Jaded's Pub

Everyone on PS4 can start playing Marvel Heroes Omega today! We hope. As of now it isn’t showing up in the store yet. You should be able to find it under Free To Play sooner or later. There ARE a bunch of Founder’s Packs available now that you can pay for, but at some point today a totally free option should pop up. It’ll give you Daredevil and then when you finish the tutorial you should get enough Eternity Splinters to buy a 2nd hero. Maybe not any hero.. a few carry a premium price. But most will be affordable.

[UPDATE]It’s up now. Here is the link to the beta in the store.[/UPDATE]

[UPDATE #2]There’s a separate link for Daredevil in the store. Not sure if you need to ‘buy’ him (he’s free) separate or not, but here it is.

And if you’re a PS+ member you can get a free “Man Without Fear” costume for him, too.[/UPDATE #2]

The Twitter account suggests that Gazillion expected the free version to be available by now:

There won’t be any more wipes so even though its Open Beta you can play it like its launched.

I finished out Early Access at level 47 or 48 and having completed chapter 8 of the 9 chapter campaign. I stuck with Angela. If you’re looking for an easy-mode hero that is cheap, Angela is for you. I think she cost 250 Eternity Splinters (most heroes are at least twice that) and I think the first time I died was at level 35, and then mostly because I wasn’t paying attention.

Doctor Doom, the final boss of chapter 8, was a different story. I died to him a few times before I finally took him out. He dropped a level 52 item though, so I guess maybe I got there ‘ahead of schedule’. Fun battle though. Lots of dodging and weaving and the bastard has the audacity to heal himself!

Yes I guess that’s a spoiler but really the story here is pretty basic; I don’t think anyone is playing this game for the narrative. It’s just a mechanic used to walk you through different regions of the Marvel universe to do battle. I’m actually looking forward to finishing the story because then I’ll start doing all the side-stuff that I’ve been ignoring. (Stuff unlocks pretty early…I just opted to stick with the story.)

I bought a Founder’s Pack that came with Spiderman and 500 Gazillion Bux, or whatever the currency is called. I spent 200 of those to expand my inventory once. I’m thinking of buying more Gazillion Bux to expand my stash just because I’m a pack rat. But really you don’t have to do these things. Pretty early on you unlock “Body Slide” which is the Town Portal of Marvel Heroes and it becomes quick and easy to go back to a base to sell off your excess gear.

Once I get Angela to 60 I’ll level up Spidey, I guess. We’ll see. I have enough Splinters to buy someone else, too. The desire to “collect ’em all” is strong in me.

Anyway, rambling. Just wanted to remind PS4 owners that you can start playing today!

I’ve played a decent amount of Marvel Heroes Omega beta this weekend on PS4. I got one character to level 35 or so and so far I’m having fun.

After a long play session though, one thing did start to bug me, and that was inventory management. You collect a lot of loot while tearing through swarms of enemies; I guess some players just ignore most of it but I’m too OCD for that. So I’m constantly filling up on loot then needing to sort through it to see what’s worth saving and what’s worth selling/donating.

The basic way of accessing inventory is through radial menus. You open the main menu, point at Inventory which opens a second radial menu with loot categorized by slot. Then you pick a slot, look at everything, then back out and drill down again to look at another slot. It isn’t bad, really, but after a while it gets tedious.

Happily Gazillion gives us some shortcuts but if you’re as dense as me you might not notice them right away. Ergo this post. First, a screenshot.

You see I’ve used my advanced artistic abilities to highlight two areas.

The first at the top-center is the L2 indicator. Tapping L2 lets you sort items within a slot in various ways. It defaults to By Name but you can cycle through By Rarity, By Defensive Power, By Offensive Power and so on. When you have a ton of stuff in one slot this can be really helpful (it might not be so obvious given I just had a few swords when I took the screenshot).

Second is towards the bottom. By holding R2 you can use the D-pad Left-Right buttons to quickly move from slot to slot. It took me HOURS to notice this and it really helps a lot. It’s much faster then backing out and having to “aim” at the slot you want to look in.

Not illustrated, but when you’re donating gear to a crafter there’s a shortcut in this area to Donate All, so in general keep any eye on this area to learn the various shortcuts they’ve given us. You can also use R2 (hoping I’m remembering that right) at the crafter to switch between your inventory and your stash.

I know for most people all of this will be completely obvious, but like I said, I’m dense and it took me hours of play to notice them. Hope this helps someone else!

Open beta for Marvel Heroes Omega starts next week, but if you were in the closed beta you get to start today. I was and I did. Everyone else can play free I believe on Tuesday.

I’m really enjoying this game. I know all my PC gamer friends have been playing Marvel Heroes since forever, but for some reason my PC and Marvel Heroes never got along, so even back when I was playing PC games I never got a chance to play much of MH. But the nature of this game just makes it ideal (to me) as a couch game. In fact it supports couch co-op so you and a friend can play together, side-by-side.

If you haven’t played Marvel Heroes in a while, you may be surprised to learn that the whole “Level up, earn points, spend points” system has been replaced. Now you just unlock powers as you level from 1-30 and don’t have any choices beyond what keys to bind powers to. I WANT to complain about this since it “dumbs down” the game, but in practice I like this just find. This is just a fun game to me and I’m OK if I don’t have to research builds or what not in order to have a good character. There’re systems beyond powers that kick in much later in the game and maybe that’s when you have to start thinking hard about what you’re doing, but early on it’s just a casual hoot.

There was one glitch with the launch of early access, in case you hear stories about this. When you create a Marvel Heroes account, you get a bundle of “Eternity Splinters” to spend on a hero. Between closed and open beta they bumped up the cost of Heroes, but they forgot to bump up the amount of Eternity Splinters they gave new accounts. That meany very few heroes (2 I think) were affordable for new accounts.

Gazillion realized their mistake pretty quickly and gifted affected players with an additional 500 Eternity Splinters, so we actually made out. I’d purchased Angela (from Spawn, I’m told) since she was cheap, but now I have enough Eternity Splinters to buy another hero.

Of course everyone is mad at Gazillion but it wouldn’t be the Internet if they weren’t. I’m not. Like I said, I feel like I got a bonus and I’m enjoying playing Angela.

So far, servers seem stable, everything else is working well. People are grinding through mobs and busting boss-loot-pinatas and it’s just a gas. I can’t wait to play more. Hopefully everything will stay as solid when the doors are open and everyone comes rushing in.

[UPDATE] Playstation Blog just published a good Destiny 2 post. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned:

Class Abilities: A new, third rechargeable icon next to your melee and grenade. Warlocks can hold circle to create a small rift on the ground that either heals or empowers allies. Hunters get a dodge ability (a la Shadestep, but on a cooldown) that will refill your melee charge if used near enemies. Titans can create a small barrier in front of them to protect themselves and teammates. As this barrier takes damage, it displays a cool “shattering” effect so you can tell at a glance how close it is to breaking.

[Original Post Follows]

I have been pretty strongly anti-Destiny 2 for the past few months, but after today’s reveal event I’m having second thoughts. I may have been — likely was — wrong about the direction Bungie is taking the new game.

First let me set the stage. I LOVED Destiny when it came out. I loved it when everyone was hating on it for not having a story and all that. And when The Taken King came out, I was pretty happy..for a while. But then it seemed to me like Bungie was really emphasizing the PvP (Crucible) content and the end-game Raids, and they were kind of leaving solo players behind. I assumed, now that everything is esports and games-as-a-service, that the company would really lean-into those two pillars in Destiny 2, and any single player content would be more or less an afterthought.

