Return of the Wang

The Way of the Wang is long, and hard, and ribbed for her pleasure.

Shadow Warrior 2 is an excellent example of everything you would want from a sequel. You’ve got deeper character development mechanics, a greater selection of upgrades, numerous skills to unlock, a greater selection of weapons (with new weapon types), and an extensive story that offers more freedom. The swordplay might even be better in the sequel, too. But, if that’s not enough, they’ve even thrown in free DLC, which will not only add new missions as you progress through the story but offer greater customisation of weapons and upgrade gems.

It’s also ridiculously fun in the silliest way possible.

The close combat options are just as enjoyable as they were in Shadow Warrior. I’m particularly keen on the dual wielding options that allow me to slice, dice, and observe giblets as my foes fall to literal pieces. You also get more chances to burn, freeze, electrocute, and poison foes when swinging these. I’m not sure what that calculated murderous intent says about me.

Upgrading weapons is a particularly important mechanic for unlocking their full potential in combat. Upgrading Wang is pretty important, too. Both of these sets of mechanics will allow you to specialise in the things you want to do best and give you the ability to handle different situations. Likewise, investing in certain skills will give you better results with certain techniques or styles of combat. Sting, Vortex, and Force Slash comprise your active weapon techniques. While Healing Flame, Chi-Blast, Grip of Darkness, and Vanish comprise your active chi techniques. Each has a specific situation in which it will perform at its best, but they’re all equally useful in helping you survive the countless demons you’ll need to slay on your lengthier adventure.

It’s a lovely day to go to the video store.

The best surprise in Shadow Warrior 2 would have to be the final boss fight music. It was one of those perfect moments in video game history, where you’re trying to take this particularly important fight seriously but you’re somewhere between smiling and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I loved it, though. Which is, in my opinion, what makes Shadow Warrior (as a series) so great, as it never takes itself too seriously but is always enjoyable. There might be more grinding in the sequel but it’s enjoyable grinding.

Even the randomised loot was handled well.

Weapons (and some upgrade gems) will have specific statistics, while everything else will have randomised combinations of affixes which can create some truly unique (and powerful) bonuses for certain weapons. I’m not sure if it works from a set of prefixes and suffixes as an ARPG would but it does work quite well. You rarely find something that is completely useless.

That said, even if you do, you can easily reforge it with two other upgrade gems and have another chance to roll something usable. There is so much more to Shadow Warrior 2 than the previous instalment and it really helps to deliver a more enjoyable adventure. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m also starting to wonder when other first person action titles will start to employ as enjoyable close combat mechanics, rather than the repetitive left click spam. I’m particularly fond of swords in the first place but I’m more fond of them when you can do awesome things with them. Such as twirling around until you get motion sickness and your vision is clouded with blood and viscera. I’m also not sure what enjoying that sensation says about me.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 2)

Giblets! Glorious giblets!

If there’s one thing I can always find time to do it’s hack, slash, and smash various once living organisms into glorious now deceased giblets. That’s a sentence that could be taken out of context by future employers- so I sure hope that none of them ever find this blog. I could probably explain the original context articulately enough, though. Not that admitting you play video games is any better or worse than explaining you’re a psychopath when it comes to most employers. It’s not like I spend the majority of my free time at the moment playing video games.

Not at all. I’m… uh, being productive…?

It’s been an oddly good year for all things video games. I’ve finally finished Dark Souls II which has been looming over me for quite some time, I had great fun with Dark Souls III, and as a result I’ve been really excited for the recently released (for PC via Steam) Nioh. I can’t wait to see what brutal visceral combat combined with an ARPG loot system is like.

SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist have also provided hours of good ol’ fashioned fun. You know that warm, fuzzy, content feeling you get when playing video games? That. Which is prevalent in Shadow Warrior 2 as well. Something that I’ve been playing recently and will be writing about shortly. My absolute favourite experience this year would have to go to NieR: Automata, which was an exhilarating and exceptionally enjoyable adventure. I’ve not had this much fun with gaming for quite some time. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy Dark Souls III as much as I did but I really do want to go back through it. Maybe without a greatshield this time. Those are useful for most enemies but some bosses are much harder if you rely on a shield.

I’ve also finally replaced my 1tb HDD that held my game libraries with a 4tb HDD that now holds even more gaming goodness. It’s mostly an upgrade for convenience, as I could shuffle my existing HDD around and install things when I want to play them. But have you seen the size of video games these days? They’re huge! They’re getting even bigger, too! I don’t really envisage sitting there waiting for things to download before I can play them as enjoyable. What is this? The early 2000s where downloading MMORPGs cost you subscription time?

Now there’s a funny story for another time.

I’ve greatly enjoyed much of what I’ve played this year, which is good for a number of reasons but mostly because that’s why you play video games. To have fun. To enjoy them. To create ridiculously stupidly underpowered character builds and try to clear the toughest content. Or at least those are the reasons I play them. So it’s nice to be enjoying things again.

This is much more of an update than an explanation like the previous post, but it’s still relevant information. Especially if you enjoy my gaming content. There will likely be less of it in the future, as I’m playing less new things, but what content there is should be of higher quality, so I feel it’s a worthwhile trade. If you’re interested in any recommendations I might have you can always follow my Steam Curator store page. I may also be creating content about things I’ve played before (the blog was created) such as Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the like. But I’m going to be focused on clearing things I’ve not played before returning to those I have. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy then you’re in luck.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 1)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I wasn’t expecting to have a break in content but it’s been a busy few weeks. I decided earlier in the year that I wouldn’t force new content through if it wasn’t forthcoming- and it really wasn’t- so that’s why I took a break. But if all things go according to plan (which they never do) things should be more consistent soon. I’m hoping that this consistency will also reintroduce creative content as a more regular inclusion, as that has been practically non-existent for some time. There are reasons for that, though.

Most of which are related to the acquisition of materials.

There’s definitely been a continued trend of running into issues with various materials for numerous reasons this year. But (hopefully) those issues should be sorted with recent acquisitions. I wouldn’t count on every issue being sorted, though. Just that things are easier to do now because I’ve got materials that I’m confident won’t repeatedly stop working properly.

I’ve managed to get the full set of Faber Castell Polychromos, which is a pretty important acquisition as I can now illustrate so many more things than I ever could before as I had such a limited selection of colours with the old set. I also decided to try a 0.05 Copic Multiliner as I’ve run into more problems replacing the 0.03 nib. I’m starting to think that it’s just too small (and therefore too fragile) to replace properly. It’ll either work or it won’t, which, if it doesn’t, I’ve pretty much wasted my money. As I’ll just need to get new nibs again. So (hopefully) the 0.05 nib will be thicker and sturdier. The 0.05 is also a more appropriate nib for the things I like to do. It’s a nice compromise between the 0.1 nib and something thinner.

I’ve also spent a while sorting through my various materials and old sketchbooks recently. I’ve mostly worked out a way to store things that works for both long term storage and short term usage, which is nice, as I’ve been trying to do that for a while, which should hopefully make me more productive. Especially when I’m now able to select a set of materials easily. I’ve even got a box of painting supplies which has my recently acquired Winsor & Newton Galeria tubes in it. I’ll be testing those to see if they’re any better than the Daler Rowney System 3 tubes.

I really hope you’re enjoying the use of acquired and/or acquisition.

I’ve even invested in digital painting and illustrating by replacing my Wacom Bamboo with a Wacom Intuos Pro. It’s a fairly standard upgrade, which is ridiculously noticeable as I’m now somewhat capable of sketching digitally. So I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to do something good with that. I’ve still got much to learn about digital approaches, though.

In many ways it has been an interesting period of time that has opened up many new opportunities, but, due to being busy with innumerable things, I’ve yet to capitalise on any of them. But the good news is that they aren’t going anywhere. So it’s not like I’ve got a specified time limit within which I need to use these materials. As I said above, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do something with them soon but I’ll undoubtedly be rusty at this point. Which only really means it might take a few attempts to get a passable result. But I thank everyone for sticking around and listening to my ramblings (and overuse of acquired and/or acquisition). It is very much appreciated and I hope you enjoy the content I’ve got in mind for the next few months.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

From the Ashes

Greenish tints are common in post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Devil’s Crossing has seen better days. Mostly the ones where they’re not under siege from a fallen city overflowing with horrific monstrosities. But, seeing as they are under siege, and their militia is more or less useless, you’re going to be busy for a few days. Or weeks. Assuming you aren’t immediately swallowed up by the void. Ashes of Malmouth is the utterly fantastic continuation of Grim Dawn, which features both new Masteries and new story content (alongside a heapin’ helpin’ of new items legendary and otherwise).

It’s a good ol’ fashioned expansion.

The two new Masteries alone are worth the price of admission, as they can either be used on their own or with any of the other Masteries which opens up myriad possibilities. I’ve been trying the Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) and the combination of summoning with close combat is pretty fantastic. Having a menagerie of unholy beasts and skeletons is pretty neat.

That said, the new story content is excellently introduced through a series of breadcrumb quests which take you back to Burrwitch and then to heart of the void. From there you journey to Malmouth and (quite literally) fight your way to the heart of the city. Gaining ground and losing it in equal measure as you push forwards. It’s a surprisingly extensive journey which will introduce you to new factions nestled deep in marshes and crumbling cities, and will require you to make choices, as your actions will dictate who will welcome you and who won’t, and those interactions will help you understand the true nature of these factions. As expected from Grim Dawn there is a wealth of choice and consequence that’ll keep you busy for hours to come.

Crown Hill definitely has an infestation problem.

I’ve had a few pangs of nostalgia while playing through this expansion, too. It gives me similar feelings to those I had when I first experienced Diablo II Lord of Destruction, wherein the snowy plains of Act V kept me company while I adjusted to the innumerable challenges that lay ahead. I’m also quite excited to see how the Death Knight develops. I’ve mostly experienced Ashes of Malmouth with my Warder (Shaman/Soldier), which, besides being my first character, doesn’t have a particularly strong or effective build.

It has great burst potential but terrible survivability.

However, despite the build drawbacks, I’ve greatly enjoyed all that I’ve experienced so far. I’ve still got to find those new dungeons, too. I would say that I’ve seen the majority of what this expansion has to offer, but I know that isn’t true as it is so incredibly content dense. I’ve definitely missed quests and NPCs along the way. Not to mention the results of different choices.

It’s an incredibly easy recommendation to make if you love ARPGs. Grim Dawn is an expertly crafted and beautifully complex yet intuitive and easy to learn ARPG, which only becomes better (in every way) with this expansion. That and you can raise skeletons. All the cool kids are doing that. I’m not really sure what the Inquisitor does- but I’m sure that’s neat as well. I’m quite excited to see what’s coming next for Grim Dawn, but, until then, I’ve got to roam the fields of Wightmire with my Death Knight. She’s due to loot something really cool any day now. Or maybe I’ll try to make sense of the Devotion screen and pick something out for her. I don’t really open that screen much. It’s big and confusing.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Purloiner of Cinders

That’s a fairly accurate description of what I do.

I’ve also been known to farm Silver Knights for their equipment, collect spells of many different varieties, collect armour sets that I’ll never use, and sometimes even fight bosses to progress the story. I became the Lord of Hollows, too. That was quite an interesting marriage ceremony. Dark Souls III is an adventure that I’ve been eager to begin, but one that I approached with a build that focused on two things I’ve scarcely used before- Strength weapons and Pyromancies. It’s an odd combination and it’s not the easiest build to make effective.

But I get to throw smouldering fireballs at people. Which explode into lava.

I’ve greatly enjoyed the build, but I will admit that I mostly fell back on using my weapon and shield instead of the varied Pyromancies. Which still feel like (mostly) PvP options to me. That said, I’m not too upset about that as I’ve been able to make use of a greatshield. Which is also a first for me. I’ve had varying success with bosses for obvious reasons, too.

As is becoming common practice for Dark Souls, Human Effigies (like Humanity before them) have been replaced by Embers which are much less required as they only really boost your maximum health until you die. It’s a nice boost- but it’s not as necessary as using a Human Effigy because you’re missing half of your health. Many of the mechanics you’ve become accustomed to have returned as well. Infusions allow you to enhance or completely change the damage type or scaling on your weapon, the reinforcement process remains unchanged, and the most major of differences is the introduction of Ashen Estus Flasks. Which are like regular Estus Flasks (and they share collective charges) but recover FP instead of HP.

Let’s take the scenic route.

FP is a rather important mechanic but only if you intend to cast spells or use weapon arts. It replaces the previous mechanic of attuning multiple copies of the same spell for extra uses and introduces a casting resource (FP), which is recovered with Ashen Estus Flasks, and so every spell has a cost, while spending points in Attunement will give you more FP and more slots. It’s probably the broadest change and it’s a little confusing at first, but very simple once you get the hang of it. I’m actually really supportive of the change. It feels balanced.

Likewise, weapon arts allow you to use special moves with certain weapons.

These special moves will also drain FP but they’re often worth the cost. While some of the more unique transposed weapons will have entirely different movesets to what you may expect, which makes those weapons interesting for reasons other than scaling and/or damage. It’s an enjoyable experience overall which still holds a lot of secrets (and optional bosses) for you to discover.

Likewise, the Dark Souls series as a whole is quite enjoyable. There are some less than enjoyable moments or bosses, but it’s mostly a very well made series, which has the ability to be experienced in different ways over different playthroughs, and will most certainly give you hours of entertainment. It also tends to teach you how creative you can be with profanity. I’ve got a few other builds I want to try with Dark Souls III as well. Mostly those that include Sorceries or something that suits my usual build. Even the dual wielding weapons look fun. I’ve also yet to make my way through the DLC, which I know are quite difficult and feature several multiple phase bosses. Those are my favourites- that’s when the despair really sets in!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

June to September 2017

Prepare for an unexpectedly creative period of time.

We started with Mushroom Fluidity which looked at a recent material study, which was soon followed by Comparison in Blood, and then by Comparison in Iron. Both of which continued the trend of approaching materials I’ve used for a long time in new ways. These were followed by Greatly Textured Horns which not only looked at ink and how I’m currently using it, but also reintroduced some of my oldest (and most reliable) ink pens. These material studies have definitely helped me understand more about my creative processes.

Jovial July contributed to the creativity as well.

Through which I added new categories to both the Art and Gaming pages and made minor changes to my personal site. There have been and there will continue to be many changes to the collection of sites, with most of the changes being related to the accessibility of content and ease of using the sites. Hopefully making it easier to find what you’re looking for.

We’ve had a rather mixed bag of gaming content recently. Starting with Priests of Rathma, which looked at the somewhat recent release of the Rise of the Necromancer pack for Diablo III that (amongst other things) added the Necromancer as a playable class. This was followed by The Sunshine Estate which looked at a long awaited return to Darkest Dungeon via a Radiant Mode campaign. We then experienced The Realisation of a Dream which looked at the adventures of Neptune and friends in Megadimension Neptunia VII. Last but not least we also saw the conclusion of a Sorceries with no shield build in Dark Souls II through Shieldless in Drangleic. As you can probably tell- we’ve had our fair share of adventures recently.

