Priests of Rathma

Call forth the spirits of the fallen.

Diablo III has seen two rather significant and quite exciting changes recently. The first of those is patch 2.6.0 which introduces six new areas (along with new bounties), hordes of new enemies, various quality of life tweaks, and Challenge Rifts. I’m most intrigued by the concept of Challenge Rifts. They’re presented as something different to both the Campaign and Adventure Mode, in which you use a specific build (based on another player) to complete a weekly static dungeon. The aim is to complete the dungeon faster than the original player.

It does make me wonder if they’ll include gimmicky builds, too.

Those could be interesting (and challenging) in their own way. Rather than just trying to figure out how to do the best with what you’ve got, you’d have to figure out what the gimmick is and how you actually use it. On the other hand, these gimmicky builds could also be ridiculously frustrating if their particular gimmick isn’t enjoyable or particularly viable.

The second of these changes is the introduction of the Necromancer. The class that everyone was secretly hoping would be carried over from Diablo II (like the Barbarian), but never made it into the original or expansion release. Though many felt that the Witch Doctor was basically a different kind of Necromancer. To access the new class you’ll need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer pack which includes the class, two character slots, two stash tabs, and various cosmetic rewards. The Necromancer is fully voiced throughout the Campaign with new class specific items, new Legendary and Set items, an extensive set of skills, and the ability to raise legions of the dead. It’s also awesome. Definitely one of the best classes Diablo III has.

As an almost exclusive summoner they have the capability to summon a literal army, while making use of Revive as and when corpses are available to further bolster their ranks, or turning those corpses against their foes in an explosive cacophony of blood. As a warrior they’re able to bolster their defences with Bone Armor and regenerate health through Curses. Or, if you prefer, they can make use of an arsenal of spells such as Bone Spear and Bone Spirit to face foes from afar. They can even sacrifice portions of their health to deal more damage.

Flexibility is built into everything they do.

I’ve always been fond of Poison Dagger Necromancers in Diablo II and I had hoped there would be a similarly viable build here. Not only is it viable, but it’s incredibly enjoyable and requires an amount of concentration to make best use of. Mostly due to the unique mechanics of Bone Armor. But I was pleasantly surprised that the option was available and is actually useful.

I find myself arguing between Corpse Explosion and Revive on my first Necromancer. I could have a constant stream of newly resurrected minions with Revive, or I could have explosive corpses with Corpse Explosion. Explosive. Corpses. That don’t even cost anything to explode due to their finite nature. In fact, I love Corpse Explosion so much that both of my Necromancers use it. I’ll admit that I might have a problem. Maybe. I’m particularly thrilled with this class content pack, too. Entirely worth the price of admission. Which hasn’t always been something I’ve been able to say about Diablo III, but I’m hopeful for the future with the many content patches we’ve seen and the excellent quality present in this class a whole.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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The Darkening of Tristram

Let’s go back to where it all began.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series Blizzard is bringing a unique event to Diablo III. This event hopes to recreate the town of Tristram, the cathedral where it all began, and even reintroduces some of the classic sought after items from the original Diablo. These items (as far as I can tell) are there for flavour, as only a select few can be used for transmogrification appearances or cosmetic effects. There’s also a shard of the iconic red soulstone available as a Legendary Gem for those who fell The Dark Lord.

It’s an event that lasts roughly a few hours if you’re looking to see it all.

It also features a rather interesting screen filter (and adjusted camera angle) to bring back the feeling of the original. Along with all of the original music, ambience, and sound effects which have given me more than a few pangs of nostalgia in my heart. That could also be my cholesterol. But I’m pretty sure it was the nostalgia doing its thing.

There are a handful of achievements available during the event, too. These are fairly simple things for the most part. The most interesting being that you brave the horrors with a fresh new character and complete the event. Which may be slightly more difficult if you don’t feel like completing the event in full in one run, as I don’t think there’s any way to leave and then to return to where you were. Which is slightly odd, as the original Diablo featured more than a few paths back to the surface from specific levels. It’s a pretty interesting event, though. If you’re a fan of several Blizzard titles you’ll be pleased to know that most of their major titles also have smaller time limited events. All with Diablo themed items and rewards.

Naturally it wouldn’t be a Diablo event without some mention of Wirt and that’s perhaps my most treasured acquisition from this event. The Royal Calf, a baby cow that bears a resemblance to the murderous cows you would encounter in the Secret Cow Level. Which is now safely nestled alongside my other pets. Following me into glorious battle and to great riches! You can also collect a special version of The Butcher as a pet. But he’s not going anywhere near my cow! I love that little guy.

I don’t care if the steaks are high- he’s not having him!

I am slightly disappointed that the event is only available during January (at least that’s the plan so far), but it’s a series which has always meant a lot to me and one that I’ve enjoyed for the past seventeen years. It’s also one that has influenced me both as an artist and as a gamer. So I’ve made a considerable effort in participating in (and enjoying) as much of it as I can.

I’m looking forward to the Necromancer, too. It’s going to be interesting seeing a seventh character class added to Diablo III, it’s also going to be interesting to see what kind of abilities they have besides those we’ve been shown already. I wouldn’t mind if this is how Diablo III played out, either. Small character class packs alongside minor content updates. Not to forget the refreshed content for Seasons that rolls around every so often. While I may have had my criticisms of Diablo III in the past (and they’re criticisms I still have), I like the new direction that it has been going since the release of Reaper of Souls. It’s improving ever so slightly with every new patch and new release.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Chronicon

Delve deep into the secrets of this world.

Chronicon is an ARPG which features four distinct character classes, more randomised loot than you’ll ever have space for, quests and side objectives of every flavour, randomised dungeons (in the style of Diablo II), and more monsters than any one person could conceivably slay. The only potential negative I can think of is that it’s in Early Access. That said, I don’t really consider that a negative as this title seems to have made great strides in recent months. In fact- it seems to always be improving something somewhere.

I think the most recent update added bags.

These bags seem to have an ever increasing number of slots, too. So you’ll be able to find new ones and increase your inventory size as you go along, which, alongside your character stash (which doesn’t upgrade) and your shared stash (which does upgrade), means you’ll never have to worry about loot again. Or you will but you’ll do so less frequently.

The four character classes each have their own talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Each is then further enhanced with four skill trees (which you can freely invest in) for active skills, passive skills, auras, buffs, default attack replacement skills, and more! There’s even class specific equipment which allows you to further develop the class. I’m not entirely sure if they have specific class skill bonuses on their equipment- but I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve already seen incredibly powerful set items which boast abilities I’ve not encountered elsewhere. If you’re playing on Veteran or higher you’ll also have the chance to snag legendary items, which are rumoured to be so exceptionally awesome you’ll never want to leave home without one.

Speaking of difficulty levels, there are a range of them from the casual to the extreme with certain aspects only being available on the higher ones. Like legendary items. It functions similarly to how you could scale up the difficulty in Diablo II. The enemies are tougher but you get more crystals, experience, and you have a higher chance to find better equipment. So there’s definitely a reward for pushing further up the difficulty ladder. Those experienced with ARPGs could likely start on Veteran without too many issues.

Heroic would probably be a good entry point, too.

The current playable content features the first three Acts. Each has its own story, quests, and side objectives. It’s honestly surprisingly how polished and playable this is for a pre-release product. It’s already boasting a whole host of different features which are all fully functional and (in my experience) bug/glitch free, which only makes it more enjoyable.

If you’re a fan of ARPGs then I can wholeheartedly recommend Chronicon to you. There is an incredible foundation already present, which will no doubt be built upon to further improve all aspects of the experience in future updates. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve played so far, too. It’s been great to explore the depths of these ancient halls and not even realise it’s 2am and I was going to bed two hours ago. Which is a pretty rare thing nowadays. It’s an absolute steal for the price as well. Being only £6.99 (at full price), in a sale this is probably one of the best deals you’re going to get if you’re in the mood for a little dungeon crawling. Or, rather, a lot of dungeon crawling. Check it out- you won’t be disappointed!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Ember

Awaken once more to a world in peril.

Ember is an impressive fantasy RPG in which, you, the last of the Lightbringers, must unite the three races and reawaken your dormant abilities. You were a great hero who was killed in a war many years ago, but have since been resurrected by a secretive order who believe you are the last hope for the world of Domus. You’ll need to learn much of the world, of who you were, and of the Embers. You won’t be alone, though. There are three others who will offer their services on the journey ahead. Each with their own area of expertise.

Character creation is incredibly fluid in Ember. The Lightbringer begins with balanced attributes and no particular specialisation, with each level offering the opportunity to spend two points in any of the four attributes you feel are most appropriate. Party members have their own classes which loosely define their roles and their attribute points can be automatically invested.

Or you can decide how best to develop each character.

Active and passive abilities are all tied to the equipment the characters are wearing. There are three possible active abilities and two possible passive abilities per character, with each piece of equipment providing something from a different pool of abilities. For instance, ranged weapons will always sample from a pool of abilities exclusive to that item class. You won’t find the same abilities on armour. In this way, you can create diverse character builds. I built my Lightbringer around heavy two-handed weapon damage with healing, while Coren, the Warrior, held the line with high health and several crowd control abilities. Later in the story you’ll even be able to buy these abilities via Runes which can be freely attached to your equipment.

Ember also features a myriad of crafting systems. Crafted equipment is generally superior to everything else (of an equivalent level) available anywhere else, while brewed potions are also surprisingly useful. Cooked food is often completely superior to potions in the earlier areas, too. It’s a really satisfying crafting system. It’s quite simple, it’s easy to manage, and the only drawback is that it’s quite confusing figuring out how you craft items until you reach the Farmlands. As that is the first place (that I’m aware of) that sells patterns and molds.

There are a range of quests to undertake, too. Everything from exploring dusty caves, to visiting cities, to hunting down villainous curs. Exploration is encouraged as there are many side quests, random events, and hidden treasures to discover. I was impressed by how freely I could explore the world around me from the moment I left the starting area.

I was equally as impressed by the number of things that could kill me.

I finished the main campaign with every side quest (that I know of) in just over twenty hours. I’d say this was a fair amount of time for the price paid. I’d also suggest that there is a fair amount of replayability in this title. It was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure that was a pleasure to experience. Oddly humorous at times, too. Ember is definitely one of the best purchases I’ve made this year and one that I can easily recommend. I wanted to record some footage of combat, exploration, and the like for just that reason. I’d like you to be able to see all of these things for yourself and make a decision based on whether you think it looks fun to play. I’ll admit, the footage leans a little heavily on combat- but there’s a lot of combat to be had!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Ballad of Caius

I apologise profusely for that.

As a forewarning this post contains very light spoilers. While Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess is a post-story DLC, it doesn’t really reference the post-story events if you don’t have the story content in the explanations or videos. Which I don’t. As copyright claims caused me an inconvenience which led me to change what I’d upload and share. Still, if you’d prefer not to know anything about Final Fantasy XIII-2 then I’d suggest you turn away now. Or click the back button. Or even close the window.

Don’t even think about clicking on the YouTube video below, either.

Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess continues the events of the main story to what some may consider a more satisfactory conclusion. Personally, it feels more like an introduction to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII to me. In that you’re fighting as only Lightning in a series of two battles which have fairly different rules compared to what you’re used to.

The first and most interesting of those rules for those who are fighting for the first time is that dying is kind a good thing. As, whether you win or lose the fight with Caius, you’ll still gain CP which will advance Lightning’s roles and abilities. Second of those rules is that none of her Paradigm Roles are actually featured in the main story. For instance, while a Knight is sort of like a Sentinel it functions with a completely different ability. So, if you’re like me, and took a Blast Wave to the face because you wondered why reducing the damage would matter, you’ll be pleased to know she has a complete immunity ability as a Knight. Thusly, you take no damage. Not less. So, there are a few things you’ll need to adjust to.

The next most interesting part of this is that Lightning at full strength almost can’t die. In that, the only way you could lose is to switch to the Conjurer and just cast buffs on yourself over and over again. Even the Sorcerer would actually damage/wound Caius. That said, you will hilariously get an incredibly bad score for using Lightning at full strength due to how easy it is. But you can also weaken or strengthen Lightning if you’d like to adjust the difficulty. So don’t worry if you accidentally hit full strength.

In fact, I think you always hit full strength once you’ve defeated Caius in the second phase.

If you’re successful against Caius in the second phase (with a five star rating) with Lightning below Lvl 10 you’ll get rewarded with a Paradigm Pack addition. The Knight of Etro variant of Lightning herself, as a rather powerful Commando with many unique(?) abilities which probably make her the best Commando you can acquire. With a considerable amount of health, too.

Needless to say- it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to adjust to different mechanics than you’re used to, you’ll be fighting alone, and you’ll only have the stock items and abilities the DLC affords you. But it does close off the story rather nicely and opens the transition into Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII quite well. Which is actually my next stop on my journey through the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. As I’d like to complete them all in order. Rather looking forward to the next one, too. Oddly, despite Lightning being the only playable character, the equipment list is vastly broader than in the previous two instalments. The combat also looks to be quite the change of pace as well.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Killer is Dead

I’ll see you on the dark side of the Moon.

Killer is Dead is a delightful hack and slash title featuring exhilarating combat, a unique creative direction (which reminds me of 80s/90s anime and manga), more dashing and (button) mashing than you can shake a reasonably sized katana at, and a story which makes less and less sense the more you learn about it. Until the very end. Then it becomes fairly clear as to where the story has been leading you with these character introductions, prompts, nightmares, and so on.

You’ll take up the mantle of an expert swordsman Mondo. Gifted with exceptional combat prowess, Gekkou (an ancient and powerful sword that feeds on Blood), the mysterious left arm Musselback, and the ability to gain strength from defeated foes. Each of these elements are later fully unlockable and upgradable via the character development system.

There’s also a really weird set of romantic side missions which unlock new weapons.

Or, more accurately, new modifications for the left arm Musselback. There are also costumes which Mondo can unlock along with modifications for the Musselback, but these are mostly received post-story completion and are quite pricey. However, the price is more than matched with the power of their upgrades. For instance, the Dark Booster modification allows you to use an unlimited amount of Blood. You’ll never run out. While the Ulti-Mondo costume unlocks a heightened, more deadly, more robust combat style. There are a lot of upgradable options to further Mondo’s abilities in certain ways by collecting a near-endless stream of Moon Crystals.

One thing I’ve been really impressed with is how fluid, enjoyable, and intense the combat feels. Initially you’ll only have to fight a few enemies at a time, but, as you unlock later Episodes and more side missions, the stakes get raised fairly high. However, the ability to dodge attacks within a fraction of a second and follow up with devastating counter attacks is always a pleasant experience. It’s one of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed this particular title- the combat never feels slow, stodgy, or laborious.

Another thing that I’ve been really impressed with is how easy it is to change from Episodes, to side missions, to romantic side missions, and even difficulty settings. If you decide on one difficulty but it’s too hard/too easy you can easily switch it up or down. You can continue the story or divert course. You can even farm Moon Crystals and Health/Blood upgrades if you want.

It’s refreshing to be so in control of how, where, and when you progress.

There are, as always, a few words of caution. I’ve not played this title without a controller and so I can’t say nor recommend the PC control system (as I’ve never used it). There are also a few times where I felt that some kind of minimap or area map would have been useful. The former is only a concern if you don’t have a controller, the latter is more a minor (personal) criticism. That said, I wouldn’t say it isn’t worth the money (even at full price)- as I got this in a Steam sale for an absolute steal at £2.99- and I’d gladly have paid the full amount. It’s an awful lot of fun if you enjoy a unique visual style, a quirky story, fluid combat, and some really interesting boss battles.

Needless to say I highly recommend this one!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Guild Wars 2: Tyrian Travels (Pt. 7)

I wonder how much ectoplasm (in weight) it takes to make up one Glob of Ectoplasm.

I’m thinking that it’d take quite a bit. Then again, they do seem somewhat plentiful and they seem to be in all manner of things- so maybe not so much. Maybe they don’t conform to the same definitions of weight we would use in the physical realms. Maybe they do. Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this and should just indulge in their purple-y goodness.

Crafting is something that continues ever onwards for the patrons and contributors of the Bovine Appreciation Association. For those unaware, as I haven’t exactly referred to it by name before, that’s the name of my guild. One of my guilds (another personal guild) in Guild Wars was named after my love of cats, so, it felt only right that this one should be related to cows, as another cat related guild would have been too simple to do. These are the kinds of decisions that I never want to make, though. Just in case I don’t like the end result.

However, the only thing I wish different for this guild is an actual cow emblem. But that’s a minor detail.

Chef is still the most successful discipline and just shy of 400, now. While the Weaponsmith and Jeweler both edged over 300. With the Tailor, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, and Huntsman all trailing just shy of 200. Three of the latter four are trailing due to Cotton Scraps, which, like Jute Scraps before them, are proving to be quite elusive. Huntsman is trailing due to a lack of Seasoned Wood Logs which is mostly due to me not being in those zones recently. That said, I’ve got a good number of characters who can go out to collect those materials while levelling soon. So I don’t really worry too much about Huntsman as it requires two things that are abundantly available.

Once the majority edge past 400 (apart from Chef and Jeweler who stop there) I’ll be happy with the crafting. The last points seem to be mostly related to either exotic or ascended gear, while new materials are not usually used, and those that are are parts of the crafting discipline itself, so we’ll have covered the bulk of the work by then.

The Mesmer, Kairn, recently passed Lvl 70 and is now working towards varied objectives in some of the highest level zones available.

He also went through five chapters of his personal story (in a chunk) which net him nearly six levels. This was an unexpected experience gain on his part and it changes the way I’ll approach the personal story with the others. I’ll probably start their personal story around Lvl 40-45. Get them some experience, items, and a bit of help along the levelling process. However, it was a happy unexpected occurrence. Unlike falling down that chasm in Mount Maelstrom, which, while it didn’t kill me, brought several elementals out to play. (Which also didn’t kill me.)

We’ve also welcomed the last of the characters (the Necromancer) into the fold recently. While I originally hoped for him to be a minion master I wasn’t too impressed with the minions, or their abilities, and so he’s testing out a close range AoE build. Inflicting several conditions but also hitting like a freight train at the same time.

Finally, regarding the above recording, I figured it would be more effective (and a little more explanatory) than another screenshot. Recorded it Saturday afternoon so it’s not fully up to date (like Kairn being pre-Lvl 70) but still relevant.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie