WildStar: Ode to Lifty

lifty1In the Exile capital of Thayd there are many unusual sights, if you’re willing to slow down and take the time to look. One that’s been charming me over the past few weeks is seeing Lifty come through.

lifty2Lifty is a hover lift that goes on an endless circuit with its cargo. It’s an utterly unremarkable piece of machinery save for one thing.

lifty3When Lifty encounters players, it doesn’t merely go through them or bump them aside. Oh no. Lifty picks them up and takes them along for the ride.

lifty4Thus, it’s not uncommon to spot Lifty dragging along two or three AFK players, sometimes on mounts, all over the city. Sometimes I even like to hitch a ride myself, because what are video games for if not to take you on a sight-seeing tour.

Oh Lifty, you are wonderous. Never change, good buddy!

Guild Wars 2, I think this is where we part ways

standardEver since the initial announcement of Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns, I’ve been very much on the fence about it all. Little of the subsequent reveals interested me — elite specializations, masteries, the new class, and especially Super Platformy Jungle Zones. I have a history with the game and an appreciation for its casual playstyle and gorgeous art, but the longer I’m away, the less enticing it’s becoming to go back.

Last night ArenaNet revealed the pricing for the expansion and invited players to pay now for content they’re not going to get for… months, probably. Pre-ordering is one thing, but pre-purchasing, well, I’ve got to want that so bad I can taste it.

Lots of hubbabaloo over the pricing for the expansion, which begins at full-game-cost $50 and jumps up to $100 if you want some extras and a half-off deal on gems. $40 is my usual acceptance limit for expansions, although it fluctuates with my interest level. Right now the price for Heart of Thorns is about $20-$30 more than I’m willing to pay.

However, that’s not to say that this is scandalous pricing. Fifty bucks is fair for a game that hasn’t charged a sub and operates under a pay-once-play-forever policy. I agree with those who say that even the standard edition should come with an extra character slot to accomodate the new class, but apart from that? Fine. It’s less than four months’ subscription to WoW or WildStar or FFXIV.

There’s also the issue of bungled communication over this announcement, particularly in how the expansion comes bundled with the core game — a week or two after Anet had been pushing oh-so-hard to sell the core game at a discount. Refunds or discounts need to happen here. And calling it a “prepurchase launch”? Oh come ON. That’s intentionally confusing and PR speak to the highest degree. It’s all created a bit of a mess when this announcement should be nothing but excitement among fans.

Ultimately, I feel like it’s time to get off the fence part ways with Guild Wars 2, at least for now. There’s lots of other games that I’m far more interested in, and I haven’t really played GW2 for months and months now. I don’t want to pay a big chunk of money for an expansion that has little for me and will probably send me into a terminal case of the grumpies. So I’m bowing out and letting everyone who’s excited have their time of joy without my additional commentary.

Syp’s No-Nonsense TSW Shotgun/Hammer Build

I’ve been slowly refining my general adventuring build in The Secret World, and since I’m pretty pleased with how it’s set up and works, I wanted to share it with you all. It’s a shotgun/hammer build that seeks to put out a lot of DPS (to both single and multiple targets) while containing a heavy dose of survivability. There’s a lot of ping-ponging synergy here, particularly with the focus of getting hinder on all mobs to trigger other effects.

Let’s start with the passives.


  1. Close Quarters (Elite): Slaps a hinder on any nearby mob I hit. The entire build hinges on this.
  2. Beanbag Rounds: When I apply hinder, I get +15% penetration chance.
  3. Strike Force: +7.5% penetration chance for any strike abilities. Guess what my builder and hammer consumer are?
  4. Closer: +7.5% damage for consumers. A nice DPS bump.
  5. Arterial Pulse: When I penetrate, I do an additional hit to the target AND all targets around it. This is my lazy man’s AOE skill for my single-target strike attacks.
  6. Impact Striker: +25% damage using Striker (my builder) against hindered targets. Since I’m spamming this quite a lot, it’s a no-brainer.
  7. Immortal Spirit: HoT on penetrating enemies. It’s not a ton of healing without healing gear, but I find that it’s almost always running in combat and every bit helps.
  8. Revved Up: More damage from my chainsaw shield.


