One of the great things about Destiny is the flexiblity in play styles. You can do what you want pretty much whenever and with whomever you want. Beware though. Rushing around like a loon without any focus will cause you to do some annoying stuff later.
The first and foremost of these things is resource collecting. You might not think that Spinmetal you’ve seen lying around the Cosodrome is worth picking up right now but when you realize you need up to eighty of them to get your post level twenty weapon upgraded. How many weapons do you use? I personally have four in common use. The same goes for all the locations. There is always a local resource that you WILL need at some point for upgrades. Get them whilst you are exploring and you save time in the long run. More importantly it gives you time to savour the environment rather than just sprinting from one mission to the next. I must stop doing that.
There is another point to this. Reputation. Below level twenty you can only gain Vanguard and Crucible reputation. By far the most efficient way to increase your reputation with a faction is to complete bounty missions. Each bounty has a clear requirement. Something like collect 200 sensor mites from the Cosmodrome. That means kill stuff in that zone and when you are done we’ll give you some experience points and some Vanguard reputation. The Crucible ones are often something like kill twenty five hunters in the Crucible.
Why bother with reputation though? Drop rates for legendary equipment are deliberately low. Often when they do drop they are not for a weapon you like using. That can get frustrating fast. Once you reach level two in a faction you will be able to buy legendary armour and at level three some weapons. Believe me this has been very handy. As I still haven’t had enough drops to load my character out completely. The icing on the cake though is that there is a tiny chance of getting a yellow bounty. These are a little more involved, a lot more fun to get and result in an exotic item.
I haven’t mentioned Vanguard and Crucible marks yet. Where glimmer is the currency for most vendors for reputation based vendors you need to spend marks. I’ll use Crucible marks as an example because I’ve made more use of them. I love playing Crucible matches but early on realized I could get extra benefit from completing bounties as I did them. I am currently level three and have bought two pieces of armour and a shotgun using the Crucible marks I gain every time I complete a match. You can only gain one hundred marks per server week (Tuesday is the reset day I think). This prevents players from farming these marks all the time and leads to a more balanced play style.
All of the information above will only really pay dividends once you reach level twenty but it will really be worth it. That isn’t the end though. What do you do when your Crucible reputation hits level three and there is little point raising it anymore? You buy a class item from the Dead Orbit, Future War Cult or New Monarchy faction vendor of course. With this equipped all your Vanguard and Crucible reputation goes to the specific faction. These factions can only be joined at level twenty and are a great way to get up to level two in a faction fairly quickly using both PvE and PvP bounties. These vendors have their own legendary equipment for you to purchase with Crucible marks.
The final point I’ll mention is that raising a faction level to three produced a legendary engram reward for me.
The title of this post is not really true. Yes I have finished the campaign by making it through The Black Garden but that is by no means the end of the game. I still haven’t found a legendary special weapon and the legendary and exotic equipment I do have has not been leveled up. I haven’t felt brave enough to attempt the raid yet. I want to raise my reputation with several factions about the embarrassing level they are at now. I also have other characters I want to level in different ways and focus on different things. Most importantly I am still enjoying the game.
What did I think of The Black Garden? In general I thought there could have been more plot in the second half of the campaign. All of this was wiped away as I entered The Black Garden though. The entrance was an exercise in perfection. As I walked through the vista that awaited me was astounding. Me and a friend just stood there for a minute admiring the view. That is where the level was clever. It made sure the players got to enjoy that moment of calm and clarity before the final onslaught.
I see this game a a hybrid shooter and Massive Multiplayer Online(MMO) game. One of the things I’ve always found frustrating in MMO games is that once you are a few levels above the monsters they cannot harm you at all. In Destiny they can still hurt you. Especially the more powerful creatures. If you want to raise the challenge the players can raise the level difficulty. This all means that even if a player has spent a while doing other things and is doing a level twenty mission with level twenty five characters the challenge was still there. Like most levels and particularly the boss encounters the players could not just run in and go toe-to-toe with all the nasty monsters. Teamwork, smart positioning and communication were vital to stay alive. I nearly died a couple of times in the final encounter because I thought it was finished. Several waves of baddies with a big nasty provide a pretty still challenge but I found some of the other levels more difficult.
The ending of this phase of the story was a little like Return Of The Jedi and I was expecting a little more. There was a missed opportunity to hook me further in towards buying the big update (DLC). One thing I’d really like to have seen was a subtly different story arc for each class. This would have added something extra for people leveling up a second character.
