Thursday, October 18, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 142 - Night Time Visitors

Wiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - Night time visitors

  • Chance loves spooky stories!  (Here, Google this.)
  • Chamberlain is kinda' okay with Shadow of the Tomb Raider!
  • Alex gets his chibi Pokemon-esque Final Fantasy on!
  • And how exploitive and damaging are the labor practices required to produce Red Dead Redemption 2?
You'll have to tune in to find out!  Or you could check out this Kotaku article.  To address the (valid and growing) criticism of bragging about 100-hour work weeks, today Rockstar told all their employees that the company's social media policy (preventing them from talking about their jobs on social media accounts) was lifted - so a buncha' Rockstar folks started saying that really, things are pretty okay working on RDR2.  But wait!  Kotaku's Jason Schreier says he's been getting a lot of information that folks aren't willing to put on social media - this story's far from over!

Oh, and here's the launch trailer:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

And As The Night Begins To Die

we are the morning birds that sing against the sky

Their new album comes out on Friday.  This is from the old album. 

Love it. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I'm Still Enjoying This Whole Overwatch Thing


My brother has abandoned me, and I played Overwatch solo again last night – but it went pretty awesome!  I spent the first hour playing Mystery Heroes and had some weird killstreaks.  Killstreaks don’t usually happen in Mystery Heroes.  You play as a character who’s randomly chosen by the system at the beginning of the match, and when you die you are randomly assigned a different hero – meaning you are almost-always playing as a hero you’re not very familiar with, on a team that’s unlikely to have a very optimal composition, played by people who aren’t playing their mains, either. 
The luck factor also means you (or the enemy) can end up with a way, way overpowered comp that requires a very specific answer the RNG refuses to provide.  Like imagine two Orisas shielding two Bastions, supported by two Moiras.  That shit happens, and it’s infuriating, and if you get the Sombra or Junkrat you’ll need to break it, good luck getting their ults up before you die, lose that ult charge and switch to another hero. 
So I get Zarya on Blizzworld attack, and I have a 4 support team behind me – a Lucio, a Moira, two Brigittes and some kinda’ DPS.  The game was one long killstreak – 20 and 0, gold elims and damage and PotG to boot.  Very nice. 
Then I got Bastion on Horizon defense, and we (deliciously) had a Mercy and an Orisa, so I spent half the game on the point behind Orisa’s shield and the other half doing weird high-ground flanks to solo-duel the enemy DPS as they tried to flank us, always returning to Mercy on the point and those sweet heals.  15 and 1 (I died literally as the victory splash went up, and Mercy rezzed me), gold elims, objective kills and damage.  And PotG.

Finally, after a bit of a slog to get the payload to the first point on Junkertown, I rolled Ana and again we had like three supports with me included – I ended up going 15 and 0 with her for the rest of the game and got a killstreak card at the end – I’d gotten more work out of Ana than anyone had managed on any character, on either team.  Feels good, man. 
Then I hung out with Harley a bit and played some Quick Play.  I got a ton of Shot Callers and Good Teammate endorsements for a solid Orisa game, but of course I wanted to flex my Tracer muscles.  The final game of the night wasn’t a Hard Carry game, but it was a solid fight going 1-1 on Nepal. 
The enemy Reinhardt – who are usually delicious squishy lunch meat, to me – had me wholly intimidated.  He just always knew exactly when and where to swing that axe, and I literally lost every duel I picked with him in the first two rounds.  In one of them, I got him down to one hit point, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. 
We won round 3, I ended up with silver medals everywhere and I got PotG for a 4K – the Rein, the (excellent) Reaper, the Moira and I killed the Widow with a melee. 
Good games.  Good games.

Oh also I checked out The Color of Madness and I’m not sure I dig it, frankly.  I’ll have to look a bit deeper into it, but it doesn’t feel like it actually adds all that much to the game… it’s like “Episode 4” in Galak-Z just being an Endless Mode. 
Oh well. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Game Diary

The shine has nearly rubbed off Assassin's Creed Odyssey.  I find the Main, Core, Central Story very compelling, but the side quests are all just about okay.  And they are okay.  They're okay!

