Thursday, December 28, 2017

Game Diary - okay, I get the Shieldbreaker now.

Then the snake bites her pinned hand, so she cuts off her hand before the venom spreads!
And that's why she only has the one hand. 

I've played Overwatch every night this week, and have not spent every night this week working on clip shows.  I had planned to have a new vid done by Christmas Eve, then Christmas Day, then Boxing Day, 'cause it's gonna' be a Christmas-themed video with Tracer running around in the Jingle skin getting in trouble, but with ample time to play, I've been... playing.

I checked out Cat Quest on my Switch.  It's cute, but far, far, far too simple.  Combat is literally mashing your sword, rolling away from telegraphed damage zones and activating AoE spells that deal your serious damage.  It's cute, but.  But...

I installed Steamworld Dig 2 on my Switch - played until I opened up the first mine.  It'll be nice to run around in there on the Switch's bigger screen - but where I landed was... back on my Vita, with Darkest Dungeon and its newest (paid DLC) hero, the Shieldbreaker.

When she first came out - perhaps I just wasn't in the right headspace to really explore her - I recall giving the boys on the podcast a resounding "meh" on the Shieldbreaker.  She's not meh - I just didn't give her enough time.  She's a dancer - one of the more rewarding types of heroes in Darkest Dungeon, in my opinion - and there's very few of them.

The Jester, the Highwayman and the Shieldbreaker - dancers, all.

The Shieldbreaker's story is that she was literally a dancing girl who took up arms and killed her way to freedom, but "dancer" has also always been my internal term for heroes whose abilities move them backwards and forwards in your formation.  All heroes in Darkest Dungeon have abilities that can only be launched from certain positions in the lineup - like a Hellion can only use Iron Swan or If It Bleeds from the first position, while your Vestal can only launch her big single-target heal from the back two spots - but the Grave Robber, the Jester and the Highwayman have a lot of moves that move them forward or back in the formation while attacking or setting up buffs or debuffs or stunning or dealing damage.  Like your Highwayman uses Lunge to get ahead of your Man-At-Arms - now he has Riposte active, but your main tank has been pushed back to position 2.  On the next turn, the Highwayman can use Point Blank Shot to deal massive damage to the enemy in position 1 and throw himself back behind the tank, into position 2 again, moving the Man-At-Arms back to position 1.

The Shieldbreaker is one of these, but also not.  If your Highwayman or Jester or Grave Robber don't want to move themselves forwards or backwards in the lineup, that's fine - they have bread-and-butter skills that don't move them, which is important when your tank absolutely has to stay in the first two positions, and so on.  The Shieldbreaker only has one skill that doesn't change her position, and it's not that great.

Captivate lands a decent Blight DoT off a melee strike with a 20% damage reduction.
It can only be launched from positions 2 and 3, can only hit positions 2 and 3 of the enemy line, deals extra damaged to Marked targets, and is the only ability in the Shieldbreaker's repertoire that doesn't move her. 

The Shieldbreaker has a few incredibly powerful skills, but the best of them can only be used in position 1, and using them moves her out of position 1.  With Impale, she throws her spear through the entire enemy line.  Area-of-effect attacks like this aren't unheard of in the game, but they usually come with a 100% or 90% damage reduction - the Houndmaster can do it, but each enemy takes like 2 points of damage and gets a little bleed.

The Shieldbreaker's Impale only has 60% damage reduction, meaning that single throw can obliterate a third of the health pool of the whole enemy team.  Which, say, throws her behind her Highwayman or Grave Robber who then uses Point Blank Shot or Shadow Fade to retreat behind the Shieldbreaker again, moving her back to position 1 and setting up the next Impale.  She can wreck low-health teams without breaking a sweat.

Adder's Kiss
Lands a good DoT and hits hard, but can only be launched from position 1 and moves her backward in the line. 

The rest of her kit are a bunch of solutions to very specific problems.  Puncture can be launched from anywhere and hit anywhere (moves you forward), but has a 50% damage reduction and removes the Guard buff from that squishy caster you're desperate to take out from under the protection of their tank.  With the addition of the Shieldbreaker to your game, certain enemies will start the fight in stealth - they can only be hit with AoE attacks - but the Shieldbreaker's Expose (another ability that moves her backwards) will immediately remove the stealth buff, lower the target's speed stat and... increases the target's chance to be critically struck by 9%.  No other ability in the game can do this.  Unlike Impale or Adder's Kiss, Expose can be used from the first three positions - so she can use it two or three times, fading back into your lineup, building up this terrifying +crit chance debuff on a single large-HP target before launching herself forward with Pierce.

Pierce has a 20% damage reduction, it moves her one space forward and can only hit the first two positions of the enemy line, but it also... ignores enemy armor.   It is her bread-and-butter.  Maybe 10% of the enemies you fight even have a Protection stat, but Pierce absolutely trivializes them - turns them from a multi-turn slog of your whole team ineffectually pounding on a thing into one or two massive hits from the Shieldbreaker.