So what’s next for me in Destiny? I will be leveling up the other classes. I want to look at different factions as I’m hoping that later on there will be content that is only available for people with the correct faction. I’m still enjoying the PvP aspects and am looking forward to getting utterly destroyed in the new form coming this week. Equipment and skill choices will have much more impact and reward the people clever enough to tailor their equipment selections in the most efficient manner. I still haven’t plucked up the courage to try a Raid yet – my fear of causing us all to get wiped out is too great.
In summary I’ve played Destiny for over thirty hours and can see another thirty before the first DLC is released. For me that will be a key point. I probably would have bought it already if there were more details about what is included.
I don’t normally review games. In fact my only blog post on games was about the story for the Agent class in Starwars Galaxies (SWG). I had planned on writing a similar post about Destiny as I knew it was going to be worthwhile but my love of this game has got in the way.
My initial plan was to do nothing else other than go through the story arc on my own and then explore the rest of the game. I started playing on my own as was instantly immersed in the story. The tutorial if you can call it that starts with you running and quickly moves in to shooting and punching just to survive. It was quite intense. I’m now lvl 25 and parts of the game are still intense. There was a level of this game that involves no player interaction at all. Just a long scene. It sounds crap and it shouldn’t have worked but it did. There was a point to every cut-scene. The dialogue and the voice acting were of a quality that impelled you to watch and listen. The only negative for me is that so far the story dialogue does not alter if the player starts again with another class and so running through for the third time may get a little tiresome.
Visually this game was breathtaking. I created a second character just so I could watch the opening sequence again. Yes I know that was sad but I enjoyed it just as much. This has been my first next-gen game and if this has been any kind of indicator then there are great things to come. The soundtrack played an important role in my enjoyment of this game. As you approach a boss the music score ramps up the tension and I could feel my heart beating faster. These things combined to make this a truly enjoyable gaming experience.
As I said earlier I started out planning to run through the story. Then I started exploring. I ran around the open-world doing little Patrol missions just to get a feel for the worlds and then I spent way too much time in the team player versus player (PvP) games. Like Halo before it there is an Unreal Tournament feel to the PvP. This is a good thing. I’m too old for twitch gaming so I had to rely on cunning to get any kind of a decent score. I’m love to see an instant kill fusion rifle only mode harking back to the Insta-gib days. The jump and glide system is similar to Halo and gives a three dimensional feel to some of the levels. Death from above is really satisfying.
Destiny is not without a few niggling issues though. It is a hybrid first-person shooter and MMO. That means things like item farming and drop rates are always going to be an issue. Personally I’m all for rare stuff being genuinely rare and hard to get hold of. It was frustrating to have five legendary drops in a row all become rare items but it made that time a legendary pop seem all that more special. According to the next patch notes this will be tweaked this week. Even the patch notes for this game have been well done. The author of the final copy is obviously a gamer and has added a little humour to help us empathize with the developers. More importantly though they are clear and easy to read patch notes.
There is a lot of open-world but there is not a complete planet to traverse. I have wandered off the map a few times. There will be more content. There are rumours that Destiny has a ten year story arc. How many games that will cover is not clear but there are at least two sets of downloadable content (DLC) to purchase already. Personally I’d like to see a more detailed list of contents for these before I pay out nearly the cost of another game (but I probably will). The public events are an interesting idea that reminds me of the early days in Ultima Online (UO). Although the ones I’ve seen have only been small there is the potential for these to become epic battles that little the surface with piles of Fallen (pun intended).
Overall I’d say that this game has more in common with SWG than it does with Halo. I’d rather play this hybrid than either of the other two. Destiny is a well thought out game that will only mature and develop over the next year or two. I certainly don’t expect to be trading my copy in any time soon.
This cover screams for attention. From the ludicrous name to absurdity of the cover art. Potatoes do not grow in skulls, do they? This cover should be terrible but there is something in the layering of the photography and illustration that somehow makes the reader look at it for much longer than they should. This made it the ideal cover for this book. How on earth can anybody take an anthology about and even titled potatoes seriously? It was never going to happen.
Why potatoes? You’ll have to buy the book and read the introduction to find out.