Rather surprisingly we’ve looked at a relatively new Early Access title, too. It’s been a while since we’ve done that, but First Impressions of… Low Magic Age looks at a promising RPG with a d20 System ruleset derived from the Wizards of the Coast Open Game Licence. If you’re confused by that sentence, don’t worry- I was, too. There are more features that have yet to be added, but for what is there, and certainly for the ridiculously low price it is available for, it’s definitely worth looking at if you’re a fan of tabletop RPGs.

We’ve even spent some time in Azeroth recently.

Firstly in an attempt to conclude preparations to access Legion content, but, rather spontaneously, to experience Legion content after an impromptu decision to buy the newest expansion. You can read about this return via either Garrison Architects (which mostly looks at Warlords of Draenor) or through the dedicated category for the series. You’re a Highlord, Moggie.

While I am still making numerous changes to the collection of sites, we’ve already seen a great deal of them and one that I think is more noticeable with this post is that there is slightly less content in recent months. However, what content there has been is generally of higher quality. That said, there were meant to be more posts than there have been but I’ve been busy with personal things recently which have knocked a post or two off the list. I’m still enjoying what I do, but I am looking to change some things around and some of those changes may be more drastic than others. In any case, I hope you- the reader- are still enjoying the content I’m writing about. It’s an awful lot of fun to write in most cases.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Shieldless in Drangleic

It’s a dangerous world out there.

Likely even more dangerous when you willingly opt out of using a shield entirely. That said, I’ve started to wonder if I rely too much on my shield. Especially when I don’t really build characters around heavier armour which are more likely to require a shield, or, at the very least, make good use of one. Dark Souls II is an experience I don’t really talk about all that much. That’s not to say that the experience itself is bad, just that I made a bad decision in thinking that Miracles would be a good secondary damage option. When they’re really not.

Well, no, they are- you just have to progress pretty far into the story to get those Miracles.

Which meant that I’d need to start over with a new build and I never really got around to doing that. Until recently. Which is when I decided I’d run a full Sorceries build with limited weapon options and no shield. I’ll admit- it sounds like a bad idea. Which it was with some bosses. But it was something different that helped me to understand when a shield is actually useful.

The majority of character progression and development mechanics remained the same as they were in Dark Souls. But the most significant difference would be the introduction of Human Effigies, which essentially act as Humanity but also restore the temporary maximum health loss that occurs when you die. They’re not particularly required, either. Especially if you have the ring that reduces the amount of maximum health you lose with each additional death. I do believe the Sorceries have remained mostly the same as well. That said, for me, the greatest challenge was defeating bosses like the Lost Sinner with no reflexive shield raising. I always do that panic button press hoping that it will absorb the damage when I’m about to get hit.

Shower him with Soul Arrows!

I’ve had a lot of fun with the build, though. It’s definitely different as I’m usually doing most damage with a weapon and then relying on Sorceries for some enemies. Whereas, with this build, I’m having to think a lot more about actually rolling effectively as I don’t have a panic button. If I roll badly I’m going to get hit. Which makes equipment weight more important, which in turn reduces the number of armour sets I could wear without investing heavily into its governing attribute. Casting time is also something I’m now much more aware of.

It wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting, either.

Which many would say is because of the inherent damage of Sorceries, but in many ways I felt almost underpowered in the earlier areas as I had limited Sorceries to attune and these were my main sources of damage. But that’s part of the challenge. When using a Strength/Dexterity weapon you have steadily increasing damage, whereas Sorceries are much more spiky.

It took a fairly long time to come back to Dark Souls II but I’m glad that I did. I didn’t own the Scholar of the First Sin version until recently, so these are all observations of a character in the original version but I do have the DLC for that version. So I’ll likely be exploring those at a later date. Until then, I’ll likely be moving on to the next in the series with which I will likely try another different build. But, again, as I said with the first Dark Souls, the character customisation and progression is what makes the series so enjoyable. It’s great to always be trying new weapons or building around different attributes. I can easily recommend Dark Souls II, though. It’s different- but it’s the enjoyable kind of different.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie