Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gearbox: Why You Nerf "The Bee" Shield?

A few days ago, Gearbox released a hefty patch for the PC version of Borderlands 2. Among the various bug fixes, they slipped in a controversial tweak to the already-controversial Bee shield, significantly nerfing the capabilities of The Bee and all other amp shields. Before the patch, The Bee was insanely over-powered, especially in conjunction with high pellet-count, rapid fire weapons like the Conference Call, because the extra amp damage of the shield was applied to every pellet. If a Conference Call shotgun normally did 5,000x20 (100,000) damage, a Bee shield would add 50,000x20 (1,000,000) extra damage, essentially multiplying the total damage by a factor of 10. It was able to kill epic raid bosses in mere seconds

The new patch changes the behavior of amp shields so that the extra amp damage is now divided among all the pellets; instead of dealing 50,000x20 damage per shot, it's a flat 50,000 damage per shot. The Bee itself now also has about a 50% longer recharge delay, maybe a 20% slower recharge rate, and deals about 15% less damage (these are just estimates based on memory). Even with all of these changes, The Bee still offers the best offensive damage-per-second in the game, compared to any other shield, but the nerf feels like Gearbox just gave us the middle finger in what may be the biggest "fuck you" from a game developer in my recent memory. Why do I say this? Well, for a lot of reasons.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Belated Review of Borderlands 2

The reason I didn't post much for the first three weeks of October was because I was too busy playing Borderlands 2. It's fun, it's addicting, it's better than the first game, and I couldn't pull myself away from it to do much of anything else. I'm still playing it. I've already clocked way more hours in BL2 than I have in Skyrim, and I still feel invigorated to continue farming loot and replaying with new characters and other friends. That alone should tell you how good of a game it is.

If the first Borderlands was an imperfect experiment, Borderlands 2 is the refinement of that formula. Everything that was great about the first game is back in the sequel, with all of the bad parts trimmed out and replaced with something new and interesting. This is how sequels are supposed to be done, and it's no wonder BL2 has sold so much better (and faster) than BL1. In the full article I'll look at how well BL2 stacked up to my prior hopes and expectations, as well as detailing the extra things I've liked and (in some cases) disliked.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Walking Dead: Episode Four - Review

*Read this review as it originally appeared in the October issue of Adventure Lantern.

If you've been keeping up with Telltale's The Walking Dead series, either playing it for yourself or merely reading reviews, then you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect in Episode Four: Around Every Corner. The style of gameplay remains just the same as all of the previous episodes, so there's really not much for me to talk about on that front, and not much else has changed since the last episode except for the continuation of the story. Which, if you have been keeping up with the story, is all the reason to get Episode Four. The rest of my quick review continues after the jump.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adventure Lantern Double Feature

It's taken a few months, but it looks like we may finally be getting back on schedule with the recent publication of the September and October issues of Adventure Lantern, the finest adventure gaming fanzine on the web. As usual, each issue comes with a hefty news section of new and upcoming releases, great for keeping up to date in the latest goings on within the industry. The September issue features a preview of Death Ray Manta and reviews of Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass, Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, and a gaming-related piece of literature, The Myst Reader and the Story of the D'ni

The October issue features a number of reviews fit for the Halloween season (better late than never), including: Anna, Ghost in the Sheet, Pathologic, The Five Cores, The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner, Erie, and Slender. Both issues are now available for your enjoyment, free as always.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Impressions of Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth is a game I'd been interested in for a while now, ever since I read player comments describing it like a multiplayer Fallout, crossed with hints of STALKER. I'd been very wary about playing another MMORPG, however, because it seems like every MMO out there insists on being a huge waste of time. But since Fallen Earth went free-to-play a little more than a year ago, I thought maybe I'd at least give it a shot. The promise of a post-apocalyptic MMO was fairly interesting at first, but then it quickly bogged down to usual MMO nonsense; tedious level-grinding via repetitive tasks in a laboriously over-stretched world.

The game starts out with an instanced tutorial sequence that explains the premise, tells you a little about the backstory, and shows you how to perform basic actions within the game. It contains an awful lot of cutscenes and dialogue which lend the tutorial a compelling narrative thrust, unlike lots of other MMOs I've played that just dump you aimlessly into a starting town. Once you're through with the tutorial sequence, it's clear that there's actually a main questline to follow -- with an actual story -- but that's also when it turned into mindless MMO-style content and lost its appeal for me. Continue reading for more of my early impressions of Fallen Earth