But assuming we take everything we learned from the stream today at face value, I was wrong. First we learned that there are Bungie team members who prefer playing solo. Yay! And they talked about how exploring the worlds being a much bigger part of Destiny 2. There will be more to do on planets than the campaign quests and patrols, though the details of what these additional features entail are a little vague. But adding “Adventures” sounds like a good thing. Announcing ahead of time world events so you have time to get to them? Also a good thing. Hidden areas that sounded a bit like The Elder Scrolls Online’s delves (areas that contain a loot chest with a boss to hold the key) — that sounds good too.

Of course Destiny 2 will still have Crucible PvP, 6-man Raids and 3-man Strikes, so we’re not losing anything. The additional solo content is additive. Everyone should be happy and I’m back on board.

I’m less sure about Guided Gaming which is a fancy name for their matchmaking. Destiny 2 will have proper clan support. The idea behind Guided Gaming (maybe Guided Games? Forgive me if I have the name wrong) is that if you’re solo you can rent yourself out to a clan that has a slot to fill. I guess the idea is that instead of 6 random people joining together to do a raid, it’ll be 5 people from a clan and 1 random person. Or maybe 4 people from a clan and 2 randoms. The argument being, I guess, that if at least 4 or 5 of the players know each other there’ll be less chaos and more group cohesion (when compared to a group of complete strangers).

I understand the logic, but wow, do I ever find that even more intimidating than joining a random group. At least when you join a random group everyone is a peer. But if I join a group consisting of 5 people who know each other and game together regularly, I don’t see any way I’m not going to feel like the 6th wheel.

It’s an academic point for me because I’m too old and sucky at shooters to ever inflict myself on a group, but it’ll be interesting to see how this all works out. I guess I have to applaud Bungie for trying something new. They freely admit that they’re trying to do something about the frequently toxic environments brought about by matchmaking. The one silver lining for me is that as the solo player, you don’t just get tossed in with a clan group. Instead you choose them, and you can browse the clans that are looking for an extra player. You see the clan name, emblem and a brief description. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a clan with the description of “People too old to be any good at shooters looking for same” clan. Then I will have found my home. 🙂

Here’s the stream, in case you missed it:

Years after everyone else played it, I’ve finally finished Dishonored. The first one, not the sequel. It took me a few goes before it really stuck and just recently I was talking about how it stressed me out.

The weird thing about Dishonored is they have you playing as Corvo the Lord Protector, a bad-ass with all these lethal weapons and magical skills, then reward you for not using them. To get the best ending (I guess?) you have to keep your chaos levels down, which means non-lethal solutions to your problems. Those problems generally being guards between you and your goal.

I did pretty good at being non-lethal for about the first half of the game, but as I said I find it really stressful. Also I saved constantly, which kind of broke up the narrative immersion for me (a ‘Quick Save’ button would have helped there).

Eventually I acknowledged to myself I’d never finish the game if I kept trying to be non-lethal, and this happened at about the same time that me-as-Corvo lost patience with the troops defending the bad guys. At some point you need to open your eyes and see that your boss is an evil bastard, and if you refuse, well, Corvo has no mercy.

Then, as I neared the very end of the game, faithful boatman Samuel told me he was disappointed in me because of all the killing I’d done. I regretted my decision then, but not enough to go back and replay it all.

Dishonored is one of those games where I see why others really enjoyed it, but for me it was just OK. I think my issue was with the aesthetics. Not that they were bad, they just weren’t right for me. There’s a plague happened and everyone is sick and gross and hacking, coughing and puking, and the world is brutal and ugly, with corpses everywhere. It just got pretty depressing after a while. Also, the graphics haven’t really aged too well, and I’m shallow like that.

The story was actually pretty good, though, and the voice acting was awesome. The cast includes Susan Sarandon, Lena Headey, Michael Madsen and Brad Dourif. Also Carrie Fisher credited as “Alternate Street Speaker” but I’m not sure what that’s about. There’s a male voice making announcements on the streets and I assume there’s some way to swap that, but I don’t know how that works. [Google provides: At one point you encounter the voice of propaganda in the city. I didn’t kill him, but if you do, Carrie Fisher takes over the announcements from there on out. If only I’d known!]