They're just nowhere near as good as a decent side quest in like, The Witcher 3 or a Fallout or Oblivion game.  They're not bad, but they're all little one-offs without any real depth or surprises to their stories - they're there to do to earn XP, and that's not quite enough.  Annnd here's a big (spoiler-rific) article over on Kotaku about how awesome the side quests are.

Okay.  Annnywho...

I occupied myself with hunting Cultists - a very cool system in Odyssey that sees you dismantling a network of one-percenter douchebags of ancient Greece - and turned it off when I went after a same-level cultist on the open seas who literally and figuratively blew me out of the water.  Eff that, I've got Mark of the Ninja and Darkest Dungeon expansions to play.

Mark of the Ninja on Switch is a pure pleasure, but I'm terribly curious to finally get my hands on the Color of Madness stuff in Darkest Dungeon - so I bought that yesterday and hung out with Harley (he purrs just when I come into the room and chill out with him, now), doing a few dungeon runs.

Apparently you need to make a few weeks pass in-game for the Farmstead to open up and access the new content, but nothing happened.

It didn't occur to me until this morning that I probably didn't activate the DLC in-game before doing all those dungeon runs.  Because I am dumb.

As further evidence of my dumbitude, permit me to submit the following.  Last night, I'm playin' Overwatch.  I had some cool rounds, including one where I backfilled into a game, picked Mercy and like support-carried this team to a win on Eichenwald and left with 3 shot-callers, a sportsmanship and a promotion to Endorsement Rank 4.  Lurvely.

But that's not dumb.

So Chris gets on last night, actually in time to play a few games, and we dive straight into Quickplay.  Things are going okay - in fact I do a nice, hard carry game on Busan on what we'd agreed would be the final game of the night - but that game went so well I really wanted to do another, and he agreed.

We got Oasis - a fine Tracer map! - and it's a fantastic, hard fight.  We win round 1, they win round 2, and round 3 is a knock-down drag-out exercise of brutal pugilism between the two teams.  The point trades hands again and again, and as the clock ticks towards overtime I'm feeling like a beast.  I've died too many times, but I'm gold on eliminations, gold on objective kills, gold on objective time and gold on damage done.  I am The Carry, and it feels good.  So at this final, crucial moment, I'm at the enemy spawn and working my way through their reinforcements and backline, closing in on the point.

I kill every enemy that crosses my path, cutting a bloody swath through them until I finally land on the point and take out the last two defenders!  The point is ours!  Overtime is burning away and the meter starts to fill that will switch point control to my team, and victory.

We did it!  I can't believe we did it - but I'm not getting any heals, I guess our Mercy didn't survive that last teamfight - so I tell my brother I need a health pack and bail off the point to heal up.

Time slows.  What?  DEFEAT splashes across the screen.  "Thanks!" my teammates emote.

I was the only one standing on the point.  I'd been the last survivor when I busted in there and cleared the point.  If I'd stood there at 60HP for another five seconds, we woulda' won.

Dumb.  Fucking.  Tracer.

No endorsements were received that game, I can assure you.  And now, to get that Farmstead opened up...

Friday, October 12, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 141 - Not The Target Audience

Wiiiithout Alex this week, and yet we sally forth!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - Not the target audience

  • Chance honestly can't understand why he likes Assassin's Creed Odyssey so much!
  • Chamberlain still loves Forza Horizon, but it feels like Forza Horizon's catering to some hip new friends...
  • Mark of the Ninja remains an all-time classic!
  • And how much of an asshole is Lara in Shadow of the Tomb Raider?
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Oh also I talk in here about assuming that the scripts and characters are identical if you choose to play Odyssey as Kassandra or Alexios - turns out it's not, and Kassandra is actually way cooler.  Feels good to be right about something before any information was actually available to me. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


It's Mark of the Ninja day. 

