The final episode of Life is Strange has released. Within my internet bubble I’ve heard nothing but praise for the game from anyone that’s spent time with it. There’s been a lot of interest in the more realistic approach to human relationships and how we interact with each other… wrapped in a time-traveling puzzle adventure game kind of format. Instead of figuring how to advance into new areas of the world you figure out new branches of dialog to get others to open up to you. Reversing time to insert new conversation points based on discussions that you’ve undone has always felt kind of weirdly evil to me. Manipulating someone’s willingness to speak to you by loading the hand in your favor until you can divulge what you need. If you’ve seen Groundhog Day and how Bill Murray attempts to work his way in with Andie MacDowell’s character you know what I mean. That’s neither here nor-there though, as the main point I want to focus on is that Life is Strange gives us a very different way to interact with the world compared to some of the most frequented games of 2015. It isn’t alone in exploring new ways to convey a story through games as a medium either as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is another notable offering this year. It’s fairly common in games to have you explore the world and interact with it through violence. Blowing things up, slaying demons, shooting the opposition, jumping on the heads of enemies, etc. Even in the kid-friendly realm you have titles like Splatoon where you “splat” opposing squidkids that get in the way of your objective of painting the town (not) red. Pulling from VGChartz, here’s some estimated sales so far for 2015…


I threw those red diamonds on there to mark games that can’t be completed without killing / defeating something… oh wait, that’s all of them? For the most part the primary means of interaction in these worlds is to kill your opposition. Sure there are other elements like talking through conflict in Witcher 3 or the puzzling aspects of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It isn’t hard to look at these games and understand how to navigate an encounter. They’re familiar, it’s the language of games to kill things. I don’t want that to go away, but I am kind of bummed out by the lack of mature discussion within gaming because of the landscape of AAA. It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point. Money is spent on these action games to develop them to their fullest potential because that’s what the consumers are buying, and the consumers seeking the best developed products are going to buy action games because of it. The financial risks involved have gotten too steep so we never see anything outside of the market we have established data on… Working with the known quantities.

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OryxTo assist with first timers or anyone having trouble, here’s a run down of how my crew runs through King’s Fall. I’m sure this is reprinted elsewhere and probably is a mish-mash of different ways that people run it, but this seems to be the best method for a full team of 6, at 290+ light level.

Few pieces of advice for the raid:

  1. Even if you’re not one to normally use a sniper rifle, they are by far the best secondary you can have for the boss encounters. The DPS dealt combined with distance from enemies and their massive critical spots make sniper rifles the only solution really. In short, BRING A GOOD SNIPER RIFLE. High impact (low ammo count) machine guns prove to be useful against most bosses as well.
  2. Communicate what’s going on with your team. If you have a buff with a countdown timer that is relevant to the group’s survival, call out the timer as it counts down. If you’re moving a relic, call it out. This raid more so than the previous two requires a lot of coordination. On the same token, until your group is comfortable with each other and how to run the raid don’t clog the channel with non-essential information. Save chit-chat for post-encounter celebrations.
  3. DPS buffs should be used on bosses. Weapons of Light bubbles from Defender Titans and Nightstalker Hunter’s shadowshot help tremendously with the short windows to damage bosses. Make use of them if you got them.
  4. There are points during Warpriest and Golgoroth where Ultra acolytes spawn that are named “Adept” – Kill these last. Killing this causes an area effect buff for all nearby enemies making them extremely deadly.

A quick overview of the parts of the raid so you can have a mental checklist running through. With the exception of the Lanterns / Shipyard, every section either rewards you with a loot chest or contains a hidden loot chest during the activity (Golgoroth’s Maze / Piston Alley). During the guide, feel free to click the visual aid to EMBIGGEN it for clarity.

Opening the Portal
Swinging Lanterns
Shipyard Jump Puzzle
Warpriest’s Grotto
Golgoroth’s Maze
Piston Alley Trench Run
Daughters of Oryx

Update for Hard Mode:
I’m slowly adding in information particulars for the HM King’s Fall raid. In general enemies are level 42 now with a recommended Light Level of 305+ to start, and 311+ for Oryx.