All that said, I’m glad I played it because at some point I do want to check out Dishonored 2, and I wanted to know “the story so far..” But this isn’t a game that I’ll replay to chase trophies or get alternate endings of anything. One and done is enough for me.

Before The Witcher was a series of games, it was a series of great books/short stories. Well, at least the ones that were translated to English back when I was reading them were great. I need to go back and read the ones that have been translated since then.

Anyway, now we’re getting a TV adaptation of The Witcher. Just to be clear it seems like this series will be based on the original source material, NOT the games. I’ve never actually finished a Witcher game so I can’t honestly say how true the games are to the books.

The good news is that the author of the original material, Andrzej Sapkowski, will be a creative consultant for the series, and executive producers are Sean Daniel and Jason Brown, who are the executive producers of the absolutely awesome SyFy show The Expanse (which is based on books by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing together under the pen name James S. A. Corey).

I have a good feeling about this. We know Daniel and Brown know how to take a written story and make it into a great TV series, and we know the author is involved, and it’s going to be on Netflix so it probably won’t be stretched or squashed or watered down.

The bad news is, I can’t find any info on a release date, so we’ll have to be patient I guess.

Life sucks right now. I’m super stressed about my job, and I’m super stressed about money, and if you’ve ever been stressed about both those things at the same time you know they feed on each other. When money is already a problem the prospect of losing your job goes from bad to catastrophic. Then because you’re so stressed you stop sleeping well and get really tired and that makes everything even worse.

Usually when I’m stressed, gaming saves me. I’ll find a game that I can just get immersed in and for a few hours a day I forget about my worries and the tension flows out of me. But that wasn’t working this time. I had been playing Mass Effect Andromeda but it just takes too much time. I felt like if I didn’t have 2 hours to play there was no sense in booting it up, and these days it’s hard to find much gaming time. After playing for 3 nights in a row during which time (and admittedly we’re talking a total of maybe 2 hours of time) I did nothing but talk to NPCs, I set it aside. I’ll pick it up again when I’ve got more free time for gaming.

Then I tried Dishonored again, for reasons I don’t recall. I played through the first chapter of that, which is further than I’ve ever gotten. It was fun but really stressful. I was trying to not cause a lot of chaos because the tool tips constantly nudge you towards stealth and non-lethal solutions. (Which is really weird since the game is constantly dangling new ways to kill people in front of your greedy eyes.) By the time I’d completed chapter one and all its optional challenges I couldn’t go on. I was trying to relax, not get even more tense from fear of being spotted by a guard.

I’d about given up on gaming when the Interactive Gods smiled on me. Steep, the winter sports game from Ubisoft, went on sale. I’ve played Steep a few times, during beta events and during a free weekend they had a month or so ago. I always found it pleasant, but not something I’d spend $60 on. This week it was on sale on PSN for $30 so I sprang for it. In fact I spent $35 or so to get the “Gold” version that included a season pass.

Steep offers 4 sports: skiing, snowboarding, wing-suit flying and parachuting. I find the wing-suit and parachute stuff to be not very interesting. Wing-suiting in particular sounds like it should be a rush but it doesn’t feel like one. When I’m flying in a wing-suit I just feeling like I’m trying to move a person-shaped cursor through some targets, only the system is fighting me so I have to struggle to get the cursor to go where I want it.

I mean I guess that’s exactly what I AM doing, but it just doesn’t feel real or thrilling to me. So I pretty much ignore the flying parts of the game.

Skiing is fine, but snowboarding is where I’m spending all my time. I find the snowboard to be very soothing. I mean the game prods me to try to be EXTREME and climb leaderboards and do challenges and tricks and flips and maybe drink Red Bull or Mountain Dew. I tell the game to stuff it and instead I just go to the top of a mountain and board down, carving through the scenery and feeling the tension drain away. Sure I’ll do a jump or a flip here and there, but I’m just doing them for fun, not for points. I don’t even know WHY you earn points. Every so often I “level up” but I’m not sure what impact that has on me.

The beauty of Steep, the way I play it, is how damned HUGE it is. The longest run I know I’ve had was six minutes of real time, and I know it because it popped up on screen that I’d gone that long without falling. Six minutes of just snow and mountains and some music and … damn, it feels really good. I’m pretty sure going from the top of the highest peak to the edge of the map would take longer than 6 minutes, too.

I’m really happy I bought Steep, but I’m not sure I can recommend it in general terms. I’ve ignored the “game” part of Steep so deliberately that I really have no sense of how good it is. I don’t think Steep ever gets as crazy as, say, an SSX game. But it might. I just don’t know. I don’t want to know.

I just want to go on long, peaceful snowboard rides, and now and then trying the goofy sledding option that was added as part of the Winterfest DLC that came with the Season Pass. And when I say sleds, I’m talking about Flexible-Flyer style kids sleds. Trying to stay on these things as you go down a mountain is just goofy fun. Trying to do it while wearing a sasquatch costume pushes it into ridiculous. And that’s OK too.

I don’t expect to be playing Steep for months or even weeks. But for now it’s a great stress reliever and I expect at some point in the future I’ll once again come back to it when I just need to chill for a while. To me, that’s worth $35. Heck in retrospect it was probably worth it at $60.

This week Microsoft is holding its annual Build developer conference. Yesterday was the Windows Keynote and as has been true for the past few years, there was a segment on Hololens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset.

What was different about this year is that Microsoft has broadened its horizons some. While in the past it seemed like they were embracing augmented reality and to a certain extent downplaying virtual reality, this year they’re embracing both. In fact they’re backing away from either of these terms and instead talking about mixed reality, a term that encompasses both VR and AR.

As part of the discussion they announced new motion controllers for use with mixed reality, and at the same time they announced that Acer (and eventually other hardware developers) will release a mixed reality bundle this holiday. It’ll include a visor and a pair of the new motion controllers for $399. That’s really cheap.

Microsoft continues to embrace the “inside-out” tracking they first showed on Hololens. Rather than having to use an external camera (as with Playstation VR) or set up sensors (like the Vive uses), Hololens and the Acer visor both put the cameras on the visor itself. By tracking stationary external objects (presumably the corner of a room, or a window or door) the system can extrapolate how the visor is moving, and it can also track the motion controllers.

The upside of this is easy set up and a self-contained experience. Hololens is an untethered experience that you can presumably put on anywhere and use. The Acer visor is tethered but at least doesn’t require any other set up other than plugging it in.

The downside is that the system can only track things you’re looking at. If you think about, say, a tennis game, the system wouldn’t be able to track your hand directly when you reached behind yourself for a serve. (As far as I can tell the visor doesn’t have any backwards facing sensors.) That said, the system probably has a rough idea of where your hand is based on the last place it was “seen” and gyroscope (or some other kind of) data from the controllers.

This year the presenters studiously avoided talking about gaming and mixed reality, instead urging us to look forward to learning more at E3 next month. I assume Microsoft’s E3 press event is going to talk a lot about mixed reality.

If Microsoft is smart, the same visor will work on your Windows PC and your Xbox. That seems like an obvious thing but remember they tried to sell Kinect for Windows as a separate SKU from Kinect for Xbox. I don’t think they’ll make the same mistake again, though.

The $400 price point for the visor and controllers is potentially disruptive (more so if the same visor can be moved from the Xbox to a PC easily). The Playstation VR bundle, which includes the visor, controllers and the camera you need to make is all work, is $500 and it’s currently the cheapest full VR experience (stuff like the Gear VR that uses a cell phone is cheaper, of course). The Acer is $100 less and presumably can be used for AR and VR. The form factor is that of a VR visor but the forward facing cameras mean is should be possible to project the real world into the visor in order to make it “virtually transparent.”

Of course how well this works will depend on the quality of the cameras and the displays inside the visor. If nothing else I hope we get a ‘peekaboo’ feature where we can tap a button and see the world around us without taking the visor off. Helpful for checking to see if that thump you just heard was the dog knocking something over or aliens coming into your house to abduct you. (Hey just because I’m paranoid it doesn’t mean the aliens AREN’T after me.)

If you’re a developer you can pre-order a devkit that includes just the Acer visor for $299. It ships in August, which seems pretty late if MS expects support for the holiday season.

My expectation for E3 is that Microsoft will announce Project Scorpio bundled with the Acer Mixed Reality set for $799. I’m basing that on my expectation that Project Scorpio alone will be $499, so the bundle will save you $100 off of buying the two items separately, and I’m sure it’ll include some kind of software. Either a game or a demo disk or something. Of course the Mixed Reality bundle (and Project Scorpio) will both be available separately as well.

What I’m not sure of is whether the Acer visor will require Scorpio or if it’ll support the original Xbox One in some scaled down capacity.

I’ve also read some hopeful speculation that Microsoft might surprise us and launch Scorpio earlier than expected…potentially in August. The idea is that they’d want to get the new console out in time for all the big fall releases like Destiny 2. If the Acer dev kit isn’t shipping until August, and the retail version not until (presumably) the November timeframe, I think it makes an August Scorpio launch less likely. I think MS is going to want to introduce these two products at once. They seem pretty serious about succeeding in mixed reality.

I guess we’ll learn more next month!

Probably old news, but new to me and kind of cute/fun. You become a tabletop D&D character and play through a mini-campaign.


This weekend PSN has a deal on Mass Effect Andromeda. After reading all complaints about the game, I’d decided I’d play it much, much later…like when it was ‘free’ on EA Access or something. But after a friend of mine finished a 100 hour playthrough and started a 2nd playthrough just a week or two later, my curiosity (and an $18 discount) got the better of me, so I snagged a copy.

So far I’m digging it. Now it’s hard to be completely unbiased this far after the launch. I’m influenced by friends liking it, but I was also braced for absolutely horrible character models and facial animations. AND I just finished playing Sleeping Dogs which has not held up well in terms of character models. So all in all I was going into MEA expecting something horrible and was prepared to just deal with it.

So from that point of view, the game is fine. I mean yes, it could be lots better and I was unable to create a character that wasn’t kind of hideous (my dude came out looking a little like middle-aged John Travolta) but it’s not an issue to where it is really detracting from my enjoyment of the game. Ditto the voice work. Yes, there are some clunky lines and some weird cadence/pacing issues here and there but I actually enjoyed smart-alecking my way through a battle with Liam at my side. It actually felt pretty authentic. Here’s two guys in a horrible situation who decide to deal with it by being cavalier about the whole situation, even if that attitude is forced.

What has really surprised me about MEA is how much I enjoy the combat; it’s really fun. I mean its not a Destiny-level shooter but for an RPG it’s pretty great. My Ryder is a techie kind of guy who can leech shields and fire some kind of incendiary beam. And that’s at level 2. Who knows what he’ll grow into. I also find the jetpacks stupidly fun and I spent a lot of time jetpacking up to the top of things just because.

In fact my only complaint so far is that at one point someone pointed me to a weapons cache and I accidentally replaced my assault rifle with a shotgun and couldn’t switch it back. I guess you can only tweak your loadouts at specific areas and in that first mission I couldn’t find one. Having to take on the first big battle with a shotgun (I hate shotguns, I’m a hang-back-and-kill-em-from-range kind of guy) was a little frustrating. But now I know.

Now I’m back at the Nexus, which thankfully doesn’t seem to be as big as the Citadel. I tried to play the original Mass Effect 3 or 4 times and the Citadel always crushed my desire to play that game. It was so big and dull and confusing and tedious.

I mean clearly this is a very very early opinion. I have maybe 4 hours in so far? Essentially that game hasn’t even really gotten going yet. So I may change my mind. But so far, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying myself.