It's also Halloween Terror time / Torbjorn rework / Pharah rebalance day in Overwatch. But Tracer didn't get shit while McCree, Mei, Soldier, Pharah, Reaper and Zen are strutting around with two Halloween skins each

Here, listen to this sweet-ass song. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hm. Didn't see that coming.

I don't enjoy Assassin's Creed games - and I've been pretty vocal about that.  I haven't loved an Assassin's Creed since 2013's AC IV: Black Flag.  Which is fitting, I suppose, because Black Flag was the least-Assassin's Creed the franchise had ever been.

Assassin's Creed has always been, basically, an open-world-stealth riff on the platforming mechanics of Ubisoft's 2003 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and as it made locomotion more accessible and less mechanically involving, it ensured it was also far less interesting to actually play.  That was kinda' okay, because the context for your actions tended to be pretty cool, and once in a while the platforming was really fun.  Ezio's trilogy was as fun as the platforming would ever be in II and Brotherhood, but the quality was reliably unreliable between each installment.  (AC 1, Revelations, III and Unity all have pretty un-fun platforming.)

IV was the entry that kinda' understood that the platforming as it had been evolving could no longer be the core mechanical experience of the game.  The platforming wasn't the destination - it was just the car you drove to get there.  (Better games like Gravity Rush or this very year's Spider-Man have locomotion that's so damn good you can build a whole game around it.)  But then, it seemed like Ubisoft was going to drive the franchise into the ground by just never allowing its design to evolve in the same meaningful way it had in IV - even undoing the progress made there, with Unity and the more-acceptable Syndicate, which was still just the same-old thing.  Again.

I think the reason I stopped playing AC: Origins last year was because it didn't feel like a good Assassin's Creed game - it did not have the fun platforming of II or Brotherhood - and also didn't feel like a particularly good action-RPG experience.  Or maybe it was more because I wasn't looking for that experience, from the series.  Or maybe it was Ubisoft's first shot at the genre, and it showed.

But at least it also showed that Ubisoft understood the old hat was too old.  It showed that they knew Assassin's Creed couldn't just be a kinda-shitty open-world Prince of Persia game with stealth and a mostly-accurate historical setting. With Origins, Ubisoft took the basic control schemes of Assassin's Creed and the open-world structures it had refined in the Far Cry series, and used them as the bedrock for an open-world action-RPG.

Origins was the least-Assassin's-Creed Assassin's Creed had ever been, and while I didn't dislike it, I didn't enjoy it, either.  It was meh, to me.

I... am... really enjoying Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.  During an Overwatch session my brother asked me about it, and I couldn't say much good about it because he wanted to know how it compared to Spider-Man.  Well, Spider-Man's writing is tighter, Spider-Man's graphics are better, Spider-Man's combat and most of all locomotion are miles more fun than AC: Odyssey.  Moving around the world in Spider-Man is a blast.

But Spider-Man's locomotion is also a helluva lot better than The Elder Scrolls' walking and jumping.  That doesn't mean Skyrim's a bad RPG.  And there are things to dislike, here - there are too many loads for my taste, often the animations won't quite line up on execution attacks, content is hard-gatekept behind the player's level, where you'll think "I should check that out" and quickly learn "nope, only death lies that way."  As in, if you're level 5 and this wolf is level 6, fucking RUN.  

But most importantly, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey isn't an open-world riff on the platforming mechanics of a 2003 PS2 platformer.  It's just a decent, solid open-world action-RPG that feels like... a really good Assassin's Creed game.

That's a huge distinction, to me.  Assassin's Creed has always felt like Prince of Persia.  Odyssey doesn't feel like Prince of Persia, it feels like Assassin's Creed.  Does that make sense?

