a lot more involved than I expected. It had a mini questline that took me into a portal where I essentially proved my worth to Hircine, who is apparently the god of werewolves, by killing a mammoth with my bare hands and then sharing the carcass with the werewolf pack. Also, you pledge allegiance to the werewolves above all other loyalties in the game. Nifty!

So, now I’m ready to add mauling people as a werewolf to my favorite pastimes of murder, robbery, pickpocketing, and assault. I’m really enjoying the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines!

This is a live stream of me playing Destiny 2. It was not my finest hour. I’m not too familiar with the Mayhem Crucible yet, and I was trying different subclasses to see what works, but Titan overall seems to suck for it. Warlocks have what appear to be heat-seeking ultimate abilities that are just ridiculous for that type of round.

And this is a little livestreamed footage from me playing OverWatch. OverWatch doesn’t seem to play nice with Nvidia’s screen recording software and kept hanging.

Destiny 2 Gameplay & Criticisms – Public Events on Nessus and Crucible

Destiny 2, despite its obvious flaws and drawbacks, is a pretty fun game. I mean, I can’t understand how Bungie released a second Destiny game that doesn’t have an area, zone, or Clan chat channel. They claim they want you to make friends in the game that you can play with, but how can you do that when you can’t engage people in conversation?

I’m also not happy that they still haven’t implemented an in-game party finder system for end-game content.  Why should I have to use another site or even another device to try to get that done? It should be baked into the game.

2017-11-22 - Match End Stats - Destiny 2. Awesome 13.5 Efficiency Rating! =D
2017-11-22 – Match End Stats – Destiny 2. Awesome 13.5 Efficiency Rating! =D

Still, the PvP can be fun when you get a group that has good chemistry (for your team at least, probably not for the other guys). I think the PvP is what I like most about Destiny 2. It’s what I liked most about Destiny 1 as well. It’s what will keep me coming back to play more than anything.

I’d like to see more open world activities with coherent lore. I’d like to see more opportunities to interact with other characters. I’d like to see a crafting system. But then, maybe I’m asking for Destiny 2 to become something it wasn’t intended to be? I could really go for a sci-fi MMO. I never played Star Wars Online and I heard that some update or expansion made it trashy so I never will.

Overwatch Halloween Skins

So, I just fired Overwatch up for the first time in a few days and noticed this video in the launcher:

Man, I hope it isn’t as hard to pick up these skins as it has been for previous events! They look awesome, especially Zen’s Cthulu look.

Zen's 2017 Halloween skin
Zen’s 2017 Halloween skin.

Reaper's and McCree's 2017 Halloween skins. I'm not too fond of Reaper's. The head makes me think of a dick for some reason.
Reaper’s and McCree’s 2017 Halloween skins. I’m not too fond of Reaper’s. The head makes me think of a dick for some reason.

Torbjorn's and Ana's 2017 Halloween skins. I'm digging the hippy look. Torb's costume is plain boring.
Torbjorn’s and Ana’s 2017 Halloween skins. I’m digging the hippy look. Torb’s costume is plain boring.

Mei's 2017 Halloween skin. Cute, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to be.
Mei’s 2017 Halloween skin. Cute, but I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be.

Symmetra's 2017 Halloween skin. Spooky!
Symmetra’s 2017 Halloween skin. Spooky!

And of course there's the Halloween brawl mode!
And of course there’s the Halloween brawl mode!

I’ll definitely be sinking some time into acquiring these. It’s nice to see more variety for character appearances. I wonder how many years it’s going to be before Overwatch has as much customization as Team Fortress 2? Or if it will ever be quite the same.

I wouldn’t mind seeing unique weapons in Overwatch that have kill counters on them. That was fun. But, you can’t inspect another character here so I’m not sure how useful a feature it would be.