Legion’s Pre-Patch: Jumping into the Madness

The pre-Legion patch dropped on Tuesday, and I jumped head first into the madness. You all know that I’ve been waiting to play a Gnome Hunter. So as soon as the patch was live and I managed to get home, I boosted my Gnome Hunter up to 100.

Thankfully I started with some decent gear. Blizzard provides iLvl 640 gear and mailed everyone a new set of weapons with iLvl based on their HFC progression. Given that my gnome was brand new, I received a fairly weak weapon.

What to do first?

This was my biggest question. I realized I was woefully unprepared. I need gear. I need to level crafting. I need to learn what my abilities do, and figure out how to actually play my class again!

Transmog All the Things!

I decided to tackle Transmogs first. The new system is really great because it’s one window with filters and all the items you have. I logged into various characters to unlock the transmogs that I’ve held onto for over a decade. I found my Rhok’delar bow, my full set of Giantstalker, my Dragonstalker set, etc. Awesome.

Then I logged into my dozen other characters with all of their gear and got those unlocked. The process took longer than I had anticipated due to the transmogs taking a while to propogate (server lag). I built myself a nice little set of gear that looks fantastic on a Gnome Hunter. Look = Done.

Tradeskills

My Gnome Hunter is going Engineering/Mining. I fumbled my way through Ashran looking for all of the recipes and trainers. I learned what I needed then used all of the ore I had saved up. In less than 10 minutes I had my Engineering up to 645. I’m told I only needed like 300? I still don’t understand that. Anyway, I’m now still trying to figure out what I have to do to get some Engineering goodies. Are there teleporters I need to get? If so, where? Anyone know?

Now the mining problem… The Garrison Blizzard gave my boosted Hunter only has a level one mine. I don’t have Draenor flying because I couldn’t stomach the dailies in Tanaan. So now I have to roam around and look for nodes and somehow manage to get that up over the next few weeks.

Stats and Balance are Messed Up

With every expansion comes a retuning of stats and abilities. Legion’s artifacts exacerbate this problem because our classes are tuned around having abilities and stats we do not yet have. I jumped into a Mythic Dungeon (already a mistake with iLvl 640 gear) with some friends. They said they’d carry me. I facerolled my hotbars having no idea what I was doing.

We wiped a bunch and realized that Mythic Dungeons were ridiculous. Blizzard confirmed this yesterday by saying they were nerfed, but we tried them again shortly after that statement and came to the conclusion that the nerf must not have been implemented yet.

PvP Scaling

So we jumped into PvP thinking maybe I could get some gear there. We thought it was tuned, but sure enough it isn’t I had 243k HP, and people in gear had 300-400k. Definitely not working. That ended with my slapping people with a wet noodle and being obliterated.

Learning the Ropes

I’m becoming more confident in my Survival Hunter spec. I feel like I finally understand the gist of gameplay. I wasn’t prepared for the rotation to be so intense. I have to worry about executing a lot of abilities at their most opportune time. I also have to worry about keeping certain abilities up.

My experience will most certainly improve as I actually get into Legion content, have an artifact, have more abilities in my rotation that make more sense, and build muscle memory around my skills. I also need to tweak my UI to better show my Mongoose bites, etc.

Preparing for the Burning Legion’s Invasion

The invasion comes in probably two weeks or less. I’m slowly improving my gear already. I’m almost to iLvl 670, which really only takes a bit of Tanaan to accomplish. I want to be about 680’ish before the invasion in order to give me a chance at surviving the fights and feel like I can burn though them. The higher the better.

The invasion will give gear 700+, so that will be more than enough to prepare me for Legion — at which point the first quest drops will replace everything anyway.

More to come on my adventures.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4 brings to an end one of my (now) favorite gaming series. Just two months ago I picked up the Nathan Drake Collection and fell completely in love with the first three games. Something about the adventure of pirates, treasure, and glory captured my heart and I was hooked. While the first three games were very much about the adventure, Uncharted 4 takes quite a spin focusing more on a mature (meaning grown up and serious) narrative.

Nathan and Elena are a little older now. Several years have passed since the events in Uncharted 3. They’re trying to retire and live normal lives. The game begins with the two in their home where Naughy Dog immediately showcases their story-telling finesse. Uncharted 4 definitely shows the effect The Last of Us had on Naughty Dog. You can feel the tension of two people living a life that neither are happy with. It was only a matter of time before Nathan sucked them back into an adventure — one that may be their last.

