Podcast No.2

Link to the second podcast dedicated to The Division.

I was far more prepared for this one – just in case you do wander over to the first one!

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The Division – Skills, Talents & Perks List

 

With the beta dropping in a matter of days many players have already decided on what type of role they are looking to focus on and what weapons they hope to pick up. But when it comes to abilities, it’s been a little tougher to plan ahead and start that all-important theorycrafting for your special agent.

Skills/Abilities

Skills are your active abilities. Each agent can have a total of THREE active abilities, with the third being your Signature. Default mapping have these set as RB, LB or RB+LB (Signature) to activate and will be the main difference is playstyles from player-to-player. Each skill, excluding the signature, has an additional three modifications to choose from and a final “Mastery” mod which will all be unlocked via leveling, mission completion and base expansion. As a note, this Mastery mod will be in addition to the customised mod. So before we even get beyond the abilities themselves there are 16 abilities, phew!

Talents

You can have a total of FOUR talents active at one time all of which directly effect a certain part of you play. These include boosts to healing abilities, buffs to damage mitigation or procs to boost damage when hitting or killing an enemy is a certain way. There are a ton of them and the combinations of these with active skills will cause a diverse sleeper community.

Perks

Although to be confirmed, there are finally perks and allow either 4 or 5 (TBC) passives that do not necessarily effect your combat ability. These range from additional carry load, experience boosts, regular delivery of certain resources to your main Police HQ etc. A great possibility here is that you may be able to gain resources while offline if you have one of the resource nodes activated so if you get a deadline that needs meeting or simply don’t get as much play time as you wanted during a week, you can still at least come back to a little gift waiting in whichever wing your perk is.

Below is a link to GearNuke with a list of all their abilities, skills and perks. HOWEVER, certainly not to put them down, some of their abilities and research requirements do not agree with some of the latest footage you can get hold of. For example, Arekkz who has made a whole load of awesome videos on The Division shows some of the latest gameplay and show that the Sticky Bomb AND Seeker Mine seem to be in the Security Tree while the Riot Shield is in Tech. It’s safe to say that the abilities may still get moved round even between the beta and release in March, but at least we should have an idea of WHAT is in the game, even if we can’t confirm the exact mean of gaining them all.

 

Early Memories

Contributed to 1001up.com HERE

When you think of the games that defined you there will be those that stand out as the more obvious selections in your life. But in retrospect, you quickly remember those other little gems, those VG moments that took your breath away or had you crawling into work for days, weeks even, on minimal sleep because you simply couldn’t keep to that “10 more minutes” or “one more game”. That list of “Top Five” becomes a mess and you try to subcategorise just to get as many in there, doing your best to not miss one out!

The second in this series of the Games That Defined Me (LINK), I’ll be casting my mind back in time and dusting the cobwebs of some of those first memories of gaming. (First Episode HERE)

 

Tetris

  • Name: Tetris
  • Developer: Bullet-Proof Software/Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release date: 1989-1990 (depending on region)
  • PEGI rating: 3
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Platforms: Game Boy (original)
  • More information: http://tetris.com/

 

Starting with a little history, tetrominoes have been around for over a century and used in mathematical puzzles since. Who would have known that it would become a trademark name that any games historian will know as one of the greatest games of all time (selling upwards of 35million copies). Since its Game Boy release in 1989, where it really made its’ mark, it has been re-released for newer Nintendo handhelds ever since, now available as an app in one way or another.

Just in case you are too youthful, or wonder if a “tetromino” was once played by Arnold Schwarzenegger the game involves slotting differently shaped blocks that consist of 4 attached, adjacent cubes into rows as best as possible without filling the screen up. Filling a line clears that line and gives a score. Simple enough, but the longer you play the quicker the game gets.

The Game Boy itself was a revolutionary piece of kit and when the bundle was released with Tetris, everyone who had the console had the game. It was incredibly addictive and progressive where games could last for hours, especially where you could pause and put the game down whenever you wanted. The simplicity matched with the 8-bit 3-track music collection made it the first game and console I think I ever owned – a whopping £100 when I got it in 1991. Come on everybody, hum along….

 

Super Mario Bros.

  • Name: Super Mario Bros.
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release date: September 1985
  • PEGI rating: 7
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Platforms: NES/Famicom
  • More information: http://mario.nintendo.com/

 

And then there was light! Multi-coloured light! At least 64 colours in total when the NES system entered my domain, strangely, after the Gameboy did. With it, came games such as Duck Hunt, and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, but Nintendo knew they were onto a winner with this lovable moustached plumber and Super Mario Bros. and this game sold a whopping 40million, holding the biggest-selling game of all time for nearly 30 years!