The ultra-simplification of the series' platforming is almost an afterthought, here.  It's just hold X to book it up a wall or along a rooftop, to get where you need to go - it's simple and autopilot and doesn't get in the way - it's just the car you need to drive to execute your vision for how you intend to kill this dude or approach this setting.

The draw of Odyssey, for me, is its lead - Kassandra, a down-on-her-luck orphaned mercenary we meet on a tiny backwoods island of the Grecian peninsula - and its world.  I told Chamberlain and Alex on the podcast last week that ancient Greece holds no great romantic sway over me - and that was true, right up until I started walking through an olive grove, a few yards from a beach of crystal-clear water, looking out at countless other islands across the water, begging for discovery.

It's got its hooks in me, and I want to explore this world.  I want Kassandra to meet her father.  I wanna' know what's up with that.

And as I negotiate this world, I'm obliged to kill dudes and I have the option of doing it stealthily - and after I don't know how many fucking games, the stealth in this Assassin's Creed is excellent.  It's flexible and supple. It's not the analog they-see-you-or-they-don't of the earlier games - this is stealth more akin to that of hybrid games like Far Cry, Galak-Z or The Last of Us - stealth that shatters into an all-out brawl before you execute a clever maneuver, break line-of-sight and double back in search of your next assassination target as they search for you.  Keeping in mind - you could technically do that in earlier games - but this is closer to the fast-paced encounters of Far Cry than the tedious chases of AC:III.

So it uses this thoughtless, breezy platforming and a nice, polished version of Assassin's Creed stealth as a solid, confident, easy-going bedrock to build the rest of the game on.  It was, frankly, surprising last night when the stealth-to-combat-and-back-to-stealth loop worked so well, the first time I tried it.  Its encounters are, so far... weirdly well-designed, for what I've come to expect of the franchise.

Like actual game designers worked on it.

And then there's the fact that I could select Kassandra as the player-character.   There are exceptions that don't quite rank in its history (Aveline in side-story III: Liberation, Evie sometimes in Syndicate), but by my count Odyssey is the first core game in the series that permits you to play through the entire thing as a woman.  This is particularly welcome at the moment, as I just got done playing a triple-A open-world game starring a dude (Spider-Man) and I have another one coming up in two weeks (Red Dead Redemption 2).

So the combat is decent - not great - the world is beautiful, but not the most-gorgeous setting you've ever seen, and the locomotion is effective and simple, if not particularly fun.  So why does it work?

I suppose for the same reason it works in Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, Dragon Age and Mass Effect - this is a beautiful, interesting, romantic world I want to explore.  These are well-realized characters, this story smacks of being the beginning of quite an epic and... I have a ship.  The ship - and the viewpoints, which are still a thing - are the most quintessentially-Assassin's Creed things about the game.

Except in Odyssey I can have an all-female crew, which is pretty awesome.  Oh!  And during naval battles there's this new mechanic where you hold L1 to order your deck crew to brace and everyone ducks under these round Greek shields and that, I feel, is a pretty cool addition to those mechanics!

Getting the ship happens within like six hours, and setting out into open water, and - wait, check out this map:

See that green circle?  That's the island it took me six hours to get off of.

And I didn't clear that beautiful idyllic island of villages and thugs - I just beat it, y'know?  The next story arc has led me into a warzone along the shoreline to the east - Sparta and Athens are at each other's throats, and I'm gonna' get rich off it - and oh my God what else is out there to discover?

That's a lot of land to explore.  That's a lot to find.  There are a lot of adventures to have, among the gleaming Grecian isles - and if my brother keeps on not being ready to play Overwatch until it's past my bedtime, I suspect I'll see quite a bit of it.

So yeah.  I'm really diggin' Odyssey.

What the fuck.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Setting Myself Up For Disappointment

I bought Harley a cat fountain today.