Without the Shieldbreaker in your lineup, the best way to overcome a Guarding opponent was simply to stun the tank doing the guarding.  This removes the Guard buff from your true target - usually a stress-inducing caster in the backline - allowing you to take them out of the fight before whittling down that high-prot tank who's gonna' take a few minutes.  There's no point in attacking the tank, because when Guard is activated, the tank's Protection (armor) stat goes through the roof.  It's like having a kitten paw at a piece of plate mail - admittedly adorable, but largely ineffective.

The Shieldbreaker makes this a different proposition.  You can use Puncture on the Guarded target to remove the Guard buff (and pull them forward in their line), but on the other hand, she can just Expose the tank once or twice (+9%, +18% chance to be critically struck) and then leap back in with Pierce, shattering them with a blow that ignores the buffed-up PROT stat from its Guard and is gonna' crit and problem solved.

Expose.  Removes the stealth buff, slows target, moves the Shieldbreaker backwards, and increases the target's chance to be critically struck by 9%.   This is huge. 

When a problem pops up that requires clever tactics from a normal squad, the Shieldbreaker can reach out with that spear and just solve it.  The only downside of this is that so many of her skills are so situationally-powerful, you really want them all.  I've actually taken to not using her highest-damage attack, Adder's Kiss, in the name of the bread-and-butter but lower-damage Pierce, the team-rocking potential of Impale, the boss-killing potential of Expose and the utility of Puncture.

To make the most of this, the Shieldbreaker requires a team of dancers around her - a Grave Robber, a Highwayman, a Jester who can all get tossed around in the lineup and still perform as she bobs and weaves.  Constantly fucking with your lineup will limit the effectiveness of position-dependent tanks like the Leper or Hellion, and there's another... monkey in the wrench...

She gets nightmares.  Like, really vivid nightmares, recalling the night she lost her hand to the serpents of the desert.  Any time you camp, there's a chance your night will be interrupted as seen above - with a team of stealthed, Blight-spitting guarding snakes.  Oh, and the Shieldbreaker herself instantly becomes inflicted with a Horror debuff that no laudanum will cure, and gains like +23 stress every round until the encounter ends.  It absolutely drives her stark raving mad.

Camping is not meant to be such a scary proposition.  Quite the contrary, you make camp when some of your heroes are so hurt or stressed out that you don't want to risk the next fight - you want to heal them up, cure their stress and give them some sick combat buffs.  It's a moment to breathe, a pleasant respite from the horrors of the dungeon, and the Shieldbreaker's night terrors take that delicate peace and just kick it right in the balls.

You can't die in the dream - when the Shieldbreaker receives a killing blow, the dream ends, but the stress and low HP remains - which is why I have almost-exclusively begun running a Jester with my Shieldbreaker, to sing her down from the edge when the nightmare takes hold.  (Worth noting: you can go two or three whole dungeon runs without the dream coming.)  If you win the encounter, you get one or three things called Aegis Scales - a single-use consumable that totally absorbs the next attack on the hero who uses it.  So when you're fighting, like, Vvulf and he drops a bomb on a hero and it'll detonate next turn and definitely wipe out all their HP?  Aegis Scale.  Problem solved.  Gibbering Prophet?  Problem solved.

So the Shieldbreaker is definitely not meh.  She's fun and exciting and very, very rewarding when all the gears are humming and she's weaving through the party, debuffing foes and wrecking entire enemy lines and swooping in with bone-cracking stabs of that spear.

She's awesome.

Also, last night, in Overwatch, I'm sneaking up on this enemy Widow and she uses her ult - but I've already flanked her, so she's not looking my way - but when I get into the room she was in, I see her venom mine waiting for me - she's already out the door, trying to line up a shot on me.  So I wave at her and dodge her shot, then I start dancing while she can see me through the wall, so she takes another two shots that I dodge with blinks, and then I actually start fighting her and it's this vicious little brawl inside this tiny little room but I got her and it was awesome.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Overwatch Long Cut 15 - Darling Let Me Know

80/80 with a smoothing of 95.  That's what the answer to yesterday's conundrum was.  I ended up playing against some people in fucking diamond last night, and at first I was like "wow, this Mei is really good."  So, obviously, I kept on throwing myself against them and failing, and they kept teabagging me, and they actually went so far as to send me a vulgar PSN message between rounds - but I learned my lesson the other day.  I didn't respond, I just reported them and moved on.  ...but my aim was feeling a lot better...

I ended up in a Gibraltar attack against a six-stack which we actually ended up winning, though their Soldier was excellent.  On the next round I was defending against the same six stack, and a guy got on mic and I warned him what we were in for.  Then a girl piped up and we started chatting - we lost, but we had a good time - and I am performing again.  I'm rackin' up all the golds, I'm dying like 1-3 times per match.  I am back.

The girl ends up being a boy whose voice hasn't broken yet, and he seems astounded by my niceness, and seizes upon the eventual reveal of my Canadianness as the secret of my good nature - which made me feel a lot better after Mei The Asshole.  The kid plays a sick Widow, but has a lot of hours on Mercy too.