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“Best” of 2015… I just can’t with these

I love data. I’ve done a few posts on this blog just analyzing data, including reviews. Categorizing things has a very established place within our culture with a swell of options across every medium. Genres exist for this reason as they allow you to find similarly themed or structured experiences. It’s a discovery tool. On top of that you have curators that allow you to venture outside of known elements but may strike a similar enjoyment for you. A good example is when a journalist makes a list of their ten favorite games and you’ve played / loved seven of them? Strong possibility those other three are worth checking out even if you’ve never heard of them. This is a great way to find new games to play for the most part.

Yet I’ve got a bone to pick here with the level these things get to now. With great power comes great responsibility or something like that – And a lot of outlets have squandered their reach. There became this myth of objective reviews based on universal criteria. A rubric to check off or rate in a manner that allows comparison. It provides the ability to suggest whether or not the game is worth your time or money among the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of contemporary options at this point. Unfortunately I hate this approach. I get the need for them to speak to their audience in a way that the audience demands. There comes a point thought where you need to grow the world you want to be in though. Looking five or ten years down the line what will the new consumption model for games be? Will the box just be a list of bullet points and a board of reviewers assigning a score to indicate it’s “value”? Hell, isn’t that what’s basically happening now already? That just seems like a very boring way to find games. It’s removing the human element of it… Which I find it hard to believe that me of all people are vouching for the desire to connect or appeal to the natural aspect of something. Personally I really enjoy finding someone you can identify with and go with their curated list or suggestions. Brilliant way to find games. The only reason I ever gave Persona 4 a chance is because a friend with similar appreciations for Final Fantasy 7 and Kingdom Hearts told me I needed to play it… and then someone else who loved it said I needed to play it as well. Now I absolutely adore P4 (or P4 Golden to be more specific) and want to get others into it. This is the organic way to approach game and is far more rewarding for me.

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ACT I: The Origin Story

Anxiety is a (not so) funny thing. I learned just how much it impacts people in 2014 when a series of events lead me into my first full on anxiety attack. I was traveling back from my wife’s grad school across the state. It was later in the evening, we just enjoyed a meal together and we were hitting the highway for the drive back home. I noticed myself feeling off but didn’t think much of it. A bit of muscle tightness and being in an overly alert state isn’t too out of the ordinary for me. Trips to crowded places like malls or Ikea have gotten me to that point before. Eventually it got worse and I began to feel a bit light headed. Then nauseous… then shaking. We pulled over to a rest stop as I tried to figure out if the meal wasn’t sitting well or what was going on. I felt myself getting red and sweating. I spent some time in the bathroom running cold water over my wrists to come down. The shaking continued which then was intensifying my concern. We were a half hour out from her apartment at school, and 90 minutes from home. I felt my heart racing. Is this what it feels like to have a heart attack? I’m only 30, but after my dad passed at 53 of a heart attack I read the symptoms and watch for them in myself. Don’t ever read the symptoms of anything. This event spiraled into my anxiety causing physical feedback, and the physical feedback was elevating my anxiety. She ended up driving us back to her apartment for the night after things weren’t improving at the rest stop. Thankfully the physical exhaustion was draining enough to let the terror in my mind had die down enough to sleep. Over the next few weeks I’d end up having a few more attacks while my wife was away. Being alone terrified me more and I went to a physician to figure out what was wrong and provide me with some kind of help for this… He’d give it to me in the form of magic pill that brought me down whenever things got out of control. I started to feel overwhelmed for no reason or begin shaking, pop a pill. That in-of-itself was interesting as I almost never take any medication, just the occasional ibuprofen for pain relief. I started this blog for the sole reason of a form of outlet, some self-love, some expression, some release from the circles I would go in mentally when I was alone.

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