  1. Striker: Even as a basic builder, this is now doing a lot — hitting hard, slapping hinders on bad guys, and penetrating a lot (doing extra DPS and healing).
  2. Stopping Power: Oh, how I do love this skill. It’s a cone attack consumer that automatically penetrates hindered targets.
  3. Haymaker: Chose this consumer because it has the strike tag and thus does extra DPS.
  4. Kneecapper: Does a nice strong cone attack and slaps hindered on everything it hits for 8 seconds. I’m experimenting with using this as an opener to get an automatic penetration bump.
  5. Turn the Tables: Call me weak, but I love having a meaty heal on demand. This is it. I use it all of the time.
  6. Flak Jacket: The three blue skills I use as often as they’re up to buff me up. This skill reduces damage by 15%.
  7. Breaching Shot: Boosts penetration by 45%. I want to be penetrating as often as possible, not just to get arterial pulse and immortal spirit, but also because such hits do extra damage. Seeing chain penetrates is awesome.
  8. Diamond Grit: I’ve always loved this chainsaw ability for its double duty. It reflects 50% of damage back to the attacker up to a certain number.

This build isn’t set in stone, as I’ve been swapping out a couple skills here and there. For example, I might want an attack that knocks a target down or purges, so Flak Jacket will usually go in that case. But it’s been working great for me and I thought it might help someone else!

11 quick thoughts on SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion announcement

knights1. SWTOR is gunning for a Guiness World Record of longest game name + expansion name combo here. And KotFE? No quick and easy way to abbreviate and/or say that!

2. Slightly wondering if the “Knights” part of the title is intended to make a connection in gamers’ minds to Knights of the Old Republic. They do sound similar, do they not? Milk that franchise nostalgia!

3. The trailer is… dark, disturbing, and really cool. I don’t think I envisioned the emperor looking like a well-groomed whisky spokesman. I like how much of a story it tells without dialogue, and that final bit where the emperor looks down with those yellow eyes — chills. Although what kills the black-clad brother? I didn’t quite get that.

4. For the record, I’m incredibly thrilled at this announcement. It’s not a smallish expansion pack that we’ve had in the past, but a full-blown one that’s making a big deal out of “returning to storytelling” and starting a new saga that will have multiple chapters.

5. At first, it seemed weird that BioWare’s not going to sell the expansion and make a good chunk of up-front money on it the way it did with Shadow of Revan, Hutt Cartel, etc. However, the business strategy here quickly becomes apparent — to get subscriptions and keep subscriptions. There are huge incentives to subbing now and staying subbed after the expansion launches, and of course that will be on top of all of the other cartel market offerings. It’s a different move that could actually pay off handsomely.

6. Not subbing right now is a viable F2P option, but one will need to sub at least for a month to get the initial 9 chapters of the expansion. The question for me is what I’m going to do. All I want to do is continue on with my Agent, not bring up a new character, so the 12x thing isn’t a huge deal to me. And the new companion and his gear… eh. I’ve got HK-51, that’s all I need.

7. It really looks like BioWare’s trying to blur/eliminate faction lines to make the most of its development dollars. Two faction stories is more expensive than just one, after all.

8. I love, love the look of the twins, the sky troopers, and all of the ships. It’s sharp and threatening and should make for a worthy challenge.

9. Getting a major SWTOR expansion out a couple of months prior to The Force Awakens is really smart, too. Gonna be high tide for Star Wars enthusiasm, and BioWare will want to make the most of that, I’m sure.

10. The option/gift to get an instant level 60 character has me feeling as though BioWare is in effect doing a soft reboot of the game. This is SWTOR 2.0, with the old Revan storyline wrapped up and a new storyline and episodic format to come. Not the worst idea, I guess, but I have mixed feelings about casting everything that came before aside.