Then I end up in an Anubis attack with a Master-SR Mei who always lays the perfect wall, and I end up doing an Ilios match with him on D.Va and he blows my elims out of the water, but he says my Tracer is real good and better than gold and my Friends list is 3 names longer this morning.

So it was a good night, and I'm thrilled it's Friday and I can actually put some time in tonight - but once again, my capture gallery has gotten out of hand, so today when I got home from work I went and found a clip I'd meant to include in the next Clip Show and decided screw it, this is a Long Cut.

G'night errybody!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Game Diary

I've been tinkering.

I haven't touched my Switch all week.  It feels like... a flirtation that may have led to an actual relationship, but neither of us are actually all that interested in each other.  We don't share enough interests.  I'd still like to pluck around in Enter the Gungeon, but it really doesn't bother me that I only beat two out of four Guardians in Zelda

I'm curious about a fast-paced action-indie on there I saw called Mr. Shifty, but I fear it will disappoint in the same way Serial Cleaner did.  Really, I should be snuffling my way through The Flame in the Flood, as that has been uniformly enjoyable and punishing. 

What I've been doing - weirdly - is playing a bit of Overwatch over the course of the week.  The fact that I'm playing Overwatch isn't weird, obviously - but the fact that I'm putting an hour or so into it on weeknights is very unusual. 

It all started with a tutorial vid I watched from a Grandmaster Tracer on PS4.  The part that struck me were his settings - he had his controller sensitivity at 100 vertical, 100 horizontal, with an aim smoothing of 80. 

Pretty much all year, my settings have been 76/76, with a smoothing of 98.  I took a screenshot of my settings, changed it to his, and went into the practice range.  It was phenomenal.  I was able to kick the holy shit out of those target bots, and thought "this might work."

Artist's name is 'Na In Sung" and that's all I got.

But I didn't want to go into a QP game and embarrass myself, so I did some free-for-all deathmatches, and soon found myself getting top-four.  I was pulling off insane shit I knew I never could have before, but I wasn't consistent.  My reticle is now so sensitive that I'm constantly over-correcting and way overshooting my targets, but I'm also able to twist 180 and 90 degrees in the blink of an eye. 

I decided to take it in to quickplay. 

It didn't go as well.  Again, once or thrice a game I would pull off something incredible that I know I couldn't have with my old settings, but I could also count multiple examples of kills I knew I woulda' scored if I hadn't wildly swung my reticle past my targets.  I had a fun Hollywood defense (5 DPS and a Lucio) against a reasonable comp.  We lost brutally, but I had a ton of fun duelling the enemy Widow (of course).

Our McCree got on voice chat after the loss, bragged about his medals and called us all pieces of shit.  I told him he wasn't a very gracious loser, and our teammates didn't deserve that, and he explained that I am merely a bitch and a n*****, and also a faggot and a pussy for only getting on mic at the end of the round (like he did) and not making callouts all game (like he didn't). 

Which put me in a bad mood, so when I went into my next game and discovered 4 DPS preparing to defend Volskaya with no healers, I went Soldier and accepted that another loss was coming.  We held point B, I got all the medals and a sweet four-kill Play of the Game in that hideous new Winter Wonderland skin Soldier's got, and I thought... okay, maybe these setting are okay.  Maybe I can translate the success I just had on Soldier to Tracer...

But last night, I didn't play.  Last night I played the "let's make a video" game that I enjoy so much, and I was trying to find footage of my Tracer using the new settings.  The thing is, I'd saved like three games - the one against the Widow, and the deathmatches.  I hadn't done well enough in any other match to merit hitting the share button. 


And now I'm at a bit of a loss on what to do next.  Should I just change my settings back to where they were?  Should I turn what I've got down a bit? 

I miss being confident in my Tracer. 

Should I consider that Soldier might be the inroad I need to master these potentially-incredibly-powerful settings, play him a bit and then try Tracer?  I'm going in to a week of holidays and I don't want to spend half of it adjusting - I want to get into Overwatch, rock some socks and have a ball. 

What to do, what to do...


Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Every Wednesday, I get home from work and sit down to type out any big (or interesting... or funny) gaming news, for use in that podcast I do with this American guy and this other, equally-American guy.

But this week... there is no podcast to be had.  Chamberlain is off doing Chamberlain stuff, like flying to Hawaii for a destination wedding at Christmas, and complaining about Star Wars - and Alex and I refuse to do the podcast without the titular hero.  But last week I promised if you want the news to hit up this blog, and though I am a liar about a great many things, that was the truth.  So strap in, motherfucker, 'cause here it comes.

Oh, by the way.

I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  It's fucking awesome.  Go see it.  The only downside is Finn's arc (which is thematically important) is boring as crap, but everything with Rey and Kylo and Laura Dern is fucking spectacular, and I honestly can't remember the last time a special effects sequence actually thrilled me to my core the way this movie's did.  I'm dying to see it again.

In Overwatch News...

