Friday, September 25, 2020

First Impressions of Hades

Supergiant Games has released their latest game, Hades. I am a huge fan of their previous games: Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre. Hades has finally come out of Early Access, so I snapped it up.

I'm barely into it, but it's really good so far. In both Pyre and Hades, Supergiant is trying to weave defeat into the narrative, and it's really interesting to see their approach.

Hades is a "rogue-like" game. It's an isometric RPG like Diablo. You play Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape to Mount Olympus. The basic game-play is you moving from room to room in a randomly-generated map. In each room you kill the monsters and get a reward. You keep going until you die.

When you die, you go back to Hades' palace where you pet Cerberus, talk to various NPCs, uncover more of the story, and spend resources on improving your character for your next attempt. Dying is part of the story, as various NPCs will comment on your last attempt. I got mocked for stepping in a spike trap.

Some resources exist only for the attempt, like gold and boons from the other Olympian gods. Other resources allow you to improve your character or unlock weapons or upgrade the underworld with new rooms. The gods' boons improves or alters one of your attacks, so each run plays slightly differently as you get boons from different gods.

That cycle of "attempt, death, conversation, improvement, repeat" is very well done. It makes dying become just part of the game. It also makes for nice stopping points for the individual play session.

There are multiple weapons. So far, I've unlocked a sword, a bow, and a shield. I'm not very good with the bow because it requires aiming, but I like the shield. It has a small knock-back which does extra damage if the enemy is slammed against a wall.

You also have a "Cast" ability which throws a projectile at an enemy. By default, the projectile debuffs the enemy and you can't use Cast again until you kill the enemy and pick up the projectile. It's an elegant way of allowing you a powerful ranged option, but keeping you from just kiting all the time.

So far, Hades is just superb. I'm playing on PC with a controller, but I hear that the Switch version is extremely well done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shadowlands Afterlives: Revendreth

There sure were a lot of jokes about Garrosh getting milked.

This video is very well done. It's always fun to get a video from the point of view of the bad guy being deliciously evil.

Revendreth seems interesting as well. It looks like the equivalent of a Hell, where evil souls are tormented until they repent. It is amusing that WoW cannot use demons for this traditional role, because demons occupy a completely different place in WoW's cosmology. Instead we have anima-drinking vampires (or possibly elves).

The only concern is that this story seems a bit like the Suramar storyline in Legion. Nobility hoarding a resource that everyone needs to live. There's probably going to be a revolution as well.

I just hope it doesn't end with Garrosh yelling "Revendreth is free!" at the end.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Shadowlands Afterlives: Ardenweald

Now this was excellent!

Apparently the WoW community is very fond of Ursoc, so they were saddened by this video. Despite (or maybe because) of killing him twice in qame. The video does an excellent job laying out the faction, and making them sympathetic.

I quite like the fae in urban fantasy, like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, and Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. I am looking forward to seeing Blizzard's take on the fae. Though from this video, the Winter Queen is certainly nothing like Butcher's Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness.

Honestly, I rather think this will be my covenant of choice for my paladin. Perhaps a bit of an usual choice, as it seems more for nature classes like druids, hunters and shaman. But I've always felt that the heart of the paladin archetype is sacrifice, and this video embodies that well.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Shadowlands Afterlives: Maldraxxus

The next covenant featured is Maldraxxus. This looks to be a martial realm, with several warrior houses.

The main character featured is Draka, mother of Thrall. Which brings up an interesting point. In most Western, Christian-inspired versions of the afterlife, it's a place to be reunited with your loved ones. Draka's husband is Durotan, who died alongside her. There's not even a mention of him. Instead, WoW's afterlife appears to be closer to the Norse Valhalla, where the dead have a job to do.

One really weird decision was to have Draka train as a rogue. There's already a famous female orc (or half-orc) rogue: Garona. It seems overly repetitive to have Draka become a discount Garona. I think it would have been better to leave Draka as a warrior.

Otherwise, I don't know. This video seems like you're supposed to go, "OMG, Draka is sooo cool!" But if you don't, there's really nothing else there. Kind of honestly, the most interesting bit was the mention of the House of Plagues. That seems like a pretty unusual martial House.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Shadowlands Afterlives: Bastion

This is the first intro video for Shadowlands. I guess there will be four, introducing the main factions.

I've been trying to avoid spoilers, or indeed any information about the expansion. But it feels like Shadowlands is making it harder than normal. Maybe it's just the extensive beta, but when this video dropped, all the discussion online was full of spoilers.

In any case, the video is decent. I'm a little tired of Uther and Arthas, though, so I was not particularly thrilled to see them again. In my opinion, that story ended, and it ended well, so let it rest.

This covenant, Bastion, seems like pretty typical angels. Paint-by-numbers, really. The standard "stay on the path" and ignore warning signs hierarchy that these sorts of quasi-religious factions usually end up being, followed by one going rogue and over-zealous.

I don't know, I hope Bastion is more interesting in the actual expansion. The thing is that we're supposed to be joining these Covenants, so I think these introductory videos should show what makes the Covenant attractive. I can't see anyone actually wanting to join Bastion after this video.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Horrific Visions - Mad World

 I've been working on the Horrific Visions over the last week or so. Today I got the [Mad World] Feat of Strength for successfully completing both the Horrific Vision of Stormwind and Horrific Vision of Ogrimmar solo with 5 Masks!

Mount and Title Rewards above Silithus

5-Masking both Visions (in a group or solo) awards a mount, the Black Serpent of N'Zoth. 5-Masking both visions solo gives a title, the Faceless One.

I actually did Stormwind last week, adding one mask a day until I did all 5 masks on Monday. Today I tackled Ogrimmar and went straight for all 5 masks. I did both visions as Retribution with 470 average item level, though it was my Holy Gear and corruptions (Ineffable Truth!) aside from my weapon.

Some tips if you want to tackle it in the next week or two:

  • Adding one mask a run was good to get used to the vision and the path you want to run in.
  • Add the 50% less Sanity mask early. It was the third mask I tackled. Adjusting for lower Sanity is the biggest thing you need to learn, as a couple of other mechanics don't happen until low sanity, so it's good to get used to the reduced Sanity early.
  • I did it with zero net corruption. Having to deal with slows and extra circles is extra hassle.
  • Use a flask and food. I used the food which increases movement speed in Stormwind and health regen in Org. In hindsight, I probably should have used health regen in both. I wasn't used to moving so quickly in SW. Also have a stack of K'babs and use them often.
  • In Stormwind, I used the Sanity Orb before Mathias and Magister Umbric, and then before Alleria.
  • In Orgrimmar, I used the Sanity Orb before the last elites before the Lost area bosses. Pull the elites into the Sanity Orb and start damaging them before it disappears. With the extra sanity from defeating the elite, you get to the boss at max or fairly high Sanity.
  • Find the dead body near the start and identify the bad potion color. Drink all the good potions you can.
  • Find the enemy that gives a buff in the first area early, then continue to the other zones.

I found Ogrimmar harder than Stormwind, though part of it might just be unfamiliarity. I found it a lot harder to dodge or avoid a lot of the Sanity-drain mechanics in Org, and ended up having to burn my last Orb early. My guild says you can avoid a lot of them, like the Void Torrent, by stepping into the bosses hitbox, but they only told me this after the run.

In any case, I feel like I've completed all my personal goals for Battle for Azeroth with this achievement. Looking forward to Shadowlands!