11. Little disappointed that there won’t be any new classes or advanced classes. Would’ve liked to have seen that.

Battle Bards Episode 53: City of Heroes

cohboxIt was the first big superhero MMO, and for at least one Bard, it was the entry point into MMO gaming. Today we’ll be looking at the late, great City of Heroes and its strange, lovable, and often baffling soundtrack, as well as trying to explain to Syl why superheroes are totally cool. Pull on those tights and prepare to soar up, up and away into a score like no other on today’s show!

Episode 53 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Main Theme” and “Steel Canyon Copper District”)
  • “Freedom Court”
  • “Devil’s Coat Tails”
  • “Argosy Industries”
  • “Freedom Theme”
  • “Going Rogue Theme”
  • “Welcome to Nova Praetoria”
  • “Bloody Bay: Green Nugget”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Mail from Joseph
  • Outro (“Mission Complete”)

Listen to episode 53 now!

Retro Gaming: X-Wing part 3

(This is part of my journey going checking out X-Wing. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

aw1Even though my pilot has been captured by the Empire and is being tortured by Darth Vader personally, I’m given the option to “revive” him and continue on with the tour. Seems a little unnecessary to throw in an extra couple of clicks to do this instead of just letting me retake the mission, but fine. At least I don’t have to start over with mission 1.

aw2I take mostly the same approach that I did last time — reroute all laser power to engines and shields — but this time I also heeded the advice of one of the commenters and spiraled in while I was buzzing these large ships. That actually worked; very few laser blasts hit me.

With that settled, the remainder of the mission was frantically tabbing between different targets, trying to make sure that I had them all identified. And holy moly, there were a lot of them.

aw3And then a star destroyer jumped in. Because when you’re piloting a fragile A-Wing that doesn’t even have weapons at the moment, going mano-a-star destroyer seems quite fair.

As I was contemplating pulling a Return of the Jedi by ramming the bridge, the mission tracker told me to get back to base ASAP. Hey, you don’t have to tell me twice. There’s a reason why H-for-hyperspace is my favorite hotkey in this game. I am outta there.

Oddly enough, I am credited with two kills from the mission. Don’t know how, since I didn’t fire a single shot, but hey, if it comes with a bonus check then I’ll take credit for it.

aw4Mission 3! It actually takes until the third mission in this game’s tour mode to see a TIE fighter or get into any sort of dogfighting. I’m totally ready for it.

The mission is to protect some slow-to-evacuate transports from a star destroyer and its complement of fighters. Right from the get-go, I think I’m failing this mission — freighters and transports are being blown up left and right. But I think mine are left for last, so I get to the grim work of blasting TIEs from the sky.

Lack of joystick aside (frantically swiping the mouse to flip around is getting old), I’m starting to really enjoy this. Getting in a couple of good shots and seeing a TIE go up in a fireball was a whoop-worthy moment.

Of course, it can’t be a mission without me failing horribly. I made the mistake of flying straight into enemy fire, thinking that my shields would take it. Oh, they did for about a half-second, then I was slag and captured (again).

Darth Vader: “Oh, it’s you again. Shall we start with the tickle droid or the DMV assessment droid?”

Me: Reload

aw5It is pretty neat to see ships firing all willy-nilly at each other at a distance.

This time around doesn’t fare any better. I take out 9 fighters, so I’m not slacking, but there are several factors working against me here. The mouse controls, as I said, are a drawback, especially for how many times you need to be flipping your ship. Then there’s the tiny, tiny screen that makes it hard to see squat. And even when you target an enemy ship, the brackets on the HUD only show up on the small radar, not the flight view, which means that I’m perpetually squinting to see which pixel may — may — be flashing red.

Those gripes aside, there are nice touches here, such as the TIE fighters breaking up into pieces instead of always exploding or the iconic TIE fighter sounds when they zoom by you. Since light in the Star Wars universe takes a good while to reach anywhere, I have to walk my laser shots in to a TIE fighter unless I’m directly in front or behind it.

Fun stuff, that’s all I had time for today. Mission 3, I will be back!