D&D: Episode 1: Attack on Greenest

The D&D group we put together has successfully completed our first real session! You may recall me posting to request participation from our readers, and the offer still stands. Read through a synopsis of our first session bought to you by our GM. If you’re interested in joining us, we still have room for 2 more. Visit our Tabletop Forum, post here, or email me.

greenest-dragon-attack

(The following contains spoilers for the Hoard of the Dragon Queen)

Our adventurers started their journey as guards for a merchant making his way to Greenest. A group consisting of two gnomes, one disfigured walking with a limp, one talkative with a better story than the one being told [That’s me!], a seemingly generic dwarf stout with a good heart, and a mysterious drow who stays silent but wears the robes of the faithful. Our band of unlikely heroes has been traveling for a few tendays enjoying the green fields for which this area is named. Rumors from others traveling have warned of bandits attacking travelers on the roads but so far the journey has been peaceful and calm with plenty of good song to pass the boring days.

This is the closest image I could find. Imagine him with yellowish blonde hair and instruments on his back (can someone photoshop that for me?)

This is the closest image I could find. Imagine him with yellowish blonde hair and instruments on his back (can someone photoshop that for me?)

As our adventurers topped the hill expecting to see greenest in its peaceful nature, smoke greats them. Greenest is under attack. Townsfolk can be seeing running and distant screams can be heard as a raid is just starting to take place. Flying high above a massive blue dragon towers over the town bringing with him a feeling of dread. Quickly the heroes race to the town to do what they can to save the townsfolk.

At sunset they arrive at the edge of town and as they are making their way through they stumble upon an injured man with his three children and his wife fighting off a gaggle of kobolds — small little dragonesk humanoids with wicked teeth and tiny clawed hands wielding slings and daggers.

Valorously our heroes saved the family and took them through the town facing three more groups of raiding bandits and kobolds. Our dwarf Ursus driving his war hammer through many wicked foes. The disfigured gnome “Ash” quickly dispatched foes using his bow. Inspiring his comrades and assaulting his foes with viscous insults, Keen the bard helped bring his associates to victory. While the drow, Nerubia, tended to the injured and brought radiant light to his enemies.

keen the bard playing his lute

This is pretty much me at the start of every engagement

While able to make their way through the groups of raiders it was starting to take its toll. The wounds on our heroes growing more and more threatening and a final group of a more than a half a dozen raiders lay between them and the keep. Ingeniously our heroes devised a plan. Using a recently acquired keg of strong wine they cleverly placed it with an illusion of gold piling onto it which drew in the last bandit group. The with the trap set and the bait of gold to much for the bandits to resist, the resulting explosion decimated the last standing obstacle before finally safely delivering the family into the keep.

Inside the true devastation of the raid was beginning to dawn on our heroes as they saw before them a towns people huddled in fear against a terrible dragon flying above and chaos in the streets of their fair town now being sacked for their livelihoods.

Leading the town guard and mustering a defense against the encroaching raiders is Escobart the Red, from the Iron Rust clan. Not able to make to much small talk Escobart instructs the adventurers to see Governor Nighthill the town leader. As he will make better use of their unique talents.

With our heroes already weary from several battles Governor Nighthill informs our champions that “The night has just begun.”

May’s Releases and Keen’s Backlog

I have high hopes for May being a great month of gaming. I have a rich backlog of games to go through, and several games are/might come out this month.

This Month’s Hyped Releases

EverQuest Ragefire Server

EverQuest Progression Server: Ragefire

Looks like the new EQ progression server coming soon® will be named Ragefire. The poll is still up but apparently Ragefire has such a lead that it’ll win no matter what. While I think Zordalicus Ragefire is an awesome dragon, I can’t help but think of Ragefire Chasm from WoW. Oh well! It’s still a cool name. I’m hoping this means that they are on track to give us a beta for Ragire Progression sometime near the end of this month. Chances might be good since Ragefire is already on the server list when you sub to EQ and log in.

My friends and I in the K&G Community will be playing. I’m going Bard for sure. Yep, my body is ready (for carpal tunnel).

Splatoon

Splatoon

Nintendo’s first real foray into multiplayer online shooters in the Wii U comes out May 29! I’m really looking forward to playing this one with Graev. We’ll team up and ink people to pieces. I’m hoping for some depth to the customization and advancing, but in the end if it’s just a great game with fun shooting mechanics I can still totally get behind that. I’ve been looking for this kind of game on a console.

My Backlog

AC-Unity

Assassin’s Creed Unity

The biggest game in my backlog is AC: Unity. Assassin’s Creed games are amazing. Black Flag was my game of the year in 2013, and AC Unity is the next in the series and I have to get through it before the next AC game comes out. I got this for Christmas and have just now have the time to really start playing. Already I’ve noticed that much of the emphasis on the ‘out of game’ experience is removed. The part where the ‘main character’ in ‘real life’ gets out of the animus (where the real story is being told) doesn’t happen. I’m on the side of people who love the convoluted AC story, but I get why Unity focuses much more on the ‘in-game’ gameplay where you control Arno.

Ridiculously cheap on Amazon right now: $19.99 on PS4 and Xbox One.

The rest of my backlog consists of…

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • Shadows or Mordor
  • Lego City Undercover

Yep, lots of somewhat older games but ones I definitely want to try and get through before the summer. What’s in your backlog? What are you looking forward to playing in May?

 

New Nintendo 3DS XL & Monster Hunter Ultimate 4

New NIntendo 3DS XLI’m 1/10th the enthusiast that Graev is when it comes to handheld systems. We both got the 3DS when it very first launched and became ambassadors (received the spiffy badge and free games) for supporting their somewhat rocky launch.

When the 3DS took off and launched the ‘XL’ version, then several more versions of the XL, Graev would get them and pass down his systems to me and I would fiddle around in a Pokemon game every now and again. When the New Nintendo 3DS XL came out, boasting so many new features, I decided I wanted one.

My family got me the New Nintendo 3DS XL as a belated birthday present, and thanks to Graev tossed in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to go along with it. I’ll talk on MH4U but first let me talk up a few of the things I like about the new system.

Improved 3D Technology

New Nintendo 3DS Eye Tracking

If you’re like me and unable to hold still, you probably noticed that the 3D was finicky on the original 3DS. Moving your head to the side or not holding the 3DS at just the right angle made viewing the 3D effects difficult. The New 3DS includes a form of eye tracking that knows where your eyes are at and adapts to follow them when you move your face or the system around. I know it tracks my eyes because when I look a way then look back it wigs out for a second to find my eyes again. So as long as you don’t turn your head and look away completely, this thing keeps you engaged in the experience.

new-nintendo-3ds-c-stickThe C Stick

A couple of new controls were added like two new shoulder buttons, but the real star here is the C stick. The C stick is that little nubbin you see just above the X button. It barely moves but is made of a rubbery type feel that is sensitive to how your thumb pushes in directions. The only C stick implementation I’ve played with so far is in Monster Hunter, but that ability to control the camera alone has proven immensely useful for someone like me who has always struggled with handheld systems and the lack of ‘freedom’ of movement. Works great!

The New 3DS XL Overall

Overall the system is nice a big, feels good in my hands, and runs faster thanks to a better CPU. The browser on this thing feels better to me and navigates well. I think the camera was also improved to no longer be so dark and grainy. I haven’t played with the Amiibo support or anything but it has that. I plan to give the wireless file transfer stuff a try later to see how easy it is to take stuff from the micro sd card and transfer it over the wifi network straight to my PC. OH! I should also mention that exclusive games are coming to the New 3DS XL that will take advantage of not only the controls but the new upgraded speeds, so they will look even better.

 Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

mh4u

I have never been a Monster Hunter fan. I was always intimidated by what felt like massive barriers to entry and learning curves. There is so much that goes into such a simple premise of hunting monsters. Choosing weapon and armor types, crafting, upgrading, massive amounts of collecting, tons of strategic positioning during fights… it’s intense.

Much of that has changed now that I’ve hunkered down and put about 8 hours into the game. I’m starting to realize MH isn’t as incomprehensible as I thought. Still massive and overwhelming? Yes. If I stop and think about how insignificant I am compared to other people like Graev who have put in 100 hours already and could play another 200 hours easily… yep I could give up now. But I don’t. I focus on me and I go kill monsters.

For those who are completely unaware, here’s the gist of the game. You’re a monster hunter (the story is pretty simple and forgettable). You have a basic city/hub where you get quests, craft, etc. When you’re ready to go out on a quest you depart from the hub and you’re transported to a ‘map’ of ‘screens’ or ‘sections’ containing monsters. You’ll have lots of ‘trash’ monsters to kill as you make your way to objectives. You can harvest monsters you kill, big and small, for their resources which is essentially the entire point of the game: Kill monsters, harvest resources, make better stuff. You can mine nodes too for metals and gems, harvest plants, bugs, fish, etc. When done, you’re teleported back to the hub.

I’m having fun. I’ve even played multiplayer co-op with Graev! From the break room at work on my lunch I log in and Graev and I can connect to each other and slay monsters together. That’s an AWESOME feature for handheld systems, and it supports like 4 or 5 people all playing together hunting big monsters — yep, that’s pretty sweet.

I’m still a newb. I’m actually still trying to figure out which weapon I want to use. I thought I decided on the Chargeblade, but something about it just doesn’t fit my play-style. I’ve slayed lots of monsters already, gone on plenty of quests, and I’m crafting armor sets. This game brings out the min-maxer in me already by making me want to go online and read message boards to find the best combination of armor sets for my weapon type. Kinda fun, but kinda stressful.

Maybe the biggest downside to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and MH games in general, is the time investment. Don’t get me wrong, you can have tons of fun like I am from the start, but to really get far it’s going to take you easily 30+ hours. That’s realistically no bad, but for a handheld system it’ll be the most I’ve ever put into a game except for Pokemon.

Should you get Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate? Yes. Get it. It’s awesome. Just be ready for a learning curve and expect to invest some time. It’s a game that will last.

Keen’s Most Anticipated Games of 2015

star-wars-battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront

Uh… need I say more? It’s friggin Battlefront. It’s like Star Wars meets Battlefield. The original Battlefront games were quite fun, and with the advances in today’s shooters I’m excited to see what they come up with. I can see myself flying a snow speeder and roping some walkers. Want. Now.

The Legend of Zelda Open World

The Legend of Zelda Wii U

Greav has always been the diehard Zelda fan, but I’ve always enjoyed the franchise. The Legend of Zelda for Wii U is going to be my first real purchase of my very own Zelda game where I plan to sit and play through it all. The reason why is because of the change of pace. Nintendo is going with more of a larger open world similar to what we find in western RPGs like Elder Scrolls games.

Little else is known about the game except that there are going to be lots of side missions. Miyamoto has stated that he expects players will even forget what their main goal is due to being lost in how much side stuff there is to do throughout the world.

No Man’s Sky

Every galaxy, planet, mountain, creature, and pixel is procedurally generated. Everything is explorable. Fly from one planet and seamlessly enter the atmosphere and fly into space and land on the next. The video below will do more justice than I can showcasing what this sci-fi survival and exploration game will be like.

Honorable Mentions

  • Star Fox (Wii U) – Nice change of pace for Nintendo to focus on a game we haven’t really seen too much of in the last 10 years.
  • Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Huge and dangerous open world.

What’s on your list?

Destiny Misses Way More Than It Hits

destiny-review

I decided to wait until I had experienced most of what Destiny has to offer before writing my review. Just a short while ago I decided that I had pretty much done just that so here we are. It’s weird to think that a game could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, make 500+ million on its first day and in the end turn out fairly mediocre. Can that even be considered a success? A financial one, sure, but that’s about where it stops.

Destiny has many problems and I’ll break them down here:

Cliched

It’s really crazy how so much of Destiny feels like a giant cliche to the point where you aren’t quite sure if it’s trying to be a parody on purpose. You’d think that a studio like Bungie would deliver something of higher quality after having created something like Halo. The main plot in Destiny revolves around an ancient enemy known as “The Darkness” trying to destroy “The Light.” I mean, really now? Unoriginality aside, I can’t help but feel like I’m playing through some kind of alternate universe Kingdom Hearts fan fiction. Guardians are chosen because of their light or something and are accompanied by a small robot called a Ghost, there are things called Travelers, a Speaker, etc. Think of pretty much every overused sci-fi/fantasy word and it’s probably here. It’s hard to explain it right out but if you played through even a portion of it you might understand. It’s like you’re running around in a universe designed by a twelve-year-old.

The villains you face in Destiny are just unremarkable and bland. First you fight some alien guys, then some robot goblins, and finally space marines. Seriously, they look just like Space Marines and even have jump packs. Bungie seems to have gone creatively bankrupt in this department. The aliens in the Covenant (Halo) were far more memorable than any of these. Grunts, Elites, Jackals, Brutes, etc. I can actually remember those. I’m not even a big Halo fan but I can at least give them props for making interesting bad guys.

The weapons you get to use are essentially the most generic assembly of weapons I have ever seen. There are a few varieties and they are split between three different categories (Primary, Special, Heavy ). You would think that a game like this that is set so far in the future and has such interesting tech would at least provide some cool weapons. It might, but you don’t get to use any of them. You get stuff like a handgun, automatic, semi-automatic, scout rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, scattergun, machine gun, and rockets. Aside from the scattergun you could essentially find all of that stuff in something like Call of Duty and it would seem no different at all. Where are the interesting energy weapons? Bad guys have energy weapons and other cool stuff but you are left with what feels like rejects of a derelict era. Again I find myself thinking of Halo and the weapons provided in that game. Sure it had your standard military guns but it also had a lot of interesting alien weapons. Where’s my Needler 2.0, Bungie? [Read more…]