Graphics

Uncharted 4 has superb graphics. You can see the dust in the air, the rocks sliding down a hill, etc., etc. It’s gorgeous. It’s 60fps on console. The engine is one of the best I’ve experienced. Underwater scenes are gorgeous. The world feels legitimate.

Uncharted 4 Graphics

General Gameplay

Gameplay is cinematic to say the least. Even the most intense combat scenarios where you’re under fire from all sides and making ridiculous decisions that no game developer should have been able to foresee end up feeling choreographed into the perfect scene. The parkour is crazier than ever with the introduction of sliding and grappling hooks that make Drake give Spider-man a run for his money. Traversing terrain still feels a little ridiculous for any human to accomplish, but the controls are such that you feel like you’re controlling Nathan’s arms and reaching for ledges.

Shooting mechanics vary game to game in this series. I tried using the assisted aim and while I’m a sucker for auto-aim on consoles, but version nearly got me killed. I quickly disabled it and found the standard gunplay very comfortable and I was making head shots without any form of assist.

Elena in Uncharted 4

The Campaign

Uncharted 4 returns to the idea of pirates. This time, Nathan is going after the pirate Captain Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure. From Monaco to the Scottish Highlands to Madagascar, there’s plenty of diversity in scenery.

The campaign itself has its ups and downs. While combat and various scenes are choreographed perfectly (the car chase in Monaco comes to mind), the game runs into several moments of rinse and repeat. Every time you find your way deeper into the adventure, suddenly the bad guys are already well established ahead of you and you have to take them all out again.

Stealth plays a larger role in this one. I almost felt like I was playing Assassin’s Creed during a few points. I like that a lot more than guns blazing all the time. Puzzle solving is also back better than it was in some of the previous games. I do wish there were even more puzzles, though.

Uncharted 4’s biggest issue is its second act. The pacing is so boring. People critique the third act, but I felt like that was Uncharted 4 getting back to its roots and rounding out that story they’ve been trying to tell over 4 games now. No spoilers will be given here, but the third act contains dialog necessary for building the emotional connection to what the characters are going through. Yes, the third act was a little slow, but I liked what it represented for the characters involved.

A  Thief’s End

The ending is perfect. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you still playing through, or who one day will fix their mistake by not having played these games.  After the game seems to end, stick around. Play through until Game Over on the Crash Bandcioot scene. This ending was very fulfilling. I eat this stuff up. Both my wife and I thought that it was a very fitting end. There’s a reason people are calling this, “The greatest story ever played.”

NES Classic Edition Releasing in November for $60

New Mini-NES Classic Edition

Now this is just plain awesome. Nintendo just announced a new mini version of the old NES: NES Classic Edition. Releasing November 11 for $60, the NES Classic comes with 30 pre-installed games, an HDMI cable (making it compatible with modern tvs), and a NES Classic Controller (Additional controllers sold separately for $9).

Here’s the list of 30 games that come in the NES Classic Edition:

  • “Balloon Fight”
  • “Bubble Bobble”
  • “Castlevania”
  • “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest”
  • “Donkey Kong”
  • “Donkey Kong Jr.”
  • “Double Dragon II: The Revenge”
  • “Dr. Mario”
  • “Excitebike”
  • “Final Fantasy”
  • “Galaga”
  • “Ghosts ‘n Goblins”
  • “Gradius”
  • “Ice Climber”
  • “Kid Icarus”
  • “Kirby’s Adventure”
  • “Mario Bros.”
  • “Mega Man 2”
  • “Metroid”
  • “Ninja Gaiden”
  • “Pac-Man”
  • “Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream”
  • “StarTropics”
  • “Super C”
  • “Super Mario Bros.”
  • “Super Mario Bros. 2”
  • “Super Mario Bros. 3”
  • “Tecmo Bowl”
  • “The Legend of Zelda”
  • “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link”

NES Classic Edition with Controller

Here are a few facts that add even more value onto an already killer deal:

  • The NES Classic Controller can plug into the Wiimote which means you can use it to play classic NES games on the Wii U.
  • Wii U Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro work with the NES Classic.
  • There’s a RESUME feature so you can pause and come back later — a feature completely foreign to these older NES titles (part of what made them so dang difficult).

This will be a ton of fun to plug into my monitor and record footage. Should be lots of fun playing through some really great older titles that can be credited with starting many if not all of our contemporary blockbusters.

9 Pokemon Go Tips To Help You On Your Way To Greatness

While some of you are likely already well beyond me, I want to share some of the tips I’ve picked up and learned myself that might help some of you newer or struggling trainers. Feel free to share your experiences.

1. Tap and Hold Before You Throw a Pokeball

When you tap and hold a pokeball before throwing, the green circle around the target pokemon will shrink . This increases your chances of successfully catching the pokemon and reduce wasted pokeballs.

How to Find Pokemon Near You

How to Find Nearby Pokemon

2. Find Pokemon Close to You

In the bottom right hand corner of your screen you’ll see pictures or silhouettes of pokemon. If you click on that section it will bring up a list of pokemon near you and their distances. One footprint is close, 3 footprints is far. Choose one you want to catch and start walking in a direction. You’ll know you are getting close when the footprints decrease. This helps you avoid having to randomly stumble upon pokemon. I’ve found several less common Pokemon by roaming off the beaten path.

3. Don’t Transfer Those Lower CP Pokemon!

A big mistake most people make is thinking they should just Transfer of all those crummy 10cp Pidgeys back to Professor Oak. Nope! Hang onto them. When you hatch a lucky egg, evolve as many Pidgeys (or Caterpies or low candy-cost evolves) as you can. Each evolution is a HUGE boost of exp while under the effects of a lucky egg. You’ll easily power-level 4-6 levels at once.

Pokemon Go Lucky Egg

4. Put a Little Spin on that Pokeball Before You Throw

Simply draw a circle or do a spin motion around the pokeball before you throw it and you’ll increase your chances of catching a Pokemon. Pretty simple trick to improve those odds as much as you can when facing a higher CP catch.

Which PokemonGo Team should I join?

5. Pick A Team That Doesn’t Dominate

I know this sounds counter intuitive to most gamers. You see one team dominating and you think to yourself, “I need to be on that team.” Don’t! If your town is all Red, go Blue or Yellow! You get way more EXP taking a gym than you do training at one.

6. Learn Your Pokemon Types

Just like in the pokemon games, your pokemon type matters. Don’t use fire against water, or birds against electricity. Before fighting a Gym Battle be sure you pick the right type of Pokemon to guarantee your success.

 

7. Hate Exercise? Put Your Phone in a Salad Spinner

A turn table works too! If you’re like me and can’t possibly imagine the torture of hatching eggs by walking 10 kilometers each, then simply place your phone in a (clean) salad spinner or on a turn table and give it a whirl! Congratulations, you have evolved into the ultimate form of lazy.

8. There’s a Time and Place for Everything

Certain pokemon can only be found at certain places or certain times. Need some ghosts? Go to a Graveyard! Yeah, that might be a little disrespectful so don’t make it worse by dancing on a grave when you catch that ghastly. Night time helps with nocturnal pokemon. You’ll find plenty of water pokemon near lakes. My bags are full of Krabby since my place is right on a lake.

lured-pokestops

9. Look For The Pink Flower Petal On PokeStops

This means someone has “lured” pokemon to this location. First, make so the real life Team Rocket aren’t there. It’s usually good to travel in groups in broad daylight. After that, sit back and collect items every 5 minutes + catch lots of Pokemon. Lures last 30 minutes.

Prime Day Deals

Prime Day

Last year’s Prime Day sucked. It was  mostly a digital garage sale of things no one really wanted anyway. This year, there’s always the hope things will be different.

I’m watching Prime Day for a few items. I haven’t see any video game deals that I’ll jump at yet, but there are quite a few board games. My short list:

Lost Cities
Sheriff of Nottingham
The Castles of Burgundy
Escape: The Curse of the Temple

While watching the list, I did notice something that always bothers me. Lost Cities was $27 last night. Today’s deal showed it 50% off. WoW, what a deal! Except it was really only $6 off. The 50% off was off the list price that Amazon hasn’t been charging in a long time. Amazon is making the deals look deceptively bigger. That’s not cool.

I picked up Lost Cities anyway. $6 off is still $6 saved on a game I was going to buy anyway.  I’m watching the other games on my list as well as video games. If you see any great deals, definitely share.