A Year in Gaming: 2015

I have a permanent “gaming resolution” in place to play through the untouched half of my Steam library. As expected, there was not much progress on that front in 2015 but at the least, I didn’t really add to the pile. We did not game a lot during the first quarter of 2015 because we purchased a house and moved. So overall in 2015, a large part of our gaming time and energy was redirected into house things and playing with the kitten.

I feel that it is worth noting that the sole criteria for “winning” an award is my personal enjoyment. The best game of the year to me would be the one that I enjoyed playing the most regardless of whether or not it was actually a good game.

Keiya’s Game of the Year: The Witcher 3
This choice was weighted very heavily by the fact that I am an outright fangirl of both the Witcher books as well as the games. Furthermore, I absolutely love open world games as gritty fantasy everything. The combination of all three of those things on top of the Witcher 3’s story, which I do feel is actually good independent of my specific needs, makes it the absolute bees knees for me. So in terms of amount of pure enjoyment derived from any game played this year, The Witcher 3 is an easy winner for me.

Dave’s Game of the Year: Overwatch
This morning, I quickly asked my husband what he considered his game of the year to be. His answer, before returning to Diablo 3 grinding was: “Overwatch because it is an extremely polished, fun, and non-bullshitty experience.” I’ll have to agree with that. In fact, Overwatch (spoiler) is one of, if not the game that I am looking forward to the most in 2016.

Mobile Game of the Year: Final Fantasy Record Keeper
Final Fantasy Record Keeper is one of those mobile games but I feel that it is at the very least, the lesser of the evils in regards to F2Pness. It has a surprising amount of strategy and depth mixed in with a decent amount of polish and general Final Fantasy nostalgia. The events are well spaced and of a reasonable quality. Of all games this year, I have probably spent the most time (play + thinking space) on FFRK by virtue of accessibility.

Not F2P Mobile Game of the Year: Pixel Dungeon
I don’t remember if I blogged about this game or not. Pixel Dungeon is a traditional fantasy themed roguelike that I play incessantly during lunch. If I am not playing Final Fantasy Record Keeper, I am using playing Pixel Dungeon. If you enjoy games such as FTL and well…Rogue, you will probably enjoy this game. It is also actively updated and available on virtually any platform.

Best Half-finished Game (as in played but not to completion): Fallout 4
I don’t know. I really enjoy Fallout 4 and intend on finishing it but I just sort of put it down for the holidays.

Best Half-finished Game (as in still in beta/development): Overwatch
I yearn for this game. As mentioned before, of all games slated for a 2016, Overwatch is the title that I am probably looking foward to playing the most.

The 2015 Game That I Own and am Looking Forward to Playing the Most: Undertale
I have word from the entire Internet that Undertale is good and possibly game of the year worthy.

The Consolation Prize: Metal Gear Solid V
MGSV wasn’t my favorite game, but it was one that I really enjoyed playing so I wanted it to be mentioned somewhere. If you are at all familiar with it’s development history, it’s probably a small miracle that we were even able to play it at all.

Most Disappointing Game of the Year: None
Same as 2014: I don’t think bought and played anything that was outright terrible. In general, we tend to only buy games that we know we will like. Everything else can be passed or scooped up for $2 on a Steam sale. Having low expectations for certain things helps as well.

[FFRK] 4* Ability & Honing Guide

At this point in the game, there are a crapton of 4* abilities available and not all of them are really all that great. Here is a short list of 4* abilities that I feel are worth creating and honing. Just as a general disclaimer: Though I did try to make this list as generic as possible (no cheese strategies, etc), like all things FFRK, overall usefulness of a particular ability will depend on your party makeup, abilities available, SB’s, and so forth. I have a tendency to lean towards physical damage parties. My typical party makeup is: 1 Healer, 1 Hybrid Black Mage, 1 Cloudblade Spellblade, 1 Support, 1 other physical. I don’t use summons all that often, thus the reason why none are listed.

Support & Healing Abilities
If I had to choose an ability to create first out of everything listed on this page it would be Magic Breakdown.

Magic Breakdown
Unlike physical damage, magical damage cannot be mitigated by backrow parties. Magical damage is also heavily used in the and needed to avoid being instagibbed in many of the higher level boss fights.

Shellga & Protectga
Yay mitigation. Don’t bother honing either of these past R2. One cast lasts for quite some time. There are other mitigation options in the form of certain relics, bard abilities, etc. Regardless, I would say that it is worth creating these abilities. Depends on your party makeup though.

Steal Power
If you can fit a character with a high thief skill into your party, Steal Power superior to Power Breakdown. In addition to a longer duration, it offers a 50% attack buff. Keep in mind however, that this ability does not in itself do any damage and that the buff does not stack with any other attack buff (such as Planet Protector, etc). Because I have Aerith pimped out with Planet Protector, I usually end using Power Breakdown (mostly because I already had it honed to R3 by the time Steal Power was released :/).

Armor/Mental Breakdown/Steal Armor
Steal Armor > Armor Breakdown. Obviously, use Armor Breakdown for physical parties and Mental Breakdown for mage parties. If you are a completionist or have spare orbs available, these abilities may be worth getting. Otherwise to be honest, all of these abilities kind of fall under the “filler” category.

Curaja
If you use a character with a low mind stat for tanky healing (like Pecil for example), then Curaja is to get a decent heal of any sorts. Otherwise, I have never felt the need to use anything higher than Renewing Cure or Curaga on any of my white mages.

Elemental Damage
The elemental strikes are included in this category because of the role they fulfill and the fact that their orb usage heavily overlaps with the -ja/-ga spells. Keep in mind however that these are physical abilities and that damage output is attack based.

Waterja
Of the elemental spells, Waterja is the least resisted, has the fastest cast time, and is fairly easy to make.

Bioga/Thundaja/Firaja/Blizzaja
The power creep is real. There will be a point/already are certain bosses where -ga spells simply do not put out enough damage. The order at which you craft and hone these abilities is up to your preference I guess? Bioga seems to be pretty easy to farm, not very often resisted, and a weakness on many bosses. On the other hand, it does have a lower damage multiplier than the other ja spells so many only be a higher priority if your ages already hit or are at least close to the damage cap. I personally use Thundaja a lot so I chose to hone that one first (magitek + all mechanical things are weak to thunder damage).

Diaga
I would argue that this ability may be worth crafting first along side Waterja. Being a white mage spell, it doesn’t use any of the same orbs as the other -ja/-ga abilities if I recall correctly, so it should be fairly easy to craft and hone; As long as you have Shellga and Protectga crafted that is as both of those spells should take precedence.

Ruinga
Non-elemental AoE damage. Ignore Quake, use Ruinga. Great for AoE bosses and nuking Daily Dungeons.

Thundaga/Firaga Strike
Both of these abilities are in the same boat as Thundaja and Firaja.

Physical Damage
I personally have a preference for Dismissal and have used it quite a bit. Pound though is decent for combat characters with a limited selection.

Dismissal
It’s like Pound damage wise but has a chance to interrupt. Celerity isn’t that uncommon of a skill so Dismissal it usually pretty easy to squeeze in. It doesn’t however have a great proc rate, so unless you create and hone multiple copies it may suffer from filleritis like Pound. If I had to choose between either Pound or Dismissal: Dismissal.

Pound
Straight up single target physical damage. Pound is a combat ability so it is widely usable. I don’t think this is stated anywhere on the actual ability but it has a 100% hit rate so no missing even when blinded! On the downside, Pound is kind of a filler spell at best: It only does 15% more damage than Launch and doesn’t really do anything special (no buffs or debuffs). It also needs to be honed to be useful.

Bladeblitz/Yukikaze
AoE physical damage. Great for trash clearing and AoE bosses. If you have a Samurai that you drag along often (such as Sephiroth), I would choose Yukikaze over Bladeblitz for the chance to blind all. Keep in mind that both of these abilities require Greater Power Orbs, which complete with the Breakdowns.

Merry Christmas

First Christmas in the new house and first time that we have purchased an actual tree. I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas before getting ready to cook. Whatever you do today and whatever you celebrate, may it be filled with happiness.

[FFRK] Orb Fest, Narshe+++, Etc

First and foremost, with the plethora of upcoming events, I created a small calendar for personal use to help keep track of them. I am sure that there are a thousand of these on the internet, but I was bored. Unfortunately/fortunately? Most of the events seem to overlap, meaning that stamina is going to have to be prioritized. Orb wise, I would really like to hone Full Break to R2 so that means: Festive Fantasy phases (aka Orb Fest) 2, 3, and 4 are going to be important. Phase 4 probably being the most important because who doesn’t need Power Orbs?

I am pretty stocked on White, Holy, and Earth orbs so Phase 2 will be used to complete the Blood Madness Bonus Battles. Once Veil of Memories starts, enough stamina will of course be allocated to snatch the RM2 Crystals. This is all assuming that I am even going to able to or interested in playing Final Fantasy Record Keeper on or around Christmas (busy busy fun party time). If anyone else finds this of use, here you go.

Narshe+++
Valigarmanda isn’t that super RNG dependent so therefore, not that irritating of a fight to complete. He also does pure magical damage so drop Defense in favor of Resistance. The general strategy that I chose is to: Get magical mitigation up ASAP, cast reflect on a spell blade, have the spell blade use Fira/ga strike on the boss, have the black mage cast Firaga on the reflected party member to avoid the counter, have Shadow not die.

The trick is, at least for my setup, to get Magic Breakdown and Shellga off before the first AoE Blizzard. With full mitigation it only hits for around 500 to 700 a pop versus well over 1k. Since I had a group regen up on all party members earlyish into the fight, that took the edge off of the AoE. Celes was more or less self sustainable with Drain Strike and Aerith just sat and spammed Curaga for anyone who got too low on health. His single target spells do hurt but are more manageable than the constant AoE spam

I don’t have Firaga Strike or Firaja honed enough to last for the duration of this fight so I used Fira Strike and Firaga instead. Fira Strike hit him for max damage and Firaga hit him for about 6k to 7k. Reflect did need to be applied roughly half way through the fight. Shellga was recast at about the same time as a precaution.

  • Celes: Fira Strike. Drain Strike when approaching/below half health
  • Setzer: Alternate between Magic and Defense Breakdown
  • Shadow: Dismissal/RW bot. Magic Break backup just in case
  • Setzer runs out of Magic Breakdown (which he did at the end of the fight)
  • Terra: Cast Firaga on Celes do that it reflects on the boss
  • Aerith: Shellga + spam heals + planet protector when possible

[FFRK] Reunion with Ginnem+++ Cheese

Yojimbo wasn’t all that hard of a fight with full physical mitigation.  He does have a few AoE attacks but as a whole, most of this fight is comprised of a single target physical attacks. Keep in mind however that you are eating two physical attacks per round since Diagoro will also single target attack your party (he is not targettable). All-in-all though, it is a perfect setup for a retaliate strategy.

I seldom utilize the advantaliate or tauntaliate strategy because I do not find it to be a particularly interesting style of play. In the time that it took me to perfect my cheese strategy for this boss fight. Interestingly enough, it probably would have been way way easier to just solo the fight with either Cloud or Auron. The difficult part of this fight is of course competing the fight without Lulu and Wakka dying.

The Target Score goals for this fight are to: Attack him with Fire and win with both Lulu and Wakka alive. Keep in mind that petrify will effectively remove a character from combat without technically killing them allowing the retaliator to receive more damage bonus from Loner and receive all attacks. In short: You will want Lulu to cast Firaja on the boss, petrify Wakka, petrify herself, advantaliate the rest off the fight. I found it easier to have Wakka cast Power Breakdown during the first round as that did reduce much of his damage. If you can time it right, you can probably get a Full Break off before he is petrified. In my game, I didn’t think it was worth the risk of Lulu eating another attack and dying just for a Full Break (their attack speed seems to be fairly high). Ultimately, it wasn’t necessary. Setup

Character Ability 1 Ability 2 Record Materia
Cloud Retaliate Drain Strike Loner
Wakka Full Break Power Breakdown Bastion
Lulu Break Firaja Sky Pirate’s Pride
Roaming Warrior: Advance

With FFX Record Synergy, Cloud has a total attack of 402. With the Loner Record Materia, he gets a 20% damage (not attack) bonus for each empty slot. I do believe that Petrified characters still give the Loner buff. So that would be a total of 80% bonus damage for each retaliate. Nice.

First Round:
Lulu: Firaja on boss
Wakka: Power Breakdown on Boss

Second Round:
Lulu: Break on Wakka
Wakka: Full Break if you can get one off before petrify.

Third Round:
Cloud: Drain Strike if Cloud ate too much damage, otherwise retaliate.

Fourth Round:
Cloud: Advance

You obviously have to S/L if either Lulu or Wakka dies or if either of them aren’t petrified before Break runs out of charges. I ended up refreshing retaliate every other round. So: Retaliate > Something else > Retaliate and so forth.

[FFRK] The Source of the Mist+++ Postmortem

That was an annoying fight. I have very little FFIX item record synergy, but still beat it. I can probably master the encounter by swapping around a few things but we’ll have to see about that. So close :/. My setup:

Character Ability 1 Ability 2 Record Materia
 Garnet  Diaga  Protectga  Prayer of the Cetra
 Steiner  Fira Strike  Drain Strike  SOLDIER’s Pride
Zidane  Dark Buster  Steal Power SOLDIER Strike
 Vivi Waterja Firaga Vow of Vengeance
 Eiko Renewing Cure Shellga Mako Might

RW: Hymn of the Faith for regen and to take the edge off of the 2k AoE that is is almost guaranteed to get off before you can do anything at all. May have been better off with Boon for the group Haste, but reluctant to drop the group heal because Fira spam :/

First round starts off with: Dark Buster, Protectga, Shellga, Hymn of the Faith, and a melee attack. If Dark Buster doesn’t blind him on the first hit, you will probably have to S/L unless you are lucky enough get get it on the second try without being AoE’d down. The trick with the water and fire abilities is to chain cast them so that he is not stuck in the burning state for too long. Waterja has a shorter cast time, so it needs to be cast at just the right time to avoid it going off before Fira Strike. Because of the touchy timing, much of the battle was fought at an irritatingly low speed to make sure that all abilities were executed in a properly timed manner. He still will get a guaranteed Fire Blades cast off as soon as he gets set on fire. Luckily, since it is physical damage, it will most most of the time if he is blinded. MOST of the time…

Having both Shellga and Mass Shell wasn’t that useful. If I redo the fight, I will probably swap Eiko for Aerith (for Planet Protector). Also, Steal Power was resisted each time. I may be better off swapping that out for Dismissal or something else. I may swap Drain Strike out for Dismissal or some other higher physical damage ability.

Really wish I had Light’s Wrath for one of my physical characters.

Overwatch Musings

I received an invite to Overwatch’s stress beta test weekend. A weekend worth of playtime wasn’t quite enough time to thoroughly test out all 21 characters currently available, but what I can say is that Overwatch is an extremely fun and amazingly polished game. I love the character designs and the feel of the game. Much to my pleasure, no real technical or server issues arose during the weekend, which wasn’t what I was expecting, especially for a beta.

Balance wise, it is difficult to determine how balanced or unbalanced any particular character is because Overwatch is more about team synergy than individual character balance. A few characters feel pretty overpowered but then again, not so much when being countered by certain other characters on the opposing team. It feels kind of like a MOBA in that respect.

Other nitpicks: It’s odd not having a straight up scoreboard to let you know how you are doing in relation to other players currently in the game. It’s also odd not having a kill feed. I would also love to see at least one more game mode other than point control and payload before the game is released. Overall, it’s a fun casual shooter.

Fallout 4: Quick Impressions

My original intention was to make a quick Fallout post about a week ago, but much like everyone else on the Internet, this game has consumed a large part of my free time. Overall, Fallout 4 certainly feels like a Fallout game both atmospherically and mechanically. In fact, it feels almost exactly like Fallout 3/New Vegas but with newer graphics and gameplay tweaks; I mean that statement by the way in the most positive and sincere way. The scavenging aspect and the challenge of surviving in the wasteland is something that Fallout 4 holds true to, especially with the addition of the settlements.

  • Mobs are harder than I remember and have distinct AIs: Feral Ghouls jump around and rush at you, humans with fire from cover, Boat Flies zig zag erratically, etc. There are also legendary enemies in the game that are more difficult but offer rare items.
  • The PC user interface is pretty bad and is clearly a console port.
  • The base building is fun, but is again, hindered by the user interface.
  • I am satisfied with the graphics. I’m not sure what all the complaining is about.
  • So far, I have been lucky in the sense that most of the bugs that I have encountered have been relatively minor and easy to work around. Other people however, have experienced constant crashing; Some of which hindering players from progressing with the main quest line.

The jury is still about on my full opinion of the game; That will have to wait until I finish the main story line. That said, the fact that I have already spent about 40 hours playing Fallout 4 yet feel that I have barely scratched the surface says a lot I guess.

Pixel Dungeon Musings

Really, the only game of note that I have been playing lately has been Pixel Dungeon on my phone. I did my Witcher 3 NG+ playthrough and also made a feeble effort at becoming proficient at Dwarf Fortress. Really though, it is all just biding time until Fallout 4 is released; Just a mere two days away.

Regarding Pixel Dungeon: It is a roguelike (turn-based combat, randomly generated dungeons/loot, permanent death) dungeon crawl that is available on most platforms. The goal of the game is to make it through 25 levels and beat the 5th boss. Thus far, the furthest I have gotten would be level 13. A couple of things that I have learned:

  • There is no shame in just restarting the game when the random number generator utterly shits on you with a bad loot table in the early levels.
  • You don’t need necessarily eat when you are hungry or even starving. When starving, you will only lose 1HP every 30 or so turns (depending on your class, etc). I will typically save my food until I am starving and at or below half health.
  • Upgrade scrolls will reset your weapon/armor durability. It may be worth saving and stockpiling these items. There really aren’t too many worthwhile weapons in the lower levels of the game unless you get really really lucky.
  • On a similar note, I am kind of starting to lean on the side of upgrading armor before weaponry. survivability goes a long long long way…
  • Bottleneck groups of enemies at the doors so that they don’t attack you all at once.
  • The “door trick” is a critical skill: Walk outside of a room just past the door so that the mob that you are targeting is on the door. 100% hit accuracy for 1 hit. Useful for killing the stupid ghosts that spawn out of the graves.
  • You can super farm the swarms of flies for healing potions (levels 3, 4, 6 through 9). Every time you hit a fly without killing it, it will split given that there is an empty space next to it (up, down, left, right. Diagonals don’t seem to count). Flies at the 3rd and 4th split seem to have a very high chance of dropping healing potions. They will literally do zero damage if you have high armor. Also, this trick only works up until character level 12. In other words, don’t over level before the first boss fight on level 5. Prime health pot farming time is after the fist boss but before the second as that is where the flies spawn.
  • I have also noticed that my “good runs” have been as a whole, mostly those in which I had received a decent weapon/armor relatively early in the game. Even just the smallest gear upgrade goes a long way and curbs the need to constantly burn resources to heal.

Overall: If you enjoy roguelikes and challenging dungeon crawls, I would highly recommend Pixel Dungeon.

Caturday + Things That I Have Been Playing

When in doubt, just post pictures of the cat I guess. He’s getting so much bigger!

I finally finished the MGSV campaign earlier this week. I kind of want to play Metal Gear Online and play through some of the extra/side missions that I missed but I don’t think I will. Good game, had a lot of fun. As a final thought, the weakest part of Phantom Pain in my opinion is the narrative by virtue of the Metal Gear series as a whole, failing to integrate the storytelling aspect of the game into the gameplay aspect of the game. There is too much exposition. I am torn between feeling glad that the developers shoved most of the dialogue into the cassette tapes and recognizing that sort of thing is lame.

I purchased Hearts of Stone, the Witcher 3 expansion the other day, which I was playing on and off in-between attempting to clean the house. The somewhat awkward thing is that you can only play the expansion content once you have beaten the game; Which would normally be okay except for the fact that I was already about 5 to 10 hours deep into a New Game + replay. So, I had to back up a copy of my NG+ save (as a precaution), load an older pre-NG+/post game completion save, then trigger the expansion quest line. I would like to complete NG+, but I don’t think I will be able to do so before Fallout 4’s release date.