Saturday, October 19, 2013

A perk of visiting Kentucky

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pokemon X/Y : It's like Path of Exile, but most of them aren't rocks

You guys, there's a new Pokemon game, and it's a lot like the other Pokemon games, but this one is just basically fucking full of polygons.  At one point while playing, you'll probably take a look at Pikachu, expecting to see some variation of the sprite that has become so familiar your brain has actually grown around it over time, like a tree slowly enveloping a nearby fence post.

But there's no sprite!  Your brain tree recoils, decades of growth undone, then registers the fact that there's a three dimensional model of Pikachu, and when he opens his mouth, a GameBoy-era digital screech does not come out, but a voice sample from the anime.  It is so startlingly revolutionary that I fear I err on the side of understatement when I say that the moment has not and never will be surpassed, even if we were to one day land on the moon.

Otherwise, the game is pretty standard.  I like a lot of the new Pokemon, I like that I'm only using birds as much as possible, and I like that you can farm the everloving shit out of berries in a dedicated berry farm, and not some ridiculous network of overlooked parcels of land spread out over an entire country.  I also like that the experience share device is given to you pretty early, and applies to all Pokemon in your party.  I sort of like the mini-games that let you dick around with your party and raise their musical note stat, and that they finally moved EV training to the forefront and made a game out of it.  I like that you can change your trainer's appearance, I like that the roller skates that make travel a lot quicker, I like that you can run inside buildings, and I like that these mundane things are the most notable improvements they've made to the series since I last checked in at Pearl.

Well, ok, they've also improved the internet stuff, which works a lot better.  You can trade and battle and talk to people locally or over the tubes far easier than I would have ever expected Nintendo to allow.  Even if you're not in a Pokemon Center, upstairs standing around in front of a desk like an idiot, you can initiate a trade.  Even if you haven't entered in your system friend code, your game friend code, and/or scanned your Club Nintendo card in your e-Reader, you can connect to other players.  It's pretty great.

On the whole, I give Pokemon X/Y five Eevee armies out of a possible Bidoof Cyclone

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Path of Exile: It's like pokemon, but they're rocks

The main problem with Diablo 3 is that it removed the metagame.

I'll just let that stand alone, for a moment.  So you can soak it in.

This removal has a few consequences with respect to character creation.  The over-simplification of stat allocation and skill acquisition extirpated the need to employ spreadsheets and spend hours researching character builds on forums.  It also eliminated the flavor of character creation.  In Diablo 2, your leap Barbarian felt like *your* leap Barbarian.  Sure, all leap Barbarians may be functionally identical, but by allowing players to pick their own stats, and maintaining some permanence to skill choice, one felt as if they had created a character unique to them.  Diablo 3's character creation system, by contrast, is so bland and inconsequential that it purges any sense of uniqueness from characters.  Your Barbarian is exactly like every other Barbarian, so "fuck it".

Path of Exile is the antithesis of that, due to this:

and these:

Path of Exile's passive tree, and skill gem system, allow players to build a character unique to them.  As with Diablo 2, every Spork Witch is functionally identical, but the game manifests the feeling of building your own unique character.  To make Sporky the Spork Witch, a player has to hunt down the Spark and Fork gems.  Said player then has to read internet forums and theorycraft the passive tree that will most compliment Sporky's intended purpose.  There is consequence to character creation, and an ample metagame over top the game proper.

To provide a bit more detail on just what that means, characters do not gain spells as they level.  Instead, spells are attained by acquiring spell gems.  In Diablo 2, you get fireball by leveling up.  In Path of Exile, you get fireball when the fireball gem drops off a mob, and you socket it into an item.  As your character gains experience, so too does the fireball gem.  When you get better items, you can unsocket and resocket the gem into the new items.  Gems can be passed between characters as well.

So, in addition to leveling your character, you also level your spell gems.  This creates another avenue for uniqueness and individuality to your account.  A player has a level 30 witch, a level 7 spark gem, and a level 4 fork gem.  It's like pokemon, but they're rocks.

The passive tree is where this goes a bit too far.  "Intimidating" fails to adequately capture the sense one has when allocating passive points.  While there are some mechanisms for a partial respec of points, the depth of the passive tree may foster a sense of 'Diablo 2 Skill-Point Anxiety', wherein players hoard their points until they have a better grasp on the game mechanics, and then spend them with trembling hands.  If Path of Exile has a fault, it is found in this expansive passive system.  However, given how shitty Diablo 3 was, this is a fault one appraises with a kind eye.

Moreover, any character can use any weapon or skill.  So, you want to build a barbarian who throws fireballs?  Go fucking nuts.  Fagballs the Flamer Barb may be completely ineffective at endgame, but you still have the option of making him.

Hear that, Blizzard?  "Option."

The game also solves the perpetual problem of gold currency devaluation by removing coinage.  The "currency" of the game is found in identification / town portal scrolls, and various orbs a character can use to modify their items.  One Orb of Scouring (remove all properties from an item) is worth six Orbs of Alteration (reforges a magic item with new random properties).  Helpful websites exist to articulate the current exchange rates.  This system solves the problem of the SOJ economy dilemma, by making the most valuable currency items reasonably available to all players.

PoE also solves the problem of Hardcore being retarded.  In Diablo 2 and 3, when your Hardcore character dies it is gone forever, lost to lag and mourned for days.  When your Hardcore character dies in Poe?  It is changed to a Softcore character.

That's it.  You don't lose your gear.  You don't lose your items.  Fagballs simply changes from Hardcore to Softcore.  There is absolutely no reason to not start as a Hardcore character.

I know, right?

Between the passive tree, skill stones, a sensible approach to Hardcore, and the currency system, Path of Exile may very well be the greatest Diablo game, ever.  The graphics are also quite nice, and it's free to download / play.  The company turns a profit through microtransactions that allow players to make aesthetic changes to their characters.  While the game is in beta, there are Open Beta Supporter Packs for sale that allow players to gain points and a few unique items before the game is officially released.  Best of all, if you give them $270 you get your name in the credits!

Anyone who was disappointed with Diablo 3 is strongly encouraged to play Path of Exile, and to give all of your money to Grinding Gear Games just to spite Blizzard.

I give Path of Exile 8 kicks to Jay Wilson's stupid loser face, out of a possible God damn Diablo 3 is a shitty fucking mess of retarded faggoty dumb.