Without Mario, the platform games of today may have been completely different. It combined combat, puzzle, collectables, power-ups – everything that is expected in the genre of the here and now but to think that it was 30 years ago is truly awesome. I’m not sure you’d get away with jumping down a pipe to a room of coins these days. Enjoy a play through below!

 

California Games

  • Name: California Games
  • Developer: Epyx
  • Publisher: Epyx
  • Release date: 1987
  • PEGI rating: 7
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Platforms: Lynx (and many others)
  • More information: Epyx closed in 1993

 

I was a wee bern in the bonnie highlands, and while it was a short stay, at just 7 years old a family friend was playing California Games. Surfing, half-pipe, bmx – it included those sports that when you were a kid you dreamt of doing and this game did just that. If you didn’t want to repeatedly fall off your board or bike however, you could try the ye olde sport of Freestyle Footbag or Flying Disc (Hacky Sack and Frisbee ™ respectively).

They don’t make them like the used to!

Micro Mayhem!

  • Name: Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament
  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Release date: November 1994
  • PEGI rating: 3
  • Genre:
  • Platforms: Sega Mega Drive, MS-DOS, Game Gear, SNES, Game Boy
  • More information: Wiki if you needed it.

 

I, like many other kids* at a certain age, loved to play with my toy cars – I say “kid” knowing full well that every grown-up has at once, with or without their own children, used a small vehicle to ride up walls, along the floor or up and down a table! And this is where the Micro Machines series brought video games and tiny cars, vans, trucks and copters into a race over a whole range of imaginary courses.

This top-down racing-sim pitted players against each other, with up to 8 total racers in some versions, riding around bathrooms, along dinner tables, through treehouses and any other house-related area that a child’s mind could magically transform into a racing course and that is why this game makes the list. This version also had 2 additional ports on the game cartridge itself, allowing up to 4 players to play against each other which, although was a rarity nearly 20 years ago, brought out a level of competitiveness that would rival the biggest sporting games of today – well, maybe not quite!

It was simple, colourful and highly entertaining, where knowing the course inside out was a necessity for not flying off the track or into an obstacle! Plus, knocking someone off the dinner table after that bowl of peas at the last fork & knife corner? Priceless.

 

Desert Strike

  • Name: Desert Strike (Return to the Gulf)
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Release date: February 1992
  • PEGI rating: 3
  • Genre: Shoot ‘em up
  • Platforms: Sega Mega Drive
  • More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Strike

 

Possibly a main contributor to the development of strategy games, Desert Strike had you piloting a lone Apache helicopter and did so well, the then young(ish) EA Games had this as their best-selling game at the time. It was had loosely open-world maps for you to explore and secure against the hostiles while destroying bases and rescuing POW’s had be completing strategically while managing your ammo and fuel supplies.

Looking back at it now, there were some impressive mechanics in the gameplay from a camera system that mimicked realistic momentum and early 3-D modelling. The music too, which could have been in the game a little more than just the title screen and between levels, was reminiscent of the late 80’s. Airwolf probably contributed to my love of this game too and if you haven’t watched an episode of that gem of a tv series (1984-1986) you’ve missed out!

 

Alex The Kidd

  • Name: Alex the Kidd in Miracle World
  • Developer: Sega
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release date: Nov 1986 (1987 for EU)
  • PEGI rating: 7
  • Genre: Platform
  • Platforms: Sega Master System
  • More information: http://alex-kidd.wikia.com/wiki/Alex_Kidd

 

Finally, we come to the star of the show and here is a game that is possibly one of the first ever console games I played, one that defined many a gamer of the slightly-older-generation because anyone who had a Sega Master System had this game – it was built into the console.

This side-scrolling adventurer would mainly punch his way through his foes, boulders, blocks and anything else in his journey to rescuing his lost brother Prince Egle. The fantasy world included a currency system (called Baums) which enabled you to purchase lives, power-ups and vehicles including a pedal bike, pedal boat and a pedal copter!

One of the most memorable parts of the game were the boss-fights including Janken the Great and his henchmen – which were ironically defeated by playing rock, paper, scissors.

Arekkz is a Youtube master and after recently hitting 200k followers is now focusing on more recent games such as Destiny and the upcoming The Division. Although his answers are being kept for a following piece, Arekkz mentions this as one of his all-time greats and talks about the boss fights below:

“Learning how to defeat the bosses off by heart [is the most memorable moment within the game]. In Alex [the] Kidd, bosses are defeated by playing rock paper scissors, but they all had a particular pattern – at first I wrote them down, then began to learn it off by heart” – Follow Arekkz on Twitter and Youtube

 

That’s it for this episode. Arekkz and others will appear in a future article looking at the games that have defined them, how it has affected their lives and how they share that love with the community far and wide. Until then, follow me on all the channels below for the latest banter. Game on all.

Twitter: @gamingatheart

Facebook: gamingatheart

Blog: gamingatheart

Games that make you, you

There’s nothing  wrong with loving a whole load of games. A melody of genres probably makes up the collection of many, depending on what mood you fancy. But there are those that simply make you tick, that as soon as you see or get your mitts on know that reality will fall away as you tumble into something that will consume many hours to come. There are those games that define us, that will forever bring a sense of nostalgia just by seeing or hearing it again. For me, these are those games that defined my “way of life”.

Final Fantasy 8

The only one I actually completed, even though FF9 took over 120 hours, Eight was probably the first big rpg I spent hours into the night playing. Released in 1999 it had a lot to live up to with Final Fantasy 7 being such a big milestone in gaming history. From the free-roaming ability to having awesome weapons like the gunblade (Lionheart anyone?) it hit all the buttons for my early pubescent years. And the cut scenes were a pure delight with the final space scene, including the soundtrack, instilling that sense of completion achievement I’ll never leave behind.

Half-Life

When a theoretical theorist turned action hero by the name of Gordan Freeman becomes one of the few survivors of an experiment in a secret lab, what is there not to love?

This wasn’t the first FPS I played, but it may have been the first I played on my PC – the heap of junk it was back then with it’s 256mb of ram. This was one of those games that paved the way for its’ predecessors with the story depth being layered so well even the sci-fi nature of it, pushing the boundaries of how real it could be, scared the bejesus out of me at times. This was mainly down to the entire game being from the viewpoint of Freeman, all the scripted scenes, all the conversations. You were Gordan from the start and to the end, through the labs to a teleportation to an alien planet. Simply awesome – and the long-awaited sequel did a similar job at breaking rules!

Dungeon Siege

The above image was possibly my first ever desktop background – that I can remember at least. Released in 2002, this RPG was another of my early PC gaming experiences and an early third-person RPG that most follow today.

This time it’s a farmer, not a scientist, so the chances of being transported to an alien planet is instead replaced with bumping into a fellow farmer needing help along your story. Farm-sized arachnids do make a guest appearance. XP, gear, potions, it was all here with yet another example of seamless play and no loading – what every new game seems to struggle with these days. It was an open-world game with the odd bit of humour and it just tickled me pink.

Unreal Tournament

Another PC FPS and my first ever experience of a LAN centre  when I was 14 but what this brought to the table was a competitive multiplayer experience. The whole game is based around multiplayer action with some bot rounds to help practice with or if your dial-up connection was taking longer than it’s usual 20 minutes to connect to your ip.

Although the original was fantastic, my fonder memories were of the 2003 edition. Other than a massive graphic and mechanic overhaul the highlight of the game was the announcer for the characters. It was just hilarious and “Mr Crow” and “Romulus” became a regular call sign for a college mate and I. Here’s a link I just found and luckily, the juice in my mouth at the time only just missed my laptop after hearing it for the first time in 10 years or so – blimmin’ priceless! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ82zI_In90

Halo Wars

Jumping forward a little but also to get a strategy game in the mix Halo Wars has become one of those new-age cult games. Set in the Halo Universe 21 years before Master Chief’s first appearance the detail in keeping to the original story and a few familiar faces alongside some impressive cutscenes make this one of my all-time played games. RTS had been tried on consoles before but the controls were both easy to learn, impressive to master and fantastic to battle with.

What was so surprising to me is that there never seemed to be that many players online when on the 360, but now that backwards compatibility has announced its arrival (even though it has been delayed!) the request votes have reached about 50k which is a ridiculous comparison to the 2k players maximum I probably ever saw on the multiplayer. You can pick up a copy off ebay for around £5 at the mo and if you’re interested the long-awaited (on my behalf) sequel is released later this year, developed by Creative Ensemble, the guys that brought us the Total War series.

