My Destiny 2 Adventure Will Be Ending Soon. Probably.

When Destiny 2 came out I was pretty happy to be able to finally get into this behemoth of a franchise, and on my gaming platform of choice: the PC. I had followed Destiny at a high level and had seen all the ups and downs of that game’s release and subsequent expansions, and my hope was that Bungie had learned from those mistakes then to produce a superior product later. Generally speaking, this has not been the case.

Now, Destiny 2 is a pretty amazing experience. The shooting is just sublime, with each of the dozens upon dozens of weapons having their own combination of traits that lends to a totally unique feel. The story is just a way to bootstrap you into the end game gear grind, so while it’s nothing to write home about it’s a long sequence of set piece moments that spits you out to start the real game.

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As with any game, one’s time with it is full of amazing experiences, and I’ve had my share since Destiny 2 came out. I’ve messed up the plans of the Cabal on Earth, burned out the Hive on Titan, smashed the Vex on Nessus, sent the Taken back to wherever the hell they came from on Io. I’ve participated in an uncountable number of public events on all of these worlds with fellow players, done a bit of PVP in the Crucible, and was basically dead weight for my fireteam in a few Strikes.

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The first set of expansions came out for Destiny 2, horribly overpriced and half-assed attempts to extend the gameplay. They were great at pissing off players who shelled out basically enough for a full priced game, but received two lackluster experiences.

I’m thankful I waited until I could snag both for under twenty bucks.

At that price the expansions were a bit more palatable, and both certainly looked amazing. I romped through time in the Vex simulations on Mercury with Curse of Osiris, and blew the crap out of a Worm God (yes.. a worm god if you can believe it) on Mars with the Warmind expansion.

 

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Through all of this was the ever present grind for more loot to increase your power level and get… more loot. The grind is infinite, and satisfying in one of those manipulative ways that modern games are designed to exploit. Even though the overall experience seems simple and repetitive, it’s still a lot of fun to take part in. Throwing the game up for a few minutes of play is easy enough, and can extend to hours without much effort.

Overall, my time with Destiny 2 has been a pretty cool experience.

Which brings me to my ultimate point of how I’m most likely to be giving up on Destiny 2 as it approaches the launch of its latest expansion. You see if there’s one thing this game has taught me it’s how much of a money grab the franchise is. There’s a meta gaming loop here, whereby customers pay money for something that’s not as good as the previous content, then small trickles of changes come out to show how the developers are “listening”. That enjoyment-disappointment-enjoyment loop is basically Destiny 2 in an nutshell, and it’s designed to make you feel like you’re the odd man out by not buying into it.

The upcoming expansion is a full priced game worth of cash, PLUS there is a separate season pass on top of that, for additional smaller content drops that really haven’t been described fully. Staring down the barrel of a hundred dollars worth of content that might not be good value really leaves me wanting to move on to other things.

Then again it’s just so goddamn fun.

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The Orange Box

The Orange BoxI’ve extolled upon the virtues of Team Fortress 2 already here on this site in a previous post, but now finally Valve’s ‘The Orange Box’ is available for play.

If you’ve already preordered this, you’ve played most of what TOB has to offer. Half-life 2 and Episode 1 have been out for months already, and the Team Fortress 2 beta has been nothing short of mind blowing. Now we finally have our hands on Portal and Episode 2.

Episode 2 is quite a bit longer than Episode 1, and provides a ton of setpiece combat sequences. I won’t spoil any of the details obviously, but there’s a ton to love here if you’re a fan of HL2, and the storyline continues in riveting fashion.

Portal is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. More of a puzzle game than anything, you’re tasked with traversing various environments using a portal generating gun, letting you warp around via the blue and orange portals you can throw around at almost any surface. It’s pretty mind bending, and is a totally hilarious experience thanks to some brilliant narration. The game also has one of the best end credits ever.

All in all, Orange Box is a ridiculous value for the money. Highly recommended.

EVE TV Is Free Free Free

EVE TV LogoFor those who might not know, EVE TV is officially free. Well truthfully it’s been free for the last few episodes, but it’s worth mentioning since they’re finally ditching Jalipo as the streaming provider.

Jalipo was, put simply, horrid. The pay-per-view model they were using for EVE TV is not compatible with the EVE playerbase. EVE TV is using Brightcove right now, and the difference is… commercials. Between each segment of EVE TV you’ll be greeted with a quick 15-30 second commercial just like on real TV. This really isn’t all that obtrusive, since you can just not watch them (check your email, poke around in EVE, etc).

Now content wise the last few EVE TV episodes have been pretty lackluster. The Goons episode, my gawd. The only thing worth watching was the Eagle profile, and even then I skipped it since I don’t fly Caldari ships. Honestly, I pretty much fast-forwarded to the end credits. The end credits have been the best part of EVE TV recently, showing all the silliness that happens when the cameras are rolling but nobody expects them to be. It’s amusing of course, but as much as it pains me to say it, they’re the best part of the episodes lately.

Lets hope the content improves, because it’d be a shame to see the show spiral downwards when it’s now available to anyone to watch.

Finished the Fight

Halo 3 BoxSo I picked up Halo 3 on Tuesday just like half a bazillion other people. Finished the campaign that night. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything for you.

So far my experience with H3 has been well… mostly what I expected it to be. It’s Halo 2 with prettier graphics and some gameplay tweaks, and overall it’s a better multiplayer experience than Halo 2. That’s the main draw, really. Campaign wise it wasn’t short, just easy to finish in a single long sitting if you’re so inclined. 🙂

Multiplayer wise so far it’s a bit tighter of an experience than H2. The addition of Forge for creating your own custom games will no doubt prove to be a great addition, and the theater lets you share your videos and pics with others. -10 points for charging us MS points to store more. Google gives me gigabytes of free space for my email, why can’t Bungie give a few gigs for free when a billion people preordered their game?

Money grubbing for the LOSE.

Really the micropayment crap and marketing blitz for Halo 3 is designed to make you spend tons of cash, when really the normal edition of the game will let you do everything you need to do to enjoy the experience. So stick with that, and you’ll have no regrets about buying this, as long as you’re not looking for a lengthy campaign.

Valve Did Something Cool

This has been a heck of a week for Valve. They finally put the Steam Community out to the masses, finally out of beta. It’s essentially Xbox Live for the PC, except it’s free, doesn’t suck, and isn’t full of foul-mouthed 12-year olds.

The neat part about this is the ability to create a profile for yourself, describing your person to the world a bit, listing some of your favorite stuff, and tracking various gameplay stats. Here’s mine. It also lets you better track what your buddies are doing, and form or join groups with them. For example, the group I started this week for Mercenary Coalition, the EVE alliance I play with.

All of this comes with the eminent release of The Orange Box, Valve’s new Half-life 2 bundling which includes Team Fortress 2. The kicker is this week, if you’ve preordered that, they’ve treated you to a beta of TF2. TF2 is so ridiculously fun practically everyone I know goes home after work and plays it. It’s stylized like a Pixar cartoon, though one that doesn’t suck. Though the best way to describe how it looks is to see it, so here’s a clip. And I dare say the finished product (this clip is from GC2006) looks even more impressive.

Again, insanely fun, and there’s so many little goofy details in how the characters move and react. Definitely worth the wait. Valve’s also added some insane stats tracking for TF2 that adds achievements, similar to Xbox Live. Though here it doesn’t seem like some contrived way to make you play the game more, just some nifty stuff it keeps track of so you can compare with your friends.

To be honest, this has been the most impressive effort for Valve, in my opinion, to date. The whole package is there, and it’s a ton of fun at just the right price.

Warp Drive Active #135: A Solid Win

Linkage

Well the 4th Alliance Tournament is over, and the winner … *drum roll*… is HUN Reloaded! Congratulations go out to them, it was definitely an excellent win with a superb setup and team which worked very well together.

I don’t think anyone expected it to go that way, and personally I love it when this kind of thing happens. It was refreshing to have a tournament where the sure thing didn’t win, which should serve to prove to all the alliances out there that you don’t have to own have the map in EVE to be able to compete in these things. Overall the production of this tournament was top notch, with no streaming issues to speak of. This let everyone watch the matches live, and the inclusion of free streams of the prior days’ matches let you recap what you may have missed. Definitely a worthy feature.

The commentary for the final weekend was excellent, save for a few way-too-drunk moments on Sunday. 🙂 And the “CCP vs EVE TV” fight was a riot to watch, especially to see CCP mop the floor with the EVE TV crew.

Caldari Navy HookbillFor the final day’s matches I was lucky enough to be brought over to the tournament system to snag some screenshots. On a whim, I decided to do a bit of virtual photoblogging, putting up a bunch of shots from the tournament in near real-time on Flickr. If you’re curious and want to see what happened during the fights, venture over to my EVE 4th Alliance Tournament photo set and check it out.

A special thank you from me to the GMs who helped organize the event and the fights themselves, and allowed me to attend it in person. 🙂

Wilhelm Naked No More

A while back on Warp Drive Active podcast #5 we did a contest involving sci-fi quotes. We picked a winner, and as a prize he got himself a t-shirt with the comic of his choice emblazoned on the front. Being lazy, I didn’t get around to blogging about this, but here’s a link to his blog about it, including pictures of the shirt.

Congratulations once again Wilhelm.