  • Blizzard is going to "fix" Hanzo's Casual skin by changing his hair color from partly-gray to entirely-black, responding to fan backlash. 
  • A Nendoroid D.Va figure is now available for preorder!

Weird Indie Dandara Will Land On The Switch in February
I guess it was originally designed as a touchscreen game?  Apparently it's a Metroidvania, and those are sexy to me, as a rule. 

The Escapists 2 Will Launch on Switch in January
I've been hearing about The Escapists for years, let's see what Metacritic has to say... Hm.  74.  Well, turn me loose.

Dragon Quest Builders Launched February 9th on Switch
Nuff said.

We'll See The First Gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles 4 on December 27th
Fortunately nothing else is going on next week, so that shouldn't get overshadowed.

Atlus USA Has Announced The Battle-Hardened Edition of Dragon's Crown Pro
for North America!  It's basically just a steelbook and "7 collectible cards," so... yay?  (As if I'm not going to buy it.)  It's not really a special edition, either - just buy the game physically at launch, and the Battle-Hardened edition is what you get.

Oooh Noclip Made A Horizon: Zero Dawn Making-Of Documentary
I really should make time to watch this:

Crazy/Awesome Sex Thriller/Puzzle Platformer Catherine is Coming to PS4 and Vita
It's called Catherine: Full Body, and it will include new endings, online multiplayer and a new lady in the form of Rin - a piano player at the bar where the boys hang out, and perhaps another temptation for the leading man.

I will be shocked and amazed if the Vita version comes west.  Which reminds me, Atlus still hasn't confirmed 13 Sentinels' Vita version for localization.

Atmospheric Indie Inside is now available on iPhones and iPads
But not the Vita!

Celebrated Indie Cuphead Briefly Appeared on the iOS App Store This Week For $5
It was a cheaply-ported, unauthorized piracy of the game, and was quickly removed by Apple.  Folks who checked it out said it was almost unplayable.

Legendary RPG Dev Obsidian Entertainment Will Publish Their Next RPG Through Take-Two's New Label, Private Division
It's being led by Fallout co-creators Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, and while we know very little about it, they have assured us it will not feature microtransactions.

Annnd wow... those are actually all the headlines I noted this week.  Umm... anything else?  Hmm...

Yeah I guess that's it.  Here's a sexy Meihem drawing.


That's hot.

And here's a romantic Torbanzo pic, which I didn't know was a thing until I was doing my daily Overwatch fan art browse yesterday:


I... have to believe someone feels that, too, is hot.  I feel it's adorable and pretty hilarious how well Hanzo translates to Prince Eric, and how Ariel-Torb is instantly recognizable as both Ariel and Torb.'s kind of inspired, honestly. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Game Diary.


In an insane breach of tradition and etiquette, Friday night was not spent playing Overwatch.  It usually takes me until Saturday night - after a week of not playing video games - to get back in the zone and start carrying games and scoring sweet PotGs, or at least getting all the medals and cards.  Putting in time on Friday night to dial it in is always an important consideration - not to mention the fact that I spend all week looking forward to actually getting some time to play video games.  I am getting very good at waving after Pulse Bombing Bastions, but for some reason, what I did was play through Hyper Light Drifter in its entirety.

Maybe it's that I'm not as enchanted by Enter the Gungeon on Switch as I'd anticipated.  I've played and loved twin-stick shooters on my Vita, and Vita is where I've wanted to play Gungeon since its announcement, and - given the Vita version's lack of, y'know, existence - the Switch version was very high on my list.

But that fucking right analog stick, man.  That fucking right stick.  I would gladly pay $40 for a right-side joycon that actually mirrors the button and joystick positions on the left 'con.  I would gladly pay $150 for a pair of Joycons that are effectively two halves of a Dualshock 4, or any modern controller. It's just not comfortable enough, and I'm not able to control the game as comfortably as I could on my PS4.

Hateful design.  Hateuful.

And as I'm playing Gungeon on Switch and enjoying the expressive, fanciful pixel art, I'm thinking about the idea of having Hyper Light Drifter on a handheld (Hyper Light Drifter, thankfully, does not utilize the right analog stick).  It's just the left stick, shoulder buttons and face buttons, and it's so beautiful...

I docked points off HLD pretty hard come Game of the Year time in 2016 because Heart Machine abandoned the Vita version - it still stings, and I'm still angry about it - but replaying it this weekend... it's so lovely.  It's a modern classic, to me - up there with all-time great action-adventure games like Okami, Darksiders, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Guacamelee.  I find I'd sooner replay Hyper Light Drifter than the brand-new release of Okami for PS4 (one of my favorite games of all time), and, yes, on Friday night I found I'd rather play Hyper Light Drifter than Overwatch.

Which boggles the mind.

I blitzed it, on that playthrough - just hacked-and-slashed my way through the north, east and southern regions, and was amazed by how quickly I tore through the south and found myself back at down, ready to open the final lock and descend to face the big bad.  I was surprised how few tries it took to take him down, and then, oop, all done.