Cats of any variety try to avoid standing water, apparently - a survival trait that serves animals well in the wild, as running water is less likely to be stagnant or gross - and this is why cats like to tip over water glasses and check out running faucets.  They want to see the water flow.  One of the ladies at the Humane Society also let me know that cats in general tend not to drink enough water, as wild cats will eat raw meat (rich in bloody moisture) and thus don't need to drink that much.  Tame cats eat (mostly) dry food, but don't bother to drink any more for the lack - and these two things, combined, suggested that a cat fountain would be a good solution to a problem I didn't think I'd had.

I'm still not sure I'd had a problem, to be honest, but I bought Harley a cat fountain.  Hundred and twenty bucks for one that was rated well among cat enthusiast websites, along with a few additional filters.  I installed it in Harley's room, provided him with some toys to fuck with and let him alone with it for a while.

When I came back, Harley seemed more stressed out than I'd seen him in days.  He wasn't just hissing, he was staring at me and letting out long, constant hisses that would end in his mouth still agape, his eyes wide.

"Jesus dude, are you okay?"


"Is the fountain freaking you out?"


"Harley, it's not gonna hurt you-"


"Okay it does seem a little loud for such a small room..."


It's not very loud, but in a closed room with a hardwood floor and no other ambience to speak of, it kind of dominates the auditory profile of the space.  Must be stressin' the little dude out.

I petted Harley into purring for a bit, and took the fountain out of the room.  Installed it downstairs, in the kitchen, next to Doug's food bowl.  Maybe Doug will appreciate it, or maybe I just spent a hundred and fifty bucks on something neither of my cats will use.  Like a douche.

I also bought Assassin's Creed Odyssey.   The EB Games was right next to Pet Smart.

It's mostly slowmo gifs of the combat and that one tweet you may've seen where the dude climbs up a colossal ancient statue and dangles off the statue's accurately-rendered wiener.

That's compelling stuff.  I'm nearly over my cold, and I'm pretty antsy to get back hard in Overwatch, but... y'know, if Assassin's Creed got good again, I'd like to know about it.

Oh, and speaking of Overwatch, have you seen the new skins announced for the Halloween event?  Observe:

Banshee Moira is a cool idea - Moira's Irish, and so is the Banshee legend - but I don't think it's a particularly cool-looking skin.  For some reason the part I like best is the bird skull on her belt.   It's like the opposite of Swamp Monster Doomfist, which is a pretty cool-looking skin that has absolutely no bearing on Doomfist's country of origin, or the character.  

Widowmaker gets a phoned-in Epic:

"Y'know how we've got this kinda' Black Widow aesthetic goin' with the spider eyes of her mask and the tattoo on her back?"


"Okay well imagine we keep the whole spider theme but make it way less subtle, but not such a big change that it's actually special?"

"See, this is why we hired you. Keep the gems coming."

"Well, wait, we could also make her eyes glow red and make her skin pitch black, really double down on the spider-lady thing, it'll look awesome!"

Finally, Pharah gets one that actually looks pretty darn cool, all things considered. 

So that's the first skin this Halloween that I'll not end the event without.  As always, I offer my earnest prayer that Tracer will finally get her first legendary event skin in a year and a fucking half.  

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 140 - Little Boy Blue And The Man In The Moon

Wiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - Little boy blue and the man on the moon

  • Alex returns to the sunny climes of Assassin's Creed Origins!
  • Dragon Quest XI lasted Chamberlain just long enough, thank you very much!
  • Chance was right about The Messenger!
  • And what does Harley look like?
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Or just look at this picture!

Beautiful.  And deadly.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Swamp Monster Doomfist Revealed

A fine cross between the original Creature from the Black Lagoon, Abe Sapien of Hellboy fame and the horny cat-eating creature from The Shape of Water, Swamp Monster Doomfist's obvious parallels to the Universal Golden Age movie monsters gives me an uneasy hope that maybe Tracer is actually going to get a new Legendary after being shoved to the side for the past year and a half.  

Give me Werewolf of London / John Talbot Wolfman Tracer, you cowards!