I had a pre-conception that this book would contain a series of stories that replaced an object in the story with a potato. Thankfully this was not the case. Nearly all of these stories were obviously written with potatoes as the post important thing about them. From twisting morality tales to first contact with a new sentient race this collection has a diverse array of imaginative stories to tickle those taste buds.
I found this book quite inspiring. A good story-teller can turn any story in to an enchanting tale and this is a great example of that. It is cheaper than a frothy coffee and much more interesting.
The Girl At The End of the World Part Two
This is as you could probably tell from the title was the second part of the of Girl At The End of the World. It was darker than the first, had longer stories than the first and had more pages than any other Fox Spirit anthology so far. I usually have to think quite hard about my favourite story in a collection like this but for me there was a clear favourite. The Sharks of Market Street by Michael Ezell had me enthralled from start to finish. In my head it was like Waterworld meets Sharkanado with a plot and characters added in. There were plenty of other stories that I enjoyed and there were moments that despite the darkness I laughed. Alec McQuay’s Bunker Buster took the BGF from DOOM to another level and I liked it. There wasn’t a single story I disliked in this book.
The book was broken down in to three sections. Each had a different feel. Moving from fantasy through urban apocalypse and science fiction to the finale at the end of time this book had a flow and a rhythm that somehow managed to tie such diverse stories in to an almost seamless narrative. When I had a flick through before reading it I wasn’t sure about the ending having two much shorter stories after all the longer ones but it worked really well and there was a sense of a conclusion that is rarely as clear in an anthology.
This was a dark and at times gritty collection that really made me think about what the end of the world really means. For a publisher that has always avoided the pitfalls of the misogynistic side of disasters this book twists and turned through a myriad ways that that women could avoid that and in one story flipped the situation to expertly show that it was the acts themselves regardless of the gender in control that are to be feared and avoided.
I’m off to pack my go-bag now.
Hollow Space Book 1
The cover for this book makes it pretty clear what kind of book this is. As I started to read this book I couldn’t help relate the worm hole type effect and the space station to Deep Space Nine but it became apparent pretty quickly that it wasn’t anything like that. The technological retardation effect of hollow space is a great twist. Almost a steampunk feel to the far future. There is so much potential there and I can easily see how this could become a great series.
Some stories written by two authors can be clunky and obvious in the way they switch between the voices. There was one voice and the story flowed really well. The final quarter in particular was really well paced and almost impossible to put down. This book does have some dark and very nasty sections but in general there is a lightness and uplifting quality to this story.
This is a self-contained story with an ending but it is pretty clear that there are story arcs that are only going to be fully revealed in further books and personally I can’t wait to read them. The characters were vivid and interesting and the relationship between Kina and Sara felt a lot more passionate and real than can be found in a lot of similar novels.
This is a well written and fun read with just enough bite to keep the tension high.
The Girl At The End Of The World
There are two covers for this and the second volume of this book. I love them both but I probably prefer the other cover for the first volume. I’ve posted this picture though as I know I’ll read the second book and I will not post the other style cover for the second book because it has something on it I hate. Images of people smoking turn me right off. If it was the only cover option I would not buy the second book on that basis. We all have our petty dislikes. All that said I could sit here just looking at this superbly done wrap-around cover design for ages.
I think I’ve read all of the Fox Spirit collections and there is a certain feel to them. A darkness tinged with some acerbic humour. This collection is darker and more serious until you get to the very end. There is a sudden release of tension as you near the end. Then come the author bios. I always read them. They are usually dry and uninformative. Sometimes though there is a gem or two that makes me want to find out more about an author. I challenge you to read these and not chuckle when you get to Kate Laity. I did.
Usually when I read an anthology like this I have a clear couple of favourites. I’m struggling to raise any above the rest in this one though. There is a consistent quality throughout. The biggest surprise for me though was All Things Fall by Chloë Yates. I am used to a tongue in cheek filthy humour from this author but this was a poignant and thought provoking writing of a different style. I hope to read more stories like that.
I enjoyed the intensity of this book and will be looking out for more work by several of the authors.
The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform
The editor’s nephew Kyle J. Knapp was a talented poet and all round creative person until his tragic death. Fragments from his dream diary were used as prompts for short stories. The stories in this collection all stand apart but are somehow bound together by the surrealism of a dreamscape. I’m not describing it very well. These stories should not work well together and yet even the way that they jar is founded in the land of dreams. Have I even read this book or was that a dream?