I've never done a "full completion" run of the game.  I've probably played through it a half-dozen times, but I never found all the obelisks, never got all the keys, or all the outfits.

Okay, I'll never get all the outfits - one of them requires you to chain-dash 800 times in the practice room, which is as dumb as that one star in Braid you have to sit on a cloud for nintety minutes to get - but for the most part, Hyper Light Drifter is one of those special titles where the moment-to-moment gameplay is just delectable.  Constantly.

It's kind of a shame that some of the game's most meaningful abilities are locked behind its (beautifully open) progression - I suppose you don't need the ability to deflect enemy projectiles, but it sure makes fighting the ninja-star throwing frogs in the eastern area a lot more fun.  And you don't really need the charged swing to beat any boss, but it sure is empowering - I guess what's a shame is that I'm always salivating over the above, but the chain-dash is an absolute necessity for defeating any of the bosses (and many puzzles), and absolutely must be your first upgrade.

It's a shame that I have to delay the sweet thrill of sending a man-sized throwing star back at an anthropomorphic ninja frog with a perfectly-timed slash of my hard-light blade, I mean.  I love doing that.

There's a lot to love, here.  The animations are succulent.  You only have a three-hit combo, but each swing of the sword is this great, complete exertion on the part of the Drifter.  You can really tell they're putting every ounce of their being into each swing, flinging the sword around with a mix of this-may-be-the-last-thing-I-do desperation and the stylish confidence of (Devil May Cry) Dante or (Samurai Champloo) Jin.

It's got those lovely combat animations where if you don't hit the button again and continue the combo, they stand there for a beautiful moment at the end of the slash, their body hunched over at the end of the swing, their cape billowing out behind them, the blade held still - just to look that much cooler as a gang of enemies collapse at their feet.

There isn't a word of dialogue in the entire game.  There isn't a manual, there isn't a brief synopsis of who the Drifter is and why they're doing this - you understand what you will about the Drifter and their world solely through the act of playing, and absorbing what you can through the environment, and what other characters tell you.

When you speak with a character, they don't speak - they may, at best, present you with a speech bubble that contains an image of their tale.  You'll find a bird-man up in the mountains who fled the burning of his city at the hands of a splinter group of religious fanatics, stealing away to his hidden home on the cliffs with his wings full of a few precious eggs.

You meet another Drifter, and he too speaks in images.  He, too, saw the white-light cube that was in your vision at the start of the game.  He, too, was set upon by a creature of darkness, blazing with a sickly pink light - just like the one that appears to you and slaughters you whenever you make serious headway in the game.

What is the pink light, and the darkness it fuels?  Why did the weasel people of the east have so much of that evil fuchsia color flowing in the labs beneath their idyllic gardens and pools?

None of this is explained.  It's up to you to feel.  The black dog who leads you on feels like something divine, but you can't be sure it's actually good in the strictest sense... I'm just sure it needs my help, and I'm sure it's not worse than the darkness, and the pink light.  I'm sure that darkness is in me.  And I'm sure it's killing me.

But the Black Dog won't let me die.  Not until I've finished what it needs me to do.

This is all inferred, of course.  Guessed at.  Apparently if you find all the obelisks, you learn the true story of the past - the technology that allowed the ancients to imprison the divine dog, that powered their world - and yes, it's a bit striking to me that Hyper Light Drifter did the ancient-technology-as-magic thing before Horizon: Zero Dawn.  ...but I've never found all the obelisks.

I think I will, though.  I'm two-thirds of the way through another playthrough - started almost immediately after Friday's - and I'm trying to get everything.  I've got all of the power triangles in the North and the East, but I've missed two Keys somewhere...

But it's not the beautiful, silent, environmental storytelling that keeps me playing this game.  It's not the open progression or the sweet animations (okay, well, the sweet animations play a big part) - it's just simply and plainly how it plays.

The drifter deflects one of The Hanged Man's projectiles back at him.  It's a handy upgrade!

And that's not just the combat.  The combat is, obviously, a huge part of it.  Like a Souls game, button mashing is the shortcut to failure in Hyper Light Drifter - each slash requires commitment, and limits what you can do in the half-second after - if that slash didn't just connect with and perhaps stun the three enemies surrounding you, it was a mistake.  The quick dashes, the charged swing, the deflections, the various guns, the attacking dash - they're all hugely important and empowering, and mastering these (relatively) simple abilities and how they can overcome the game's adversaries is incredibly satisfying (and great-looking), but - again - it's not just the combat.

It's the whole rewarding exploratory adventure of it.  Picking your way through ancient ruins - the corpse of a forgotten culture - you zip across disappearing platforms in hazy streaks of neon light, solve a quick platforming puzzle and are immediately set upon by a few vicious spear-wielding Raccoon-man soldiers, and a Hard Crystal Golem, besides.  With careful evasion and vicious aggression, you obliterate them with all the style and panache of a Jedi Knight, and in the ensuing silence, you gaze around the room.

That health pack will come in handy, but no, what we're looking for is - ah, there!