 

That’s not it of course, there are plenty of others to ramble on about such as an endless setlist achievement or progressive raiding on WOW – that will need a whole article of its’ own – but these have created fond memories that will stay with me forever.

Also find this article over at 1001up.com with a few videos! http://1001up.com/2016/01/19/games-that-defined-my-way-of-life/

New The Division gameplay leak

My planned following post can wait and I’m gonna jump on this wagon of new features seen in the latest leak. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the following link but how long it will stay there who knows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCMtM9RkoMg

So what’s so amazing about it? Haven’t we seen enough footage to actually play the game by now? Yes…and no. The VT shows some new backdrops, new enemies, new abilities and more weapon mods. So we see some new abilities and from a few views of the video an additional ability for each classic role – Tank, Dps, Support (another blog to come to help explain those for newer players).

Firstly we have deployable cover, allowing the player to drop this cover anywhere on the battlefield. Probably best suited for a tank role, it will allow threat generation from any angle of the fight, while also acting as a cooldown ability to mitigate the damage your friendly meatshield will take. It can be used for any role though with a support character able to res and heal other teammates who have stretched into the fight a little too far or even as a drop ability for another player to use allowing an free skill slot for another player.

Secondly we have a damaging ability in the form of a napalm grenade/rocket not only giving an initial aoe damage spike but a ground-based damage-over-time effect for anyone standing in the inferno. It looks as though it could have a temporary CC ability on it too with enemies writhing in painful glory. Again, this could be great for a tank looking to grab aggro of a large group or a healer to cc and res/heal in a heavy battle.

Lastly we have a large-area heal/res. For any support this is going to probably be a long-cooldown ability and perfect for both PvE and PvP. It’s unclear if there is a cap on the numbers of revived teammates but the area is pretty huge allowing to really turn a fight back from almost certain doom. Expect this to be used on all types of specs in the DZ though – a tank popping a group res won’t be the most obvious thing to happen but will make for some great turnarounds.

UPDATE: I would speculate that the large area heal seen and mentioned above was a “Signature Skill”. On the weapon drop earlier in the video, the special perk is a resource generator for this skill on critical hit. After the support player uses the Sig, a cooldown bar appears behind the regen grenade icon either indicating a short cooldown OR a temporary buff to the grenades ability.

Just a little on the weapon mods as they’re kind of predictable in what the main stat bonuses will be. I did notice a headshot damage perk which would be great for some one-shotting sniper types.

So here’s my question to you guys. I’ve always played the support role and will probably do the same here. What role are you hoping to play (if any at all) and what loadout are you looking at from what we know so far?

More info soon. Game on all.

 

I used to love long Division

Yep, me too. Every day. More than once. I even try to start the game every few days (preordered on XB1).

Tom Clancy’s The Division has become the first game in a long time that I’ve become a little obsessed with its upcoming release. News, forums, I’ve probably seen all the footage currently accessible online and with the beta almost certain to drop this month – fingers crossed for this weekend – I thought I’d write a few of the more intriguing parts of the beta.

The release
There has been an unconfirmed beta date of January 29th. Some will be happy that it’s finally arrived, others frustrated it’s not sooner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops earlier. The beta stage of any game is to highlight any major problems with the game, mechanics, bugged missions and, being online, server capabilities. Having just over a month to consolidate and fix high priority bugs is no mean feat and every week Massive have between close of beta and actual release (8th March) will make for a more finished product. Time will tell for this one.

Beta onwards
Beta characters will not carry across to release. No big news here and I for one find this a benefit in that the beta character is a way to try some skills or invest in different playstyles without the worry of fellow agents meticulously planning their spec or loadouts. Every online rpg/mmo has followed the same rules in the past but don’t think of it as a waste. There’s also mention of some small reward for beta players which, although maybe just a vanity item, is always a little bonus.

Open World
Not the first game to do this, but it will be interesting to see how open it really is, particularly with zoning and when in a group. Fallout has managed a ridiculously large area you can run around in without having to load up areas, but entering any secondary building or zone needs a loading of that area. Destiny on the other hand has complete freedom once loaded albeit on a smaller scale for the different planets. Areas are also still zoned and when grouped can be difficult know exactly where your fellow guardians are other than a general direction. From what we’ve seen of entering the Dark Zone, it seems pretty seamless. What I’m interested in is party tracking across larger areas, knowing where you squad are and if there are still zoned areas – loading to enter a particular mission etc.

Gear types
Being an RPG, of course there’s loot. It follows the standard tiering of gear rarity – blue, purple, orange for rare, legendary and exotic gear respectively) but what is interesting is the level at which these items drop. Footage shows plenty of legendaries in the DZ and even exotics dropping as low as level 12.
For those that haven’t listened to the podcasts exotics are not like the many previous mmo/rpg games out there where they are usually named and with fixed stats. Instead, base damage and aesthetics will be the only similarities with any additional starts and perks being rolled rng style. As an example, you could get two of the same named exotic pistol but one may have hp stealing and extra crit while the other has increased range and chance to stun. The list of perks and set bonuses (which have been mentioned) are being kept under wraps but expect reload speed, ammo/clip size, range, crit damage, resistance buffing and additional threat as the baseline bonuses.

That’s it for this post, another on the way looking at the triage and group setup.

Gaming – the younger generation

Last week I read an article related to the problems that parents have with limiting “screen-time” on their children. I’ll admit, it can be a bit of a problem at times, and kids are kind of expected to always play with toys, ride their bikes, play a sport, read; anything really that isn’t technologically related. So it got me thinking about gaming, what effects it can have on the next generation but also linking it to the here and now. Now I’m not going to lie, I’m a games enthusiast but will do my best at impartiality.

The majority of us that call ourselves humanoids will probably spend anything from a few minutes to hours each day directly linked to a piece of tech. I don’t work in an IT specific job (I work in a school) but I could send a dozen emails for work, researching for a student or data analysis and there are days, like many of you, that could spend their working day in front of a screen. I’ll check the news on my breaks, have a quick flick through Twitter and maybe Facebook but I certainly don’t spend hours like some do, maybe 30 minutes in total. Even before I squeeze in some gaming time or watching a movie with the kids I’ve already spent over half my day connected to technology in some way (yesterday was Star Wars Episode One; my wife and kids enjoyed it while I, like many, reeled at the overuse of CGI and lack of story depth). But that’s the reality of our lives today, living in the technological era.

After that tangent, here’s my argument for gaming. Like anything, excessive use/consumption of anything has a detrimental effect on a person. Ice cream is damn tasty but too much can lead to weight, diabetes, sickness; you get idea. Gym, work, not spending enough time with family, spending too much time with family, it all needs a healthy portion to benefit us. My son is seven and today he spent an hour this afternoon playing Star Wars Battlefront. During this time, he played with his younger sister (4 years) and through the entire hour they were talking to each other, my eldest teaching my youngest, communicating, engaging, using imagination to narrate a story while playing. I mean the story was ridiculous of course, where a rebel would hide his rocket launcher when not equipped was a particularly interesting chapter!

There wasn’t a negative at all in their play time here, but there’s still that scepticism and news articles almost condemning it all. Maybe, as adults who have entered this new technological era, we are afraid that our reliance on it all (TV, Internet, Xbox live) will become instilled in our own children and some are looking for proof of negative repercussions – ironically probably by using statistics, Internet research and digital surveys. It is a part of our lives, part of almost every job, it just needs to be enjoyed in moderation.

I for one would certainly not condone a whole day of gaming…*cough*.

Are gaming genres fading away?

With over 20 years of gaming under my belt the thing I’ve enjoyed most is seeing the progression of gaming and the future prospects of new hardware, software gaming engines; you name it, I enjoy not just playing the games but marvelling at the weather, lighting, dialogue and facial emotions that can be portrayed in games nowadays. For those who have played Time Crisis, those two words “My God” has proven how far it’s all come, now having voice actors that can actually act!

But it all [genres] seems to be mixing together in a big pot of variable archetypes. First Person Shooter used to be just that. Half-Life, Duke Nukem – these show how well a story can truly submerge a player into a game and scare the crap out of you. You picked up a weapon and shot at your enemies until one of you died true FPS’. But now, there are levels, progressive weaponry, an experience system previously seen in RPG’s. The open-world games of Far Cry and Fallout are the current pinnacle, Fallout 4 including a truly customisable experience of third or first person, base-building and management. Destiny and the upcoming The Division proves that an MMOFPSRPG is becoming too ridiculous even in an abbreviated, acronym form.

I’d say the answer is yes. A good yes though. Where the best parts of different games are mixed into a cocktail of layered genius. I’ll stop now before sounding even more like Cilan.
For now I’ll look forward to the first FPSRPGMMOSTRATPLAT…..There will be one day, mark my words!!!