I’ve said it before but it is worth saying again, any collection with a Patti Abbott short story is going to be worth a read. I’m yet to be proved wrong on this. Abbott’s story about twins was as creepy as it was enthralling. My favourite story though was Dust to Dust by Terrie Farley Moran. Dust to Dust is one of those stories that can’t fail to illicit an emotional response. It is a quality piece of writing.
I enjoyed this book immensely and I think that David Cranmer has done an outstanding job honouring Kyle J. Knapp.
40k 7th Edition
This is for me the most important part of this set. As I’ve come to expect the cover art is deceptively good. At first glance it looks simple but as you look at it further suddenly more detail pops out. I probably studied this cover for about ten minutes. The title is embossed both on the cover and the spine and gives a clue to the attention to detail in this book.
Opening up the book had me giggling like a six year old. I may have stroked it and muttered something about The Precious but that’s another system. I mentioned the clarity of the printing in the first part of my review but in the rules section it makes a huge difference. I can safely say that this is by far the clearest and easy to 40k rulebook to date. The contrast ratio is much better. Even in low light the words pop out at you. This is important when you’re playing a long game and you’re stressed and tired. Less mistakes and arguments from misreading the rules is always a good thing.
The rules themselves are well laid out and the index has worked for me every time so far. This is not the case with every game. This is a no frills book. There are a few pictures but generally this book is entirely focussed on how to play the game. I like it.
The rules themselves are iterative from 6th edition. Apart from the Psychic phase. That is new. I haven’t played Warhammer in a decade or so but I vaguely remember a time when the magic phase was all about countering your opponent and rarely did anything useful happen. That’s not the case. A Deny The Witch roll is not easy unless your psyker has been targeted by the power. Daemon summoning looks fun but I’m yet to try that. My mate intends to risk trying to get his Imperial Guard psykers to summon some Bloodletters in our next battle. I can’t wait to see if he fries himself and if I can get a lucky counter. Blessing type powers are much more difficult to counter and so multiple low level psykers across the board can be really useful. Probably the big winners in the new rules are Chaos Daemons. With Daemons being less likely to implode when summoning it makes the whole army list suddenly pop with potential. A Daemon Prince in a Chaos Marine army who is a psyker also suddenly seems like a decent points choice. I also put together a thousand point Grey Knight army where every unit contained psykers. That is a lot of potential fun in the psychic phase.
A few things have been tidied up. Cover and wound allocation seem cleaner and quicker. The cover rules also seems a lot easier to implement. One thing I can’t seem to see in the rules any more are the Bastion and Aegis Defence line. I haven’t bought some of the newer codexes so there could be something in one of those but no mention of points values in the rules (or I could be missing it). There are some ideas for special rules for specific types of area terrain. I like this. It adds character. Like the missions. Every battle will be different. It is a shame that the Tactical Objectives cards ran out so soon. I used a pre-cursor to those in a doubles tournament a couple of years ago and they really added something. Well done to the design crew for taking that on board.
There are plenty of other rule changes that I’m not going to detail here but I would say that as an overall system 7th edition is better than 6th. I guarantee that after reading these rules you’ll be looking at the psychic options for your army and how they can influence your tactical options. Despite the cost I’m glad I bought this set.
Warhammer 40k 7th Edition
If you haven’t seen the new rules it comes in three parts. This review is the part that I call The Pretties. Everything about this book screams quality. From the hard cover and awesome cover through to the very last image this book is high quality. The paper and printing quality are really good. The crispness of the images throughout this publication is just fantastic. The first section of this book introduces the artistic parts of the hobby in a really engaging way. I have to admit that I looked at starting a new army. I really liked the way that there was a great picture of an army and then it was followed up with some close-up shots and details of each unit. This gave me some really good ideas for my own armies. Both in terms of a theme and in documenting each unit.
There are some adverts for the digital editions (still no Windows mobile version for me) and other Black Library products like the awesome audio dramas they produce. Although these are present there are not too many and it takes nothing away from the superb quality of the book.
There is then a very small section on basic painting ideas before the pictures take over. Page after page of high resolution pages with no text just stunning imagery. At times as I turned a page and rotated a full-page spread I felt like a teenager again. This is seriously one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It was like picking up a Giger book and that is high praise indeed.
This book is going on my coffee table and is likely to stay there for a long time.