A tiny glyph, on the floor by the far wall.  You'd never see it, if you weren't looking for it - but the Drifter looks.  You look, because you know there are secrets all around, for those willing to see them. And you walk up to the wall... and you walk through the wall, and find yourself trudging across centuries of dust in an ancient, undisturbed room.  Here, finally, are one or two of those golden chits that I can finally use to unlock that precious projectile deflection, and here, a corpse still smoldering with the black sickness that has infected me, and my fellow Drifter.

That doesn't bode well.  The corpse holds a key.

...I wonder what it opens..?

Hyper Light Drifter has this loop down pat.  Exploring a beautiful, sad, lively, colorful world - and meaningful, rewarding exploration you really want to do - and getting into awesome, challenging, gorgeous, stylish-as-fuck lightsaber fights with crazy monsters on the way.

This is as close to Heaven as gaming gets.  I wish it were five times bigger than it was, but if it were, perhaps repeat playthroughs back-to-back wouldn't be as absolutely delicious as I find them to be.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Chamberlain & Chance 102 : Best of 2017.

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

Chamberlain and Chance - Best of the year 2017

  • Is Cuphead the best game of 2017? 
  • Is Hollow Knight the best game of 2017? 
  • Is Horizon: Zero Dawn the Game of the Year?
  • You'll have to tune in to find out!
(It's Horizon.  Obviously.  Obviously it's Horizon.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Overwatch Clip Show 52 - I Second That Emotion.

But first, some news.  The Winter Wonderland event is now live, and I am hella disappointedNo beautiful/sexy Christmas skin for Mercy, no apology for Tracer getting nothing in the Summer Games and Halloween events, no epic-level skins for anyone.  I'm super disappointed.  Here's the deets.  Junkrat got a beachwear skin, Sombra got a... frankly kind of lovely ice-lady skin, Ana got a crazy snow owl skin and that's basically all the good shit.   

Also, in the patch that contains the event, there's a bunch of Doomfist bug fixes and an option to mark all "new" items in your cosmetics as already seen.  Which is... nice.  

Oh also the patch has further-fucked Rein's Earthshatter, and apparently there's a bug on Numbani in which the attackers just can't move the payload, even when clear of the enemy team.  Nice job Blizz!



Last week, I had a game where I was playin' Mei on Route 66 defense (I said in the podcast that it was Mercy, but rewatching the footage, no, it was Mei), and this Reinhardt is just kicking the crap out of me left and right.  Somewhere around point B, I switch to Tracer and absolutely rock this Rein's world, to the point that he solo-ults me and charges my ass through a wall. 

I adore games where you end up in a rivalry with someone on the other team - someone whose death your prioritize above all others, because you know you can't get any work in until they're out of the picture - and once you've made proper introductions, they start doing the same to you. 

When this occurs it is, win or lose, peak Overwatch fun, for me.  We end up waving to each other - sometimes we'll call short truces when we bump into each other away from the teamfight - I love those.  Sometimes it's a McCree or a Hanzo, sometimes it's a Winston or Hog or Rein, but for some reason like 90 per cent of the time... it's a Widowmaker.  This vid is a tribute to them. 

Clip Show 52 - I Second That Emotion from David Ferber on Vimeo.

Also on YouTube, if you prefer (Vimeo has better compression).

0:23 - 0:50 : Kyltaii is the second-most dangerous Widow in this video, and one of two I strongly believe was using a mouse, so sneaking up on them while she ends up doing a Play-of-the-Game-making series of executions on my team and dropping the bomb (and scoring her pocket Mercy) felt absolutely delicious. 

0:50 - 1:03 : This was a hard-losin' game (we got steamrolled almost the entire way), but that would always come to a halt when Kyltaii went down, so of course I'm gonna' dive her every time I see her without a Mercy attached (and sometimes, with the Mercy attached).  This may look like a drawn-out flailing, but it's actually me pretty much playing at my best against a much, much better foe. 

Very proud. 

1:03 - 1:09 : ToxicNights is one of my personal favorites.  She also appeared in Clip Show 50 - Move at around 1:53 - our first meeting was a semi-long duel ending in that melee kill - and afterwards we paid each other a lot of attention.  She would take shots at me from 70 yards out, making every approach a long, meandering affair to get behind her - but whenever we ran in to each other in one of these side rooms, and the team fight is happening far away, we'd stop and be nice to each other. 

Because niceness is good!


1:13 - 1:23 : Obey_Oxxside is, far and away, the most dangerous Widow in this video, and probably the most incredible Widow I've ever fought.  I only got two picks on her - this Pulse Bomb, and at the very end of the match (we won) when Genji and I chased her away from the point and I dove on her for a killing blow.

Outside of that, she pulled insane shit.  Like I was once sneaking up on her from behind, I was like fifteen yards away, and she turned around in a tenth of a second and instantly put one through my skull.  Like just whipped around and pop headshot in less time than it takes to blink.  I've seen like three snap shots like that in my entire Overwatch career., yes.  Worth it. 

1:23 - 1:26 : ToxicNights gets shoved back by a Hog ult, and I zip right into her face for the killing blow.

1:26 - 1:30 : WavySunflower was having an off day, I choose to believe.  She never killed me, but I got her no less than 6 times (you can see two in the opening of Clip Show 51 - In Like The Rose). She also received a personal Pulse Bomb, and you might notice that after that last kill in In Like The Rose, she quits the game. 

Never sent her a message, but it was a fun-ass game. 


1:30 - 1:40 : Kyltaii has no time for my bullshit. 

1:40 - 1:45 : xBADxWARx dominated my team, but I'm pleased to say this is one of only two picks she got on me (the other was when I shoulda' waited for my rewind at the end of round 3, but in fairness it was a good shot).  She really, really didn't like what I did to her...

1:45 - 1:48 : ...right here, earlier in the round.  That's a clean pick. 

1:48 - 1:54 : Hahahah.

1:54 - 2:00 : ...if you want the world to know, we won't let hatred grow... 

2:00 - 2:04 : Hahahahah.

2:04 - 2:13 : ...put a little love in your heart... 

2:13 - 2:25 : Hahahahahahah she did not see that shit comin'!  ...she'd gotten too many picks on my team, so I had to do a major flank to shut her down for the next teamfight. 


2:25 - 2:36 : Another duel with the indominable Kyltaii, this one ending with a sweet melee kill (after I totally whiffed my Pulse Bomb on her, but that was my mistake for throwing it at a Widow who knew I was there).  Then I came back and killed the Hanzo.  Then they rolled the payload to the point like we were standin' still, and we lost.

2:36 - 2:49 : I was waiting in the corner for xBADxWARx to come by for a good fifteen seconds before she appeared, walked right up to me, right past me, and proceeded out to the point.  After the teabag at the end of the first round, I feel, she really earned this.

Yup.  That's what happens, xBADxWARx.  That's what happens when you teabag me. 

2:49 - 3:04 : ToxicNights had just used her ult, so I start emoting to give her a show, and she swings by to say hi.  Then my Roadhog instantly hooks and kills her - which made me feel more than a little guilty. 

Ily2, ToxicNights.  Ily2.

3:05 - 3:10 : She earned it. 

And that's our show!  G'night everybody!

miraongchua's DeviantArt page has been shut down, but this might be them on Tumblr..?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Last Night, At 10:00 PM Central, The PSX Opening Presentation Started.

And then, nothing happened for two hours.  A WipEout game is coming to PSVR.  MediEvil is getting a 4K up-port.  BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is coming west in 2018.

It was pretty much Cory Barlog and Shawn Layden and Siobhan Reddy from Media Molecule, and then they brought out (siiiigh) David Cage and did a playthrough of a scene from upcoming terrible game that people will buy, Detroit: Become Human, and Mark Cerny and Andrew House were there too.  All these PlayStation luminaries just chillin' on couches, chatting.

Pretty much saying nothing.  Showing nothing.  Announcing nothing.  For two hours.

Just chilling out on couches.  Barlog said that God of War will take 25-35 hours to complete, so that's newsworthy.

The two-hour waste of my evening ended with the same 8-minute trailer for Death Stranding we saw at The Game Awards the night before, and then an actually-pretty-interesting little chat between Hideo Kojima, Andrew House and Mark Cerny, who offered the biggest news of the night - Death Stranding is in a playable state.

After showing said 8-minute trailer, Cerny said it start making sense "after you've played the game for four or five hours."  What was nice, during the Kojima sequence, is that it was almost-all a bunch of personal anecdotes between House and Kojima.  Coming as no surprise to people who follow Kojima on Twitter, almost all of Kojima's stories start with "well, I was getting food with Mark," or "while going for lunch with Andy..." and it was... cute.

One of the stories he told was that before he had even signed any deals, he was trying to find an engine for what would become Death Stranding, and he had a meeting and presentation with Guerrilla Games (Horizon: Zero Dawn).  At the end of the meeting, they gave him a wooden box, and left.  Inside the box was the complete source code for Horizon's Decima Engine - given freely, no contracts, no strings attached - and Kojima said he was almost moved to tears by the gesture.

And that's PSX.  I spent two hours last night not playing Overwatch and not working on the next clip show to learn that God of War will take a while to beat and Death Stranding has 4-5 playable hours.

To err is human. (Sigh) I'd be posting the next clip show right now if I hadn't wasted my time on this bullshit... (grumblegrumble)...

Friday, December 8, 2017

All The Good Stuff From The Game Awards.

Robbery Victim Ashly Burch

The Good Stuff, naturally, does not include the awards themselves.  Cuphead winning best Art Direction over Horizon, Gravity Rush or heck even Darkest Dungeon's Crimson Court DLC, is bullshit.  It's good - it is good!  - but it's not that good.  Its presentation is immaculate.  Its art direction is intentionally, successfully derivative.

Likewise, it comes as no shock to see game journalists violently jerking off Nintendo, but that doesn't mean Zelda actually deserves to win best Action-Adventure or Game of the Year.  In my opinion, Zelda is a great game - but it also just takes what a lot of open-world games have been doing for years, puts Zelda in it, and fails to deliver on a lot of the joys of open-world games (random encounters, robust AI) while failing to deliver some of the expected joys of Zelda (dungeons, a wide variety of tools providing access to an ever-expanding world).

It's still a great game, but it has failings that my pick does not.

Similarly, Melina Juergens did a good job in Hellblade - and her genuine glee at being handed a Game Award from legendary mocap actor and pioneer Andy Serkis was nothing less than uplifting - but I don't think her performance is actually better or more impressive than Ashly Burch's starmaking turn in Horizon: Zero Dawn.  It's over-the-top melodrama. 

Ashly Burch was fucking robbed, and as much as I imagine she's happy for Juergens and supportive of a fellow artist, this was her year and it's bullshit that Hellblade - a deeply mediocre game from a developer who's done far better in terms of narrative, presentation, gameplay and structure - took home so many trophies.

The fact that Horizon didn't win a single.  Fucking.  Thing it was nominated in is an affront.  It is one of the best open-world games ever made, making huge leaps in presentation and combat mechanics.   Burch in particular gave so much life to a character who frankly didn't have the best dialogue.  She had spun straw into gold with Aloy, and failing to recognize that is... well, it's immoral. 

Thank goodness we don't watch The Game Awards for the awards - we watch it for the trailers and new game reveals and hooooooo dawgies we got some big ones, man.

From Software teased their next game.

So there's some sort of... device.  Mechanical.  And it's soaked in blood.  And part of it is made of bone.

Naturally my first reaction was "if this isn't Bloodborne 2 I will pitch a fucking fit."  Mechanical weapon, blood, body parts - they all scream Bloodborne, to me.  The text, though - "Shadows die twice" - brings to mind a few of From Software's other properties.

The calligraphy you see behind the device, the phrase "Shadows die twice" and the music sting all suggest a new Tenchu title - series co-protagonist Rikimaru has always referred to himself as a Shadow, and the final boss from Tenchu 3 almost word-for-word says "Shadows can die twice."  Worth noting as well, From Software owns the Tenchu IP.

Finally, it may also be worth knowing that From Software released a game in 1998 called Shadow Tower, which bore a lot of similarities to King's Field - the spiritual predecessor of the Souls series.

Mysterious!  From Software have said that we'll learn more "in the next twelve months," but I'm crossing my fingers we'll get a reveal at PSX tomorrow.

Up next...

Bayonetta 2 will launch on the Nintendo Switch on February 16th, and it comes with a download copy of Bayonetta.  Day.  Fucking.  One.  Alsooo...

Bayonetta 3 is on its way, exclusive to the Switch.


Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding got an eight-minute trailer that feels a lot longer.

Probably my favorite trailer of the evening is this - for Witchfire.

Ohohoh clever twist, right?  Yeah, I'm down for Hexen HD.

Annnd that's about it.  Soul Calibur VI was announced, along with the next thing from the Firewatch crew, which actually looks pretty cool.

So the short version?  From Software.  Bayonetta.  Awesome.

Enter the Gungeon lands on Switch... next week!

I did not expect this news today.  You'd think indies would try to stay out of the news feed the day after a 20-minute Death Stranding trailer and a pants-destroying From Software tease and Bayonetta 3's announcement, and yet here we are.

So... that's a day-one.  I never put enough time into Gungeon when it landed on PS4, but Alex and I both agree - it's excellent.  I said, repeatedly at the time, that I wanted it on my Vita - but the Switch, which boasts four shoulder buttons over the Vita's two, is a better home.  

(Behind Chance, his shocked Vita nearly yelps a sharp gasp of jealousy.)

McCree's a mushroom.

Because he's such a fun-guy. 


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Overwatch - Winter Wonderland Returns Next Tuesday, Fan Art Explosion Happens Today.

Winter Wonderland returns to Overwatch next Tuesday, December 12th!  Woooo!

Jeff gives us very little hypeworthy information in this vid.  The short version is...

  • “A long-awaited Hanzo skin that you’ve seen before in one of our comics.” 
  • “Two of our favorite Junkers will also be getting legendary skins.”
  • (And others.)
  • Some maps got seasonal passes last year – King’s Row & Hanamura - this year they Christmas'd up the Black Forest arena map.
  • Mei’s Snowball offensive will be available in Black Forest.
  • A new event – Mei’s Yeti Hunt.
  • 5 Meis against one Winston.  The Yeti is played by another player.   Winston powers up with meet to get to Primal Rage mode, and then all the Meis have to run.  It's Evolve in Overwatch, basically. 

 The Hanzo skin we expect is this one.  If Hanzo appeared elsewhere in the comics I don't remember it, and people have been begging for the Hipster Hanzo skin:

And that's it.  You could have shown us a skin or two, Kaplan.  You dick.

So here's some fan art!


the incomparable MonoriRogue












And I think is is one of my favorite Mercies ever: