h1

Grim Dawn Forgotten Gods – Hardcore Oathkeeper – Part Two

March 30, 2019

The planned progress update at level 20 has turned into this level 36 progress update…

I’m currently about halfway through Act 2, taking my time after a couple of ridiculously close calls, mostly due to the combination of the lack of tank skills in my Oathkeeper build and my own reckless attitude to rushing into the Steps of Torment on Veteran difficulty. Which unsurprisingly led to this near-death experience at level 33:

That picture, and a few others in this progress update are still images from recorded footage – apologies for the quality but you can see what’s happening!

I was planning on sticking with a pure Oathkeeper until level 50 but leaving it until then is just not going to be viable, knowing what I’d have to go through to get to that point. Due to the skills I’m using (and really loving, I have to say) the only real choice for a second mastery is Soldier because I need the tank skills and various backup plans that come with them. I’m also going to start getting some health/resistance devotion constellations sorted out after I complete the Magi constellation. This is what my choice of Oathkeeper skills looked like at about level 35:

I’ve ditched a few early skill choices and gone for an almost totally damage-based build, primarily Burn and Fire, with some Vitality damage. I made what I suppose a lot of people will think is an odd choice of attaching the Bat constellation’s Twin Fangs to Eye of Reckoning, but this is how it works: Eye of Reckoning is set to a level where I can pretty much keep it on all the time because the amount of energy it uses is constantly being restored due to the energy regen rate I’ve got. Now, Eye of Reckoning deals damage every 0.2 seconds (at 100% attack speed). Twin Fangs has a 20% chance to occur on attack, which means the EoR skill is firing off five times a second, so Twin Fangs is activating approximately once every second. Twin Fangs has ‘% Attack damage converted to health’ so in a big fight something is always getting tagged about once a second and I’m getting health back from it. Not a lot, and certainly not enough to compensate for reckless behaviour. Should be a different story once I get Menhir’s Will and Overguard early on in the Soldier skill tree.


Overall, with the damage skills set up this way, I’m having a whole load of fun with the new mastery from the Forgotten Gods expansion. I can see a lot of different ways this class could be used, and I suspect the way I’m doing it is fairly predictable. For now, I’m not looking at anyone else’s Oathkeeper builds or videos so what I end up with is pretty my own invention. Always assuming this character stays alive long enough to get there!

Link to Part One

I also write novels: https://jwtapper.co.uk/
Advertisements
h1

Grim Dawn Forgotten Gods – Hardcore Oathkeeper – Part One

March 27, 2019

Last time I posted something like this on Arcadelife was back in 2013 when I was playing Diablo 3, trying to get a hardcore character to the level cap. This time (with a lot less available time) I’m trying out the new Oathkeeper class/mastery in Grim Dawn’s new expansion – Forgotten Gods, which was released about five hours ago on Steam.

I’ve already taken a couple of hardcore characters to level 50, completing the base game (i.e. not including the Ashes expansion) with one of them, so I’ve got a reasonable idea about what I’m doing. Unlike in Diablo 3, where there’s a 10 second countdown whenever you try to leave the game, Grim Dawn can be paused at any time and you can quit immediately – this makes hardcore mode considerably less stressful.

Currently, my hardcore Oathkeeper character is level 15, which is exactly where I planned to get it to on day one. I’d already figured out where I was going to assign mastery points which you can see here in a screenshot from the game (not from Grim Tools, which is a truly brilliant site, in case you were wondering):

Getting to level 15 was pretty quick. I used the Crucible (sort of an infinite arena mode if you don’t know what it is) from level 7 until I unlocked 5 devotion points, after a couple of runs through the Slith island very close to the start of the first campaign area. For early levelling, and clearing trash mobs, Aegis of Menhir is adequate but nowhere near as effective a starter skill as the Necromancer’s skeletons or the Shaman’s Devouring swarm. It starts to look good once you get the mastery bar up to level 5 and start putting points in the Avenging Shield skill which lets your Aegis hit more targets. This is what it looks like early on, in action at character level 6:


As I mentioned, I used the Crucible from level 7, once Aegis of Menhir was doing enough damage to be effective at clearing waves of enemies. Crucible is a quick and easy way to get 5 Devotion points before wading into the main campaign. I wanted to get the Fiend constellation as quickly as possible because of the percentage buffs to fire damage – which is the default damage type on Aegis of Menhir. You can modify it to acid damage, which I probably won’t bother with, and the whole point of that would be if you were going for a totally different damage focus on a particular build. Fiend also gives you this 25% chance damage effect – I’ve got it bound to Righteous Fervour which is being used as default attack (left mouse button). Just one point in that skill; I might stick with it but I’ll probably swap Flame Torrent out for a better devotion skill at a later stage.

Reprisal unlocks at mastery level 20. This looks very much like something they added in for all the people who quite sensibly want to dump all their attribute points in Physique and not bother putting any in Spirit. As you can see (pic below) each level of Reprisal lowers the energy cost of Aegis of Menhir in addition to adding a large amount of burn damage. It also includes a new buff type that appears in Forgotten Gods – the addition of a percentage of retaliation damage to attack damage. Again, they’ve realised the basic retaliation builds are a bit boring to play because you generally just stand there and don’t attack anything. This type of buff just gives you more options, like you’d maybe want to equip that Perdition set you’ve got hanging around but never really wanted to play a Retaliation build because it sounds too boring.

That’s about it for level 15. It’s pointless talking about gear because I’m picking up whatever drops and occasionally swapping around some items where I’ve got low-level rares and epics in storage. Nothing worth mentioning – it’s the same stuff every player will have seen if they’re played a few different characters through normal/veteran.

I’ll aim to get an update posted when I reach level 20. That could be before or after getting past the warden, depends how tanky the Oathkeeper is feeling at that point. If you’re playing this expansion, have a good time with it – it’s looking fun so far.

 

I also write novels: https://jwtapper.co.uk/
h1

Marbloid review – iOS Universal

December 8, 2018

10 word description (from official site): Marbloid is a 3D marble runner for iPhone and iPad.

10 word review: Incredibly good-looking, incredibly annoying. Prepare for extreme frustration.

You will like this if you enjoy: Failing due to deliberately perverse game design choices, losing everything you collected when you crash and fail due to those wacky design choices, being told “FAIL” by an annoying voice every time you fail and lose everything you collected due to those oh-so amusing game design choices.

The good news: Graphics are very nice. Performance is good – I didn’t get any slowdown or lag on my iPhone 8+. Concept is sound – guide a rolling ball through some areas collecting stuff and levelling up skills. No IAPs.

The bad news: Oh boy, where to start… The first few minutes with Marbloid are pretty good. But then you realise you lose everything you collected when you FAIL, so it’s different in this respect from other endless runner type games, you know, where you collect coins or whatever and they add to your stockpile every time you play. In Marbloid, the currency is emojis, which to be honest should have been a massive clue as to how annoying this game was going to be. Unlike the way you would expect this emoji-collecting to work, if you FAIL before reaching an exit point you lose all the emojis you have collected in that run, and you also lose any quest-related progress. This means you have to play the game a couple of different ways: One, grind on short, wimpy-but-safe(ish) runs to the first or second exit while collecting as many emojis as you can. This method can also be used to complete quests where you have to collect a total number of whatever in as many runs as it takes. The other way you have to play is enforced by quests to complete whatever in a single run – these are horrible because FAILING in this game is hard to avoid due to appallingly sadistic level design, specific level features which catch you out by being hidden around corners or just unavoidable, and the stupid tilt-only control, and the fact that you have to jump using a screen-tap but the bottom of the screen (where there’s a quest status bar) doesn’t register the screen taps and aaaarggghhhh! Trust me, it’s bloody annoying.

One thing which would remove the massive frustration of failing on a long, profitable run, would be if the stupid game let you keep what you had collected. You can even complete a quest – you get the screen prompt and everything – but if you don’t exit cleanly through an EXIT, and you FAIL, you lose that quest completion. It’s just stupid. I had to turn the volume off completely because the voice shouting “FAIL” every time you fail (which feels like every ten seconds) is ANNOYING. AS. HELL.

Arcadelife verdict: This is not so much a wasted opportunity as an excellent opportunity repeatedly slaughtered at the unholy altar of player-FAIL as part of some kind of evil, Groundhog Day experiment in phone-smashing frustration. This game’s annoyance could be mostly fixed by removing the unnecessarily cruel progress loss and the “FAIL” voiceover which purely serves to express just how much the designers don’t want you to enjoy playing their game.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 8/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 6/10
Content – 6/10
Fun – -1/10
Final rating – 3/10

SMASH YOUR PHONE, THEN YOURSELF. IT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO DO

 

 

This review was written on a dasKeyboard Model S Professional.
I also write novels – JW Tapper website
h1

Battle Princess Madelyn review – PC (Steam)

December 6, 2018

Game blurb, aka how the game is described on Steam and the Causal Bits BPM web page:
“You’re the princess! Battle Princess Madelyn to be precise, in this pixel perfect retro side-scroller, as you set off to defeat evil with your ghostly canine companion, Fritzy. Do you have what it takes to save your family, avenge your furry friend and become the ultimate battle princess?” “10 levels, each of which include up to 5 stages – including 1 or 2 branching hidden stages.”

What is it?
Battle Princess Madelyn is 2018’s indirect, unofficial descendant of Capcom’s thirty-year-old hard-as-nails scrolling platformer, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and its even older ancestor, Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Unlike those games, or any of their five later incarnations, the protagonist of BPM is Madelyn The (kind of) Princess instead of Arthur the knight. There are two modes: story and arcade. In story mode, a short cutscene sets up the premise that Madelyn needs/wants to go fight a bunch of bad guys and you’re almost immediately dropped into the action after some standard ‘talk to people in village to hear about the bad guys and the profit to be made and items to be gained from their wholesale slaughter’ conversations. The arcade mode just has the “Oh no, they killed my dog!” scene, which replaces the “Oh no, they stole the Princess!” scene from most of the classic side-scrolling undead-fighting platformers mentioned above.

What does it look like?
BPM is full-on retro pixel art and proud of it. I could probably witter on for several paragraphs about the satisfyingly lo-res homage to 80’s arcade games, but you can see for yourself from the screen images in this review. If you hadn’t seen this game but you heard it described as a modern take on Ghouls ‘n Ghosts with retro pixel art graphics, this is how you would probably imagine it looking. Bosses are big (see pic of first boss below), nicely drawn and animated, and take a lot of pummelling.

Is it worth turning the sound up?
Sort of. The music is great, and there’s an option to select an ‘orchestral’ or ‘arcade’ soundtrack. Sadly, the sound effects are very quiet (at least as far as I could tell on my system) and there’s no option to adjust the music/effects volumes independently.

How are the controls?
Keyboard works okay, you pretty much just have directional controls, jump and attack, however you can’t change the allocated keys. I played mostly using an XBox 360 gamepad plugged into the PC and it was fine, although the inventory button is only assigned to a PC key (Tab) which seems a bit weird because there are plenty of spare buttons on a gamepad for this. Response to input is consistent and immediate – I never felt like I was dying or falling to my doom due to controller issues.

Final opinion
I’m old, I played Ghouls ‘n Ghosts when it was in the arcades, and I played Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on a SNES way back when that was new and exciting, and laggy as heck of course. A modern spin on the side-scrolling action platformer, as well as being a game I would really want to try out, is always going to be facing some serious competition from my (arguably rose-tinted) memories of those original games. Battle Princess Madelyn gets it mostly right. While I play the game, I keep running through a list in my head of what I’d like different, or better. I prefer the arcade mode over the story mode, but that’s just something irredeemably screwed up in my gamer DNA due to living through the Golden Age – I love high scores. And, of course, there’s no high-score table in this game, so I have to mark it down for that. Other things that irritated me included the quick-travel which doesn’t seem to include the hub village as a travel option – I honestly can’t figure out how to get back there to cash in quests, find the dude who offers upgrades, etc.

 

Other details, like the inability to change key mappings, or separately adjust music and volume controls make this feel just a tiny bit unpolished.

The core gameplay is spot on, the game looks really nice and controls work well. I’ll keep going back to play it long after this review has been published, but it would be great to have some of these issues sorted out – they honestly would not be difficult to fix.

Scores – because we love scores.
Dem retro graphics – 9
Music – 8.5
Sound FX – 4 (make ’em louder or give us a volume control)
Controls – 9
Gameplay (difficulty) – 8
Gameplay (fun) – 7.5
Menu options / customisation – 4

Overall score – 8 (I rounded it up with some rose-tinted memories)

This review was written on a dasKeyboard Model S Professional.
I also write novels – JW Tapper website
h1

Battle Princess Madelyn – Release Date 06 December 2018

November 13, 2018

Battle Princess Madelyn – Releases December 6th 2018 on Nintendo Switch, XB1, PS4 & Windows PC

 

h1

Skyrim – Nordic Legend ‘self-sufficiency’ challenge

April 20, 2018

Welcome to the Skyrim – Nordic Legend ‘self-sufficiency’ challenge.

This is something I’ve recently started, based on ideas obtained from various Skyrim challenges. It’s not particularly a roleplaying challenge, and it’s not intended to be crushingly punishing or extremely tedious, although it is to be played entirely on Legendary difficulty. I’ll post updates on an infrequent basis; if you take up the challenge, please add a comment or two to let me know how you’re getting on with it.

Overall purpose of this challenge: To be entirely self-sufficient on Legendary difficulty, and to abide strictly by the rules of the challenge.

Almost all the challenge rules do not require ‘player honesty’ or remembering ‘roleplay’ specific elements, as they can be continually checked against the recorded stats for the character. An exception to this is the first set of restrictions (see below) regarding the player state on leaving Helgen.

Character creation and state on leaving Helgen.

Race: Nord

Difficulty: Legendary. This cannot be changed at any time after leaving Helgen.

Restrictions

Restrictions upon leaving Helgen…

> Player must accompany Ralof and not Hadvar – the Stormcloak side must always be chosen.
> Player must be level 1.
> No skills are to be improved before leaving Helgen via the cave exit into the main game world.
> Player’s inventory must be completely empty. Anything being carried must be dropped before leaving through the cave exit.
> Gold carried must be 0.
> Player must be wearing nothing.
> Player must be wielding no weapon or shield.


Consistent restrictions (i.e. for the rest of the time this character is played)…

> Can only wear, wield and use items, potions and food crafted yourself. This means no bought, found or looted items can be used by the player. This includes weapons, armour, potions, food. However, all items (whether looted, found or crafted) can be sold in order to buy crafting materials.

> No magic spells can be used or learned apart from the two starter spells – Healing and Flames.

> Nothing can be stolen. This means that anything in the world marked ‘STEAL’ cannot be opened, unlocked, taken, or otherwise manipulated by the player or a follower.

> Pick-pocketing is not allowed at all.

> The murder of innocent NPCs is not allowed. i.e. Don’t attack any person who isn’t attacking you, unless that person is a quest target. (Yes, you can kill Grelod The Kind if you have the appropriate quest active).

> Waiting is not allowed.

> Cart travel is not allowed.

> Vanilla game should be played – no mods, particularly any that add or improve weapons, armour, or any crafting skills.

Actions that are allowed, which may not be clear from the restrictions…

> Followers can be equipped with anything you find, loot or craft.

> You are allowed to disenchant found and looted items, and to enchant items that you have crafted.

> Anything crafted by the player can be used by the player. This includes unique items such as the Aetherial Crown.

> Houses may be bought and used by the player.

> Sleeping (e.g. in a player house, at an inn, or on bedroll out in the world) is allowed.

> Fast travel to locations previously discovered by the player is allowed.

> Shouts are allowed.

> Perks can be put into any skill tree.

> Cooking, Smithing, Alchemy and Enchanting are all allowed.

> Filled soul gems that are found or bought can be used by the player.

> All crafting materials may be bought, including ingots.

General objectives / win conditions

> Progress as far as possible in the main quest line.

> Progress as far as possible in the civil war quest line, taking the Stormcloak side.

> Acquire 100,000 gold at one time (i.e. have that much in your inventory at least once).

That’s it. Actually pretty straightforward despite the lengthy description of the challenge. So far, I’ve made a fairly decent start in the first half hour, getting to Riverwood and crafting a full set of leather armour and an iron warhammer. I obviously took Sven’s side, and not Faendal’s, because Nords have to stick together. Sven’s turning out to be not too bad at all with a one-handed sword, but I don’t intend keeping him around for very long.

I’ll be concentrating on these skills:
> Two-Handed
> Light Armour
> Smithing
> Enchanting

And I’ll have  some interest in:
> Alchemy
> Restoration

Initially, up to level 20, I’ll be stacking level-up health and stamina in an 80:20 ratio, so by level 20 I should have 220 Health and 170 Stamina. After that, it will probably be 50:50 Health and Stamina.

If you’re really lucky, I’ll add some videos of significant moments…

h1

Battle Princess Madelyn – teaser trailer #1

September 22, 2017

This definitely looks like it’s going to rule.

Press release information:

September 20th 2017, Nova Scotia, Canada – Causal Bit Games is excited to present a stunning new trailer to commemorate the recent success on Kickstarter of Battle Princess Madelyn, that quadrupled the target set, and also to thank the many fans who have supported the game is set to release on PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Wii U – which is due for release first quarter 2018.

Features

  • Story mode allows players to explore the vast world of Princess Madelyn – uncover the secrets of the kingdom and beyond.
  • A 10 level Arcade mode for the action hungry old school game player – levels designed specifically for a fast action arcade experience.
  • Join Madelyn on her quest of self-discovery as she helps others, and not just herself, to becomes a wiser more mature knight and to save her family and kingdom from the clutches of evil.
  • An array of weaponry to choose from, each with its own unique abilities, which are also modified by the three different types of armor the player can receive on their way through the game.
  • Meet many different characters as Madelyn builds a support system throughout the kingdom.
  • Loads of ghouls, demons and bosses to crush on your way to becoming the kingdom’s most powerful defender.